The grandeur and beauty of Gregynog Hall adds to the atmosphere of the annual WHELF/HEWIT Colloquium.
Guest blogger, Susan Ferguson, of Aberystwyth University’s e-learning team, kindly agreed to write about her experience last week as a first-time attender at the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum/ Higher Education Wales Information Technology Forum joint colloquium. This is an annual event held in rural Powys at which Library, e-learning and IT staff update one another, and share practice and experience in both formal and informal settings. The colloquium lasts a week and as the week progresses the subject-matter of the talks gradually moves from a library focus to an IT one, although there is plenty of overlap. This means that many staff stay only for the part of the conference that is most relevant to them.
Susan writes: As a member of this year’s organising committee, and a first-time delegate, I have been asked to note a few reflections about last week’s Gregynog Colloquium. For me, this consisted of two days attending sessions, meeting new colleagues, speaking to sponsors, looking at new technologies as well as relaxing and enjoying Gregynog Hall.
The talks and sessions gave interesting updates about work that is ongoing and planned within Wales. Within which, comments, feedback and questions from presenters and audience alike made me reflect upon my work and other projects here at Aberystwyth. I particularly enjoyed hearing the Library New Voices session, where the speakers gave their reflections and insights about their professional journeys. Other sessions also included updates on and details about institutional innovations and collaborations, as well as updates from Jisc, JANET and CYMAL, about wider provisions on offer.
CADARN learning Portal Project staff concentrate at one of the conference sessions
The general atmosphere was warm and friendly and has left me with an impression of a knowledgeable and supportive pan Wales network of Welsh HE colleagues. Moreover, while the sessions gave timely, interesting updates the breaks enabled everybody to further discuss and talk about the issues raised; as well as enabling me to put faces to names and to speak to colleagues I had previously only encountered during video conferences. Being able to directly see and speak to colleagues from across Wales was invaluable.
Nigel Thomas of Aberystwyth University, one of the co-organisers, chaired one of the sessions.
This colloquium also benefited from a myriad of generous sponsors, who provided knowledge, refreshments and demonstrations of new teaching technologies. My favourite piece of which was Samsung’s new touch screen overlay which was highly intuitive, straightforward and potentially lends itself to a number of teaching styles. It was brilliant being able to look at upcoming technologies even though we are currently spoilt for new, state of the art teaching stations and SMART technologies at Aberystwyth.
Gregynog itself is an amazing, beautiful building in a wonderful setting that easily absorbs and effortlessly accommodates a large amount of people. It also seems to be equidistant for most Welsh HE institutions; its’ only downfall being, for an ICT and Library conference, a somewhat sporadic and idiosyncratic WiFi provision. Something, Gregynog assures us will be improved.
Conference delegates enjoy the sunshine and relaxed ambience of the conference.
As a member of this years’ organising committee I was grateful for the support we received, from those who spoke during and chaired sessions, to sponsors and to the staff at Gregynog who provided an ideal location for and ensured that this year’s colloquium ran smoothly. The overwhelming impression I was left with, from participating in this years’ colloquium, was of fascinating sessions and interesting new technologies; as well as meeting lots of new colleagues in a wonderful location.
All photos: Russ Basford/Johanna Westwood, Cadarn Learning Portal, published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/