December 15th-17th 2014 saw me at Charles Darwin House (London) for the Society of Experimental Biology’s Education and Public Affairs symposium Teaching and Communicating Science in a Digital Age (click link to see full programme). This looked like a valuable event from the outset, but I can honestly say it turned out to be even better than expected. A pdf file (35 pages) capturing the Twitter feed for #SEBed2014 can be seen via this link. [UPDATE: I have also produced my first Storify from the tweets, which removes the retweets in the PDF, and puts them into a more logical order.]
It was good to catch up with old friends, to have the first face-to-face meeting with various Twitter friends and to make other new friends. Indeed, one of the striking things about the attendees was the lack of overlap with the HEA Bioscience regulars.
It would be invidious to pick out any one talk for special mention, but I would say the two sessions from which I got the most inspiration were “Engaging with the public and schools” and “Students as creators and communicators” (CoI declaration: my talk was in this session). At least two of the presentations were primarily delivered by current undergraduates, which was also refreshing.
I made three formal contributions to the symposium – a talk on our bioethics video-production assessment, and two posters (one on the Careers After Biological Science work, and one on Biology on the Box, my more recent project developing a library of recommended television clips for teaching biology). Links to all three can be found here:
The CABS programme involves Leicester alumni giving talks about their diverse careers which are then made available online.
Biology on the Box is my latest project, developing a library of recommended TV clips and programmes for teaching Biology
At the Higher Education Academy STEM Conference in April 2012 I gave a presentation about our Careers After Biological Science project at the University of Leicester. The focus of the talk was the pivotal role played by social media in recruiting speakers for careers talks, archiving various resources associated with those careers, and advertising their existence to a broader audience.
Slides from the talk are available below (or, in the event that they haven’t loaded properly, via this link )
During the research for a recently-submitted paper, I decided to investigate the rising importance of graduate employability as a concern for universities (and the wider society). As an indicator of this trend I searched Google Scholar for articles with “graduate” and “employability” in the title – the results are shown in the chart below.
A survey of Google Scholar looking at the number of articles published over past thirty years with "graduate" and "employability" in the title
The increase in papers on graduate employability is striking, but probably not a surprise. Having done this research, however, I elected not to include the data in the paper. Why? My main concern was uncertainty about appropriate controls for the fact that there has been a general increase in information (specifically academic literature) during the same period. I was therefore uncomfortable about the dangers of over-interpretation.
Should I have worried? Is it a valid observation? What could serve as a legitimate control? Any thoughts gratefully received.