INTED 2017 11th Conference – Sharing the Passion for Learning

There were two key notes to open the conference both with a very different focus. The first key note speaker was Vicky Colbert who spoke about a project in Colombia about Quality Education for Peace and Democracy. This project has been running for 30 years and focused on some of the poorest areas and how to develop education. It is not enough to do more of the same in education but a paradigm shift is needed. Vicky worked with governments, schools, parents and children to develop education in the rural schools first where multi-grade education is provided so a teacher has students of all ages in his/her class and they all have to learn. At the time project started teaching was very traditional, teacher-centred, poor academic achievement, insufficient time to learn and 50% of the students did not understand what they read.  The change focused on moving teachers to engaging teachers as facilitators and engaging students in their learning with more learning guides being developed so students could work at their pace.

The second key note was Bryan Alexander who talked about Where is higher education going? What changes can we anticipate now? He focused on the many changes with technology over the years and how now automation was on the rise. He provides 5 yearly reports on trends analysis. There are now so many alternatives to face to face. There are new learning spaces, 3D printing, virtual reality and augmented reality leading to mixed reality. There is a proliferation of digital content and this will lead to new business models. We need to move to more collaboration and the use of social media. We need to be more open.

The remainder of the two day conference had a range of parallel sessions focused on many different aspects of education. There was a group of papers about collaborative and problem based learning. These sessions clearly brought out the importance of enabling students to engage in this sort of learning so they can engage in their own learning and seeking out materials. It was also important to work in teams and learn to debate what information was needed. The teachers found facilitating more enjoyable and the use of peer assessment for part of the process also supported students in developing skills of feedback.

The group of presentations on the other side of the flipped classroom. Many of the papers in this session looked at how Universities had invested in changing their learning spaces both formal and informal.

A group of papers focused on Competence evaluation had some interesting key themes shared across them all.  Most of the European presentations focused on using the European Higher Education areas which was about generic skills that all students should have on leaving higher education. Some programmes / Universities had threaded themes through and some had developed core modules that all students had to undertake. Many had looked assessments and how these skills could be assessed. The skills across the programmes focused on critical thinking, communication, problem-solving and project management.

There were also papers on leadership and management, flipped classroom, learning analytics and supporting students. There were attendees from across the globe and it was really useful hearing how colleagues in other parts of the world are all exploring very similar aspects in programmes and education.

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