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Conference Origins

by Brian Slattery

Hello—I'm Brian, one of the UIC representatives of the LSGS organizing committee. I'm very excited that UIC will be hosting the inaugural LSGS conference later this year in October, and I'm looking forward to seeing the posters, roundtables, and workshops that will be submitted!

This blog space will be used for the organizing committee to share their thoughts and updates relating to the conference, as we lead into the actual event on October 20-21. We hope that this will provide additional insight into how the LSGS conference is being put together, and how presenters and attendees might benefit from sharing their work and ideas with each other.

To kick this off, the organizing committee asked me to write about the initial idea that grew into the LSGS conference.

Late last year, the Learning Sciences Student Association (LSSA) at UIC—responding to student input—was brainstorming ideas for supporting community-building in the UIC learning sciences program and the Learning Sciences Research Institute (LSRI). The faculty at LSRI planted the idea of a graduate student conference, and the LSSA worked with faculty to develop this into a more concrete plan.

One of their realizations was that the focus of the conference could expand beyond building community at UIC, to include other nearby learning sciences programs. Learning sciences is a relatively small field, and there is a strong desire to have more communication and collaboration across different programs. Graduate students can learn a lot from each other, not only about our unique lines of research, but also about doing work specifically as graduate students as we grapple with dissertation requirements, job hunting, or program and university structures. There is a lot we can learn from each other that can improve the quality of our work, as well as how we go about doing our work in the context of graduate school.

With these ideas in mind, the LSRI faculty and LSSA reached out to learning sciences programs at IU Bloomington, Northwestern, UW Madison, and Vanderbilt, finding that these programs were also interested in a graduate student conference. Each program provided two students for an organizing committee, which began meeting this spring to put together plans for this conference. We agreed early on that our mission for the LSGS conference would include building a community of practice for LS graduate students, creating a supportive environment for sharing our research, and providing opportunities for meeting and working alongside LS graduate students at nearby programs.

We are very excited that this idea, which started out only as a local conference, has grown to include a community of learning scientists from multiple universities. Please consider joining us in October and submitting a poster, roundtable, or workshop to share your research with other LS graduate students!

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