Reflecting on the ASCILITE Research School in September 2019

By Sandy Barker (University of South Australia)

Taking a step back over the Christmas break has given me time to reflect on the exciting opportunities I had last year.  Apart from graduation in April as one of the first cohort of UniSA’s Graduate Diploma in Education Studies (Digital Learning), the research school would have to be the highlight of my year.  Here is a reflection that I wrote at the time.

What a fantastic few days I have had attending the ASCILITE 2019 Spring into Excellence Research School at the University of New England focusing on research in the Technology Enhanced Learning space with like-minded academics from around Australia (with a couple of New Zealanders).

Arriving in Armidale, NSW on Sunday we were transported to a quaint country motel and settled in for a productive few days.

An experienced panel of six facilitators met with us just after lunch on Monday and, after introductions around the “water cooler” we were led through the current landscape in TEL research as well as where the potential opportunities may be.  Very quickly we were working on developing our own problem statement for a research project that we are interested in progressing.  After discussing the project and problem statement we were encouraged to write them up on a poster, with potential research questions for peer review and comment. These were then displayed around the room for continual reference over the following days.

Samples of project posters

Day 2 started with a consideration of research methodology and methods that generally apply to TEL research allowing us time to consider which of these may apply to our own projects. The remainder of day 2 was spent looking at data collection, data analysis, instrument design and ethics approval processes. This was great as it allowed us all the chance to seriously consider what the process would be and to get started on the development of these areas for our projects. Communal dinners on both Monday (Indian) and Tuesday (Pub) provided us with the opportunity to follow up on the day’s discussions and to build the relationships further.

The final day was all about disseminating our research, updating our social media profiles (including OrcID and Publons) and how to get funding for these projects.

Above: My current list of projects (actively seeking potential collaborators)

Overall the three days were an opportunity to consider where-to-next for the research I have in my head, to focus the project(s) and to start looking for potential collaborators or fellow academics to bounce ideas off for the next year or so.  I am seriously enthused and ready to hit the ground running – even though tomorrow it is back to the classroom.

Right: image of the drought situation in Armidale.

I’m happy to know that the rain has now landed and the fields in this photo will be green for the 2020 ASCILITE conference.

Thanks to Chris, Sue, Barney, Michael, Thom and Pep for their guidance over the past three days. As we prepare for 2020, I can highly recommend this to all starting out in TEL research. Information about the 2020 Spring into Excellence Research School will be available soon – don’t miss out on this opportunity.

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