JLDHE New Issue 30 is out!

We are delighted to announce that Issue 30of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education has now been released and is free to access here: https://journal.aldinhe.ac.uk/index.php/jldhe/issue/view/45.From the Editorial:

‘We can’t all be Marco Polo or Freya Stark but millions of us are travellers nonetheless’, Martha Gellhorn writes in the opening to her wonderful book, Travels with Myself and Another. While her collection of stories is packed with exhilarating ‘horror journeys’ across the dangerous world, in comparison, most of our daily professional travels are relatively dull and uneventful. We are certainly not risking our lives on the front lines or taking treacherous trips into the depths of a totalitarian country to catch a conversation with an admired dissident writer. Still, the paths we travel along can be no less zig-zagged, as we forge our professional routes one step at a time, overcoming challenges, celebrating incremental achievements, and redefining those irksome failures. We do not get to the top of the mountain, however we define it, overnight, but slog intelligently day after day in an attempt   to reach it. We sweat and strain and grind across the wild landscapes of learning and achievement, enjoying the ride while also working through the feelings of inadequacy or the occasional failure, to develop some semblance of mastery in what we do – thinking, writing, teaching, mentoring, collaborating, and communicating for growth and connection. And whether or not at some point we reach that ultimate reward of our own mountaintop experience, we are all ‘travellers nonetheless’. 

The truth, however, is that most of us spend most of our time in the valley. The moments of exhilaration are usually brief and sparse, and our days are consumed by often mundane tasks or recurrent activities, punctuated by precious moments of deep flow and productive concentration. How often do we think about rewards for our work? (If we were interested in chasing wealth, fame, and greatness we would have chosen different careers, I hear you.) What counts as rewards in our jobs, especially those additional roles we enthusiastically take on that go beyond the basic expectations and that involve a lot of unaccounted for effort, frequently given on a voluntary basis? We run working groups and communities of practice, lead and contribute to scholarly conversations – most of it in our own sweet time – why do we do it?

People. People and relationships are a big thing for us in Learning Development. What we are able to create with others, for others, and in others can make all the difference. Growing together as thought leaders, professional thinkers and writers, teachers and communicators, we engage in conversations on issues that matter to us, and we do it in a variety of agile ways, from publishing books and blogs, journal and magazine outputs (a friendly shout-out to the splendid LoveLD mag!), to posting on mailing lists (hello, LDHEN and SEDA!), to recording podcasts, videos, creative resources, and more. All of it brings us together into a constant exchange of ideas, where we negotiate meanings, stir provocations, and explore creative tensions in our vibrant field. Being part of the space for learning and connecting is an enormous reward for the effort put in.

Autonomy in professional expression is equally prized. We may be time poor but if we really want to, we have the freedom to produce knowledge outputs of the range and quality of our choosing. ‘Quality’ is the thorny word here, as what accounts for quality in research is highly contested (Langfeldt et al., 2019) and in the absence of strict objective measures (aside from institutional research excellence exercises), we constantly make very subjective, often subtle judgments about the quality of both our and others’ work. Given the tacit criteria and ambiguous rules used to determine the worth of any given publication, what most scholars agree on as a benchmark of quality is the primacy of the work’s usefulness for the knowledge community (Aksnes, Piro and Fossum, 2023). And this is where we excel in JLDHE as due to our dedicated and loyal readership our authors receive substantially more than the proverbial one reader and two reviewers’ attention. Additionally, we are working on having the journal indexed so in the future our authors will be even more discoverable to other researchers in teaching and learning. Meanwhile, our publishing inclusivity and the hybridity of Third Space (Whitchurch, 2013) we operate in invite blurring not only of the disciplinary boundaries but also of our collective conceptions of what accounts for good research. While promoting highest academic rigour, we embrace pluralistic approaches to scholarship, questioning and expanding its narrow but well entrenched institutionalised notions based on the competition for limited resources, such as funding or promotions, rather than the express needs of the field. In our evaluation systems at JLDHE, we try to be as nuanced as possible, privileging originality, rigour, and value of the outputs to our knowledge community and ensuring that the research we publish has ethical integrity. The results are rewarding for all involved.

But what about more tangible rewards, such as money and recognition? Being involved in researching, writing, publishing, and reviewing, the standard activities of a research and scholarship oriented professional in academia, may both cost money (many publishers charge substantially for various forms of open access and running a research study can be expensive) and generate it (yes, this is not a typo). We would be remiss not to remind our readers of all the small but surprising ways in which they can build that barista coffee fund, not to mention the resume. Just like publishing books brings with it some royalties, writers can receive money for any of their work being used or copied, including books and book chapters, as well as pieces written for magazines and journals, and soon also websites and blogs. To benefit, it is worth considering joining the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), which collects such payments on behalf of its members – many of them will testify to the value of the joyfully startling transfers that arrive in their bank accounts every March. (All those little articles in our annual Conference Proceedings? They might just buy you a fancy coffee!) Our reviewers should also be mindful of Publons, which creates a free record of their peer reviews publicly tracking their contributions to the knowledge community. In the Journal, we have our own ways of recognising our authors and reviewers too – in addition to our Reviewer of the Year Award, this year we are introducing the Author of the Year Award to celebrate the most stunning, original, impactful and genuine output published by the JLDHE. The rewards are there, and that mountaintop experience is real.

There are other exciting developments in our Journal’s journey as well. Our Editorial Board has expanded this year as we enthusiastically welcomed three new fabulous colleagues: Amy Sampson from the University of Greenwich, Dr Chad McDonald from Manchester Metropolitan University, and Dr Maggie Smith from the University of Salford (you can read more about them in LoveLD 4). As the Journal’s strength lies in its editors’ diligence, competence, and diversity of expertise, we did not stop there but have made steps to become more international too. We have established an Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) currently comprising three distinguished colleagues from international universities and research institutions: Dr Michelle Joubert from the University of the Free State, South Africa; Dr Izabela Gawłowicz, from the University of Zielona Góra, Poland; and Lauren Cross from Mount Royal University, Canada. Members of the EAB, which we are keen to continue expanding, will bring invaluable experience and unique perspectives to the work of JLDHE and we are immensely grateful for their time, effort, and contributions to the quality and direction of our publications.

Augmenting these highlights of the year, we are currently working on two special issues – one on ‘The contribution of HE third space professionals to educational practice and pedagogy’, to be released later this year, and one on ‘Liberating Learning’, which we expect to be issued in winter 2024/25. You can read more about them on our website.

Meanwhile in the valley, our current Issue 30 brings you no fewer than eighteen scholarly analyses on a range of topics, from the issues involved in developing digital confidence, supporting academic attainment, fostering student belonging and introducing a range of pedagogic innovations, to the challenges of AI in Learning Development and rethinking our work in tutorials, doctoral supervision, and ensuring inclusivity. These topics are examined across nine papers, one case study, five opinion pieces, and three book reviews. Enjoy! 

On behalf of the JLDHE Editorial Board and with warmest wishes for the upcoming Easter break, 

Carina Buckley

Lee Fallin

Eleanor Loughlin

Tom Lowe

Chad McDonald

Craig Morle

Amy Sampson

Maggie Scott

Gita Sedghi

Alicja Syska

and Katharine Jewitt

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