Nine of us from Leicester attended the third Science and Learning Teaching Conference 2009 . Having got up far too early in the morning for my own good, we were rewarded with breakfast on arrival.

We attempted to amplify the conference as best we could, but with only two non-leicester people twittering, there were limited opportunities for outside interaction (though I think we kept Moira happy!). this was the first conference that I didn’t take notes at but tweeted instead. I have come to think that there is enough online and printed material for me to just try and absorb and reflect whilst twittering rather than writing notes to not use afterwards.  So what follows are edited highlights of my relfections on the conference.

Learning by Experience?

Professor Dave Barclay, Robert Gordon University, a Forensic scientist

Prof Dave BarclayThe first keynote was fascinating and I learnt perhaps more than I wanted to know about where to look for DNA evidence at a crime scene. The learning resource for forensic science that Prof Barclay demonstrated at the very end of his presentation looked really interesting,especially the way that it was possible to revisit exercises at different levels (simple structure for first years, more detailed and open questions for third years). This system enabled a series of hyperlinked labels to be added to photographs which led to other evidence, written documents, more photos, lab reports.

Prof Dave Barclay

First-year student transitions: engaging with the ‘whole’ student experience

Paul Green, GENIE CETL, Leicester University
This is actually a Leicester Project, but I haven’t been involved with it much since it started and I knew there was some very rich data here and was really keen to hear what Paul, a social anthropologist had brought to the project. The presentation was excellent and it was clear that the audience empathised with the students in their video diaries, perhaps having had similar experiences themselves. Paul has brought some theoretical contextualisation to the project which is really helping to struture it’s direction and research questions.

In the afternoon, the session that stood out was a presentation by Nicholas Freestone on ‘the perils of pedagogy’. Nicholas outlined some of the challenges faced in having the scholarship of teaching and learning recognised as a worthwhile pursuit and spoke a lot of sense.

David Sands presented an interesting way of using vpython to get students to think about classical mechanical physics through visual modelling. I wish he had included a demonstration of the software at the beginning, as it illustrated his point beautifully. Students had to work with the formula and parameters in the software to get balls to bounce up and down or springs to recoil correctly.

The highlight from day two (apart from Alan’s presentation of course!) was Stephen McClean’s HEAT3 project using a youtube cloned site to have students share videos about their practical classes. Slides available on slideshare.

A successful conference with much networking and some good twittering (archive on friend feed).


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