Palgrave Teaching and Learning

by Sally Brown (Series Editor)

Getting the most from pedagogic workshops and conferences

In nations where university teaching is treated seriously, academics are often offered a plethora of opportunities to learn new skills, hear about pedagogic innovations, have their preconceptions challenged and try out new techniques. It’s not always straightforward, however, to decide which ones to attend, since budgets are often constrained and you may be limited in the number of events you can attend for other reasons, including your workload.

Nowadays it’s possible to ‘attend’ many events electronically, and this can thereby significantly increase the number of potential events in which you could participate, making choices harder still.

It can be helpful to decide in advance, perhaps in an annual appraisal, performance review or personal reflection on a limited number of themes on which to concentrate in any given year, and then to cluster your CPD activities including reading, networking and event attendance around these themes.

Here’s some advice on getting the most from the pedagogic workshops and conferences you do attend:
  • Decide how you are best going to make the most of your learning and to keep notes on sessions you attend: you might use a traditional notebook using words and/or diagrams, or write on handouts you are given or the conference handbook, or blog about the event afterwards, or use Twitter during the sessions linked to your website. The way you do it doesn’t matter so long as you do something to help you recall points that seemed unforgettable at the time but may slip from your memory later.
  • Where possible, obtain and keep the attendance list from the event in case you want to contact presenters or fellow delegates later.
  • Where there are a range of topics from which to choose, why not go along to the sessions offered by people from different nations or different subject specialisms from yourself, so you can gain different perspectives?
  • If you are attending with colleagues, it can be valuable to decide strategically who will attend what, so you can share experiences afterwards and therefore maximise your coverage of topics. On the other hand, there is also value in several of you attending the same session so you can have in-depth discussions afterwards.
  • Organise one yourself: in this way you can ensure that the topics are of interest to you and you can invite speakers who will address topics that are relevant and current for you and your colleagues.

References

Brown, S., Campbell, F., Race, P. and Robinson, A. (2003) Essential Tips for Organizing Conferences & Events. Abingdon: Routledge.