I recently rebranded my (until then unused place holder) website www.heathermaymorgan.com and set this blog page up as soon as my new post as Lecturer in Applied Health Sciences at the University of Aberdeen was confirmed – looking back, that was the end of August, ahead of an official 01 October 2017 start date. I had planned to post as soon as I was in post, or in office, and daily, to document it from day #1. I started on 02 October 2017, during which I mostly unpacked my stuff and made myself at home:
Moving from a 1.0FTE research post (after 5.5 happy and productive years at HSRU) to a 08.FTE teaching and 0.2FTE scholarship research post was always going to involve a transition period, even though I have moved within the same Institute – IAHS – but I hadn’t anticipated or appreciated that it would take me over three weeks to be able to begin to reflect enough. And maybe this is still too soon. Here goes…
I’ve always contributed to teaching: I have been lecturing, supervising, assessing, etc. across a number of our University’s programmes since 2007 (during my MRes and PhD studies, and beyond). I was awarded my FHEA in 2011. But I haven’t been quite so focused on pedagogy as I am and will be now and going forward. How exciting!
During my first month, in addition to ‘settling in’, I have been finishing off bits and pieces for research projects I am completing or moving on from (incl. being in London twice for meetings on two consecutive Thursdays; red eye flights both times). It felt a bit ‘business as usual’ at times during my initial two weeks, although the physical office move has been introducing me to new people and new surroundings, exposing me to different conversations, and relishing me with the prospects of course and programme co-ordination (plus our shiny new course management system) to come, etc. when I have been there. This has prompted an adjusted frame (or frames) of mind, approach to work, schedule, routine, and PLANS!
I have also been going full steam ahead on organising our work-based placements for MSc students. More so over the last fortnight. They will begin in Jan 2018 and I will be co-ordinating this elective. It has been really enjoyable so far, as I’ve been able to work with existing contacts and new organisations – off site and virtually, across the globe – to formulate plans for projects, which I’m very happy to be presenting to our students next week, in advance of our applications process. In addition, I have been contributing in person to our FORD (not a car) course workshops on Tuesday afternoons. It’s been great to interact with and support students as they work up research proposals across our postgraduate programmes, both face to face and through online follow ups.
Of course, before my transition to a teaching-focused role is near complete (est. early 2018), I will be lecturing on a number of other programmes/courses across the University, as before, in my annual lectures on my areas of expertise. My first will be tomorrow, MSc Health Psychology, on qualitative research designs. I have been meeting with SMMSN BSc (Hons) students, too, as they choose their final year research projects. Three so far – three super impressive candidates. Again, very exciting.
I’m not resting on my laurels, though. Although experienced in lecturing, supervising and assessing in Higher Education, I want to develop my teaching, both professionally and personally. A major factor influencing my decision to move. I have already signed up for our in-house, pilot, online ‘Designing and Tutoring Online Courses’ course and, two weeks in, have completed (or rather submitted) my first ‘proper’ assignment, having spent some hours reading the online materials provided and additional literature, including a BOOK on pedagogy for 21st century learning, before working on my own assessment – designing ‘intended learning outcomes’ and appropriate assessment.
I’ve *really* enjoyed being challenged to study again and opening myself up to learning and assessment in ways that research conduct (although peer review, ethics and governance processes, with which I am very familiar, do comparably) does not require. I want to reflect more on that. For now, I’m going to hope that my foray into online learning about online learning is useful and successful – for my students and myself. So far, so good.