Universidad de Granada
Status: Public University
“ The university has a training plan for teachers, with the application of new technologies, thanks to the pandemic they have had to be updated on an almost mandatory basis, and in this way offer the best to their students. ”
“ The university offers a gradual retirement plan, in which the teacher can start to reduce teaching load, charging a part for the teaching hours which are completed and another part in which the state provides aid. ”
“ Teachers in the university take on both teaching and researcher roles. This can lead to stress and discomfort due to the high workload. ”
“ Teaching innovation plans can be implemented as a helpful measure, such as MOOCS, which are already in place at the University of Granada. ”
Do you believe that at the age of 75 you will still be fully employed and that your ability to work will be high?
I think so to be honest, because we are talking about a job in which physical demands are not very high. So if we are able to manage our emotional part, to compensate the working moments with those of disconnection - luckily we teachers have a longer vacation period than other professions - I think we could reach seventy-five years. I think seventy-five years is going to be a little bit advanced, but as this is changing every day, we do not know what the politicians have in store for us. So anyway, I think that with seventy-five years of age a teacher can still contribute a lot of things.
Have you though about how to maintain your work capacity?
Yes. It is something that I believe that any teacher who is in the field today is already experiencing, and the fact is that new technologies are not just gaining ground, they are advancing by leaps and bounds and I believe that we teachers must get on that bandwagon. When we are able to combine teaching with these new educational technologies, I believe that we will be able to continue playing an important role.
In relation to your organization, in this case the University of Granada, do you have any age management or organizational plans?
No, because things changes almost annually. It is true that we try to adapt the schedules and the distribution of the teaching load according to the availability that we have as professors, and among the colleagues of the department, they take into account that the figure of the associate professor is a little more delicate. So for the moment there is a very good understanding among colleagues and the teaching load adapts, especially regarding the schedules to our other activities, in this case as an occupational therapist, but every year they change the subjects and it can change the position of the subject in the academic plan and subjects that are optional can become mandatory. There may be some change, but my specific organizational plan is renewed annually.
Do you address these trends in your strategic planning, and then include it in your personal and organizational plan?
Yes, we try to actively update ourselves, practically every day. The University of Granada has a training plan for teachers, and one of the fundamental and in-demand parts is the application of new technologies to teaching. We have come from a pandemic which has forced us to get on that bandwagon of new technologies, because we have gone from in-person classes to virtual classes. We have gone from real classes to virtual classes, sending homework virtually and so on. Anyway, the pandemic in that sense, has made us wake up a little and catch up on this type of new technology. As a result, we have a wider range that can be offered to the students.
Do you know of specific issues at you institution that may affect the teacher's work capacity?
Due to the profile that we have in the university of research teaching personnel, there are some who are in favor of dedicating themselves to being either a researcher or a teacher, but not both. Often, combining teaching with research can be complicated and can be something that can be stressful or can provoke a position of discomfort for the teacher. But, it all depends on how you approach your situation and how you approach your research project versus teaching. If you have in mind completing your doctorate, doing your thesis, then obviously you have to put your efforts into research. But if not, depending on your profile as a teacher, you may or may not be able to jump on the research board. Sometimes the fact that the institution itself obliges you to make X publications per year or to lead work groups may tire the teacher a little. On the other hand, it can happen in the opposite way. We may find teachers who enjoy research more than teaching, and forcing them to have too high of a teaching load in terms of class hours may cause them some degree of added stress.
What are the positive effects of the measure implemented at the university?
I believe that the fundamental effect is that people continue to feel useful to society. It may seem that when a person retires, society pushes them away and tells them you are already retired, now you can receive a pension but nothing is expected from you at the social level. It seems to me that the experience of older teachers is still very important for the new generations, both for fellow teachers and for students. I think older teachers are a great advantage, and the fact that you still feel useful to society and don't feel like someone who has nothing much to say anymore is important - nothing could be further from the truth, at least that is my vision. I have a positive view of aging. And I think that if a person wants and desires and is motivated to continue to be involved in teaching, I think it's great that he/she continues to do so.
How could we know if these measures are good or bad, or how could we evaluate it?
Well, I suppose that in this case the ideal scenario would be a satisfaction survey of the person who makes use of this measure.
The digital gap
I believe that the fact that some teachers are not able to adapt to the new times makes this digital gap grow bigger and bigger, and that is one of the aspects that makes people want to retire because they see that they are falling further and further behind. It is possible to implement updating plans at the teaching level and I know that the university does it. I just did a MOOC a few weeks ago that talked about mobile learning, about the introduction of new technologies in the classroom, about how new technology can be an ally rather than a foe.
There are teachers who as soon as they see a cell phone on a table will ask for all phones, and even laptops, to be put away. And then there are other teachers who will say "hey, I'm fine with having the phone with you, but use it the way you should use it", so a kind of contract can be established between teacher and students in which both agree to make an appropriate use of the phones and then when the class is over you can do whatever you want with your phone. The university is very concerned about this type of digital gap, so that it does not grow too big, and they want teachers to get on the bandwagon of new technologies in order to adapt to the new times.
What other measure could be put into place to address problems and issues relating to aging and early retirement?
Well, I don't see aging as a problem. I believe that the fundamental problem why a person wants to retire, and I speak this a little out of ignorance because I have not seen myself in that situation, but as the years go by some teachers remain the same while the student body changes. And the students of 10 years ago do not have much to do with the students of today. They are young people who relate to each other in a different way, who are practically born with a mobile device in their hand, who do not know how to have a coffee and talk without using a phone, and this also influences teaching. They are young people who increasingly expect everything to be done, are not as motivated by study, by education, and who are looking for a degree to then launch themselves into the world of work. But according to what you asked me previously, I think that the fact that the teacher is not capable of adapting to the new times makes that gap grow bigger and bigger. That is one of the aspects which causes the teacher to want to retire, because he sees that he is falling further and further behind.
Update plans can be implemented at the teaching level and I know that the University does this. I just did a MOOC a few weeks ago that talked precisely about mobile learning and the introduction of new technologies in classes. New technologies can be an ally instead of an enemy. There are some teachers who as soon as they see a cell phone on a table immediately collect all the phones, or even remove the laptops from the table. And others who say “hey, I think it's good that you have your phone on you, but use it in an appropriate way”. That is to say, a kind of contract can be established between teachers and students in which both agree to use them appropriately, then as soon as the class ends, you can do whatever you want with the phones. The University is very concerned about this digital gap, and that teachers get on the bandwagon of new technologies a little to adapt to the new times.
What specific activities, formal or informal, have been introduced in your organization to maintain the work capacity of teachers?
Well, a very wide range of possibilities opens up for teachers to better adapt to the subject they teach. A law subject is not the same as a health sciences subject, where the practice is directly with people which requires another type of methodology. But as I say, the greater the range of learning possibilities we have, the better. Thus, the teacher will be able to choose the one that interests him/her the most, the one that best suits his/her needs. Also, it is important that the teacher has the courage to take the leap into the unknown, because the risk is worth it as the advantages that can be obtained from the use of these new technologies are quite important. Additionally, the students will also be more motivated, because they will discover that they won’t just be sitting in a chair for an hour during a class, they will be required to use technologies applied to the class or subject, and that is also motivating for the students, I believe.