The conference then broke into parallel sessions and when you see it fork into up to 13 simultaneous presentations, then you realise there has to be a better way. Many of the talks were related to one another but in direct competition for an audience. I know the numbers of participants are large, but it would be nice if perhaps talks could be shorter, clustered under a theme and then given scope for discussion. It might mean stricter selection or perhaps a more innovative (see I did learn) approach might be to showcase lots of the interesting practical work people are doing in something like a Pecha Kucha (20x20) session followed by panel discussion?
Anyway, the speaker for the session I (and a relatively big crowd of others) picked didn't turn up, despite being from Hertfordshire itself. No show, no explanation, so we all slowly filtered away.
The afternoon sessions I attended were very good. One by Elisabeth Dunne of Exeter University talking about some great work she has done with students as change agents in teaching and learning (really impressive scale of activity). After that Paul Kleiman spoke about some intensive discussion/focus group type analysis of HE from student perspectives centred around an awayday session. It was good, in both cases, to hear of student active engagement and indeed a real desire for such. We also heard that students really resent being treated as (and in some cases labelled as) 'customers'. (So if you want to cheese off not just your academic staff, but also your students, keep mentioning 'customer.')
The dinner was preceded by awards to students from the various subject centres and the dinner itself was the setting for national volunteering awards.
That's it. I could say more, but probably shouldn't. Hopefully an update tomorrow provided internet access available wherever I'll be en route to the Journal of Education Policy 25th anniversary meeting.