Reflections on the HEA conference 2012 – Great Expectations
July 6, 2012 Leave a comment
I was fortunate to attend the HEA conference held in Manchester this year. The conference theme, Great Expectations, reflects the change that UK HE is experiencing. Here are a few of the things that I took away from the sessions that I attended.
Key note speaker – Martin Bean
The always entertaining and thought provoking Martin Bean, VC of the OU, provided the first key note of the conference. He titled his presentation ‘Great expectations, not a choice but a reality’ and argued a case that is close to the heart of this team; that one of the great opportunities of technology is to enable relevant, engaged, personalised learning with the focus on good teaching. I highly recommend that you watch the key note that is available to view for free here.
This year the conference also had an innovation zone, featuring the work of one of the team, Kate Reader. Her paper an investigation into academic use of iPads to enhance the student learning experience was part of the video presentations that were on a loop during the conference.
At City University London academics in the School of Arts and Social Sciences were issues with iPads in order to support teaching and learning. This was to enable them to explore the role of mobile devices in the classroom and better understand students’ informal use of mobile technologies to support their learning. Effective use of mobile technologies in the classroom have been shown to support effective use of resources, provide students with new skill sets for employability and create flexible, learner-centred and personalised learning environments. The project was evaluated with a series of semi-structured interviews with academic staff one year on. The video provides an overviews of the results, highlighting both the ways in which academics are using iPads to support teaching and the impact on their understanding of student use of mobile devices.
Kate will be writing a blog post on this project soon.
Sheffield Hallam have an inspirational teachers award scheme. Nominations came through their student barometer survey where students were asked to name an inspirational teacher and/or someone who has inspired them outside the classroom. They were also asked to write up to 200 words. The comments made by the students were anonymised and the data was analysed using Nvivo.
The wordle shows the words that the students wrote about their nominees. Sally concluded that what the students appreciated was being challenged to ensure that they were a different person when they finished their degree. She also noted that the word ‘always’ appeared as many times as the word ‘students’ suggesting that the students were the centre focus of these staff and that they were consistent in their interactions with students.
Transitions to postgraduate study
I went to an interesting talk about transitioning to postgraduate study- Facilitating transitions to Masters-level learning through improving formative assessment and feedback. It was a very comprehensive talk so I recommend having a look at this resource.
A couple of thoughts that I took away were
Studies of PG students find that they aren’t as different from UG students as we believe them to be
Interviews with students at the beginning of the course found them confident but later interviews found that they were confused about the assessment frameworks at M level
Part time students make large sacrifices for their studies and plan their time in advance. They find changes to the expected programme (e.g. change in lecture times, tutorial times etc) more difficult to accommodate and are negative about them
All students should be required to attend at least one writing skills workshop. Students that did attend found it very valuable but said that they would not have attended if it hadn’t been mandatory – they felt it was only for International students
PG students don’t just want feedback about how to improve, they need to know why those improvements in order to conceptualise what they’re being asked to change
The conference was a great opportunity to reflect and plan for our changing landscape. Many of the sessions were recorded and are available to view free here. I’d recommend that you have a look and see if anything catches your eye.