More than 400 post-secondary educators came together in Burnaby in June for the first-ever Festival of Learning.

Learning festival creates connections for VIU

NANAIMO – Vancouver Island University participates in collaborative B.C. conference.

By Dane Gibson

A one-of-a-kind collaboration between a number of teaching and learning organizations in B.C. has resulted in a relationship that will support more information, technology and pedagogy sharing at the post-secondary education level.

The first-ever Festival of Learning was held in Burnaby this past June thanks to the efforts of seven provincial teaching and learning organizations including Vancouver Island University’s Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning, B.C. Campus, and B.C. Teaching and Learning Council.

Innovation centre director Liesel Knaack says partner organizations historically held their own conferences, so to bring them all under one roof represented something that had never been done before in the province.

“When we came together to plan the Festival of Learning we had a vision of sharing rich learning opportunities and presenting them in an impactful way,” said Knaack. “By all B.C.’s post-secondary institutions working together we were able to recruit over 230 presenters, speakers and session leaders who made our vision a reality. When more than 400 participants attended it was beyond anything we anticipated.”

Attendees explored sessions on scholarship and scholarly teaching, educational technologies, open education and open pedagogical approaches, along with sessions on active and engaged learning techniques.

VIU professor of resource management and protection, Marilyn Funk, attended and presented at the festival. She described the experience as authentic, energetic and intimate.

“As a VIU faculty member what I had to share mattered to other teaching professionals and I couldn’t help but be swept along by the collective energy of the group,” said Funk. “I left the conference sessions inspired and wanting to get started on re-writing many of my course learning outcomes. Everyone I spoke with was excited to share newly discovered knowledge and ideas and there was much anticipation from all of the educators about the upcoming semester.”

Stephanie Chu is Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s vice-provost of teaching and learning. She was on the team that helped organize the festival and was an enthusiastic participant.

“When the groups began working together to figure out how to fit three separate teaching and learning events into one, the process wasn’t always easy but the organizers persevered and were rewarded for their efforts,” she said.

Chu said once the festival got underway representatives from virtually every post-secondary institution in B.C. mixed and mingled, shared knowledge and made plans to work together in the future.

“The festival really provided a venue for cross-pollination in that the sharing of knowledge from different areas and regions allowed people to go back to their schools and incorporate what they learned into their teaching plans,” Chu said.

Dane Gibson is a writer with VIU’s communications department.

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