Engineering lecturers learn to collaborate for teaching excellence

Staff at Challenger Institute of Technology in Beaconsfield WA recognised that funding changes for Australian education would require them to be better able to meet student expectations for high quality education.   I was invited to work with their engineering lecturers to help them deliver more creative, industry-relevant classes, and to enhance the way they communicate with their students.

Engineering teaching excellence Challenger TAFE

Education is more than teaching technical skills

I devised a half-day workshop to achieve these goals, based on my own experience as an engineer and educator.

The workshop called Education in engineering: making it relevant included:

  • An overview of creative teaching methods
  • Templates for designing industry-relevant lessons
  • Methods for offering constructive feedback to students
  • Practical experience of facilitative techniques, such as World Café and learning through play

We discussed positive impacts lecturers could have within a student’s career in the engineering industry, and how they could continue develop themselves as educators in a constantly changing environment.

The lecturers recognised that their teaching provides not just technical skills, but the capacity to work safely and confidently in the professional world.

Surprise learning about collaboration and their colleagues

While the workshop contained examples of creative teaching techniques, the real focus was on each lecturer coming up with their own ideas and sharing them. When asked about the most valuable learnings in lesson planning and student feedback they said:

“Hearing the opinions of colleagues about various aspects of delivery”

and

“Learning new tools for delivery and assessment”

And how this would change their work in the future:

“I will communicate with other team members (staff) regarding how my content relates to all units.”
“I will recognised that I understand what I’m talking about, but students may not.”

Engineering lecturers impress, with their dedicated approach to developing themselves as educators

My closeout report included recommendations of ways to continuously developing the teaching skills of those in the engineering team who were enthusiastic to learn, based on the interests and capacities I had seen in the group.

Checking in with the Challenger TAFE client three months later, they said said that there had been a turnaround in the team following the workshops. All the recommendations for collaborative learning had been implemented.

There has been a turnaround in the engineering team since your workshop. They have recognised that structured professional development is not the only way to learn and have implemented informal ways to share information about developing as educators. They have developed new communications channels and set up a mentor-buddy system. I think your session helped them see that they have the skills to do this themselves.

(Michelle Dodd, Manager Learning and Development, Challenger Institute of Technology)

Continuous innovation in education delivery

When educators understand the purpose of their work and feel empowered to build their own skills, they can continue to develop and meet the challenges of a changing environment sector.

While this course was devised specifically for engineers, the tools and techniques are applicable to range of educators and sectors. Contact me rachael@strategiccreativityatwork.com.au to discuss the options for your team.

 

Through the eyes of a clown: the art of facilitation

A Perth version of Clowning for Facilitators will be running on January 12.  For a word that wasn’t in use not so many years ago, facilitator gets bandied around a bit.  In this workshop we use the art of Clown to get you, the facilitator or communicator, connected with the intangible part of your work.  How do you develop your ability to read the energy in the room and convince a bunch of engineers or bankers that drawing a picture of a tree on yet another post-it note really is worth their while?  How do you develop the confidence that you will get your group wherever they need to be – even when things seem to be going completely wrong? Continue reading “Through the eyes of a clown: the art of facilitation”

Engineers v. entrepreneurs: the great impro-off

Every played at improvisation? These are the exercises actors use to be able to create whole performances from scratch on the spot.Improvisation in companies takes those exercises and applies them to building skills which help improve business performance.On the surface, it looks like a facilitator having you running around and playing games to stimulate your creativity and capacity for complete ridiculousness. What it actually does is help you practise bringing more of your great ideas to your company. Continue reading “Engineers v. entrepreneurs: the great impro-off”

Engineering + circus training = ?? The equation of play.

When I was 8 I talked of running away to join the circus.  By 15 I was far too serious to consider anything so frivolous, and enrolled in an engineering degree as a close alternative.

A decade after graduating, and following roles in organisational development, strategy, change, sustainability and even social enterprise, I found myself boarding a train to live out my childhood dream and train with Greentop Circus in Sheffield.

A third-life crisis perhaps?  (I didn’t tell my mother for a few weeks!)

Creativity inspires our personal lives: whether a performance, sculpture at The Tate, or a tango class, in our personal lives.  Art encourages conversation, reflections on human nature, and who hasn’t had a romance assisted by a carefully compiled playlist?

What, then, does creativity offer the sensible world of work? Creativity tends to be relegated to team-building days or opportunities for sponsorship.

In Sheffield I explored the place that performance and physical theatre have in business: the magical boundary where creativity and practicality meet.

 

Rachael West is a former engineer who ran away to the circus and became a speaker coach. Email rachael@rachaelwest.com.au for more.