Welcome along!

This week we don’t have any scheduled classes as it is a study week. I know what you’re thinking – “Why are you even writing/bothering us with a blog post?” – and it is a good question. Let me tell you for why:

  1. Because one of the main reasons I started this blog was to get into the habit of writing regularly, observationally and critically. It has become a ritual that is hard to break.
  2. Because this week has been host to our ‘Get Ahead‘ conference!

The Get Ahead conference is an event that this year was organised by a second year education student called Dom (from our Zig Zag writing session a few weeks ago). It was full of handy workshops aimed at improving our study skills, and helping with post graduate employment prospects. As you can see from the leaflet below, there were a range of workshops which were lead by both students and lectures.

IMG_20160217_183918.jpg IMG_0109.JPG

The observant among you may have noticed that Megan and I also ran a work shop. It was supposed to be called Social AcadeMedia (unfortunately there was a typo on the leaflet) and was about how social media – and the internet in general – could be used to help students with their studies in ways they may not have previously considered. We primarily discussed  apps that many students already use socially, such as Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook. We also discussed the benefits of regular Blogging and using Google Docs as a tool for collaboration. We then explained how each of these apps could be used to resolve problems that many ‘non traditional‘ students face, such as not being able to attend group work sessions due to proximity, part time work or family commitments.

A  360° view of the room we used for our workshop

Unfortunately we only had 2 or 3 people turn up to our workshop. To be honest I was a little disheartened at first, as both Megan and I had put a lot of ourselves into our presentation. HOWEVER, quantity does not always represent worth. Our audience – small though the may have been – seemed really impressed with our talk, especially when we showed them Google Docs. It seems that they had never heard of it before, and that it was the perfect solution to some problems they had recently faced while trying to arrange meeting up to work on group project. Their enthusiasm during those few minutes while we explained its potential and showed them how to use it more than made up for my initial disappointment.

After we had given our little talk, Mandy came around to take some photos for the Get Ahead Twitter page. Click on the image below to have a look at the days events. 


After our workshop I went to go and watch Tom give an animated talk on ‘How to make your dissertation dazzle’. Even though I’m a little way off having to worry too much about that, a lot of the talk was super relevant in regards to our upcoming research findings. Toms workshop was followed by a free lunch, tasty cupcakes, and the chance to talk to some of the other students and lecturers about how they had found the day so far. As far as  I could tell the general consensus was that it had been a successful day. It was well structured, informative and diverse. Here’s looking forward to next year’s. 

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5 thoughts on “#GetAhead

  1. Reblogged this on Becoming An Educationalist and commented:
    #becomingeducational – the #getahead week!!
    This week ‘becomingeducational was lodged within the #getahead conference and – as #IamDanJordan might say – that was supercool because Dom one of last year’s students organsed it – and Dan and Megan and Natalie and Selina from this year’s fabulous class both ran workshops at it!!
    Tom and I are really proud of you: for presenting – for attending – for your engagement, creativity and good humour!
    Well done folks…
    If this is what you did this week – can’t wait for your ‘performance’ weeks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great posting. Sandra suggested we read your post and I think you hit on a topic that presenters often miss when they count success only by numbers of people attending their “talk.” My wife and her office partner recently did a presentation on how to get started in designing a course. Their assumption was that “everyone already knew this stuff” yet something about the way they structured the process spoke to people and they’ve had a number of requests for further information since the conference.

    Can’t speak for exactly why people took interest but I think it has to do with the stuck’ness we feel after the initial inspiration. Now you need to make this thing appear in the world outside your head. Your mentioning Google Docs may have seemed like an “obvious-everyone-knows” topic yet it struck home so maybe there was something in your presentation that introduced your listeners to a “known” topic in a unique way? A way they could connect Google Docs to their own needs. Very Cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wowsers, thanks for reading, and more so for the comment! I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t have wanted a larger group of people there, but our success was measured in how valuable it was to those who were there! You’re right of course, obvious to one isn’t necessarily so to another. We wanted people to feel like these were solutions to problems, rather than added distractions or tasks that they felt they HAD to do.

      I guess the key to our structure was trying to understand the legitimate reasons people don’t participate in class and seeing if we couldn’t find ways to help overcome them. It required a certain amount of empathy which, if I’m honest, doesn’t come naturally to me. I guess for me knowing that our talk makes things a little easier for even one person is a great success. Better to be heard by one person than to talk AT a room full of people who aren’t engaged. Thanks again for the comment. It is nice to know someone other than Sandra reads this 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the reply in return, how networks begin–Sandra knows about this. As a follow-up on my Wife’s project, more requests for the getting started tip sheet have come in from people who heard from people and this actually was noticed by her coordinator. So now her and her partner are getting more interesting work at a higher level and not seeing their stuff swallowed up in the politics and careerism of that used to power her department.

    The secret? First, my wife Leslie decided to do her presentation without sponsorship of the college. She paid for the conference from her own pocket and made it clear the work on display represented things the two of them had proposed over and over to no avail. Lesson learned was it turns out most others at the conference also worked in numbingly discouraging environments where their dedication and enthusiasm for their craft is flattened by a fog of managerial flatulence. By declaring the work was created by people, for people, rather than being some sort of institutional cadaver energized by the very pointlessness of trying to make a difference, the audience appreciated the effort–no one was MADE to do this, rather it was genuine effort by someone in the community.

    In addition, there has been a reshuffle in management. Someone recently did a scan of projects that have failed to be realized and identified those places where things stopped dead. By checking what went in and what came out (if anything) it became obvious (finally) that some people paid well to enable projects were altering or delaying things in their own interests.

    To me, the main point here seems to be that there’s been a shift where Leslie works to a spirit of getting things done. NOT who gets credit for it, or how they were central to its realization but how the usefulness spreads throughout the organization. That’s a huge change.


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