Doug Specht discusses the future of Higher Education at Advance HE, APT, and IUT Conferences

18 July 2023

Throughout June and July Doug Specht has been discussing the future of Higher Education at a range of events. Starting in London on the 30th June, Specht worked with Prof. Gunter Saunders to deliver a workshop on the uses of artificial intelligence in teaching at the Academic Practice and Technology Conference (APT) hosted by Kings College. The workshop, which built upon the theme of the conference – Implications and Ethical Dimensions of using Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education Teaching, Learning and Assessment – challenged practitioners to consider practical ways to integrate AI into their teaching and curriculum design.

From London, Specht travelled to Keele University to join the Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference. Speaking to the conference sub-theme of ‘shaping the future’, Specht sought to draw out discussions around student happiness, satisfaction and engagement. Specht called upon participants to rethink the balance between short-term and longer term learning goals, and to reposition compassion and joy of learning at the centre of the student experience.

Specht followed up on both these topics at the Improving University Teaching Conference hosted by Herriot-Watt University Malaysia. In discussing happiness in HE, Specht suggested that HE’s pursuit of short-term happiness during and after the pandemic – designed to stave off a barrage of complaints from students, governments ,and the media – came at the expense of satisfaction, a longer-term and longer-lasting emotion. He called for a return to strategic, rather than reactionary, teaching. In collaboration with Denitsa Petrova of Edinburgh University, Specht also worked with participants to explore the ethical implications of AI in higher education. Petrova and Specht encouraged delegates to consider if the same rules of engagement with AI should apply to students and staff, a question that brought to the fore many concerns and opportunities for the sector.



Photo: Doug Specht at Herriot-Watt Malaysia, authors own.

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