The past year has been a challenging one in education. We have had to be flexible, ensuring that learning continued for our students by adapting, adjusting, and experimenting with new techniques, technologies and strategies. What would have seemed impossible prior to COVID is now modus operandi in our courses and classrooms. The effort and innovation of RUG teachers should be recognized, and this is the overarching theme of the week: New ways of teaching, continued commitment: Celebrating education.
In the opening ceremony for the festival, Rector Magnificus Cisca Wijmenga and Academic Lead of the Teaching Academy Groningen, Prof. dr. Mellie Pullman, shared their thoughts on the changes and challenges we have experienced in the last year, but also the unintended positive consequences of the pandemic, such as a renewed focus on the importance of education. While always one of our “core areas of business”, this year has really put the spotlight on reflecting on what worked (and didn’t) in our teaching and courses, sharing ideas with each other, and on experimenting with new formats and strategies such as blended learning, the focus of Day 1.
The blended learning sessions started with a well-attended, fun and interactive session with members of the FSE’s Professionalization & Innovation in Education (PIE) Group, where participants were invited to imagine and explore classroom spaces within the Gather.town environment for a variety of contexts, such as lectures, poster sessions, and tutorials . Participants could also choose to opt in to other interesting day one sessions in two different strands: video in education and technology enhanced learning environments. In the “video in education” strand, there were some practical, informative and inspirational sessions about how to get started with video creation with ESI’s Tom Spits, using OBS Studio for recorded lecture content with UCG’s dr. Oksana Kavatsyuk, and using video to bring the outside world into your classroom with Prof. dr. Mellie Pullman. In the technology enhanced learning environment strand, there were some interesting tours of imaginative learning environments, including the 3D collaborative space called Momentum, and also the futuristic XR (Cross Reality) world of Vrroom that will facilitate gamification and immersive experiences. Rounding off the day was a session by UCG’s Muhamed Amin, PhD., showcasing how he uses GitHub to collaborate and effectively manage information shared with and between himself, students, and colleagues.
The online format of the festival allows for a lot of flexibility for participants; join sessions live or watch the archived recordings later when it is more convenient. If the rest of the week is as interesting as the first day was, we are in for a wonderful five days of inspired professional learning!
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