This #Take5 post is brought to you from the TALON and #Take5 teams – and is a reflection on the power of collaboration in Higher Education (HE). This is the team that discussed the Special Issue of the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice on Collaboration in HE in #Take5 #69 – and this post looks at the online International Symposium that followed. This is an example of an international faculty-student collective that worked to bring together diverse collaborative voices to showcase their collective and partnership practice.
(And on a collaborative note, Sandra Abegglen, Tom Burns and Sandra Sinfield are part of #creativeHE that has just received a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence, 2022.)
The Teams: Sandra Abegglen1, Clément Bret1, Tom Burns2, Fabian Neuhaus1, Krisha Shah1, Sandra Sinfield2, Kylie Wilson1
1 TALON, University of Calgary
2 Take5, London Metropolitan University and ALDinHE
TALON and Take5: Reflections on Collaboration in Higher Education
Keywords: collaboration, higher education, TALON, Take5, co-creation, partnership
Introduction: Build it and they will come
In Take5 #69 we discussed our Special Issue (SI) of the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice (JUTLP) that focussed on Collaboration in HE. That SI included many of the LD community and brought collective education practice to the forefront, advocating for a coming together of co-creation and collegiality, the development of deeper partnerships, and a more humane and socially just academia. The TALON and Take5 teams have continued their collaborative work, putting on the Collaboration in HE online Symposium in April this year – a further attempt to make collaboration itself more visible and more powerfully appreciated in academia.
The Symposium itself was co-delivered with student partners and created a space for the JUTLP SI authors to speak to and about their articles and their innovative collaborative practices. Not everybody could make the event – but the majority were there to present their papers, and to keep the hopeful conversations going.
In this blog, we tell the story of the Symposium – offering links to the various keynotes and Symposium strands – it will feel like you were there!
Against an Individualistic Higher Education
As HE becomes ever more marketised, commodified and individualistic (Bustillos Morales & Abegglen, 2020), we wanted to share positive examples of creative collegiate practice between service staff, faculty, students, and external partners. Narratives to counter both the increasingly coercive nature of HE itself and the more performative notions of ‘collaboration’ promoted by government and used by universities as a top down approach to more ‘efficient’ institutions (Bychkova, 2016).
What we – and our authors and presenters – advocate for are practices that are ‘done with’ rather than ‘done to’ (Wright et al., 2022); in explicit opposition to the highly competitive and individualistic culture that dominates HE under neoliberal (pandemic) managerialism. What is needed is the harnessing of existing and creation of new partnerships within and outwith institutional contexts that build on trust, integrity and collegiality, and that allow for collectivity and co-creation. The case studies presented in the Symposium and the SI speak to the urgent need to develop critical collaborative movements that can counter feelings of alienation (Hall, 2018) and hopelessness (Hall, 2021).
The Collaboration in HE Symposium presentations built on practical experience, research data, personal and collective reflections. They outlined how contributors have navigated tensions in HE to create dialogic spaces of voice and hope, disrupting current reductive academic narratives. The presentations were grouped into four parallel strands:
Strand 1: Cross-team working
Strand 2: Cross-institution collaboration
Strand 3: Cross-boundary working
Strand 4: Pedagogical co-creation and students as partners.
Each strand included international and diverse contributions from the United Kingdom, United States, South Africa, India, New Zealand, Hungary, Russia and Canada. Involved were academic staff, faculty, students and external partners, working together locally, nationally and internationally, inter- and cross-disciplinary, towards a common goal.
These presentations were complemented by two keynotes. To open we had Professor Digby Warren, Head of the Centre for Professional and Educational Development, London Metropolitan University, United Kingdom who spoke to: The Transformative Potential of Collaboration in Higher Education. Natasha Kenny, Senior Director, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, University of Calgary, Canada, pulled the event to a close, speaking to: Reflections on Collaboration, Networks and Covid-19. Both keynote speakers addressed the need to rediscover the power of collaboration, as ‘working together’ provides opportunities for individual and collective growth.
Collectively, the strand presentations and keynotes provided refreshed notions of collegiality and collaboration in HE that support new and more nuanced, and dynamic models of co-creation. They showed what is possible when we cross boundaries, when we move beyond disciplines, institutions and national borders: a reconceptualisation of teaching and learning, a more inclusive academia.
Collaboration is or creates a “third space” (Bhabha, 2004; Soja, 1996; Lefebvre, 1991), an in-between space, facilitating meaningful practice beyond the individual: a space where everyone can contribute, feel included and have their voice heard.
In the JUTLP SI and the Symposium, we challenged an academia that is increasingly individualistic and competitive to rediscover the power of collaboration, to build spaces and places for partnership between service staff, faculty and students – within institutions, between institutions, and with wider, external partners. We hoped with this to inspire and to seed an ecology of collaborative practice for social justice – a more humane academia: a liminal space “which gives rise to something different, something new and unrecognizable, a new area of negotiation of meaning and representation” (Bhabha 1990, p. 211). We hope that you will engage with the Journal and the Symposium resources – shared below – and pull together your own stories of inspirational collaborative practice.
It was hard work, but life affirming to gather so many tales of cooperation and collegiality for the Journal. In fact, it created such a sense of hope in us that we did not want to stop there and we are working on two books that focus on ‘working together’ in academia. The first one is edited by Sandra Abegglen, Tom Burns and Sandra Sinfield and is entitled Collaboration in Higher Education, Bloomsbury (forthcoming), the other one is entitled Voices from the Digital Classroom – and has just been published!
Over to you
Please share your collaborative experiences as a comment to this blog post – or join the discussion @talon_cloud – or using the hashtag #LoveLD
TALON: Symposium website
Take 5: Symposium website
JUTLP Special Issue
Symposium Presentation recordings
Abegglen, S., Burns, T., MacFarlane, M., McGinn, M. Neuhaus, F. & Sinfield, S. (2021). TALON and #Take5: Online Initiatives fostering reflection about teaching and learning in the now-times. Academia Letters, Article 407. https://doi.org/10.20935/AL407
Abegglen, S., Burns, T. & Sinfield, S. (Eds.) (2021). Collaboration in higher education: Partnering with students, colleagues and external stakeholders. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice. Special Issue, 18(7). https://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/vol18/iss7/
Bhabha, H. K. (2004). The location of culture. Routledge.
Bhabha, H. K. (1990). Interview with Homi Bhabha: The third space. In J. Rutherford (Ed.), Identity: Community, culture, difference (pp. 207-221). Lawrence and Wishart.
Beck, U., Giddens, A., & Lash, S. (1994). Reflexive modernization: Politics, tradition and aesthetics in the modern social order. Stanford University Press.
Bustillos Morales, J. A. & Abegglen, S. (Eds.) (2020). Understanding education and economics: Key debates and critical perspectives. London: Routledge.
Bychkova, O. (2016). Innovation by coercion: Emerging institutionalization of university–industry collaborations in Russia. Social Studies of Science, 46(4), 511-535.
Hall, R. (2021). The hopeless university: Intellectual work at the end of the end of history. Mayflybooks/Ephemera.
Hall, R. (2018). The alienated academic: The struggle for autonomy inside the university. Palgrave Macmillan.
Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space (D. Nicholson-Smith, Trans). Blackwell.
Soja, E. (1996). Thirdspace. Blackwell.
Wright, E., Smith, R., Vernon, M., Wall, R. & White, L. (2022). Co-creating for SEND and neurodiversity in education studies. Collaboration in Higher Education Symposium. https://vimeo.com/showcase/9438131/video/697811029
Abegglen, Sandra is a Researcher in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at the University of Calgary where she explores learning and teaching in the design disciplines as the project lead of TALON. Sandra has an MSc in Social Research and a MA in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. She has over eight years’ experience as a Senior Lecturer in Education Studies. Her research interests are in online education, creative learning and teaching, mentoring, visual narratives, identity and qualitative research methods. She has published widely on emancipatory learning and teaching practice, and playful pedagogy, and was co-editor for the JUTLP Special Issue on Collaboration in Higher Education. Sandra is a Certified Practitioner for Learning Development and a Fellow of Advance HE. She has been awarded the Team Teaching Award 2020 by the University of Calgary.
Bret, Clément is a Graduate Student and Associate Researcher in the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary. He is also a part of the NEXTCalgary and TALON teams, helping out with their public facing activities.
Burns, Tom is a Senior Lecturer in Education and Learning Development in the Centre for Professional and Educational Development at London Metropolitan University, developing innovations with a special focus on praxes that ignite student curiosity, and develop power and voice. Tom is a member of the #creativeHE community, always interested in theatre and the arts and their capacity for holistic practice. He has set up adventure playgrounds, and community events and festivals for his local community, and harnesses art, creativity and theatre practices in teaching and learning, and in his writing and research. Tom is co-author of Teaching, Learning and Study Skills: A Guide for Tutors, and Essential Study Skills: The complete Guide to Success at University (5th Edition, 2022), and he is co-editor for the JUTLP Special Issue on Collaboration in Higher Education. Tom is a Senior Fellow of Advance HE, a Certified Leading Practitioner in Learning Development and a University Teaching Fellow.
Neuhaus, Fabian PhD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary with the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape in Canada. He is the research lead for the Richard Parker Initiative (RPI) and the principal investigator for TALON and NEXTCalgary. His research interests are the temporal aspects of the urban environment, focusing on the topics of habitus, type, and ornament in terms of activity, technology, and memory. He has worked with architecture and urban design practices in the UK and Switzerland as well as on research projects at universities in Switzerland, Germany, and the UK. He is passionate about learning and teaching, and design pedagogy.
Shah, Krisha is a Graduate Student in the Master of Planning program at the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape, University of Calgary. She was admitted to the program in the Fall of 2021 as an international student. With a background in Architecture and a passion for community driven projects, Krisha has joined the TALON team as Graduate Assistant Researcher in January 2022. She works actively on managing the social media for TALON and connecting with the community of educators and learners.
Sinfield, Sandra is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Professional and Educational Development at London Metropolitan University and a co-editor for the JUTLP Special Issue on Collaboration in Higher Education. She has co-authored of Teaching, Learning and Study Skills: A Guide for Tutors, and Essential Study Skills: The Complete Guide to Success at University (5th Edition, 2022). Sandra is a member of the #creativeHE community and one of the co-founders of the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE). Sandra is interested in creativity as emancipatory practice in Higher Education, has integrated creative practice into the curriculum and has designed and led a variety of creative learning events for both students and academic staff. Sandra is Senior Fellow of Advance HE, a Certified Leading Practitioner in Learning Development and a University Teaching Fellow.
Wilson, Kylie is a Graduate Student in the Master of Architecture program at the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape, University of Calgary. In the 2020-2021 academic year, she was admitted to the program and completed the foundation year level courses. Before pursuing architecture, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Minoring in Political Science, also from the University of Calgary. She joined the TALON team as Graduate Assistant Researcher in May 2021 and works actively on the project’s audio-visual content collection, newsletters and TALON publications. She is passionate about storytelling and knowledge-sharing through media and built form and empowering users through placemaking in architecture.