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Modelling university educational development units

By Julian Beckton

Abstract

This thesis explores the precarious position of educational development units (EDUs) in the modern university. EDUs face the challenge of bringing about government inspired change, particularly, though not exclusively, with regard to exploiting new technologies in the practice of professionals trained to be critical of external demands, and whose practice is informed more by their disciplines than by their employers, their universities. The thesis therefore explores, using five case studies of EDUs, how those working in such units see the ways to meet the challenge of change, conceptualise the purpose of the university, the practice of university teaching, and the introduction of new technologies into the curriculum with a view to establishing a narrative of educational development from those working in the field. Using data from interviews and documents, the case studies suggest that in order to survive, EDUs do draw largely on their own institutions for their narrative, with the result that each EDU tends to reflect the focus of its own university, rather than draw inspiration from an external common view of universities. Rather than a factory based model of change based on high levels of power and resources, EDUs appear to have more in common with the pre-industrial household, in that they offer small, highly specialised services to relatively small groups of people, where necessary employing additional faculty based colleagues to pursue specific projects. This, along with the relationship building in which EDUs engage, enables units to break down barriers between disciplines through the sharing of practice between colleagues in different faculties. Thus the EDU, despite its small size, plays an important role in unifying the university, and in building an institutional brand

Topics: X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lincoln.ac.uk:3257

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