As a follow-up to the 2016 UC Teaching Awards, we profile award winner Dr Erik Brogt, Senior Lecturer Academic Services Group.
Q: What are some of your career highlights?
A: As an academic developer, my role is to support good teaching and learning at UC, so I work with a lot of different programmes. My pan-university work has been tremendously rewarding; I get to see the different ways of teaching that go on around campus, and I bring the good practices from one discipline to another, even though normally those disciplines would have little reason to talk to one another.
The press conference exercise for which we were awarded the Teaching Innovation Award is a great example of what can happen if you bring different areas of expertise on campus together, in this case Disaster Risk & Resilience (formerly Hazard and Disaster Management) and Journalism.
Q: What is your teaching philosophy?
A: The overarching theme of the press conference exercise is authenticity to make the exercise as real as possible for the students. The Disaster Risk & Resilience students are responsible for managing a crisis; usually we simulate a volcanic eruption of Mount Taranaki on the North Island.
The scenario is completely realistic and was peer-reviewed by our colleagues at GNS Science and the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. GNS Science allowed us to use their logos and format of the official alert bulletins, so it all looks and feels like the real thing.
For the Journalism students, the exercise is about breaking news reporting. They know that there is an exercise and that it involves a natural hazard, but only find out what is happening when they receive the first volcanic alert bulletin. Then they have to get up to speed fast, just like in a real newsroom. We also have staff play roles of senior officials in government and the local business and lifelines sector that the journalism students can call, just like in a real event.
Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: I love building bridges between different disciplines, linking colleagues and together be innovative and creative about our teaching. The press conference exercise was based on all of us being willing to take a leap of faith and create something unique for both the Disaster Risk & Resilience and the Journalism programmes. It is very challenging for students, purposefully so, but the students know they have the skill and knowledge to do it. They really relish the challenge and rise to the occasion, and deliver great work.
For us as teachers, it is tremendously satisfying that the students always realise that having gone through the exercise makes them a better professional in the field. We had Journalism graduates from a few years ago come back to tell us that the exercise had helped them when they had to report on real breaking news events like the Cook Strait earthquakes. It is great to hear that the exercise has made a difference for them.