Staff Development Day

Yesterday I was at the AL (associate lecturer) staff development session at Harborne.  I was there to act as a ‘facilitator’ for the Technology Faculty session at the end of the day, but before that I attended two workshops.

The first session was called ‘a profile of disability’.  This was good to find out the processes behind a disability statement.  Clearly the OU is fortunate in that its size allows for a large amount of disability support available – an example is that their is a purpose built Disabled Students Allowance office at Walton Hall, the head office.
One controversial discussion was whether students whose first language is not English should be classed as a disability.  How is this different to another learning disability such as dyslexia or dyspraxia?  We didn’t really get to the bottom of the discussion, but it’s an interesting view.
We also discussed issues of disclosure, as there’s a legal requirement to record a disclosure to anyone within the university.
There was also some discussion of  ‘labelling’, and if we read that a student has schizophrenia do we see the label rather than a student.  I’m sure that these are issues that many academics have always struggled with, and I think the OU seems to be doing well.

The second session was about plagiarism, a particular bug bear of mine.  This session should have been really useful, but was spoiled for me by the boorish participation of another Associate Lecturer.  It was a minor point, she claimed that a point that I was trying to make was in a handout.. Which I had not yet received as it was still being passed around.  Whilst she apologised, this felt unprofessional in what is usually a very supportive atmosphere.    A term used which I do like is ‘sloppy scholarship’ which came through from the discussion.  This is particularly useful if you do not think that the student had an intention to deceive, but plagiarized work through ‘laziness’.
A handout was given from a Times Higher article from June 2006 by Phil Baty – “…staff found reporting plagiarism to be ‘stressful and discomforting, tedious and an emotional strain'”,Something which I can relate to, especially at the moment.
I’ll talk more about the final sessions later, I need to feedback to Malcolm before publishing to the rest of the world.
The next week is going to be a very busy week for me, and whilst I’m hoping to keep the blog going, there may be gaps.  Please do not adjust your RSS news reader!

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