Who remembers Synergy? (Bonus points if you published in Synergy). Synergy was a publication by the Institute for Teaching and Learning. There were 31 issues from 1996 to 2011, and it was a forum for staff to showcase their scholarly learning and teaching initiatives and communicate the outcomes of their critical reflection on and inquiries into teaching.
Synergy has found a new home in the digital collections of the library – and a big shout out to Robin Burgess, Mark Kosta and James Tracy for making that happen. I’d also like to acknowledge the hard work of the all the editors over the years, including Peter Kandlbinder (now at UTS), Tai Peseta (now at WSU), Susan Thomas, Christine Asmar (now at University of Melbourne), and Kim DeBacco (nee McShane) (now at UC Santa Barbara). Design, layout and photography were by James Tracy and Rachel Williams.
The first issue in 1996 was back when the Director of the Centre for Teaching and Learning was Associate Professor Jackie Lublin, and Professor Richard Johnstone was Pro-Vice-Chancellor. The first article in the issue was ‘New delivery systems for higher education’, discussing a Technology in Higher Education conference:
In particular, speakers addressed the challenges posed to the traditional organisation of higher education by mass communications with their potential for delivering individualised learning. …The challenge of proliferating delivery media for educational materials was a common theme across educational sectors. CD-ROM presents an alternative to traditional print based open learning materials; pay TV and ‘value-added’ information services in the home compete with Educational TV and offshore course delivery across the internet threatens to supplant traditional distance education formats.
In 2005 Issue 21, an editorial by Tai Peseta began:
There is definitely something in the air with this issue of Synergy–and it’s called ‘online learning’. It is not altogether surprising. The university has made, and is continuing to make massive efforts to articulate and develop both appropriate and critical pedagogical conversations that can sustain a more strategic and robust approach to e-learning innovation and scholarship.
And in keeping with the edtech theme, the final ever article in issue 31, 2011 was by John Ryan, Faculty of Health Sciences, on creating videos to teach ECG (electrocardiography) interpretation.
While educational technology was a hot topic over the years, many other topics were covered, including academic honesty, assessment & feedback, supporting sessional staff, overseas placement of students, the first year experience and inclusive teaching. It’s quite fascinating to browse through the issues and see how much, and how little, has changed.
As most of the articles display photos of the authors, it’s interesting looking back at photos of colleagues over 15 years. Some of these colleagues have sadly passed away, such as the amazing Jill Kelton whom I worked with in the Business School and is featured in issues 20 & 25.
Many of the issues contain cartoons by Tamara Asmar, which are worth a look for her humorous take on learning and teaching issues.
If you are interested in publishing your SOTL work, please do get in touch with me to chat about suggestions about journals, or getting started (E. firstname.lastname@example.org). And of course, Teaching@Sydney is a great place to start sharing your teaching experiences and inquiries with colleagues.