Changes to the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

This year’s Learning and Teaching Conference is scheduled to take place between Monday 7th and Wednesday 9th September. We are starting to plan to deliver elements of the conference online.

We have extended the deadline for proposals for the conference to Friday 26th June 2020 and added an extra strand, to this year’s conference theme: Enhancing the Curriculum: Inspire Learning and Invigorate Teaching!

  • Pivoting to Online Learning
  • Creating a Learning Community
  • Developing Wellbeing in the Curriculum
  • Embedding Active Learning
  • Working with Students as Partners

Submit your proposals online.

We are particularly keen to hear from colleagues who would like to share practical tips and experiences of delivering learning and teaching online.

Booking to attend the event is now open.

This year’s keynote is Professor Ale Armellini from Northampton University. You can read further information on Professor Armellini on this blogpost.  

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

Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 2020 Keynote Speaker: Professor Ale Armellini

We are very excited to announce that Professor Ale Armellini will be attending this year’s Learning and Teaching Conference as our Keynote speaker.

From developing, implementing and evaluating Northampton University’s own Learning and Teaching plan, we are highly anticipating Professor Ale Armellini’s thoughts and ideas on this year’s conference theme of Enhancing the Curriculum: Inspire Learning and Invigorate Teaching!

Northampton University’s Learning and Teaching Plan and the Aberystwyth Pedagogical Excellence (APEX) Strategy both emphasise the importance of active learning, and are trying to implement active learning on a wider scale across their respective universities. Active learning is one of this year’s key points of the conference, so to have Professor Armellini as keynote speaker will certainly be a highlight of the event.

Over three phases, Aberystwyth University aims to promote a more sustained student active learning ethos, by following a series of both key strategies and ongoing strategies, through the mediums of Welsh and English. This includes our Active Learning Project, and Staff and Student Mental Health Development as two key areas of strategy, as well as Personal Tutor Enhancement, and Employability Initiatives as part of our ongoing strategic concerns. Ultimately, by the summer of 2022, Aberystwyth University strives to have transformed how we teach and how our students learn, and hopefully encourage other Universities to do the same.

Northampton University’s Learning and Teaching Objectives, developed by our keynote speaker, have some similarities which highlight the importance of pedagogic innovation. Professor Armellini’s role in providing leadership in learning and teaching across the entirety of Northampton University and research on learning innovation and online pedagogy, to name a few of his research areas, means he will be providing the attendees of our conference with invaluable advice and insight.

The Annual Learning and Teaching Conference at Aberystwyth University will be held from the 7th September 2020, to 9th September 2020. 

You can follow his twitter feed at @alejandroa

Call for Proposals: Learning and Teaching Conference 2020

We are now inviting proposals for the 8th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Monday 7th – Wednesday 9th September 2020.

Submit and view the call for proposals here.

This year’s conference theme, Enhancing the Curriculum: Inspire Learning and Invigorate Teaching 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:

  • Creating a Learning Community
  • Developing Wellbeing in the Curriculum
  • Embedding Active Learning
  • Working with Students as Partners

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 26th June 2020.

If you have any questions, please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit at elearning@aber.ac.uk  or phone us on extension 2472.

Kate Exley Workshop

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce that Dr Kate Exley will be running two workshops on Tuesday 24th March 2020. 

Dr Exley is Senior Staff Development Officer at the University of Leeds and a Consultant in Higher Education. She has particular expertise in Higher Education Teaching and Learning, Assessment and Accreditation, Supervising Research Students and Career Review, and Course Design and Curriculum Change.   

These workshops have been specifically designed to support the implementation of the forthcoming Active Learning projects that form part of the Learning and Teaching Strategy 2019-2022. The workshops will focus on Active Learning for small and large group teaching. The workshops are open to all members of the University community but we strongly recommend that staff members or their nominee involved in the implementation of the Active Learning projects attend.   

To ensure that as many people as possible can attend, the workshop will run twice – once 9.30am-12pm and again 12.30-3pm. Places are limited and booking is recommended.  

To book your place, fill in your details on this online form and specify which workshop you would prefer to attend.  

If you have any queries regarding these workshops please email lteu@aber.ac.uk.  

Save the Date: Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit are excited to announce the date for the 8th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference. The conference will be taking place between Monday 7th and Wednesday 9th September 2020.

Look out for Calls for Proposals and the announcement of the conference theme later this month. As usual, we will be updating our Learning and Teaching Conference Webpages and also our blog to keep you up-to-date with how things are progressing. 

 

Mini Conference: Group Work and Group Assessment, Monday 16 December, 10.30am

Mini Conference Programme

Mini Conference Logo

On Monday 16th December, at 10.30am, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit 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 Group Work and Group Assessment.

We’re excited to confirm our programme:

  • Professor John Traxler, Professor of Digital Learning, University of Wolverhampton: Working (Groups) in the Digital Age
  • Dr Jennifer Wood & Roberta Sartoni (Modern Langauges): Group Work as an Active-Learning Tool in Translation Classes
  • Janet Roland & John Harrington (Student Support Services): Supporting students who find group work challenging
  • Dr Gareth Llŷr Evans (Theatre, Film and Television Studies): Prosesau Creadigol Agored ac Asesu Grwpiau Bach
  • Dr Ian Archer (Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit): Learning Environments and your personality preferences
  • Mary Jacob (Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit): Designing and Assessing Group Work

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.

Mini Conference Keynote: Working (Groups) in the Digital Age

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce Professor John Traxler as the keynote speaker at our forthcoming Mini Conference.

The mini conference will focus on Group Work and Group Assessment and will be held on Monday 16th December, 10:30am-4pm in B.03, Visualisation Centre.

You can book onto the event online.

Mini Conference Keynote: Working (Groups) in the Digital Age

Since the turn of the century, we have seen digital technologies evolve from being expensive, fragile, scarce, puny and difficult, often just institutional, to being powerful, ubiquitous, pervasive, easy, cheap and robust, now personal and social. In this time, they have changed the nature of the commodities, assets, transactions and organisation that constitute our economic lives; have challenged the certainties of political issues, affiliations and processes; in languages, we have seen the emergence of new vocabularies, genres and dialects; they have fuelled moral panics and catalysed new forms of harm, affront and misdemeanour.

Furthermore, they have given students the means and opportunities to generate, share, transform, discuss and access ideas, images, identities and information and in doing so have the potential to threaten the established professions, institutions and forms of education, to shift the ownership and control of what is known, who knows it and how it gets to be known.

This then is the world that graduates enter, the world of work transformed and un-work undefined. Universities take them from the structures and security of the school to worlds with neither. How can pedagogic formats like assessment and groupwork support this transition?

Professor John Traxler – Mini Conference Presentation

Mini Conference Logo

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce Professor John Traxler as the keynote speaker at our forthcoming Mini Conference. The mini conference will focus on Group Work and Group Assessment and will be held on Monday 16th December.

John Traxler, FRSA, is Professor of Digital Learning in the Institute of Education at the University of Wolverhampton UK. He is one of the pioneers of mobile learning, associated with projects since 2001 when he was evaluator for m-learning, the first major EU project. He is a Founding Director and was Vice-President of the International Association for Mobile Learning. He is co-editor of the definitive, Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Educators and Trainers, and of Mobile Learning: the Next Generation, available in Arabic, with Professor Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, of Mobile Learning and Mathematics, Mobile Learning and STEM: Case Studies in Practice, and Mobile Learning in Higher Education: Challenges in Context, and many keynotes, panels, papers, articles and chapters on all aspects of learning with mobiles. His journal papers have been cited over 6000 times. He has worked on many digital learning projects and missions. His current thinking is focused less on ’mobile learning’ as previously conceived but rather on the impact of the near-universal availability of connected personal digital technology on the ownership, substance and nature of knowing and learning in our societies. 

The full programme will be announced in due course. In the meantime, you can book onto the event online. If you would like to submit a proposal to this year’s mini-conference, please fill in this online form before Monday 18th November.

Mini Conference: Inclusive Education Summary: Part 2

This is the second blogpost documenting this year’s Mini Conference on Inclusive Education that was recently hosted by the E-learning Group. For an overview of the first half, please see this blogpost.

The second half of the conference began with Neil MacKintosh and Meirion Roberts from the IBERS BioInnovation Wales scheme discussing widening access to their modules. Recently, the team have sought to address high level and technical skills shortages in bio-based businesses, including AgriFood. One of the aims of the programme is to look into ways to engage graduates with a distance learning course who are currently working in industry but might not have time to undertake a postgraduate degree. It’s hoped that the scheme will increase productivity in Wales by emphasising the reciprocal relationship between industry and research. The BioInnovation Wales scheme works closely with industry partners to provide a flexible route for those in work to gain postgraduate qualifications. Neil gave an introduction to the scheme before passing onto his colleague, Meirion Roberts. Meirion is an associate lecturer at the BioInnovation Wales whose job it is to provide a bilingual learning experience for the postgraduate distance learning modules. The BioInnovation courses are solely delivered online using Blackboard with a whole host of different learning materials. Students registered on the course currently have access to the resources in both Welsh and English. One of the first tasks for Meirion when he started work with the BioInnovation unit was to create a bilingual course interface, course materials, and lectures. These modules use forums on Blackboard as a mode of assessment. One of the challenges that faces the bilingual delivery of these modules is how to moderate and facilitate bilingual forums. Following a discussion between attendees, it was felt that one way forward would be to encourage those posting on the forums to post their responses in both Welsh and English rather than responses in Welsh having to be translated into English. If the precedence was set to post in both languages then it was felt that this would be a more inclusive approach for creating a bilingual learning environment. If you would like to find out more about using assessed forums, we’ve got some information on grading the discussion board

After this presentation, Mary Jacob, lecturer in Learning and Teaching in CDSAP, and Nicky Cashman, accessibility advisor, at Student Support Services offered a demonstration on Creating Inclusive and Accessible Learning materials. The aim of the presentation was to give attendees some practical tips on creating more accessible resources for students, including items that can be downloaded from the Virtual Learning Environment. Giving some context, 16% of the Aberystwyth Student Population have disclosed a disability, which is slightly higher than a sector average of 12%. Mary and Nicky spoke through the following topics:

  • Microsoft Accessibility Checker – a tool that is built into Word
  • Using styles in Word to make the structure of your material clear to students
  • How you can best convert your Word document into a PDF file
  • Which colours might be most appropriate to use

Mary and Nicky also shared with attendees a resource created by the University of Hull on designing content for diverse learners. This resource is available online.  In addition to this, attendees were also given a handout of The Universal Design for Learning Guidelines, produced by CAST. Mary also maintains a Trello board which hosts lots of useful resources to learning and teaching activities. There’s a card on the Trello board specifically dedicated to Creating Accessible Learning Materials under the Projects/ areas of interest.

The final presentation was delivered by Dr Jennifer Wood from the Modern Languages Department. Dr Wood teaches Spanish and reflected on her use of Blackboard Tests in her teaching. The aim of these tests is to check the understanding of students learning Spanish outside of the classroom. Using Blackboard Tests allows Dr Wood to free up her face to face lessons and contact time with her students. Before using the online tests, precious time in teaching sessions was given over to in class assessments. Dr Wood also gave an additional context to the presentation by discussing Foreign Language Anxiety and how Blackboard Tests can help combat this through their ability to be taken (and retaken) at a time that suits the learner in an environment that they feel comfortable in. One of the advantages of using Blackboard tests is that once you’ve built it, you can export, import and redeploy in a different module. In addition to this, tests can be marked automatically and feedback given to the learner upon completion of the test. Depending on the learning need, tests can be either formative or summative and can link directly to the grade centre. Counter balancing these advantages to using tests, there may also be some challenges. Tests can take time to build and create. They can, however, be created any time that suits you and can be imported and deployed into the module that you require the test for.  The trade off, however, is that you will have a resource that can be used year upon year. If you notice that a question is wrong, you can reallocate marks, change the grades or edit the question for all those who have taken the test. There are many types of questions that can be used in Blackboard quizzes. See the full list of question types that are available for Blackboard tests (please note, that depending on the type of question you select, depends on whether it can be marked automatically or not). There’s further guidance on tests on our FAQs. The E-learning Group are always happy to work with our academic colleagues to help you design, create and deploy your tests. We have a great deal of expertise in this area.  

This year’s Mini Conference had our highest attendance yet. Next year, we might have to look at switching rooms. If you would like to suggest a topic for next year’s Mini Conference then please get in touch with us. A reminder as well that we’ve currently got our Call for Proposals open for this year’s Academy Mini Conference. You can submit a proposal by going to this online form. We’d like to thank all of presenters for giving up their time and sharing their practices with all the attendees.

E-learning Group Image

Mini Conference: Inclusive Education Summary: Part 1

On the 10th April, the E-learning Group welcomed 26 staff members from across the University to this year’s Mini Conference. The theme for this year’s Mini Conference was Inclusive Education and the six presentations ranged from practical guides for creating accessible documents through to working with neurodiverse students. Over the course of the afternoon, there were six presentations. Given the breadth of topics under discussion, this summary will be split into two parts, with part 1 reflecting on the first three presentations. A summary of the final three presentations will be provided in our next blogpost.

The conference opened with a recorded presentation delivered by Dr Rob Grieve. Dr Grieve is a senior lecturer in Physiotherapy at the University of the West of England, Bristol. In addition to his academic research, Dr Grieve also runs workshops called Stand Up and Be Heard. The Stand Up and Be Heard workshops focused on assisting students who had a fear of public speaking which affected assessments that included presentation elements. Dr Grieve underpinned his presentation with research conducted by Marinho et al (2017) which identified that in a sample of 1,135 undergraduate students, 64% of them reported a fear of public speaking and 89% of them would have liked additional guidance and support on public speaking from their institutions. Closing his presentation, Dr Grieve identified strategies for staff that would help to support students with public speaking and assessed presentations. He suggests that:

  1. Recognise and acknowledge the fear of public speaking that many students have in required module presentation assessments and in general
  2. Apart from our subject teaching role, we can support students (or refer on) […] to reduce their public speaking fear
  3. Presentations and public speaking are transferable life skills, enhance employability and are not only used for assessment

Dr Grieve also noted that presentations do not have to be perfect. The key message to pass onto students is to be themselves in their presentations and to be authentic. The workshops that Rob ran were very successful for students, especially for those who were going on to give presentation assessments. You can find out more about the workshops online.

Presentation from Rob Grieve

Following on from Dr Grieve’s presentation, Dr Debra Croft gave us a presentation on the work that the Centre for Widening Participation and Social Inclusion have done around embedding Core Skills in their curriculum at Summer University. The Core Skills module is delivered primarily in Week 1 of the course and is a module in and of itself. The aim of the module is to equip students with the study and life skills that they will need over the rest of the Summer School and beyond. Given the time constraints of the Summer University programme, it’s not possible to embed the core skills in the subject specific curriculum so all students need to take the Core Skills module.

The team completely re-designed the module in 2016-17 based on the feedback that was given by students and staff and low satisfaction score. Following their redesign, the Core Skills module increased its satisfaction to 80% in 2016, high 80s% in 2017 before receiving a 94% satisfaction rate in 2018. The success of the module was attributed to the changes that were made by the teaching team. The biggest difference in 2018 for this module was the change in the delivery of the module. Closed Facebook groups were used to communicate with various students, as well as making full use of Blackboard and Turnitin for assignments. The Core Skills Module emphasised inclusivity and learning differences, which allowed tutors to build  requirements into their teaching. Assessments are standardised and designed to be inclusive from the beginning which means that everyone does the same assessment. They also use Blackboard quizzes which are marked automatically for training and IT skills. More information on the work of the Centre for Widening Participation and Social Inclusion is available their webpages.

The third and final session in this half of the conference was delivered by Janet Roland and Caroline White from Student Support and Career Services. Their presentation, Teaching for Everyone: Neurodiversity and Inclusive Practices, equipped attendees with practical skills for creating learning and teaching activities for neurodiverse students. The workshop started with an ice breaker exercise. In pairs, participants had to label themselves A and B. A’s were first asked to talk about their last holiday to B’s for 1 minute. Following this, B’s were asked to tell A’s about their last holiday but they weren’t allowed to use any word that contained the letter ‘E’. Participants were then given an envelope containing terms of neurodiverse behaviour and their characteristics. Attendees then had to match the label to the characteristics. This presentation gave participants the chance to think about the various neurodiverse profiles and strategies in which a more inclusive learning experience can be created. 

References

Marinho, ACF., de Madeiros, AM., Gama, AC and Teixeira, 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.