Last week I attended the 3rd Regional Conference on Engineering Education (RCEE 2010) and Research in Higher Education (RHEd 2010) held at the Grand Margherita Hotel in Kuching, Sarawak.
I was invited to deliver a plenary presentation on the challenges of implementing problem-based learning (PBL) in the university environment. I developed the presentation around the idea that implementing PBL is itself an experience of PBL as we seek to solve the problem(s) associated with designing and delivering a course in a PBL mode. My presentation drew on some ideas from Howard Barrows who argued early in the history of PBL that there is a spectrum of approaches that can achieve at least some of the goals of PBL. That understanding makes it easier to begin working with PBL by adopting an approach that works incrementally toward a full implementation rather than insisting on an “all or nothing” approach. My presentation slides are available on Slideshare.
Because I was going to be there for the entire conference I took the opportunity to submit a paper (written with colleagues, Jerry Maroulis & Romina Jamieson-Proctor) describing some of the initial results from a project on which we are working at USQ. The project has collected data from students and staff about access, attitudes and capabilities related to the use of ICT for learning. The paper focused on results from the Faculty of Engineering and Surveying which were likely to be of most relevance for the audience at this conference. The presentation slides for this paper are also on Slideshare.
The principal focus of the conference was on Engineering Education but the inclusion of Research in Higher Education element ensured that there were some papers of broader interest. One of particular interest described the development and testing of a system for automated social network analysis of Moodle discussion forums. The system is still in development but is capable of generating visual displays of levels of participation in networks based on incoming and outgoing messages. A system of this sort may have applications for research as well as for monitoring levels of student engagement in course discussions. It will be interesting to see if this, or a similar system, becomes available for use at USQ.
Although the conference schedule was busy I did manage to find some time to look around and to capture some images. A selection of those can be found in my Malaysia 2010 gallery.