Is it a profession, a community of practice, a discipline, a pedagogy, a field? This is still the subject of lively debate, but for many of us, at its most fundamental level, it’s our job.
The job of a Learning Developer is to work with university students, outside the subject discipline, to help them make sense of academic practices in HE and develop as successful, independent learners (what might be called ‘study skills’, although there are problems with that concept). We’re therefore not exactly teachers in the traditional sense, as we’re not working directly with subject knowledge, and the formats in which we work aren’t quite how teachers usually work, but certainly we draw on the skills and knowledge of teachers (which many of us are trained as).
It’s a fairly new role in UK HE, growing out of various agendas such as Widening Participation and Internationalisation, but has evolved beyond these to work with all learners. We are represented by the Association of Learning Development in Higher Education. To find out more, the book Learning Development in Higher Education is a good starting point.
The background, circumstances and remit of Learning Developers may vary according to local context, but I’ve had a go at articulating what it means to me in this blog post.