I agreed to give a presentation about my doctoral research to the Lincoln Postgraduate Research Conference on Friday and it seemed to go quite well. I argued, as my findings seem to be indicating, that there has been a definite shift away from the instrumental agendas in which I think EDUs had their origin to a much more pragmatic, collegial way of working – whether that is because the original instrumental ideas e.g “You WILL introduce PDP into your curriculum, you WILL follow the practices of constructive alignment in your teaching, You will use Blackboard (or whatever) ” were always unrealistic. I don’t mean that these are not good things to do, but that you can’t realistically expect academics who work in a variety of disciplines to turn round and say “Are they? Oh all right then, I’ll stop doing what I have done for years and do something else that you suggest instead”
Instead those working in EDUs have moved towards a sort of pragmatic collegiality. Pragmatic, because the organisational and political agendas are still with us, so they have to play the game of corporate survival, but collegial because the only way to do that is to have conversations with academic staff on their terms and work to a longer term change agenda. Doing that seems to have created a sense of optimism among those I spoke to and a sense that they were valued. (But you’ll have to read the thesis for the evidence of that.)
The presentation seemed to be well recieved and I had some very useful feedback from more experienced researchers who were present, which brings me to the point of this post (at last!) If you are doing doctoral, or masters research and you get an opportunity to present at this kind of event, then take it. All the other presentations were themelves fascinating even if not directly related to my work and really opened up my eyes to the fact that I’m part of a much bigger research community. The icing on the cake was that we had a guest speaker, Malcolm Tight, from the University of Lancaster who held a discussion with us about getting work published, and he helped me start to think quite hard about where I might begin to mine my own thesis for a few journal articles.