Research conferences 2015 so far

Stimulating collection of conferences so far this year. As always I tweet (@suegonline) to pick up key moments, to record useful points, and sometimes question them, and to offer links mentioned by speakers. Tweeting and retweeting keeps the interesting stuff available to me for reference. It’s also great to follow conferences I can’t attend through Twitter. Case in point was the second European Conference on Social Media this week, held in Portugal. Some helpful live blogging and tweeting meant I didn’t miss too much, and noted this slideset from presenter Athanasios Mazarakis which looks at tweeting at scientific conferences. Interesting approach. With all the data arising from social media, and analytics becoming a hot research topic, it’s surprising there is not yet so very much appearing at elearning and learning and teaching conferences.

My conference attendance follows repeated patterns – I use Evernote to capture detail on notepad and smartphone to tweet and take pictures. Thankfully battery life is no longer the problem it used to be. After the conference I try to produce a summary blog here on WordPress. These are my key support apps.

The Pedagogic Research Conference at University of Brighton in February began the year with yet more discussion of learning styles (are they really important? Coffield et al seemed to put a dampener on this and these days I’m inclined to regard context/authenticity and face validity/relevance to student as more important particularly in blend or online). Then there was Talis Insight in Birmingham where I was invited to speak about academic use of software – always good to attend conferences in which I’m in a minority role – focusses the mind on other perspectives of what we do.

Then EDiNEB hosted by Brighton Business School was a fine small conference looking at innovation in business teaching – not all about technology thankfully, and for me and for colleagues a chance to reflect on our role as innovators – the highs and the lows. As we approach the final year of our latest innovation, the BSc Business with Enterprise at Hastings campus – a problem-based learning course, we continue to reflect on a potentially wasted resource which may have been set up to fail.

The International Conference on E-Learning in Nassau was a great chance to review and critique the hot topic of flipped classrooms and flipped learning – not always the right answer, just great in some contexts. I also came away with ideas for our proposed blended learning degree around gamification (in small doses) and informal Facebook groups. And, this week, term has come to a close with the annual Learning and Teaching Conference at Falmer for UoB. Lots of fresh approaches to old problems, a chance to find new and useful reference sources, and develop my thinking on research supervision which is now taking more of my energy and time.

Every conference I attend I get chances to review abstracts and papers and chair sessions – there is no better CPD than forcing the mind to find interesting questions to challenge authors, whatever the subject or approach.

What’s left this year? I am looking forward to presenting with Sandra Huskinson at ALT-C in Manchester in September about our Student Social Media Showcase, so far scheduled for Tuesday 8th Sept, and later that month I’ve been invited to speak at a small research conference on ICTs in Education in Czech Republic, hosted by the University of Ostrava. My talk will be on peer-t0-peer and collaborative learning. Long live the easyCPD of the conference season!


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