Conference: Enhancing The Student Learning Experience 2009

Report on the one day conference

“Enhancing the Student Learning Experience”

Roehampton University 3rd June 2009

The overall theme of the event was to ask ourselves, what kind of role do I have? and how can I enhance the student learning experience in my own area?

There were a number of presentations and workshops where people shared different and innovative ways of working with students.

The background to this are the recent cuts in HEFCE funding and RAE awards, as well as the caps on student recruitment. Its clear that the focus now for institutions is on retention, improving the student experience and managing their expectations.

Workshop on Supporting the Support Staff

Looking at the continuing professional development needs of staff at Imperial College London, Peter Wren – Tutor in Educational Development

The Supporting Learning and Teaching Programme (SLTP) course is for all non-teaching staff and has been run for the past 7 years. Its growing importance is due to the decline in the number of permanent teaching staff. The effect of this is that more and more technicians and researchers are involved in the educational process.

The SLTP gives an introduction to teaching and learning theory and focuses on raising awareness, issues around disability, discrimination and equal opportunities are also included in the input.

The basic aim is to encourage staff to think in a more student-centred way, to be better informed in teaching & learning as HE institutions become more learner-centred. With staff developing a better understanding of through their own support and engagement in T&L activities in the work place.

This includes those staff who have indirect support roles as well those who have direct contact with students. Through a programme of workshops and Blackboard based on-line learning blocks, staff are asked to look at their own roles and work environments.

What I found particularly interesting was the implications for new learning environments. Imperial recognise that learning is a dynamic process that requires a change in the delivery of teaching & learning.

Rather than the traditional linear process of the ‘sage on the stage’ who tells students what they need to know, it needs to be a more reflective process, enabling students to discover what they need to know.

To engage students and allow them to share information, our teaching spaces need to change, not just with new technology and accessibility, but in more fundamental terms, such as different furniture, layouts, storage, decor and lighting.

Click here to see more about the SLTP programme at Imperial

Making the Most of Electronic Resources to Support Student Learning

Tony McNeill, Principle Lecturer in Blended Learning, Kingston University

The expansion of student numbers has been most sharply felt in those discipline areas of specialised equipment and space, where practical study has been hampered by the shortage of space for learning. Digital resources, such as these e-learning projects have been developed to offer one way of preparing students to use these valuable physical spaces.

At Kingston, there is a small team of developers led by Tony who create web-based resources that sit within the University’s Blackboard site.

To have a look at the types of resources available, type this address into your web browser – http://studyspace.kingston.ac.uk Both the username and password is Roehampton

Key features of interest:

  • As part of the BA in Illustration and Animation, they have a definition of what a ‘crit’ is and what to expect.
  • The use of templates to save development time
  • The sites feature useful links to other areas of study
  • Looking at mobile learning, allowing students to use their own mobile devices
  • Focus groups to evaluate the effectiveness of the on-line resources

Introduction to the HEaTED project

Ken Bromfield MBE- Training Consultant

Funded by HEFCE, for assessing the need for a representative body and in developing training and information resources for university technical staff. There are about 30,000 people in British universities working as technicians, specialists and technical managers. Hence the need to provide a framework for training and technical resources.

Background:

  • Erosion of core and specialist skills, largely due to the retirement factor and a lack of BTEC HNC and ONC courses
  • No succession planning, with new less-qualified staff who are paid less and only receive on-the-job training
  • No supporting career infrastructure

In 2006, the HEaTED survey showed the responses from 80 Higher Education Institutions

Lack of professional recognition

  • Lack of relevant technical and specialist training
  • Concerns over career prospects and job security
  • Concern of rewards, especially pay

Initiatives by HEaTED through a partnership with the Institute of Science & Technology:

Establishment of a programme of specialist skills development.  The Skills Development Programme uses the wealth of knowledge already in existence within HEI’s, it is proposed that skilled technicians propose and lead training days/workshops based on their area of expertise.

A number of universities have already contributed in science disciplines as well as art & design.

* This is a good opportunity for LCF to lead in design and technology training that would raise our profile.

The development of a VLE for technical specialists and offer resources for managers to contribute to and share. Contributions can be materials that will be instructional or informational, with forums and publications to raise the profile of individuals. To publish contributions visit this site –

Link – http://www.istonline.org.uk/heated/heated_vle_submission.htm

HEaTED is about to host a number of ‘Train the Technical Trainer’ events, designed to give participants the confidence and technique to design their own training programmes.

A further project by HEaTED is aimed to professionalise the career of the technician, as there is currently no scheme of Continuing Professional Development. The programme aims to be fully recognised as a valuable ‘qualification’ and evidence to future employers.

It would be very useful for the college and the University as a whole, to sign up for membership and access to these valuable resources.

A number of universities have held conferences and events for technical staff, a platform for spreading the word about HEaTED but also for attracting positive attention to our institution.

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