Show & Tell, vol. 2

It’s time for another installment of Show & Tell, where I share with you a blog post, article, or idea that I’ve come across in the realm of teaching & learning, university affairs, or what have you, and then you, fingers crossed, share your own in the comments section. Or maybe just comment on mine.

This is how I envision it happening, anyway; though in reality people are busy, with lives and the like. Part of this blog’s purpose is to try to make research on teaching and learning more of a commonplace practice in the lives of teachers, rather than an exceptional, rigorous, intimidating or last-minute sorta thing. Research can be as simple as clicking on a link and reading someone’s thoughts on a personal learning experience, or it can mean reading a peer-reviewed article describing the findings of an academic study. But in any case, I think the valuable end-result of doing your own formal or informal research on teaching and learning is that it invites reflection.

This week’s Show & Tell comes outta the swarm of internet buzz words in the world of education and professional development: “unconferences.” Notably, unconferences seem to draw upon many of the discussion facilitation practices with which Teacher’s Assistants, like myself, are already familiar. They attempt to invite open, communally-mediated discussions. They also try to avoid the traditional conference format that isolates speakers at the head of a lecture hall or hotel conference room, which in turn tends to render conference attendees passive audience members desperately in need of lots of bad coffee to keep immobilized bodies and silenced tongues awake.

So, my recommendation for the week is Amy Collier’s post on her experience with the unconference format in her post at The Red Pincushion, “A vote for¬†unconferences.”

The 2012 John Douglas Taylor Conference
October 25th & 26th
McMaster University

And while I’m on the subject, I might as well plug the traditionally-formatted conference I, my supervisor, and his other students are organizing, to be held at McMaster this October 25th & 26th– Working the Frame: Comparative Approaches to Asian Canadian Literature and Culture (which is generously supported by the John Douglas Taylor Fund, the Department of English & Cultural Studies, and the Senator William McMaster Chair in Canadian Literature and Culture). It’s going to be awesome. You should come. The program¬† features a film screening with Richard Fung, a full day of panels and two keynote addresses from Lisa Lowe and Lily Cho the following day, and, to close the conference, an evening of discussion with a plenary panel of artists & activists: David Chariandy, Larissa Lai, Lee Maracle and Chantria Tram. It ain’t an unconference, but it is going to be oh-so, so good.

What do you think of unconferences? Any ideas for how the organizing committee for Working the Frame could open the conference to an online community? Got your own Show & Tell? Do share!