Latest Event Updates

Summer System Updates

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The system updates highlighted in February are now in place. Early August has been a time for refreshing some of our core learning technology systems.

  • PebblePad has moved to Version 5
  • Blackboard has been updated
  • The Turnitin Document Viewer has changed to Feedback Studio
  • Medial has been updated to Version 5.

The PebblePad update replaces legacy Flash technology with HTML5, which, along with a redesigned interface, makes the system more intuitive and accessible. Find out more ….

PebblePad V5

As well as security enhancements, and ensuring that we maintain full system support for the next academic year, there are some new features with the Blackboard upgrade. Find out more …

Blackboard

Turnitin’s Feedback Studio has all the same features as the previous Document Viewer, however the interface makes better use of space, and is more accessible and responsive. Find out more ….

Turnitin

Like PebblePad, Medial has moved their interface to HTML5. They have also added a useful multispeed player option. Find out more …

Medial V5

PebblePad V5

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PebblePad logo

PebblePad has moved from v3 (used Flash) to v5 (uses html5). The main difference is to Pebble+ – the personal space within PebblePad – where assets are created, shared and stored.

ATLAS, the assessment area within PebblePad, remains unchanged.

Everything in your Pebble+ account has transferred over into the new version.

The main differences:

  • Works on all mobile devices and looks and behaves the same, no matter what device is used.
  • Drag and drop to add files to your asset store.
  • Improved text editing functions – you can use your mouse to copy and paste text.
  • All Assets and Resources are in one place – no separate tabs for shared assets any more.

Here are some guides to help you navigate your way around the new version:

PebblePad v5: click the link to see what the new interface looks like; how to create assets; upload files; share with people or for assessment and Alumni information.

Academic PPDR instructions: click the link to find out how to fill out your Academic PPDR for the first and subsequent years.

Don’t forget, you can take your PebblePad account and all its contents with you if you leave or graduate from the university and you can continue to use it FREE forever. Just register for an Alumni account before you leave or graduate.

CASE STUDY: Student led learning through conference organisation, Graham Hallet and Shelby Mercer

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Graham Hallet, Senior Lecturer, SEN/D and Inclusion, and Shelby Mercer, second year student, give their reflections on a student led conference undertaken as part of  a 2nd year Inclusion module 

An essential part of being a teacher is to reflect on practice, and to use that reflection as the basis for innovation and creativity in our teaching and learning activities. In the summer of 2010, the opportunity arose to implement a different approach in an Education Studies module in the 2nd year of our 4-year BA (Hons) with QTS. The module is on Inclusion, and this is seen to encompass the needs of all marginalized pupils, rather than only on those with special educational needs. Such a huge subject area seemed to require an approach that differed from our usual teaching pattern, to ensure a continued focus throughout the academic year on Inclusion. Accordingly, a number of changes were made to the usual pattern of seminars and occasional lectures.

Two further beliefs shaped the approach of the module. The first was a conviction that far too much emphasis is placed on summative assignments in the University, and far too little is placed on a continued rehearsal of the skills and attributes needed in producing those assignments. Accordingly, a system akin to the idea of Oxford tutorials was introduced; following a lead lecture, on, for example, gender inclusion, students were expected to prepare and submit a short essay of perhaps 750 words to their tutor. A week or so later, in groups of six plus a tutor, these essays were dissected and discussed in a tutorial lasting an hour. This cycle was repeated 5 or 6 times during the module, ensuring the continued development of writing and research skills.

The second belief was that students respond positively and productively to being given responsibility, even at such an early stage of their academic journey. It was decided to give the students the responsibility of organizing an inclusion conference. A model was provided through the provision of a tutor led conference at the end of Semester 1 but it was made clear that the organization of the student led conference rested entirely with the student body. Time had to be allocated within the structure of the day for the students to present a group paper that formed their summative assignment for the module, but otherwise the programme was entirely within their remit.

student conf 1
Shelby’s last minute preparation

The first Conference took place in June 2011 and has been followed by further events in each subsequent year. Each has been very different, perhaps reflecting the personalities of the students in that year, but each has been completely successful, with invited speakers of national importance in the field, exhibitions of relevant materials, refreshments provided, webcasts organized and T-shirts produced.  Perhaps the best way to show the value of these events is to listen to the student voice; in this case, Shelby Mercer, one of our current second year organisers, gives her views of the conference that was held on the 28th March 2017.

 

The morning had gone well. My colleagues and I, looking around at one another, felt quietly confident. Our third speaker, half way through her talk, was passionately sharing her experiences with the audience. Eyes were fixed to the front until, suddenly, our speaker’s PowerPoint disappeared and the emergency lighting flickered on. There had been a power cut.

The student-led conference is one of the opportunities that makes our degree unique. I have attended them before and know others that have previously organised them, yet, the degree of autonomy involved was still surprising. Early during the module Graham explained the conference was ours; this meant we were responsible for everything from fundraising to flyers, speakers to spoons. The extent we were involved personally was also up to us; everyone wanted to participate in the planning, driven by the strong motivation of the experience rather than a grade.

I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of the lessons learnt from creating and implementing a conference, with 20 peers, at this stage in our learning journey. Here are some:

A group of people can succeed in their goals without a leader. Early on we split into small self-organising teams, each with our own aims such as publicity and fundraising. I am not going to say that it all happened smoothly; some were more active in the planning than others and communication was sometimes lacking. However, this approach allowed us to make decisions by consensus, agreeing together therefore meant everyone was committed to turning our decisions into reality.

student conf 2
Group presentation to the final speaker, who had lectured through the power cut.

Some people will simply ignore your emails. Both the teams responsible for speakers and exhibitors had to quickly learn to deal with rejection or simply being ignored. However, this feeling was overshadowed by the fear that we wouldn’t have enough speakers; a needless worry as we secured four fantastic guest speakers.

Not everything will run smoothly. There is likely to be a moment, or two, or many, of stress. For us this ranged from technical difficulties, to losing an exhibitor in the carpark, and finally the power cut. Conferences are intrinsically social gatherings. It might be a cliché to say so, but, as I watched our final speaker do an impression of a Scouse lion under emergency lighting, I realised we should, after all our hard work, be enjoying ourselves. As Graham said, it’s our day.

These are just some of lessons I have learnt from planning a conference, I’m sure for my peers they may be different. However, the importance, I believe, is that we were given the opportunity to learn them – in our own way.

Disability Support For Students: A quick reference guide

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The recent change in funding for disabled students has placed greater emphasis on individual lecturers to provide equal opportunities enabling all students to access high quality teaching.

This quick reference guide has been created to help you understand the support for disabled students as they declare a disability, and answers questions you may have about your role in their learning.

Quick Ideas for Busy Lecturers

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When designing and delivering inclusive learning have you:

· Thought about the purpose of your teaching session/series of sessions?

· Constructively aligned your teaching with assessment?

· Decided your curriculum objectives?

· Considered your teaching style in light of your learners needs?

· Offered a range of activities to meet a range of learning preferences?

This guide is designed to help you enhance your teaching and learning in inclusive practice.  The ideas are meant to assist you and are by no means exhaustive. You can use the guide to support areas where you feel you might have gaps in knowledge/skills/experience or to add to your existing practice.

Victoria Barbe – Lecturer in Musical Theatre and Singing, Performing Arts & Sylvia Grainger – Student Enterprise Co-ordinator, Enterprise and Business Development

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Victoria Barbe & Sylvia Grainger reflect on this years FEST, held in Carlisle on 20th June 2017

With a continued desire to learn, we found this year’s Learning and Teaching Festival to be a hot bed of knowledge from across a wide range of courses and academics.

It was a fantastic day, and it was great to hear about all the amazing things that are happening around the University, and to be able to learn from them for the future.  Having the students attending the day to talk about their experiences and the positive ‘real life’ journey they have been on and how their time at UoC has changed their life was amazing. It just shows what can be achieved with the right support.

All the presentations we attended were extremely interesting, although of particular inspiration for us was hearing about the achievements of ‘Foundation Year’ students in the presentation delivered by Kathryn Hoyle; including an impressive amount of funding raised for the different charities.

Attending the day gave us the opportunity to share some of the work which we had undertaken with the BA (Hons) Performing Arts students during the year.  Some of the sessions pushed the students outside their comfort zone, but with support, they all found it enjoyable and beneficial. There have also been some impressive outcomes from it, with innovative business ventures in the pipeline.
Reflecting in depth upon the student feedback for this module gave us the opportunity, alongside locating areas for development, to realise just how much the confidence of the students was facilitated!  It was also very helpful to receive feedback from colleagues following our presentation. We are looking forward to doing so much more with this particular project, and Sylvia is particularly looking forward to enabling more Student Enterprise activities across the University next year.

Time now to reflect on what we have heard during the day and to consider how we can incorporate some of the ideas into our own future practices.

All in all a great day for sharing and learning. Thank you!

Reflections on Learning and Teaching Fest 2017 – John Pearson – Lecturer in Technical Theatre, Performing Arts

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John Pearson profile photoThis is the second time I’ve presented at the event; in 2015 I presented jointly with colleagues from LiSS and the BIC on an enterprise day we ran for my Technical Theatre students. This time, my presentation was rooted in research undertaken for the PG Cert in Learning and Teaching in HE, which I completed last year. 

I find the Festival to be a good place to pick up (mostly practical) techniques which colleagues are using with their students, or methods by which colleagues are using the systems and tools at our disposal in interesting ways; Tina Harvey’s presentation on Peer Feedback at level four was interesting to me for this reason, as I seek to find more effective and efficient ways to help students develop and become reflective and self-critical. 

One of the highlights of most years I have attended are the Lecturer of the Year/ Most Creative Teaching Keynotes, and Grace Hurford & Nicola Kitchen’s was no different; however, I suspect it might take quite a lot for me to contemplate dressing up as someone in a scene from Alien in order to engage my students.  

My presentation this year focussed on the delivery of feedback to students as audio recording; and the possible benefits that can bring. The presentation was focussed primarily as a guide to the benefits, practicalities and pitfalls of pursuing such methods for other staff, and I hope some attendees found it helpful in that way. I certainly was grateful to have some interesting follow-up questions and observations from attendees; albeit slightly tangential in places! You can read more about the basic premise of my talk in my previously published iLEAD post here [link to post]. 

Regrettably, the modules upon which I had primarily implemented audio feedback have been discontinued. As my teaching subsequently alters focus towards students on other modules, I am in a position to reflect upon how those modules could be delivered and supported, and I intend to implement lessons learnt from this work and the sessions I attend at LTFest within their delivery. 

John Pearson

John.Pearson@cumbria.ac.uk

 

Reflections on Learning and Teaching Fest 2017-Dr Davina Hill-Lecturer in Zoology

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Reflections on Learning and Teaching Fest 2017

Davina Hill

The UoC Learning and Teaching Fest is an annual celebration of some of the most innovative and effective practices taking place across the institution. As a relative newcomer to the University, taking up a Lectureship in Zoology in August 2016, this year’s L&T Fest was my first. I was keen to discover more about new learning technologies and creative ways to engage students, which are particular interests I’ve been exploring as part of the PgCert in Learning and Teaching for Higher Education. As part of my studies, I carried out an action research project on how the free interactive software programme, Mentimeter, can be used to improve student engagement, and was fortunate to have the opportunity to present this work at the event.

The L&T Fest opened with introductions from Esther Jubb, Principal Lecturer in Academic Development, and our Vice Chancellor, Julie Mennell. To celebrate the theme of the conference, Student Success, Julie asked the Heads of Department to pick out a few student success stories. The proud Heads offered far more stories than Julie perhaps bargained for. For me the highlight of the introductions was listening to the reflections of three students, Rob, Chloe and Zoe, on their undergraduate or postgraduate journeys. They explained how the tuition and opportunities they had experienced during their time at UoC helped them to develop the confidence, abilities and perspectives to achieve things they had not considered possible and to become their ‘best possible selves’.

This was a moving reminder of why many of us chose to work in Higher Education. It must have been a tough act to follow for even our Keynote Speaker, Ruth Pilkington, Professorial Fellow in Learning and Teaching at Liverpool Hope University. In a thought-provoking talk on Developing as an Academic in HE 2020, Ruth considered what is required for us as individuals to achieve teaching excellence in a changing sector.

After coffee, the conference split into five parallel sessions. In the first of these, I gained practical tips from Lisa Smith and Sarah Ruston on using Blackboard blogs to manage student learning, which I am keen to try for myself in the coming year. Liz Bates gave an interesting talk on improving the postgraduate experience, concluding that the learning community, work-life balance and support from staff, family and friends were key.

Feeling refreshed from a delicious buffet lunch, we reunited for a very engaging, funny and humble keynote by Grace Hurford and Nicola Kitchen, Lecturer of the Year and recipient of Most Creative Teaching Award of the Year, respectively. They showed that problems can be turned into opportunities, challenged the audience to use teamwork to lower a stick to the ground balanced on a finger, and described how transforming the classroom into the backdrop of a science fiction film can inspire scientific problem-solving skills. Most of all, they encouraged us to be original and to take risks. Leaving us in no doubt that they practice what they preach, they finished by singing about their ‘Favourite Things’ in academia to the tune of the song from the Sound of Music.

Grace and Nicola’s interactive keynote set the scene perfectly for my talk that followed on how the interactive presentation software, Mentimeter, can be used to promote student engagement. This was a joint presentation with Kelly Fielden, Lecturer in Occupational Therapy. With the help of our audience we demonstrated how two different functions of the software (multiple choice quizzes and asking the lecturer anonymous questions) can be used within a lecture setting. We showed how our students, across different disciplines, levels and Mentimeter contexts, agreed that the software adds value to lectures and all recommended that it be used again.

Next up were Julie Taylor, David Wright and Andrea Charters, who provided a really useful talk on how marking rubrics can be used to provide a wealth of focussed feedback, improve consistency between and within marker, save marking time and enhance the student experience. I have been using simple spreadsheet rubrics for marking some of my own assignments and now feel equipped to try this through Blackboard. Finally, Charlotte Hardacre gave an excellent and very enthusiastic talk on her experiences of student-led teaching. She (bravely, I would say) alternated the delivery of a module between herself and different groups of students. This encouraged students to prepare for class more effectively because student ‘teachers’ were more actively involved in learning and were well placed to pester their peers to do the reading to ensure their session worked well. I was particularly interested in the idea that the intervention fostered critical thinking because students were less accepting of material delivered to them by their peers.

The L&T Fest was a really positive experience because it offered plenty of ideas and practical guidance to try out in the next academic year. It provided opportunities to speak with colleagues from different disciplines that I wouldn’t otherwise have met. Most of all, I was struck by how many enthusiastic, talented and creative people we have in our institution that are striving to provide the best student experience through teaching and support.

Developing digital capabilities of students and staff – Kelly Fielden -Health, Psychology & Social Studies

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Kelly Fielden Photo

I attended the Learning and Teaching Fest 2017 for a variety of reasons. One – I went last year and found it very informative for my teaching development. Two – I love finding out what others are doing and like the opportunity for time to “think”. Three – (and probably the biggest reason!) I was one of the presenters. This was my first time presenting at a conference, so it was a great learning experience! One of the biggest highlights of the day was the morning talk from three successful students. The students kindly provided us with an overview of their various educational journeys and most importantly, laid down the gauntlet for academics to “keep it real” and keep learning accessible. They were all truly inspirational and provided such a positive outlook on their journeys through the University of Cumbria. Next, Ruth Pilkington provided some very valuable food for thought on learning and teaching within a changing landscape. In addition, she encouraged academics to be entrepreneurs and to see problems as opportunities. Thank you to both the student and Ruth for their thoughtful and motivating talks. Following this event, I will aim to ensure that I keep my teaching accessible and maintain a “real world” focus for all learners to ensure students employability and entrepreneurship when they graduate. For a start, I am going to begin a journal club for students who will be undertaking their first research module in the new academic year – an activity which often happens in occupational therapy practice. I will also continue to use some of my scholarly leave to revisit clinical practice and maintain essential skills and networks.

 

The session I conducted jointly with Dr Davina Hill (Lecturer in Zoology) reported on our respective PGCert Learning and Teaching in Higher Education action research studies. My particular study investigated student’s perceptions on the use of Mentimeter (a technology enhanced learning tool) to ask anonymous questions in class. We had a great session demonstrating the use of Mentimeter and reporting on our studies which concluded that students do value the use of Mentimeter in class. Thank you to all those who attended!

 

Thank you to the AQD Team for the great day – I cannot wait to attend next year!

 

Kelly Fielden

Lecturer in Occupational Therapy

Learning and Teaching FEST 2017, Student Success: Adding Value through ‘Learning Gain’

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20 June 2017 saw this years L&T Fest held at the Fusehill Street Campus. Over 130 staff from across the university involved in teaching and learning support attended the conference, to explore the theme of  Student Success: Adding Value through ‘Learning Gain’.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Julie Mennell opened the conference, during which she celebrated the success of the University during the past year, inviting Heads of Departments to contribute their departmental achievements. The success of students was also celebrated, with three giving an insight into their personal learning journey. Many thanks to PhD student Rob Ewin, award winning nursing student Zoe Butler and Graphic design student Chloe for giving their time to attend the conference and share their success. They really are an inspiration and got the conference off to a great start. You can view the student success stories on the UoC Facebook page.

FEST Welcome Image

Ruth Pilkington (NTF, 2014; PFHEA; SFSEDA) gave the first keynote exploring developing as an academic in HE 2020. Ruth outlined the shifting landscape of academic careers and challenged participants to feel empowered as they engage in professional learning and look to develop in this changing career.

The afternoon keynote session was led by Grace Hurford (Lecturer of the Year) and Nicola Kitchen (Creative Lecturer of the Year) and it certainly was creative, involving lowering sticks, recreating Starship Troopers/Alien mission (with a cat) and even a singalong to a version of My Favorite Things exploring what they love about HE!

The conference showcased the wide range of work of colleagues in teaching and supporting learning from across the university, with 20 presentations given, within five parallel sessions. Blog posts from some of the presenters will be available over the coming weeks, so stay tuned!