This year’s Brookes Learning and Teaching Conference LEARNING ON THE EDGE took place on 4 July, in a slightly unusual space, which is normally inhabited by very creative Urban Design students. The conference was held on 3 different floors.
In the basement visitors were welcomed, provided with food, drinks and they had plenty of space for networking:
The 2nd floor provided a large seated space for the keynote: ‘Mind the gap‘ with Kirsti Lonka from the University of Helsinki. The ‘gap’ refers to the wide empty space between digital natives and our educational practices. Kirsti compared current students’ experience to being on a ‘long-haul flight’ (= switch all personal digital devices off) and her talk focussed on ideas how to create new cultures for study and academic work,
Also on the second floor was a space for ‘cutting edge’ technology, where Gerard Helmich and Simon Llewellyn moved visitors into different realities:
AND there was the Minerva bridge, hosting – among other things – the digital barometer, asking people to position themselves in the digital climate of the world of work. Here you see three visitors in action:
And here’s a close-up of the barometer by the end of the day, showing quite a strong tendency towards the sunny site. (The concept of the barometer is based on ideas by Irmgard Huppe and Abi Ball, and the appealing visual presentation is the work of Richard Francis.)
The fourth floor of the Abercrombie building provided four flexible session spaces:
The flexibility came at a cost though – the technology (presentation screen) had to be set up on the spur of the moment, and – as it happens with technology – it refused to work at the first attempt. However, the presenter’s (Rhona Sharpe) flexibility made up for it by engaging the audience without presentation slides.
The library training room (at the bottom end of the large forum in JHB) provided a very useful additional session space, mostly used for hands-on and learning technology oriented sessions, for example one about making self-study material more engaging by using the Moodle lesson format (presenters: Gus Strang, Charlotte Maddison, Irmgard Huppe), and a session about ‘The internet of learning’, presented by Matt Perry and Ben Ellis:
I would have liked to attend quite a few of the sessions which were outlined in the conference booklet, but you can’t be in several spaces at once, unfortunately. Last but not least, I’d like to mention that the special conference booklet was specially designed by members of the Social Sculpture Team
at Brookes, Annelinde Kirchgässer and Markus Stefan, who encouraged the audience to use the booklet to ‘journal for change’, using blank pages in the notebook, which had been divided into two: a wider left side to actively gather thoughts BEFORE each session, and narrower right ‘margin’ to re-enter the notes and write new thoughts in response AFTER each session.