Reflections on the March 2021 Mini Conference

On Thursday, 25th of March, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit held their second mini conference of the academic year. Focussed on the theme of embedding wellbeing in the curriculum, the conference brought together internal and external speakers on three strands: recognising barriers to student well-being, building resilience in students, and encouraging students to flourish.

The conference boasted a range of speakers from across Aberystwyth University, as well as an external speaker from Coleg Cambria. Topics ranged from the ongoing work on wellbeing by the Student Support team, wellbeing in foundation year programmes, and building student resilience to reframing of mistakes as a learning opportunity, and personalising approaches to engaging with students and their work. Our two keynote speakers, Frederica Roberts and Kate Lister focussed on positive education and online communities respectively. In the spirit of the conference, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit also organised two activities during the morning and afternoon breaks: desk yoga and a guided meditation with local yoga teacher Regina Hellmich, which several delegates identified as a conference highlight. The day concluded with a plenary session in which everyone was encouraged to reflect on their insights and identify concrete applications of best practice going forward.

If you missed the mini conference or could only attend parts of it, you can now access recordings of most presentations here. Simply log in with your Aberystwyth ID and password. In addition, we strongly encourage you to sign up to our next Academy Forum on the 20th of April, entitled “How can I embed wellbeing into the curriculum?” – we look forward to seeing you there.

Weekly Resource Roundup – 13/4/2021

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.   

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.  

Mini-Fest: Assessment – 17th May – 21st May

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The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce its first mini-festival. The aim of the mini-fest is to bring together training sessions and workshops offered by LTEU around a particular topic with an external speaker. For this first mini-fest, we’ll be looking specifically at assessment. The mini fest will run from Monday 17th May until Friday 21st May and will be taking place online via Teams. Please book on the sessions that you wish to attend on our online booking system.

We are going to be joined by Professors Sally Brown and Kay Sambell to talk about assessment design post covid on Monday 17th May for a 2-hour workshop at 10.30am. Their paper Writing Better Assignments in the post Covid19 Era has been widely discussed across the sector since last summer:

Improving assessment and feedback processes post-pandemic: authentic approaches to improve student learning and engagement.

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.

Professor Kay Sambell is an Independent Consultant widely known internationally for her contributions to the Assessment for Learning (AfL) movement in higher education. A 2002 National Teaching Fellow (NTF) and Principal Fellow Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), she is President of the vibrant Assessment in Higher Education (AHE) conference series, ( https://ahenetwork.org/) and Visiting Professor of Assessment for Learning at the University of Sunderland and the University of Cumbria. Kay has held personal chairs in Learning and Teaching at Northumbria University, where she co-led one of the UK Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning which specialised in AfL, and, more recently, at Edinburgh Napier University.   

Kay.sambell@cumbria.ac.uk

Website: https://kaysambell.wordpress.com

Professor Sally Brown is an Independent Consultant in Learning, Teaching and Assessment and Emerita Professor at Leeds Beckett University where she was, until 2010, Pro-Vice-Chancellor. She is also Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University and formerly at the Universities of Plymouth, Robert Gordon, South Wales and Liverpool John Moores and at Australian universities James Cook Central Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. She is a PFHEA, a Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) Senior Fellow and an NTF. She is widely published on learning, teaching and particularly assessment and enjoys working with institutions and teams on improving the student learning experience. 

S.brown@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Website: https://sally-brown.net

In addition to Sally’s and Kay’s workshop, LTEU will be offering sessions and workshops over the course of the week:

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Students: share your views of digital learning  

Researchers at Swansea University want to know what students across Wales think about digital learning. And we’re encouraging students at Aberystwyth to take part in the research.
 
All AU students are invited to join other students from across Wales in a Zoom focus group discussion. The focus group will be a chance to talk about your digital learning experience over the past year. What has worked well for you and what you need now, to keep learning effectively?
 
To take part (and receive a £20 Amazon voucher) email menna.brown@swansea.ac.uk. Full details of the research will be provided to everyone taking part.

Conference Registration now open

Save the date banner - 30.06.2021-02.07.2021

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.

Call for Proposals

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.

 

Netiquette – Communicating your expectations for online participation

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Mary Jacob, Lecturer in Learning and Teaching, LTEU

The term ‘Netiquette’ means etiquette for interacting on the internet. In the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit, staff often ask us about appropriate guidelines for students when interacting online.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to netiquette. Because different teaching scenarios require different guidelines, you will need to decide on the most appropriate rules for your own students. We’ve written this document to help you make those decisions when teaching synchronously (e.g. via Teams) and asynchronously (e.g. discussion boards), using verbal and/or written interactions.

If you can make your expectations clear to your students, it will give them confidence and reduce potential issues. Here are our key tips:

  • Tip 1: Make your expectations clear from the start and reinforce as needed. What seems obvious to us may not be obvious to our students. Telling them what we expect helps students behave appropriately and learn better.
  • Tip 2: Don’t change the rules mid-stream. Changing the rules after the module has begun could be confusing. Anticipating potential issues in advance can help us to avoid them.
  • Tip 3: Be fair and inclusive. The assumptions we make may not address all of the challenges our students face. Considering their diverse backgrounds and needs helps us include everyone.
  • Tip 4: Model good online behaviour. We serve as a powerful role model when we put into practice the same things we want our students to do.

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Weekly Resource Roundup – 26/3/2021

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.   

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.  

Last chance to register! Mini-conference, 25 March 2021

Mini Conference BannerOn Thursday 25th March, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit will be hosting the second Academy Mini-Conference online of this academic year. The theme will be ‘Embedding Well-being in the Curriculum’, where will explore the links between mental well-being and learning and how this could help to maximise success for both students and staff.

You can see our full programme here. The Mini-Conference will run from 09:30-16:50.

We hope that you will be able to join us. *You can register to attend the Mini-Conference by clicking on this link*. If you have any queries, please email lteu@aber.ac.uk.

Vevox Polling Tool

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The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce that Vevox has been chosen as Aberystwyth University’s polling solution. Our Vevox licence will last for a minimum of 3 years.  

You can get started today by logging into https://aberystwyth.vevox.com/ with your AU username and password. 

We’ve produced the following support materials for you to make the most of this polling tool:

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What else could we do to support student learning? (according to students themselves!)

We have recently had an opportunity to deliver ‘Make the most of your online learning’ sessions to Peer Guides, Student Representatives as well as Residential Assistants. These sessions focused mainly on introducing students to resources which are available to them: Supporting your Learning module on Blackboard (which will shortly be rolled out to all students); and the Quick Guide to Student Success.

We have also taken these opportunities to ask students: ‘What else can we do to support your learning?’. We would like to share with you some of the feedback we received along with suggestions on how these could be addressed:

Assignment extensions 

Although this is not something that can be resolved by teaching staff, it may be worth including a link to the Course Extensions information along with other assessment related information.

Clear structure

Some students expressed difficulties in navigating their workload related to online learning and a need for a clearer structure on how and when the content will be released to them. Therefore, we would like to encourage staff to include a short table with content release dates (it can be included in Module Information) and sticking to dates and times of seminar and live sessions which have been timetabled.

A table showing dates on each content being released on Blackboard

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