Jez Cope's blog on becoming a research technologist

#altc2012 Part 1: Bring on the data!

So today was day 1 of ALT-C 2012. Here are a few thoughts from the day.

The conference kicked off with an inspiring keynote from Eric Mazur. Eric is a physicist at Harvard, and when he’s not doing photonics research, he brings the scientific method to bear on his teaching practice.

He gave three examples that were interesting in their own right, but the key takeaway message was this: data is essential to improving teaching practice. Rather than coming up with anecdotes that go “well, my students seem to like it when I blah blah blah”, why not set up a simple experiment to actually test what helps those students learn.

After lunch, Cathy and I did a workshop on using research data for teaching, as part of the Research360 project. I won’t go into too much detail (it did what it said on the tin), other than to say that I felt like it went pretty well — all the attendees got into the exercises and some really productive discussions took place.

Take a look at the session page to see the slides and exercises.

After that, I saw a couple of demonstrations of some cool stuff (NoobLab, curatr), and caught up with a few of the JISC digital literacy projects.

So far, then, another interesting conference. The catering’s been pretty good too. A lot of carbohydrate, though: lunch was served with cous cous, chips and boiled potatoes (and bread rolls if you wanted) and dinner was equally carbalicious. Perhaps it’ll help me run faster in the morning.

It’s late. I’m wittering. Bye for now!