VIU 2016 Teaching and Learning Conference

Panorama showing campus in foreground and Nanaimo, sea and mountains in background

VIU campus panorama taken from cafeteria patio

VIU: The Land of Rabbits and Stairs

The 2016 VIU Teaching and Learning Conference was held on May 4, 5 and 6 in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. As this teeshirt from VIU illustrates, there are many steps in the VIU Nanaimo campus, and there are a great deal of rabbits eating, darting around, and sun bathing around every corner. The weather was balmy, the teaching was invigorating, and the learning was inspiring.

From Turtle Island to the Twittersphere

Christine and Mary attended many workshops between them, dealing with issues from open textbooks to inclusive learning, and many points in between. The high-energy opening keynote “Exploring Our Ways Of Knowing” with Dr. Pamela Toulouse was a powerful way to start the conference. Dr. Toulouse really brought different ways of knowing to life with audience participation in drawing, sharing, moving and communicating in many different ways. I looked back at my notes with a smile as I saw my Turtle Island image studded with names and notes, and Christine’s looks quite similar…

Two annotated drawings of Turtle Island by Mary (l) and Christine (r) showing names and notes

Two Turtle Islands

The hands-on closing keynote “Dirty Slates: student ideas as catalysts for learning” with Dr. Sara Harris explored how students’ prior knowledge and experience add many dimensions to learning and teaching. We were challenged with creating a concept sketch of the greenhouse effect – a surprisingly difficult assignment! Dr. Harris also talked about how meaningful personalized assignments were for students (and faculty), so we then had the task of creating a concept sketch around a concept or area we teach. After a couple of minutes of discussion, the life cycle of a tweet (what happens to your 140 characters) seemed the obvious choice:

 

Hand-drawn concept sketch showing how a tweet goesf rom your profile out into the wider Twittersphere - or not!

Concept sketch: life cycle of a tweet

I was somewhat surprised to be asked to explain my sketch to the conference, but happy to do so. Keen observers will note that in my haste to get the concept sketch completed, I inadvertently wrote 140 characters instead of 140. In years to come, thanks to the permanency of social media, I can see that this may well come back to haunt me as the ghost of conference past!

WordPress Fun

In addition to attending workshops, we also presented our own workshop: “Blogging in WordPress: Strategies for Success”. It was a fast-paced and enjoyable hour spent in the company of some very enthusiastic participants. Christine blogged about our escapades earlier in the week, and you can see the workshop website we created here.

Connection and Connectedness

Workshops aside, the conference also gave us the opportunity to meet other faculty from BC and beyond. There were several Applied Business Technology faculty from other institutions, and it was gratifying to find out we have so many of the same  opportunities, challenges and interests as our fellow practitioners. In the process, we also discovered that four ABT faculty came from the same few square kilometres in Alberta as each other! It is a small world, indeed.

The conference was definitely a big success, and we hope to return next year.

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