Weekly Resource Roundup – 16/6/2021

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

Other

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.  

What software can I use for teaching?

Although our Unit’s provision focuses on supporting core tools such as Blackboard, Turnitin, Panopto and MS Teams, a list of software available to AU staff is much longer.

We have recently procured the university polling software – Vevox which can be an excellent addition to the tools you are already using. During the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference (book on the conference) our Vevox account manager Joe Probert will explain how Vevox can be used for learning activities. On Wednesday, we will also have an opportunity to join a webinar on how to use Vevox in your hybrid classroom. If you like to see how Vevox has been used by other institutions, you can also take a look at these case studies.

Another tool that we have previously written about is Padlet which is free and widely used across the sector. Take a look at our previous blog post which includes some ideas on how it could be applied in teaching. There is also a recording of the presentation on Padlet by Danielle Kirk delivered during the 7th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference.

Based on findings of the Digital Insights Survey we have also published a list of digital tools and apps useful for learning. You may choose to recommend these to your students by sharing this post with them or pointing them to specific tools helping them with what they need.

If you decide to use any of the third-party software for learning and teaching, there are a few considerations you need to make to keep yourself and your students safe online.

See: Using Third-Party Software for Learning and Teaching

If you have any questions about using software in your teaching then contact us on lteu@aber.ac.uk.

Vevox webinar: How to use Vevox in your hybrid classroom

We’re really looking forward to seeing many of you at our forthcoming annual learning and teaching conference – the second time that we’ll be running it online.

We’ve had a slight to change to proceedings. On the 30th June, 2pm-2.45pm, we’ll be linking to Vevox’s webinar on how to use Vevox polling software in a hybrid classroom:

In this interactive webinar, we will be discussing how Vevox can be used in hybrid classes to support active learning wherever the location of your students. Joining us on the panel are Carol Chatten, Learning Technology Development Officer at Edge Hill University, Dr. Robert O’Toole NTF Director of Student Experience and Progression, Faculty of Art at The University of Warwick and Carl Sykes SFHEA, CMALT Senior Learning Technologist at The University of South Wales.

We’ll be looking to share customer success stories and examples to show how Vevox can support a blended learning environment and how you can maximise student engagement, interaction and feedback in a hybrid setting. We’ll being looking at the theme of versatility and how important this is to being able to provide a truly inclusive learning experience.

You can book online to attend the conference: https://aber.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/aultc2021

Our full programme is available online.

You can read more about Vevox, our recently procured polling software: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/it-services/elearning/polling-tool/

Taking your (PowerPoint) Lectures Online: Kate Exley Workshop

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce a special online workshop run by Dr Kate Exley on Wednesday 7th July at 10am.

The workshop will be useful for colleagues who are modifying and transferring their traditionally delivered lectures for on-line learning.

Please book your place online [link]:

https://stafftraining.aber.ac.uk/sd/list_courses.php

Places are limited so please book as soon as possible.

Session Overview:

Many colleagues have been involved in providing blended or on-line learning for many years but the Covid pandemic has meant that we have all needed to quickly provide much of our teaching and learning at a distance. This has involved moving our lectures, previously delivered in large lecture theatres and classrooms, to online platforms. The speed at which this huge change has happened has in itself caused significant challenges for staff and students alike.  This blended workshop aims to provide some guidance, examples and a forum for colleagues to share their experiences and ideas for enhancing this provision.

This workshop is presented in two parts:

  • A set of 3 short videos will be made available on or before the 30th June 2021 and should be viewed independently before joining discussion forum – approximately 45 minutes independent study.
  • A discussion forum hosted via Teams on the 7th July, in which participants will have the opportunity to ask questions, share experiences and discuss the topic – lasting 1 hour.

By the end of the two hour, session you should be able to:

  • Consider the purpose of the on-line lecture in Covid times
  • Discuss a range of practical design issues when taking lectures on-line
  • Share experiences and ideas with colleagues ‘in the same boat’
  • Begin to plan your next steps & what you can implement from the workshop

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

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Invitation: Aberystwyth University’s Learning and Teaching Conference 2021

Keynote announcement banner

We’re looking forward to this year’s Learning and Teaching Conference which is just under a month away, 29th June-2nd July 2021.

As you may have read, this year’s Conference will be taking place online via Teams so you can join us for as much or as little of the conference as you wish.

You can view the full programme and book your place online.

We’re grateful to have a number of external speakers this year.

Our keynote, Dr Chrissi Nerantzi will be talking about open and flexible pedagogies. At Manchester Metropolitan University, Chrissi developed the openly-licensed practice-based professional developmental programme FLEX which incorporates formal and informal pathways of engagement. She is the founder of the cross institutional Creativity for Learning in Higher Education community, the Teaching and Learning Conversations (TLC) webinars, as well as many other initiatives. You can read more about Chrissi on our blogpost

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Sally Brown and Kay Sambell Resources

Banner for Audio Feedback

As part of our Mini Fest on Assessment, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit invited Professors Kay Sambell and Sally Brown to give a workshop looking at how assessment might change because of changes to practices owing to the pandemic.

Throughout the pandemic, Kay and Sally became integral to developing HE assessment practices following the publishing of their paper: The changing landscape of assessment: some possible replacements for unseen, time-constrained, face-to-face invigilated exams.

As part of the workshop, Sally and Kay recorded sections as part of their workshop: Improving assessment and feedback processes post-pandemic: authentic approaches to improve student learning and engagement.

For those unable to attend, you can catch up with these recordings:

In addition to the recordings, you  can view other publications by Kay and Sally that focus specifically on amending practices on their webpages.

Annual Learning and Teaching Conference: Third external speaker – Dr Dyddgu Hywel

Keynote announcement banner

We are delighted to announce our third external speaker to this year’s Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Dr Dyddgu Hywel, senior lecturer in Education at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Dyddgu studied BSc (Hons) ‘Design and Technology Secondary Education leading to Qualified Teacher Status’ at Bangor University, where she graduated with first class honours. Her early career started as a Design and Technology A Level lecturer at Coleg Meirion Dwyfor, before being appointed as a Design and Technology teacher at Rhydywaun Comprehensive School.

She has now been working at Cardiff Metropolitan University for the past seven years, working as a senior lecturer in the School of Education, with expertise in innovative teaching, student engagement and health and well-being. Following 8 years of playing rugby for her country in the red shirt, she has adopted several effective ways of living healthily, maintaining a positive mindset, and mastering a work-life balance.

Dyddgu’s workshop will focus on prioritizing the health and well-being of staff. The workshop will benefit all academic staff at the university, to identify effective ways of protecting their personal health and well-being, as well as providing pastoral care for all students.

Workshop objectives:

  • An opportunity to reflect on your personal health and well-being
  • Consider the right balance between everyday life and work pressures
  • Identify the role of educators in student health and well-being
  • Identify personal stress management, attitude and positive thinking
  • Adopt time management and prioritization
  • Promote Welsh-language resources for effective relaxation and reflection

Dyddgu will be presenting online through the medium of Welsh and we will be providing simultaneous translation.

The ninth Annual Learning and Teaching Conference will be held online between Tuesday 29 June and Friday 2 July. You can book a place by completing this online form.

Weekly Resource Roundup – 2/6/2021

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.  

Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol: Online Research Conference (29 June 2021)

CIRCULAR Funding Projects in Further Education Institutions from the Coleg  Cymraeg Cenedlaethol's Strategic Development Fund

The Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol are hosting their Online Research Conference on 29 June 2021.

This conference is for anyone who is interested in multi-disciplinary academic research through the medium of Welsh. Scientists, humanists and sociologists from all over Wales and beyond are invited to share the results of their research and to meet other like-minded Welsh researchers.

The aim of the conference is to give the next generation of academics the opportunity to present their research to an audience of peers. It will also be an opportunity to network with Welsh-speaking researchers and to foster a wider community of academics who promote Welsh-medium provision in our universities.

Here is the full programme for the conference, which includes the conference schedule along with contributor biographies and abstracts.

You are welcome to register for the conference by completing this registration form.

Designing Anxiety-Free Assessments

During last week’s Mini-Fest we run a session entitled ‘Designing Anxiety-Free Assessments’. The session was based on A review of the literature concerning anxiety for educational assessments produced by Ofqual which outlines links between assessment anxiety, students’ performance, and mental health. It also offers possible assessment anxiety interventions which can be applied to both assessment design as well as its implementation.

Based on the review as well as discussions from the session we prepared a list of simple steps you can take to make assessments less anxiety-provoking for your students:

  1. Replace fear appeals with positive encouragement.

Fear appeals, messages emphasising the importance of upcoming assessments, have been shown to contribute to higher levels of test anxiety, lower-class engagement and lower task performance (Putwain & Best, 2011; Putwain, Nakhla, Liversidge, Nicholson, Porter & Reece, 2017; Putwain & Symes, 2014). Instead of motivating students using fear appeals, try rephrasing your messaging into positive encouragement.

  • Help students set achievable goals.

In addition to providing students with information about how their final performance or paper should look like, it is worth adding some information on what steps they need to take to get there. Breaking assessments down into stages and suggesting approximately how much time they should spend on each part can be helpful to students, particularly those not experienced in managing university assessments.

  • Facilitate a positive learning environment.

As described in the review ‘positive learning environments can include: designing lessons that focus and building upon students’ strengths and abilities rather than identifying weaknesses; giving positive and accurate feedback; encouraging cooperative rather than competitive peer relationships; and encouraging students to be intrinsically motivated to study, rather than being coercive or focusing on the instrumentality of assessment outcomes(Jennings & Greenberg, 2009 as cited in Ofqual, 2020). How can you foster these elements in your classroom?

  • Modify the mode of assessment (if possible!).

Several specific assessment-design factors impact how anxiety-inducing they are. Making small adjustments to the assessment mode can make a difference to your students:

  • Instrumentality (how much impact the assessment appears to have on students’ overall grade): Breaking down or spreading out complex and heavily weighted assessments into smaller chunks will help students with managing their time better and create less pressure on doing well.
  • Complexity (how complicated the assessment seems to be): is there anything in the assessment design that could be simplified?
  • Evaluation (whether their performance will be evaluated by others): where possible consider minimising the impact of the social evaluative aspect of assessments by limiting the audience size or allowing students to submit a pre-recorded presentation.
  • Timing (whether their performance is timed): this one is applicable particularly in terms of exams which usually have strict time limits. It’s worth considering whether timed exams are the best way of measuring student progression on the learning outcome or whether there is an alternative assessment design you could use.
  • Help students feel prepared.

Increasing feelings of preparedness can also help in reducing assessment anxiety. Some of the things you can do to help your students feel more prepared are:

  • making assessment clear, detailed and accessible clear;
  • ​tying assessments clearly and obviously to learning outcomes;
  • linking skills they learnt throughout the module to those helping them in assessments;
  • communicating expectations (e.g. how much time they should spend on an assessment) clearly and repeatedly.

Finally, perhaps the most effective way of making students feel more prepared and help them get used to being assessed are mock exams and other formative assessments (Ergene, 2011).

  • Provide students with information about assessment anxiety & how to manage it.

Simply providing students with information about assessment anxiety being common among students and giving them links to some resources available to them (see below) can be helpful.

Resources:

Supporting your Learning module available to all student via Blackboard offers all essential information on assessments including a short section on tackling assessment anxiety.

Quick Guide to Student Success is a good starting point for helping students to build academic skills such as managing their time, effective study strategies and the ability to motivate themselves.

AberSkills pages (accessible also via Blackboard) offer students support on various essential skills including academic writing, referencing or employability.

Student Well-being Resources provide students with various resources which can help them in building coping strategies.

Although it may not be possible to design assessments that are fully anxiety-free, taking some of these steps can have a positive impact on students’ performance and wellbeing.