The third Annual Meeting of the International Society of the Learning Sciences once again brings together the Learning Sciences community as a whole by combining its two conference programs: the Learning Sciences (ICLS) and Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL). This annual meeting’s theme is “Building Knowledge and Sustaining our Community”, with the goal of engaging our community deeply in the time periods before, during and after the annual meeting. Building on the previous three years of remote, virtual conferences, we are excited to return to and improve on the traditional retreat experience of in-person programs. We recognize the value of in-person presentations, learning, networking, mentoring, and knowledge-building in these meetings, while valuing the affordances of online for inclusion and accessibility. Therefore, this annual meeting will promote an in-person conference experience, with presenters in physical attendance, while adding some capacity for interactive remote participation, and accommodations for presenters who are unable or choose not to travel.
In this annual meeting, we expect that papers will explore the many unfolding educational and social movements, as well as the new roles and practices for technology and distributed communities that have evolved rapidly over recent years. Despite the growing opportunities for digital and social media for knowledge building among teachers, learners and researchers, there remains a need for theoretical and practical advances in the learning sciences, to support such moves. For example, while a move to online learning has been argued to be more inclusive for many learners, it has also been shown to disadvantage many others. Similarly, while the move to online work has liberated many from the drudgery of commuting and allowed freedom of location, the loss of close personal contact and emplaced work practices has raised new challenges for the efficacy of work and well being of workers. These same movements raise challenges for the ISLS and other academic societies, and more generally in our lived experience of academic research and practice. Hence, the ISLS itself will benefit from a deeper understanding of these rapid social changes. The ISLS is evolving rapidly, along with the rest of the world, making it all the more critical that we maintain our organizational identity, reinforce our connections and build knowledge within and beyond our community.
With regard to the annual meeting, we recognize the evolution of such events, both within the ISLS and in various other meetings that many of us attend (e.g., AERA, LAK, EDM, EARLI, etc). There has been an interest in changing these events, even before the pandemic, as “standard talk session formats” were seen as anachronistic modes of knowledge sharing. As the local organizing committee for this year’s event, we felt it would be ill-advised to advance any dramatic new forms of engagement without substantial community discourse. Hence, we have organized a series of ChangeLab workshops that will engage a spectrum of voices from the ISLS in formative discussions that provide recommendations and strategic directions for annual meetings, going forward.