#tramwaysummit_01

Tuesday morning: with barely minutes to go, as I sped through the central belt to Glasgow, my Twitter feed told me my meeting had been upgraded to a summit! This was fantastic news – really set the tone for a productive catch up with some other event management/studies academics. The fruits of the meeting will take many months to play out, but a comment on the experience is well worth recording. Maybe it’s because academia has so recently embraced events that there’s an opportunity and a willingness to try new teaching arrangements – there’s lots of talk about using new technologies, working with others and acting for mutual benefit, but I don’t necessarily see too much evidence of it catching on.

Topics included software platforms (Posterous, Twitter, Prezi, etc.); the Quality Assurance requirements/demands of institutions; practical ways of encouraging students to communicate across the vast distances of Scotland; and innovative ways of assessing the fruits of such work. Creative ways of developing modules could be very advantageous for students beyond university: materials produced and consumed using social media could be accessible forever, both to those who created it and those in future cohorts.

…and that would require a shift in attitude for some as well. Embracing a spirit of openness is very fashionable at the moment; I hope it becomes the norm in terms of collaboration, government data and marketing in the arts for example. When you’re asked (nay, required) to comment openly on the work of others it can be a little trickier. This might be the work of your tutor (as embodied in a YouTube clip embedded in a blog perhaps) and it might be the work of your fellow students, who’ll then have a right of reply. The task is set: to establish learning environments in which this is accepted and to manage expectations such that all students can gain the confidence to participate.

My post earlier today featured HEFCE’s Collaborate to compete, which highlights technology and online learning, regardless of whether this comes from on high or is directly developed by academics themselves. Surely it’s a no-brainer? The truth of the matter is that unless universities and enough of their staff take this on board and run with it, they’ll be faced by students who wonder if they’ve stepped back in time in order to gain their qualifications. UCAS applications may be rising still higher, but its a qualitative shift as well: the expectation to keep pace with even the most mainstream new media must be met!

Here’s to future summits and continued experimentation.
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This image, appropriate as it is, is tagged with ‘Glasgow’, ‘Tramway’, ‘April’, ‘2008’, ‘Mogwai’ and ‘Triptych’. As such it reminds me of my only other trip to the Tramway: to see the Cinematic Orchestra, also at the Triptych Festival – now sadly lost to Scotland.

Image: ‘Unrealistic’

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