Over 3 mornings on 2-4 September around 250 Charles Sturt and Study Group Australia staff Zoomed in for the Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences (all BJBS) annual L&T Symposium, the first online. The theme for this year’s symposium was the scholarship and practice of teaching and learning in a digital world. Consistent with that theme, the opening session featured a diverse expert panel—Associate Professor Deb Clarke (from the Faculty of Arts and Education) on scholarship, Tim Gentle (from Think Digital) on the practice of immersive technology enabled learning and teaching, and Carolyn Childs (from MyTravel Research.com) on the skills required for the future. All three played distinct but related roles in the conversation and stimulated huge interaction with the audience on integrating scholarship, practice and technology both now and into the future.
Deb Clarke’s key take-home message was to start on scholarship wherever you’re at, reflect on your challenges, find your place on the scholarship continuum and work out from there how you’re going to develop. Tim Gentle showed us how VR and AR could help us place students in environments they could not otherwise visit, where they can learn by doing and potentially fail safely. Carolyn Childs reminded us that our students need skills to navigate a volatile, uncertain, ambiguous, uncertain world where the future perhaps requires a balance of ‘hedgehogs’ with a depth of knowledge and ‘foxes’ with a breadth of knowledge to be adaptable within a yet undefined environment.
You can access the recording of the opening session (along with accompanying resources provided by the speakers) on the home page of the symposium website
Unsymposium and workshops
Subsequent elective sessions included the Unsymposium, where the showcasing of learning and teaching practice was designed as a catalyst for structured and documented discussions between presenters and attendees on key challenges and solutions across 4 different themes: capability building and transferable skills, effective partnering with industry, the impact of research-informed teaching practice and facilitating purposeful peer interaction. Highlights of the insights and reflections shared in each Unsympsoium session are available here.
The focus of the workshops was on providing attendees with specific skills and resources that could be readily applied to their scholarship and practice of teaching and learning. Six were on offer including two on effective partnering with industry (one in relation to work placement and the other in relation to course design and subject delivery), as well as others on facilitating purposeful peer interaction, thinking differently about assessment, being a digital scholar, and enhancing your learning resources. Highlights, recordings, and accompanying resources for workshops sessions are available here.
There may have been a few upsides to having the symposium online but arguably one significant downside was the absence of the traditional symposium BBQ. To compensate we ran a BBQ@home competition, with genuine Weber tongs and Charles Sturt BBQ hats for prizes (funded by me). Congratulations to joint winners Miranda Dyason and Anthony Chan, the judges just couldn’t split you even though you took very different approaches!
The symposium concluded with a plenary session that featured reflections on what we’d learned from the previous sessions—including the need for more consistent and universal engagement with industry, greater awareness of big trends, wiser use of new immersive technologies, deeper collaboration with colleagues—as well as presentations from Lucy Webster (Acting PVC L&T) and Jenny Kent (Associate Dean Academic) on how the Division of Learning and Teaching (DLT) and the Faculty respectively can support our next steps.
Collaboration has been well and truly on display at this symposium and augers well for those next steps—staff from every school in our Faculty, every Faculty in our University, DLT, the Library our Study Group Australia partners worked together to prepare and deliver workshops, keynote panels and Unsymposium sessions as well as all of the accompanying resources, much of which is already on the symposium website. Thank you to all involved.
Dr Warwick Baines
Sub Dean Learning and Teaching