Shirley reminded me that I never blogged the AISHE trip. Some belated thoughts then … 

AISHE was an excellent two day conference bringing together excellent practice from higher education around the world. The variety was rich, presentations included mentoring/peer support, inquiry based learning, problem based learning and internationalisation. All of these themes were relevant to HE practitioners, the blend worked well and brought together a wide range of HE and associated practitioners. 

The session I found particularly useful was by Gillian Sheil who looked at reflection and learning led approaches to work-based learning. There appeared to be many parallels between the experiences of courses at Northumbria and Anglia Ruskin. She outlined challenges in meeting the individual learning needs of eclectic individuals following highly personalised pathways. One such problem outlined in the presentation was the presence of an initial mutual trepidation emerging from the mixed professional make up of the learning group  – for example when hospital managers come together to learn on an even footing with care assistants both players experience learning anxiety. This reminded me of when I was a researcher with Intercollege in about 2001, in Anglia’s Health Business School, we tried and tried to launch a community for cross professional learning but levels of cross-professional cooperation in learning were very low. So it’s heartening to hear the work of programmes such as this researching the erosion of such barriers. 

The session that Shirley and I did went very well and as someone fairly new to presenting it was great to have some really  nice feedback .

Three things I personally learnt/derived from the experience were: 

1. Slides with pictures are easier to manage than ones which are word heavy – they allow you freedom and flow (I think Shirley got this tip from Steve Jobs :-). For me they are less restricting and easier to manage, when reading slides it distracts from the message, a picture can simply trigger the message. 

2. Never plan an opening line, if you do and it goes wrong (with a memory like mine it’s inevitable) then you are instantly feeling negative. (Shiley and I disagree here I think).

3. It is useful to encourage interjections from the audience whenever they feel the need, this allows those questions that are important to be asked, they often slip by if left until the end when the coffee cups are a clanging in the foyer! It also allows the presenter to gauge their pitch, to complex, too boring, to simple.