Global experts gather in London for King’s Online & PLuS Alliance Symposium

Thursday, September 27, 2018

PLuS Alliance Fellows and research collaborators from across the globe gathered in London for the King’s Online & PLuS Alliance Symposium, hosted at King’s College London.

Held over three days in September, the Symposium kicked off with a sold-out conference on Education Innovation, followed by two days of focussed research workshops and self-led meetings. The conference featured a range of expert speakers from PLuS Alliance partners Arizona State University (ASU), King’s, and UNSW Sydney, as well as other UK universities and the commercial sector.

The jam-packed agenda included talks on AI and VR technologies, new methods of peer-review, and a panel discussion on commercial partnerships, as well as interactive sessions on game-based learning, data analytics, and how effective visual design can enhance the learning process. Bringing Monday’s conference to a close were inspiring presentations on the relationship between online learning and widening access, including a look at PADILEIA, an international project delivering higher education to Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon and Jordan.

Anna Wood, Executive Director of King’s Online said: “The interactive session from the King’s Online Visual Design Team on ‘Communicating Visually’ was a particular highlight, encouraging the audience to think about education from a design perspective. The panel session on commercial partners for online education also provided a useful challenge and highlighted the value of public and private partnerships to help universities meet their strategic goals.”

Over the following two days, a series of exclusive sessions were held to advance existing PLuS Alliance collaborations and forge new connections. This included self-directed meetings to progress research projects, presentations on online education initiatives, and workshops on topics such as mediation analysis, gender based violence, Indigenous wellbeing, neuroscience and patient-centered care, and diversity and inclusion.

PLuS Alliance Fellow and professor at Arizona State University, Diana Bowman, said that events like the Symposium “provide a unique opportunity for colleagues across the three universities to explore complex and wicked problems that cross disciplines and jurisdictional boundaries.”

“By providing us with space to engage, and encouraging formal and informal discussions around key themes, attendees are able to establish unique partnerships to tackle global challenges.”

Dr Andrea Ellner from the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London hosted a workshop on ‘moral injury’ in the armed forces and noted that the PLuS Alliance was “a fantastic umbrella” for advancing this kind of multidisciplinary research.

“It was great to have the global insights from my colleagues at ASU and UNSW and this kind of collaboration has already proven very useful.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Inclusion and Diversity at UNSW Sydney, Professor Eileen Baldry, hosted a session exploring diverse and inclusive voices within the PLuS Alliance.

“A group of staff and students from each of the partner universities relished this first opportunity to discuss increasing diversity across the PLuS Alliance: from gender and cultural diversity to ability, as well as amongst students, professional, academic and the executive. Sharing the paths each university is taking to increase diversity and inclusion was very informative.”

The three days of productive and exciting collaborations between PLuS Alliance Fellows and representatives concluded with a networking reception on Wednesday evening.