UoL Library Blog

Develop, debate, innovate.

Learning and Teaching in the Sciences Unconference

Posted by gazjjohnson on 22 May, 2009

DSC01084This morning I went off to the Learning and Teaching in The Sciences Unconference.  What is an conference?  It’s one where rather than a set agenda, the participants come together and draw one up.  Ideally you run it over a day or two and aim to have real outputs at the end, but we had just a few hours.  Normally the LTS Conference spans an afternoon or so with invited speakers.  This year this wasn’t possible, but there was still a demand to meet and look at our teaching and a learning activities across the sciences. 

The focus was on assessment, and after voting on the aspects we wanted to look at fractioned off into smaller groups.  I was in a group looking at the benefits to students and staff.  After flying the flag for information literacy we came to a rough conclusion that whilst they may grumble about it, and focus on the final grade; assessment has real appreciable and demonstrable benefits to students, staff and the institution – with especial focus on the employ-ability and respect of our graduates.

We had a feedback session and then broke into new groups.  This time I was looking at work placed assessment and placement.  I spent a year in industry as part of my degree, and it was a wonderful terrifying, intensive and rich learning experience.  We didn’t have as much time here, so we perhaps didn’t dig down as far as we might have hoped.  We then lunched and discussed the session. 

One of the best outputs was uncovering one of my Chemistry academics as a tweeter and I’ve been following up on some of the discussions with @wozzza already.  More than that?  Well I hope to see unconferences like this more often at UoL.  They take less planning, and other than refreshments need little more than a room and a few hours of people’s times.  But the reinforcement of old networks and the generation of new linkages can only be of considerable benefit to the university.  Thanks to my novel networks we made the http://scienceleicester.wordpress.com/, what will come from today?!

DSC01086Well for one I introduced Alan Cann to Belbin analysis; which he’d never heard of; so felt justly smug for a few fleeting seconds.

Hopefully there will also be other blogs and formal reports too, to try and share this expertise and experience further.  A big thanks to Stu Johnson of Student Developmentfor organising and facilitating the day.

The session also used a twitter-back channel discussion which we projected to the screen.  As we were all using phones and tiny portable devices there was none of that regular clattering you might have heard in a computer lab.  Worked quite well, as a few of us were documenting the session, and we also got quite a few comments from external people interested.  And we trended on Twitter too!  You can follow the twitter feed of discussions here

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