On Friday 22nd March 2019, members from across the University of Cambridge’s teaching and learning community descended upon the Newnham College, hungry for inspiration to take away from a superb line-up of speakers and interactive experiences.
The programme for the day certainly whetted the appetite:
Opening Address – Cambridge Education: Challenges, Opportunities & Priorities
After a quick chance to network with like-minded colleagues, we settled down for the opening address given by the excellent Pro-Vice Chancellor Graham Virgo.
His impassioned message spoke of living in a moment when “uncertainty was at the highest point it had been in 30 years”.
He mentioned the Cambridge education and spoke of the challenges and opportunities ahead. The TEF (Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework) review received short-shrift: “TEF is failing”. He mentioned the University’s vivid response to the board which is well worth a read: https://www.staff.admin.cam.ac.uk/system/files/download/tef_response_university_of_cambridge.pdf
He also spoke of the need to prioritise the undergraduate admissions review covering the size and shape of the University. Also, the postgraduate engagement review and the need for us to continue to address staff and student mental health and wellbeing.
Panel: Inclusive Teaching & Learning Practices
John Harding’s pecha kucha presentation stuck out a mile here. He mentioned that there are approximately 4000 disabled students in the University, and that we need to see disability as a difference not a deficit. It’s clear more students with a disability are going to university than ever before, so movement towards an inclusion model seemed like an essential thing: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/jan/17/universities-can-do-more-to-support-their-disabled-students
It was also mentioned that, in the UK, “lecture capture is now the new normal”. It provides so many advantages to students, that came as no surprise. It opens the ability to revisit lectures, therefore enabling all. At Cambridge, it remains an opt-in policy. The future aim was to provide a package that could be rolled out for use by staff in their own faculties and institutions.
Facilitating Change in Inclusive Pedagogic Practice in Higher Education
Dr Riikka Hofmann’s opening sentence was a powerful one: “Inclusion is uncomfortable”. Achieving change is difficult to implement. If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not activating change.
We need tools to assist and direct change. We shouldn’t presuppose. Try things you think won’t work – you may be surprised when they do!
Guest Speaker: From Transmission to Transformation
Following a healthy lunch, Dr Naomi Winstone (Uni of Surrey) spoke about maximising student engagement by capturing feedback. The process posited was that by including the student in the feedback process, staff can produce better services. They can help instigate change and the improvement process could be cyclical. A definite winning formula! Here’s a few useful links that were mentioned on the day…
Surrey’s FEATS methodology: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/department-higher-education/learning-lab/feedback-engagement-tracking-surrey
And the HEA feedback toolkit: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/developing-engagement-feedback-toolkit-deft
Just a few quick notes that hide so much – I was listening too hard to make massive notes this time. If you’ve been inspired, go forth and explore!
So much more was crammed into the four hours the Forum ran for and it was all gold. I certainly learnt from the wealth of information and can only hope that next year’s forum running time is extended to allow the speakers to explore in greater detail.