Exemplary Course Award: Winners

We are pleased to announce this year’s recipient of the Exemplary Course Award run by the E-learning Group. Come and see the winners present their modules at next week’s Learning and Teaching Conference. Further information here.

Alison Pierse, Lifelong Learning Tutor in Art, has been awarded the Exemplary Course Award for the module XA15220 Figuratively Speaking: The History of Western Figurative Sculpture. The panel commended this module for its innovative approach to co-design with students as well as its ability to create a 3 dimensional learning experience for students who might not be studying on campus, in addition to ensuring all aspects of this module was fully accessible.

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

  • IBERS Distance Learning Team for BDM0120 Research Methods
  • Stephen Chapman for BDM1320 The Future of Packaging
  • Alexandros Koutsoukis for IP12620 Behind the Headlines
  • Jennifer Wood for SP10740 Spanish Language (Beginners)

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 sixth year, is to recognise the very best learning and teaching practices by giving staff members the opportunity to share their work with colleagues, enhance their current modules in Blackboard, and receive feedback on their modules. 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 E-learning Group 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.

Annual Learning and Teaching Conference Keynote Announcement: Helen Beetham

We are very excited to announce that this year’s keynote for the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference will be Helen Beetham.

Helen is an education consultant, researcher, writer, and digital project leader, with a particular focus on learners’ digital literacies. Recently, Helen helped to develop the Jisc Digital Insights survey. Aberystwyth University was one of the Universities that took part in this project (you can read more about the digital insights findings and the project on our blog).

The third edition of Helen’s co-edited collection with Rhona Sharpe is due to be published in July this year and happens to coincide with the dates of the conference. The book, entitled Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age, brings together recent developments and critical theories on designing learning activities that are learner-focused and accessible, and incorporates case studies and research from across the sector.

In addition to delivering a keynote on the topic of curriculum development and digital learning, Helen will also be offering a workshop to delegates so that they can apply what they have learnt to their own specific contexts and curriculum. We will be using the data and findings from the Digital Insights project to support this work.

The conference is running 8th-10th July 2019 and delegates can book onto the conference here.

A draft conference timetable will be available on our webpages shortly.

Helen tweets at @helenbeetham and blogs (sometimes) at digitalthinking.org.uk.

Conference Registration now open

Registration for the seventh annual Learning and Teaching conference is now open. This year’s Learning and Teaching conference has the theme Learning from Excellence: Innvate, Collaborate, Participate! and will be taking place between Monday 8th and Wednesday 10th July 2019.

You can register for the conference by filling in this online form: https://aber.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/7th-annual-learning-and-teaching-conference-registration

This year, we’ve got an exciting and varied programme with activities, workshops and presentations demonstrating the innovative teaching practices that are taking place across the University. A draft copy of the programme will be available on our webpages shortly.

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

E-learning Group’s Reflections on the recent Mini Conference

E-learning Group

Following the recent Mini Conference on Inclusive Education, we have been reflecting on our experience of the event. Each member of the E-learning Group has written a short piece on one aspect of the Mini Conference.

Neurodiversity

Janet and Caroline’s session was interesting both in terms of the subject matter and the way it was presented. As a trainer, I’m always looking for new ideas and new ways of presenting information, and this session had lots of those. From matching exercises to group work, this was an incredibly active presentation.

As well as helping understand the human brains work very differently, and that those with neuro-diverse conditions often have to work very hard to achieve tasks that those who are neuro-typical take for granted. Whilst this has the potential for increasing stress and workload, its flipside is that those with neurodiversity can be resilient, creative and find new and innovative ways to work achieve their outcomes.

The session highlighted that may of the outward signs of neurodiversity are very similar, and small changes to the way in which we teach can help.

Janet and Caroline presented their session in an engaging and interactive way – and I shall certainly remember the exercise where we tried to explain a holiday without using the letter e! Try it … it will give you a very quick idea of how working around something that everyone takes for granted leads to very hard-work, a lot of false starts – but also a new and different way of expressing yourself.

Accessibility Checker

I have taken away a new attitude and approach to the tools I use and the materials I produce for my students as an educator.
I will endeavour to stop thinking about students with specific learning differences as individuals to whom I have to tailor my materials on a case by case basis. Students with specific learning difficulties do not have a unique learning style. They have a preference that is shared with the rest of the student body to some extent. It is better to think that their particular learning styles or preferences can benefit the student body as a whole.

I will utilise built in tools such as accessibility checker in word. I don’t need to send my work off to a specialist or use elaborate programs. Indeed, the simpler the materials I produce the more compatible they are with assistive technology. Accessibility does not mean I have to use comic sans for everything. Simple things like adding alternative text to an image, using titles and headers correctly rather than messing around with fonts. Everything I produce does not have to resemble a gilded manuscript. It just needs to be functional to serve its purpose of conveying information which is what my teaching is all about anyway.

What do you hope to do differently (part 1)?

Using Blackboard Tests to widen access to learning

Blackboard Tests are a great way to create a learning resource for students. As a learning technologist and someone who often only sees the technical side of tests, it was really useful to hear Jennifer Wood giving a first-hand account of the many benefits of using this tool. Jennifer teaches Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and using tests has allowed Jennifer to free up precious class time to focus on more useful discussions. Before using Blackboard Tests, students would spend a portion of their class time being tested. Now students are able to test their knowledge and learning outside of class time in an environment in which they feel comfortable. Depending on the question type you select (there are many types of questions), means that the tests can be marked automatically and that feedback be released to the student after they have taken the test. Of course, tests do require some work and you need to be sure what you wish to use the test for to make it useful for yourself and students.

Just like most content in Blackboard, there are many settings that you can use to match the test to your learning need and requirement. The E-learning Group are always happy to check a test, run through settings or also assist in choosing the right type of question for your learning activity. Why not create a test to help your students with revision activities?

What are you going to do differently (part 2)?

Public Speaking and access to core skills

Rob Grieve’s talk helped me to appreciate how big of an issue public speaking can be for some individuals. I found the advice to be a ‘genuine speaker’ particularly useful. Not prioritising style of over substance, focusing on the information I want to convey and trying to speak in a natural for me way are strategies which I am planning to use to enhance my public speaking abilities.

I was also inspired by Debra Croft’s presentation on the Summer University. It is a project giving an invaluable opportunity to young people participating in it. I was particularly impressed with the variety of subjects covered during only 6-weeks, including not only academic subjects but also life skills. The flexible and creative design of the activities and assessment tailored to students’ needs was equally impressive. This presentation really showed how accommodating the differences can make a significant impact on peoples’ lives.

Submit a proposal for this year’s Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

There were so many useful tips and reflections that choosing one for each of us was quite a task! You can see a full report on the mini conference which is split into two blog posts (Part 1 and Part 2). A reminder that we currently have an open Call for Proposals for our main Learning and Teaching Conference. 

What are you going to do differently (part 3)? 

Dr Rob Grieve – Mini Conference Presentation

The E-learning Group are hosting a mini conference on Inclusive Education on Wednesday 10th April at 1pm in E3, E-learning Training Room, Aber Academy. In addition to our previous blogpost announcing the line-up for the mini conference, we’re also pleased to announce that Dr Rob Grieve will be giving a recorded presentation entitled Stand Up and Be Heard: Student Fear of Public Speaking.

Rob is a Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy in the Allied Health Professions Department at the University of the West of England (UWE). In addition to his main research area and teaching activities, Rob is also a trustee of the British Stammer Association. As such, he has spoken at several events about the use of presentations as a form of assessment and equipping students with the skills necessary for public speaking. In this introduction, Rob will be drawing on a couple of his recent presentations that he has given at Advance Higher Education. Rob will also be reflecting on Stand Up and Be Heard workshops that he has been running for students with a fear of public speaking. The aim of the workshops was to support learning and teaching related to presentations and public speaking through specific strategies and a review of the overall benefits of public speaking as a transferable skill for university, life, and future employment. Rob builds on a survey conducted in 2012 which evidenced that 80% of students identified that they experienced social anxiety as part of assignments that involved public speaking (Russell and Topham, 2012). In addition to this, a further study (Marinho et al, 2017) identified that 64% of students had a fear of public speaking whilst 89% would have liked their undergraduate programme to include classes on improving public speaking. Further information on Rob’s work can be found on this blogpost. His Twitter handle is @robgrieve17.

We hope that you’re able to join us at the mini conference. There are still a couple of places remaining. You can book onto these online.

References

Marinho, ACF., de Madeiros, AM., Gama, AC., & Teixeir, LC. 2017. Fear of Public Speaking: Perception of College Students and Correlates. Journal of Voice. 31:1 DOI: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2015.12.012

Russell, G. and Topham, P. 2012. The impact of social anxiety on student learning and wellbeing in higher education. Journal of Mental Health 21:4. Pp. 375-385. https://doi.org/10.3109/09638237.2012.694505

 

Mini Conference: Inclusive Education, Wednesday 10th April, 1pm

Cynhadledd Fer Mini Conference

On Wednesday 10th April, at 2pm, the E-learning Group will be hosting this year’s Academy Mini Conference. The Mini Conference is a smaller version of our Annual Learning and Teaching Conference which allows us to pull together a series of presentations and workshops around a particular learning and teaching topic. This year the Mini Conference has the theme of Inclusive Education.

We’re excited to confirm our programme for the afternoon:

These presentations will offer a series of practical tips and tricks that will help make your learning environments and documents more inclusive. In addition to this, we’ll be looking at how these strategies might be used in practice and within a teaching context.

We hope that you’ll be able to join us for this event. Places at the Mini Conference are limited so please book your place via this booking page.

Call for Proposals: Learning and Teaching Conference 2019

We are now inviting proposals for the 7th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Monday 8th July – Wednesday 10th July 2019.

Submit and view the call for proposals here.

This year’s conference theme, Learning from Excellence: Innovate, Collaborate, Participate!, aims to reflect the commitment that AU staff have to enhance the student learning experience. The four main strands of this year’s conference are:

  • How students learn
  • Effective and innovative learning design
  • Research-led teaching to enhance learning
  • Collaborative and participatory learning experiences

Staff, postgraduate teaching assistants, and students are welcome to propose sessions on any topic relating to learning and teaching, especially those that focus on the incorporation and use of technology. Even if your suggestion doesn’t fit a particular strand, other topics are welcome.

We seek to encourage presenters to consider using alternative formats that reflect and suit the content of their sessions. As such, we are not specifying a standardised presentation format.

Please complete this form no later than 10th May 2019.

If you have any questions, please contact the E-learning Group at elearning@aber.ac.uk  or phone us on extension 2472.

Academy Mini-Conference: Inclusive Education

This year’s Academy Mini Conference will be held on Wednesday 10th April at 2pm in E3, E-learning Training Room, Aber Academy, Hugh Owen Building. Following the introduction of new Accessibility Regulations for online content in September 2018 and with an increased awareness of ensuring learning experiences are open to all, this year’s mini-conference theme will focus on Inclusive Education.

We are looking for expressions of interest from members of the University to give presentations, demonstrations, workshops and discussions on their inclusive teaching practices.

Potential topics might include:

  • Inclusive and creative assessments
  • Widening participation
  • Use of technology for inclusive learning experiences

If you would like to contribute to submit a proposal to this year’s mini-conference, please fill in this online form before Friday 15th March.

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

Equipment Available to Hire from Information Services

Information Services has equipment that’s available to hire to support learning and teaching. A full list of equipment that is available to be borrowed from Information Services is available here.  To book the equipment, contact is@aber.ac.uk / 01970 62 2400 with your requirements

Below are a few items that might be of particular interest.

Lego

Coventry Disruptive Media Learning Lab were our keynote speakers at last year’s annual Learning and Teaching Conference. In addition to their keynote talk, they also offered attendees a couple of workshops. One of these workshops was led by Oliver Wood, a community producer at DMLL and focused on Playing with LEGO to Enhance Learning.

Their methods build on LEGO’s Serious Play methodology and adapts it for Learning and Teaching Activities. Further information on how they use LEGO can be found on their webpages.

A recording of the workshop from the conference can be found here.

The session built on last year’s mini conference, Serious Play for Learning which showcased how LEGO was being used in a variety of disciplines across the University. Information Services has 4 large boxes and 1 smaller box of LEGO available for hire

Virtual Reality Headsets and 3D Camera

There are a number of Virtual Reality Headsets and a 3D Camera available to be borrowed from Information Services. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen the increased use of VR in Learning and Teaching. Dr Steve Atherton, Lecturer in the Department of Education uses VR to immerse students in different environments and experience childhood and education from different contexts. Find out more about how Steve is using Virtual Reality by watching this video.

You might also find this blogpost,

At last year’s annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Joe Smith and Aled John from the Marketing Team gave a workshop on using a 3D Camera and also VR goggles. A recording of the workshop can be found here.

Jabra Speakers

Speakers are also able to be hired from Information Services for Skype for Business sessions. Skype for Business is available as part of the University’s Office 365 subscription. You can install and use Skype for Business from the comfort of your own office.

We’ve seen colleagues across the University use Skype for Business for webinar sessions for students who are out on placement and also to offer students revision sessions in preparation for their exams. Skype for Business might be useful for those who are working with Distance Learning students to provide virtual classroom environments. Skype for Business also has some interactive features, such as live polling, that will help enhance the online session.

A guide on how to use Skype for Business for learning and teaching activities is available on our webpages. If you are interested in using Skype for Business and would like to discuss further or need any support, contact the E-learning Group (elearning@aber.ac.uk / 01970 62 2472).

6th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

This year’s annual Learning and Teaching Conference saw a range of students, academic and support staff come together from across the University to showcase their innovative practice. This year’s conference theme, Stepping up Students Learning, aimed to showcase and celebrate the areas of best practice in teaching and learning happening at Aberystwyth. Hot off the heels from recent accolades for the University, including being named University of the Year for Teaching Quality and also achieving TEF Gold, there has been much innovative practice to celebrate and share. One of the strengths of the conference is providing a space in which colleagues can come together and discuss their learning and teaching.

This year’s keynote was given by Professor Jonathan Shaw from Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab. Jonathan discussed how the lab focuses on mainstream and alternative approaches to using technology to foster amore hybrid and open approach to teaching and learning.

In addition to the keynote, two of Jonathan’s colleagues, Oliver Wood and Thamu Dube, offered workshops to conference participants. Oliver’s workshop focused on LEGO as a teaching tool – participants were tasked with using the LEGO to discuss ideas. Colleagues were equipped with strategies as to how they could use LEGO in the classroom as part of a learning activity. The LEGO is now available in loan stock. If you wish to make a booking for the LEGO, email is@aber.ac.uk with your requirements.

The most beneficial part of the conference was listening to and hearing about the innovative approaches to learning and teaching that are happening across the University. It’s difficult to pick out particular high points, but some of the messages that we will taking away from the conference include:

  • Using technology to enhance feedback
  • The Video Essay as a method of assessment – you can view that here
  • Students as Partners in learning design
  • What not to learn from bad gym coaches

Recordings from the conference will be available on our webpages so if you missed a session, or you’d like to hear more about a particular topic, click here.

We will begin organising next year’s annual learning and teaching conference shortly. If you’d like to propose an idea or suggest a keynote, then get in touch with us (elearning@aber.ac.uk).