#Take5 #64 Reading Communities and JLDHE

Reading, JLDHE and You

This #Take5 is brought to you from Craig Morley and Jenny Hillman, members of the Journal of Learning in Higher Education’s (JLDHE) editorial board. It is designed to introduce ALDinHE/JLDHE’s new Reading Club and encourage you to get involved!

Read all about it!

JLDHE’s Reading Club had its inaugural event in #ALDCon21, and since then we have got together another three times. In May, we discussed Sam King’s article on metadiscourse; in July, we had the opportunity to find out more about Nathalie Sheridan’s Guerrilla Research Tactics; and in September, we exchanged views on collaborating with academic staff when adopting flipped learning to support students, as well as gaining an insight into Sheryl Mansfield’s innovative asynchronous materials for flipped teaching.

We meet bi-monthly, on the second Wednesday of the month and spend a stimulating and thought-provoking hour together discussing the latest research in Learning Development. Our goal is to create a space for collaborative discussion of shared reading that is open to everyone no matter their role or level of experience!

Hopefully this is enough to pique your interest, but if you want to find out more, read on – and sign up to our mailing list to express your interest in the Reading Club and receive invitations and reminders about upcoming events!

Image of ALDinHE's tweet celebrating the first Reading Club. The tweet reads: "Very exciting to see the launch of JLDHE's reading club on day 1 of #ALDCon21 by Craig Morley at the Reading with the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education workshop.
Picture: Reading Club image and Craig Morley

Why does JLDHE have its own reading club?

If we have any JLDHE regulars reading this post, you may have noticed that over the last 12 months or so, we have tried to build stronger links with our community of readers!

We want to give more opportunities for learning developers (and others!) to get involved in all stages of the research process. This started with changing how we recruit reviewers for the journal. Our previous approach was very traditional – we invited people to register as reviewers with the journal and then chose reviewers from this closed pool. This approach has some benefits, but we felt it was less inclusive and welcoming to newer members of the community who may have felt unsure or unconfident about registering as a reviewer in the first place. Now, we send out an open call for reviewers that anyone can reply to and offer to review newly submitted papers. This change has led to lots of new reviewers adding their voice and expertise to the latest on-going research in learning development.

The idea for the Reading Club came from this same drive to engage our readers and the wider learning development community. We wanted to create a space and opportunity where learning developers and others could get together to discuss research and share ideas on published work in JLDHE. Initially, we toyed with the idea of having regular TweetChats to discuss published papers but felt that getting together in the same virtual space via Zoom, where everyone could see and speak to each other directly, would help to create a stronger sense of community.

But, don’t just take our word for how good it is to get involved in the new Reading Club! Adam Devine from the University of Suffolk has attended previous sessions, and had this to say about them:

I have found the meetings incredibly helpful in motivating me to read more articles on Learning Development and listen to the many interesting perspectives discussed. I feel more confident in engaging with the journal and contributing to discussions.”

What’s different about JLDHE’s reading club?

I’m sure we’ve all been to reading clubs and journal clubs before. So, you might be asking…”What’s so special about this one?”

We believe that a unique aspect of our Reading Club is that we invite authors of the papers being discussed to join us and get involved in conversations about their work. So far, we have been lucky that all the authors have accepted these invitations! Having the author involved is a great opportunity for our readers to ask questions and dig deeper into the findings, recommendations and methodological approach of the articles. It’s a great learning opportunity for new and experienced learning developers alike and has helped to create a real sense of a community of practice where we can all learn and benefit from each others’ experience.

As you can see below, our authors also benefited from coming along and talking about their research!

Image of Twitter showing a tweet from author who attended a Reading Club event. Tweet reads: "Thank you for inviting me and all the thoughtful questions and comments! It provided me with much incentives for reflection"
Picture: Tweets about the Reading Club

Sheryl Mansfield from the University of Northampton attended our latest Reading Club event to discuss her paper “Changing the face of academic skills workshops” and had this to say about her involvement!

“I thoroughly enjoyed discussing my paper with colleagues at different institutions. When I read the email to invite me to the discussion, I felt lots of emotions. I felt sick and nervous about the prospect, as I knew there were limitations to my study, in addition to the fact that it was my first actual article. However, the group were really supportive and asked valid questions which can help inform their practice. The experience wasn’t as bad as I thought, so would highly recommend it to anyone invited.”

How does it work and what can I expect?

By now you may be asking… “That all sounds well and good, but what actually happens in one of these reading clubs?”.

The Reading Club takes place bi-monthly on the second Wednesday of the month, and lasts for one hour.

Before the event themselves, we always send an invitation to vote on what you want to read and discuss in the upcoming meeting. We believe this helps to ensure we discuss what is most relevant to attendees at that time – and stops us from arbitrarily picking a paper at random!

Once the paper has been chosen, we generally ask attendees to consider three questions when reading the paper:

  • How do the ideas intersect with your own role?
  • Is there a particular extract you found interesting and want to discuss with the group?
  • Do you have any lingering questions or ideas after reading this piece?

We don’t stick rigidly to these discussion points and are happy to ‘go with the flow’ of the conversation, depending on what readers want to discuss and any questions they have for the authors.

After the meeting, we write up a brief summary of the discussions (which attendees are always invited to contribute to!) to share with those who wanted to come along, but couldn’t find the time. These summaries are shared in the Reading Club section on JLDHE’s website.

Sign me up: How can I join the Reading Club?

So, now that you are fully intrigued and energised to join the Reading Club and discuss the latest Learning Development research with others, we hope you are thinking…”I want to join, tell me how I can join!”

The first thing we should say here is… Everyone is welcome at JLDHE’s Reading Club! So, if reading and discussing the latest research in learning development sounds like a good way to spend a Wednesday evening, sign up to our mailing list to keep up to date with reminders for upcoming events and vote on what you want to read in our next meeting!

We look forward to seeing you at the next meeting!

Keep up to date with new issues, news and announcements by following JLDHE on twitter

And the next Reading Club?

Our next meeting for the JLDHE reading club is Wednesday 10th November at 5:30pm, where we will discuss HE staff’s attitudes and expectations about their role in induction activities | Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education (aldinhe.ac.uk) by Camila Devis-Rozental and Susanne Clarke.

Please access the meeting via Zoom link: https://plymouth.zoom.us/j/97100047840?pwd=eGd1R3VOYkdVMGVrYXl2Q3UwNm9XUT09 OR Meeting ID: 971 0004 7840 | Passcode: JLDHE


Dr Craig Morley (SFHEA) is a Learning Developer at the University of Manchester Library. As well as being a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, he is also Chair of the Academic Libraries North Academic Skills Community of Practice

Dr Jennifer Hillman (FHEA) is a Senior Manager at the Open University. She is a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education and has research interests in student transitions to University.

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