9.00am     Welcome from the WEA President and the Chair of Trustees 

9.15am     Association business including formal business, reports and response to submitted motions 

10.00am   Opening Plenary: The future of teaching and learning 

Professor Rebecca Ferguson, Professor of Learning Futures at the Open University, will share the new forms of teaching and learning making waves across the world and captured within the Innovating Pedagogy Report. Hear how enriched reality, hip-hop, chat bots, and the simple art of expressing gratitude can make for great learning experiences – and more… 

10.30am   Break time and networking opportunity 

You are welcome to take tea or coffee and a break, but if you wish to connect with more members and keep learning why not join one of these two informal networking sessions: 

Networking session A:  How could the techniques shared in the plenary benefit WEA learners. What innovations would you like to see? 

Networking session B:  How to go from an idea to successful fundraising? 

11.00am    Session 1: Taste of the future of teaching and learning  

Physical attendees please choose from the following options, and catch another at 2pm.  

Online attendees please indicate your preference when registering. Please  note, we can only stream the most popular sessions live. We hope to record  the other sessions, making them available to view shortly after the  conference.  

Option A: Reading, watching and playing Dickens in the 21st-century  

Why is Charles Dickens one of the most enduring writers of all time? Why does he crop up so often, not only in screen adaptations, but in video games, newspapers, and pop culture, 150 years after his death? And what role can the author and his works play today, against a backdrop of changing attitudes to race, colonialism, gender and history? Dr Emily Bell, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, will explore how the author's attempts to shape his own celebrity status continue to resonate two centuries later, and the role of digital technologies in bringing the Victorians to new audiences.  

Option B: The laboratory in your front room 

Explore the Open Science lab with Dr James Smith, Senior Manager of the Open Science Lab, from The Open University. Don’t worry, you don’t need to bring a microscope to check cells on slides, a Bunsen burner to heat chemicals, or a telescope to explore the stars. Find out how easy it is to get hands on from your home, or to take a host of experts out with you on a nature walk on your mobile phone. 

Option C: Philosophy Bites and the Metaphysics of Nothing 

Have you heard of many notable women philosophers? Well Dr Suki Finn, Lecturer in Philosophy at Royal Holloway University of London and contributor to Philosophy Bites, a popular podcast series featuring top philosophers interviewed on bite-size topics, will give you a window into just a few. Suki will draw from her book ‘Women of Ideas’ which is a collection of interviews with women who have featured in the Philosophy bites series. She’ll also give you a flavour of her own ‘Philosophy bite’ on the ‘Metaphysics of Nothing’. How do you make something of nothing? Come and find out! 

Option D: WEA Green Initiatives   

WEA has long championed going green and our green branches have flourished. But 2021 is the year of the world climate conference in Glasgow: COP 26. Bettina Lange, WEA tutor, will explore with you different green philosophies and how education must change in the future and what this means for the WEA. 

Option E: Craft making has gone digital!  

How on earth do you teach sewing and textiles remotely? WEA digitally innovative teaching award winner, Lucy Hewes, will inspire you with a pattern cutting class, and demonstrate the tools she uses in her online teaching, which she thinks she will now never do without, even when teaching face-to-face. Members who opt for this session will be provided with a list of materials to bring to the session – in person, or online. 

Noon          Lunch break  

12.30pm    Afternoon plenary: Why invest in adult education and who should  benefit? 

A panel discussion hosted by Simon Parkinson, debating political priorities and sector views. 

1.00pm      Volunteer Awards 

Volunteers play a critical role in making WEA learning possible, be that through supporting learners, sharing stories and shouting about our courses. Simon will present awards to the winners of the Branch Volunteer of the Year, Communications Volunteer of the Year and WEA Champion of the Year awards. 

1.30pm     Open Session – Building our branches

Your ideas for maintaining,  building and restoring the success of our branches, including fund-raising. 

2.00pm     Break 

2.15pm     Session 2: Taste of the future of teaching and learning 

Choose from options A – E outlined in Session 1 

3.15pm    Closing plenary – WEA in the future 

Simon Parkinson, General Secretary/CEO of the WEA, will take you on a whistle stop tour of the challenges and opportunities the Association faces as we look to the future and his determination to build ‘One WEA’ which delivers great learning opportunities to all who love to learn, network or make progress into and at work. Questions from members will be welcomed.  

4.00pm   Close of conference.