W7: Becoming an Educationalist: What is a Conference?

This was our Enhancement Week and we explored Universities as places of research and knowledge-construction and dissemination. 

  1. What is a Conference?
  2. Poster Presentations
  3. Planning Get Ahead 2014 

What is a Conference?

First we were asked to draw our concept of research – and to use the drawing to seed our notemaking for the session. Sandra’s and Quaco’s notes were displayed to the class and we could see the slightly different interpretations of research through the similarities and differences in their drawings. 

Sandra’s had an eye scoping out the ground – then bubbles for thinking and light bulbs for ideas. Another eye signified the research process itself – then more thought bubbles to indicate interpreting data. Finally there was a mouth indicating that we need to tell people about the findings of our research. 

Quaco’s drawing included pictures of houses, rooting research in real life – and real communities and with real life outcomes. All the ideas gathered from the research in Quaco’s drawing ended up in an essay. This shows that our own studies are also research – and that we tell people about our findings in our assignments. 

Tom then discussed various aspects of Universities – with a focus on their research role:

  • Research
  • Ethics
  • Knowledge-construction
  • Social constructivist model
  • Dialogue (Freire, Bakhtin)
  • Staff and Students
  • Dissemination: teaching; papers; conferences. 

There were plenty of ideas to note – and to follow up later. 

We then moved on to thinking more about how students can become actively involved in the ‘business’ of a University – including through their research actions. We briefly discussed Lincoln (Student as Producer), Exeter (Student as Change Agent) and Birmingham City University Student as Partner). We were invited to think about what model we might want to develop here at London Met – and invited to think about developing an HEA Bid to take our ideas forward (deadline 2nd December): 

LincolnUniversity: http://studentasproducer.lincoln.ac.uk/

Exeter – student as change agent

Students as Change Agents – Academic Services – University of Exeter

as.exeter.ac.uk › … › Current Projects

Students as Change Agents is an ambitious scheme that lets you take an active part in making your time at the University of Exeter even better. You can identify 

Students as Change Agents – Current Students – University of Exeter

http://www.exeter.ac.uk › Studying › Current students

Students as Change Agents. So you want to make a change? We know you love studying here, but there’s always room for improvement, and we think you’re the 

Students as Change Agents – University of Exeter


Themes > Students as Change Agents. “In a world where the students’ expectations of their university experience will only increase, the need to gauge student 

The Design Studio / Students as Change Agents 

[PDF]Student Academic Partners – Birmingham City University


Academic Partners scheme – which teams staff and students in an equal  ::::::Creating the Learning Community through Student Academic Partners. Student Academic Partners – Birmingham City Students Union

http://www.bcusu.com › Learning › Academic Partnerships

Hello and welcome to your Students‘ Union, here at Birmingham City University! As a Birmingham City University student you are automatically a member of 

[PDF]Student Academic Partners Birmingham City University – Higher 


Student Academic PartnersBirmingham City UniversityBirmingham City University (BCU) sees effective learning partnerships between students and staff as 

[PPT]Academic Partners Programme Birmingham City University


Academic Partners Programme Birmingham City UniversityStudent Academic PartnersStudent Academic Partners: The Scheme; The Pioneers; The Projects. 

HEA Bid: Students as partners in the Curriculum

We were invited to get involved in the following HEA Change programme:

Students as partners in the curriculum 

“Applications are being invited for the latest HEA Change programme, Students as partners in the curriculum. This programme will help HE providers develop their capacity to work with students to enhance the curriculum and engage students with learning and teaching processes and will build on the successes of last year’s inaugural Students as partners change programme

At least half the members of participating teams will be students, with the rest made up of academic staff, professional support staff and senior managers. Last year’s programme included teams from ManchesterMetropolitanUniversity, University of Oxford and University of Ulster with projects such as reducing distress and improving achievement amongst students, students at the heart of curriculum design, and students as partners in a transformed university. Further details about last year’s programme, and the mini case studies, are available here on the HEA website. 

The deadline for applications is Monday 2 December 2013More information, including how to apply, is available on the HEA website.” 

What is a Conference?

We moved on to think about what role a Conference plays in the life of an academic and a student – by exploring some of the Conferences that our Team are currently working on – or that they have attended:

Look – Draw – Make: Using the Visual to transform pedagogic practices 

Due on 3rd December. It will be a one day for 50 people with just one strand to attend. 

“Learning Developers are invited to our one-day conference, hosted at LondonMetropolitanUniversity to explore how Visual learning practices are becoming mainstream in the digital age. Drawing upon experiences of ‘Draw to Learn’ (from the LearnHigher CETL); MOOC participation; and recent classroom practice – we explore the embedding of a series of Visual tasks in classrooms across the disciplines. This day will inform, challenge and offer you practical ways to transform practice. 

9.30-10.00 arrival, coffee, registration 

10.00 Welcome from Associate Professor Digby Warren 

10.15 Welcome from Pauline Ridley, Sandra Sinfield, Debbie Holley, Tom Burns – and Chris O’Reilly 

10.30 – 11.30 ‘Draw to learn’ 

11.30-12.30 Science and Social Sciences: using the visual for qualitative research methods and to (re)conceptualising science (Philip Howlett and Debbie Holley)  

12.30-1.30 lunch and networking 

1.30-2.30 ‘It’s more than just drawing!’ Using collages and Cabinets of Curiosities; Memory envelopes and installations; Digital artefacts and Animations – for LTA. (Sandra Sinfield, Tom Burns & Chris O’Reillly) 

2.30/ 2.45 shuffle & comfort break – reconvene in main hall 

2.45- 3.45 MOOC madness: digital tools, activities, exemplars – and table tasks. 

3.45- 4.00 summary, thanks, depart.”  

Other Conferences often have multiple, parallel strands – with lots of things happening and many opportunities for participants to meet, talk and share ideas with others interested in the same topics:


We were asked to think about our notes and how they had changed over the course of the lecture. Our notes are supposed to be a dialogue with the information that we had heard. They are supposed to be active and interactive… With things to do. 

Seminar time

Our Peer Mentors had been invited to our seminars to act as audience for the Poster Presentations we were giving on our field research – where we had explored the University as a site/many sites of learning. This gave us a taste of the Conference experience – we had undertaken some research and we were presenting our findings to our peers. 

There were great presentations from everybody – not just with posters, but using Prezi as a poster form – and with some creative use of PowerPoint and  embedded video interviews (conducted as part of the initial research process). Hopefully participants will post links to their blogs – and their presentations – in their own blogs. There were definitely a few ideas emerging that could be worked up in to an HEA Bid! 

And finally – planning Get Ahead 2014

Our final task was to think about the possible shape and size of the next Get Ahead Conference at London Met. Get Ahead is designed to be a Conference for students organized, and in some case delivered, by other students. In the past, Events Management students seem to have taken the lead with this Conference – and typically final year students at that. This year we have been asked to come up with some ideas – and to seriously consider taking on the planning, advertising and delivery of the actual event. Of course it will be hard work – it will require real time and effort – and if we take it on we must mean it and deliver. 

The typical Get Ahead has a focus on student success: success in their studies – and success in finding employment. Previous years have had strands on Study and Academic Skills: Managing time; Developing memory; Drawing for Learning; Making great notes. There have been strands on Academic writing – with some workshops delivered by Writing Mentors – and sessions on Dissertations delivered by staff. Student Services have run sessions on CV production and preparing for Job Interviews – and also sessions on developing self confidence. 

We were invited to shape a new Get Ahead – and to think about the practicalities of budget – and of how we night actually get time-poor students to attend. 

Watch this space to see if after a week’s further thinking about it – there does emerge a group that offers to run Get Ahead with and for the Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching. If we do it – we will blog about it!

2 thoughts on “W7: Becoming an Educationalist: What is a Conference?

  1. Great Blog! it was interesting to see Sandra & Quacos drawings as this give me ideas how to be more creative with my note takings. Most people remember visual or drawings in their notes, as this makes it easier to look back when referring back to something. Can’t wait to organize the conference, this task will have everyone going. Our peer mentors was invited to our seminar groups to be as audience, but I was totally surprised to find out that they haven’t done the Learning space field work in their first year. Leyla was saying that, we had clear advantage over them in terms of exploring learning space activity at London Metropolitan University. This meant we knew a bit more than them in certain areas of the campus, and this was quite interesting.

  2. Max – a lovely energetic response to #becomingeducational! This week, if people are really interested in putting on Get Ahead 2014 – we need to finalise the Conference Committee and then organise a meeting with Digby Warren who is the guy with the budget! I have a good feeling about this!
    (PS: Last year’s group were set the same task of investigating the University as a site of learning – but it all felt more voluntary and optional last year – so some people missed it…)

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