SAILS Community of Practice for staff supporting students with disabilities

[:en]Image of students on the beach from SAILS websiteI recently attended a SAILS community of practice meeting for staff supporting students with disabilities. I attend these meeting regularly, and they are open to all staff interested in developing a more inclusive practice. I attend not only for my own CPD, but also to offer any support that I feel that we here at SALT, and in fact, colleagues elsewhere on campus, can provide.  It was a great opportunity in itself to meet other people who strive to support others as they learn and teach.  I recommend that you attend every so often to keep yourselves up to date with current developments, initiatives, and processes. Remember that inclusivity is a journey, not a destination and that we can all be better at what we do.

Today I was asked to complete a feedback questionnaire, and to add my comments and suggestions. I was asked ‘What might I do as a result of this meeting?’.  We have all put this type of question on our feedback forms, but it struck me that I hadn’t thought about what I would be doing, other than selfishly enjoying its fruitfulness!  So I was duly prompted to share what I had gained from the session.  My main takeaway is that you shouldn’t take departmental titles at their face value in terms of what they can offer you. Take the Transcription Center for example. They provide an amazing service to support people with a visual impairment, (not only for Swansea University students and staff either) see their web page for details of their breadth. As well as giving an overview of what her department does, Tina also gave advice and guidance on how best to support all our students and colleagues when we communicate with them, by considering the methods we use and by making small changes to our practices. (See the guide below for details.)

Here are the papers that were shared at the meeting and the links to the departments presenting. Enjoy!

STAS-Presentation- COP 26-04-2018 Link to their Website:

SUTC ppt SAILS 26.04.2018 by Tina Weber. Link to their Website:

Managing Distressed Students 18-04-18 by Nigel Mason. Link to their Website:

Please let me know what you think, and if there is anything that I can help with in terms of signposting for various support systems, please get in touch:, or take a look at the CDP Inclusivity patch on Blackboard by clicking the images below and following the instructions guides.  You should also take a look at the SAILS website here:


Looking Back, Facing Forward (2)

Following on from a blog post that we (SALT) created in January 2016 on New Year’s Resolutions, and given the changes that have taken place in 2017, here in SALT we thought it might be a good idea for some of us to reflect on what we’ve achieved in 2017 and what we hope to achieve in 2018.

This is the second of a series that will be published during January and February, and some of the post will give you the chance to meet some of our newer team members.

Looking Back

image depicting 10 years in SALTI’m now heading into my tenth year as part of the Blackboard/elearning/SALT team.  In those ten years, I’ve seen SALT develop and grow from the 4-strong Blackboard team into the 15 strong SALT team that we are today.

As the team has grown and evolved, so too have our roles.  This has been particularly significant for me as I have changed jobs slightly and now carry more responsibility, which is rewarding in many ways.

Among other things, 2017 saw me take on more mentoring and assessing for the internal Fellowship route, and attending the SAR Panel for the first time as lead assessor for the group of applicants that I assessed.

2017 also led me to design and online course based around the concept of the Flipped Classroom.  This, in turn was designed in a format that I experienced in 2016, through Jane Hart’s “Modern Workplace Learning” course.  You may have seen Jane Hart in last year’s SALT Conference.  (That was the one with the sketchnote by the side).  The flipped classroom CPD module is still running and set to be evaluated in February 2018.

Facing Forward

I’m anticipating several challenges in 2018, but also looking forward to them.

As well as maintaining the current levels of support that we offer in the TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) team, I would also like to develop further TEL-related CPD, in an online environment, but how this will look will depend on the outcome of the evaluation of the Flipped Classroom.  However, I am keen on the concept of the #1minuteCPD as driven by Manchester Metropolitan University, but maybe adapting it to #10 minute TEL?  Plenty of room to explore.

I also would like to revise my personal blog.  I returned to blogging in 2016 but, like most New Year’s resolutions they tailed off, and I blogged sporadically.  However, I have some strong ideas for reviving the blog, and in order to facilitate some of these ideas I am looking to migrate from the blogger platform to WordPress.

Image of the Internal Combustion Engine
Technology is not the only way: The internal combustion engine was invented in the 19th Century and is still widely used today despite better technology invented in the 20th century such as the electric car

Finally, I am looking forward to working with two of my SALT colleagues, Rhian Ellis and Professor Jane Thomas on an event looking at ways of enhancing traditional teaching.  All too often we expect teachers to innovate, and the majority of people assume that innovations must involve technology, when in fact, sometimes the simplest, or more low-tech technique is often more effective.

Furthermore, are today’s younger generation so immersed in technology that they see teaching without technology as innovative in itself, or whether this is a concept for the future?

[:en]Reflections on the Digital Classroom Roadshow[:cy]Sylwadau am Sioe Deithiol yr Ystafell Ddosbarth Ddigidol[:]


Last week I attended the Digital Classroom Roadshow that was held at the University of South Wales. The roadshow was born from Duncan Peberdy‘s Active Learning Spaces and Technology: Advances in Higher and Further Education book. The roadshow has been touring UK institutions for the last 18 months to highlight the proven benefits that active learning has on student learning and attainment.

Active learning and flexible spaces is not new to me but I was interested to see what is happening across the sector and find out what challenges have had to be overcome to implement such spaces, as well as what technology would be used for the room, how easy it is to use and is it device and operating system agnostic.

Duncan started off with an introduction to the SCALE-UP project, this project started in North Carolina State University physics department as an initiative to change the mode of teaching as they were finding their traditional method was not working and they had a high drop out rate. The project changed the learning mode and environment to a highly collaborative, hands-on, computer rich interactive learning environment for large cohorts. The impact of this change in mode is summarised below:
– Ability to solve problems is improved
– Conceptual understanding is increased
– Attitudes are improved
– Failure rates are drastically reduced, especially for women and minorities
– “At risk” students do better in later engineering statics classes

The basic premise of this approach: get students working together to examine something interesting, and free the teacher to roam about the room asking questions, challenging students and stirring up debates, was showcased during the roadshow and also how technology can aid this way of working.

The technology solution used during the roadshow was that produced by Kramer, each table had a Kramer Pro box and the lectern PC had a Kramer campus box. What these allow is for students to connect their own device, Android, iOS, Windows, Mac etc. to the monitor on their table and collaborate on documents or present documents, video, images from their own device to the rest of the group. The teacher has a simple to use Application that has control of all of the monitors in the room and can override the monitors with their own presentation, or share one of the groups displays with the rest of the groups monitors.

Over the last 12 months here in SALT we have been looking at a range of other/alternative solutions that promise to do this type of collaborative sharing, but until now all have fallen short of the mark, either due to complexity of connecting devices or that they are limited to only one or two operating systems. The Kramer quite easily let all of the devices listed to connect and share content. There were restrictions on iOS devices, and it was highlighted that the solution works best with laptop devices rather than tablet/phones but all the same this is the first solution that allowed multiple devices to easily connect and share content/screen.

Also at the roadshow was Nicholas Burwell, Director of Burwell Deakins Architects, who was behind the design of the Loughborough University collaborative lecture theatre (amongst others). He gave an interesting discussion covering the modern thinking behind university lecture theatre design. I found his presentation fascinating giving some interesting views as to the way students are changing and how we should be adapting to accommodate these changes both in pedagogy and the design of our teaching spaces. You can view his presentation at an earlier roadshow  in 2016 below ( would highly recommend taking the time to do so)

Duncan continued on this theme and showed further examples of innovative, flexible, active learning spaces across UK institutions he has worked or visited.

Two points were also mentioned during the roadshow the first was of cost. The Roadshow setup cost in the region of £50,000, which sounds expensive, but Duncan put it in the context of the SCALE-UP project; by implementing that type of learning space it had improved student retention. So in turn if by implementing a similar space in the UK improves the retention of 2 students (on average spend £9,000 per year on fees), the cost of the room is covered. As well as paying for itself active learning has been shown to improve student attainment so those students that do use the room will also benefit in their knowledge and understanding.
Secondly Nicholas mentioned that the Loughborough collaborative lecture theatre was designed and built for Design school, but it has been so popular that it has now moved into the central timetable system for any department to use, and its utilisation is far greater than traditional lecture theatres as it is being used both for didactic and active teaching both to large and small cohorts. It was also noted that these spaces digital classrooms, collaborative lecture theatres, and flexible spaces were being used by students outside of timetabled learning and again space utilisation of the such spaces are higher than traditional learning spaces.

At Swansea we have aspirational goals of increasing our student numbers significantly over the next 5-10 years, this increase I believe will lead to an even wider diversification of our students and this will have an impact not only on where we teach them but how they are taught. Combined with the fact that employers are looking at both soft skills as well as depth of knowledge as displayed in the T-shaped graduate (Nicholas Burwell mentions this in his presentation above) I believe we need to be considering collaborative lecture theatres for new buildings and the refurbishment of existing rooms. To help staff become familiar with this change in space and pedagogy investment in a learning lab which contains a similar type set up to that of the digital classroom so our staff can experience the space and way of learning that this type of room and technology can provide would be of great benefit. These changes to learning spaces will come at a price and it will require a change in the way some staff approach teaching but if we aspire to be a top 20 University they at least need to be explored further.[:cy]

Yr wythnos ddiwethaf, cymerais ran yn Sioe Deithiol yr Ystafell Ddosbarth Ddigidol a gynhaliwyd ym Mhrifysgol De Cymru. Ysbrydolwyd y sioe deithiol gan lyfr Duncan Peberdy: Active Learning Spaces and Technology: Advances in Higher and Further Education. Mae’r sioe deithiol wedi bod yn ymweld â sefydliadau yn y DU am y 18 mis diwethaf er mwyn amlygu’r buddion profedig mae dysgu gweithredol yn eu cynnig i ddysgu a chyrhaeddiad myfyrwyr.

Nid yw dysgu gweithredol a mannu hyblyg yn rhywbeth newydd i mi, ond roedd gen i ddiddordeb i weld beth sy’n digwydd ar draws y sector a dysgu pa heriau y bu’n rhaid eu goresgyn i gyflwyno mannau o’r fath, yn ogystal â pha dechnoleg byddai’n cael ei defnyddio ar gyfer yr ystafell, pa mor hawdd yw ei defnyddio ac a yw’n addas ar gyfer unrhyw ddyfais a system weithredu.

Dechreuodd Duncan drwy gyflwyno’r prosiect SCALE-UP. Dechreuodd y prosiect hwn yn Adran Ffiseg Prifysgol Talaith North Carolina fel menter i newid y dull addysgu, oherwydd nad oedd eu dull traddodiadol yn gweithio ac am fod nifer uchel o fyfyrwyr yn gadael cyn gorffen eu cyrsiau. Newidiodd y prosiect y dull a’r amgylchedd dysgu a’i droi’n amgylchedd dysgu cydweithredol a rhyngweithiol iawn a oedd yn gwneud defnydd helaeth o gyfrifiaduron ac yn addas ar gyfer carfannau mawr. Crynhoir effaith y newid hwn isod:
Mae’r gallu i ddatrys problemau’n well
Mae dealltwriaeth gysyniadol wedi cynyddu
Mae agweddau’n well
Mae cyfraddau methu wedi gostwng yn sylweddol, yn enwedig ymhlith menywod a lleiafrifoedd
Mae myfyrwyr mewn perygl yn gwneud yn well mewn dosbarthiadau stateg peirianneg diweddarach

Cafodd egwyddor sylfaenol yr ymagwedd hon – annog myfyrwyr i gydweithio i archwilio rhywbeth diddorol, a rhyddhau’r athro i grwydro’r ystafell yn gofyn cwestiynau, yn herio myfyrwyr ac yn pryfocio dadleuon – ei harddangos yn ystod y sioe deithiol a hefyd, sut gall technoleg gynorthwyo’r ffordd hon o weithio.

Cynhyrchir y dechnoleg a ddefnyddiwyd yn y sioe deithiol gan Kramer. Roedd gan bob bwrdd Kramer Pro Box ac roedd Kramer Campus Box ar y cyfrifiadur ar y ddarllenfa. Mae’r rhain yn caniatáu i fyfyrwyr gysylltu eu dyfeisiau eu hunain – Android, iOS, Windows, Mac etc – â’r monitor ar eu bwrdd, a gallant gydweithio ar ddogfennau neu gyflwyno dogfennau, fideo, lluniau o’u dyfeisiau eu hunain i weddill y grŵp. Mae gan yr athro gymhwysiad sy’n hawdd ei ddefnyddio. Mae’n gallu rheoli pob monitor yn yr ystafell a gosod ei gyflwyniad eu hun ar y monitorau, neu rannu cynnwys un o’r grwpiau â monitorau’r grwpiau eraill.

Dros y 12 mis diwethaf yma yn Academi Dysgu ac Addysgu Abertawe, rydym wedi bod yn archwilio amrywiaeth o opsiynau eraill/amgen sy’n addo’r math hwn o rannu cydweithredol, ond sydd heb fynd â’r maen i’r wal hyd yn hyn, naill ai oherwydd cymhlethdod cysylltu dyfeisiau neu am eu bod yn gweithio gydag un neu ddwy system weithredu yn unig. Gyda thechnoleg Kramer, roedd yn hawdd cysylltu pob un o’r dyfeisiau a rhannu cynnwys. Roedd cyfyngiadau gyda dyfeisiau iOS ac amlygwyd bod y dechnoleg yn gweithio orau gyda gliniaduron yn hytrach na llechi/ffonau. Er gwaethaf hyn, dyma’r dechnoleg gyntaf sy’n caniatáu cysylltu nifer o ddyfeisiau a rhannu cynnwys/sgriniau’n hawdd.

Yn bresennol yn y sioe deithiol hefyd roedd Nicholas Burwell, Cyfarwyddwr y cwmni penseiri, Burwell Deakins, a oedd yn gyfrifol am ddylunio darlithfa gydweithredol Prifysgol Loughborough (ymysg eraill). Rhoddodd gyflwyniad diddorol ynghylch yr ymagwedd fodern sydd y tu ôl i ddylunio darlithfeydd prifysgolion. Roedd ei gyflwyniad yn afaelgar iawn ac yn cynnwys rhai syniadau diddorol am sut mae myfyrwyr yn newid a sut dylem ymateb i’r newidiadau hyn drwy addasu ein haddysgeg a chynllun ein mannau addysgu. Gallwch weld ei gyflwyniad mewn sioe deithiol gynharach (2016) isod. Byddwn yn eich argymell yn fawr i wneud hyn.


Parhaodd Duncan i siarad am y thema hon, a dangosodd enghreifftiau eraill o fannau dysgu arloesol, hyblyg a gweithredol mewn sefydliadau ledled y DU y mae wedi gweithio ynddynt neu ymweld â nhw.

Crybwyllwyd dau bwynt hefyd yn ystod y sioe deithiol, a chost oedd yr un cyntaf. Cost creu’r sioe deithiol oedd tua £50,000, sy’n swnio’n ddrud, ond gwnaeth Duncan ei osod yng nghyd-destun prosiect SCALE-UP; drwy gyflwyno’r math hwnnw o fan dysgu, llwyddwyd i wella cyfraddau cadw myfyrwyr. Felly, pe bai modd sicrhau bod 2 fyfyriwr yn parhau ar eu cyrsiau drwy gyflwyno man dysgu tebyg yn y DU (gwariant blynyddol cyfartalog ar ffioedd o £9,000), byddai hynny’n talu am gost yr ystafell. Yn ogystal â thalu am ei hun, dangoswyd bod dysgu gweithredol yn gwella cyrhaeddiad myfyrwyr felly, bydd gwybodaeth a dealltwriaeth y myfyrwyr hynny sy’n defnyddio’r ystafell yn elwa hefyd.
Yn ail, dywedodd Nicholas fod darlithfa gydweithredol Loughborough wedi cael ei dylunio a’i hadeiladu ar gyfer yr Ysgol Ddylunio, ond oherwydd ei phoblogrwydd, ei bod wedi cael ei symud i’r system amserlennu ganolog i unrhyw adran ei defnyddio. Mae’n cael ei defnyddio i raddau llawer mwy helaeth na darlithfeydd traddodiadol am ei bod yn addas at ddiben addysgu gweithredol a didactig hefyd, i garfannau mawr a bach fel ei gilydd. Nodwyd hefyd bod yr ystafelloedd dosbarth digidol, y darlithfeydd cydweithredol a’r mannau hyblyg hyn yn cael eu defnyddio gan fyfyrwyr y tu allan i’r amserlen ac unwaith eto bod y lleoedd hyn yn cael eu defnyddio llawer mwy na mannau dysgu traddodiadol.

Yn Abertawe mae gennym nodau uchelgeisiol o ran cynyddu nifer ein myfyrwyr yn sylweddol yn ystod y degawd nesaf.  Credaf y bydd y cynnydd hwn yn arwain at amrywiaeth ehangach byth ymhlith ein myfyrwyr ac y bydd hyn yn effeithio, nid yn unig ar ble rydym yn eu haddysgu ond sut cânt eu haddysgu hefyd. Ar y cyd â’r ffaith bod cyflogwyr yn chwilio am sgiliau meddal, yn ogystal â gwybodaeth fanwl (fel y’i harddangosir gan y syniad o ‘raddedigion siâp T‘ y cyfeirir ato gan Nicholas Burwell yn ei gyflwyniad uchod), credaf fod angen i ni ystyried darlithfeydd cydweithredol ar gyfer adeiladau newydd ac wrth ailwampio’r ystafelloedd sydd gennym. I helpu staff i ymgyfarwyddo â’r newid hwn mewn lleoedd ac addysgeg, a’u galluogi i gael profiad o’r lleoedd a’r dulliau dysgu y gall y math hwn o ystafell a thechnoleg eu darparu, byddai o fudd mawr buddsoddi mewn labordy dysgu â chynllun tebyg i un yr ystafell ddosbarth ddigidol. Bydd cost yn gysylltiedig â’r newidiadau hyn mewn mannau dysgu, a bydd angen i rai aelodau staff newid eu hymagwedd at addysgu ond, os oes gobaith gennym ymuno â rhengoedd yr 20 o brifysgolion gorau, mae angen eu harchwilio o leiaf.[:]

Developing “Safe” Spaces to discuss Teaching

Image: CC0 Public Domain:

I recently attended the second HEA “Beyond Fellowship” Conference (March 13 2017 at Aston University), an event primarily for those supporting accredited routes for gaining HEa Fellowship recognition. I’m going to share some of the topics and issues that arose from that event.


At the conference Keynote, Mandy Asghar, PFHEA at York St. John’s University shared some of the benefits of offering a dialogic route to seeking HEA Fellowship recognition (all categories).  Resources can be found on the York St John website. Mandy presented a substantial range of literature (V3) supporting the value of dialogue.  This was reiterated by rich comments from participants in the research that she and Ruth Pilkington, PFHEA (now an independent consultant) have been conducting.  Dialogue, as opposed to a written submission can greatly enrich and empower the person talking about their teaching and/or support for student learning (all aspects of the UK PSF intertwine), building their self-esteem that their contributions are valued.  However, dialogue needs to be carefully managed, ensuring trust and psychological safety for the individual ‘laying bare’ their practice, and feeling secure that making mistakes and taking risks is acceptable – its all about pushing the boundaries of enhancing practice and your own personal and professional development.  Dialogue is great to slow down, something that we often ironically in our busy lives don’t have time to do!

SALT’s remit is to enhance the value of teaching and promote a community of practice. We do that through a variety of seminars, Case Studies and supporting research. By doing so we aim to promote your CPD (A5 of the UK PSF) and also encourage your use of evidence-informed approaches to your practice (V3).

The value of being able to discuss openly about one’s practice has been greatly recognised through those on the PGCert. Here’s also what they do at Leeds. This also reminded me that the HEA website has blogs about Talking Teaching and why people have applied to get recognition of their practice. A quick Internet search on sharing about learning and teaching revealed this abstract for a Conference about sharing best practice. It recognises that we can be very different in how we access information – Twitter and Tweet Chats, face to face, watching videos, webinars, virtual meetings, reading, but I would argue that as social animals, we do all like to get to meet up eventually- the most effective part of conferences is often the networking and not necessarily the talks themselves (in the case of the HEA BF conference, the talks were however very good and so will be the sessions at this year’s SALT Conference!).

So, how can we develop a “safe space” in which you can come to share your ideas about teaching and supporting learning in a constructive way? Where, how in your busy schedule could we enable this? There’s Hoffi Coffi for Welsh learners. Can we have a “Talk Teaching” regular meeting on each campus? What could encourage you to come along? What can SALT do for you?

[:en]Looking for inspiration in your teaching?[:]

[:en]A while ago, I came across a website (via twitter, incidentally) called Learning Wheel.  This particular site is a community site where you can collaborate and share resources or technology that can be used to enhance your teaching or professional development.

Each wheel is split into 4 sections and each section has a series of ‘spokes’.  To quote Learning Wheel themselves:

“LearningWheel is a model of digital pedagogy designed to enhance learning and develop digital literacy skills. It has several unique layers:

  1. Visual pedagogically informed tool
  2. Created by practitioners for practitioner
  3. Categorised in to four pedagogic ‘modes of engagement’
  4. Can be ‘Resource’ specific
  5. Can be ‘Contextualised’ to a subject area
  6. Can be ‘level’ specific
  7. Promote free and accessible digital resources
  8. Collaborative approach
  9. International perspective
  10. Scalability: flexible and adaptable”

There are two that stand out particularly for SALT, and one of these are in the subject resources and is aimed at the trainee teacher, although it’s just as useful for practising teachers too:

The other can be found in the resources section, and is focussed on Assistive Technologies:

There are lots of subject specific wheels too, so have a look.  You may find some useful resources for your discipline!  If you feel you can create one, then there is an option to be the captain of your own learning wheel.

As with all collaborative resources, the resources contained within each of these learning wheels are not necessarily used by Swansea University, but if you are interested in any of these tools and want to know more then SALT would be more than happy to look at some of these with you and suggest alternatives where possible.

If you do use some of these learning wheels, please share it with @learningwheel and also with @susaltteam or contact SALT so that we can promote the good work that is going on, not just in Swansea but further afield.




Learning Innovation Group – a place for learning and innovation?


Being part of the SALT (Swansea Academy for Learning and Teaching) team at Swansea University has its perks, some more obvious than others.

Having attended a meeting of the Learning Innovation Group (LIG) yesterday, I was reminded of some of the reasons I love the job that I do.  I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of meetings – the thought of sitting down trying to concentrate (both from an engagement and an accessibility point of view) for hours on end is certainly not fun.  But every so often, little nuggets crop up and make them worthwhile.

The topic of the meeting yesterday was “Learning Innovation” and the purpose of the meeting was to find out what was going on within the colleges, to facilitate discussions and try to encourage, nurture and foster collaboration both between the colleges and between SALT and the colleges.


It was heartening to see that innovation wasn’t necessarily perceived as being “techy”, particularly as within SALT we try to promote the ethos of “Pedagogy first, technology last”.  Perhaps it was unfortunate that numbers were low for this meeting (or maybe a blessing in disguise as it enhanced those conversations?) but it was good that the colleges who weren’t able to have representation at the meeting were able to supply valuable insights from within their colleges.

The biggest talking point came from “Flashback Friday” which is a method of encouraging reflection within the School of Management.  It employed a simple technique whereby students are given one question on a Friday and are expected to reflect on that question for the following week.  The concept was simple yet effective.  So simple in fact that it wasn’t regarded as innovative by the lecturer concerned and only identified due to a chance conversation between the lecturer and a member of the SALT team.

Flashback Friday also generated attention in the meeting because of the materials used to deliver it – students were given what can only be described as heavy duty cling film (I’m not sure what the material was called – sorry!) that acted as a whiteboard.

mcqI was also enthused by the amount of innovation in assessment that was on display, from giving students advance notice of a potential exam question (Gen Bio & Geography), the increasing use of in-class polling (Engineering) and the use of multiple choice questions as both formative and summative assessment, using both technical and non-technical solutions (Medicine, Science and Engineering).  Furthermore, I continued to be impressed by the “Authentic Assessment” that was being used throughout the university – the College of Arts and Humanities offered some excellent examples of how role play by way of running a fictitious company to aid translation, or a news studio to aid media students.

As the discussions progressed, it became apparent (in a nice way) that while there is a tremendous amount of good practice and innovation going on throughout the university, because staff are “doing it”, they don’t see it as innovative.  This was all very positive though, more of a “Wow, we do that in our college and I didn’t think of including that on our list”.

Having worked in SALT for 8 years, I have been party to several different discussions, projects and events that covered similar things and it’s not the innovation itself that impresses me, it’s that fact that there is so much of it, and that people are so humble with it, and so willing to share with others.  What I took away from yesterday’s meeting was the “so and so in my department does that too, why don’t you speak to them” – we don’t foster this type of conversation enough!!

In SALT we pride ourselves on being good teachers, but we are unique in that we come from all sorts of backgrounds and we continually look for new tools and technologies.  The best nugget of all for me from this meeting came from one of my SALT Colleagues – “This type of discussion is really good, but have you seen how they curate this in Manchester Metropolitan University” #101creativeideas

THAT is what makes me tick.  The sharing of knowledge, resources and tools as well as the sharing of the way things work.  My role, and that of the majority of the SALT team is to foster the wealth of talent that is teaching at Swansea University, and to nurture it.  In order for us to help others, we must help ourselves, and to do this we must start from within.  The subject of my reflections from yesterday’s meeting is therefore, how can SALT curate the knowledge, skills and resources within the team, how can SALT collaborate with each other and with the wider community to enhance the knowledge, skills and resources, and (most importantly for me), what part can I play in this process?

If we want teaching to be excellent at Swansea, we need to strive for excellence as a team and lead by example.


[:en]Group-work or working in a group?[:]

[:en]Here is Mandy Jack abseiling off the top of Kilvey Hall of residence, behind Fulton House. She was part of the ISS team Book drop fundraising for SOS Africa.

Video and images by Deb Baff

Not exactly the type of group work we would normally be writing about here in SALT.  However, it is a good example of being part of a group or team, contributing an individual piece of work for a project, a concept which is often confused or interchanged in teaching with group-work.  Work like this is purely an amalgamation of  individual pieces of work collected and presented as one, rather than a collaboration where individuals share ideas, skills and methods to accomplish a task or project.  The latter is much more difficult to manage, but has so much to offer especially in higher education. Kezar (2004) discusses how the external pressures and the known benefits of collaboration, drove many higher education institutions to develop more collaborative learning opportunities. She talks of higher education institutes trying to create learning communities, service and community-based learning, and interdisciplinary research and teaching and that 50% of them failed. The article was written twelve years ago, so how far have we come? Furthermore, can technology help to drive the initiative further and with more success?

After reading an interesting article on Mediashift a few months ago I was interested to find out what sort of innovative collaboration was happening here at Swansea using digital technology.  If you have any stories, successes or otherwise we would love to know. Please email

I also want to investigate the possibilities that interactive touchscreens and presentation technology might have in various settings. You might have attended  one of the demonstrations last month where the SALT Team had a range of Interactive Touch Screens (ITS) available to explore. If so, please let us know what you think? Again contact us:

We are hosting a session on Wednesday afternoon (June 22nd 2016) as part of the Learning Innovations Group (LIG)  project asking “Can technology enhance collaborative learning?”   It will be an opportunity to see the new SALT learning and teaching space and to test some collaborative, interactive tech over a spot of lunch. You will be asked to collaborate with colleagues and to share ideas about how you could embed such technology into your practice.  If you would like to attend please contact Mandy Jack at for details.[:]

Teaching is more than a job. It's a responsibility.

“Teaching is more than a job. It’s a responsibility—one of the greatest responsibilities in civilized society. Teachers lay bare the mysteries of the world to us. They train our minds to explore, to question, to investigate, to discover. They ensure that knowledge is not lost or forgotten but is instead passed on to future generations. And they shape our lives in limitless ways, both inside and outside of the classroom.”

So says Professor Patrick N. Allitt of Emory University and the lecturer on ‘The Art of Teaching: Best Practices from Master Educators’, a course from the Teaching Company. The Teaching Company has been running since 1990, based on the concept of finding the top 1% of college professors in the world selected entirely for their ability to teach (now there’s a thought) and using feedback from customers to help craft courses into formats uniquely designed for the lifelong learner. Over 10 million courses have been sold and they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, “If a course is ever less than completely satisfying, you may exchange it for another of equal value at any time. You may also return any course, within one year of initial purchase, for a full refund.”  Shall we try that here?

I know I’m a bit sad but over the last few years as I walked to work along the seafront, I’ve gone through the following ‘Great Courses’ –

  • Origins of the Human Mind
  • How We Learn
  • Theories of Human Development
  • Story of Human Language
  • History of the English Language
  • Legacies of Great Economists
  • Economics
  • Understanding the Fundamentals of Music
  • Elements of Jazz: From Cakewalks to Fusion
  • History of Russia: From Peter the Great to Gorbachev

However, times are changing and what place does the Teaching Company have in this brave new world of MOOC and OER? (I have signed up for numerous MOOCs but sadly never completed any. Their time based nature means if you fall behind you’ve had it. Perhaps MOOCS are the new exercise bikes?) The Teaching Company are still here but do have a 70% sale on all of their courses at the moment. Hence my £29.99 investment in ‘The Art of Teaching: Best Practices from Master Educators’.  There are twenty six lectures each lasting around thirty minutes on topics including Teacher Student Relationships, Creativity and Innovation, Dynamic Lecturing and Maintaining Your Enthusiasm. There is also a course booklet with a summary of each lecture, a toolkit of tips for each topic and a bibliography. I get a DVD and online version of the lectures and they can be watched at any point in the future. So far so good but is it any good? Can I learn anything form this ‘course’? Will I make to the end? Does it matter? How does this slightly old skool approach match up in 2014? I bet you can’t wait to find out! I won’t fill up the SALT blog with my thoughts but I’m going to make notes as I go through and blog about it here

Wish me luck 🙂

Some thoughts from the SALT Conference (morning presentations)

As you will be aware, the 6th Annual SALT Conference took place on Thursday 26 June 2014. For me, personally, I love to attend because I like to hear what others do in their teaching, and I usually take away plenty of ideas. This year was no exception, and the lateness of this blog post is because I wanted time to reflect on the conference, and to gather my thoughts and ideas together.

Within the SALT Team, we tried to split ourselves out across all the streams so that each of the presenters had someone on hand if they had any requirements. If I don’t mention any of the round tables/presentations it was because I wasn’t there (apologies!)

For me, there were a lot of highlights, but one of the things that stood out in particular for me was the panel and question time. I thought that being able to write questions down during the registration was useful, and I thought that the panel had some different perspectives which lent itself to some interesting discussions and room for further discussion. More on this in another blog post.

I stayed in Faraday A for the three presentation sessions, all of which were very good, and gave plenty of food for thought going forward.

Stuart MacDonald kicked off the presentations in style, talking about Live Tweeting in Lectures. As someone who tweets often, I was interested to see how it was used in the classroom. Stuart’s presentation took the audience through how it was used, and I liked the way the use of the hashtag for each lecture was used, thus enabling students to easily find what they were looking for.

The pilot of the live tweeting had some really useful benefits, such as academics from other institutions chipping in to discussions, which added weight to what the students were learning/discussing, as well as offering alternative viewpoints.

Ideally, they would like more learners to actually participate and ‘tweet’, though they did stress that several students were reading the twitter posts without actually sending tweets and so were participating after a fashion.

I feel that there is a lot to be learned from this pilot, and there is also a lot of potential for development – particularly in using twitter as a form of revision tool – for example using third party apps such as storify, to collate tweets around a specific hashtag. One to watch I think.

View the presentation here

Mark Jones and Sally Williams were up next with their presentation “A Blended Approach to work based learning. Experiences of learners in enhanced professional practice”.

I spoke to Mark briefly at the arrival and registration and he was rather nervous, this being his first conference presentation. I wouldn’t have thought it though, and was really interested in what he had to say. Though his research and presentation was around Health Care Practitioners who may be on placement etc, I felt that the lessons learnt were easily transferable, and I can certainly see a lot of potential for the Bay Campus.

Key points for me were the emphasis on the learning being student centred – “Learning starts with the learner and is focussed around them” and the extremely positive feedback from both the learners and practictioners. As a result of the blended learning, improvements were made to practice, service delivery and patient care.

The recording of the presentation can be found here

Feeding forward, Mark and Sally are looking to collaborate with other colleges, so if you are interested in finding out more then please contact Mark or Sally, or the SALT Team.

The final presentation came from Dr Michael Draper and one of his students (and president of the Law Society), Jack Golpin. What I particularly liked about this presentation was that the student perspective was very much integrated into the presentation, and Jack’s contribution only served to emphasised how valuable the role of the academic society was to their education.

Jack mentioned that first year student members of the Law Society are assigned mentors – could this be transferable to new staff? It was also noted that some students indicate that they join for networking and mentoring reasons.

Both Michael and Jack indicated that the society receive quality external speakers, and host events open to externals, thus giving students the opportunity to complement their studies, and being able to network with current practitioners in an informal setting.

Jack stated that “the main focus of [academic societies] is to assist students in studying [their subject]”

Their presentation can be found here

Learning to Teach On-line …

Learn to Teach On-line

“I think a long time ago, I thought it was going to be time saving. But I haven’t found it to be time saving. I wonder whether the powers that be, think that it might be time saving …”

(Dr Catherine Suttle – Lecturer, School of Optometry and Vision Services, Faculty of Science, The University of New South Wales)

Teaching on-line is not as easy as you think it is going to be, but elements of it are increasingly being demanded of lecturers in Higher Education.  How lucky then, this website … pulling together a wide range of really pretty good short tutorial videos, covering many things you need to know as an on-line tutor !