Reflections on the March 2021 Mini Conference

On Thursday, 25th of March, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit held their second mini conference of the academic year. Focussed on the theme of embedding wellbeing in the curriculum, the conference brought together internal and external speakers on three strands: recognising barriers to student well-being, building resilience in students, and encouraging students to flourish.

The conference boasted a range of speakers from across Aberystwyth University, as well as an external speaker from Coleg Cambria. Topics ranged from the ongoing work on wellbeing by the Student Support team, wellbeing in foundation year programmes, and building student resilience to reframing of mistakes as a learning opportunity, and personalising approaches to engaging with students and their work. Our two keynote speakers, Frederica Roberts and Kate Lister focussed on positive education and online communities respectively. In the spirit of the conference, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit also organised two activities during the morning and afternoon breaks: desk yoga and a guided meditation with local yoga teacher Regina Hellmich, which several delegates identified as a conference highlight. The day concluded with a plenary session in which everyone was encouraged to reflect on their insights and identify concrete applications of best practice going forward.

If you missed the mini conference or could only attend parts of it, you can now access recordings of most presentations here. Simply log in with your Aberystwyth ID and password. In addition, we strongly encourage you to sign up to our next Academy Forum on the 20th of April, entitled “How can I embed wellbeing into the curriculum?” – we look forward to seeing you there.

Mini-Fest: Assessment – 17th May – 21st May

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The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce its first mini-festival. The aim of the mini-fest is to bring together training sessions and workshops offered by LTEU around a particular topic with an external speaker. For this first mini-fest, we’ll be looking specifically at assessment. The mini fest will run from Monday 17th May until Friday 21st May and will be taking place online via Teams. Please book on the sessions that you wish to attend on our online booking system.

We are going to be joined by Professors Sally Brown and Kay Sambell to talk about assessment design post covid on Monday 17th May for a 2-hour workshop at 10.30am. Their paper Writing Better Assignments in the post Covid19 Era has been widely discussed across the sector since last summer:

Improving assessment and feedback processes post-pandemic: authentic approaches to improve student learning and engagement.

This workshop is designed to build on lessons learned during the complex transitions academics made last year when face-to-face on-campus assessment became impossible. A whole range of approaches were used by academics globally not only to cope with the contingency but also to streamline assessment and more fully align it with learning.

We now have an important opportunity to change assessment and feedback practices for good by boosting the authenticity of our designs to ensure they are future-fit.  Drawing on their work undertaken throughout 2020, https://sally-brown.net/kay-sambell-and-sally-brown-covid-19-assessment-collection/ the facilitators of this workshop Professor Kay Sambell and Professor Sally Brown will argue that we can’t ever go back to former ways of assessment and will propose practical, manageable approaches that fully integrate assessment and feedback with learning, leading to improved outcomes and longer-term learning for students.

Professor Kay Sambell is an Independent Consultant widely known internationally for her contributions to the Assessment for Learning (AfL) movement in higher education. A 2002 National Teaching Fellow (NTF) and Principal Fellow Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), she is President of the vibrant Assessment in Higher Education (AHE) conference series, ( https://ahenetwork.org/) and Visiting Professor of Assessment for Learning at the University of Sunderland and the University of Cumbria. Kay has held personal chairs in Learning and Teaching at Northumbria University, where she co-led one of the UK Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning which specialised in AfL, and, more recently, at Edinburgh Napier University.   

Kay.sambell@cumbria.ac.uk

Website: https://kaysambell.wordpress.com

Professor Sally Brown is an Independent Consultant in Learning, Teaching and Assessment and Emerita Professor at Leeds Beckett University where she was, until 2010, Pro-Vice-Chancellor. She is also Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University and formerly at the Universities of Plymouth, Robert Gordon, South Wales and Liverpool John Moores and at Australian universities James Cook Central Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. She is a PFHEA, a Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) Senior Fellow and an NTF. She is widely published on learning, teaching and particularly assessment and enjoys working with institutions and teams on improving the student learning experience. 

S.brown@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Website: https://sally-brown.net

In addition to Sally’s and Kay’s workshop, LTEU will be offering sessions and workshops over the course of the week:

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Kate Exley Workshop Summary

Last month the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit invited Dr Kate Exley to run a workshop for Aberystwyth University Staff called Moving your (PowerPoint) Lecture online.

What emerged from participants were lots of useful strategies for engaging students whilst teaching online. We’ve summarised some of the discussion below.

Learning Design:

  1. Simple strategies were most effective, such as using word document and uploading into chat
  2. Make use of Polling Software to engage students in their learning
  3. Build in ice-breaker activities to establish initial engagement
  4. In longer sessions, set a task and factor in a screen break
  5. Include tasks for students to do in advance and use the live sessions to scaffold their knowledge
  6. Include social tasks as well as formal tasks
  7. One department are running day long workshops with the option to ‘dial’ in the staff member if they’ve got any questions
  8. Stick to one or two large scale activities in a 40 minute session
  9. Be aware that students might be entering the synchronous session not having engaged with all tasks beforehand
  10. Use collaborative tools such as shared document, whiteboard or Padlet to collectively generate notes
  11. Being more informal in recorded lectures
  12. Offering weekly live q and a drop in sessions
  13. Asking students to meet in groups outside of timetabled activities
  14. Share real life examples / case studies in teaching and ask students to contribute with their own examples
  15. Ask students to look things up / research in the synchronous session

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External Speakers: Mini-Conference: Embedding Well-being in the Curriculum

Mini-conference: Embedding Well-being in the Curriculum

As announced last week, on Thursday 25th March, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit will be hosting second Mini-Conference 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.

We are pleased to announce that two excellent external speakers accepted our invitations to present during the conference:

Flourishing at Aberystwyth – Putting Positive Education into Practice

Positive Education is the intertwining of educating for academic outcomes and for well-being and character development in order to enable the learner to flourish. Embarking on a course of academic study, whether at undergraduate or postgraduate level, full- or part-time, is a major life event that can impact on mental health and well-being. The current academic year has been unlike any other and a determined focus on well-being for students and staff – teaching and non-teaching – is more important than ever.

In this highly interactive keynote, participants will learn about key elements of positive psychology in the context of higher education, including:

  • The importance of positive relationships
  • The use of character strengths in teaching, feedback and staff development
  • How time perspectives may influence motivation

Aberystwyth University staff attending this session will have the opportunity to explore how their everyday practices can support their students’, colleagues’ and own well-being. The session will include elements of reflection, discussion, and practising activities that support well-being. Whilst the focus will primarily be on supporting student well-being, this is best achieved when staff are well.

The session will therefore also provide participants with the opportunity to develop their own well-being strategies and to consider how the University’s systems and procedures can underpin a culture of well-being.

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Kate Exley Workshop: Taking your (PowerPoint) Lectures Online

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce a special online workshop run by Dr Kate Exley on Wednesday 17th February.

The workshop will be useful for colleagues who are modifying and transferring their traditionally delivered lectures for on-line learning.

Please book your place online [link].

So that as many colleagues as possible can attend, we are running the workshop twice (11am-12pm and 1pm-2pm). Please select which session you want to attend when booking.

Places are limited so please book as soon as possible.

Session Overview:

Many colleagues have been involved in providing blended or on-line learning for many years but the Covid pandemic has meant that we have all needed to quickly provide much of our teaching and learning at a distance. This has involved moving our lectures, previously delivered in large lecture theatres and classrooms, to online platforms. The speed at which this huge change has happened has in itself caused significant challenges for staff and students alike.  This blended workshop aims to provide some guidance, examples and a forum for colleagues to share their experiences and ideas for enhancing this provision.

This workshop is presented in two parts:

  • A set of 3 short videos will be made available on or before the 5th February 2021 and should be viewed independently before joining discussion forum – approximately 45 minutes independent study.
  • A discussion forum hosted via Teams on the 17th February, in which participants will have the opportunity to ask questions, share experiences and discuss the topic – lasting 1 hour.

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