My Thinking & Preparation for #jiscel10 podcast

Hear the full podcast.

What have you got from attending previous JISC Online Conferences? What has been the impact on your practice or institution.

  • Last year I’d only been in role for a few weeks. Prior to gaining the role as Blended Learning Fellow at the University of Winchester I’d followed the ALT-C conference via Twitter, and followed a number of people who featured highly in online discussions. All seemed to be heading for the JISC conference, and it was great to be able to attend a 4-day conference, with access to a huge range of debates, theories and practice, both at the time, and then stored online for more leisurely asynchronous access.
  • With only 1-2 days per week in role, it’s a quick way of getting to the heart of current debates, and to gain ideas and inspiration from the top speakers in the field, as well as the opportunity to debate (via the comment threads) with fellow practitioners as to the possibilities available, and ways to overcome the difficulties to be faced. Whilst the speaker presents live, the backchannel is a particularly good place for debates, triggered by specific thoughts from the presenter.
  • Despite being a real people person, I have always found it quite intimidating at academic conferences to approach people “blind”. With an online-only conference, a  lot of those ‘artificial’ status barriers are removed, and it’s a lot easier to ‘approach’ people with genuine interest in the debates, and a feeling that we are working together to a shared goal. Many people at this conference are at other conferences I’ll be attending next year, such as PELC and ALT-C and having already had a conversation online, and potentially followed that up via other media, e.g. Twitter, partaking at discussions at those events has been much easier.
  • Information taken from the conference (alongside that from other conferences) has been reworked into events at the University, and the ideas disseminated more widely amongst the University community. I’ve got particularly involved in the question of digital literacies and Communities of Practice, and it’s been great to attend an event at times that suit, whilst being  able to continue the day job around the conference.

What are you looking forward to seeing at this year’s JISC Online Conference?

  • I’m one of those people who likes a bit of everything, and all of the talks look interesting, but much of what we see in THE, and in the doom-laden papers is that HE is reaching the end of it’s time, so it’ll be interesting to see what Keri Facer identifies as the key purpose of educational institutions in the current tough times, and whether the face of education is about to change again…
  • The University of Winchester is currently working on a £250,000 project with a number of other institutions investigating assessment practices (including whether we over-assess, or assess the wrong things), so the use of digital tools for transforming assessment sounds good too – to be honest, anything with the title ‘in a digital age’ tends to grab me!
  • Having been working on a JISC-funded project entitled ‘Bringing Organisational Development into IT’, the different stages of resistance outlined by Anne Miller are of interest, and I’m keen to see the approaches that she takes in trying to get her ideas over.  The session with Gus Cameron, Marion Manton and Phil George I am particularly interested in for the same reason… how to embed new projects in the face of disinterest or hostility.
  • I’ve listened to Patrick Dixon another futurist at a different conference, and their informed ideas of what appears to be coming are always fascinating. Although no one can predict the future, we need some idea of where we think we’re going so that we can devise appropriate policies, and encourage staff to get involved in areas of development (including the anticipated growth in distance learning).
  • I’m currently writing an assignment re: student motivation, and what helps them to contribute and partake in sessions, so I’m interested in what the NUS guys have to say about what students really want, and I’ll be interested to see what they base their information on.

What piece of advice would you give anyone attending the JISC Online Conference? How is it different?

  • Ensure that you set aside time to engage with the conference, especially for the live sessions, but don’t expect to be sat online for 4 days straight. I have multiple jobs, so I’ll see what I can engage with before the conference, and then see if I can check in of an evening, but really I’ll be focusing on joining in on Thursday and Friday!
  • It’s great to take advantage of being online to take a little time to think about what you’re saying before you post… although don’t leave it too long, or the debate may have moved onto the next thing!!
  • Ensure that you join in on a variety of different fronts, focusing on the areas that you’re particularly interested in, but challenge yourself to engage with someone entirely new! Look to follow people on Twitter, etc.

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