New Distance Learner Forum

Distance Learner BannerWe’re excited to announce a new Distance Learner Forum for staff. These Forums are specifically aimed at those who deliver Distance Learning teaching or are considering delivering via Distance Learning in the future.

The Distance Learner Forum was established at this year’s Annual Learning and Teaching Conference. Book your place on these courses online.

This year there are 3 Distance Learning Forums:

Distance Learning Forum 1: Strategies for Monitoring Student Engagement

Tuesday 22nd October 2019, 1pm-2pm, E3 E-learning Training Room

In the first of these special Distance Learner Forums we will be looking at how you measure student engagement with learning activities in Blackboard. Blackboard has many different types of learning opportunities and activities. In this session, we will be looking at how we can measure student engagement with Blackboard for Distance Learning students.

Distance Learning Forum 2: Creating a Podcast

Tuesday 18th February 2020, 1pm-2pm, E3 E-learning Training Room

In the second of our Distance Learner Forums, we will be looking at Creating Podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to keep your students engaged with the content that you are creating as well as giving them opportunities to build activities into the podcasts. We’ll look at successful podcast design whilst also looking at the practicalities for creating your podcast and embedding it into your Blackboard course.

Distance Learning Forum 3: Gauging Student Opinion from a Distance

Tuesday 26th May 2020, 1pm-2pm, E3 E-learning Training Room

In the third of our Distance Learner Forums, we will be looking at how you can gauge student opinion from a distance. We’ll discuss and present strategies on how to allow distance learning students to feel part of a community and also to learn from each other. We’ll introduce activities that can be done in Blackboard to support this as well as other technologies such as online polling and Skype for Business.

We hope that you’ll be able to attend these forums. Please contact us with any questions.

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)? 

Webinar: Instilling Self-Regulation in Learners & Using Sway for Online Learning

Academy Showcase is a space for sharing good practise among staff from Aberystwyth, Bangor and other Higher Education institutions. Every year we run two sessions with two presentations each, one from Aber and one from Bangor. Anybody can join Academy Showcase from their own machines using the link available here

We look forward this year’s presentations and we hope some of you will be able to join us.

 


20 March 2019 at 1pm -2pm

Instilling Self-Regulation in Learners by Dr Simon Payne (Aberystwyth)

We asked AU students and staff questions such as, “Why do students underachieve or even drop out?,” “What distractions do students face that interfere with their best intentions to study and improve?,” and “What happens to ‘turn students off’ from learning and striving to achieve?” The answers were remarkably similar from both groups, suggesting agreement on the problem and potential alignment on solutions. Self-regulation is the voluntary control of impulses which can facilitate or hinder us from achieving our goals. Hence, self-regulation includes the ability to regulate cognitive processes and activities, e.g. to plan, monitor and reflect on problem solving activities. Self-regulation also includes the control of one’s competing/conflicting motivational and emotional impulses and processes, e.g., overcoming social anxiety to contribute in class. Clearly, the development of self-regulation skills will help students achieve their objectives for entering HE. This presentation will provide techniques for tutors to help their students and tutees to be better self-regulators, and introduce and rationalise an ambitious AU-wide programme of studies that target student self-regulation ability.


Using Sway for Online Learning by Helen Munro (Bangor)

 

Sessions will be provided in English.

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).

Submit your Blackboard Module for an Exemplary Course Award

Applications for the Exemplary Course Award are now open. The closing date for applications is 12pm, 1st February 2019. To submit an application, download the application form here and consult the guidance available on our webpages.

The Exemplary Course Award is designed to recognise exemplary practice in Blackboard modules. Since its launch in 2013, the Exemplary Course award has awarded 5 exemplary modules, 8 highly commended and 3 commended awards.

This year’s awards are slightly different. Although the Exemplary Course Award is still based on Blackboard’s Exemplary Course Program Rubric, we have made some adjustments to emphasise the interactive uses of Blackboard to provide a blended learning environment for students. In addition to this, extra weighting has been given to the accessibility criteria to ensure that the Blackboard modules are accessible for all learners.

We will be running a training session for those of you who are considering submitting an application for the ECA on Wednesday 12th December, 3pm-4pm in E3, E-learning Training Room and also on Tuesday 8th January, 3pm-4pm. You can book onto these sessions by going onto the CDSAP book a course pages.

Aberystwyth/Bangor Academy Showcase

Academy Showcase is a space for sharing good practise among staff from Aberystwyth, Bangor and other Higher Education institutions. Every year we run two sessions with two presentations each, one from Aber and one from Bangor. Anybody can join Academy Showcase from their own machines using the link available here

We look forward this year’s presentations and we hope some of you will be able to join us.

Webinar Academi Aberystwyth/Bangor 2018/19:

 

21st November 2018 at 1pm -2pm

Using Flashcards to Encourage Student Learning by Dr Basil Wolf and Dr Ruth Wonfor (Aberystwyth)

Surveys of our students show that many of them rely heavily on rereading and exam cramming, methods that might be successful in getting them through exams, but which are suboptimal in developing long-term memory and ability to develop expertise in their subject area. There is considerable research to show that long-term memory is boosted by repeated retrieval practice that is spaced over time. Flashcards offer one method of achieving this. We will talk about our experiences and present use of Anki, a freeware flashcard programme, in teaching anatomy and physiology to first year students.

Distance Learning to promote best practices and behaviours in infection prevention: the potential of the MOOC – Using Blackboard Ultra by Lynne Wiliams (Bangor)


20th March 2019 at 1pm-2pm

Potential, (un)realised: Is self-regulation the differentiator between our students and what can we do about it? by Dr Simon Payne (Aberystwyth)

We asked AU students and staff questions such as, “Why do students underachieve or even drop out?,” “What distractions do students face that interfere with their best intentions to study and improve?,” and “What happens to ‘turn students off’ from learning and striving to achieve?” The answers were remarkably similar from both groups, suggesting agreement on the problem and potential alignment on solutions. Self-regulation is the voluntary control of impulses which can facilitate or hinder us from achieving our goals. Hence, self-regulation includes the ability to regulate cognitive processes and activities, e.g. to plan, monitor and reflect on problem solving activities. Self-regulation also includes the control of one’s competing/conflicting motivational and emotional impulses and processes, e.g., overcoming social anxiety to contribute in class. Clearly, the development of self-regulation skills will help students achieve their objectives for entering HE. This presentation will provide techniques for tutors to help their students and tutees to be better self-regulators, and introduce and rationalise an ambitious AU-wide programme of studies that target student self-regulation ability.

Second speaker to be confirmed.

Sessions will be provided in English.

 

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).

Conference Registration now open

Registration for the sixth annual Learning and Teaching conference is now open. This year’s Learning and Teaching conference has the theme Stepping up Students’ Learning and will be taking place between Tuesday 11th and Thursday 13th September 2018.

You can register for the conference online.

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 is available here.

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

Anticipating AU’s 6th Learning and Teaching Conference: Stepping up Students’ Learning, 11 – 13 September

We’re very excited to announce that Professor Jonathan Shaw, Lauren Heywood and Oliver Wood from Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL) will be giving the keynote address and providing workshops for this year’s Learning and Teaching conference. The DMLL’s Director, Professor Jonathan Shaw, is giving the keynote, while Lauren Heywood and Oliver Wood, DMLL Innovation & Community Producer’s, will be providing interactive workshops.

Coventry’s DMLL aims to “break and remake existing ways of doing higher education” and is committed to driving innovation and the adoption of cutting-edge curricula design and practices and educational technological initiatives. They also emphasise the value of play as “an important part of learning!” They make available a toolbox of strategies that aim increase interactivity, support problem solving skills and inspire debates. You can check out their toolbox here and you can view videos of their work here.

We are eager to hear the discussions, ideas and fun that Coventry’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab will generate and hope they can offer us some innovative tactics that we can apply directly to our teaching and learning.  Register for the conference here. Keep updated via our blog for further news about the conference. A draft timetable of this year’s conference, focusing on Stepping up Students’ Learning, will be available on our webpages shortly.

Image courtesy of the Disruptive Media Learning Lab, Coventry University

DMLL’s director, Professor Jonathan Shaw, drives innovation in curricula design, learning spaces and leads the “implementation of cutting edge educational technology initiatives”

Workshops led by Coventry’s DMLL’s Innovation & Community Producers

Oliver and Lauren promote flipped and playful learning to enable rethinking of traditional modes of teaching and learning. They work with teaching staff to help them generate “new, exciting, and rich educational experiences.