Chartered Association Of Business Schools Conference

Hi, I’d like to talk to you about our trip to the CABS Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Conference.

Conference Centre at Aston University
Conference Centre at Aston University

The conference kicked off a very busy week for our Co-Design group. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Amy Morgan and myself travelled to Birmingham to this conference, before biding farewell to two more of our members, Tom Rowledge and Zak Rakrouki, who left on Friday for the bright lights of Toronto, Canada. Both conferences has been planned for a long period of time, and a lot of work had gone into them. In Birmingham, as well as Amy and I, there were a number of academics also from Southampton in attendance. We presented with Doctor Mark Gatenby and Doctor Stefan Cantore, who are both involved in the co-design group and Professor Martin Broad and Professor Simon Wolfe were also amongst the delegates of the conference. I think I speak for all of us when I say we enjoyed our trip.

To best inform you of our experiences at the conference, it is worth explaining it’s general structure. The conference had three keynote speeches, each delivered by non-business school academics, who were all leaders in their respective fields. Rather than give a detailed review of each one, I can say one was on Creativity in Learning, one on the ineffectiveness of Learning Types and the last on Energising Higher Education. If you wish to learn more about the talks, please visit the conference site, or contact Amy or myself. When not in the keynote, the 300 of us split into 6 different groups to attend various sessions. There was a huge amount of variety across the two days and nearly . We, taken as one group, explored areas including:

  • Assessment and Feedback
  • Blended Learning
  • Emerging Issues
  • Teaching Entrepreneurship
  • The New Student

In a similar fashion to the keynote, I will not attempt to list everything  I learnt, but the simple experience of being exposed to the cutting edge of research is one I was immensely grateful for. Perhaps one idea that seemed incredibly novel to me was presented by Gareth Stone of Bath Spa Business School. In teaching entrepreneurship he asked his cohort of students to produce an individual business plan, with the only condition that they could cite only their peers. This helps with attendance, while also placing the work the students do clearly in the real world. The research he shared showed positive feedback, and this is something we are keen to hear your thoughts on in the comments below. Another interesting session I attended was from Kim Roberts of London South Bank University. She reported on a project where post-graduate marketing students worked on “live-briefs” from the Metropolitan Police in London. They would create marketing materials for products such as SmartWater as part of their assessment, and this was found to be beneficial for all parties involved. Again, we are interested to hear your thoughts on this.

Of course, we did not attend this conference without a purpose. Dr Gatenby, Dr Cantore, Amy and I delivered two sessions, one on each day, of the conference. The first we delivered was on Co-Created Learning, and the design of both modules and a learning environment with students as the key facilitators. Mark and Stefan spoke through the theory behind it, and Amy and I covered the student perspective and the work we had been doing. The reception was largely positive, especially around this blog! This can be viewed on E-Prints here, and here are the slides we presented:

The second session, was delivered on Self-Managed learning, something many of your will have experienced on modules MANG1020, MANG1018 or both. This was run as a workshop, and went down a storm. We ran a condensed version of the entire Self-Managed learning process, and witnessed an incredibly similar pattern of behaviour from the academics as from ourselves as students. The session and theory behind it proved so popular that we were invited to redo the session at Newcastle University at the end of the month, as they hope to integrate Self-Managed learning principles to their modules. This can also be viewed on E-Prints.

The final experience I had of the conference was of the interaction over Twitter. It was interesting to note the delegates there communicating and interacting over Twitter, even while sessions were happening. This is something that has a lot of potential to be carried over to the lecture theatre, but also to involve students at the conference. Southampton were the only Business School using the student created Twitter account to share experiences of the event, and I hope you enjoyed following it.

The conference was an amazing experience to see that the learning experience we go through each day, as actually constantly being research and developed to ensure it is the best for us. This was my first academic conference, and the material on show was really at the cutting edge, and many were presenting on projects still ongoing throughout the country. I was unsure what to expect from a conference like this, and whether I would feel out of place, but most people were very welcoming and I was able to learn a lot. While the opportunity to present was one I personally massively appreciated, it was the material itself that spoke to me the most. Presenting experiences and processes that to us seem normal are in fact at the cutting edge of Business School research and development of learning practise. If I had one thing to take away from the conference therefore, it is that Southampton is one of the most innovative Business Schools at the conference, and that the school does a massive amount of work to integrate students into the highest levels of strategic planning – don’t miss out on the opportunity to be a part of it!
If you’d like to know how to get involved or find out more about the conference, please contact me on

We also include some pictures of our day below.

All credit for, and ownership of, these images goes to the Chartered Association of Business Schools, and our thanks lies with them.

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