“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” - Albert Einstein
I attended a conference in Sydney these past two days and it has left me quite excited and brimming full of ideas. I participated both as a speaker and as a chair of a day's sessions. The two roles are different, yet related, in both cases acting as the agent that stimulates all-inclusive discussions with the attendees. However, I also enjoyed my function as an engaged audience member, who contributed to the general discussion.
The group attending was relatively small, but this perhaps contributed to the success of the conference as there was active engagement of all participants. The conference was an excellent opportunity for networking, for contributing to an ideas fest and for also being made aware of developments in the higher education sector across Australia and the rest of the world. Overall, if chosen well, such conference activities can revitalise an academic's stagnant mental marshes and will serve as a powerful creator of currents of intellectual activity.
The reason conferences are such a good scholarly activity is that they bring under the one roof people that share similar ideas, interests, jobs, contacts. Attendees are in a receptive frame of mind and at the right time and place. The bringing together of so many people under the same roof where they actively engage with one another and exchange ideas is conducive to active thinking, generation of new ideas, learning and exploration of brave new territory. Conferences are safe environments for discourse, for thinking out loud and provoking people with some left field concepts and intellectual challenges. It is a good environment for oneself to be challenged and provoked!
The theme of the conference was using big data in driving strategic direction at universities. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much good work is being done in Australia at the present time by some very passionate and dedicated academics, administrators, executives and support personnel. The speakers were Australian and knowledgeable, experienced and engaging.