Report from Learning at City 2016 – Promoting Teaching Excellence

The 8th annual Learning at City Conference took place at the Hatton in London on 8th June. Over 100 people attended the event, with some 390 tweets using the hashtag #learningatcity16 including 91 photographs and 6 of the keynote or paper sessions streamed live on Periscope, as a trial of the application, of which audio only recordings have been made available in this blog post (the video was not good enough quality to be uploaded). There may be further reflections of the conference, if you attended and would like to post here or elsewhere, please use the hashtag #learningatcity16, but this post is an overview of some of the highlights.

Live on Periscope Views

We had the following number of views at the time of writing this blog post:

“What do universities mean by ‘excellent teaching’? And does anyone else agree?” Dr Matthew Williamson 75 views
Wild card modules: researching collaboration with legal service providers to promote deep integrated learning 60 views
Cracking the Code: Does Nursing and Midwifery Council revalidation promote teaching excellence in Higher Education? A report of collaborative implementation at City University London| Health Has Got Talent: Recognising and Rewarding Teaching Innovation and Excellence 62 views
Hacking Human Centred Design 16 views
Engaging Technology in Health and Social Care: Introducing City TECs – Technology Enabled Care Studio | Bridging technology and simulation – use of empathy suits in the Technology Enabled Care Studio (TECs) 18 views
Professor Pam Parker Keynote “Developing, Recognising and Disseminating Teaching Excellence” 61 views

The theme of the conference this year as promoting teaching excellence, which included a number of external speakers from the Anglia Ruskin University, Bournemouth University, Bradford University, University of Glasgow, and the Open University.

Dr Matthew J Williamson Keynote

[Listen to the Keynote, 1hr 06 mins]

The keynote speaker was Dr Matthew J Williamson, Director of Learning and Teaching at Glasgow University, who’s talk ‘What do universities mean by ‘excellent teaching’? And does anyone else agree?” focused on actual teaching excellence and not the upcoming teaching excellence framework. Matthew raised some interesting points on the notion of how students judge the teacher, as opposed to the teaching with examples from his time at the University of Brighton and Queen Mary University of London. You can listen to a podcast of the talk above.

Morning Parallel Sessions

Following the Dr Matthew J Williamson keynote, we had a series breakout sessions on a number of topics, including a team-based learning workshop from Rebecca McCarter, University of Bradford, which demonstrated the technique, the pros and cons and some issues to consider if you’d like to try this in your own module next year. These are some further resources and pre-workshop tasks that were not sent, we’d like to apologise for this oversight. 

This year’s conference saw the relaunch of the Educational Vignettes blog, now called Learning at City, to match the conference name, with the launch a regular writing group for new and established authors, City staff are invited to join LEaD’s social blogging/writing group on Wednesday 6th & Thursday 7th July 1-2pm at the new LEaD training room, below the Northampton Suite, University Building.

We also had talks from Professor Nigel Duncan, on “Wild card modules: researching collaboration with legal service providers to promote deep integrated learning [Listen to the Podcast] and Cracking the Code: Does Nursing and Midwifery Council revalidation promote teaching excellence in Higher Education? A report of collaborative implementation at City University London and Health Has Got Talent: Recognising and Rewarding Teaching Innovation and Excellence [Listen to the Podcast] from Julie Attenborough (School of Health Sciences), Neha Mistry (Human Resources) and Dr Rachael-Anne Knight (School of Health Sciences). These sessions highlighted the work the university is doing in rewarding teaching innovation in the School of Health Sciences and we hope this was of benefit to our internal and external delegates who attended to give them ideas of how they might also engage their staff in similar initiatives in the near future.

During lunch, delegates had a chance to see some of the posters submitted as part of the conference and speak to those who created the posters on their work.

Afternoon Parallel Sessions

After lunch, the conference went out on the streets, in a parallel session called Murder, diamonds and walking: using walks in your teaching practice through an exploration of Hatton Garden led by Rosa Benato – City University London, School of Health Sciences, Anise Bullimore – City University, London, Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD) and Emily Allbon – City University London, The City Law School.

Meanwhile inside the Hatton, our external speakers, Mr Mark Warnes – Anglia Ruskin University, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Dr Debbie Holley – University of Bournemouth, Centre of Excellence for Learning (CEL) and Dr Geraldine Davis – Anglia Ruskin University, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education presented on the topic of Towards a definition of Teaching Excellence.

We also had a talk from David Vince and Liz Ellis – The Open University, Technology Enhanced Learning, Innovation on Hacking Human-Centred Learning Design [Listen to the Podcast].

There was also a session on simulated practice in the School of Health Sciences [listen to the podcast] from Dr Shashivadan Hirani and Dr Lorna Rixon School of Health Sciences, who talked about the City Technology Enabled Care studio, one of the new initiatives to the teaching of health care and envisaging how technology might change the role of the health care professional in the future.

The Student Points of View

To be inclusive and involve students, we had a great student panel, hosted by Jo Richardson and Peter Kogan (LEaD), with panelists Anthony Birley (School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering), Umar Chaudhery (Vice President, Education), Dimitri Dolor (School of Health Sciences), Marlis Kornrumpf (School of Arts and Social Sciences) and Alessandro Morico (Cass Business School). Their entertaining, honest and eloquent responses to the questions asked by the the delegates attending and their insights were greatly valued and a reminder why we are all here in universities. They were a credit to the university. It was a perfect end to the parallel sessions, as the delegates headed to Professor Pam Parker’s inaugural professorial lecture.

Professor Pam Parker’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture

[Listen to the Keynote, 40 mins]

Introduced by Professor Kenneth Grattan, Pam talked about the variety of teaching activities comprised of a range of activities to support student learning and these were explored alongside some of the development opportunities offered to individuals at the university. The session ended with a series of questions to the audience on how we can developing, recognise and Disseminate teaching excellence and an idea from an audience member to run a knowledge café, as popularised in recent years by David Gurteen.

The day finished with the Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Paul Curran, closing the conference, thanking everyone for coming and handing out awards. This was followed by a drinks reception at the top of the Hatton, with views of London.

Views from the Hatton over London

We’d like to thank all the delegates and presenters from coming and presenting. If you have not filled out our evaluation form, please do so soon.

These are some of the comments from the evaluations so far.

We hope to see you at next year’s Learning at City.

Check out our full Storyify of Tweets

And finally, we leave you with feedback from the delegates from the evaluation forms so far…

Best collection of sessions for ages – really good mix of internal and external

A real buzz of engagement and collaboration was evident

Some really interesting sessions, provoked a lot of thought and reflection.  Particularly interested in the growing interest in games and simulations as a means to develop interactivity.  

I did follow the hashtag and some people were tweeting, it would be useful if more use of links was used, for example when speakers mentioned things, these would be linked to URLs on Twitter.

Very well organised day with some excellent sessions. Would have been nice to have seen more posters and (as an academic) more (brief) examples of innovative teaching (e.g. a greater number of shorter presentations / posters).

Went very well. Conversations with other delegates indicated that people were very impressed.

Varied and interesting.  Lots of practical activities which can be applied/adapted for work with students.

It’s great to see the use of twitter to spread this wonderful event more widely, including the use of live streaming.

Well organised and fun! Learned a lot about about teaching styles and ideas from more experienced staff. Good day to network and meet my new colleagues.

Posts on the conference twitter blog were very useful especially for delegates who have missed a particular session.  Very useful to catch up on stuff after the session as well.  

I think one of the most positive aspects of the event is that you plan it to be open – not only does this reflect well on your institution but I genuinely believe that you do benefit from considering external perspectives. It is something I am going to advocate for with our own annual L&T conference next year.

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