Monday, November 27, 2017

Ako Aotearoa Academy 'talking teaching' conference - DAY 1

In Dunedin for two conferences this week. As per usual, will take notes and tidy, add links etc. when I get back to office. NOW edited. 

First conference is the annual Ako Aotearoa Academy professional development / symposium - Talking Teaching. This year, it is held, for the first time, away from Wellington. The symposium has been opened up into a conference, with over 150 participants, of which just over a third are Academy members – who are winners of the NZ excellence in tertiary teaching awards, now into its 15th year.
The venue of the conference is St. Margaret’s college, which is a hostel for first year students studying at Otago University.

The conference opens with a mihi whakatau at 1 pm, allowing for participants to travel to Dunedin from the rest of NZ. Mihi is provided for by Hata Temo, who is Ngai Tuhoe and Maori advisor at the University of Otago. Welcome also from Dr. Stanley Frielick, director of Ako Aotearoa, Associate Professor Selene Mize from Otago who is current president of the academy and Tony Zaharic who is on the organising committee. Stanley introduced the changes to the Ako Aotearoa logo and direction which has been outcome of strategic planning from the learning undertaken through the completion of the first decade of Ako Aotearoa.

Professor Jacinta Ruru, sets the scene with the opening keynote. The topic is ‘waking up the law’: my experience of creating a learning environment that makes sense to me.’ Shared her story of how she came into law and the teaching of law. Along with her objective to honour and extend the reach of the Maori perspectives on law, which has a long history. Yet, this perspective is only now, very slowly gaining recognition and integration into mainstream NZ. Affinity for law grew as a student, supported by faculty but also an awakening of the disjunction between her family experiences and how law was used. In particular, how it was used to extend precepts of colonialism. Detailed the effects of the Treaty of Waitangi commission. However, not much permeated  the law curriculum in the 1990s. Described her journey to extend the law curriculum to be inclusive of the bicultural perspective. Provided examples of how she introduces students to the topic and the various learning activities used to assist law students to understand tikanga Maori. Also detailed her work on increasing engagement of Maori students on law and contextualising support to help students complete. Shared frameworks used – Justice Joe William’s framework of Kupe’s, Cook’s and Aotearoa NZ law and examples of the different ways Maori and NZ law interpret law in the environment (can windfarms or roads be built over sacred places?); family (is artwork a taonga and therefore separate property?); Maori land court (can a step-child succeed to Maori land as a whangai?) Shared the ways Treaty of Waitangi has informed and transformed NZ law – e.g. a National park being recognised as a person. However, still much work to be done, to ensure Kupe’s law is honoured.

Parallel sessions that begin across 5 streams. I attend the session led by Dr. Rena Heap with work with Constanza Tolosa, Dawn Garbett and Alan Ovens from the University of Auckland on ‘enhancing feedback within a technology enabled architecture of participation’. Detailed different ways to obtain feedback from students during teaching sessions. Outlined aims of study, design, tools and findings. Four year project to examine a range of digital platforms and tools to assist with obtaining teacher feedback. Feedback sought from students and also back to students. Tools included gosoapbox, peerwise, piazza, google docs and google slides. These evaluated as effective in engaging students. Gosoapbox has a ‘confusion barometer, quizzes to check student progress and a social question and answer forum. Free for up to 30 students but yearly subscription is reasonable. Also possible to set up on-line practice tests. Peerwise more useful for learner feedback on how they are progressing. Able to embed videos into questions and obtain peer contributions. Google docs / google slides used to create collaborative notes in workshops / lectures and undertake collaborative tasks. Piazza is tweeter like platform to gather real-time feedback during learning activities.

After afternoon tea, I attend the session facilitated by Phil Osborne from Otago Polytechnic on ‘being disobedient: poking the beast.’ Phil directed an interactive session on how we should all be disobedient collaborators. Summarised how the premises in Welby Ings book – DisobedientTeaching – helped him better understand and describe his approach to teaching. Assisted participants to reflect on what disobedient teaching means to each of us as teachers and how to apply this form of becoming to our teaching.

Then a presentation with Frances Denz from Stellaris on ‘ SEAD – a practical teaching model’.  Frances shared her teaching experiences and how a model of teaching was distilled. Connected to principles of good teaching – basically start with what learners already know (start), do diagnostic to identify gaps (Evaluate and Anaylse) and help learner build new skills and knowledge (Develop).

I then run a workshop on ‘eassessment for learning: matching technology with learning.’ Another presentation from our e-assessment project. Used the opportunity to try out one of the tools developed as part of the eassessment project. The tool is to help teachers design assessments for learning, supported by appropriate technology, to help students learning how to ‘become’. Well attended and hopefully participants gained better understanding of their own assessment for learning practice and ideas to improve.

Dinner, which is an interactive learning experience, follows.

No comments: