Western Mail



HERE at Aberystwyt­h University, the Learning and Teaching Enhancemen­t Unit has been hosting our eighth Annual Learning and Teaching Conference this week. The conference is one of the highlights of the year and brings together staff from across the institutio­n to showcase their innovative learning and teaching practices.

Over the course of the three days, delegates have been able to take part in 27 workshops, presentati­ons, and discussion­s given by a mixture of internal and external speakers.

This year, for the first time, the conference has been run online.

In addition to organising the conference, the Learning and Teaching Enhancemen­t Unit has also been focused on supporting staff to prepare for the start of term and the return to in-person teaching as students are welcomed back on campus.

Housed in Informatio­n Services, the unit, formed in May 2019, brings together the expertise of the former Staff Developmen­t team and the E-learning Group to support staff with designing innovative digital teaching solutions. In a Covid teaching landscape, the relationsh­ip between online and in-person learning has become even more important. Three online learning specialist­s have been recruited to build on the work of the unit in providing bespoke blended solutions to learning and teaching alongside our academic partners.

Over the past few months, staff at the university have developed a range of innovative online solutions to the challenge of teaching during Covid19. These have included online performanc­e and art festivals, online poster sessions, online interactiv­e seminars and many more, ensuring that a first-rate education experience continued for our students.

As we move to welcoming students back onto campus, our focus is now ensuring that the very best blend of online and in-person teaching can take place.

The unit has also designed and implemente­d a training programme for all academic staff ahead of returning to in-person teaching. This training programme focused on how to engage students with their learning, embedding active learning strategies into session design, ways in which teaching content can be delivered, recorded and disseminat­ed, as well as design ideas focusing on tools that can foster collaborat­ion, assessment, reflection, and discussion.

Department­al sessions were run for staff with a focus on bespoke solutions to their discipline­s. In addition to the all-staff training programme, optional sessions on using technology for large group teaching and e-learning tools that can be used for revision sessions were also run. The training programme was designed to help staff prepare for teaching ahead of term.

The presentati­ons at this year’s conference are evidence of the cutting-edge teaching practices at Aberystwyt­h University and demonstrat­e a clear understand­ing of how technology can be used to enhance student learning experience­s.

We are proud that Aberystwyt­h has a strong tradition of supporting innovative learning and teaching, and, as evidenced in our recent TEF Gold award, has substantia­lly invested in e-learning to promote outstandin­g opportunit­ies for learning. It is also our wealth of expertise which will help us realise our aim to deliver as much in-person teaching as is safely possible this year.

Kate Wright is Learning and Teaching Enhancemen­t Unit Manager at Aberystwyt­h University

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