I attended the LIN (Learning Innovation Network) Conference in the Aisling Hotel on 27th October and came away with a lasting impression of very innovative and inclusive teaching going on in higher education. It was a very positive and energising day and well worth attending.

It covered key areas in higher education – first year experience, diversity and staff development and gave a platform to share and talk about highly innovative activities in higher education. At all these events you take away a few good ideas. My favourites were the key note speaker, Douglas Thomas who espoused a very novel idea. Learning should be pleasurable, a joyful experience. He emphasised the need to move away from learning as the absorption of information to one where learning taps into a sense of playfulness, natural curiosity, passion and a need to experiment. That is the basis of all positive learning. Since when does enjoyment not equate with learning.

One talk that really stood out for me was given by Dr. Barry Ryan from DIT on empowering student learning through knowledge production. OK the title sounds boring and does not do justice to the inspiration and passion he brought to the age old problem of engaging his students with a very boring subject. He described how he evolved a combination of action learning with group work and technology such as mind mapping and visualisation to ensure the students could keep their eye on the big picture and not get bogged down in the detail too early. He also built self development into the activity with self reflection exercises on individual learning styles, creating spaces for self awareness and inner learning.

Blogged by Ann Heelan, Director of AHEAD

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