Highlights from the International Blended Learning Conference in England

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DSC00142-225x300 in Highlights from the International Blended Learning Conference in EnglandHeidelberg, 27.06.2012. The 7th International Blended Learning Conference organized by the The University of Hertfordshire’s Learning and Teaching Institute in partnership with JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee (The UK’s expert on information and digital technologies for education and research – an organisation promoting easy and widespread access to information and resources, with a focus on technology and information management) took place from June 13th to 14th at the University of Hertfordshire in England and provided the opportunity for University staff from around the world to engage in discussion and reflection on the innovative use of technology particularly in those contexts where it is embedded into the programme to complement face-to-face classes.

Papers presented ranged from work done using tools such as E-portfolios, Electronic Voting Systems, Course Management Systems like Moodle, for example, in pedagogically meaningful ways and in line with institutional and other national and international educational objectives.
Two of the keynote speakers, Dr. Norm Vaughan from Mount Royal College in Canada and Dr. Mark Brown from Massey University in New Zealand, joined us virtually to share their concepts and understandings of how we might continue to improve the experiences we provide for our students in blended contexts.
The support and advances made in this field by the Joint Information Systems Committee was also well featured at the conference.

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Tanyasha Yearwood.

It was definitely a pleasure, alongside such well known names in the international landscape, to have had my proposal accepted for presentation and to have had colleagues share their views and experiences as it related to my research on “Promoting participation via a multiple-discussion online forum: Student perspectives on the experience”.

This presentation detailed the results of an Appreciative Inquiry approach to determining the positive learning impact of online discussion fora and was based on a project I carried out within the Level 1 Engllish for International Business and Study Module.

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The conference can be said to have been complemented by the focus of the UK Professional Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning Workshop which I had the privilege of attending on April 24th, 2012. This latter event, organized by the Staff and Educational Development Association focused on ensuring that all University staff are provided with the opportunity and encouraged to engage in reflective practice and that processes are put in place to allow them to obtain professional qualifications in Supporting Learning and, in this way, provide evidence of the dual professional which all teachers in Higher Education are required to be: subject and educational specialists.
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One final highlight of this conference for me, was the work of the graphic facilitator, Joel Cooper, whose ongoing artistic portrait captured all the ideas generated throughout the conference.

A masterpiece reflective of a very stimulating conference.
Tanyasha Yearwood

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