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.

NEW Welsh-medium Teams site and CPD (March ’21)

NEW Teams Site:
We have set up a new Teams site, Dysgu ac addysgu cyfrwng Cymraeg. This site is for staff at the University who teach through the medium of Welsh or who can speak Welsh. It is an informal place for us to share information about Welsh-medium training with you and a place for everyone to share good teaching practice.

*To be added to the site, please e-mail lteu@aber.ac.uk *
Welsh-medium Learning and Teaching site
Welsh-medium training (March):
The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit offers several sessions for Continued Professional Development (CPD) covering a range of topics. We are holding two Welsh-medium sessions during March.

    1. Hanfodion E-ddysgu Uwch: Beth allaf ei wneud gyda Blackboard (22 March; 14:00-15:30)
    2. Fforwm Academi: Addysgu grwpiau bychain (24 March; 11:00-12:30) *Open to staff from other universities in Wales

For a full list of all sessions (both English- and Welsh-medium) and to book a place on any course, please visit the staff training website. If you have any questions about any of the sessions, please email lteu@aber.ac.uk.

Mini Conference: ‘Embedding Well-being in the Curriculum’, Thursday 25 March, 09:30am

Mini Conference Banner
On 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. The Mini-Conference will run from 09:30-16:50.

We’re excited to confirm our programme:

    • Flourishing at Aberystwyth – Putting Positive Education into Practice (Frederica Roberts – Keynote)
    • Online Communities and Student Well-being (Kate Lister – Keynote)
    • Well-being in the Curriculum at Aberystwyth University (Samantha Glennie)
    • Well-being in the Curriculum – a Foundation Year Pilot (Sinead O’Connor)
    • Supporting Students in Building a Resilient Approach to their Learning (Antonia Ivaldi)
    • What Can Lecturers Do to Get Students to Embrace Mistakes? (Marco Arkesteijn)
    • Building Resilience (Alison Pierse)
    • Meeting Students’ Needs (using simple tools) (Panna Karlinger)
    • Resilience – a Valuable Student Skill (Sadie Thackaberry)

We will also be running an optional yoga and meditation session during two of the breaks for all conference attendees.

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.

Call for proposals deadline – Mini-Conference: Embedding Well-being in the Curriculum

On 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.

The three main strands for this Mini-Conference are:

  • Building resilience in students
  • Recognising barriers to student well-being
  • Encouraging students to flourish

We are looking for proposals from staff, postgraduate teaching assistants and students to give presentations, demonstrations, workshops, and discussions on their current practices on embedding well-being in the curriculum. Even if your proposal does not particularly fit the strands above, other relevant proposals are very welcome.

If you would like to submit a proposal to this year’s Mini-Conference, please fill in this online form before Friday 26th February.

You can register to attend the Mini-Conference by clicking on this link. If you have any queries, please email lteu@aber.ac.uk.

Mini-Conference: Embedding Well-being in the Curriculum (Call for proposals)

On 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.

The three main strands for this Mini-Conference are:

  • Building resilience in students
  • Recognising barriers to student well-being
  • Encouraging students to flourish

We are looking for proposals from staff, postgraduate teaching assistants and students to give presentations, demonstrations, workshops, and discussions on their current practices on embedding well-being in the curriculum. Even if your proposal does not particularly fit the strands above, other relevant proposals are very welcome.

If you would like to submit a proposal to this year’s Mini-Conference, please fill in this online form before Friday 26th February.

You can register to attend the Mini-Conference by clicking on this link. If you have any queries, please email lteu@aber.ac.uk.

Academy Forums 2020/21


The Academy Forum provides a platform for sharing good practice in learning and teaching. The Forum is open to members of the University community: teaching staff, postgraduate tutors, support staff, and students are all welcome. All forums will be held online for the year 2020/21 and you can book your place on the Staff Training Website.

The two Academy Forums running in the next few months are:

27.01.2021 (15:00-16:30): How can I plan online and in-person activities?

    In this session, we will discuss differences in designing and conducting sessions in three different formats: online, in-person and blended. As part of the session, attendees will be required to work with their colleagues in designing an activity for one type of delivery. The group work will be followed by reflecting on and discussing different approaches taken and their suitability regarding various sessions’ formats. We will collectively identify factors essential for effective teaching in an online, in-person and blended design.

19.02.2021 (10:00-11:30): How can I make my teaching more inclusive?

    In this session, we will discuss the benefits and challenges of making teaching more inclusive at university and we will explore these ideas through a series of group-based scenarios. We will also be joined by a member of the Student Support team who will give a brief overview of the student demographic at the University; strategies that are in place to deal with issues relating to inclusivity; and some practical tips on how you could make your teaching more inclusive.  

We will also be running other Academy Forums throughout the rest of the academic year, including:

24.04.2021 (14:00-15:30): How can I embed wellbeing into the curriculum?
28.04.2021 (14:00-15:30): Preparing students for assessments
24.05.2021 (14:00-16:00): Reflections on this year’s Academy Forum

We hope that you will be able to attend these forums. Please contact us with any questions (lteu@aber.ac.uk).

How can I check for understanding whilst teaching online?

Checking for understanding (CFU) plays a crucial role in the learning and teaching process and can verify to the lecturer what is being learnt but also provides students with an opportunity to reflect on their own learning. CFU is one of the biggest challenges in teaching and having to do so within the virtual classroom can make this even more challenging than in a traditional face-to-face setting! However, there are several useful features in MS Teams that can be used to help you CFU. Here are a few tips on how to utilise these features:

The chat function.
You can use the chat function in a variety of ways to CFU. Some ideas include asking students to summarize a concept or idea, or to paraphrase a theory in just a couple of sentences. The chat can also prove as a valuable tool in CFU of quieter students who may not wish to reply verbally to your questions. Here are some tips on how to manage the chat effectively in MS Team.

Emojis.
To inject a bit of fun into the classroom and as a way of avoiding “yes/no” answers, you could ask your students to react to comments on questions that you have posted in the chat to express how they’re feeling about a topic or concept. For example:
Screenshot showing reactions to a post in the chat

Raise your hand feature.
The raise your hand feature in Teams allows users to notify the lecturer that they have a question or a comment to make, but you could also use it to CFU. How about asking students to use the feature in response to a question? For example, “raise your hand if you want me to show you how to do that again”.
You could also use the feature to encourage students to elaborate on their answers in the chat, for example, “raise your hand if you can tell me more about that”. If students are unsure about unmuting themselves, you can encourage them to respond with a written response in the chat.

Continue reading

Good practice for Group Work online: 7 practical tips

Group work provides students with a valuable opportunity to foster important transferable skills in communication, leadership, group dynamics and reinforces learning and understanding. With limited face-to-face interaction, online group work can provide students with an opportunity to both learn and form relationships with their peers.

Although students can gain a lot from group work, some may feel anxious about potential issues, such as imbalances of contributions by different group members, difficult group dynamics and scheduling issues (Smith et al., 2011). However, there are steps that you could take to alleviate these issues and here are 7 practical tips on how you could make online group work a more enjoyable and meaningful experience for your students:

1. Starting on the same page.
Ensure that before the group work begins, all students are provided with clear instructions relating to how you expect the project/assignment to be completed. For example, how do you expect tasks to be divided?
It is imperative that you establish clear learning outcomes. What knowledge and skills are the students expected to acquire through undertaking the group work? This can be useful to demonstrate to students the benefits of engaging in group work.
If the group work is graded, provide students with detailed marking criteria.

2. Keep group numbers small.
Arranging a time to meet as a group can be challenging, especially if meetings must be conducted online. Large groups can make scheduling meetings extremely difficult so try to keep group numbers small.
You can also encourage students to use free online tools, such as Doodle, to assist them with scheduling their meetings.

3. Provide guidance on how to conduct online meetings.
With online sessions being delivered through MS Teams, students should be familiar with how to attend meetings in Teams, but they won’t necessarily know how to set up a meeting themselves. Provide students with clear instructions on how to do this (FAQ – How do I set up a Teams Meeting?)
You could also provide students with instructions on how to use the useful collaborative features within Teams, such as the Whiteboard and how to share collaborative documents.

4. Create a virtual workspace.
Provide students with a virtual space to work within their groups, to connect with each other and to share ideas.
If you want your students to be able to work collaboratively on a Word document, you may wish to consider setting up a private team for each group within MS Teams. All assessments however should remain in Blackboard. So that each group have their own space to work, you could set up a group for the students within Blackboard. It is important to provide students with tips on how to make the best use of their virtual workspace.
You could also set up a discussion board for each group or you could create a general discussion board for the whole module in Blackboard so that students can ask you questions (FAQ: How do I add a discussion board to my Blackboard module?)

5. Share leadership responsibilities.
Instead of getting one student to lead the group, how about asking the students to take their turns in facilitating and leading the discussion at each meeting. This can help ensure that every group member takes an equal responsibility in leading the group and allows everyone the opportunity to develop important leadership skills.

6. Grading.
Ensure that your students understand how the group work will be assessed. Group work can either be marked as a whole, individually or a combination of the two (e.g. marking the work as a whole but taking into account individual contributions through self- and peer-evaluations).

7. Be available for support.
Some students may find group work challenging. It is therefore important that students know what to do if they need to discuss any issues with you confidentially or if they have any questions relating to the group work in general.
Provide students with details on how and when they can contact you. You may also wish to set up optional MS Teams drop-in sessions for the students which they can join if they have any questions.

Smith, et al. (2011) ‘Overcoming student resistance to group work: Online versus face-to-face’, The Internet and Higher Education, 14, pp. 121-128.

Drop in sessions: E-learning tools

We would like to offer staff members at the University the opportunity to join us for our drop-in sessions on using e-learning tools (Blackboard, Panopto, Turnitin and MS Teams) for learning and teaching activities. These will offer an informal opportunity to speak with our Online Learning Specialists and to address any problems or queries you may have.

All drop-in sessions will be held via MS Teams and there is no need to book, just click on the links below. *Please note that sessions with an asterisk (*) will be bilingual sessions, and all sessions without an asterisk will run as English-medium sessions.  

These drop-in sessions will take place on:
19.01.2021 (10:00-11:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting*
21.01.2021 (14:00-15:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
26.01.2021 (10:00-11:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting*
28.01.2021 (14:00-15:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
02.02.2021 (10:00-11:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting*
04.02.2021 (14:00-15:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

We hope that these sessions will provide you with an opportunity to clarify any questions about your teaching needs.

If you have any questions, please email lteu@aber.ac.uk.