After the keynote I chose to listen to two more invited speakers, the first being Aaron Porter who gave a very interesting talk about the students perception of the student experience – this is quite topical for us as it’s changed the way we operate at LJMU by bringing student admin and library services together in one place and one team – the whole purpose being to enhance the student experience. Aaron talked about how to engage students into the academic community – to help them feel part of something, which then will increase engagement. When asked why they came to university most students talked about improving their career prospects/to help them get a good job. There weren’t any comments about wanting to be part of an academic community or even wanting to study a subject they were interested in – I guess they are more pragmatic than maybe we give them credit for. Aaron said that the induction process can have a huge impact on increasing engagement in the academic community. He suggested introducing academia into the social network spaces where the students reside. Don’t try to take over this technology but make use of it to engage your students. Most students will discuss their work with others in this environment but if asked whether they use social networks for academic purposes most will say no. They are doing it but aren’t necessarily recognising it as such.
The other key points of Aaron’s session were that universities need to take on board the skills that students come to university with, and not make assumptions that all are digital natives but provide the facilities to upskill those that aren’t. And feedback, this is vital to feeling part of the community, asking for students feedback, taking it on board and acting on it, then demonstrating that you’ve done this “you said.... we did...” approach. Make it more Amazon-like, were you can track the process of your feedback like an Amazon order.
The next invited speaker was Richard Noss. He did lose me a bit in some areas but the things I picked up from his session were knowledge is different from information and we need to understand the relationship between them. We need to redefine what we are trying to teach, what knowledge do we want our students to acquire. We need to think about how we teach the knowledge of tomorrow.
Next was a couple of active learning sessions, looking at audio. The first by Andrew Middleton focused on the process of capturing audio, recording the transient, the conversations outside the formal classroom setting. For him the capture of the audio was more important than the delivery of it. It’s active learning, it the activity of capturing the audio that’s the point. It was a way of capturing voices, voices of students, voices of tutors, external voices – the aim being to engage the learners.
The second audio session was by Tim Neumann talking about the MoSAIC project (models for synchronous interactive audiographic conferencing http://projects.lkl.ac.uk./mosaic). They used multiple tools for realtime interaction. The aim is to produce guidelines for tutors to help them use realtime conferencing – linked to pedagogic theories, grounded in observation of practice.
Then it was time for lunch which was good.