Teaching & Learning


Q&A with Professor Andrew Eder

17 June 2015

Prof Andrew Eder

Professor Andrew Eder (Pro-Vice-Provost, UCL Life Learning) provides an update on developments in Life Learning at UCL as well as advice on developing CPD programmes.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am Pro-Vice-Provost with responsibility for Life Learning and am tasked with increasing UCL’s short course provision and successfully promoting these offerings to external learners. Over the past 18 months, I have established a growing Life Learning development team to offer advice and provide administrative and specialist support (see how the team can help you).

Our aim is to help academics enhance their global reach and impact as well as increase their departmental income to support local activities through an enhanced provision of professional development, executive education, personal learning and summer schools.

In summary, we currently deliver about 20,000 learner days each year and it is UCL’s intention to grow this to at least 50,000 learner days per annum through an expanding portfolio of cutting-edge short courses for career advancement and personal growth.

I am currently busy with our bidding rounds for departments and academics to apply for investments funds to help in getting new short courses off the ground. This process is open from 18th June to 27th July and you can access more information on our website.

What advice would you give to someone looking to develop the way they teach?

Listening to your audience is so important when delivering CPD and short courses. You really need to understand what the market wants and needs as there are huge opportunities to be explored in the area of professional development and short courses.

For example, can your existing programmes be offered in discrete bite-sized chunks as CPD or short courses? Can your short courses feed new ways of thinking or establish contact with industry to enrich your undergraduate or postgraduate programmes? We have many examples of just how this has happened.

What piece of technology do you find invaluable in the delivery of short courses?

We have launched a course finder website at www.ucl.ac.uk/lifelearning which already hosts over 100 short courses, can be accessed directly from the UCL home page and is steadily increasing in traffic.

We have also developed an online platform called UCLeXtend to deliver blended and online learning for short courses. Participants can connect through online forums or access online resources in support of their chosen course, whilst colleagues can deliver the teaching in a blended format or fully online.

One of the next big challenges, over the next couple of years, is to integrate a short course administration system to manage and enhance the learner experience from first enquiry through to certification and feedback.

How do you expect higher education to change in the next five years?

Some thoughts….for students starting certain three year degree programmes, up to half of what they learn in year one will be outdated by the end of their studies; the top 10 currently “in demand” jobs didn’t even exist a few years ago; up to 60% of new UK jobs will be in STEM related professions within 5 years; the majority of today’s graduates will have 10-14 jobs by age 38; 1 in 4 will have the same job for less than a year and 1 in 2 will be with the same company for less than 5 years.

We are in a changing world and need to respond to these challenges. It is my strong belief that higher education providers should be grasping the opportunity to play a key role in offering continuing education throughout life to support career advancement and personal growth beyond both undergraduate and postgraduate study.

What achievement are you most proud of?

An initiative I am very proud of is the establishment and growth of UCL Eastman CPD into one of the leading continuing education centres for dental professionals in Europe. With over 20,000 online learners, we also run about 500 face-to-face courses each year attracting over 3,000 participants annually.

Hosted in dedicated state-of-the-art facilities about 200 yards south of the main Eastman campus on Gray’s Inn Road, one challenge is always to stay ahead of our competitors with regard to the hands-on learning experience. The whole team were, therefore, thrilled when in 2010 we were able to install a whole new floor with the latest technology to support imaging, skills training and patient care.

I was delighted to be recognised for excellence and innovation in teaching and learning at UCL as a recipient of a Provost’s Teaching Award in 2010 and sincerely hope that, in my current role, I will be able to translate some of this success across UCL and assist other departments in fulfilling their own CPD ambitions.

Dr Brent Pilkey (UCL Connected Curriculum) asks "thinking back to your own higher education, can you offer one key memory of experiencing good teaching? Has that informed you or your teaching?"

For me, it’s about inspirational personalities and how they took time with us as students and shared their experiences.

Having trained first as a clinician and then as an academic, I have been so very lucky to have been trained by, and worked with, superb clinicians, devoted teachers and highly-regarded researchers along every step of the journey and each one of them has had a significant impact in their own way.

On reflection, this isn’t something that I have thought about too much before but I am absolutely convinced that my own teaching style reflects some of each of the very best teachers that I have encountered up to this point and I am truly grateful for their contribution to my career.

What questions would you like to pose to the next interviewee?

How might you or your department increase short course activity over the next 18 months?