June 23, 2019
Faculty members, alumni, students and visitors participated in Knowledge without Boundaries (KWB) 2019. As participants, we realized many learning opportunities including the a) experience of a new form of professional conference, b) extensive new information about the emerging UOP research structures, studies, and active researchers and c) connections to an emerging community of scholars and researchers.
Organizing the conversation
So, the question now, is how did KWB go? What were the thoughts and perceptions of people who attended? In this article, we will explore two informal and qualitative sources. The first is a conversation between the authors of this article and the second is a series of responses from a Survey Monkey set up to gather feedback from conference attendees. The Word cloud image was developed from survey comments. The most prominent words are research, students, new, presentation. University. Less frequent, but still repeated are words like: connected, wonderful, happening, struggle, concept and future.
A new platform for professional conferences
As we enter the last half of June, KWB 2019 is now behind us. To look back over the past few days, is to remember a kaleidoscope of people and activities. The five-day event was filled with presentations, talks, introductions to influential figures from outside or within the university, and critical moments of insight for many attendees. KWB showed us how a technology-empowered innovation could transform professional life. In the year 2019, technology drives many changes in education. Online learners and faculty members experience the transformative effects of technology in dimensions such as contacts with other faculty members, students, and changes to the learning and teaching process in general (Renner, 2017).
Because of technology, KWB 2019 resembled but also varied from traditional face-to-face professional conferences.Every KWB, 2019 participant was exploring a new conference structure. The presenters, moderators, behind the scenes facilitators and attendees had detailed plans to guide their work. But, in one sense, all were explorers in unknown territory, hoping to find cities of gold or alternatively worried about falling into the river. So, much like Han Solo, each of us in this exciting event, was making it up as we went along.
The authors of this article viewed KWB from different perspectives. Dr. June Cade is a recent UOP graduate, who attended to learn more about the research centers and commented: “After participating in KWB last week, I gained a completely new vision of what the university is about. I felt connected (and) it was amazing to see all the wonderful things that are happening. When you are in a classroom, you do not know that all this ---all the wonderful things that are happening”.
Faculty member and CEITR Associate Research Center Chair, Dr. Elizabeth Johnston was a presenter and moderator and commented: I was both delighted and worried at the same time. As a moderator, I wanted to keep each session smooth and on time. Medgar Roberts and David Proudfoot provided great training and support. I had a few bumps, but overall, the technology worked well. I enjoyed meeting and talking with people from all over the university structure. I realized how minor my worries were and how well the conference went by reviewing the survey comments and in this conversation with June.
Our thoughts aligned with some survey comments related to the virtual structure:
The conference is very well planned. I have enjoyed the conference both this year and last year.
This was the first year that I was invited to attend, but look forward to future events. At this time I would not change a thing.
Extensive learning opportunities about emerging UOP research structures, studies, and active researchers
Survey Monkey comments showed emphasis on KWB learning opportunities. We selected some representative comments from survey responses to the question: Identify the plenary, presentation, or workshop that was most memorable and useful to you personally? We categorized some survey comments as related to learning opportunities, which were clearly valued. A sample is included below.
(I) Learned a new concept. Was unfamiliar with the Pracademic concept
(Most valuable was)…receiving updates on present and future research.
Knowing what our students are accomplishing.
The Research Support Group is beneficial to alumni as much as students - such a great new resource.
Keynote speakers talk more about current developments at the University, Ex. transition to TK20 and Team 365, whatever is currently happening.
June: The conference experience also highlighted the scholar practitioner model of the UOP. This connection and realization was absolutely empowering. Elizabeth: I learned about research that was going on across the research hubs. I was surprised at the depth and variety of scholarship.
Connections to an emerging community of scholars and researchers.
Finding connections to others might be one of the most KWB valued outcomes. June commented, a valuable component of the KWB experience was the amazing connection to other UOP alumni and other faculty. Elizabeth: I found some new connections through the conference also. I enjoyed learning about some new opportunities for collaborative writing.Some survey comments about connections.
Most memorable was spending time with colleagues.
I enjoyed listening to everyone and agree that relationships are built and a collaborative effort for research occurs. I am energized to do more research!
This (event) was when I first connected with the KWB
Reflections and thoughts for KWB next year
KWB showed us how a technology-empowered innovation could transform professional life. We learned new possibilities exist in the virtual structure, we learned technology is supporting a plethora of research and scholarship in the research hubs, and we learned that connecting with others remains an important aspect of professional conferences whether face-to-face or virtual. June commented: The KWB experience played a fundamental role in unearthing the important research that is ongoing at the UOP. As alumni, this realization was captivating. It resonated a sense of belonging and pride as alumni of the university.
Elizabeth added: Pioneering a new professional conference structure could be considered a notable accomplishments for the organization. I came away feeling that all those who worked on developing this structure can feel proud of their work.
June continued: I am a go-getter, there were many challenges at UOP (still,) I completed my doctoral degree in three years but I did not feel that UOP was able to connect with others or me. (In the post grad survey) I did not check that I would recommend the university to others (I checked that I would not). Now I wish that I could change that check to “I would”.
We both hope that KWB continues to grow and fosters memorable moments of inspiration, innovation, and connection.