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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-03-22

  • To err is human: building a safer health system. Free book for download #
  • RT @amcunningham: A Culture of Fear and Intimidation: Reforming Medical Education #meded #professionalism #
  • @Czernie Thanks Laura, there’s some good stuff there, will definitely use some of it #
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  • @cristinacost I figure that communication is about moving ideas between people, and you did it so well, regardless of typos 🙂 #
  • @cristinacost just reading your comment now, thank you so much for sharing 🙂 #
  • @Czernie Book looks great, saw Martin Oliver present at HESS in 2008, was brilliant. Would love to read anything else you have #
  • @ralphmercer I’m playing around with WordPress MU with the Buddypress plugin. Elgg is also supposed to be quite good. Both are PHP apps #
  • Gardner Writes: Assessment in a web 2.0 environment. Thoughtful post about the deep complexity of designing assessment #
  • RT @amcunningham: Post on #Conceptmap with #VUE from @neil_mehta #
  • @pgsimoes: “End of publishing as we know it” is interesting. See also “Lost generation” for original idea #
  • @cristinacost Nice, brings back some good memories 🙂 #
  • @Czernie Thanks for the ppt, it’s great. Are you going to publish? Where did you get your sample ie. what departments? #
  • Collection of PLE diagrams #
  • Jeff Jarvis’ presentation transcript from TEDxNYED. What’s wrong with education and some insights from media / journalism #

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conference education

HESS conference: a summary of my thoughts

OK, so I’ve been back for a few weeks now and have had a little bit of time to gather my thoughts regarding the HESS conference, and thought I’d make a note of some of the highlights from my limited perspective.  If anyone from the conference feels that I’m way off the mark, feel free to drop me a line.

One of the key themes that emerged was the idea that research should be taken down off of it’s pedestal and integrated into the curriculum as a functional, useful and exciting aspect of teaching and learning.  Dr Angela Brew established this idea in the first keynote of the first day.  That research should not be seen purely as a series of steps to be undertaken in the lofty towers of higher education, but should rather be seen as an integral part of teaching and learning.  The phrases “research-based learning” and “inquiry-based learning” cropped up regularly over the three days.

This idea that research should become part of the curriculum, rather than something tacked on, moved the conversation into another strong theme, that of the “scholarship of teaching and learning”.  In order to teach in your field, it’s no longer enough to merely know your subject.  The move towards evidence-based practice doesn’t only apply to our own niche fields, but should be applied equally strongly in how we approach the way we teach.  The concept of “communities of practice” came through strongly in this realm.

Martin Oliver’s keynote negotiated the fine line between technology in education as an all-powerful saviour, and a potentially misleading mindset that puts the technology, rather than pedagogy, first.  While e-learning was generally lauded as a powerful tool, enthusiasm should be tempered with optimistic caution.  With technology changing so quickly, it seems that a predominant focus on the tools themselves, rather than pedagogy, will be met with failure.

There were a few presentations I attended that urged educators to become more aware of students social lives, which came with evidence of the fact that they are not always as we imagine them to be.  Realising that students often have significant difficulties in almost every aspect of their personal lives can (and should) change how we relate to them.  As educators, we should understand that not only do we bring our own personalities and quirks into the higher education space, but so do our students.

Here are the notes I took while at HESS 2008:

Summary of HESS 2008 (OpenDocument format)
Summary of HESS 2008 (MS Word format)

conference education

HESS conference (day 3)

The last day of HESS 2008 has come and gone.  It was a short day, but interesting nonetheless.  I had the opportunity to see the following presentations:

  • Keynote: Higher education “failing the majority”: Is a four year degree the solution?
  • Keynote: Education as politics
  • Principles for effective professional development in higher education institutions
  • Factors impacting on student learning at UWC

All in all, this was a really exciting place to be over the past few days.  I met some very interesting people and had some great conversations, which I hope will continue in the coming months and years.  It’s going to take me some time to go through my notes and reflect on what I’ve learned.

On top of that, my first visit to Grahamstown and Rhodes University was a wonderful experience and I hope to be back this way sometime soon.

conference education

HESS conference (day 2)

Day 2 of the HESS conference is over.

I gave my presentation first thing this morning and it seemed to go down well.  A few people had some nice things to say, which is always nice to hear.  Sometimes I think I’m so far behind what other people are doing, then you get a day like today when you realise that we’re all just trying to figure things out as we go along and that we all have a lot to learn from each other.

I think it’s a pity that we’re not doing more together.  I’m not saying that everyone should be doing the same thing, but there’s a lot of overlap where we could share ideas, discuss what’s worked, in what contexts and with which students.  I had a few very interesting conversations with people who are struggling with some of the same issues in their departments, that we have in ours.  I hope that these conversations will continue over time and that we can begin building relationships between our higher education institutions that continue to evolve and grow long after this conference is over.

Today I was lucky enough to see the following presentations:

  • Keynote: Pandora’s box, cornucopia or Trojan horse? The introduction of technology in higher education
  • What do our institutional leaders perceive as e-learning success?
  • Creating a true community of academic practice through research based learning
  • The implementation of technology-enhanced problem based learning methodology in geographically dispersed learners
  • The challenges of teaching anatomy for a kinesiology context
  • Teaching sociology.  What am I doing?

All in all, today’s presentations were extremely thought provoking and at the very least, interesting.  There wasn’t one presentation where I left disappointed.

I mentioned earlier that I’m staying at an old prison that’s been converted into a backpackers.  I thought I’d share a little something of the place I’ve called home for the past few days.  The building is a national monument, so the proprietors can’t make any changes to the structure, which sounds great but it does have it’s drawbacks.  Luckily this is the kind of place I quite like.

conference education

HESS conference (day 1)

OK, so we’ve finished the first day of the conference and it was pretty interesting.  Almost every speaker had something to say that I found interesting.  I attended the following presentations, most of which were in the e-learning track:

  • Keynote: Opening up spaces for research and enquiry
  • Introducing the construct of “conceptual infrastructure” to support higher education development
  • Developing communities of practice in large class teaching using tutorials and forum discussion
  • A theoretical exploration of the potential use and benefits of social software as an emerging technology in support of e-learning in tertiary education
  • A model for ensuring the quality of multimedia learning materials
  • Superstars to teach large classes
  • An overview of teaching and learning in geomatics
  • Uniting life and education
  • Computer skills for university entrants
  • Implementing mentoring using ICT tools

When I get home from the conference, I’ll have a few days to collate all my notes and will try to provide a summary of the conference, or rather, the conference as I experienced it.

I learned a lot today, but the main thing I learned is how much I really don’t know.  The problem with these conferences is that you get to hear about all the really cool things that other people are doing, and in the end your brain explodes because you can’t do everything you want to, not matter how much you really, really wish you could.


Here’s a few pictures from day 1

[nggallery id=19]

conference education

Higher Education as a Social Space (HESS) conference presentation

So, I’m in Grahamstown for the Higher Education as a Social Space (HESS) conference that begins tomorrow and I’m staying at the Old Gaol, one of the oldest prisons in South Africa, which has been converted into a backpackers and is a national monument.

The programme for the conference looks great although as usual there are too many presentations that I really, really want to see.  I’ll be spending most of my time at the venue for the e-learning track but there are a few others that would be great to see.

I hope they’re going to record them all and make them available online to registered participants, which not many organisers do and is something I can’t for the life of me understand.  They know it’s impossible to attend all the presentations, because we haven’t quite figured out bilocation, yet often they won’t even make the audio available for download.

To combat this, I’m taking a stand against the madness and making my presentation available here, for your viewing pleasure.  Consider it your own very small part of the HESS conference.  I tried to make it a little different from the standard Powerpoint presentation, which I find very difficult to sit through.  Having said that, I haven’t quite found my own style, so I guess it’s a work in progress.  There are notes for each slide, which contain all the detail.  Basically, exactly what I’m going to say.  I’m not quite confident enough to wing it.

Click here to download the article: The use of ICT by South African physiotherapy students

Note (03/12/08): I’ve since found out that the conference organisers are making the presentations available, but alas, no audio or video 🙁


On my way to the HESS conference in Grahamstown

I thought I’d share some photos I took while I’m on my way to Grahamstown for the Higher Education as a Social Space conference.  I went about half of the distance on some of the smaller roads, went over the Du Toits Kloof pass, through Worcester, Robertson and Montagu to get to the Tredouw pass, and joined the N2 from there.

I’ve been in Sedgefield for 2 days now, mostly going through the conference Abstracts (all 150 of them) to get an idea of which presentations I’d like to see, as well as working on my own presentation.  I think it’s going to be a great conference, which unfortunately means that I’ll probably spend most of the holidays trying to get my head around all the cool things everyone is doing.

Just in case you’re worried I’m working too hard, here’s a few pictures from the road trip, as well as from the beach down the road.


Conference: Higher education as a social space

I just found out that the abstract I submitted for the Higher Education as a Social Space conference has been accepted.  I’ll be presenting a paper on the use of ICT by physiotherapy students
in South Africa, based on the results of my masters thesis.

The conference will take place in Grahamstown from the 30 November to the 03 December and will include the following themes:

  • Institutional development (including quality management and enhancement)
  • Curriculum in higher education (including teaching, learning and assessment)
  • Academic staff development
  • Student development
  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in teaching and learning

Obviously my main interest is in the use of ICTs in teaching and learning, but I’m hoping to attend a few presentations looking at curriculum in HE.