IMPLEMnT Edit-a-thon review

by Katie Stripe, E-Learning Technologist, National Heart Lung Institute

First of all the IMPLEMnT team would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part and has offered their support to the project so far. The edit-a-thon was great success, some areas worked really well, others less so but lessons have been learned. It was great experience trying to run a session in person and in the cloud but on a couple of occasions the technology got the better of me and I would not necessarily do it that way again.

However both physical and virtual produced some great content for the site and I am looking forward to putting it in and growing the site and the community. That will take a bit of time but I look forward to working with you in the next few months to add your case studies to IMPLEMnT and to share them with our colleagues. The face-to-face workshops also yielded some great content, but more importantly great discussions and a chance to build on our teaching and learning communities.

This experience has given us some new ideas on how to move the project forward and generate more content, so watch this space. Plus we are very excited to be officially working with the University of Brighton on the technical development of phase 2 which will start to put your content and case studies into a tool that can help everyone make well informed decisions on how to add digital tools to their classrooms.

IMPLEMnT project website

IMPLEMnT on Twitter

Edit-a-thon – in numbers

Online users – 52

  • 45 from London
  • 5 from Brighton
  • 1 from Iver (Bucks)
  • 1 from Helsinki (I have a friend working at University of Helsinki)

Visitors to the virtual rooms

  • Technology for collaboration (sharing, audience response, social media) – 36
  • Technology for assessment, feedback and course management – 34
  • Teaching Methodologies – 28
  • Technology for multimedia (content, creation, visualisation, simulation) – 22
  • Technology for data, programming and reference management – 14
  • Technology for students, web searching and personal organisation – 11

The online sheets gathered information on about 45 different technologies including:

word cloud of technologies

The face-to-face workshop had over 20 people moving in and out of rooms

  • Teaching approximately – 8
  • Technology approximately – 12

The workshop generated 71 post-it notes and content on technologies including:

word cloud of technologies

Working with students as partners

By Nick Burstow, Deputy President (Education), Imperial College Union

Imperial College London often talks of working with ‘students as partners’, but until I started my role as Deputy President (Education) I had no appreciation for just how committed the College were to achieving this aim. My role allows me to sit on a number of committees, giving me the chance to directly represent the student voice at the highest levels of the College on all matters, no matter how big or small. The curriculum review is one such matter, and it is certainly one of the bigger ones!

Students have long expressed that they feel overburdened by a curriculum that is too excessive, with a heavy focus on factual recall rather than deeper, more conceptual understanding. The curriculum reviews offers the perfect opportunity for departments to address these concerns. Involving students in this process is essential, as they are able to offer a unique and valuable perspective.

My experience of the curriculum review so far is similar to that of George Orwell’s words in Animal Farm. Just as “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” I have seen that “all departments make efforts to involve students, but some departments involve students more than others.”

This framework, co-written by departmental and faculty level Academic Representatives, aims to provide guidance to departments on how to involve students in the curriculum review process. It is our hope that staff responsible for curriculum review will engage with this document, and apply its principles to their own practise.

Staff should not overlook the value that students can bring to the curriculum review process, and strive to work with them as partners. By using the framework for guidance, staff will be able to effectively tap in to the unique and valuable resource that is their students. In working together with one another, together staff and students can ensure that teaching at Imperial is the best it can possibly be.

Nick Burstow, Deputy President (Education)

New resources for curriculum review teams

Our colleagues in the Educational Development Unit have helped to develop a list of the key topics and questions to consider as part of curriculum review, in order to help guide your discussions. You will find these on the strategy webpages (internal only).

If you’ve not already done so, please see our Resources page for a range of useful material; this will be updated on a regular basis.

Sharing good practice – inclusive curricula and professional skills

 By Dr Clemens Brechtelsbauer, Deputy Director of Undergraduate Studies in Chemical Engineering and  Principal Teaching Fellow.

The purpose of the ‘Talking Teaching’ seminars is to share good practice across the college and make people think. For me, yesterday’s session on designing inclusive curricula and sharing professional skills certainly achieved that.

Elizabeth Hauke started with an intriguing question on what inclusivity actually is. Like many I subconsciously went for ‘not excluding anyone’ rather than ‘including everyone’. While the former can be addressed through curriculum design, the latter can really only be achieved during the teaching itself, which is a lot harder. Elizabeth gave the example of ‘learning contracts’ which set out a group’s rules that students and educators formally commit to – something borrowed from the corporate world of meeting and workshop management. In the chemical engineering department, we run a workshop session with first years to set out what they expect from lecturers, what lecturers expect from them, and what students expect from each other. We introduced this to make it clear that even in a high pressure / high achieving environment such as Imperial College, a normal work-life balance is very much what everyone is entitled to. While the events were always successful, I was wondering whether we could enhance their impact even further through agreeing a formal ‘learning contract’ with the students.

Sophie Rutschmann described a two day short course for MSc students on how to effectively read scientific articles. She found that students spend too much time with reading papers cover to cover – which is not the way a trained scientist reads them. I always thought that my approach of skim reading (abstract, figures, conclusion) then deciding whether it’s worth reading the rest was some sort of a ‘guilty pleasure’. It never occurred to me that this is actually a valuable technique that is not obvious at all and worth passing on to students. It made me realize that as academic teachers we have a lot more to offer to our students than just passing on subject specific expert knowledge.

I enjoyed the session and it gave me lots to mull over. The challenge I see is that all of these very useful activities are quite time consuming in comparison with a traditional seminar or a lecture. Although they are undoubtedly more effective, this comes at a cost. As we need to streamline already congested curricula it will require serious thought where to deploy these ‘heavy hitters’ so that the associated time cost is worth it.

Call for funding to support pedagogy transformation

The second call for pedagogy transformation funding is now open. Funding is available for both Department-wide initiatives (Stream A) and for smaller scale initiatives (Stream B). The guidance has been updated, so please review this carefully before preparing your submission.

The deadline for this round of funding is 2 March 2018, and further calls for funding will take place on a rolling basis over the next three years. Please note however that all future funding calls will be for support in Stream A only.

The guidance and application forms are available to download now.