Summer is the time when groups go on tour, and the Centre for Innovation in Higher Education (CIHE) is no exception. Six members of ARU's teaching and research staff headed to Newcastle in early July to present at the Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference 2019.
The theme of this year's conference, hosted by Northumbria University, was Teaching in the Spotlight: Innovation for Teaching Excellence, and our objective was to share some examples of the innovative, multi-disciplinary pedagogic research which has been taking place this year at ARU, funded by Learning and Teaching Project Awards from Anglia Learning & Teaching.
We were particularly excited that Advance HE (formerly the HEA) had given us the opportunity to present in a symposium format, a first for this conference. Our symposium was opened by Simon Pratt-Adams, who introduced CIHE and explained how it supports colleagues and faculties with pedagogic research across a wide range of subject backgrounds along with fostering a pedagogic research community of practice. After that, Paul Dyer of the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) took the floor to share his evaluation of the impact of inquiry-based and team-based learning strategies for undergraduates in science. Next up were David Jay and Sarah Etchells, of the ARU Language Centre and the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS), sharing the findings of our recent cross-disciplinary investigation of the Jigsaw Active Learning technique in the context of pedagogical literacies. The final slot went to Paul Driver of the Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care (HEMS), who took us into the technological future with his exploration of how virtual reality can develop students' empathy, reflection and decision-making.
We decided to go for a panel format for our session, with the presentation team sitting at the front throughout, and a combined Q&A for the whole panel at the end. This was facilitated by Emma Coonan, both in person and on Twitter, and seemed to work particularly well; as at least one audience member pointed out at the end, it highlighted the synergies among the three seemingly different approaches, and generated exciting new ideas and reflections.
Before and after our session we had time to sample some of the rich variety of sessions on offer at the conference. The topical strand for that day was Sector Priorities, which allowed delegates to explore key issues and how cutting-edge pedagogies can be put into practice. Joshua Sanderson-Kirk's (University of Law) morning keynote cogently argues that no institution can be excellent without being inclusive. This striving for inclusivity was echoes in several of the sessions I attended that day, which covered curriculum internationalisation in HE; bridging cultural divides in digitally enhanced teaching and learning; achieving more inclusive curricula; collaborative learning approaches to support students who have communication disorders and innovative approaches to staff-student collaboration. This was of course just a snapshot of the more than 330 sessions taking place across the three days of the conference, but it clearly demonstrated the willingness on all sides to engage in genuine dialogue about how to address key issues in our sector.
If you'd like to explore more of the conference programme, you'll find highlights here. The full director of sessions and resources is available via the Advance HE Knowledge Hub, searchable by theme or discipline area.
To sum up, the Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference is an essential date in the HE calendar. Many thanks to CIHE for the opportunity to be part of it.