Last week Natalie, Ryan, I and various members of the CILASS staff attended the annual Learning and Teaching through Enquiry Alliance conference at Reading University. It was a two day conference and we stayed overnight in university accomodation and went to a really gorgeous conference dinner on the banks of the river Thames on the first night!
Ryan, Sabine and I presented our findings so far from the Networked Learning Study at a session at the end of the second day. We suggested that technology perhaps wasn’t integral to inquiry-based learning, indeed a significant number of respondents in our survey said that technology just gets in the way. We also said that students may need more training so that they know both which technologies are out there and how to use them, as this was also brought up a lot in our survey. We are currently writing up the findings from this study into a journal article.
Alec Patton gave a presentation on an ongoing CILASS study on students as fellow researchers. This was particularly interesting as a member of the audience took great issue at Alec’s use of the term ‘junior colleagues’ to describe students, as he believed that the term ‘junior’ was derogatory. Natalie and I however felt that we would be very happy to be called ‘colleagues’ as it implies that we add something integral to a research project and that ‘junior’ wouldn’t bother us because we don’t have as much experience as staff, and there is therefore no point in pretending that we are at the same level of experience.
The theme of the conference seemed to be around the idea of the quality of education rather than the quantity. It’s no good giving students hours and hours of lectures etc. if they learn more by actually doing ie. through IBL. This was echoed in many sessions, for example one spoke about getting archaeology students experience in museums and another talked about how plagiarism shouldn’t be condemned as it is, instead we should expect it and work to give students more tutoring on how not to plagiarise. Another theme was perhaps how there is an ongoing ‘crisis’ among universities in the UK whereby students are just not happy with the assessment methods and feedback that they experience.
Again, I cannot help but wonder how IBL can be so strongly believed in by so many and yet there are so few students actually having the opportunity to get involved in conference such as this one, to have their say in their education.