Swimming with crocs: Professional development in a Northern context

Alison Reedy, Bopelo Boitshwarelo, Joshua Barnes, Trevor Billany

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Paper published in Proceedingspeer-review


    Professional development for teacher educators is critical in a rapidly changing environment where graduate teachers are expected to have 21st Century skills and knowledge. As made explicit in a recent report on teacher education in Australia, ‘the evidence is clear: enhancing the capability of teachers is vital to raising the overall quality of Australia’s school system and lifting student outcomes. Action to improve the quality of teachers in Australian schools must begin when they are first prepared for the profession’ (Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group, 2014).

    But in a fast paced and continually changing higher education environment, are the teacher educators keeping up with their own professional development? A recent study indicates that ‘educators typically have a narrow conception of Web 2.0 technologies’ (Bower, 2015, p.1). Other reports point to a digital skills gap and a generational skills gap between students and academic staff and to the importance of increasing the digital media literacy for educators teaching with technology (Johnson et al., 2015), addressing issues of ‘digital fluency training in pre- and in-service teachers, along with the students they teach’ (Johnson et al., 2015, p.24). This indicates the critical need for academics, and particularly teacher educators, to engage with ongoing professional development to continually keep up. One way to do this is through engagement with professional development activities provided centrally by academic development units within universities where the teacher educators work.

    This paper explores the role and potential of one such academic unit at a Northern Australia university. Charles Darwin University (CDU) is a predominantly online university, with a significant percentage of its HE students studying externally. So this means lecturing staff have to keep up with their own discipline / subject knowledge and also the technological knowledge needed for them to teach effectively online. The Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT), the academic development unit at CDU, is responsible for providing ongoing professional development and support in learning and teaching matters, particularly around teaching in the online space. Therefore the paper is written from the perspective of academic developers working in the OLT and focuses on the potential synergies between academic developers and teacher educators. It also highlights the inherent tensions in the role, the challenges faced and emerging models of Professional Development to support the professional development of teacher educators in an environment where there is a lingering sense that the crocs are just below the surface ready to attack the complacent and the unwary. Ultimately the paper seeks to explore ways of optimising the efficacy of services provided by academic developers to assist teacher educators deal with the changing nature of their work.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the Australian Teacher Education Association Conference (ATEA)
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    PublisherAustralian Teacher Education Association
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventAustralian Teacher Education Association Conference (ATEA) -
    Duration: 1 Jan 20151 Jan 2015


    ConferenceAustralian Teacher Education Association Conference (ATEA)


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