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The Benefits of Developing a Community of Practice for OU Associate Lecturers

11th March 2024

Tema George at the INTED 2024 ConferenceThis year I had both the privilege and pleasure to attend the annual INTED Education Conference, in the beautiful city of Valencia, Spain, to present my paper 'Achieving equity, diversity and inclusion in online learning through an inclusive community of practice'. A reflective piece of action research, positing the benefits of establishing a community of practice (COP) for Associate Lecturers. I met practitioners from Portugal to Canada, whose research was also grounded in decolonising a curriculum, but also those with parallel issues faced by STEM at the OU.

Challenges such as low uptake of architecture and engineering courses by women compared to their male counterparts and engaging students on blended courses. I discovered established projects such as 'The Women missing in STEM' Teacher training course and a game design to assist elderly users of technology to become more confident in increasingly new and potentially dangerous online spaces. A fashion project, where students study buddy for cross cultural learning, sparked my own thoughts of how an approach could be used on our courses, to enrich intercultural sills and practice whilst foster student cultural capital.

Artificial Intelligence was the dominant theme and topic for the keynote, of which our own Professor Mike Sharples was a speaker. Presentations, workshops and informal discussions explored educators concerns, challenges and opportunities using the technology. There was much food for thought and the appetite; a gastronomic city, Valencia is also European Green Capital this year. A fact highlighted by our wonderful guide on the walking tour the event culminated in. A gunfire at 2pm followed by fireworks, in the central plaza, to mark the annual Las Fallas festival concluded this opportunity to share good practice, network and be inspired.

Special thanks to Theodora Philcox, Diane Ford, Tanveer Ahmed, Andrew Potter, and Liz Lomas.

Image: Tema George at the INTED 2024 Conference in Valencia.