The higher education (HE) sector in Australia is in a state of flux due to a range of social, political and economic factors. Increased competition, greater student diversity, tautening of industry exigencies, reduced funding, and rapid technological advances are key drivers of change in this environment. Within this period of transformation, HE institutions remain steadfast in maintaining quality teaching and learning practices. Challenges are therefore presented on the traditional role and function of the teaching academic, creating opportunities to explore how staff can be better prepared to teach into the new era of HE.
Professional development for learning and teaching is one approach that can support staff to enhance teaching practice. Professional development programs however that fail to meet the contemporary needs of HE or consider the academic’s professional requirements, may be at risk of becoming extraneous. A move towards a more flexible approach to professional development may be necessary to meet these requirements to provide appropriate, timely support for teachers.
This paper problematises approaches to professional development which adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model and introduces a new, innovative program Continuing Professional Development (Learning & Teaching) (CPD [L&T]) at the University of Wollongong . The CPD (L&T) model supports the professional development of all teaching staff – from casual teacher to professor level, academic and professional staff. The model is externally referenced and features self-nominated activities for accreditation. CPD (L&T) enables multiple, ongoing methods of engagement across a professional’s teaching career, supporting a new, You-topic vision of professional development in learning and teaching.