Wednesday, September 30, 2009

efest - ETLC2009 - day one morning

The conference officially opened with a powhiri from UCOL welcoming the conference delegates to Palmerston North.

The conference was officially opened by the chief executive of UCOL, Paul McElroy. He made a good point about the need to support good learning & teaching with infrastructure including good ICT, learning resource & support centres. The ICT (desktops & WIFI) provided at UCOL has been very good so far.

Opening address was provided by Dr. Roy Sharp, chief executive of the Tertiary Education Commission. He provided a good background on the fiscal constrains imposed by the current economic climate. The challenge is to maintain & improve tertiary education given limited resources. Themes of the current government were summarised. These include value for money = improved graduate outcomes, high trust + high responsibility ITP system = need to ensure graduates attain skills which will assist future development of individuals and the country. TEC will work at incentivising outcomes & completions as a means to meet government direction. ITPs need to maximise outcomes /completions without compromising quality of learning. One way is to support excellence in teaching. He encouraged the participants to follow the developments on the Amendment to the Education Act (polytechnics) plus look at the draft Tertiary Education Strategy which is open for consultation yesterday & to register comments by Nov. 6th.

Opening keynote address was from Dr. Angie Farrow. A teacher & a playwright. Presented on the concept of teaching as a art form. She told the story of how she got into teaching after a dysfunctional childhood in the East End of London. The decision to go to teachers college was motivated by not having to work in very boring job. She advocates a kinaesthetic and connected form of teaching and learning, based on the concept of ‘presentness’ which she learnt from here experiences in the theatre.

Recommends techniques which can be used to prepare ourselves for teaching which allow us to get into the zone (flow) when we teach. Interactive sessions to assist the opening of new neurological pathways between brain & body were practiced throughout the session. A passionate & enervating presentation providing a good start to the conference.

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