Teaching, learning, creativity and passion in higher education: notes from a conference about scholarship of teaching and learning

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International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) Conference, Quebec, Canada, 22-25 October.

The Quebec Parliament Building; the flag is at half mast after a recent tragedy in Ottawa.

The Quebec Parliament Building; the flag is at half mast after a recent tragedy in Ottawa.

In October 2014, I attended the ISSOTL Conference for the first time. The theme of the conference was Nurturing Passion and Creativity in Teaching and Learning. The event was hosted by Université Laval and held at the Convention Center in the beautiful city of Quebec, also a World Heritage Site.

This is a conference with a focus on teaching and learning within the higher education sector, as opposed to broad based educational research, but it was truly international with speakers and delegates from many countries represented. It featured some interesting keynotes who spoke around the conference theme, these including Sue Jackson, Bernard Petiot and Georges Bordage, the last of whom considered three lessons of educational psychology: spacing, mixed practice, and formative testing. I attended a range of papers including those given by: Sarah Bunnell, who addressed an area which connects to my own latest research on student identity; Ray Land, who spoke about his long established area of threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge; and Barbara Hornum, who examined course design for reflective and inquiry-driven students in an environment of complexity and diversity. I also enjoyed hearing Alain Huot who spoke about how the results of mid-term teaching feedback by students can be considered by university managers, and Julienne Douday on the significant growth of educational development centres in France. It’s worth pointing out that this conference attracts a substantial number of poster presentations, and these were undoubtedly deserving of the separate evening session that was provided for them: I don’t think I have attended a conference before at which I have spent so much time scanning this quality of visual work. The last day of ISSOTL is actually a Saturday, and it remained busy right up to the end, the closing plenary comprising three short papers on different aspects of MOOCs.

My own (30 minute) paper linked nicely to the theme of the conference and was entitled Sustainability, learning enhancement, and innovation and creativity in the curriculum: the faculty developer perspective. I benefited from a keen audience and some good ideas for my follow up work. If you are interested in sustainability in higher education, please contact me for a copy of the slides: p.baughan@city.ac.uk

Delegates looking at some of the many poster submissions at ISSOTL 2014.

Delegates looking at some of the many poster submissions at ISSOTL 2014.

For colleagues interested in or seeking more detail about ISSOTL, have a look at the conference website through the following link: https://www.issotl14.ulaval.ca/cms/site/issotl14/accueil

The conference will appeal to researchers and practitioners in teaching, learning and other areas of pedagogy, although paper presentations normally do need a theoretical component as well.

I enjoyed presenting and participating at ISSOTL 2014 and it will be a conference worth returning to in a future year.

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