A UNIVERSITY VIEW
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