HEA STEM 2018 conference - a brief summary and review

Some unexpected conference companions!

Some unexpected conference companions!

Last week (31st Jan & 1st Feb 2018), Learning Science attended the Higher Education Academy’s STEM conference in Newcastle, which focussed on Creativity in Teaching, Learning and Student Engagement.

The #HEASTEM18 conference was well organised, including a handy app for viewing contacts, session times and recent announcements. Newcastle’s Centre for Life is a fascinating venue - it’s not often you can discuss learning technology and Smart Worksheets on a balcony overlooking detailed animatronic dinosaurs!

The keynote speakers each day were equally interesting and inspiring. On the Wednesday, Dr Gareth Loudon from Cardiff Metropolitan University discussed how design theory can benefit STEM subjects. The Thursday keynote was from Floriane Fidegnon-Edoh, with her inspirational story about making it as a minority woman in STEM.

The #HEASTEM18 Tweetboard

The #HEASTEM18 Tweetboard

We were delighted to be given an interactive workshop slot, which we used to discuss “Creative techniques to support your laboratory practicals”. Many thanks to those who attended and contributed ideas. A slide deck from the workshop will shortly be available from the HEA Knowledge Hub.

Throughout the conference, we were kept very busy attending the many parallel sessions. Though each was unique, there are clear trends in the overall discourse, including learning-by-doing, fostering curiosity and the role of technology embedded in HE learning.

We particularly liked the format of the poster session on Thursday morning. You could choose between four sets of ten posters, and listen to a three minute overview (rigidly timed from a central station!) from each presenter, with time after for free discussion.

One of the poster presentation sessions in action

One of the poster presentation sessions in action

Overall, we had an excellent time at #HEASTEM18, and wish to thank the organisers at the HEA and the Centre for Life, and all the delegates we had interesting discussions with over the two days.