Visiting guests and noting opportunities

A photography lecture in 1947

Melbourne Technical College 1947. (cc) RMIT University Archives Image Collection

Posted by: Megan McPherson, L&T Group, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT.

One of the pleasures of being connected with a university is the opportunity to hear visiting lecturers presenting at different forums and for different audiences.

There are some great visiting professors coming to speak over the next few weeks; Anthony Paré and Helen Sword just to name two this week: Wednesday and Friday respectively- click here to register!

On 8 November 2012, Professor Erica McWilliam, Adjunct Professor at Queensland University of Technology, spoke at the RMIT College of Business Research Showcase in the Swanston Academic Building. Her audience was mainly comprised of research students in the College of Business involved in higher degrees by research, however her discussion was relevant to any one involved in knowledge creation and learning and teaching.

Professor McWilliam’s presentation was about scholarship and the discomfort of being involved in research that is challenging and new.

A few of the many ideas Professor McWilliam discussed were:

  • The three simple questions that she uses to define her research area:  What’s going on? How do you know? And So What? Twenty-first century researchers know that there are creaks and leaks in knowledge creation; it is how you, as a researcher, position yourself in relation to these three questions which is relevant.
  • What counts as a field? McWilliam suggests Robin Rogers’ notion of twenty-first century researchers operating in a tessellated field and our ability to collaborate, as networks and nodes, changes the way we think of discipline boundaries. Twenty-first century researchers need to be able to tolerate the discomfort of working not in one field or discipline, but being crossdisciplinary, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary. Check out the Research Whisperer’s post for detailed discussion of these terms.
  • Twenty-first century researchers creating trouble for what she called ‘straight thinking’, questioning how we design research, using patterns rather than straight lines. McWilliam used Gosling’s The Knight’s Move as the metaphor; see her keynote speech to the 3rd Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference (The Knight’s Move: its relevance for educational research and development, 2009).

The McWilliam keynote was twittered on the day by @kyliebudge, @thesiswhisperer and @MeganJMcPherson with the hashtag #mcwilliam. Using Twitter in a lecture presentation is a form of active note taking. It’s also a way to practice writing short, sharp summaries of bigger ideas. Anthony Paré describes this as a type of heuristic writing to make sense; and to make meaning and knowledge. The tweets start to make a narrative of the event, and the results can be both a record and a prompt to do further work with the information.

The Twitter notes have been useful to connect me with information and to network with others. I found the other keynotes referenced here and Kylie Budge (@kyliebudge) found McWilliam’s article ‘From school to café…’ and posted it to Twitter. The notes have been interesting for networking in academic circles; I had great questions and supportive comments in my Twitter feed from academics from different countries and from within Australia.

Thanks to @thesiswhisperer and  @kyliebudge for tweeting at the presentation in the room and all others who contributed to the #mcwilliam feed. Professor McWilliam’s Twitter handle is @elmcwilliam.

You can use tools like and to look at and collate the tweets from hashtags. When the College of Business has the video finalised, we will provide a link here too!

References / Further Reading:

Judge, A (2012) Insights from Knight’s move thinking, accessed 18 Nov, 2012

McWilliam, E (2009) The Knight’s Move: Its relevance for educational research and development. Keynote paper presented at the 3rd Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference, Singapore. Accessed 18 Nov, 2012.

Click here for slides from the above keynote.

Paré, A. (2009) What we know about writing, and why it matters. Compendium 2, 2(1), Dalhousie University. Accessed 18 Nov, 2012

Thomson, P (2012) Academic travel diary: a narrative to find the way. Accessed 18 Nov, 2012

Share your thoughts about getting the most value from conferences and visiting guests in the comments!


Why write a blog on teaching and learning?

Good question!

The idea came from a Speed Geeking session where I met The Thesis Whisperer; a colleague who runs a blog to guide, support and inspire PhD students. She told us that about 6 people have read the journal articles she has written, but 1200 have accessed and continued to access her blog!

This was a light bulb moment!

Working in teaching and learning (T&L), my office mate and I bemoan the fact that there is so much material ‘out there’, how can we engage and share it? Likewise, teaching staff often comment, “I didn’t know about…, how do you find out about …?” So, the blogisphere was a way of linking to other T&L practitioners in an easily accessed and safe environment.

Recently, I have been using Youtube video clips as tasters, to spark interest in my students on topics (eg. there is a series explaining constructive alignment ). If this is all they do, they have had a taste, are now aware and that adds to their knowledge palate or it may pique their interest and they may research further. That is the aim of this blog, not to provide “The Answer”, but rather to share ideas, information and frustrations and ultimately to enhance all our teaching practice – the idea is to provide a starting place, a source for ideas and information on teaching and learning in the tertiary education environment – The Teaching Tomtom is to give us the portal to do this.

Another part of this blog is its link to the Twitterverse. The purpose of this is two fold, firstly to engage with 21st century communication in a meaningful way; I don’t want to share what I had for breakfast (porridge), how cute my cats are (very) or where I am having a drink (never you mind); but this can be a way of engaging in concise and focussed communication around T&L. Secondly, I don’t know what you think, but another possible benefit is to see how (or if) we could use Twitter in our teaching. If you join us in Twitter, this is something we could talk about.

As the aim of TTTT is to be a collective space, we ask that if you are inspired or motivated or have a burning T&L issue that you want to share, discuss or just get off your chest, write a post or comment. Comments are easy – just see the link at the top of the page. To post, have a look at the About section as this will tell you how to do it.

So, after talking about what a good idea a T&L blog would be for several months now, the time has come to take the plunge and actually do it.