Conferences – As “Extended Curriculum”Muhammad Babur
Academic conferences have increasingly become a regular and important part of universities’ academic calendar. However, it is our general observation that by and large the potential of academic events (such as, conferences, seminars or policy dialogues) does not get fully exploited. Though the conferences generally are seen as a venue for knowledge sharing and learning, the possibilities of meaningful dialogue between formal spaces of learning (university courses and curricula) and Conferences remain marginalized and/ or sporadic. It seems that not much explicit attention is given to meaningful integration of such knowledge events as part of the curriculum for graduating students.
An Innovative Proposal
The current proposal briefly discusses one possible innovative way to capitalize on the knowledge event – with particular reference to the ELLTA Conference 2014.
We strongly believe that Academic Conferences could/ should be conceptualized as:
a) Part of a Full-fledged course (e.g. existing post-graduate courses) – a component that could be integrated within an existing course which has a good overlap with the thematic thrust of the conference
b) Short courses (e.g. new CPE/ Certificate) – an exclusive, short course designed for existing students or to attract new students
Some Examples of Innovative Courses
Conferences offer a unique opportunity since it is otherwise not easily possible for a university to engage such a large number of scholars to share their ideas on a range of topics (related to the thematic focus of the conference)!
By all means, conferences are good venue to put up short and innovative courses, for example, on:
ü Research Methods/ Methodology
ü Content related: Identifying current debates in ‘X’ domain of knowledge (themes of the conference)
ü Skills related: e.g. developing academic argument, presentation of ideas, etc.
A number of options are available to assess student learning in this case. The student may be required to develop their framework of data collection before they embark on the assignment and submit a report later, fulfilling the key requirements of the assignment (for certification/grades).
I believe it the right time to acknowledge the potential of academic conferences and maximize this potential for our young scholars!
Pedagogues/ Faculty/ Department Heads/ Deans are invited…
In this backdrop, our proposal is to invite Pedagogues/ Faculty/ Department Heads/ Deans to engage with the conference much in advance for designing and delivering an intensive course (pitched at any level that you would want to) that helps the students to take maximum advantage of the three days of the conference in an innovative manner.
This process/ experience can be simultaneously and systematically be studied and published as (possibly, as part of the conference publications). It has all the potential of a very good knowledge contribution, if planned ahead and designed effectively!
For Innovative Course Design, check out Conference Themes.