Improving accessibility – lessons learnt from a blended approach  

Over the course of the conference, we had a wide range of presentations. A theme which emerged for me was the way in which the use of a blended learning approached offered increased accessibility specifically by tailoring module content which suited the needs of students. At Aberystwyth University, we are proud to have such a diverse range of students and provide an inclusive teaching approach. Some of the ways in which our courses have been adapted in response to the challenging teaching circumstances we have had throughout the pandemic had a significant impact on improving accessibility to our students.  

Neil Taylor of the Computer Science Department did a fantastic talk on his experiences in creating accessible interactive web-based resources. He was seeking to resolve confusion over the location of documents which he had created to provide information for third year dissertations. He developed a sphinx-doc which compiled all this information into one place and a more easily accessible format. He was able to configure different themes and fonts to suit the needs of the students. Neil’s talk emphasised the importance of the webpage interface design in in ensuring wide accessibility. To find out more click here for the presentation.   

Members of the English & Creative Writing Department gave a presentation that presented a case in favour of the hyflex model. Dr Louise Marshall, Dr Malte Urban and Professor Matt Jarvis led the presentation which really evaluated the benefits of the hyflex model of teaching. There was an appreciation by students about the flexibility of the online teaching approach, which meant that whether they were absent due to isolation, illness, or other circumstances, they could still engage with the content and attend the sessions. Two students from the department, Alex and Louise, both spoke about their positive experiences of the hyflex model and how it improved accessibility and inclusivity. I have to admit this was one of my favourite presentations so if you have the chance, please give it a listen. To find out more click here for the presentation.  

Dr Tristram Irvine-Fynn from the Geography and Earth Sciences Department gave a presentation of the creation of 3D Fieldtrips to Cadair Idris. This was inspired to complement the role of fieldwork within Geography modules.  By adapting resources the department have created a more accessible environment and active learning experience. It is a fantastic learning resource  and there is a lot of potential to increase and expand its use. To find out more click here for the presentation.  

Kittie Belltree, Mary Glasser, Cal Walters-Davies, & Caroline White  from the Student Support and Careers Services gave a presentation on the impacts that blended learning had on neurodiverse students. They noted that not all student experiences of blended learning were particular advantageous and that some neurodiverse students found it difficult to adapt to the new methods of learning and teaching. In the presentation the accessibility service provided information as to the ways which staff can support neurodiverse students and to help ensure their module content is accessible. They also provided a helpful guide to inclusive teaching. To find out more click here for the presentation. 

I think what the rapid switch to hyflex model has shown is the potential wider use of different methods of teaching. It has led to lecturers being able to trial and implement bolder methods of teaching and assessment. It has given departments a chance to reflect on the way in which course content is delivered and taught some key lessons and skills which can be used in the further development of course content.  

Annual Learning & Teaching Conference 2021 recordings and resources now available!

That’s a wrap! with over three and half days of back-to-back presentations given by over 40 presenters and over 150 delegates in attendance. We at the LTEU want to say a big thank you to everyone who got involved and attended our biggest annual learning and teaching conference to date.

If you didn’t manage to attend not to worry, we are pleased to announce that all of the recordings are now live on the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference programme page.

If you attended this year’s conference, we would love to hear your feedback, please fill in our Annual Learning & Teaching Conference 2021 Survey. We are beginning our preparations for our 10th Annual Learning & Teaching Conference and your feedback will help us make it the best one yet!

This week, I will be writing a couple of blogs about the conference, so if you haven’t yet, take a look at our blog and sign up for updates from the LTEU team. Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the presenters and delegates, we couldn’t do it without you!

My placement with the LTEU as a Conference Support and Impact Officer

Hi all, I’m Hector, a first-year undergraduate student at Aberystwyth University studying International Politics and Climate Change. I’m excited to be joining the LTEU team for the next three-weeks for the Annual Teaching Conference 2021.

Prior to beginning my degree in Aberystwyth, I worked as a Support Worker for the charity Leonard Cheshire. My key areas of interest lie within sustainable development, climate change politics and charity work. I have volunteered three times with the youth-led sustainable development charity Raleigh International in Nepal and Costa Rica, as part of Expedition programmes and the Government backed International Citizen Service. I’m a keen advocate of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and am always looking for new ways to engage with and support them. As an Aberystwyth University student, I am an active member of AberHike and will be undertaking my Mountain Leader training over the summer to enable me to lead future hikes for the society.

I have recently worked as a Zoom Steward for the Annual Conference for the Association for Science Education. I really enjoyed this role so when I saw the opportunity to gain more experience in a similar position with the LTEU, I applied. I’m undertaking this placement as part of the AberForward 2021 programme. My role as the Conference Support and Impact Officer will be to offer a student perspective on the various talks given throughout the conference. By undertaking my placement with the LTEU, I am hoping to further develop my organisational and analytical skills. I also want to continue to gain practical and relevant work experience, which this placement helps me with.

I feel as a student we never really get to fully appreciate the amount of effort and thought which goes into every aspect of our learning experience, this has been abundantly demonstrated by the brilliant work which I have seen from my time so far with the LTEU. We have a fantastic and broad range of talks lined up for this year’s conference. If you are yet to book your place, you still have time! Hope to see you there!