MeMyself&I

Archive for the ‘Conference’ Category

I am reflecting on another recent success of my authentic learning research that has become a part of my being. I submitted a paper to HERDSA for the first time this year. My intention when I submitted was to get feedback on my work, I heard that HERDSA has a very good reputation for its rigorous review process.

And rigorous it was, the most informative feedback I’ve received by far. The only ever time I was asked to respond to every reviewer’s feedback and suggestions. I was required to document my reaction/response to each and every recommendation made by the reviewers. The learning for a relatively new researcher like me had been tremendous. There were many praises and encouragement as well included in the reviewers’ feedback, which was motivating for me and my co-researcher.

At the HERDSA Conference in Darwin, I was informed by folks from Sydney University that my research had influenced their presentation on role play, which was surprising to know. However, the biggest surprise came during the closing ceremony when my name was called to receive the best paper award for authentic learning. I couldn’t help but reflect on what the conclusion of my PhD thesis holds. I dream of contributing to knowledge to improve educational practice. With the two recent successes at conferences, I wonder if I am on track to make a difference.

Well, the PhD journey has just began, it is a while to go yet. It is good to know for now that interests in my research project continue to come my way. I have been invited again to present at another university on the same topic below. 

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As I prepare for the first conference I am attending this year, I started to think why I need to go and what I will get out of it.  My reflection began when I came across this…

Source: "Piled Higher Deeper" by Jorge Cham http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=478

Source: "Piled Higher Deeper" by Jorge Cham http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=478

 I disagree. It is fun to attend a conference because for me learning is fun and that’s what happens when I go to a conference – I learn. The biggest benefit I gain from attending a conference is connecting with kindred spirits, folks whose work I admire and which inspires me. Conferences have a way of renewing the passion that brings like minded people together, and being part of that is a privilege that I truly value.  Attending a conference provides an opportunity to learn from experts, share ideas with others, and identify new knowledge and  techniques in my field of instructional design. I think it is quite a productive experience for a PhD candidate, given the knowledge explosion in the current information-rich era. It is a great way to keep abreast of emerging themes and technology.

But it is also hard work. My attendance will always be tied up with having an accepted paper. Throughout my PhD journey and beyond, my aim is to get my written work reviewed, as well as receive oral feedback during presentation.  I could then ‘network’ with folks doing similar research who are likely to extend my ideas. I think it is a win-win situation, and it is fun! But I’m sure that others will have opposing views about attending conferences instead of concentrating on thesis writing… well I say horses for courses!

My research collaborator and I presented a paper at the 9th International Business Research Conference “Research for Change” this week, on our accounting education research. The plenary session where our paper was scheduled to be presented started off with fewer number of people but I noticed that every chair was occupied during our presentation, then a few left again immediately after the discussion. There was a healthy discussion during our presentation, the only time I observed exchanges of ideas amongst participants. In contrast, the discussion in other presentations consisted mainly of presenter-questioner interaction.

It appears that accounting education research is of interest to many academics but very few papers are submitted to forums like this. As another presenter commented, discipline-based research remains to be the only type or research being promoted and supported at his university. Yet at the corridor after the plenary session, I was congratulated by two well-known Professors in Accounting, marvelling at the work we had done and commented that there should be more initiatives like ours proliferating the accounting education literature. Interestingly, we cited the work of one of these Professors published in a leading accounting education journal. He appeared surprised that we actually did so given that it was published 16 years ago. I responded that the problems in accounting education he reported all that long ago continue to persist today, e.g. passive learning, rule-based and out-of context teaching of accounting, students not ready for the demands of the profession, among others. An important point for reflection is that many accounting academics appeared oblivious to these problems due to their lack of familiarity with the accounting education literature, or lack of awareness that the traditional instructional approaches they are using are one of the main causes of these problems.

Our presentation was received favourably. As was the reaction at our University when we reported our research findings earlier this year, the audience at the Conference also commented that it takes time and effort to integrate innovations to learning and teaching, time they do not have or can afford.  People like me whom at times feel rebellious immediately thought, but not said aloud, there may not be students to teach at our university for long if we do not change our ways – research and teaching nexus is more critical now than ever before, please think about it! Of course, the issues are more systemic and deeper than this – paradigm shifts need to happen first and should start at both coal face and institutional level.

Another comment raised during our presentation was the issue of copyright. Someone from the audience asked

have you thought about copyright for your work, it’s very good and I think you should protect it. It is certainly more exciting than reading cases in the textbook.

We didn’t get a chance to respond to this comment directly as audience-audience interaction ensued on this topic. The issue of copyright is something that Stephen Downs (2005) feels strongly about, commenting that in our brave new world heavily influenced by Web 2.0 technology, sharing of content is not viewed as unethical but hoarding it is considered antisocial.

Indeed, we have much to learn and do in higher education about perceptions, assumptions and practice!

Reference

Downes, S. (2005) E-learning 2.0. eLearn Magazine. Accessed 1 February 2008, http://+www.elearnmag.org/subpage.cfm?section=articles&article=29-1.


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