Academic Development during Pandemic: A Staged Approach


  • Vic Boyd Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Tom Cunningham University of Stirling
  • Catriona Cunningham University of Stirling



academic development, online learning and teaching, appreciative inquiry, collaboration, communities of practice


In considering the impact on Learning and Teaching of the move to Technology Enabled Education (TEE) in response to the pandemic, the University of Stirling commissioned a report to establish priorities for future learning spaces and practices. Reporting in December 2020, the Sustainable Learning and Teaching @ Stirling project reflected on the progress made since March and provided recommendations for future developments. The project made use of a forward-looking approach influenced by Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider & Srivastva, 1987) as a method of evaluation based on success, enhancement and progress. 

The report highlighted the early adopters at Stirling: an expert core of staff within Academic Development and Learning Technology who designed, created and delivered a coherent programme of staff development activities and resources (Supporting Online Learning and Teaching at Stirling - SOLT) to support colleagues in developing or re-developing learning and teaching materials for Autumn 2020. This core also created and cultivated new communities of practice: Faculty Champions (academic staff) to share best practice, and Students as Partners in Learning to provide meaningful feedback to staff on online modules prior to the semester starting. 

This paper looks forward from the report: exploring the impact, challenges and opportunities for academic developers and considering in particular what a possible narrative of ‘Stirlingness’ might look like. We are often there – on the sidelines (Green & Little, 2013) - working with others to shape a community of practice in supporting learning and teaching but what is our narrative in all of this? As two academic developers who shaped and developed the institutional approach described here, we will draw on the method of ‘dialogic play script form’ (Wyatt & Gale, 2018) to explore our own perspectives on the sudden and transformative enhancement process we have experienced this year. We aim to show future opportunities for academic development, with potential value in and for the changing role of the academic developer (Bamber, 2020).   


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