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Meet the editor of...Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning

An interview with: Patrick Blessinger

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Image: Patrick BlessingerHello, my name is Patrick Blessinger. I reside in New York City with my wife. I am the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education.

I am the founder and executive director of the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL) at . I am also the co-founder and co-director of the Institute for Meaning-Centered Education at www.meaningcentered.org.

I have a passion for transforming education and learning through interdisciplinary and international collaborations and in academic innovation. To find out more about me, you can go my website at


What is…Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning?

The HETL Association will publish at least two books a year on topics of great importance to educators around the world. The IHETL book series will be an on-going series of books on different topics related to innovative teaching and learning practices in higher education. The chapters will consist of empirical research studies, case studies, and scholarly essays. The topics will be multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and multi-cultural. Educators from any country and any institutional type are encouraged to submit chapter proposals.

IHETL is to begin publishing this year. What has motivated the inception of this book series?

The HETL Association is one of the largest networks of higher education professionals in the world. In our virtual community of practice (i.e., our online academic discussion group), many cutting-edge ideas are discussed and we sought another way to take some of the most important ideas and better organize and present them. A book series is the perfect medium for doing that because it allows us to present the latest research and practice into a very organized and structured and accessible way. These books will provide educators an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural view on topics most important to them that will allow them to become more effective in what they do.

How would you describe the book's mission, and editorial objectives?

The purpose of the IHETL book series is to publish current research and scholarship on innovative teaching and learning practices in higher education. The main objectives of this series are to:

  1. present how innovative teaching and learning practices are being used in higher education institutions across a wide variety of disciplines and countries;
  2. present the latest models, theories, concepts, paradigms, and frameworks that educators should consider when adopting, implementing, assessing, and evaluating innovative teaching and learning practices; and
  3. consider the implications of theory and practice on policy, strategy, and leadership.

This series will appeal to anyone in higher education who is involved in the teaching and learning process from any discipline, institutional type, or nationality.

What can readers expect from the first two volumes?

The first two volumes are on inquiry-based learning (IBL). IBL is a sound approach to teaching and learning that can be applied to any discipline (e.g. arts, humanities, social sciences, natural/physical sciences, and professional and interdisciplinary studies) and any level or type of education. The volumes on IBL will present to educators the core concepts, principles, and frameworks for IBL as well as many practical case studies for how it is being implemented at different institutions around the world.

What are your plans for over the next few years for the book series?

For the next few years we want to explore topics that are most meaningful and useful to educators. The topics we will address over the next few years are inquiry-based learning, university partnerships and collaborations, and emerging directions in doctoral education.

How did you become involved with IHETL (International HETL Association)?

I started HETL from my kitchen table as a global grassroots effort in January of 2010 when I was living in Copenhagen. At the time, I was working as a university instructor and administrator but I felt so passionately about the need to transform higher education that I left my full-time university position to pursue my vision for the international higher education teaching and learning association. From the beginning, a chief aim for the association was to make it a vehicle for democratizing higher education by bringing together education professionals and academic leaders from all educational types and disciplines from around the world to dialogue and collaborate on meaningful ways to transform higher education to make it work for all people.

This vision is so global in scope and so bold in its aim that I realized that the only conceivable way to bring it to fruition is to involve every educator from around the world. The timing was also just right because the advances in internet-based technologies and global communications platforms, allowed educators, for the first time in human history, to easily connect and collaborate for free.

Based on my prior experiences in higher education and on my core belief that lifelong learning should be viewed as a basic human right for all people, I came to the realization that higher education, and teaching and learning in particular, needed to be transformed. Thus, the vision of HETL has focused on teaching and learning because the teaching-learning process is the most important process that lies at the core of any education system, regardless of institutional type or level, and because lifelong learning lies at the heart of social, economic, and personal empowerment for all people. In other words, the teaching-learning process is the main common denominator that links all educational systems and institutions, so that is where we put our focus in order to have a meaningful impact on educational outcomes.

In January of 2010, to bring this vision to reality, I spent many hours analysing the strengths, challenges, and opportunities for transformation within the global higher education community and, based on this analysis, I developed a set of theoretical models to help me better understand the underlying mechanisms driving change in higher education globally. In February of 2010, I then operationalized these models by developing a global online community of practice and academic discussion forum on LinkedIn and invited educators from around the world to participate in and collectively manage the community based on democratic principles of inclusion, collaboration, open meaning-making processes, and self-governance. So, perhaps the best way to describe HETL is to say that HETL is an association of educators, by educators, and for educators.

Currently you are also editor of Emerald's education journal JARHE – Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education. Both you and this journal are involved with the International HETL Association. How do you envision the new IHETL book series will work alongside these?

Given HETL's mission and vision, JARHE and the IHETL book series naturally complement each other. The IHETL book series will provide another peer-reviewed outlet for educators to disseminate their research on cutting-edge topics that are of most interest to educators.

For further discussion with Patrick Blessinger, please see this Editor Interview about the Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education

 

Visit the information page for: Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education