Hosted by the University of Liverpool, this year’s Teaching and Learning Conference welcomed over 300 delegates from 15 countries as diverse as the UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Botswana.

After the opening address by our own Matt Small, managing director, international of Blackboard, we attended a challenging keynote from Graham Brown-Martin, founder of Learning Without Frontiers (LWF), author and director of the Learning {Re}imagined transmedia project.

As part of this project, Graham got the opportunity to travel over 130,000 miles and visit 18 countries to understand how education and pedagogy were delivered in places such as a refugee camp on the Syrian border, a rural area in India, and campuses in the US and London. He also interviewed world-class thought leaders like Seth Goding and Noam Chomsky to get their view.

From this experience, Graham identified six big areas to focus on in education. Technology is one of these key areas. He explained that technology should be used to liberate and amplify learner’s capabilities, not just to deliver greater efficiencies. It needs to be used in a disruptive way in order to meet the many challenges that are lying ahead and enable the transformation which is needed in today’s education.

Graham’s great opening keynote was coupled later in the day by the inspiring keynote of our CEO – Jay Bhatt. Jay built and expanded on the messages he delivered last year at the conference in Dublin, illustrating how our new approach to education puts learners, their needs and desires at the very core of what Blackboard offers.

Both Graham and Jay’s visions linked back to one of the big themes of the day:strategies to embed the use of technology to enhance teaching & learning and student engagement.

In the afternoon, we heard how MEF University (Istanbul, Turkey) implemented this theme, being amongst the first in the world to deploy the flipped classroom methodology in all undergraduate courses.

What they highlighted was that students are more likely to get distracted and overloaded with knowledge that comes from different means. Institutions need to go from distraction to connection, turning student’s “distractions” such as social media, mobiles and more, into a conduit for learning. Students are digital natives, so why not employ the technology and devices they are all using to create a “connection through technology” and give them the ability to learn anywhere and anytime?

Another great example of this theme was the presentation delivered by Pascaline Fresneau and Karen Dinneen from the Dublin Dental University Hospital, Trinity College Dublin, who discussed how to integrate distance learning into an existing blended learning programme using Blackboard Collaborate and increase access to a part-time diploma.

The distance learning programme was incorporated after demands from students who encountered challenges in travelling to and from the university campus due to transport limitations in more rural parts of Ireland. The new situation resulted in lectures being streamed live from Dublin, with lecturers being supported by coordinators to ensure students – both online and within the classroom – had a great learning experience and were not distracted by the technical needs to conduct the lectures online.

These were just a couple of examples of what the Teaching & Learning Conference had in store for the first day. We saw great presentations on other themes as well, such as on enhancing and personalising the learning experience, on improving student’s interaction, and on measuring assessments and increasing adoption – but that will be part of another blog post.

A great first day for the conference in Liverpool!


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    its great for improve my basic teaching knowledge