Article on the 2022 Media & Learning Conference in Belgium by James Rutherford, Senior Educational Technologist and Project Lead in Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD).
This report summarises what emerged from the 2-day programme.
The Media & Learning Association – a not-for-profit association to promote innovation and creativity in teaching and learning through the use of media – held its 10th-anniversary conference at KU Leuven, Belgium. Under the banner of ‘University of the Future – Mediated, Pixelated, Hybrid or Virtual?’ a total of 90 people from 17 countries contributed to a programme covering developments such as interactive environments for teaching and learning, mainstreaming XR and adding value to media content with AI.
Keynote speakers included educational change expert Erin Crisp of CampusEdu in the USA, who examined the effectiveness of educational video, and presented how video improves learning outcomes in HE, a paper referred to by Noeltel et al, 2021, and the three key lessons learned. 1. As a tool to supplement or replace text, 2. Video can be concept specific and focus on skill development and 3. how co-viewing educational video multiplies the impact on learning.
My highlight of the event was the talk by Brian Beatty of San Francisco State University on ‘Tomorrow Has Arrived: The Hybrid-Flexible University Experience’, after which I was joined by Brian Beatty and representatives of both In-Holland University and KU Leuven on a panel to discuss ‘What next for the Hybrid Virtual Classroom?’
My fellow panellists came from an academic point of view with research and actual practice while I came from more of a learning technology point of view, as you know, I have been heavily involved in developing hybrid learning spaces at City and this also features in regular ‘Teaching Here and There’ podcasts on the subject. One of the key points to emerge from the panel discussion was that hybrid teaching could be more appropriate to specific disciplines and cohorts of students.
It seems to be more effective with postgraduate courses, and seminar-based discursive activities rather than large group teaching. It was also felt that it could take its place in a blended learning curriculum. Learning doesn’t have to be hybrid every week for a 10-week term. There could be online and face-to-face sessions as well. But a new pedagogy has to be developed and shared. You can’t switch your normal teaching delivery to hybrid. Because you’ve got two audiences, it’s really hard to do two different things at the same time. Hybrid teaching has to be well thought through and planned. We talked about the need to collaborate and develop communities of best practice, whether it’s pedagogy or how you set up a room.
Overall, I found the event really helpful in terms of reflecting on other points of view, such as academics and students, and the conference was collaborative and helpful professionally. The networking opportunities were good, with a wide-ranging audience, and it was reassuring to hear how people in different countries, with different education systems, were all going through the same kind of challenges and issues as us. There was also an exhibition stand showcasing products and solutions by a number of suppliers and developers, a useful stop-off point and place to reflect on the numerous and interesting sessions.
For further information about Media and Learning and the conference programme:
To listen to the ‘Teaching Here and There’ hybrid learning podcasts featuring myself and Dom Pates: