A short reflection on some of my personal highlights, as participant and poster presenter, in what was overall an enjoyable well planned conference.
For a faculty developer in medical education, the International Faculty Development conference is the equivalent of being ‘a kid in a sweetie shop’. The choice of workshops, talks and poster presentations made it hard to choose. I want to thank the organisers for all their hard work pulling together such an exciting programme. Of course, one of the key aspects of any great conference is the chance to meet people, share and compare what we do, and make friends.
I was there presenting a poster of my work in progress around exploring ‘sense of belonging’ for our newly recruited online sessional tutors. Abby Snook was also there, who I met at AMEE last year in Basel, and has been exploring the similar concept of ‘connectedness’ in medical educators. Her work has identified that adjunct staff are a distinct group from tenured faculty and feel less ‘connectedness’ to university departments and openness to improve and engage in faculty development (Snook, Schram, Jones, Sveinsson; 2019). Different countries and contexts, but a similar area to the one I was grappling with and one that resonated with me in light of the work we’ve done in Dundee highlighting a lack of expectation of developmental support from our online sessional tutors. How do we tackle this? I was also left wondering how our longstanding sessional tutors feel around belongingness and connectedness to the department – has this changed over time and what impact has this had in terms of identity and ongoing development? Last year’s AMEE conference led to a joint piece of work between Scotland, Iceland and Germany (ongoing). I’m hoping we have discovered the potential for another interesting piece of comparative work. I would also like to thank my group in the poster presentation session for their presentations and questions. Even after all these years, I still have imposter syndrome and having supportive feedback from peers helps make the experience a positive one.
One of the workshops that I attended explored how to actively create and nourish Communities of Practice. Highlighted at the beginning of the workshop was the difference between teamwork and CoP work. Making explicit this voluntary nature of engaging in a CoP and how as faculty developers can we support this – what components are required. There are some handy hints that I can take home from this for our informal academic CoP, which on reflection, often turns into a team meeting. Maybe we as a team and as a CoP need to define our boundaries a little more clearly.
The plenary sessions were all fascinating and I’m left in awe at the sketch notes. I struggle with my handwriting, perhaps I should draw more? I also thoroughly enjoyed the debate and, like many others shifted my vote a few times over the course of the session. We also use ‘debating’ as an activity on one of our online classrooms within the MMEd programme at Dundee and it is a useful tool to unpack and explore different viewpoints. Well done to the debaters and the moderator for such a fun learning session.