University of Calgary

‘Be in the business of transformative learning,’ speaker urges milestone conference

UToday HomeMay 22, 2013

Gary Poole, a senior scholar at the University of British Columbia, addresses more than 100 participants at the first annual University of Calgary Conference on Post-secondary Teaching and Learning. Photo by Riley BrandtGary Poole, a senior scholar at the University of British Columbia, addresses more than 100 participants at the first annual University of Calgary Conference on Post-secondary Teaching and Learning. Photo by Riley BrandtWhen educators interested in collaboration come together, amazing things can happen. “At first glance, working together may just seem like common sense, but there are many complex and innovative ways that collaboration can create meaningful learning experiences — and change traditional teaching and learning paradigms,” says Lynn Taylor, vice-provost (teaching and learning).

On May 15 and 16, the first annual University of Calgary Conference on Post-secondary Teaching and Learning brought together experts from a variety of institutions and disciplines to explore how collaboration can contribute to the broader learning experience.

The first day’s keynote speaker was Gary Poole, associate director of the School of Population and Public Health in the Faculty of Medicine and senior scholar in the Centre for Health Education Scholarship at the University of British Columbia. He challenged participants to think about what it means “to be in the business of transformative learning” and discussed his longitudinal research on the impact of self-directed student learning.

On day two, students took centre-stage with a keynote panel moderated by Susan Barker, vice-provost (student experience) that provided compelling insights about how diverse forms of collaboration can contribute to deep and lasting learning experiences.

The conference’s more than 100 participants attended over 30 presentations and an engaging poster session addressing the variety of forms collaboration can take: in-class and online; formal and informal; across campuses and around the globe; and among faculty, students and staff.

Several common themes emerged during the conference’s closing round-table session. Participants noted that even though they came from diverse disciplinary cultures, there was common ground — and new insights — in their discussions about teaching and learning.  A second major theme focused on how collaboration requires instructors to relinquish some control, balanced with appropriate support for students. When true collaboration happens, it benefits both students and instructors. Participants also highlighted the learning (and teaching) value of integrating intentional connections among students, faculty, librarians, student services colleagues, and information technology professionals when planning courses and programs.

“We’re very excited about the success of this first conference,” says Taylor. “The initial feedback from participants and speakers was very positive and we are already looking forward to developing a new theme for 2014.”

 

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