This year’s SCHOMS conference takes place at Leeds Beckett University, 16-18 June

Dispatches from award-winning BBC education correspondent Sean Coughlan will provide one of the headlines at this year’s SCHOMS conference as the professional body for senior higher education managers leading a range of educational and technology support services continues to grow its profile.

Sean Coughlan – who is also editor of the BBC’s international education online series The Knowledge Economy – will talk about the impact of online courses on student facilities on the opening day of SCHOMS15 at Leeds Beckett University in June.

He is expected to enlarge upon how online university providers, which offered people the chance to study from home, are now turning full circle by creating a network of learning centres where students can meet and study together.

Sean Coughlan won the top prizes at the Education Journalism Awards – for the Outstanding Contribution to Education Journalism and National Education Journalist of the Year.

The main feature of the opening afternoon of the conference will be interactive workshops on management and customer skills by corporate training providers Nelson Training.

Malvern-based Nelson Training uses live interactive drama with a touch of comedy in individual and group activities to demonstrate how teams, team leaders and management can develop engaging people skills. The company has won numerous awards for its training on customer service, complaints handling and business excellence.

SCHOMS chair Paul Wood said the Leeds agenda was designed to build on last year’s record conference at Exeter, which attracted 63 delegates from 48 UK institutions.

“As audio visual and information technology roles are merging into a single learning environment provider role with a focus on the student and customer experience, we felt it was important to place an emphasis on management and customer skills,” he added.

Organisers have also lined up:

✥A presentation on the psychology of technology by workplace strategist  and change manager Nigel Oseland of Workplace Unlimited, an independent network of consultants that aims to improve collaboration, enhance creativity and respond to changing organisational structures

✥The UK’s largest suppliers exhibition with a single HE focus. A selection of suppliers will also provide panelists to take part in a Question Time-style discussion on ‘The Challenges of New Technology’, which is likely to touch on developments such as ‘bring your own devices’ and Wi-Fi

✥A talk on technology and the learning experience from the student point of view by Saffron Rose, Leeds Beckett students’ union vice president for education.

Delegates will be given an update on the breakthrough agreement reached between SCHOMS and InfoComm International – the leading trade association for the professional audiovisual industry worldwide – which gave SCHOMS UK institutions membership of InfoComm and access to both free online training and discounted advanced training.

They will also learn of SCHOMS’ increasing role on the world stage with updates from both the Association of Education Technology Managers (AETM) in Australia and Consortium of College and University Media Centers (CCUMC) in America.

The popular conference series of briefings – known as SCHOMS Shorts – will include talks on informal learning areas by Caroline Pepper of Loughborough University, engaging lecturers in technology by Simon Thompson of Leeds Beckett University, maths and technology in the classroom by Daniel Burgarth of Aberystwyth University and on ‘Big Mike Is Watching You!’ by Mike Allinson of University College London.

SCHOMS is the professional body for senior managers working within UK higher education. Members lead and manage a diverse set of educational, technology, media and institutional support services. They give strategic direction to support and promote excellence in teaching and learning practice through the deployment of classroom technology, AV equipment and innovation in the design of learning spaces.

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