Edubytes – Celebrate Learning Week 2024

In the May edition of Edubytes, our guest editors are members of the Celebrate Learning Week team who planned and facilitated sessions during this week-long celebration of teaching and learning.

Sponsored by the Provosts and Vice-President Academic from UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan, the 15th annual Celebrate Learning Week was hosted on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Syilx Okanagan Nation and the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) People.

This year’s event gathered 1,200 attendees across 31 events on both campuses, hosted by more than 60 presenters and facilitators.

The focus of this year’s Celebrate Learning Week was "Remembering the Human in the Loop" at a time when we are seeing the emergence of Generative AI and the need to retain a focus on the human aspects of education, as we negotiate the opportunities and challenges associated with this technological change. The sessions, workshops, and panels that are described below will provide you with opportunities to learn more about how faculty, students and staff at UBC are exploring these new technological tools both creatively and critically, all while remembering the impacts that they have on the people who are engaged in teaching and learning.

In this Edubytes edition, we have provided summaries on centrally planned sessions that took place during Celebrate Learning Week, along with resources and recordings of sessions that you can view. We encourage you to visit the Celebrate Learning Week website for additional information about the full program of events that took place during the week, as well as look at the Celebrate Learning Week 2024 Resource Page where you can find additional resources from the sessions.

UBCV Keynote – For What World Do We Prepare? Education Beyond Content – Bryan Dewsbury

In the opening keynote session, moderated by Dr. Elisa Baniassad, Acting Academic Director of the CTLT and Professor of Teaching in the Department of Computer Science, Celebrate Learning Week 2024 welcomed Dr. Bryan Dewsbury, Associate Professor of Biology at Florida International University. Dr. Dewsbury discussed how traditional education models often prioritize technical skills over nurturing the mind and cultivating habits that contribute to a more peaceful and loving society. He shared insights on how classrooms can be transformed into spaces that explicitly foster these habits and encouraged participants to consider how embracing our natural tendencies can better equip us to adapt, change, and collectively address persistent societal challenges.

Watch the UBCV Keynote recording

UBCO Keynote – Hope Circuits: Re-membering and Renewal for Human Flourishing – Jessica Riddell

Keynote speaker Jessica Riddell delivered an engaging and inspirational session centered on hope, embracing the concept of "living in the questions" facing higher education broadly. Masterfully weaving her background in Shakespeare with insights from her recent book, Jessica led the audience to consider fundamental questions about the purpose of higher education, the impact of systemic and technological change, and the opportunities for improving our educational systems, while remaining steadfast in the goal of human (student and instructor) flourishing.

Student Panel – Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going: Navigating the Integration of Generative AI at UBC

Six student panelists from a diverse range of disciplines at various stages of their academic journey shared how they co-live, co-work, and co-learn with Generative AI. They use Generative AI tools to conduct preliminary research, create customized study aides, prepare for final assessments and interviews, etc. Knowing that Generative AI tools may present fake content and hallucinate, the panelists emphasized the values of strong reasoning and thinking skills, but also the need for proper guidelines on copyright issues and academic integrity. Our panelists believe that we should be at the centre of the loop, directing and evaluating the work produced by Generative AI. Finally, our panelists expressed their desire to learn, and that their fellow students are here to learn. When learning is boring, students may resort to Generative AI to complete make-work tasks. When educators provide structured and sensible learning paths with clear guidelines, students are up for the challenge to spend their time and effort on meaningful learning tasks and assessments.

Watch the Student Panel recording

TLEF and ALT2040 Showcase

The Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF, established at UBC Vancouver in 1991) and Aspire-2040 Learning Transformations Fund (ALT-2040, established as the ALT Fund in 2015 at UBC Okanagan) provide funding to enhance UBC students’ learning experiences, improve curriculum, and advance research-informed teaching practices at UBC and beyond. The 2024 TLEF and ALT-2040 Showcase brought teams of faculty, students, and staff from UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan together to learn from one another and share outcomes and lessons learned from a diverse range of innovative teaching and learning projects taking place across the UBC community. 24 project teams took part in the two-hour Showcase event, and another five projects prepared posters that are part of the archive of the event. You can view all of the project posters by visiting the 2024 TLEF and Aspire-2040 Virtual Poster Archive.

View the Showcase posters

Faculty Panel – Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going: Navigating the Integration of Generative AI at UBC

This faculty panel discussion focused on how Generative AI is reshaping the educational landscape, from enhancing pedagogical practices to reimagining assessments and preparing students for a future where AI is an integral part of professional life. During the panel, the panelists discussed the importance of trust and collaboration with students in forging a path ahead with Generative AI, and shared some of their approaches, concerns, and new possibilities for their students and their own teaching with the use of Generative AI. It was a thought-provoking session that delved into the complexities, potential, and future directions of teaching with Generative AI.

Watch the Faculty Panel recording

Tech Panel – Empowering Education: Unveiling the Potential of Generative AI in the Classroom

Members of faculty from various disciplines shared their thoughts, experiences, and impacts — both positive and less so — of using Generative AI within their classrooms, research, and beyond. Thinking about how their teaching has needed to change since the advent of Generative AI — regardless of whether its use is even allowed within their course or not — we heard specifics about what they are seeing and hearing from their students including grade balance changes, highlighting how to use the tools and where they might fail (and how to spot that), and discussions around what might constitute "cheating." We heard the tools help students think differently, test their cognitive and critical thinking skills, but can also introduce anxieties around environmental and societal impacts. Further, we heard how the University may need to adapt, especially considering the extra time, effort, and cognitive load that is required of instructors. Finally, there was a small, but notable change in how some of the attendees felt about Generative AI at the university, with more people excited at the end of the session than they were at the beginning.

Watch the Tech Panel recording

Leadership Panel – Leading Through Change – UBC Leaders Talk Incorporating GenAI and Preparing for the New Reality

In a thought-provoking session, UBC leaders in teaching and learning, technology, and academic integrity gathered to reflect on their experiences navigating the sudden shift in how we work, learn, and teach, and to discuss the future. The panelists shared insights on how AI has challenged them both personally and professionally, as well as its broader impacts at UBC and in society. They addressed several key questions: the greatest leadership challenges as Generative AI emerged, the most surprising and concerning aspects, their hopes and fears for the future, and their vision for the new educational horizon. The discussion provided a comprehensive look at the evolving landscape of education and the role of AI in shaping its future. It was also refreshing to see honest and authentic reflections on fears and challenges with AI and the difficulties in leading through significant technological change.

Watch the Leadership Panel recording

UBCO: Closing Plenary Panel – Reflections on the Future Teaching and Learning Scholarship and Practice

In the closing panel of the Thompson-Okanagan Teaching and Learning Conference, leaders of teaching and learning from three different institutions gathered to reflect on the future evolution and transformation of teaching and learning scholarship and practice. The panelists discussed how award-winning instructors have focused on remembering the 'human in the loop' within their own classes, especially in the age of rapidly emerging AI capabilities. They shared their thoughts and reflections on the conference, which included presentations on AI, technology, assessments, equity, social justice, and Indigenizing practices. The conversation also covered how to support more significant discussions about teaching and learning on campuses, departments, and faculties. Looking ahead over the next few years, the panelists identified key trends, emerging areas of focus for research on teaching, key enablers of student success, evolving faculty roles, and effective and innovative practices for educators.

Enjoyed reading about Celebrate Learning Week? Learn about other topics we covered in the May 2024 edition by reading the complete Edubytes newsletter. To view past issues, visit the Edubytes archive.

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