Day 2 of the RGS-IBG Conference (2nd September) looks as good as the first. My main interest for the day was the Higher Education Research Group (HERG) sessions taking place in The Pavillion: Innovative spaces of learning: debating their origin, nature and significance', which was the second in a series started at the Association of American Geographers Conference in April this year. Session 1 started with a guest lecture from Prof Steve Wheeler (University of Plymouth) 'New spaces, new pedagogies: harnessing the power of social media in education' (the slides will eventually appear on Steve's slideshare page). It was an exciting presentation that discussed surface vs deep learning, knowledge and wisdom, formal and informal learning, and educational change culminating with an exploration of the role of social media in personalised learning, and how the learner can create their own VLE. It was very thought provoking.
Jenny Hill (UWE) chaired the session and gave two talks: (1) A Space to reflect: using online discussion boards to enhance students' understanding of global climate change, and (2) Evaluating the flexible spaces of learning created through exotic video podcasts. Derek France (University of Chester)also spoke on 'Does technology enhance student learning in physical geography fieldwork?', which looked at the successful use of video reports in the field in New Zealand.
Derek then chaired the second session after coffee, which began with another guest lecture this time from Ruth Weaver from the Experiential Learning CETL at Pymouth. Ruth looked at 'The role of built pedagogy', that is the physical spaces of learning, and discussed fieldwork, Lab plus, and an Immersive Vision Theatre constructed out of a disused planetarium. The student perception of learning as being either fragmented (isolated bits of learning) or cohesive conceptions (integrated - deeper - learning) was an interesting concept, and one that I took on board and mentioned in my paper at the end of the session.
Kenneth Lim (Singapore) then discussed the use of Second Life in geography education 'Avatar dreaming: considerations of place and space in the design of learning environments in Second Life', and gave an inspirational example of how school children were terra forming using the technology. Carolyn Roberts (Oxford University) and Mick Healey (Glos) followed with a report of 'Bringing about change in teaching and learning at departmental level: an innovative mental and physical space for planning curriculum changes'. They discussed the HEAs Change Academy scheme in conjunction with the Leadership Foundation, which involved four teams involved in projects seeking a change of culture in their institutions. I then finished the session with my talk 'Regions as geographical learning resouces in Higher Education'. Altogether, the sessions were very interesting and gave a lot of food for thought for geographical education and HE in general.