Tuesday, March 10, 2009

HEA HS&P Festival of Learning

Today I traveled to the University of Wolverhampton's Wallsall Campus for the first day of the Higher Education Academy Health Sciences and Practice Subject Centre, Festival of Learning.

I went primarily to put up a poster reporting the work of a project I was involved i led by Dr Pam Moule at UWE & funded by the HEA subject centre in which we carried out a survey and case studies to identify the elearning applications being used in HEIs and share examples of innovative individual and organisational best practice. I was told today that the reviewers had finished looking at it & once we have done a few minor edits it will be published. This should be in a few weeks and I will add details on this blog.

The conference was opened by Dr Margaret Sills, the Academic Director of the centre who welcomed participants and dealt with "housekeeping issues" including, for the first time, the use of text messaging to contact the organisers within the Festival of Learning" and to submit questions for the expert panel on Thursday. Margaret then introduced the first Keynote speaker.

Healthy Universities: Practising what we preach? was the topic of Mark Dooris, the director of the Healthy Settings Development Unit at the University of Central Lancashire. He set out the background to his recent work and examined why universities should be a part of the wider healthy settings work and what make their specific issues different from the Healthy Schools project and similar work. He described the different approaches in HEIs from the survey work his recently undertaken for the HEA & Department of Health. They had concluded that there is a need fr some national work, albeit with a "light touch" flexible and responsive framework to take this forward.

I next attended a workshop led by Alan Hilliard and Jenny Lorimer from the University of Hertfordshire describing their experiences with podcasting and the use of Electronic Voting Systems (EVS). They amde their workshop tuely interactive by getting participants to group together to come up with benefits and issues with large groups lectures and then very rapidly getting a "volunteer" from each group to record a two minute podcast on mobile MP3 recorders. These will be made available on the subject centre website at:

They then described how large group lectures had been replaced in a radiography module by podcasts which the students accessed in advance of small group work, which had been well evaluated by staff and students. The Q&A session drew out a variety of approaches, success stories and difficulties from other institutions. This was followed by some participative demonstrations of the Turning Point EVS including the use of conditional branching where the information presented depended on the group response to previous questions, which I'd not seen before.

I will be back for the final day of the Festival of Learning on Thursday.

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