TRANSCRIPT: Tales of Teaching Online ep. 60: Under the hood of Deakin’s Learning and Teaching Conference
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Intro: Digital, student-centred, creative, innovation, imagination, initiative, stories that matter.
Joan Sutherland: I’m Joan Sutherland. And this is Tales of Teaching Online brought to you by Deakin Learning Futures. Hello, and welcome to Tales of Teaching Online. My name is Joan Sutherland and I am today joined by Lauren Hansen. And today we’re going to be talking about key takeaways from Deakin’s Learning and Teaching Conference this year. Hi Lauren, thanks for joining me today.
Lauren Hansen: Thanks so much, Joan. It’s great to be here.
Joan: Great to have you just a bit to get started, can you just tell us a bit about yourself and the organisation of the Learning and Teaching Conference.
Lauren: Absolutely. So I’m a Senior Lecturer within the Teaching Capability team in DLF and one of the things that our team is responsible for is reward and recognition of teaching and learning practices across the university. And so this year I was really honoured to be the conference chair of work with a wonderful committee and our organising team to design and deliver a Learning and Teaching Conference so that we can all get together and share our practice and share our ideas, have a lovely lunch together.
Joan: I must say it was a great day and it was great to have people face-to-face where we could chat and actually have some lunch together. So the catering was awesome as well. And I didn’t realise how tall some people were in person, so that was another great thing. But you just mentioned, around the organisation of it and I know it was around the six key practices that underpin DeakinDesign. But also it was named ‘under the hood’. Can you talk us through that and what the desired effect was essentially?
Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. So we’re quite familiar now with the DeakinDesign principles for learning experiences. And we know what we’re aiming for in terms of what are the sort of things that we want our students to have in the classroom. But what does it take to actually produce that? And that’s what the DeakinDesign practices are about. And so that’s what I think is really fascinating. How do we do this stuff? And so we really wanted people to have a space where they could share what it takes and also let us behind the scenes a little bit, which is why we called it ‘under the hood’ because we can often go to conferences and hear about the successes and we get this really polished, finished version of what happened. But that doesn’t always help us because when we do it ourselves, we can sometimes feel a little bit like, hang on a second. How did they get this to work so successfully, maybe there’s something wrong with the way I’m doing it, or maybe I’m just not very good at my job. And so we really wanted people to open up, be a little bit vulnerable and show us under the hood of their practice so that we could all start to feel a little bit more comfortable with, just how messy it is to produce this premium learning that we’re all really aiming for.
Joan: I must say I did love that the conference was about not only the destination, so that was great to share, but about the journey, and I did hear a lot of insights into how messy some things can be but what people are learning along the way. So I really enjoyed that as a participant and listening, so well done on that organisation, that was really good. Lauren: Thank you. Joan: It was great to hear a Professor Iain Martin open the conference. So he talked about the different practices and the focus on practice and innovation, and for us to have a practice of innovation, it has to be desirable, accessible, and sustainable. And there are a lot of key things that came through different presentations. Can you talk us through the practice of innovation and your thoughts around this?
Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. I thought it was really wonderful to have Professor Martin focusing on innovation because that’s often what we see at conferences. People come with an innovation and they’re very exciting and they’re shiny and they’re wonderful and we can often come away from conference going, ‘That’s so cool somebody was doing that.’ But how do we translate that into our practice? Or how do we keep that going in perpetuity and how do we make that work for us in our teaching practice in a sustainable way. So I love the fact that he focused on these three elements of it needs to be desirable, it has to be something we want. Solving a problem that we have, making our lives easier, making the student experience better. It needs to be accessible. So we actually need to have the technology and the ability to use this innovation. But I think the most important one is sustainability and that is one of our Deakin Design practices as well. So we don’t want to do innovations that last one trimester, but we don’t have the capacity to continue those innovations or that it’s only because of that particular unit chair or that particular tutor that that innovation happened. We saw that in the conference in a number of presentations, which was really wonderful, particularly around artificial intelligence. That was something that came through quite strongly and people were very excited about. And I’m, my team is already talking about all of the ways that we can use this and it can make our lives easier. And so there was several ways that, that sort of theme, I guess that Professor Martin touched on in the very beginning came through, regardless of whether it was an innovation or sustainability, it was in so many of the ways people were talking about how they deliver their learning experiences.
Joan: One of the things I thought was interesting, it was around that desire. If you don’t really know about it, how is it desirable? So someone has to sort of get that ball rolling and see the advantages and the benefits I suppose from a teaching and learning experience in order for it to be desirable. So sometimes there needs to be that groundwork, but I’m touching on what you said around the sustainability. That’s a massive thing as well. Because if it’s not sustainable, how realistic is it, then it’s going to be used time and time again?
Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. And I think the desirability part, I mean, that’s the wonderful role of learning and teaching conferences is that’s where people can share their problems. That’s where people can show some solutions. So that’s really where it starts the conversation of the awareness of this is something that you could potentially do. Or hey, I’ve had this problem. And people I love when people get together off to conferences because they have similar problems. When somebody says this was the challenge we had and it’s a [inaudible] and it’s a completely different discipline, or totally different projects, but it’s like ‘hey we’re got this problem in first year’, and then the teaching first-years team do a presentation about how they can support students in first-year and those connections that get made in conferences, I think it’s just so valuable and I know I have a list of emails of people I need to follow up after conversations and I know my colleagues do too and I think that’s the real value of when we get together in these spaces and share not just our successes and the innovation, but the challenges and the things that maybe went wrong when other people have had those things go wrong together there’s some solidarity there, there can be some joint problem-solving and ultimately they connection and collegiality, which is what we’re really aiming for.
Joan: Someone’s in the same boat which is a nice [inaudible] Joan: One of the other things that you just mentioned was around artificial intelligence. And I know it’s been a scary topic, although artificial intelligence has been around for decades. One of the things is that it’s kind of coming into the education space and thick and fast. And there were a couple of presentations around that and a lot of discussion has come from that. But how is this emerging and how can we make this sustainable practice within a learning and teaching?
Lauren: That’s a really good question and I think it’s probably bigger than one that I can add. I think if I had the answer to that, I might get paid a lot of money. But I think there’s two parts to it. Because we were learning about all of these amazing things we can do with AI. And they can make our life easier in terms of how we can support students to personalise their learning and things like that. But also, Professor Phillip Dawson in his keynote also reflected on the use of AI for cheating. That there’s now a really sophisticated writing tools that can write things for you that were incredible. We write a blog post together and he’s presentation, and it was fantastic. I fully expected it to have some weird words in there or not quite be what we were doing. But it was incredible. It really was, I think there’s a few academics in the room thinking this could help me with my job. There’s two sides to the AI. Yes, it helps us in our teaching and learning, but it can also help the students as well in ways that don’t necessarily support their learning, but may support them in getting through university with a bit more ease. And so I think you really need to be very careful when we’re engaging with technology, that we’re thinking about it really intentionally, what is the purpose of it? And we’re also thinking of the consequences as well of where we’re leading to and some lines to be drawn. And so it’s a really big conversation. And I think that this is our first Learning and Teaching Conference where it’s really been a hot topic. It’s come about in little waves before. I think what I’m excited about is seeing the ways that people embrace some of the stuff that was brought up, but also the broader conversation about what AI means for us within the teaching and learning community.
Joan: I think it’s a great point that you make in relation to the consequences. And sometimes they’re intended consequences, but they sometimes unintended consequences as well. So definitely a further conversation to be had, but just to know that it’s not all bad that we can delve into the space of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies, just to say, hey, it’s not bad for learning and teaching, but there are some lines to be drawn essentially.
Lauren: Absolutely, It’s so exciting. But we are stepping into the unknown in a way. So I think it’s about being mindful and that’s why with the Learning and Teaching Conference others share. So this is what we did and these were some of the challenges we encountered. We didn’t expect for this to happen is so important rather than just presenting the shiny version of it.
Joan: And talking about Phill Dawson’s keynote around the contract cheating one of the things learnt was around a tier list. For those of you that aren’t familiar with a T least it’s basically he mentioned it’s taken from the video game culture, you rank essentially elements subjectively and put pop that in, a list and for those that want further information, I’ll put that in the description. But it really made me think about other ways that we can use a tier list, even in learning and teaching, online education, collaboration, different tools. Even though it wasn’t what he was talking about, the tier leaves specifically, it’s something that I took out from being a participant of the conference so looking at different tools and ways people are presenting in and will actually use that moving forward as well.
Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. It was a lot of fun. Phill’s presentations are always high energy and lots of fun. So we knew that he would be a popular choice as a keynote speaker, in which he was. And I think that it’s always great to have anything where the audience can participate in. And I think it was so robust as well. I mean, those 24 and Phill provided so many, so much details and evidence about why they had been ranked where they were. And I loved the idea of having a visual tool to rank things. And like you, I can see so many applications, not just for presentations, but also for classroom activities with students as well to get them to develop tier list to check the learning. So yeah, I agree. And I think it’s the same when we say presentations and even though it might not be within your discipline area or in your practice area, somebody might have used a methodology or used a particular tool that you didn’t know about that you think I wouldn’t use it in this way, but that it’s that little thing that I can steal for my practice, which I think is always really exciting that it doesn’t have to be that you’re doing exactly what that person was doing. They can be little bits and pieces that just spark off a new idea for something that you’re looking at doing.
Joan: And take those little nuggets and put it together for your own problem to enhance your practice. Lauren: I could have imagined myself walking around with my little practice sack grabbing things like a little goblin throughout the conference to steal for myself. Joan: I have my tier list in Canva now so I’ve got mine ready to go.
Lauren: So with all of these things and I think it’s a real challenge though as well, is that we go, we go to conferences and we get very excited and we do have all of these ideas and conversations immediately afterwards. But how do we sustain that? We’ve been talking about sustainability, but how do we take that energy and that enthusiasm and all of those ideas and turn them into something. And I think that that’s another thing that we’re looking at as well about how do we follow up after the conference. And so providing our attendees and presenters with more information about maybe you want to delve a little bit deeper into the Deakin Design principles and practices. Or maybe you want to keep the conversation going by joining one of the communities of practice. So we had several presentations from people who were in communities of practice. Keep the conversation going if you enjoyed that and then also thinking about, well, maybe I need to think a little bit about publishing something or maybe next year I want to present and so going and having a look at some of the things like HERDSA that have some wonderful scholarship of teaching and learning modules that we can have access to as Deakin staff members. So thinking about how we can support people who are engaged in their learning and teaching conference to continue on this learning. That it’s not just something that kinda deflates after week and we go back to our work and we get stuck into marking or sorting out placements. Really thinking about how we keep the energy going throughout the year, not just that once a year that we’re in the same room, Joan: It’s a great point you make. I think any conference you go to you get them excited and you’re like, I love these, love that. And then the reality of work hits you or time constraints. But looking at the sustainability factor, going back to what Iain Martin said was it’s got to be sustainable, right? And then how you can build that into your practice. So I know myself, I’ve contacted quite a few presenters to actually have on the podcast to keep that alive because I want to delve into it more and learn more and I know of talking to other people what they’re asking for. So that’s been a really big benefit so I’ll keep it alive somewhat as well. Lauren: And I think that’s the thing. It is a team effort. It’s all about getting together and saying, okay, how do we keep this going? Let’s not lose this energy and these ideas. Let’s do something with them and to use things that already exist like this podcast and all of those sorts of channels that we have. So I’m really excited. I’m hoping to see presentations next year that were inspired by these year’s conference. That would be my dream. Then I would think I’ve done a good job. Your job.
Joan: Well you did a great job, you don’t need that to say ‘You’ve done a great job.’ I’m sure the feedback will say so, myself included, it was a great conference to be at. So thank you.
Lauren: Thank you so much. I really need to do a big shout out to our committee whose steered the presentations and the theme and also our organising team who honest to goodness, they are absolute superstars. And I think that people don’t recognise all of the little things that have to happen behind the scenes, but these sorts of days. And so for organising team, I think it really is down to them that the day was such a success.
Joan: And I’ll give a shout out as well because having organised different things, not as big as a conference, but knowing that it is integral that people come together and pool their ideas and everyone has different roles on the day, however big or small they’re perceived to be. But that’s how the wheels keep turning essentially and make the day such a success. So to everyone as part of the team. The other thing I wanted to talk about was the key themes around co-design and collaboration. And there were a lot of great presentations on that. Was there anything that you picked up around feedback or presentations that you attended around these things?
Lauren: Absolutely. I was very fortunate I got to chair the co-design stream which was fantastic. And it was really, it was lovely because I think we saw lots of examples throughout the day of co-design in action. And I think that was something that was really wonderful with seeing what’s going on in the co-design, design community of practice and how they supporting this kind of work. Because it is tricky work. It messy to do co-design. It’s much easier to go off on your own and know what you’re doing and build exactly what you want to build. It’s messier when you work with people and it’s messier when you work with people with different perspectives. But it’s also so much richer and it leads to much better results. But it’s tricky. It’s a really tricky space to inhabit. So I think it was lovely to hear from the community of practice about how they supporting each other, the sorts of work that they’re doing. As well as have all of those beautiful practice examples of what that looks like in the co-design can be with colleagues. And Professor Iain Martin stated at the beginning of the conference that teaching is a team sport these days. You know, it’s not a, it’s not a solo sport anymore. And so it can be co-design with each other. It can be with the community, it can be with students, it can be with other stakeholders. I think seeing all the very different examples of that across the university was really wonderful to see. And it’s not just happening in those sort of traditional classroom space. It’s happening in the library. It’s happening in students services. It’s happening in all of the ways that we support learning and teaching across the university. And I think it’s the biggest thing collaboration is how we work together. It is, it’s the number one thing we have to get right if we’re gonna be able to provide these amazing learning experiences for our students.
Joan: Well, it’s got to start somewhere and then starting with yourself. But then your wider community collaborating with different people that have different ideas. That’s how you create those rich experience as you said.
Lauren: Yeah, absolutely.
Joan: Look, I want to thank you for coming on the podcast today and just sharing some of the key ideas around the Learning and Teaching Conference. And giving a shout out to the organisation team because it is such a critical role that everyone plays. But I do want to say thank you for organising and speaking to it. I know you weren’t the only one organising it and just the idea around under the hood that sometimes things are messy and they don’t have to be picture perfect. But it’s about the journey, not always the destination. So thanks for your time today and I just want to say, is there any other remarks that you’d like to make before we finish up?
Lauren: Thanks so much for having me Joan. The only thing that I would say to people is when the conference comes around next year and the call for submissions, please don’t be shy, please don’t think that you have to have that perfect, polished product or you’ve never presented before or I’m not in the classroom teaching, please do put your submissions in. We’re always looking for fresh voices, we’re always looking for perspectives from across the university, from some of the more unusual places where it’s unexpected. So just really encouraging people to take that opportunity to submit. And if you’re not yet ready to submit it, we always want to see more people at the conference. We’re really welcoming and friendly bunch. We talk a lot and we’re not shy, so please please engage with us. Please come along and really reach out to any of the DLF team if you have questions about the Learning and Teaching Conference, everybody’s always happy to help you get involved.
Joan: Right. Well, thank you for that. Thank you again for your time and the great conference that was organised. Really appreciate it and have a great day.
Lauren: Thanks Joan, you too.