Editorial—The Conference Impact

Editorial                                                                                                               Karl Low

I attended the 2023 AU research forum on Monday and Tuesday, as did a couple of other Voice Writers and, honestly, if you missed the opportunity, you did miss some interesting sessions.  It was amazing to hear the breadth of research that AU faculty are up to.  There was everything from a silent slide-show on the importance of sound in understanding a culture or people, to a look at some of the latest adaptive learning technologies, to studies of architecture in an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion lens, to an exploration of lesser developed cultures on other continents, economics, trade-legislation, and more.

One researcher noted her pilot programs in systems that automatically detected a students’ learning style and adjusted the course materials they received appropriately had some measurable results—not on grades, unfortunately, but rather on lowering how long students had to be engaged with the course materials (which I think might turn into better grades in other courses when students have more time to attend to them.)

One of the keynote panels, on how the impact of research was often not captured in lists of the best researching universities (because many of them are based on how much grant money is received, which naturally leads to higher results for medical research and engineering research, while social or mathematic research might have relatively few costs despite leading to immense discoveries and change) had a couple of notes raised by attendees (not myself) about how important it is to get undergraduates into a research stream.

There was also a panel by graduate students on their experience with research that was illuminating and gave some hints on how students might better prepare themselves for advanced degrees.

The online system had an online exhibition hall, which had “booths” from a number of places, including a corporation known as ELIXR that was looking for students to help them advance their extended and augmented reality technology, and as well from Alberta Innovates (helping business and researchers who want to develop their ideas into actual businesses, especially in rural Alberta), and other organizations hoping to help various niches advance.  One thing I found was the AU Research Office’s student research assistant site, which has multiple positions open right now, most of which offer some form of pay, for students who meet certain criteria and can help an AU faculty member with their research.

There were also some stumbles, as some of the faculty had issues with the streaming technology, with one researcher confounded simply because his computer had too many open files and he could not readily find the presentation he intended, and some sessions having what seemed to be significant bandwidth issues, causing the stream to freeze multiple times over the presentations.  Fortunately, most of these were dealt with in a reasonable fashion by the staff and even other faculty members pitching in to help.

I’m hoping to get more in-depth looks at the conference, or portions of it, in the coming weeks from some of the other writers who were there.  But suffice it to say, FOMO for this event would have been justified.

Enjoy the read!