Arriving at the St. David’s Hotel and Spa in Cardiff the night before the conference started was great, and the venue was very impressive. I was looking forward to the conference focusing on Scholarship and Educational Development, and clearly from the submission of abstracts, and the amount of conference bookings, the topic appealed too many. It is also always good to catch up with colleagues at the conference, and have a few days to reflect away from work.
Many working in educational development are very familiar with the work of Boyer (1990) and Shulman (1999) but there have been many developments since their work, and this conference was an opportunity to share practice today. Scholarship underpins SEDA values and there were many sub-themes for the conference providing some rich discussion on: scholarly practice; strategies to develop scholarship and how to raise the profile of both within our institutions.
There were three very interesting key notes all taking slightly different but related approaches to the theme. Professor Keith Smyth got the conference started with a look at how as educators we must be clear about our contribution to higher education, but that measuring impact was a longitudinal activity which made this difficult. There was then a range of fascinating papers and workshops on work being undertaken by individuals in their institutions. Towards the end of day one there were a range of sessions on topics that also enabled networking, which included a session on: colleagues new to SEDA; SEDA Fellowships; how to get published with SEDA; writing for an academic journal and lastly a poster session from some participants. In the evening there was a drinks reception that led into the conference dinner. At the reception I was delighted to be able to present the roll of honour to Mike Laycock for his educational development work over many years.
Day 2 started with Dr Dilly Fung’s key note focused on how the term Scholarship of Learning and Teaching (SOTL) often caused problems because the meaning was not always clear. There was then further opportunity to hear about the work others have been doing, plus research and strategies to support staff in SOTL activity. The conference then drew to a close with a key note from Professor Gina Wisker who focused on the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), and the need for us to define SOTL for our institutions and look at qualitative measures as well as metrics.
As always the opportunity to networks in the breaks and during the conference dinner enabled those new to a SEDA conference, and delegates who have attended previously, to meet and share their work. These networking opportunities also provide a space for people to consider sharing activities in more detail and /or arranging to collaborate on some work. The conference theme attracted a range of delegates in different roles and a lot of vibrant conversations.
I always leave the conferences having learnt something new and having met new colleagues. It is a good opportunity to also reflect upon your own practice. I look forward to the May 2016 conference in Edinburgh focused on assessment.
Pam Parker (Principal Fellow HEA & Senior Fellow SEDA Co-Chair of SEDA)
About the author
Pam Parker is Acting Director at the Department for Learning Enhancement And Development (LEAD), City University