Conferences, Good practices, HigherEd

Reflections & contributions CIE Islands of Innovation 2022

It has been my first Islands of Innovation participation and I got assigned to Group 18, with Island Guide Tunde Varga Atkins. I include in this blog my contributions to the event and share further reflections that participants might find useful.

Committment to Reflective Practices & Disruptive Practices

The first activity was quite provocative and was based on Ethics & Values:

  • What practice would I like to bring to the island?
  • What values are associated with that practice?

I brought in Reflective Practices and Disruptive Practices. Both of these practices are key to my professional practice and without which I would not be able to challenge the status quo of HEIs. I consider myself to be a disruptive leader and I am a big fan of weekly reflections, which help me put some order in my head, in particular:

  • Which new practice(s)/tool(s)/belief(s) I introduced for the week?
  • Which practice(s)/tool(s)/belief(s) I would like to continue?
  • Which practice(s)/tool(s)/belief(s) I need to drop?

These questions to myself help me to investigate certain things further in order to improve my practice. As I do a lot of work around discrimination, one additional benefit of such reflections is that they also help me to challenge discriminatory acts/decisions/behaviours.

I am a firm believer that in order to change one’s practice, we need to walk the talk and this starts with reflecting on one’s mindset of being committed. Sometime back I wrote a blog on Changing mindset to reduce discrimination at work, where I broke down committment into Time, Bravery against challenges, and Reflection. The blog was actually a bit of reflection on mindsets against and towards discrimination and was published on World Day for Safety & Health at Work. This very much leads to my second activity Student-centred learning.

Student-centredness – Trauma-informed Approaches

One recent practice that I have been using for student-centred teaching and also largely for staff training is trauma-informed approaches. I published a short blog on Trauma-informed approaches for supporting students and staff very much based on my own use of reflective and disruptive practices. I say ‘short blog’ as this will be largely elaborated in a book chapter later this year. For those unfamiliar with this approach, it is a practice that accommodates the prevalence of trauma. My ongoing work on this approach is based on my committment to being an advocate of equity within the educational sector. One key learning point from this activity has been the importance of energising students rather than simply engaging them.

Building Learning Activities – Co-creation and Being Action-Oriented

The third activity was centred around Building Learning Activities. My immediate thoughts around this were co-creation and action-oriented. I have 15 years of practice in UK HEIs, and I have been a huge fan of co-creation, which emanates from my own experience of being a student and having pedagogies/tools/practices forced onto me. I have been lucky enough to have experienced higher education in five different countries and co-creation is someone one of the best of all those experiences. For me, co-creation fits in perfectly with my reflective and disruptive practices, which in essence cannot be undertaken without being action-oriented. For instance, for my antiracist works, taking an action-oriented is automatically the leading value, to avoid the ambiguity of doing non-racist works rather than the much-intended antiracist aims. However, it is worth highlighting that being action-oriented does not mean rushing to achieve targetted goals. One thing that I have learnt in my disruptive practices is to take the time needed for every single step. This means works that have been originally planned to take a few days might take a few months, as disruptive practices rely on reflective practices a lot.

Collabora Island

The last activity has been a really enjoyable teamwork. Collabora Island is THE space for community spirit and revolves a lot around some of the key practices I highlighted above.

Island of Innovation – Collabora Island -a teamwork by islanders from Islands 15 & 18

One of the features of the Collabora Island is community building through collaboration, and that is the green part of the Padlet. And obviously who says community and collaboration also need to have reflection for improvement. This leads to our values, and how committed we are to keep being reflective and keep improving. The handy hammock helps to stay relaxed (both physically and mentally) for a profound reflection which in turn leads to the pink bits in the Padlet, that is creativity. Creativity is unbounded, can be used for game-based learning, new ways of assessing these game-based learning, feedback mechanisms (video, audio, and more creative ways), and obviously tutors’ role is key to nurturing creativity.

Here are some of the useful resources that I have bookmarked for my own reference:

Made with Padlet
Islands of Innovation 2022 Padlet

Made with Padlet
Islands of Innovation 2022 – Islanders bio

Made with Padlet
Islands of Innovation 2022 – Collabora Island Padlet
Useful Twitter Thread from Gustavo Espinoza Ramos, fellow Collabora Islander

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