Our Conference Theme: The Connected Classroom
The university classroom sometimes appears to be a private space, insulating teachers and students from the pressures and distractions of the “real world.” Such a remove may encourage learners to take chances and explore new ideas, but can also leave students ignorant of standards and expectations that exist in the world beyond the ivory tower. Too great an isolation may be detrimental to good learning.
Thus the balance in higher education has lately shifted away from ivory tower isolation in favor of greater openness. University classrooms have increasingly become more “connected,” both with respect to other classrooms and to the world beyond. The Internet provides one avenue for such fruitful connection: through it students can access information, view live video, and engage in worldwide conversations without ever leaving their campus. But there are other pedagogically useful forms of connectedness as well, including interdisciplinary teaching, internships, field research, and competitive projects (think “battle-bots”).
Our choice of theme for this year’s 39th International Conference on Improving University Teaching intends to address both the risks and the benefits of classroom connectedness. As an international organization, we take a special interest in forms of instruction that reach beyond the individual classroom. Many of the most promising innovations in higher education involve linking students, bridging disciplines, and sponsoring projects that bring the world into the classroom. Vancouver—a city where Asia meets the New World—provides an ideal venue for such an exploration.
Five sub-themes underlie the overall conference topic:
- IT and Digital Connectedness
- Interdisciplinary Teaching
- Bridging Classroom and Workplace
- Community Collaborations
- New Research on Connected Learning