Anyone for take-away?

Takeaway coffee

Our UnSymposium represented yet another experiment in session format for this year’s Learning and Teaching Symposium – as you’ve heard many times, a way to move beyond merely (merely?) sharing our practice, instead using those practices to stimulate discussion around some big questions, all generated from those same practices. In each room it was wonderful to see people so actively engaged in the discussions…but were there any take-aways?


Design approaches

Facilitator: Jay Cohen
Presenters: Jenny Kent, Emmett Berry, Carli Kulmar, Steve Bath, Geraldine Rurenga, Nichole Thurbon

Our Faculty has been exploring new approaches to designing courses and subjects for students, from co-designing with industry to working in sprints and focusing on consistency, designing for international cohorts and developing new models to cope with significant increases in student numbers. Participants shared their successes and challenges, and asked what’s next? Here are some of the insights and ideas we’ll be taking forward:

  • The conversations highlighted a need for improvements in our educational technologies. The Sub-Dean (Learning & Teaching) and Lecturer in Online and Blended Learning will consult more broadly with Schools regarding needs and feed this into the relevant institutional working parties to ensure improvements occur.
  • Co-creation with students: This is definitely a strategy that has been gaining a lot of attention over the past 5 or so years. We will endeavour to pull together some people, resources and ideas to explore how we might be able to work more with students to inform our course and subject design.
  • Online residential schools: This is something that’s being explored at an institutional level, so we will arrange some professional development sessions to learn from the practices of others in this space.
  • Other recommendations – enhancing our processes through more long-sighted, holistic designs and cross-disciplinary collaborations – will be passed on to our Assoc Dean (Courses) for further consideration.


Sharing responsibility for learning

Facilitator: Mike Kemp
Presenters: Michael Mehmet, Miao Li, Brett Shipton, John Hicks

Learning involves shared responsibility between academics and students, and in this session participants discussed approaches better enable that through countering feedback anxiety and stimulating intrinsic motivation as well as bringing the real world into our classrooms through incident analysis and analysing media. Again, you talked about our successes and challenges, and where you wanted to go next. Here are some of the insights and ideas we’ll be taking forward:

  • Many of us are still facing challenges regarding student motivation, confidence and risk taking, as well as how to effectively ‘visualise’ learning materials. This will be taken forward as future professional learning opportunities.
  • There were lots of examples of good practice raised, including:
    • promoting a culture where risk-taking and making mistakes is valued as part of the learning process;
    • being responsive to student needs, e.g. through acting on feedback gained through early in-subject surveys.
  • These ideas will be collated and refined as just-in-time help resources in the wiki and shared via BJBS-News.

Breaking boundaries

Facilitator: Kath Herbert
Presenters: Sam Parker, Michelle Wilkinson, Sabih Rehman, Reza Mahinroosta, Jim Morgan, Rachael Fox

Our Faculty is constantly breaking traditional boundaries, from challenging who should be the audience for student work (e.g. video feedback from simulated clients and using hackathons to link students to community needs) to where students learn (e.g. embedding learning within extended industry placements) and traditional teacher-student hierarchies (e.g.collaborative research with students). This room was keen to break even more boundaries, including challenging discipline assumptions, student expectations and who is part of the learning process. Here are some of the insights and ideas we’ll be taking forward:

  • The room was keen to pursue opportunities for transdisciplinary subject and curriculum design, including input from our alumni. This will be taken up with Assoc Dean (Courses).
  • The room was also keen to continue conversations around people and practices, growing networks and partnerships. We’ll be exploring opportunities for this in the near future.


Active learning

Facilitator: Liz Bracken
Presenters: Bede Harris, Nicole Sugden, Robyn Brunton, Jasmine McDonald, Ben Hicks, Lisa Coates

Our students now curate, co-create and interact with content in ways that take us beyond simple transmission. We’ve been using adaptive learning, a wide range of interactive activities (and using analytics to analyse engagement), as well as making case studies central to our curriculum. Academics in this room emphasised the ‘human element’ in active learning to ensure students felt supported, though struggled with participation and lurkers. Here are some of the insights and ideas we’ll be taking forward:

  • The room asked: What is the evidence for active learning? We’ll collate the most current research for you in a future issue of BJBS News.
  • There was strong interest in pursuing subscriptions for highly rated technologies. As for Room 1, we’ll extend consultation around this with Schools and feed into institutional working groups for action.
  • The biggest factor in successful online experiences is a strong online teacher: This room requested more support for ‘how to teach online’ (including dealing with lurkers). We’ll be formulating a series involving experienced and successful practitioners from a range of disciplines in the near future.
  • Finally, this room expressed the need to create learning environments where students could ‘learn with joy’. We’re not sure how to take that forward, but we love it.


Peer learning

Facilitator: Stacey Jenkins
Presenters: Shibly Abdullah, Charles Vandepeer, Peir Woon, Xiaodi Huang, Sophia Duan

If student evaluations are an indicator, peer learning is an area in which we constantly struggle – not just within our Faculty but as a sector. We’ve been exploring a range of strategies, from debates to blogging, Peerwise and getting to know our students through data visualisation. Here are some of the insights and ideas we’ll be taking forward:

  • A range of strategies were offered, which we’ll follow up and collate as a shared resource on the wiki, and share via BJBS-News.
  • There were lots of suggestions regarding professional learning needs, including helping students build skills in peer review, strategies to address lack of engagement (e.g. not attending online meetings or interaction fading towards end of session) and cross-cultural communication. We’ll take this forward through a combination of professional learning sessions from those working in this area and collating resources in our wiki. Stay tuned.

So all in all, I think we have a solid professional learning series on our hands that will hopefully tune into your needs and help extend collaborative networks even further. Thanks to all for your participation – you were great!

A full summary of the discussions is available on the L&T Symposium website.