Day two in Breda and a grilling from some of the 2nd year students about the different Edinburgh venues they???re researching. For the record that???s the Festival Theatre, Church Hill Theatre, Storytelling Centre and the Royal Mile (particularly the High Street). I did my best to answer their questions, although I suspect that for some this project will only fully come together when they reach the Scottish capital and can experience the atmosphere and goings on at their chosen venue.
All the groups I spoke to were organised and professional in their approach (written agenda, minutes, etc.) and although these were supervised meetings with their tutor the students were driving the discussions. Ingraining these operational skills and attitudes early in the degree programme is important and I assume helps set the tone throughout the course. (There were a few disapproving comments from classmates if someone said they wouldn't be able to make it to the next meeting.) In general though the focus was on engaging in the research process, ensuring validity and reliability in their work and establishing the next steps for the group within the limitations they are faced with.
I also had the chance to present to a different group of students, this time a more ???academically??? focused class who are predominantly Dutch (rather than the international mix on their way to Edinburgh). I fear that I tried to cram too much in, although I warned everyone that this was due to be the case and they let me off. The subject was partly a discussion on stakeholder relationships (drawing on comment from Getz and others), partly an Edinburgh case study, partly a review of some work from Richards and Palmer in their ???Eventful Cities??? text. By discussing these ideas in an explicitly international environment I probably took a more considered approach to how they affect Edinburgh: I couldn???t rely on my audience???s familiarity with the city, so had to do more to contextualise the information for broader relevance. Likewise I also had greater freedom to speculate perhaps: ???This is what works in the UK, what about the situation here in the Netherlands????
Dinner was with colleagues from the university and it's perhaps reassuring that some of the same themes crop up from one country to the next: feedback, management, academic leadership, student expectations, the learning experience, course design and flexibility, placement opportunities, appropriate technology, primary research and more. Some simple lessons that I'd like to take from this and apply at my institution include...
- doing more to promote overseas placement opportunities to the students
- encouraging a more professional attitude in the earlier years of the course to enhance engagement
- reviewing and monitoring the balance between programme flexibility and academic coherence
- getting a clearer idea of why the students are doing the course and what they really want to get out of it
Meanwhile, some photos of Breda and the leisure/events campus.