bioCEED has recently submitted the Annual report for 2018, and this gave us an opportunity to reflect on what we do, how we do it and why. And as it turned out – what we call our focus areas…
bioCEEDs greatest pride, and arguably also our greatest achievement, is the strong and productive collegial culture that has grown amongst our staff and students during our time as a centre. Far from an isolated ‘island‘, bioCEED is embedded in, supported by, and in increasingly strongly in demand from the staff and students at our host institutions and beyond. A majority of the scientific, technical and administrative staff at our host departments are now involved in bioCEED activities and projects. Many of our research and development projects originate from staff or student initiatives, and are also co-created, managed and led by staff and students beyond the bioCEED core group. The potential and impact of this broad bottom-up involvement was fully demonstrated in 2018, when our students won the University of Bergen Learning Environment Prize for the fully student-initiated and student-run project biORAKEL. This was the first time that students, not staff or departments, won this prestigious prize. The idea behind biORAKEL is that older students act as ‘oracles’ to help and mentor younger students with any kinds of problems they might encounter during their course work or studies more generally. Through a student-led forum with friendly oracles, waffles, and humour they create a low-stakes atmosphere where students can come to ask, learn, hang out and discuss biology or studying more generally. The learning outcomes are considerable, for oracles and participating students alike.
And there is more: at Svalbard, the student-driven and NOKUT-funded project bioBREAKFAST has developed successfully through 2018, now also including non-biology students from the other departments. The bioCEED student representatives have also arranged student seminars on topics from statistics to dissemination and oral presentation techniques, and invited relevant workplaces to give career and employment advice. Our students themselves write about and present these and other projects at conferences such as ISSOTL18 Toward a Learning Culture and Learning Forum.
This broad involvement in general, and the student initiatives in particular, have led us to question the very name of Focus Area 1, Teacher culture, which seemed so appropriate only a couple of years back.
Now it feels oddly outdated and narrow, and we ask: Is 2019 the year when bioCEED renames this focus area A Learning Culture, to reflect that the learning partnership involve the full breadth of students and educational staff within and beyond higher education programmes and institutions?
You can find the full 2018 Annual report here.