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Navigating the Frontiers of Education: Insights from SLTCC & INNOCONF

Venturing into the realms of educational innovation, I recently had the privilege of attending two pivotal conferences: the Solent Learning and Teaching Community Conference (SLTCC) and the Innovation Conference (INNOCONF). These events not only showcased cutting-edge practices in education but also provided a platform for educators to share their experiences and insights, paving the way for a more connected and innovative learning landscape.


 Solent Learning and Teaching Community Conference


Held annually on the third Friday in June, the SLTCC is a gathering of educators from Solent University and the broader local community, united under the banner of "In pursuit of excellence: creativity and innovation in a changing landscape." My colleague Charlotte Everitt and I had the opportunity to present a poster detailing our efforts to enhance the digital learning environment for a cohort of entirely online Master's students through the utilization of Microsoft Teams.


Keynote speakers at the conference, including Dr. Simon Usherwood, a National Teaching Fellow from the University of Surrey, and Sarah Knight, Head of Change: Student Experience at Jisc, offered profound insights into the challenges and opportunities of digital learning. Dr. Usherwood's candid reflections on his teaching journey emphasized the importance of embracing failure as a stepping stone to improvement, while Ms. Knight highlighted the resources available to institutions aiming to bolster their digital capabilities.


 INNOCONF19: Innovations in Teaching Language


Following the SLTCC, I attended INNOCONF, where the focus shifted towards innovations in teaching language. Collaborating once again with Charlotte, we presented a session titled "Enhancing the learning experience and digital literacies of English Language Teachers on an Online MA in ELT through Blackboard and Microsoft Teams."


One standout session was led by Sascha Stollhans from Lancaster University, who introduced the concept of escape games as a novel method for engaging students in language learning. His approach involved creating a video-based mission that required students to apply their language skills to solve puzzles within a limited timeframe.


During a workshop session, my team and I brainstormed the creation of an escape game centered around a mysterious theft or murder, utilizing QR codes linked to audio clues to guide students through the investigation. This hands-on approach to learning not only engaged students but also encouraged collaborative problem-solving and the application of language skills in a creative context.


 Reflections and Looking Ahead

Both conferences underscored the critical role of technology in transforming education, from enhancing digital learning environments to innovatively applying technology in teaching language. The insights gained from these events are invaluable, offering a roadmap for educators seeking to integrate technology into their teaching practices in meaningful and impactful ways.


As we move forward, the lessons learned from SLTCC and INNOCONF will undoubtedly inform our approach to leveraging technology in education, driving innovation, and enhancing the learning experience for our students. The journey of educational innovation continues, and these conferences serve as powerful reminders of the potential that lies in embracing new technologies and methodologies to shape the future of learning.


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