LaGrange College hosts an annual, internal teaching-focused conference entitled “Teaching and Learning Conference 20xx” and that conference is given a nickname. On May 18th, we hosted TLC2016. This year, the planners included Prof. Rebekah Ralph, May McInnis, Dr. Christi Hu, Joe Marciniak, and myself (Dr. Jon Ernstberger).
Registration and Attendance
We intentionally invited the keynote speaker and the panelists for our concluding discussion. However, faculty and staff submitted abstracts via a Google Docs form and registered for attendance (and lunch) also using a Google Docs form. Consequently, we had accurate records of attendance and faculty members had to be intentional about attendance.
Two tracks were offered: pedagogy and ed tech (as you can see, below). In the pedagogy thread, we offered a discussion on those who are our incoming learners (Dr. Adam Myers and Prof. Rebekah Ralph), with managing large classrooms effectively (Prof. Angela McSpadden), and the appropriate use of visual and creative aids for dealing with difficult texts (Dr. Patti Marchesi). In the ed tech thread, topics such as Voicethread (Dr. Lydia Rosencrants), LibGuides (Lindsey Lowry), and interactive Powerpoint presentations (Dr. Tim McInnis) were offered.
Keynote and Concluding Panel
To start us off, Dr. Kim Barber Knoll began her keynote with a skit (what would you expect someone in theater to do?). The point was to relate how we should “disconnect” and engage with those around us. She then challenged the audience to be “present” for the remainder of the conference. Needless to say, it was difficult for me to full participate in her challenge since I was taking photos.
The concluding conversation was a panel discussion on advising. LaGrange College has a variety of student interest groups and we invited representative advisers for those groups to attend. Pictured (below) are Dr. Christi Hu, Dr. Alvin Lingenfelter, and Dr. Karen Pruett.
In the end, we left these sessions with renewed vigor to be present and with thoughts on how to become better advisors.
My favorite sessions was with Dr. Tim McInnis’ on the use of branching in Powerpoint to let students choose a path. The talk was engaging, Dr. McInnis did a great job, and people asked questions way after the allotted time period concluded. In effect, he used an older, proliferated (friendly) technology in an unconventional way.
Using hyperlinks, he made “chains” much like a logical path depicted in a flowchart. Students could then go back to earlier points when they reached an incorrect conclusion. By design, they couldn’t see the correct end result without navigating the correct path (probably several attempts) through the presentation. The idea is excellent and, as a result, I learned something, I gained new respect for a colleague, and I have renewed respect for the veteran tool of Powerpoint.
With 30+ LaGrange College faculty in attendance (approximately 40%) before graduation, we considered the entire event a success. At the end of the session, door prizes were given with Moodlerooms as one of the sponsors.
On the day of the conference, I actually even used Periscope to talk about the event (below) and can find the link on my YouTube Channel.
We are already making plans for TLC2017 and I’d be open to hearing any suggestions that might help make that conference feel new and inventive. Feel free to leave those thoughts below in the comments or reach out to me on Twitter at @jernstberger.