Student Voice

Lessons from the BILT Conference: a MEMEorable Event

July’s BILT conference ‘Tales from the Digital Classroom’ had a whole host of amazing talks, sessions and highly entertaining chat, but something I never expected to see at a university event was attendees who are, what I call, ‘proper grown-ups’ making memes about their feelings for the upcoming year, many of which were very illuminating.  So here are the all-important lessons I learnt from the conference in the form that the gods of education called for: meme.

Wifi issues unite us all

Do you remember the last time you got through an hour meeting without someone freezing/disappearing/starting to sound like a robot? I’m not sure I do either.

But on a more serious note, the conference highlighted the importance of NOT relying 100% on wifi, and highlighted the already existing inequalities between and among staff and students. It’s not reasonable to expect students (or staff) to have fibre optic wifi and a home that can be easily transformed to a work space, so teaching and the university as whole has to be able to find a way to adapt for this.

Change is not always bad

The tone of the BILT conference to me was very optimistic, with many of the speakers excited about what they had achieved. The teaching stories demonstrated some of the great ways that lecturers have managed to move online innovatively. Mural is now my new favourite app.

It’s not just students that want more than didactic learning

I have been a student at Bristol for 4 years now, and if you think for one second that I haven’t spent weeks on nothing but RePlay before exams then you are mistaken. With that being said, working with BILT this year and listening to the teaching stories at the conference have demonstrated that this doesn’t have to be the only way of learning and it shouldn’t be either. Learning is not one-size-fits-all, and so the options for digital learning shouldn’t be either. I particularly liked James Norman’s presentation which emphasised an approach based on a teachers existing strengths to tailor their own online teaching, using archaic tools (pens and paper) in a digital age!

Everything can change at the drop of a hat, so adaptation is key

The morning’s keynote speaker was entitled ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’. The title was decided pre-Covid which makes me wonder if Professor Simon Usherwood is psychic.

But seriously, if we can teach through a pandemic, the idea of trying new ways of learning feels a lot less scary.

It’s okay to feel out of your depth, because everyone is right there with you

Everyone is doing their very best in challenging circumstances, breaking activities down and being patient with one another is crucial as we adapt to this new way of learning and living. All are anonymous, but remember when you walk around campus that one of your lecturers, careers advisors, colleagues or support therefore, may have been responsible for this:

Staff can view all of the referenced presentations and associated materials from the ‘Tales from the Digital Classroom’ conference on the BILT Blackboard Collaborate site here.

Marnie Woodmead BILT Student Fellow 19/20 – working on the project ‘Challenge-led, authentic learning’.

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