Motivation for leadership

Associate Professor Fiona Peterson is Deputy Dean (Learning and Teaching) in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University. Her book – Creative leadership signposts in higher education – was published in 2013. She is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy UK, and on Advisory Boards in the Humanities, and Communication and Media USA.

academic leadership

The significance of leadership in tertiary education and professional development of leaders has continued to emerge strongly in the literature.

However, there are still gaps in addressing the motivation of these leaders, including what impact motivation has on learning and teaching leadership futures.

Who are the learning and teaching leaders?

Academics might lead course or program teams, disciplines, clusters, or learning and teaching across a school; or they might have leadership roles at college or university level. They might have staff reporting to them, or not.

The detail varies, but there are some joys and challenges in common.

Joys might include celebrating student and staff successes, getting the balance right for being strategic and collegial, seeing something really inspirational unfold, or contributing to the scholarship of learning and teaching.

Challenges might also include getting that balance right between strategy and collegiality, coping with ongoing change and complexity, coping with the scope and scale of the role, getting that article written somehow…it’s a juggling act.

So, what really motivates academics to take up such leadership roles, and why do they persist?

(We could ask the same questions about all academic leadership roles such as research, international, and so on…)

Academic leaders may cite ‘making a difference’ as a reason and key benefit of taking on a leadership role (e.g. DeZure et al., 2014), but we need to know more about why and how they sustain their motivation (or not) to persist within the role, and what this means for learning and teaching leadership futures.

As a start, I share some thoughts and a short story here from my experience.

The significance of ‘meaningfulness’ has been highlighted in sustaining leaders in education (e.g. Mayer, Surtee & Barnard, 2015). This is echoed in the business world as the ‘meaning quotient’ for enhancing productivity, through being challenged and ‘on the edge’, breaking new ground and doing what matters, as well as a sense of belonging (Cranston & Keller, 2013).

Studies continue to show that a proactive personality and low aversion to risk correlate with leadership motivation (Chan et al., 2015), and that emotional intelligence including responsible self-management is highly applicable to academic leadership (Parrish, 2015).

How can academic leaders be supported to persist?

Given the value of professional learning communities for leaders (e.g. Jansen et al., 2010; Scott et al., 2008), we need to think more about ways to foster this approach for ourselves as well as those we lead.

I have long since believed that the role of community is important in building motivation, through the collaborative professional development of leaders – to sustain and improve leadership practice, to achieve outcomes that matter, and to advocate for leadership excellence.

In recent months the importance of community has certainly been evident to me. I have enjoyed an uplifting and energizing experience, collaborating with fellow leaders of learning and teaching.

Four of us in similar roles across different contexts decided to write a journal article together. We were interested in what we could discover about the scholarship of learning and teaching across disciplines. Using a comparative narrative approach, we chose a common lens of leading curriculum development to reflect on our own contexts and experience.

Apart from the joy of writing – in snatches and sometimes from far-flung exotic places – our topic was interesting to us. Unsurprisingly, we identified the influence of our underpinning disciplines on the ways in which we thought about our leadership practice contexts.

What was more surprising was that our own different disciplinary ‘world views’ proved to be important in our perception and language about our learning and teaching leadership roles, ranging from strategist or enabler (education, communication, psychology), to curator (design). We also thought differently about concepts such as deep and surface learning, and what the scholarship of learning and teaching means.

In flagging further research needed, we thought it was important to look more closely at the significance of developing shared language for learning and teaching leaders working in interdisciplinary contexts. At the same time, we enjoyed discovering the differences!

Throughout our collaboration I felt that I was doing something worthwhile. For me, this was the ‘meaning quotient’ in action – being challenged, a little on the edge, breaking new ground and doing what matters, with a sense of belonging (Cranston & Keller, 2013).

Overall, I found the collegial experience really useful and very MOTIVATING.


Chan, K., Uy, M., Chernyshenko, O., Ho, M., & Sam, Y. (2015). Personality and entrepreneurial, professional and leadership motivations. Personality and Individual Differences, 77, 161-166.  

Cranston, S., & Keller, S. (2013). Increasing the ‘meaning quotient’ of work.  McKinsey Quarterly, January.

DeZure, D., Shaw, A., & Rojewski, J. (2014). Cultivating the next generation of academic leaders: Implications for administrators and faculty. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 46(1), 6-12. Available online at: (accessed 3 September 2014).

Jansen, C., Cammock, P., & Conner, L. (2010) Leaders building professional learning communities: Appreciative inquiry in action. Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice, 25(2), 41-54.

Mayer, C., Surtee, S., & Barnard, A. (2015). Women leaders in higher education: A psycho-spiritual perspective. Journal of Behavioural Science, 45(1), 102-115.

Parrish, D. (2015). The relevance of emotional intelligence for leadership in a higher education context. Studies in Higher Education, 40 (5), 821-837.

Scott, G., Coates, H., & Anderson, M., (2008). Learning leaders in times of change. Sydney: Australian Learning and Teaching Council Report.

Online identity, work spaces and folios – a celebration of awareness

 This week Leigh Blackall, Educational Designer from the Digital Learning Team in the College of Design and Social Context writes about the issue of online identity and continuity


leigh 1

This sign welcomes visitors to the main building of the Googleplex (Google’s company headquarters) at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, California. Source: Coolcaesar on Wikimedia Commons

Who are you?

Cover of International Multimedia School Magazine "trait d'union" n° 03-2003. Topic: "our identity. Creator of the mask: Antonia Lent, German School of Toulouse (2003). Photographer: Lothar Thiel. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Cover of International Multimedia School Magazine “trait d’union” n° 03-2003. Topic: “our identity. Creator of the mask: Antonia Lent, German School of Toulouse (2003). Photographer: Lothar Thiel. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Shall we start with a quick Google search on your name? Web, image, video, news, and scholar.

I do it as a matter of course when considering new people to work with, or in preparation for applying for work. I want to know what a person looks like; to gain some insight into how they work online (or not); to get an overview on the sorts of things they have done in the past; and to get a sense for what their identity is, online. There is a significance to me, in what is revealed in such a search and what is not.

Is it too simple to say that an online folio is a search result for a person’s or project’s name, and an online workspace is the Internet as a whole? This online workspace is not a single publishing platform or content management system – the Internet is the platform. Some of us might be a bit stuck on this, but this perspective becoming mainstream is probably inevitable if it’s not already a reality.

Most people who do a search on their name come to realise that the search result is essentially the first page of their online identity – their folio. It could be personal, it could be professional, often it’s both. Their next realisation might be that the way they work online, the processes, platforms, linkages and associations in the data that they generate, all has an impact on their portfolio-as-a-search-result. Their search terms and saved bookmarks, the media they upload and download, their playlists, click-through history, viewing times, purchase history, GPS location, and strength of linkage to other people, collaborators and projects. All this data is built up around us as we work online, and can be used to create, shape and grow a personalised and professional workspace. It can be harnessed to improve the quality and efficiency of our work. Our search results on topics of inquiry can become more targeted, or recommendations and linkages can be made more relevant. This includes advertisers and surveillance agencies of course, which at this point in time at least, we might consider as our symbiotic relationship.


You’re a machine

In 2004, Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson created a video about this future that we now live in. They called it the Evolving Personalised Information Construct (EPIC2014). Their video starts in black, with a flickering light in the distance. A narrator reads, “it is the best of times, it is the worst of times…”

In 2007 Dr Michael Wesch expanded on this topic and published the incredibly popular video, The Machine is Using Us, now at nearly one million seven hundred thousand views. This video explained an EPIC hypertext reality, 7 years before Sloan and Thompson thought it would come to pass.

While we’re talking about Michael, check out his online folio. As you do that, it’s worth considering how the strength of Michael’s online identity impacts on those that link to him, such as his students at Kansas State University.



Goshen College Choir 1958-1974 Source: Mennonite Church USA Archives on WIkimedia Commons


A cog in a wheel

In the College of Design and Social Context at RMIT University, a range of educational development projects are interested in this line of inquiry, and in the kinds of operating principles that might inform the design of learning activities and assessment tasks. Tasks that ask people to manage their online workspaces, professional identities and portfolios.

At RMIT though, like many other universities, a specified workspace is provided that impacts on this conception of a professional identity, precisely because it has become a central and major entity of the Internet – Google.

To some, Google is a good platform choice. It is a very relevant and effective toolset in a university that needs to show ‘industry relevance’, productivity gains and expenditure savings. To some others though, they think that RMIT should be more concerned about data sovereignty and maintaining local IT skills. They would ask, “should an offshore advertising company with questionable links to surveillance agencies be getting intimate access to data about a large population base, especially a university one?”


Who are you tomorrow?

As we ask people to use the Internet in their work, and in RMIT’s case – Google in particular, we’re asking people to shape their online workspace into a personalised space with professional relevance. Their connection to us is recorded, their connection to each other is recorded, what they do with their online identity all combines to teach “The Machine” to use them, and be used by them.

What happens to these online identities when the people leave though? Their accounts are disabled! They’re effectively deleted, or held in limbo until that person comes back into the organisation.

What about people who have already built themselves an online workspace, a professional identity and folio? Should they stop with that and rebuild another one? Won’t they dilute their online identities, especially students, casuals, contractors and other transients?

Additionally, if RMIT continues to limit the functionality of an RMIT/Google account by not enabling Youtube accounts, Maps, Classroom or the use of Addons for instance, what impact is that decision having on the account holder’s development of a professional workspace and online folio?

All this seems at considerable odds with RMIT’s graduate capabilities around Lifelong Learning.


A temporary role

I’ve raised these RMIT/Google account issues with anyone willing to talk about them, on behalf of the projects I’m assisting with, in the hope of better understanding RMIT’s position and conceiving a workable solution. I’ve had a few things pointed out to me so far:

  1. Perhaps managing multiple online identities is a critical literacy, and a student account is a ‘practice’ space before developing their real workspace. Related to this is the reality that industry workspaces are also going to prescribe an account that contributes to the complexity around a person’s online identity and workspace.
  2. RMIT is a large and international organisation and needs to implement a system that can work consistently across that organisation. Our partners in Vietnam for example, have not agreed to the full use of a product like Google, citing performance and other issues.
  3. An account with is branded RMIT, and what a person does with that account impacts the RMIT brand and RMIT’s liability.
  4. There are legal implications for RMIT accounts using Youtube channels or Addons, relating to Intellectual Property.


Practically though, when a staff member or a student needs or wants a Youtube account, or to turn on an Addon, or to Create a Map, they simply work around the limitations and use their own Google accounts. I’ve been advised that there is no policy or procedure in RMIT that would regulate or prevent such practice.

Youtube for instance, the third or fourth most used website by Australians, and not just for watching funny cat videos either, has long been sociologically important*, a media phenomenon over the past 10 years with significant cultural impact*. RMIT’s teachers, researchers, students and administrators should have by-now developed deep critical awareness around this. But they have not on the whole, not while their RMIT accounts can’t engage it. RMIT remains technically disengaged.


Mummified Nile catfish (Middle Kingdom) placed in a tomb for the deceased to eat in the afterlife on display at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California. RC 2182. Source: Wikimedia Commons


Retain something of yourself

With all these realities, issues and workarounds in mind, we might then consider the idea of advising people to primarily use their own accounts over their RMIT provided ones, because the development of online workspaces and folios are long term projects starting now, and continuing well beyond their life as students and staff members.

To most, this suggestion will appear too subversive, “taking a long walk off the reservation”, as a good colleague puts it. But in another light it might only be a minor conceptual shift. It is certainly inline with the practical realities at universities that are not deploying Google accounts. The staff and students at those universities simply use Google like any other external web service when required. One that is not limited by the University-wide settings or legalities over an account that in reality is on loan to them and never really ‘owned’ by the user who’s identity it actually is!

A BYO account has longer term benefits for transient people in the university, such as students, casual and part time staff – which I hear is most of us now.


“There’s nothing casual about casual employment. The working conditions experienced by tens of thousands of casual academics in Australia’s public and private universities demonstrate that casualisation, as an employment strategy, is both widespread and systemic.” Source: NTEU Website


Celebrate the awareness

To conclude this never ending libertarian dilemma then, if it is deemed inappropriate that an offshore advertising corporation with links to foreign surveillance agencies has deep ties to the research data and communications within a university; and if the university that is using that service does not enable the full features of that service anyway – thereby impacting on the productivity, professional identity and portfolio of its staff and graduates, it might be better to do away with the limited service and make arrangements for services that do better in terms of data sovereignty and personal responsibility and control (if that exists, look to the open source, open data and hacker communities for committed innovation in this space).

So, the university drops Google so that we can use Google. Better still, the university seeks out a partnership and invests in communication and documentation services that genuinely give us some options outside the profit and surveillance driven motives. In the meantime, we might make it our responsibility to raise awareness around all of this. We’ll design learning activities and assessment tasks that help people manage their online identities and establish life-long learning efficacy. And we’ll celebrate the readiness of our staff and graduates by citing the confidence of their online work practices and the self evident strength of their portfolios…


*Note: “An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube” by Michael Wesch may not be currently available due to copyright challenges in your country.


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Engaging Students’ Professional Capacity

Picture of staff at Software workshop

Software Workshop. Photo credit Julian Lee

Post by: Howard Errey
Senior Coordinator, Digital Learning Design, College of Design and Social Context

Have you ever thought about the talent, knowledge and skills that your students are cultivating as they progress through their studies at university? Have you ever considered that you might be able to tap into this rich resource on offer to enhance your own professional context and learning?

Recently there have been a couple of opportunities to hire students to support staff projects. For this year’s LTIF on Practical Analytics (Learning and Teaching Investment Fund) we invited a 4th year student referred to us by the teaching staff in Graphic Design to design a logo and card to distribute at events and to promote the project website. We were very pleased with the result in the DSC College, receiving great concept designs overnight that needed only minor adjustment before final printing.

Last year the College of Design and Social Context commenced an e-learning Innovation Incubator aimed at getting collaboration across schools on digital learning and teaching innovations 10 years ahead of where we are now. One group of staff were interested to learn how to design 3d objects for the Occulus Rift (OR). A couple of 4th year gaming students, recommended by their lecturers in the School of Media and Communication, were highly experienced in the skills required to develop the OR and they were able to provide some cutting edge professional development to teaching staff from across the College. We had representation from the schools of: Architecture and Design, Property Construction and Project Management and Global, Urban and Social Studies. It was a fabulous win as a cross school collaboration not just from the three schools, but by employing students from a fourth school to train the staff.


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We’re Back! – Welcome


RMIT Francis Ormond Building, Melbourne. Photo Credit jwbenwell @

Hi and welcome back to the teaching tomtom for 2015: The drum on learning and teaching: helping you navigate the tertiary education landscape.

The Learning and Teaching and Digital Learning Groups in the College of Design and Social Context (DSC) are all now back on deck and ready to beat the drum on the teaching tomtom.

This week we just want to say “Hi, we’re back!” and to let our academic and teaching staff at RMIT know who their Learning & Teaching Advisors are, as well as to introduce our new Digital Learning team.

Before the teaching tom tom gets down to weekly posts on issues of learning and teaching in the tertiary sector, we must say hello to the many sessonal lecturers, teachers and tutors. RMIT University has approximately 80,000 students, and as we are a university of design and technology, we pride ourselves with our involvement with industry. Sessional staff are the backbone to our industry connections. Current practitioners, as teachers and tutors, keep our programs and courses on target and connected. Students are exposed to current knowledge and practices in their respective disciplines. This keeps everything fresh, up-to-date and relevant.

We hope to make all our sessional staff feel at home and support you to feel fully equipped to lecture and teach students, sometimes after a hard day at your normal job. To that end the Design and Social Context College have run induction sessions for sessionals; one for Vocational Education teachers and another for Higher Education tutors and lecturers. From the feedback, these were a great success. Please bookmark this page which has a wealth of resources for sessional staff.

This year we also welcome the Digital Learning Team to the college a new group dedicated to education development and support in the online space. They will be posting to the tomtom this year and also have a blog you may wish to follow at

We publish the tomtom every Thursday afternoon Melbourne time (UTC +10) during the Australian academic year. We look forward to your contributions and we hope you’ll comment or even write a post.

Guest writers are always welcome, so whether you are from RMIT or not, please contact us at for details.

RMIT University, College of Design and Social Context: Learning and Teaching Group and Digital Learning Team

Associate Professor Andrea Chester Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning & Teaching
Learning and Teaching
John Benwell Principal Advisor, Learning & Teaching:    School of Architecture and Design
Angela Clarke Senior Advisor, Learning & Teaching: School of Art
Melanie Williams Senior Advisor, Learning & Teaching: School of Education
Kellyann Geurts Senior Advisor, Learning & Teaching: School of Fashion and Textiles
Meredith Seaman Senior Advisor, Learning & Teaching: College Projects
Ruth Moeller Senior Advisor, Learning & Teaching: School of Media and Communication
Dallas Wingrove Senior Advisor, Learning & Teaching: School of Property, Construction and Project Management
Helen McLean Senior Advisor, Learning & Teaching: Higher Education
Jane McGlashan Senior Advisor, Learning & Teaching: Vocational Education
Digital Learning
Angela Nicolettou Manager, Digital Learning Team
Erika Beljaars-Harris Senior Coordinator, Digital Learning Design
Howard Errey Senior Coordinator, Digital Learning Design
Cathy Leahy Project Officer, eLearning
Leigh Blackall Educational Developer, GLbD
Andrea Mclagan Educational Developer, GLbD

Please feel free to contact your School’s Learning & Teaching Advisor for assistance during the year.

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and WordPress:

Time to Celebrate, Reflect and Rest

This week John Benwell, Principal Advisor Learning and Teaching, College of Design and Social Context wraps up for 2014.

The seats are all empty, as holidays begin. Photo Credit, jwbenwell@flickr

The seats are all empty, as holidays begin at RMIT University. Photo Credit: jwbenwell@flickr


The tables are all free in the cafeteria, and there is a strange quietness around the university as students prepare to graduate next week.

For all our northern hemisphere readers, it may seem odd that the teaching tomtom is now having a break until late February 2015. We have just completed our academic year here in Australia, and so with the combination of holidays and good summer weather, we take a break from work and reflect and recover from another busy year.

Before we go on leave, the last event on the university calendar is to say congratulations and goodbye to our graduates, and bestow upon them their well deserved academic awards at graduation. As a city university, students and staff process down the main street of Melbourne and are greeted by city’s Lord Mayor and our Vice Chancellor, before the evening graduation ceremony. The graduation ceremony is held in an under-cover football stadium with approximately 6000 students graduating and an audience of approximately 30,000. It is a truly magnificent moment for Melbourne, RMIT University, its staff, graduates, their family and friends.

Here is a short video of our academic and graduate parade.

The teaching tomtom has had a tremendous year in 2014. We have enjoyed and benefited from every post and everyone’s constructive comments.

From our first post in 2014  First Impressions by Jon Hurford, to our last post by Thembi Mason, on Teaching Fellowships we have a very enjoyable year publishing our blog posting 33 posts over the year to our friends and colleagues. Our most popular post was a great article on “The Art of Questioning” by Associate Professor Andrea Chester. We now have readers in over 140 countries.

During the year we have had many regular and guest writers who we wish to thank for their time and interest in helping us make the tom tom drums beat regularly. Sadly we said goodbye to the tomtom’s editor, Jon Hurford who left RMIT and went back to secondary teaching. Good luck, and thanks Jon!

Finally we would like to thank you, our readers; some 560 bloggers, 828 twitter followers and 31 facebook followers who have read, shared, re-blogged and left comments for us.

From everyone in the Learning and Teaching unit; and many others in the College of Design and Social Context at RMIT University, have a happy, safe holiday, and take some time to relax and reflect on your year of teaching and researching. Oh, and don’t forget to check out some of our archive posts at the teaching tomtom.

See you in 2015!

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RMIT Learning & Teaching for Sustainability Teaching Fellowships – a celebration, and tips for applicants

This week Thembi Mason, Senior Advisor, Learning and Teaching, in the College of Design and Social Context, and Dr. Jude Westrup,  Senior Advisor, Strategic Initiatives, Learning and Teaching from the Office of Dean, Learning and Teaching, at RMIT University, interview two academics on their “RMIT Learning & Teaching for Sustainability Teaching Fellowships” (Pilot) 2014 project.
Two RMIT Learning and Teaching for Sustainability (LTfS) Teaching Fellowships were awarded in 2014, one to Dr Yoko Akama (School of Media and Communications – DSC) and the other to Dr James Wong (School of Property Construction & Project Management – DSC). Yoko and James kindly agreed to share their experiences in winning the award, what their proposals were about, what they learned and what tips they would give to others considering applying for a Fellowship. In 2015 there will be funding available for three Learning & Teaching for Sustainability Teaching Fellowships – one for each Academic College. 
The primary focus of the LTfS Teaching Fellowships is on developing strategic, high-quality curriculum resources and learning activities, created in collaborative and innovative ways with industry-focuses. They not only advance LTfS in the curriculum across RMIT, within their specific discipline, but also within their industry or profession and across the global tertiary sector. In addition, they enhance the student learning experiences and outcomes in relation to sustainability and graduate employment outcomes.
Designing future designers: Pedagogy of building capacity in designing for complex social and environmental issues Implementing lessons learned from the development and delivery of a blended course on ‘Sustainability in the Built Environment’ at broader program level
 Yoko_smlDr Yoko Akama (top left) with Communication Design students) The TeamDr James Wong (right) with research assistant, Linnea Eriksson
What was your proposal?

My proposal built on a course we piloted with final year Communication Design students in 1st semester 2014. Developed in partnership with Oxfam’s Design for Change program, students designed communication strategies to engage Australian youth on climate change and food security. The teaching integrated my research expertise and introduced human-centred design methods to assist students’ learning of design’s role in addressing complex issues.Consolidating its fruitful outcome and Oxfam’s enthusiasm to continue the successful partnership, I evaluated the pilot program through feedback from students and Oxfam staff. This was then strengthened further with a literature review to integrate social and sustainable principles into the curricula. I undertook several workshops with various stakeholders to call upon a range of expertise in Oxfam, RMIT and beyond to ensure evaluation and critical input to deliver internationally relevant curricula.

How did you feel, when you found out that you’d won the fellowship?Very pleased and grateful – the timing was perfect! It also meant that the program we could develop with Oxfam would be stronger and they were really thrilled with the news as well.

What was your experience of the process for submitting for a sustainability fellowship?

The time when the call came through the e-mail to when the application was due was very short. I had to pull all stops, work evenings and weekends to get the application done, but it was worth it. I’m used to pressured deadlines ;-p

What would you recommend to others who might be considering applying?

I would recommend people to play to their strengths, build on their current research and teaching practice.

What did you learn through the fellowship project you proposed?

It was great to have consolidated time to thoroughly examine sustainability and social innovation in design from literature, case studies and experiences of those who are teaching it now. This was a great learning experience.

What would you do differently next time?

If I could do it differently next time, I would like to involve more people, through discursive and generative workshops. We only ran three workshop sessions in the end, and each one felt like there was more that could’ve been shared and iterated.

What does winning the fellowship means to you?

Winning the Fellowship meant that I could explore and deepen my approach and knowledge on how sustainability can be taught in design. It felt like a philosophical quest, actually, and very rewarding too.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’d like to thank the Learning and Teaching for Sustainability project (Office of Dean, Learning & Teaching) and RMIT’s Sustainability Committee for this initiative, and I hope it continues from strength to strength into the future.

What was your proposal?

The aim of the project was to implement lessons learned from the development and delivering of the ‘Sustainability in the Built Environment’ course into the Master of Energy Efficient and Sustainable Building which will be offered in 2015 within the Construction Management Program. This course will be delivered in conjunction with the Master program.The project explored the viability of the delivery mode of the course in implementing it to other courses in the Masters program; exploring ways and methods in enhancing student learning for online course through implementing virtual collaborate problem-based workshop; and to explore possibilities in implementing online real-time case studies with building industries.

How did you feel, when you found out that you’d won the fellowship?I was really excited and encouraged by the fact that important issues for sustainability in teaching and learning have been acknowledged.

What was your experience of the process for submitting for a sustainability fellowship?It has been a challenging experience but the process has been a pleasant one with the encouragement, support and advises from the school.

What would you recommend to others who might be considering applying?Prepare early, consult relevant people in your school and excited about sustainability in tertiary education.

What did you learn through the fellowship project you proposed?

The project has helped to extend my knowledge and understanding in developing and delivering online courses in construction management programs.

What would you do differently next time?Prepare proposal with industry inputs/advise.

What does winning the fellowship means to you?It has encouraged me to plan for submitting proposals to relevant external research funding.

If you are interested in applying for a Learning and Teaching for Sustainability (LTfS) Teaching Fellowship details will be made available in January 2015. For more information email the L&T Sustainability Group

However, here are some planning points you may like to consider:

Does the project proposal:
  Address at least one priority area derived from the RMIT Strategic Plan and Sustainability Action Plan?
  Show that there is support by the school or college?
  Have a budget compliant with accounting standards and which uses current salary scales?
  Show evidence of consultation with relevant stakeholders including the ODLT including LTfS Project Manager where relevant?
You will need to demonstrate:
a. Demonstration of clear potential to improve student learning experiences, outcomes and employment opportunities in relation to LTfS
b. Evidence of a clear return on investment, by demonstrating the potential for application in areas of the university beyond their immediate context
c. Demonstration of the ability to deliver project outcomes within approved timeframes and with requested resources (table format)
d. Demonstration of the need for the project, including reference to previous relevant projects, published literature and LTfS context
e. Demonstration of sound project design and methodology
f. Demonstration of how the impact of the project will be evaluated (e.g. by improved data in PARS or by improved CES or other LTfS metrics or indicators)
g. Demonstration of how knowledge and best practice from the LTfS Fellowship project will be shared and disseminated

These Teaching Fellowships are an integral component of a LTfS project that is reinvigorating and creating new curriculum resources, professional development (PD) and interactive LTfS experiential learning resources in alignment with RMIT’s Sustainability Policy and action items from the RMIT Sustainability Action Plan (to 2020)  and our Graduate Attributes


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Sustainability: Enabling Graduates

Dr Jude Westrup, Senior Advisor, Strategic Initiatives, Office of Dean, Learning and Teaching updates us on Sustainability at RMIT University, and invites you to a professional learning session on sustainability on the 21st of October.

Sustainability is a major contemporary issue and therefore fundamental to good business practice for education institutions. Australia’s National Action Plan for Education for Sustainability – Living Sustainably , the Rio+20 Treaty on Higher Education  and the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development  over-arch and inform RMIT’s strategic, global implementation of sustainability in learning & teaching, research and industry engagement. Initiatives such as Sustainable Urban Precincts Project  and the global management of international programs and partnerships  contribute to RMIT’s “reorientation…to a focus on achieving a culture of sustainability in … teaching and learning for sustainability… and continuous improvement in the sustainability of campus management” . TT post

As part of the ongoing process of embedding sustainability within the curriculum, research and partnerships across RMIT, the Sustainability Committee via the Office of Dean, Learning & Teaching has undertaken extensive curriculum, professional development (PD) and project work within the Learning & Teaching for Sustainability (LTfS) project during 2013-14.

RMIT’s Sustainability Policy and Action Plan to 2020 defines and directs projects and programs that embed sustainability principles and practices throughout learning & teaching, research and operational activities.

The plan states:

Tertiary education will:

  • Engage students at all levels in learning about relevant sustainability concepts (knowledge, skills and values/attitudes), identifying issues of importance and taking actions in order to empower them as future leaders in industry and society in their chosen fields
  • Embed sustainability capabilities/competencies within disciplinary and professional contexts, including where relevant challenges from beyond narrow or chosen discipline(s)
  • Support academic and teaching staff to develop high levels of discipline relevant sustainability literacy so that they are able (competent and confident) to facilitate sustainability learning

Sustainability: Enabling Graduates – professional development

This interactive, introductory professional learning session will introduce you to Learning & Teaching for Sustainability at RMIT and beyond.

Details are:

Tuesday 21st October in SAB – PD-Room (80.03.001)
From 12noon – 2pm. Details can be found on the DevelopME website:
Sustainability: Enabling Graduates is designed for all academic and teaching staff to:

  • interactively, explore through dialogue and design exercises curriculum refinement or development, with the aim of increasing relevant graduate learning outcomes in Sustainability or embedding sustainability further into the curriculum
  • trial and experiment with a multidisciplinary, e-assessment task design, and
  • examine and explore introductory concepts, praxis and principles ofLearning & Teaching for Sustainability within disciplines and professional contexts – local, regional, and international, that can then be applied to other course and program development or refinement.

Registrations are open until 20th October and inquiries are welcome to Dr Jude Westrup (9925 8377) or

TTpost2There are extensive learning & teaching for sustainability resources on our sustainability pages.  You may like to access these for your pre-workshop reference or for further ideas and inspiration.

So if you are interested in sustainability and education and think you might be:

  • Ready for some new ideas and refreshment?
  • Ready to rekindle your joy of learning after a productive, and long, semester?
  • Then take the opportunity to join academic and teaching staff at the new, experiential, multidisciplinary, multi-modal professional development workshop

then you might want to go along!

Other useful references

TEQSA and the Australian Qualifications Framework promote the importance of being able to measure and evidence graduates’ learning outcomes resulting from their program of study. TEQSA’s approach to Quality Assessments 

The RMIT graduate attribute (GA3) that most explicitly relates to Learning & Teaching for Sustainability is, ‘Environmentally aware and responsive’. This attribute articulates our aim that ‘Graduates of RMIT University will have engaged in processes to develop their abilities to recognise environmental and social impacts and to provide leadership on sustainable approaches to complex problems’

Don’t forget to register (DevelopME website) if you want to attend!

Share your thoughts and questions on sustainability in learning and teaching  in the comments section!
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