Will university lectures of the future feature virtual tutors and interactive content along with students who will be able to study via internet podcasts? Edge Hill will look to shed some light on the high-tech future of higher education when it hosts the first SOLSTICE conference on Wednesday 3 May.

Academics from all corners of the globe are looking at all these possibilities and more and presenters and speakers from as far afield as the USA and Australia will discuss a range of e-learning topics at the Lancashire-based university. Topics including podcasting, multimedia learning and the use of technology in a disability context will all be addressed in over 40 sessions by variety of guest and keynote speakers, including Jon Peacock from the University of Melbourne.

Edge Hill was awarded over £3m by the Higher Education Funding Council for England in 2005 to develop SOLSTICE as a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, specifically focusing on exploring the power of new technology in education.

SOLSTICE manager John Davey said: “With so many esteemed figures from the world of e-learning in attendance this promises to be a very exciting and enlightening event.

“There will be a number of interesting issues and viewpoints raised throughout the day as academics share their research findings and discuss what the future holds for education.”

Edge Hill?s Peter Beaumont will discuss ‘Lectures are the New Rock and Roll: Podcasting and Beyond? and raise questions such as will students bother turning up for lectures, will podcasting improve teaching and learning and how willing are tutors to engage in this practice? Peter will pay particular attention to podcasting and offer opinion as to how this form of learning can be most effectively applied, and which type of students are most likely to benefit from its increasing use.

Peter commented: “My presentation will act as an introduction to the possibilities available to staff who want to use audio materials in their sessions.The presentation and related web page – http://barewiki.com/podcasting – will cover recording audio files and distributing them via the web. It will also aim to encourage discussion on non-technical issues such as how the use of audio materials can enhance the student experience.”