Beyond the conference: Singing our SSONG

Keywords: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, small significant networks, community, design-based research

Abstract

The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) annual conference presents an exciting opportunity to meet with international colleagues from diverse backgrounds and situations to commune on our common interest in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). As with every ISSOTL conference, the enthusiasm for SoTL was palpable in Los Angeles in 2016. Rich discussions took place, networks were formed, and promises to keep in touch were made. Unfortunately, previous conference experiences have taught us that these good intentions often fall short once the conference bubble has burst and the reality of daily life sets in once more. In an attempt to circumvent this phenomenon, we—seven colleagues from three different countries—embarked on a research project that enabled us to maintain the relationships and fruitful discussions we had initiated at ISSOTL16. We established Small, Significant Online Network Group, or SSONG, inspired by a conference workshop on small significant networks. As a group, we met regularly online using Adobe Connect© and engaged in significant conversations around SoTL that were private, trustful, and intellectually intriguing. This article reflects our experiences in establishing and maintaining the group. We discuss how the group was formed; its alignment with the concept of small, significant networks; and the benefits and challenges we encountered. Four key principles of the group that have emerged will also be discussed in detail, enabling readers to consider how they could adapt the concept for their own purposes.

Author Biographies

Corinne A. Green, University of Wollongong

Corinne A. Green is an aspiring academic and PhD student at the University of Wollongong (AUS). She is currently researching school-university partnerships in initial teacher education programs, and lecturing and tutoring in teacher education.

Michelle J. Eady, University of Wollongong

Michelle J. Eady is an Associate Professor at the University of Wollongong (AUS). Her research interests include the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, work-integrated learning, Indigenous studies, and other current issues in education.

Marian McCarthy, University of College Cork

Marian McCarthy is the former Vice President for Teaching and Learning at University College Cork (IRL). She has been involved in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning for decades, as recognized by the UCC Lifetime Achievement Award she received in 2019.

Ashley B. Akenson, Tennessee Technological University

Ashley B. Akenson is the Director of Graduate Programs at Tennessee Technological University (USA). She is passionate about bringing multicultural awareness and mindfulness to program planning and evaluation practices, and everyday interactions.

Briony Supple, University College Cork

Briony Supple is a lecturer at University College Cork (IRL). Her current research interests are around how technology-enhanced learning can be conceptualized from a SoTL perspective, and embedded into professional learning for academics.

Jacinta McKeon, University College Cork

Jacinta McKeon is a lecturer at University College Cork (IRL). She teaches and conducts research regarding second language teaching and classroom interactions across all levels of education. Her current SoTL research focuses on transforming disciplinary knowledge into pedagogical content knowledge as a university lecturer.

James G. R. Cronin, University College Cork

James G. R. Cronin is a lecturer at University College Cork (IRL). His current SoTL research focuses on integrative learning, formation of disciplinary identities, and fostering student resilience through the arts and humanities.

References

Bitzer, E. M. (2010). A university department as a community of practice: A quality promotion perspective. South African Journal of Higher Education, 24(1), 15–31. http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/sajhe.v24i1.63426

Blair, E. (2013). The challenge of contextualizing the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 1(1), 127–130. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.1.1.127

Cambridge University Press. (2008). Cambridge academic content dictionary. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Cox, M. D. (2004). Introduction to faculty learning communities. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2004(97), 5–23. https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.129

Cox, M. D. (2013). The impact of communities of practice in support of early-career academics. International Journal for Academic Development, 18(1), 18–30. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2011.599600

Engin, M., & Atkinson, F. (2015). Faculty learning communities: A model for supporting curriculum changes in higher education. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 27(2), 164–174. Retreived from http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/abstract.cfm?mid=1948

Evans, C., Yeung, E., Markoulakis, R., & Guilcher, S. (2014) An online community of practice to support evidence-based physiotherapy practice in manual therapy. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 34(4), 215–223. https://doi.org/10.1002/chp.21253

Felten, P. (2013). Principles of good practice in SoTL. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 1(1), 121–125. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.1.1.121

Herrington, A., Herrington, J., Kervin, L., & Ferry, B. (2006). The design of an online community of practice for beginning teachers. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 6, 120–132. Retreived from https://www.learntechlib.org/primary/p/21095/

Huber, M. T., & Robinson, J. M. (2016). Mapping advocacy and outreach for the scholarship of teaching and learning. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 4(1), 4–7. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.4.1.3

Johnson, C. M. (2001). A survey of current research on online communities of practice. Internet and Higher Education, 4, 45–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1096-7516(01)00047-1

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Marcketti, S., van der Zanden, A. M., & Leptien, J. R. (2015). SoTL champions: Leveraging their lessons learned. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9(1), 1–25. https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2015.090104

Mårtensson, K., Roxå, T., & Olsson, T. (2011). Developing a quality culture through the scholarship of teaching and learning. Higher Education Research and Development, 30(1), 51–62. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2011.536972

McKinney, K. (2015). The more things change, the more they stay the same. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9(1), 1–6. https://doi.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2015.090102

McMillan, W., & Gordon, N. (2017). Being and becoming a university teacher. Higher Education Research and Development, 36(4), 777–790. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2016.1236781

McMorrow, S. L., DeCleene Huber, K. E., & Wiley, S. (2017). Capacity building to improve interprofessional collaboration through a faculty learning community. Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 5(3), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.15453/2168-6408.1371

McNaughton, D., & Vostal, B. R. (2010). Using active listening to improve collaboration with parents: The LAFF don't CRY strategy. Intervention in School and Clinic, 45(4), 251-256. https://doi.org/10.1177/1053451209353443

Mighty, J. (2013). One important lesson I've learned from my involvement with SoTL. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 1(1), 113–116. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.1.1.113

Mipham, S. (2017). The lost art of good conversation: A mindful way to connect with others and enrich everyday life. New York, NY: Harmony Books.

Morrish, E. (2015, September 14). Networking our way through Neoliberal U. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://academicirregularities.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/networking-our-way-through-neoliberal-u/

Pataraia, N., Falconer, I., Margaryan, A., Littlejohn, A., & Fincher, S. (2014). “Who do you talk to about your teaching?”: Networking activities among university teachers. Frontline Learning Research, 5, 4–16. https://doi.org/10.14786/flr.v2i2.89

Poole, G., Verwoord, R., & Iqbal, I. (2016, October 12–15). Tales of teaching and learning: Whose stories matter to you and why? Paper presented at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) annual conference, Los Angeles, CA.

Poole, G., Iqbal, I., & Verwoord, R. (2018). Small significant networks as birds of a feather. International Journal for Academic Development, 23, 1¬–12. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2018.1492924

Pyörälä, E., Hirsto, L., Toom, A., Myyry, L., & Lindblom-Ylänne, S. (2015). Significant networks and meaningful conversations observed in the first-round applicants for the teachers’ academy at a research-intensive university. International Journal for Academic Development, 20(2), 150–162. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2015.1029484

Rienties, B., & Hosein, A. (2015). Unpacking (in)formal learning in an academic development programme: a mixed-method social network perspective. International Journal for Academic Development, 20(2), 163–177. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2015.1029928

Rosenberg, M. B. (2015). Nonviolent communication: A language of life (3rd ed.). Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press.

Roxå, T., & Mårtensson, K. (2009). Significant conversations and significant networks exploring the backstage of the teaching arena. Studies in Higher Education, 34(5), 547–559. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075070802597200

Roxå, T., & Mårtensson, K. (2012). How effects from teacher training of academic teachers propagate into the meso level and beyond. In E. Simon & G. Pleschova (Eds.), Teacher development in higher education: Existing programs, program impact, and future trends (pp. 213–233). London: Routledge.

Sherer, P. D., Shea, T. P., & Kristensen, E. (2003). Online communities of practice: A catalyst for faculty development. Innovative Higher Education, 27(3), 183–194. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022355226924

Shulman, L. S. (1993). Teaching as community property: Putting an end to pedagogical solitude. Change, 25(6), 6–7. https://doi.org/10.1080/00091383.1993.9938465

Thomson, K. (2015). Informal conversations about teaching and their relationship to a formal development program: learning opportunities for novice and mid-career academics. International Journal for Academic Development, 20(2), 137–149. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2015.1028066

Trigwell, K. (2013). Evidence of the impact of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning purposes. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 1(1), 95–105. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.1.1.95

Van Waes, S., De Maeyer, S., Moolenaar, N. M., Van Petegem, P., & Van den Bossche, P. (2018). Strengthening networks: A social network intervention among higher education teachers. Learning and Instruction, 53, 34–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2017.07.005

Van Waes, S., Moolenaar, N. M., Daly, A. J., Heldens, H. H. P. F., Donche, V., Van Petegem, P., & Van den Bossche, P. (2016). The networked instructor: The quality of networks in different stages of professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 59, 295–308. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2016.05.022

Van Waes, S., Van den Bossche, P., Moolenaar, N. M., Stes, A., & Van Petegem, P. (2015). Uncovering changes in university teachers’ professional networks during an instructional development program. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 46, 11–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stueduc.2015.02.003

Verwoord, R., & Poole, G. (2016). The role of small significant networks and leadership in institutional embedding of SoTL. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2016(146), 79–86. https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.20190

Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015a). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved from https://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/07-Brief-introduction-to-communities-of-practice.pdf

Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015b). Key success and failure factors. Retrieved from https://wenger-trayner.com/project/key-success-and-failure-factors/

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning as a social system. Systems Thinker, 9(5), 2–3. Retrieved from https://thesystemsthinker.com/communities-of-practice-learning-as-a-social-system/

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Williams, A. L., Verwoord, R., Beery, T. A., Dalton, H., McKinnon, J., Strickland, K., . . . Poole, G. (2013). The power of social networks: A model for weaving the scholarship of teaching and learning into institutional culture. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 1(2), 49–62. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.1.2.49

Zhang, W., & Watts, S. (2008). Online communities as communities of practice: A case study. Journal of Knowledge Management, 12(4), 55–71. https://doi.org/10.1108/13673270810884255

Published
2020-03-15
How to Cite
Green, Corinne A., Michelle J. Eady, Marian McCarthy, Ashley B. Akenson, Briony Supple, Jacinta McKeon, and James G. R. Cronin. 2020. “Beyond the Conference: Singing Our SSONG”. Teaching & Learning Inquiry 8 (1), 42-60. https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.8.1.4.