In the article (Provost Valerie Linton: helping weld the University vision together), the University of Auckland’s inaugural Provost, Professor Valerie Linton, explains what the role is and what she brings to it.  The role, second in charge to Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater, is to ensure strength in all parts of the University, including where faculties intersect and connect.

Valerie also shared that one of the most important things she is working on is the curriculum transformation project.

 “One part of the project is looking at the teaching delivery mode,” she says. “How do we bring together different elements of our teaching delivery, the on-campus experience and broader education components, into a framework to make the whole learning experience engaging and relevant?”

She stresses that while the University responded well to teaching in lockdowns, there’s a difference between remote teaching and true online learning.

 “We’ve been remote teaching via Zoom, but it’s not purposely designed online learning. We are an on-campus University and we’re not trying to be a wholly online university, although we do have those offerings in some parts of the University.

“We have great resources on our campuses. We want students to come and engage with them, with staff and with each other and to come for a good block of time. We need to make that easy and worthwhile.

 “That also means we have to have good study spaces.”

The University has a team looking at the best use of space on its campuses, as well as people looking at all aspects of the education delivery mode. There are also staff considering ways to help upskill academics to use new technologies and teaching-delivery methods.

Valerie says at this time of year both teachers and students may be suffering exhaustion, perhaps exacerbated by remote learning and uncertainty, so it’s a challenge to think about the future.

“But it’s always important to look at how we can move things forward positively. In the curriculum transformation project, we are looking at the structure of the curriculum and how we deliver it.”

She says communication of any change or information in general is key and, in a huge organisation, is always a challenge.

“Dawn tries to speak to everyone through the all-staff Zoom, as an example, and I think the fact that you can ask anything, and get an answer, is really progressive. We also have communities of practice (COPs) who share ideas and information. Plus we work with students and make sure we engage properly with them, including the student consultative group.

 “It’s crucial that we engage with the organisation at all levels. We can communicate top down and bottom up. But it’s also key to get in to schools, disciplines, business units and other places to talk to people. They’re all important.”

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