Author(s):Klaus Rummler (presenting), Valentin Dander (presenting), Estella Hebert (presenting), Rachel Shanks (presenting), Theo Hug (presenting), Nelson Gonçalves (presenting)

Conference:ECER 2016, Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers

Network:06. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures

Format:Round Table

Session Information

06 SES 04, Conferences in the Context of Academic Performance, Informal Learning and Alternate Designs - Between Theory and Practice

Round Table



Chair:Petra Grell


Conferences In The Context Of Academic Performance, Informal Learning And Alternative Designs - Between Theory And Practice

Klaus Rummler: Introducing into Conferences as Learning Environments, Stages of Academic Performances and Learning Design (Rummler, 2014)

Estella Hebert and Valentin Dander: A Reading Circle Experiment on the Societies of Control

Reading circles can be regarded as learning arrangements. Within the network of emerging researchers online reading circles have been conducted since 2015. These sessions are processes of self-organized learning and do not aim at more than a deeper understanding of the texts through discussions. The texts are chosen in common selection processes and the moderation takes turns.

These experiences led to the question if and to what extent reading circles could be adapted to being a conference format. The chosen text (Deleuze, 1992), is available online and we would kindly ask anyone who would like to participate at this session to read the text (5 pages) in advance. We have also included a commentary function and would encourage participation in advance ( The overarching question is what relevance the text constitutes for media education?

Besides the theoretical discussions of the text, the second objective is to observe how the format of a reading circle can be used within a conference setting, even if we see ourselves faced with strict limits of time and space. This part is constructed as an experiment and is purposely left without strict guidance on how it should be discussed.

Rachel Shanks: Informal Learning During a Conference

There are a number of critiques relating to the formal/ informal distinction: it defines something by what it isn’t; it does not provide a basis to understand the nature of learning; and that it presupposes a link between formal instruction and learning (Billett, 2002). However, in terms of understanding participation and learning through being part of a social practice it can be a useful lens through which to interrogate our experiences. To paraphrase John Lennon, “informal learning is what happens when you’re busy doing something else”.

So while the binary divide of formal/ informal can be regarded as too simple and misleading it is a mechanism for investigating the different learning that takes place at conferences for academics and other professionals. The investigation into novice teachers’ formal continuing professional development became an investigation into their informal learning at work: learning in their classroom while “doing the job”; learning from and with colleagues through discussions, observations and discussions after observations; and learning from and with their pupils. I contend it is because the true worth of attendance at a conference is not the formal part at all but is in fact the informal learning (and networking) that takes place before, between and after formal sessions. We learn through the social practice (Lefebvre, 1958) of conference attendance in a community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991).

Nelson Gonçalves, Theo Hug: Conference Designs Revisited – Concepts, Practices, Perspectives

Developing, sharing, and distributing knowledge as well as discussing cutting edge developments rank as main goals in academic conferences (Hohl & Sweeting, 2015). In addition, experiencing famous keynote speakers, finding job opportunities, meeting criteria in terms of qualification requirements, or keeping up with narcissistic needs, are relevant in this context. The contribution focuses on innovative options for conference designs. How can academic conferences be designed as learning environments fostering fruitful learning experiences? On the one hand, a selection of promising examples for innovative concepts and alternative practices are being presented. On the other hand, future perspectives for enhancements of traditional conference designs are considered.

As an example Yvonne Fritze, Geir Haugsbakk and Yngve Nordkvelle will be pitching a 3-minute digital story about the project “Banning the mobile phone in lower secondary school”.


Billett, S. (2002) Critiquing workplace learning discourses: Participation and continuity at work. Studies in the Education of Adults, 34(1), pp. 56-67.

Deleuze, G. (1992). Postscript on the Societies of Control. October, 59, 3–7. Online:

Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991) Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Lefebvre, H. (1958). Critique of everyday life (Bd. 1: Introduction). London ; New York: Verso.

Michael Hohl M. & Sweeting B. (Eds.) (2015) Composing Conferences. Constructivist Foundations, Special Issue, 11(1), available at

Rummler, K. (2014). Lernräume gestalten: Bildungskontexte vielfältig denken (Einleitung). In K. Rummler (Ed.), Lernräume gestalten - Bildungskontexte vielfältig denken (Vol. 67, pp. 13–14). Münster, New York: Waxmann.

Author Information

Klaus Rummler (presenting)
Pädagogische Hochschule Zürich
Forschung und Entwicklung, Forschungsgruppe Medienpädagogik
Valentin Dander (presenting)
University of Cologne
Estella Hebert (presenting)
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main
Rachel Shanks (presenting)
University of Aberdeen, Scottland
Theo Hug (presenting)
University of Innsbruck, Austria
Nelson Gonçalves (presenting)
Polytechnic of Viseu, Portugal