During our #ReimagineFE19 conference lunch this Tuesday 2nd July, Sarah-Jane Crowson and Jo Fletcher-Saxon will be co-convening ReimagineFE’s first digital session. Using a Padlet (online pinboard), Jo and Sarah have devised a short activity which asks people who can’t be at the conference to consider what their ideal FE looks like and how they might meet contemporary challenges in their re-design of the sector. Those attending the conference are also welcome to participate.
Click here to access our digital Padlet. You can go ahead and add your thoughts at any time, and you are especially invited join in ‘live’ at 12:30 during our conference lunchbreak on 2 July.
Below, Sarah and Jo discuss the project and why it was important to pilot an online space at the conference.
Why did you want to bring a digital element to re-imagine?
Sarah: I feel passionately about inclusion. When I was a single parent with two young children, I found that I couldn’t get to places/spaces that I wanted to. Using digital spaces is an enabler; it lets people who can’t travel, or can’t get time off a way of still sharing their ideas and being part of the conversation.
Jo: I am aware now more than ever how difficult it can be for some colleagues in further education to attend professional development events due to budget constraints in colleges. ReimagineFE is a unique conference event on the FE conference landscape that really is about sector voices. I felt strongly about the voices of those not in the room being captured if at all possible, so the idea of an easy to access digital platform felt like a good addition.
Why an online pinboard rather than a tweet chat or a google doc?
Sarah: Jo suggested it! We thought about using (initially) just video conferencing but weren’t sure how far the infrastructure at the conference would support this. We wanted to make the session as user friendly as we could and Padlet is great for this as it’s easy to share the link and for people to post. It also lets us try out the design of the session in advance to check everything works.
We’ll be using twitter alongside Padlet to launch and discuss the live session!
Jo: Although I’m an advocate of the benefit of Twitter, I full realise not everyone is! Those of us who use Twitter might think lots of educators in FE do, but they really don’t. So I was keen that we use something that is commonly in use in further education, easy to use and navigate to, even for a complete beginner. We are also creating Padlets for each of the working groups at the conference so this will sit nicely with those and feed into the conference themes and outputs from the day.
What does the session look like?
Sarah: Well, first you’re asked to imagine a ‘different’ type of FE and describe what it looks like. Then you’re invited to choose a ‘chance’ card which uses the conference themes to dig down into how you might solve a ‘wicked’ problem in FE…if I tell you any more I’ll give the game away!
Jo: What Sarah said! We have used the conference themes to generate the scenarios within this activity. ‘Wicked’ problems are problems that are difficult to solve because of incomplete, contradictory or changing requirements. That sounds like FE to us! So you’ll be presented with these (very recognisable) problems to solve but in rather unusual contexts. We can’t wait to see what you suggest!
How did you collaboratively design the session?
Sarah: Well, Jo works about four hours drive away from my college, so we didn’t get to meet up. We managed a brief chat at a Learning Skills Research Network meet and then worked together using a live ‘google’ doc and slack group to discuss. Jo did all the liaising with the Reimagine planning team!
Jo: Working remotely and digitally has really been a learning curve for me and I have developed a completely new set of skills. Similarly, joining in an activity like this may develop participants’ skills (or just be enjoyable!). The activity draws from ideas of design fiction to provoke critical thinking, as we create possible or potential new futures for FE. It’s a ‘digital story telling’ session. Sound unusual? Often removing the constraints of normal conference proceedings can open up new ways of thinking.
What would you like to happen?
Sarah: Just for people to join in. For people to join in and for the technology not to crash. And for it to be clear enough to follow so that participants get something from the session. It’s a pilot – the first time that we’ve tried this, so it might be bumpy, but even one person who wanted to attend the conference joins in and gets their voice heard I will be happy.
Jo: For people to give it a go, go with the flow, speak up and be heard. Using technology is always risky but we are going to give it a whirl. As Sarah says, if even just one person who can’t be there is able to participate because of this, we will be very happy indeed.
The web link to join in the activity and read the instructions will be shared through various means as we approach the conference. Here on this blog, in emails and of course on Twitter! It will also be handed out with the conference booklet so that people on the day at the event can join in if they wish (or they can send the link to someone back at their college and invite them to join in). It will remain open beyond the lunchtime too for people to participate. Want to get in touch? Feel free to email Jo: email@example.com or tweet to her at @jfletchersaxon.