There Teaching and Learning Special Interest Group (@BES_TLSIG) had a strong presence at the British Ecological Annual conference, held this year in Birmingham from 16-19 December 2018. Many of the committee were there and we involved in running a series of workshops.
The “Setting up a successful fieldcourse” workshop, run by Drs Alice Mauchline (@alicemauchline) and Derek France (@derekfrance), who are also part of the award-winning Enhancing Fieldwork Learning team, attracted about 50 participants including both experienced and novice field teachers. Alice Mauchline published the slides and very helpful links following the workshop here.
The following day Dr Lesley Batty (@LesleyBatty) ran “The Inclusivity Challenge” which sought to workshop ideas about increasing the accessibility of fieldwork for all students. Using a series of scenarios, Lesley helped attendees consider the diversity of issues that might limit student participation in fieldwork, and then workshop possibilities for overcoming as many of the barriers as possible. The use of real scenarios allowed participants to compare their solutions to those employed by teachers in reality. Lesley was supported by Melanie Edgar (@agroecofarm) and Karen Devine who brought their experience in increasing accessibility to field work, by overcoming physical, mental, financial and cultural barriers, to the conversation. We were also lucky to have conference artist in residence Holly McKelvey (@holljcmk) recording the workshop.
Finally, we held a breakfast meeting for those interested in teaching and learning. A modest but enthusiastic crowd gathered at 7:30 am the morning after the conference dinner! There was much sharing of ideas about who to use technology in ecological teaching including apps, databases, videos, interactive and live broadcasting. It was a good chance to make new contacts with other ecology teachers and a last chance to see familiar faces.
Beyond the specific workshops we ran, there were a number of talks about teaching, including a talk from PhD student Emma Peasland (@Peas_E) about student motivations for participating in fieldwork.
The conference, as is a hallmark of the BES annual meetings, had plenty of time for catching up with colleagues, too many good talks to attend everything you wanted, good food, interesting stalls, and a chance to meet journal editors. Many of the other BES Special Interest Groups used the opportunity to have meetings and workshops too.
Drs Becky Thomas (@BeckyMicrocebus) and Julia Cooke (@CookeJulia), the communications officers for the committee, were tweeting throughout the conference, and you can follow our feed here and the conference hashtag #BES2018. You can sign up to our mailing list too.