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An international atypical Senior Fellowship Journey

22 Nov 2022 | Dr. David Santandreu Calonge Dr. David Santandreu Calonge, Head of Educational Program Development at Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) shares how his international experience in various countries, universities, and roles helped him pave the way to Senior Fellowship.

My current role at MBZUAI involves, among other things, designing faculty development initiatives. I previously had academic and/or senior management roles in Dubai (Canadian University Dubai), Hong Kong (Hong Kong University, City University of Hong Kong (CityU), Lingnan University, Hong Kong Baptist University), South Korea (Sungkyunkwan University) and Australia (RMIT University, The University of Adelaide).

At CUD for instance, I was Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Arts and Sciences and managed more than 35 academic staff and 20 professional staff. My work and contributions to student learning, application of contemporary approaches to university teaching and the design and delivery of online, flexible, digital and/or disruptive approaches to education has been recognized on multiple occasions and in various countries.

I received teaching & learning awards in Hong Kong, U.S, Australia, France, Dubai, and I became a Fellow of the (then) Higher Education Academy in 2011 (leading by example!), as we were keen to propose an official professional recognition pathway to our academic staff and teaching assistants at CityU. Back then, very few universities in Hong Kong had heard of the then-called HEA (now Advance HE) or the fellowships and we started to strategically align our in-house designed workshops with [The UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education]. I also mentioned the HEA every chance I had, at teaching and learning conferences, at seminars, meetings with sister institutions, informal chats, as all universities in Hong Kong have similar faculty development programs.

I am pleased to see that most are members of Advance HE now, with a growing number of fellows. While in Australia I also had the pleasure to join the Australia and New Zealand chapters’ meetings and exchange views and expertise with colleagues. These interdisciplinary experience (s) sharing opportunities with HEA Fellows in communities of practice are invaluable and I would recommend anyone reading this blog post to join those.  A few research ideas and publications were the direct result of these insightful discussions.   

I must say that the experiences (positive and not so positive), challenges and opportunities that I encountered over the years in my various roles in various educational contexts have given me the opportunity to learn and experiment new things, develop my skills and grow, not just as an educator, a researcher, a reflective practitioner but also as a person and Advance HE has undoubtedly had a key role in my professional development. I now share all this “knowledge” in my workshops for academic staff and teaching assistants, at conferences and in my research, to hopefully inspire current and future academics.

I also designed a new Modular Faculty Professional Development Program, mapped, and aligned to Advance HE and the UKPSF, which will allow academics and Teaching Assistants to apply to the various levels of Fellowship. Area of Activity, A5 and Professional Value, V3 of the UKPSF encourage the use / incorporation of evidence-informed approaches and the outcomes from research. My interdisciplinary research has focused on skills, particularly through the use of Massive Open Online Courses, education policy in the South Korean context with a particular focus on private tutoring, effective blended curriculum design in different disciplines (Health, Biology, Economics, Wine Business etc.,). A proud moment was the recent publication of a co-authored article titled Machine learning based approach to exam cheating detection (Kamalov, Sulieman, & Santandreu Calonge, 2021) in PLOS One (ranked 30th worldwide, all disciplines, by Google Scholar, Scimago Q1). Our impactful research was featured in Innovation@UAE, a bilingual quarterly periodical developed by the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education's Department of Science.  

All of my experiences have contributed to my Senior Fellowship application, and now that I’ve been awarded a Senior Fellow, I will continue my learning, teaching, and sharing journey. I am also looking forward to applying to Principal Fellowship in the near future!  

Find out more about the Global Fellowship Relay - #FellowshipRelay2024

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