Vevox for Students

In the past month, the university has rolled out Vevox and begun training staff in its use. Vevox combines polls, surveys and Q&As in one interactive software and has integrations with Microsoft Teams and PowerPoint. We are glad to see that staff are already adopting this new software in their teaching and want to encourage students to do the same.
Aberystwyth University’s subscription to Vevox comes with Single Sign-On, meaning students can securely log in with their Aber Uni ID and password. Just as there are multiple ways that staff may use Vevox, so students might find it a useful tool.
For example, students could use Vevox polls and the Q&A function when presenting in seminars or workshops, especially in assessments that feature audience engagement as a criterion. Equally, Vevox offers great opportunities for student research, both in terms of analysing and interrogating survey design (e.g. by using Vevox’s existing sample surveys), and for creating and running their own surveys. Further, Vevox might be used in group work, offering students the opportunity to gather ideas and encourage diverse input from more quiet group members. This is especially useful at the moment, where student groups may include members from different households.
These are just a few examples of how students might use Vevox in their learning and we encourage staff to alert students to the fact that they, too, can access this software for free. Our Vevox guides are here (English and Cymraeg) and How-To videos are here (English and Cymraeg). The Learning and Teaching Unit is at hand alongside the Vevox Team to support any technical queries that may arise, providing student with support that is not available when using free alternatives.

Annual Learning and Teaching Conference: Second guest speaker: Andy McGregor, JISC

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We are pleased to announce our second external speaker for this year’s Learning and Teaching Conference: Andy McGregor. Andy is Director of edtech for JISC.  

Andy’s workshop will focus on the future of assessment and is based on JISC’s paper: The future of assessment: five principles, five targets for 2025, which ‘sets five targets for the next five years to progress assessment towards being more authentic, accessible, appropriately automated and secure’.

Andy is responsible for managing JISC’s portfolio of research and development projects which develop new services that help universities and colleges improve education and research.

In addition to Andy, this year’s keynote will be delivered by Dr Chrissi Nerantzi from Manchester Metropolitan University.

The ninth annual learning and teaching conference is taking place online between Wednesday 30th June and Friday 2nd July. You can book your place by completing this online form.

Keep following our blog for more announcements.

Keynote Announcement: Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

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The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce that Dr Chrissi Nerantzi will be this year’s keynote speaker.

The conference is taking place online via Teams between 30th June and the 2nd July. Booking for this year’s conference is open and you can still submit a proposal via our online form.

Dr Chrissi Nerantzi (@chrissinerantzi), Principal Lecturer – Academic CPD, University Teaching Academy (UTA), Manchester Metropolitan University

At Manchester Met, Chrissi developed the openly-licensed practice-based professional developmental programme FLEX which incorporates formal and informal pathways of engagement utilising digital professional portfolios and open development opportunities including cross-institutional collaborative initiatives. FLEX has inspired further initiatives internally and externally with staff and students. She is the founder of the the cross-institutional Creativity for Learning in Higher Education community (#creativeHE), the Teaching and Learning Conversations (TLC) webinars and the co-founder of the open courses Flexible, Distance and Online Learning (FDOL), Bring your Own Devices for Learning course (BYOD4L) and the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education tweetchat (#LTHEchat). Chrissi teaches on the  MA in Higher Education at her institution and leads Recognising and Rewarding Teaching Excellence and the Good Practice Exchange. She also co-ordinates the NTF and CATE submissions and regularly mentors colleagues. CChrissi contributes to further academic development activities within UTA, including the institutional PSF scheme and supports colleagues in creative curriculum design and is one of the Faculty Links for Arts and Humanities.

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Weekly Resource Roundup – 28/4/2021

As leader of our PGCTHE programme, I keep an eye out for resources to help staff teach effectively. These include webinars, podcasts, online toolkits, publications and more. Topics include active learning, online/blended teaching, accessibility/inclusion, and effective learning design based on cognitive science. Below I’ve listed items that came to my attention in the past week. In the interest of clarity, our policy is to show the titles and descriptions in the language of delivery.   

Online events and webinars

Resources and publications

Please see the Staff Training booking page for training offered by the LTEU and other Aberystwyth University staff. I hope you find this weekly resource roundup useful. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact our team at lteu@aber.ac.uk. You may also wish to follow my Twitter feed, Mary Jacob L&T.  

Call for Proposals – closes on Friday

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Staff, postgraduate teaching assistants, and students are welcome to propose sessions on any topic relating to learning and teaching.

Submit and view the call for proposals online. Please complete this form no later than 30th April 2021.

Conference Registration now open

Registration for the ninth annual Learning and Teaching conference is now open. This year’s Learning and Teaching conference has the theme Improvisation within Constraint: Reshaping a Learning Community in a Time of Change and will be taking place between Wednesday 30 June and Friday 2 July 2021.

You can register for the conference online.

Kay Sambell and Sally Brown Workshop (Mini Fest)

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Improving assessment and feedback processes post-pandemic: authentic approaches to improve student learning and engagement – Professor Kay Sambell and Professor Sally Brown Workshop

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce a special online workshop run by Kay Sambell & Sally Brown on Monday 17th May, 10:30-12:30.

Please book your place online [link].

Places are limited so please book as soon as possible.

Session Overview:

This workshop is designed to build on lessons learned during the complex transitions academics made last year when face-to-face on-campus assessment became impossible. A whole range of approaches were used by academics globally not only to cope with the contingency but also to streamline assessment and more fully align it with learning.

We now have an important opportunity to change assessment and feedback practices for good by boosting the authenticity of our designs to ensure they are future-fit.  Drawing on their work undertaken throughout 2020, https://sally-brown.net/kay-sambell-and-sally-brown-covid-19-assessment-collection/ the facilitators of this workshop Professor Kay Sambell and Professor Sally Brown will argue that we can’t ever go back to former ways of assessment and will propose practical, manageable approaches that fully integrate assessment and feedback with learning, leading to improved outcomes and longer-term learning for students.

This workshop is mapped primarily to A2, A5, K2, K3 on the UKPSF.  

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Can Aberystwyth University become a Positive University?

Frederika Roberts, our keynote speaker at the mini-conference on Embedding Well-being in the Curriculum concluded her presentation by asking ‘Can Aberystwyth University become a Positive University?’ (to watch Frederika’s talk please visit the mini-conference website).

The idea of a positive university is one that focuses on ‘the development of educational environments that enable the learner to engage in established curricula in addition to knowledge and skills to develop their own and others’ wellbeing’ (Oades, Robinson, Green, & Spence, 2011). This definition has been proposed by the authors of Towards a positive university article published in 2011 which includes a useful framework for building Positive Universities based on the PERMA model (Seligman, 2011). Seligman’s PERMA is among the most well-known well-being theories which distinguish five key aspects of well-being:

PERMA model: P - positive emotions, E- engagement, R - Relationships, M- meaning, A- accomplishment

Source: https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/learn

Although much progress has been done on embedding well-being in the curriculum, not many institutions, especially in the higher education sector, implemented a whole-institutional approach to well-being (Oades et al., 2011). The first Positive University in the world was Tecmilenio University, a private institution in Mexico, established in 2002. Following their lead, in 2017, the University of Buckingham became the first Positive University in Europe.

What would have to change for Aberystwyth University to become a Positive University?

The Positive University status is achieved by implementing the well-being in institutional policies and procedures, but also through an individual commitment to the values of positive education. Although Oades and colleagues (2011) mention the importance of senior leadership, they also offer a range of simple activities that are consistent with the ethos of positive education and that could be implemented by teaching and professional staff as well as students (see Table 1. p. 434). Following the recent mini-conference, we would like to call all staff to take an active stand towards their well-being and the well-being of their students and colleagues.

To find examples of how you can embed well-being in your teaching please refer to the Towards a positive university article, recordings from the conference as well as the Wellbeing in the curriculum factsheet created by Samantha Glennie, the Student Wellbeing Service Manager. We would also like to encourage you to share the following resources with your students:

Supporting your Learning Blackboard module

[:en]At the beginning of this academic year, various departments across the University contributed to creating Supporting your Learning web pages. Although gathering all essential information in one place has been useful, we were looking for a way to present it in a more interactive and accessible format.

We created the Supporting your Learning organisation on Blackboard which includes all information from the web pages with some additional resources such as the Quick Guide to Student Success as well as practice submission points.

Supporting your Learning module has a menu on the left hand side that you can navigate the different pages from

We conducted several ‘Helping Students to Make Most of Online Learning’ training sessions with Peer Guides, Residential Assistants, Student Representatives and Student Support staff showing them the Supporting your Learning organisation. We received positive feedback and made changes based on their comments. We have also asked for feedback from the Directors of Learning and Teaching.

All students and staff can find the Supporting your Learning organisation under ‘My Organisation’ tab.

Supporting your Learning module is located under My Organisations on BB

We hope that it will support them in findings essential information in a more efficient way as well as enhance various induction processes. We would greatly appreciate if you could share this resource with all students and staff in your departments and utilise it where appropriate.

Weekly Resource Roundup – 20/4/2021

As leader of our PGCTHE programme, I keep an eye out for resources to help staff teach effectively. These include webinars, podcasts, online toolkits, publications and more. Topics include active learning, online/blended teaching, accessibility/inclusion, and effective learning design based on cognitive science. Below I’ve listed items that came to my attention in the past week. In the interest of clarity, our policy is to show the titles and descriptions in the language of delivery.   

Online events and webinars

Resources and publications

Please see the Staff Training booking page for training offered by the LTEU and other Aberystwyth University staff. I hope you find this weekly resource roundup useful. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact our team at lteu@aber.ac.uk. You may also wish to follow my Twitter feed, Mary Jacob L&T.  

Exemplary Course Award 2020-21

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Hanna Binks, from the Department of Psychology, has been awarded the Exemplary Course Award for the module PS11320: Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology. The panel commended this module for its innovative assessment design and support, clear and logically ordered learning materials, and offering multiple ways for students to engage with learning activities.

In addition to the winner, the following module achieved Highly Commended:

  • Martine Garland from Aberystwyth Business School for the module AB27120: Marketing Management
  • Rhianedd Jewell from the Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies for the module CY10920: Trafod y Byd Cyfoes twy’r Gymraeg
  • Prysor Mason Davies from the Department of Education for the module ED30620: Children’s Rights
  • Mary Jacob from the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit for the module PDM0530: Action Research and Reflective Practice in HE

The diverse range of teaching and learning styles evidenced in this year’s applications reflects the innovative work that is taking place across the institution.

The aim of the Exemplary Course Award, now in its seventh year, aims to recognise the very best learning and teaching practices. It gives staff members the opportunity to share their work with colleagues, enhance their current modules in Blackboard, and receive feedback on to improve.

Modules are assessed across 4 areas: course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support. The self-assessed nature of the award gives staff the opportunity to reflect on their course and enhance aspects of their module before a panel assesses each application against the rubric.

The panel and the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit would like to thank all of the applicants for the time and effort that they have put into their applications and modules this year.

We’re looking forward to receiving more applications next year and many congratulations to the recipients of this year’s award.