June 08, 2008

Attending conference in Univ of Cambridge

I move another step towards my "50 places to visit in UK" mission by printing my footsteps in Cambridge. Perhaps, my expectation towards her was too high. She is not as "best" as I thought she should be: as the best university in UK and the 2nd best universty in the world (2007 ranking).

No doubt, Cambridge is a beautiful place which worth more than one visit: the Fitzwilliam Museum which exhibits Pharoahs' coffins; punting on the River Cam; King's College & Qeen's College; bookshops, etc. Maybe, I visited her at the wrong time, when students were taking exams and almost all the oldest colleges are closed for examinations. 

I attended the 5th Kaleidoscope Conference at the Faculty of Education. I selectively, attended sessions on 'Innovative Approaches in Education' in the morning, and sessions on 'Teaching, Learning and Pedagogy' in the afternoon. To my surprise, although the computing facilities provided to research students are world class, the organising of the conference and the degree of innovativeness of the research done in this faculty are not as good as MMU in Malaysia. Although this is just a postgraduate level conference, it should be well organised, well chaired and well presented.

Prof Dianne Reay from Faculty of Education, gave her keynote address on 'Passion, Politics and Pride: The bumpy road from junior researcher to Professor of Education'. It was a very inspiring speech. She reconfirmed my speculation on the salary of academics in UK universities. Most junior lecturers and researchers with PhD earn less than 30K pounds in UK per year. After tax, it would be around 24K pounds.

The second keynote address was given by Prof Usha Goswami on 'Brain Science and Education'. This was the most valuable speech to me in the conference. It openned my eyes on the possible areas where brain science could be used in studying game-based learning. To me, her presentation saved Cambridge's face. 

Maybe those presenters from Faculty of Education are just the minority of Cambridge research students, or maybe they are still very new to the world of research, or maybe they just want to fill in the slots, or maybe those excellent research students don't bother to present in such level of conference, maybe... I still hope that I was mistaken about my perceptions on her.


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