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Monday, 24 November 2014

Conference Review: SEDA 19th Annual Conference, 13-14th November 2014


Last week I attended the 19th Annual SEDA Conference. SEDA is the Staff and Educational Development Association, and the attendees included staff working directly in educational development, learning technologists, enthusiastic teachers and other support and academic related staff.

The theme of this year's conference was "Opportunities and challenges for academic development in a post-digital age". From my discussions with other delegates I sense that this was perhaps the first time that this conference had pitched itself fairly and squarely at issues relating to educational technology.

The opening speaker Grainne Conole did a brilliant job of mapping the history of the development of educational technology and particularly innovations such as MOOCs and Open Educational Resources. It was reassuring to be in the presence of both a speaker and an audience who feel positively about these topics and have a more optimistic mindset towards them.

There was a fantastic choice of parallel sessions, and the first I chose to attend was by Kathryn James. The focus was on a topic related to her PhD work, "Rhetoric and reality: The drive of learning technology and its implications for academic development". Catherine talked through the tensions and pressure points that surround academic use of learning technologies, and allowed us to chat on our tables- I was sat with a really nice group we had a really interesting discussion about the tools we use and the challenges we face in engaging academic staff with them- 'a trouble shared..' and all that!

The next session I chose was by Rebecca Dearden and was entitled "Working in a "third space" to create an institutional framework to underpin use of audio and video".  Rebecca talked about a project she had led which looked at the legal and privacy issues related to lecture-capture at Leeds University. She gave a really interesting presentation that showed how serendipity, willingness to work in all kinds of physical and virtual spaces, and teamwork can really pay off and deliver results in moving forward institutional policy.

After lunch, my third parallel session was entitled "A "menu" of teaching approaches to transform engagement with technology-enhanced learning", by Stuart Hepplestone and Ian Glover of Sheffield Hallam University. They discussed how they had developed a menu tool for helping academic staff to identify appropriate technologies to embed in their learning in teaching and access case studies demonstrating how these technologies can be effectively used. The session also demonstrated a kind of "diagnostic" tool that allows academic staff to identify where within their existing learning and teaching activity the opportunities to use technology might lie.

Finally, after a networking break, it was time for my workshop on using audio to deliver feedback. I was worried that the topic might not appeal, but I needn't have done, as around 20 people attended my session. I demonstrated how I have used audio and what I have found to be the benefits and advantages for both myself and my students. We also looked at the many free and low-cost tools available to deliver audio feedback, and the risks and challenges of maintaining security and privacy for students when sharing and storing audio feedback.

Many of the attendees had attempted audio feedback themselves and those that had were really enthusiastic. Those that hadn't seem to leave full of enthusiasm for the subject, and three people approached me afterwards to say they would definitely try audio feedback in the future. My slideshow presentation is above.

Overall I really enjoyed the conference, and ended up wishing I had booked for both days. I will next year!

Posted by Claire


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