I’ve finally broken the conference drought. Well of course there’s been lots of online conference attendance these past few years, but networking in the coffee queue, laughs over lunch and dancing at the conference dinner have been well missed.
So given the opportunity to take a small plane to Armidale for the annual ASCILITE conference (delivered hybrid at UNE), I jumped at the chance. The in-person participant numbers were indeed dwarfed by those online but we still took up all those above mentioned benefits.
The opening keynote from Dr Sarah Pearson FTSE was challenging to me. It took me back to where I was headed before the pandemic – to support young women who want to enter STEM fields. Sarah quoted the stark reality that only 27% of young women want to enter these professions. She took us on a fast paced journey through her many years of working with industry, government and educational institutions. Her recent blog post captures the essence of her keynote address.
The hybrid mode was a challenge for some presenters and chairs in the physical spaces but nonetheless the quality of presentations was to its usual high standard. Some sessions of note include pedagogies of care (Wardak), Use of gamification to enhance curiosity and engagement through feedback strategies (Makhija et al); Factors associated with edvisor perceptions of their work being understood and valued are not what they seem (Simpson & Frawley). All these and more can be found in the published proceedings.
I think the fact that we had access to Zoom chat meant more audience engagement, particularly in my co-authored presentation on sustainable and transferable learning design (Shalavin & Huber). View our paper and slides here.
Sharing ideas and opinions
There were many panels on offer this year, my highlights included a deep dive into the future of education (Owen, Kinash, Maguire & Bean) and a look at the good, bad and ‘meh’ of online proctored exams (Dawson, Henderson & Sefcik).
A range of Posters and Pecha Kucha presentations were also offered digitally, with this amusing take on the much discussed topic ‘death of the lecture’ (Vallis).
The awards section of a conference is always filled with anticipation. There were numerous recipients but my final shout out goes to Lynn Gribble (UNSW Business School) who along with her co-author Beth Beckmann won the best full paper award with their personal narratives for professional recognition. A wonderful reflective account through a mentoring lens. This was especially pleasing for me as Lynn is my mentee on the ASCILITE Women in Academic Leadership initiative.
Enjoying the waterfalls and wineries of New England (compliments of UNE) were an additional outcome but it was the collective wisdom of the crowd that I most enjoyed at this conference – thanks #ASCILITE2021 and see you next year in Sydney!
About the author
Associate Professor Elaine Huber has been designing curriculum and teaching adults for over 20 years and is currently the Academic Director of the Business Co-Design team at the University of Sydney.