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Monday 27 July 2015

Summer is here ... The time of meetings

Here, Carina Buckley talks about her summer schedule and the role she plays in the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE).

“What do you do in the summer?” the students regularly ask me. “How do you fill the time when you don’t have me to talk to?” The answer is, I talk to other people, in the form of meetings.

Summer is the time of meetings. And my favourite one is the annual residential Steering Group meeting for the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE), of which I recently became Co-Chair.

This year we were hosted by Central Saint Martin’s, part of the University of the Arts London. Unfortunately it coincided with the tube strike, and so I valiantly battled by bus and on foot through the immensely crowded streets, took a bit of a wrong turn, found it again, and then discovered a huge and impressive building, all bricks, glass and metal, hiding behind King’s Cross Station.

Central Saint Martins, the venue for this year’s ALDinHE Steering Group meeting

The purpose of the two-day meeting was to decide on ALDinHE’s direction for the coming year, and how each of the six Working Groups would develop their activities to support that. With 60 institutional members (yes, Solent is one!) and around 150 delegates at our annual conference, we are a busy and expanding organisation, and these are exciting times.

For example: we are aiming to commission research on how learning development is understood and enacted at universities across the UK; we are building up a network of regional CPD events; we are continuing to develop our website of teaching resources (; we are increasing the number of issues published of our journal every year (; and planning has already started for next year’s conference in Edinburgh. Conference dinner on the Royal Yacht Britannia, anyone?

Some of my ALDinHE colleagues

Added to that, we are also building up strong links with sister organisations in New Zealand, Australia and Canada, although online meetings can be sometimes difficult to arrange with such a big time difference. If only the time and the money existed for some face-to-face conversation!

Although we spent a lot of time in a small room in the library, I was able to see a bit of the College. A former granary, it retains a lot of its original architecture, but has added a delightful water feature in the square outside, which was well enjoyed by many small children over the two sunny days I was there and, I have to say, by me too.

Although we meet online every month, we are only ever together in person twice a year: at the conference and at the residential, and it is always a treat. My Steering Group colleagues are dedicated, talented people, and a real pleasure to work with. The next academic year will be a busy one, but a good one.