Beyond the conference: Singing our SSONG




Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, small significant networks, community, design-based research


The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) annual conference presents an exciting opportunity to meet with international colleagues from diverse backgrounds and situations to commune on our common interest in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). As with every ISSOTL conference, the enthusiasm for SoTL was palpable in Los Angeles in 2016. Rich discussions took place, networks were formed, and promises to keep in touch were made. Unfortunately, previous conference experiences have taught us that these good intentions often fall short once the conference bubble has burst and the reality of daily life sets in once more. In an attempt to circumvent this phenomenon, we—seven colleagues from three different countries—embarked on a research project that enabled us to maintain the relationships and fruitful discussions we had initiated at ISSOTL16. We established Small, Significant Online Network Group, or SSONG, inspired by a conference workshop on small significant networks. As a group, we met regularly online using Adobe Connect© and engaged in significant conversations around SoTL that were private, trustful, and intellectually intriguing. This article reflects our experiences in establishing and maintaining the group. We discuss how the group was formed; its alignment with the concept of small, significant networks; and the benefits and challenges we encountered. Four key principles of the group that have emerged will also be discussed in detail, enabling readers to consider how they could adapt the concept for their own purposes.


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Author Biographies

Corinne A. Green, University of Wollongong

Corinne A. Green is an aspiring academic and PhD student at the University of Wollongong (AUS). She is currently researching school-university partnerships in initial teacher education programs, and lecturing and tutoring in teacher education.

Michelle J. Eady, University of Wollongong

Michelle J. Eady is an Associate Professor at the University of Wollongong (AUS). Her research interests include the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, work-integrated learning, Indigenous studies, and other current issues in education.

Marian McCarthy, University of College Cork

Marian McCarthy is the former Vice President for Teaching and Learning at University College Cork (IRL). She has been involved in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning for decades, as recognized by the UCC Lifetime Achievement Award she received in 2019.

Ashley B. Akenson, Tennessee Technological University

Ashley B. Akenson is the Director of Graduate Programs at Tennessee Technological University (USA). She is passionate about bringing multicultural awareness and mindfulness to program planning and evaluation practices, and everyday interactions.

Briony Supple, University College Cork

Briony Supple is a lecturer at University College Cork (IRL). Her current research interests are around how technology-enhanced learning can be conceptualized from a SoTL perspective, and embedded into professional learning for academics.

Jacinta McKeon, University College Cork

Jacinta McKeon is a lecturer at University College Cork (IRL). She teaches and conducts research regarding second language teaching and classroom interactions across all levels of education. Her current SoTL research focuses on transforming disciplinary knowledge into pedagogical content knowledge as a university lecturer.

James G. R. Cronin, University College Cork

James G. R. Cronin is a lecturer at University College Cork (IRL). His current SoTL research focuses on integrative learning, formation of disciplinary identities, and fostering student resilience through the arts and humanities.


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How to Cite

Green, Corinne A., Michelle J. Eady, Marian McCarthy, Ashley B. Akenson, Briony Supple, Jacinta McKeon, and James G. R. Cronin. 2020. “Beyond the Conference: Singing Our SSONG”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 8 (1):42-60.