[:en]September IT Month 2016 – Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Assessment[:]

[:en]SeptemberITFrom September 8th through to October 7th there’s a comprehensive and exciting array of lunch-time seminars available to help staff at Swansea Make One Change, and have a go at using some technology to enhance your approach to learning, teaching or assessment and supporting student engagement. Have a look at what’s on offer!

The sessions include using Twitter and other tools to enhance student engagement, tools for groupwork, recording lectures, creating TedEd talks, blended learning as well as perhaps more familiar technology – Blackboard, the University’s virtual learning environment. But this isn’t just about covering the minimum requirements in Blackboard – its about using enhanced tools and techniques to engage and enthuse learners. Sessions will be covering what more you can do with Blackboard and some of its features, such as Campus Pack. There will also be Blackboard Drop-in sessions to help you with difficulties during the year.

Some will be delivered by SALT Team members, but others by your peers who’ve had experience of using these technologies in their courses. Come see them use it, listen to them talk through their challenges, discuss what has worked, and in most sessions try out the technology for yourself. Ask them questions!

Have you been reflecting on how you can enhance your teaching and/or support student learning? If you are already a Fellow of the HEA, how can you demonstrate that you are remaining in good standing? Are there any targets in your PDR regarding improving your teaching?

The sessions are being held in our refurbished Training Room on the Top floor of the Taliesin Building.

Finding us can be a challenge, but if you go the main library on the Singleton Campus, turn around to face north, and follow the gap between the Egypt Centre and the Keir Hardie Building you’ll find us! For a visual description, see our website contact details.

You do have to register for these sessions and spaces are limited to the first 20 registrants. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up![:]

[:en]Flipping classroom! Another small step to trying something new[:]

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FlippedIn my (hopefully) improving skills in supporting learning and teaching of staff at Swansea, I decided to try something else new this week.  I had a go at recording part of my presentation for participants to review before the class so that we could discuss the topic briefly at the teaching session; this would also free up more time for the practical activity which was the whole point of the session.

In essence, I attempted to Flip the Classroom and also implement Flipped Learning (see this website for a definition of the two).

Find out how I get on my reading my blog.  I challenge you to have a go yourself.  Did you do what I should have done first before starting???[:]

HE/FE Show London – Engaged staff a blank Canvas?

Thursday 15th October was the HE/FE Show in London billed as the only show of its kind for HE and FE. Arriving at Earl’s court I was surprised to see that the train was not running and a circuitous route via West Brompton was needed. When I did get to Olympia there seemed to be no sign of the show. Had I got the wrong place? The wrong date? eventually I saw a sign point round the corner onto Earl’s Court Road. Olympia this was but BETT it wasn’t. It’s was just one small room, for a show as it was billed, about twice the size of the refectory in Fulton House. Despite it’s small size there were some interesting things there as well as plenty of not so interesting. I’ll stick with two of the interesting.

Canvas – there has been a lot of talk recently about Canvas, especially since Birmingham University switched completely to Canvas from Blackboard in 4 months last year. They have got nice shiny videos, glowing endorsements etc but as we know anyone can do that. So is it worth the hype? At the moment I don’t know. I had an interesting discussion with two of their team on their busy stand, which was probably the busiest in the show when I was there. They have an event in London on 4th November when the plan to reveal more. Have a look at the video and watch this space.


I was intrigued by the prospect of hearing Professor Peter Slee, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Huddersfield, talk about ‘An Engaged Workforce’. They reputedly have 100% of their teaching staff with HEA fellowship or a teaching qualification and it seems to be a great place to work judging by some of the awards they have won.

The Times Higher Education Best University Workplace 2014
The Times Higher Education Awards – University of the Year
The Guardian Higher Education Awards – Inspiring Leader Award

Professor Slee argued that many interactions drive the success or otherwise of their strategy. Therefore everyone needs to be able to understand and own the strategy. So the Huddersfield strategy is 2 sides of A4 – no preamble, no waffley management speak, no vanity fueled stats, just a simple strategy for all staff. There isn’t a separate document for managers and other staff. They all work from the same document and go in the same direction.

He followed this by saying that –
Bad managers tell people what to do.
People who think they are good managers explain why they want people to do what they want them to do.
Good managers involve people in designing what is best to do.

He then had three questions for teachers and managers –

Why would someone want to be taught by you?
Why would anyone want to be led by you?
If you had to apply for your own job, would you get it?

Tough questions especially the last but I think he was presenting it in a positive career development way. Everyone needs to keep developing their career and from what I can make out Huddersfield intend to empower people so that they are able to do it. CPD as a positive aid and not as a punishment.

Will our new Values based approach lead to a situation like this here at Swansea?

You will find the presentation slides here – http://www.thehigherandfurthereducationshow.co.uk/seminar/best-practice-an-excellent-and-engaged-workforce/?presentations=1

Change the classroom, change the learning!

Just seen this from from Chris Jobling @cpjobling

Looks quite like PC Room 1 in the Library. I agree with Chris that it would be great for small classes but how could we make it work with larger ones. Perhaps the need is for much more flexible learning spaces and not traditional large theatres? Are those designing the second campus thinking along these lines?

What about using videoed lectures delivered though the VLE with some accompanying activities? The lectures could be of excellent and engaging staff here or by using things like this MIT OCW, as referred to in a previous post. There could be a set time for the initial delivery, so that they could be some synchronous interaction though chat, tweet etc but the lecture could also be accessed later with some asynchronous activity. Following the lecture there could be a number of breakout groups run in similar lines to the video, with the students working in groups to solve problems related to the lecture and a member of staff setting up the activities and monitoring the groups. Student get the contact hours they want but with high quality delivery. No more large lecture, no more large and expensive lecture theatres, no more boring lectures and no more bored students and staff. Or maybe I’m just woefully niaive?

Perhaps I am but what if private companies think along these lines and offer degrees this way in half the time we do. They could charge more per year but less overall for a degree. How will that affect us in the new market driven climate? Shouldn’t we get in there first?