Transforming Thinking About Learning

Last Friday I went to Staffordshire University’s Inaugural School of Education Conference. This was particularly interesting in two ways… I had the opportunity to learn a bit more about education research, policy and practice from the education perspective, and, as I was also speaking, I could test out the Tactile Academia ideas on this audience, which is broadening it out a bit as so far I have mostly talked to/worked with people who although lecturers/teachers primarily have an art and design background (like myself).

There was too much going on for me to summarise it here, however, I want to just give one tidbit, which might be interesting for you as I think it links to the Tactile Academia ethos… Jim Pugh did a session on The HE Learning Experience, where he not only recommended Venn that Tune, a book you might also find interesting, but also made us create our own hand-out on Rally Variations. Based on Laurie and Spencer Kagan’s Structures, this not only told us about different types of ‘rallies’ (as in tennis rally, i.e. a sequence of shots) in the classroom, we experienced them in small groups and then were led into how to (visually) record this on a simple hand-out. So he made us not only reflect on the Higher Education Learning Experience for students through what we were talking about, but also about different ways of engaging students in group work, as well as note taking. Definitely food for thought.

me, talking a lot with my hands

me, talking a lot with my hands

After lunch I did my presentation. This was the event I had designed the mini quilt for to put on the poster. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get it onto fabric yet (students keeping technicians busy with work for final assessments no doubt), but as I liked the visual I decided to actually use it as the basis for my presentation as well. It felt like a very hurried half an hour of me zooming around, briefly describing the different activities. (Some of which I have already blogged about, for example The Land- and Seascape of Creative Practice, which isn’t actually on the quilt, as this is more connected to the framing of the whole thing but it was mentioned in the presentation, or The Fishscale of Academicness, others will follow!)

And I am happy to report that I had a very positive response to these ideas, with a number of people remarking that there were one or two things that they could put into practice almost immediately. I hope that they do and then let us all know how they are getting on.

my poster

my poster

I have since been thinking about how much explanations you need on a poster (or indeed handout). Because I know that if you just have that poster (so all the people who decided to go to the other parallel session) you get very little information about the actual activities. You get slightly odd titles, and some quotations and an overall statement of what Tactile Academia is about, but is that enough? Or is this about right, considering that this is all about getting people curious to find out more – and as long as the blog address is on there, they can do that? I don’t know.

Anyway, the last session I was in was about the importance of networks for Post-Graduate Researchers. While we slightly ran out of time, I started to think about the role that social media can play in that. It made me think a lot about that, in a way also apt, as this blog is one of the ways I stay in touch with you. So I also decided that I would (finally) join twitter. So in future you might hopefully be able to get shorter updates on my research from @alkegw and searching for #tactileacademia.

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