Well it’s a conference, tiring and hard work especially with the 10 ½ hour days that they run. As always the people, networks and connections that you make seem the most rewarding part of a conference.
The conference theme is Engaging Communities and the opening address was eloquently given by Dr Pita Sharples gave that a New Zealand context with reference to the trials and tribulations that dogged the development of Maori specific educational opportunities.
The first keynote was presented jointly by Barbara Holland and Judith Rameley and dealt with what Community Engagement meant and strategies for developing this within tertiary education. We must be wary of false gods and realise that true engagement is for life, not little projects that follow academic lifecycles. Developing buds that then wither when funding disappears or key personnel move have a very negative impact on communities and their perceptions of academia.
Partnerships should be sustained and bring mutual benefits. Neither partner should be dominant and communities should be afforded respect. Learning with consequence is a key benefit for students and makes their learning active and authentic.
What I found most interesting was how much this addressed the organisational change agenda. Getting rid of the ghosts in the corner that don’t really exist – the ‘They’ of ‘They won’t let us do this’ and other such statements. Taking lessons from the history of previous experiences; picking the right targets; choosing meaningful goals; and developing a cycle of innovation that makes change the norm. Ignore the nay-sayers (Roger’s laggards) – they are not worth the effort.
I think that if we don’t embrace change then we stagnate (rather than remaining static). What strategies do you use when enabling change in your organisation?