In various ways, the Higher Education sector is regathering. After some torrid times, the teaching-focused conference is earnestly contributing to the global rebuilding project. For many years, the ASCILITE Conference has been an annual affair for the attendance of anyone interested in educational design and delivery. With this year’s face-to-face resumption, ASCILITE can be portrayed as a COVID bridge, spanning the viral canyon. And by all the standard measures up very well.
What are the ‘standard measures’ of a healthy conference – in particular, one that’s built around the notion of reconnecting communities? As with most productions the results can be described in terms of the tangible outputs and the intangible outcomes that together address the excellence and quality of the product.
The ASCILITE ‘production’ is its rolling series of programs which are vast in number and feature as engagement options throughout the year. For those who want to tap in to the ‘program’ the offerings include special interest groups, peer review exercises, community mentoring activities, and, with growth in mind, a new option for 2023 of a mentoring initiative for Women in Professional Leadership. As an indicator of ‘program excellence’ the 2022 ASCILITE Awards certainly recognised a host of stand-out community members willing to connect and bridge for the collective’s benefit.
I mentioned ‘awards’ deliberately, for they are momentary indicators of the intangible qualities of the ASCILITE product. Awards, in themselves, provide an insight into what a connected community collectively value and celebrate as shared priorities. In ASCILITE’s case, this year’s list of Awards were gratefully received by distinguished paper writers and reviewers, outstanding student bursars, community fellows, emerging scholars and innovators. And to round things off, the association recognised the sustained contributions of a growing list of long-standing ‘Life Members’.
With the conference dinner (a masked-ball at Luna Park) yet to come, it’s clear that ASCILTE is making a serious attempt at not only re-building our sector’s confidence; more so, it is helping attendees engage in an exercise of re-imagining who we are when we see ourselves as a connected community.
If you’re a higher education educator ASCILITE is a foundational association that’s well worth your consideration as a welcoming and rewarding community. Get connected at https://ascilite.org/.
Tim Grace is the Manager of the Education Communities and Environments team at the Centre for Learning and Teaching.