Longevity and the Disciplines: What Makes University Teaching Different?

Deborah VENESS
Australian National University, Australia


University academics - teachers and researchers - are the guardians of their disciplines, responsible not only for the evolution of knowledge in their fields, but also for the preparation and training of future disciplinary knowledge custodians and creators, and for the dissemination of the wisdom of their disciplines. Traditionally, this meant that disciplinary novices sat at the feet of their teachers to listen, worked alongside them to learn the methods of research, and practiced the skills and techniques that they observed in their elders until they too were masters. In the first decades of the 21st century, these practices are as important as they have always been, but they are challenged by technological innovation, by managerialism, by alternative methods of knowledge dissemination, and by modes of delivery still new to many in traditional universities. What are the core values of university teaching? What defines pedagogy and curriculum design in higher education? This paper explores the role of the university teacher in a globalized, technological-enhanced, time-shifting world where information from every discipline is freely available.

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