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Keynote Talks

Engaging Learning to Transform Thinking

Dr Julie Rattray, Associate Professor in Higher Education, School of Education, Durham University

Experiential learning, active learning, and learning by doing - we can all think of a multitude of phrases and ideas that have emerged over the years as a way to think about how to make individuals ‘learn better’. In many ways ‘Engaged Learning’ is just another in a long line of phrases we can use to describe an approach to teaching and learning that is predicated on the idea of involving students in their own learning. And as such it has the potential to be over-used and miss-understood. If we are to avoid the pitfalls of many other educational ideas, which have become overused and misappropriated i.e. learning styles and emotional intelligence, then we need to start by asking ourselves two simple questions: What does it mean to be engaged in learning? And what should be the consequence of engaged learning?

For me the answers to these questions are linked to the idea of learning as a transformative experience. Transformation often involves encounters with that which is difficult so a key facet of engaged learning has to be about how we encourage engagement with difficult or ‘troublesome knowledge’. In this session we will explore how this might be accomplished using engaged learning and in so doing consider the ways in which engaged learning as an idea can be misunderstood. Whilst undoubtedly engaged learning involves proactivity it requires authenticity, meaning and motive to make it effective and these things are not synonymous with simply doing.

Julie Rattray is Associate Professor in Higher Education at Durham University. Her research interests include the threshold concept framework, liminality, affective dimensions of learning as well as other aspects of policy and pedagogy in Higher Education. In particular she is interested in the ways that learners deal with troublesome knowledge and the extent to which affective characteristics and attributes might influence this.
In recent years Julie has been involved in research projects and conference organisation in the area of Higher Education. She was a member of the UK team of project IBAR working with 6 European partners to explore the potential barriers to the implementation of pan-European standards and guidelines for higher education the findings of which are described in Eggins, H. (Ed). (2014) Drivers and Barriers to Achieving Quality in Higher Education, published by Sense). Julie has had an ongoing involvement in the biennial Threshold Concepts conference which started with the 5th conference held in Durham in 2014. Since then she has contributed as a paper reviewer (6th and 7th) and invited workshop facilitator at the most recent conference held at Miami University, Ohio, in June 2018. In 2016 she was the chair of the Improving University Teaching (IUT) conference held in Durham. Her most recent project is DASCHE (Developing, Assessing and Validating Social Competences in Higher Education. which focuses on the identification of practice in relation to the development of social Competence in Higher Education. This project includes 5 European partners along with the UK and is funded by Erasmus +. .

Make and Release – Opening up through play

Stephanie (Charlie) Farley, Open Educational Resources, University of Edinburgh

Fear of failure, fear of not being taken seriously, fear of not being ‘good enough’ can halt and obstruct learning at all levels. Particularly once the idea of education as a serious activity becomes embedded in individuals and our institutional practices. It can also act as an obstruction to openness. If we don’t share our failures, if we hide our learning, how can we learn from each other?
The term ‘lusory attitude’ was coined by Bernard Suits in 1978 (Salen, 2003) and refers to the mindset we enter in order to accept the arbitrary rules of a playful space in order to engage with play activities or thoughts. I’ve found that by creating a lusory attitude or playful environment, learners (from undergraduates to tenured staff) were more willing to experiment and engage with new technologies, skills, and ideas away from fear and apprehension. However, in order for the lusory, playful approach to be of value as an educational tool, there must be some critical reflection to turn the experience into learning. In this session we will experiment with ‘make and release’, getting creative about our own learning, releasing our creativity into the wild, then taking a moment to reflect and share.

Salen, K., Zimmerman, E., (2003), Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, MIT Press

Stephanie (Charlie) Farley has been working in higher education as a librarian and learning technologist for ten years, and provides support and training in the creation and use of Open Educational Resources (Open.Ed) at The University of Edinburgh. Her playful approach to digital skills and copyright education has led to many exciting opportunities, including developing a Playful Engagement strategy for the Information Services Group at The University of Edinburgh.
Passionate about the uses of technology to enhance open education, access, and information sharing, she created and runs the award winning 23 Things for Digital Knowledge programme, consults on the use of Social Media in Learning and Teaching, and runs OER Board Game Jam workshops and more across the university.

Charlie tweets as: @SFarley_Charlie