November 2009 was a very busy month for TEL in Wales.
On November 18th the Swansea Academy of Learning and Teaching (SALT) was officially launched at Swansea University with a seminar on the theme of Assessment and Feedback. The seminar was led by five guest speakers and was well-attended by representatives from across the campus and partner institutions.
The principal aim of SALT is to promote excellence in learning and teaching – not just in Swansea University itself – but also to help foster good practice and innovation in Higher Education across Wales. The seminar was opened with a keynote speech from Professor Brenda Smith – Senior Associate at the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and a freelance Higher Education Consultant. Brenda is also a critical friend for the HEA Enhancement Academy Programme of which Trinity University College and University of Wales, Lampeter are the only participating institutions in Wales.
The following week saw us heading off to a very wet and cold Gregynog Hall for the Gwella Programme meeting. This was held over two days – 25th and 26th of November – and the theme of the meeting was Making Enhancement Happen, with a focus on the Enhancement Themes of the 2008 HEFCW Enhancing Learning and Teaching through Technology Strategy.
The programme was developed through consultation with the Gwella teams. Day One focused on institutional activity updates and the indicators of success in the HEFCW strategy. Day Two focused on common themes and issues of interest arising from Gwella activities.
Workshop leaders included: Professor David Nicol from the University of Strathclyde on ‘Enhancing assessment and feedback with technology’, Dr Simon Ball from TechDis on ‘Accessibility strategies and the use of technology’ and Lawrie Phipps of JISC (and co-chair of SEDA) on ‘Engaging staff in technology-enhanced learning and teaching’.
The event was attended by representatives from all the Higher Education Institutions in Wales and was facilitated by Derek Morrison and Gabriel Jezierski from the HEA, Professor Terry Mayes – Gwella and Enhancement Academy critical friend, and Cliona O’Neill – Senior Learning and Teaching Manager from HEFCW (Higher Education Funding Council for Wales).
Despite the inclement weather, this was a most enjoyable and productive event and offered many opportunities for stimulating and thought-provoking conversations with colleagues from other HEIs across Wales and the great and the good from the HEA and HEFCW!
It was most rewarding and encouraging to note that all HEIs have now taken on board the overall message that enhancing learning and teaching through the use of technology IS the way forward and the only differences between us now are the methods employed and how quickly we can get all our staff and students trained, developed and up to speed.
Incidentally, you can now follow many of these programmes, individuals and other people of related interest on Twitter: