HEA conference, day one

by Paul Maharg on 23/06/2010

Am at the Annual HEA conference, this year being held at the U. of Hertfordshire, de Havilland campus.  On budget day.  Folk are checking the plasmas in the breakout areas, not for the football/tennis results, but to see how bad it will be for education.  Subdued atmosphere, in spite of the blistering weather.  Keynote by Calie Pistorius, on innovation — useful comments on innovation, attractive slides.  

It was a relief to get into the conference papers.  The streams looked pretty interesting.  Being here to give an OER session, I was interested in the paper by Tracey Madden, from the UK Physical Sciences Centre.  Useful presentation, focusing on the basics of OER (licencing, accessibility, download/sharing interface, etc), and her project team seemed to have got the resources together well on the website.  

Second paper was on a subject that's increasingly getting my attention — joint publication by students and staff.  David Metcalfe, Daniel Border and Bilal Salman, from Warwick Medical School, gave an account of a student publication project based there.  With a budget of £3,000, they selected the best student dissertations, then edited them and produced a book of student pieces on the subject of cancer — 1,000 of a print run, to be sold to junior year students and bioscience students.  Very good session which, with an audience of around 6, generated animated conversation.  

I had questions about this type of project being year-on-year, rather than Hasok Chang's idea of cumulative yeargroup editing.  The text that he and Catherine Jackson edited, An Element of Controversy: The Life of Chlorine in Science, Medicine, Technnology and War, was co-written with five successive groups of undergraduate students, each yeargroup editing the contributions of the earlier.  Still — a fascinating project and a type of 'learning moment' that deserves more attention.  More in future blogs.  

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