May 6, 2015, by Teaching at Nottingham
Thoughts from the TTP Conference – Sally Chappell (School of Life Sciences)
Dr Sally Chappell: “The TTP conference was a great opportunity to hear from like-minded colleagues and there’s certainly not enough room for me to mention everything that I found useful! However, there were many messages from Professor MacDonald’s keynote talk and workshop that resonated with me. The need for student to see the big picture and not think in terms of modules as discrete and unrelated units is definitely something we’ve struggled with for a long time and haven’t yet found a satisfactory answer to, so it was reassuring (although perhaps disappointing) to hear that this is a common problem.
“One of the other things that seemed to strike a chord with many of us was his observation that ‘coffee-bar conversations’ were often more productive than formally arranged meetings or conferences. However, how easy it is to have these informal meetings depends a lot on the structure and locations of Schools; groups in our School are split over several locations with many different coffee bars and several additional common rooms, so the chances of bumping into someone who can help on an ad-hoc basis are relatively small.
“In much the same way as we need to encourage students to see the big picture, perhaps as staff we also need to break through the artificial boundaries of Schools and Faculties, to see the bigger picture of how we can help each other. The conference was a great example of how this can happen and how we can use technology to facilitate these interactions. The informal nature of the tweets flying backwards and forwards between sessions led to me making a lot more connections than I would have done normally, particularly with colleagues from different Faculties. One of these tweets suggested the possibility of setting up University-wide informal learning lunches and I really hope that this is followed up. I know of at least one School doing this already and our workshop group had proposed this as a suggestion for our own School to implement, but a University-wide series would allow staff to see that big picture and make use of the expertise across disciplines. The strong feeling I was left with at the end of the conference was one of connections and communication. The first step will be implementing this at School level, but I hope to see more of these “coffee-bar conversations” springing up across the University sometime very soon.”
Dr Sally Chappell
School of Life Sciences