AP innovations for postgraduate teaching assistants: A case to prepare early career colleagues for future-proof teaching scenarios
Arena One at UCL (University College London) provides an initial teacher training programme for PGTAs (Postgraduate Teaching Assistants). The programme is divided in two parts: a compulsory 3-hour workshop for all PGTAs involved in teaching related activities and an optional 5-session course, TAP (Teaching Associate Programme). TAP runs for a total of 15 hours (5 sessions of 3 hours each) and it was traditionally offered in two face-to-face formats: either fortnightly or as an intensive one-week course. One of its major strengths is that it brings together PGTAs from different disciplines and backgrounds who can reflect on their experiences as both students and educators and develop a common, shared language of learning and teaching.
During the academic year 2019-20, TAP was reviewed with the aim of embedding online and distance learning activities and being delivered in blended mode (Kupetz and Ziegenmeyer, 2005). This review started in autumn 2019 and was accelerated due to the Covid crisis. The syllabus was revised to include a broader and deeper reflection on internationalisation of the curriculum (Leask, 2015) and inclusivity (Smith, 2006). The rationale behind these choices is to make TAP more flexible for early career colleagues who have to juggle tight schedules, but also to model practice in relation to pedagogical innovation. The revised version of TAP includes the use of numerous functionalities of our Moodle platform and integrated systems, combined with tools such as mobile response systems and interactive recordings (Paladino, 2008). The new TAP was delivered twice in spring 2020 and it received positive feedback and a high level of engagement from participants.