All posts by Claire Burnham

Accessibility for everyone: Alistair McNaught, Subject Specialist, Accessibility and Inclusion

Alistair McNaught,  Subject Specialist, Accessibility and Inclusion

A long time coming…

Disability legislation has required organisations to make “reasonable adjustments” for disabled people since 1995. Unfortunately, the legislation did not define what a reasonable adjustment might look like. For the next 23 years, equalities legislation tried to improve the lived experience of disabled people, but without clarity about what was ‘reasonable’ it often failed. Many disabled students drop out of University courses not because the intellectual challenge is too hard, but because negotiating the basic resources is a daily uphill struggle.

The new public sector web accessibility legislation changes everything. For the first time ever it makes a concrete link between a failure to make a reasonable adjustment and a failure to meet the “accessibility requirement” for websites, VLEs and VLE content. The accessibility requirement for digital content is well established – so it’s very easy to tell if resources fail the ‘reasonable adjustment’ test.

Competence more than compliance

This does not mean not every teaching professional now has to become an accessibility professional, any more than an academic referencing a paper is expected to be an information professional. What it does mean is that professional communicators are expected to communicate using conventions and practices that minimise barriers. With a significant proportion of teaching staff having self-taught IT skills it’s little surprise that we don’t always know the best way to make our resources accessible. But the relevant skills are learned very quickly. They also benefit considerably more students than the 10% with visible or invisible disabilities.

Accessibility for everyone

For too many years, accessibility has “belonged to” the disability support team. This is as unrealistic as hygiene in a restaurant belonging to the chef, with nobody else having awareness of training. Higher education institutions have complex digital ecosystems and accessibility needs to be a ‘hygiene factor’ that threads through the organisation’s policy and practice. The encouraging thing is that the vast majority of accessibility is a combination of good design, good practice, good resources, good pedagogy and good procurement policies. What is there not to like?

Find out more

In the Education Strategy Series: The Art of the Possible, Alistair McNaught will work with different groups of staff in the University to try to do what accessibility should do for everyone: enlighten, empower, support and inspire. Bring your own experience, skill and ambition – the catalysts for culture change.

Find out more about the events and book your place.

Vice-Chancellor’s Education Excellence Awards 2019

Congratulations to this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Education Excellence Award winners who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to enhancing our students’ educational experience.

The winning submissions evidenced impact and influence in a number of areas including, approaches to assessment, student representation, addressing gender imbalance in subject areas, student retention and success at a national and international area.

All submissions were considered by a panel chaired by Professor Suzanne Cholerton,  Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education. The high quality of the submissions was noted by the panel.

Professor Cholerton said, “The Vice-Chancellors Education Excellence Award is an opportunity to celebrate the outstanding work from individuals and teams enhancing our student educational experience. Five awards have been made this year out of a very competitive field of nominations. The panel were extremely impressed with the scale of impact, breadth of activity, and the creative approaches to education and educational support taken by all the awardees. ”

2019 Award Winners

Individual Awards

Dr Phil Ansell, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics

Dr Kirsten MacLeod, School of English Language, Literature and Linguistics

Dr Luisa Wakeling, School of Dental Sciences

Team Awards

E-Learning Unit, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics

Specialist Learning Team, Student Health and Wellbeing Service

Find out more about each of the award winners and what the award means to them below.

Dr Phil Ansell, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics

Dr Phil Ansell

‘I am really pleased to receive the Vice Chancellor’s Education Excellence Award in recognition of the impact that some of my work has had on learning and teaching at Newcastle University. It is of particular pride that projects spanning the entire student journey, from outreach and recruitment to enhancing careers and employability were highlighted as exemplars of good practice by the panel. I look forward to working with students and staff in the future to ensure that we continue to deliver an outstanding and inclusive educational experience for all.’

Dr Kirsten MacLeod, School of English  Literature, Language and LinguisticsDr Kirsten MacLeaod

‘It is an honour to receive the Vice Chancellor’s Education Excellence Award in recognition of my aim to foster and promote innovative teaching and assessment practices. I am indebted to and inspired by many creative, committed, and risk-taking colleagues in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, and grateful for the wonderful support offered by a Faculty and University so committed to positive change.’

Dr Luisa Wakeling, School of Dental Sciences

Dr Luisa Wakeling

‘Enhancing relevance and value in all activities that students undertake is of great importance to help them flourish beyond the University and achieve their professional goals. I have the privilege to work with amazing students who engage with the University, beyond their curriculum, in representing and enhancing the experience of their peers. The skills they develop through Academic Student Representation will be highly relevant in any workplace. I am thrilled to receive this distinguished award that recognises my work in supporting our students with opportunities to acknowledge and evidence their fantastic extracurricular work for their future.’

E-Learning Unit, School of Mathematics, Statistics and PhysicseLearning unit

‘We are absolutely delighted to receive the Vice Chancellor’s Education Excellence Award, in recognition of our team’s contribution to supporting student learning in the School of Mathematics, Statistics & Physics and beyond. A solid foundation in mathematics is vital to so many subjects areas, and this award will help us in continuing to build new relationships with colleagues across the University who are involved in the learning, teaching and assessment of mathematical subjects.’

Specialist Learning Team, Student Health and Wellbeing Service

Specialist Learning Team

‘It is recognition of the significant support we provide to underpin the learning experience for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders/Aspergers, and confirms our approach to offer holistic programmes of support fits with University’s vision to provide all students with an inclusive student experience.’

All winners will receive their awards at a congregations ceremony in July and will also be recognised at a University Celebrating Success event. The will also receive funding to support future educational activities.

Next year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Education Excellence Awards will open in February 2020 and full details about the application process will be published on the LTDS website.

If you have any questions about the award, please contact LTDS@ncl.ac.uk 

NUTELA Small Grants Fund: Enhancing student learning through innovative scholarship conference, Bristol 2018

Alison Clapp, Lecturer, Faculty of Medical Sciences Graduate School

Thanks to NUTELA funding my travel, and the FMS Graduate School funding my attendance, I spent two days in Bristol University last summer listening to what other universities (and Newcastle too!) are doing to enhance their students’ learning. Overall it emphasised the practicalities with many presentations on enhancing feedback, technology enhanced learning and student wellbeing. Here is a flavour of the conference:

There was much about student mental health which, in my role with older, part-time, distance students, is not something I have paid much attention to. We should be considering this…. the government is going to make it mandatory for undergraduates (‘UK Step-Change Framework’) and we do need to show we are thinking about it for postgraduates including our online students. We are not meant to be qualified counsellors, but we do need to flag up problems and communicate with students about them including suggestions for getting professional help. The keynote speaker, Fabienne Vailes, will be at the Three Rivers Conference in September. Continue reading NUTELA Small Grants Fund: Enhancing student learning through innovative scholarship conference, Bristol 2018

Language Resource Centre

By Holly Pennal, Language Resources Centre Assistant

The Language Resource Centre is a dedicated centre for language learning available to ALL Newcastle University students and staff. Awarded the Government’s Customer Service Excellence award, the members-only centre (register your smartcard at: ncl.ac.uk/language-resource-centre), is always staffed and has a Language Learning Support Officer on duty Monday to Friday.

  • As well as 110 work stations with 90 PCs, the LRC has bookable spaces including a Meeting Room, a 16-Seater PC cluster with teaching area, and three glass Talk Shops – perfect for group study or to watch films. These can be booked at reception, as well as one-on-one self-study advice appointments with our Language Learning Support Officer if you need some advice on how best to start learning – or improve – your target language. With most of the materials within the centre now being loanable, we also have a feedback box for any suggestions of new resources.Pods in the Language Resource Centre
  • The LRC runs the university IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) site: a world TV and film video streaming service, available for FREE to all Newcastle University students and staff. It hosts a large database of over 3000 foreign & English language films, viewable on demand, and over 20 Satellite TV channels in languages from all over the globe.

Continue reading Language Resource Centre

LILAC award: Terry Charlton

Congratulations to Terry Charlton who won a LILAC  Digital Award for Information Literacy 2019.

Terry won the award for his fantastic work  in the University Library Liaison team developing Newcastle University Library’s Online Learning Resources.

What did the project involve?

The project started with in depth consultation with students. This highlighted a preference for rich media and short,  focused videos that could be viewed on a range of devices when students needed them.

After listening to student views a number of videos were produced to cover information literacy skills areas such as literature reviews, finding information and evaluating information. Attention  was paid to the style of  these videos which included background illustrations and animations. Other team members were the friendly face of the videos, which involved a bit of green screen acting. Take a look at one of the videos below:

The second phase of the project included the development of a new search planner tool which is a step by step approach to planning a literature search. This results in a personalised search strategy and can be shared with others, for example supervisors or the library liaison team.

Project successes

  • Over 9000 views of the videos in the first 6 months
  • 94% of survey respondents rated the videos as ‘very good’ or ‘outstanding’
  • Greater student understanding of information literacy issues
  • Using a flipped classroom approach enabled lectures to focus on areas where students demonstrate less understanding
  • A fivefold increase in visits to dissertation pages
  • The resources are accessible, responsive, device independent and mobile friendly.

Find out more

Terry has recently moved to work in the Learning and Teaching Development Service and if you want to find out more you can contact him at terry.charlton@ncl.ac.uk

RAISE 2019- The impact of student engagement

Dates: 4-5 September 2019
Location: Newcastle University, UK

Delegate registration is open for the Researching, Advancing & Inspiring Student Engagement (RAISE) Conference.

Student participation is particularly welcomed (students pay a very low fee). This year there is a two day format  but this is followed by a Development Day on the 6th with workshops and SIGS at the same venue.

The conference aims to offer a forum and platform showcasing practice and research about, student engagement (SE) and working in partnership. Staff in all roles, all students, and others interested in university and college higher education are welcome.

There are over 100 presentations and keynotes from Cathy Bovill, Brice MacFarlane and Colin Bryson.

There is still capacity for posters (those accepted will benefit from the presenter discount).

For full details of the programme and to register http://www.raise-network.com/events/conference-2019/ 

Note the early bird rate ends on May 30th and the final date for registration is June 30th.

Contact for any queries or proposals for poster submissions (send a 300 word max abstract): raise@ncl.ac.uk

Join the email list to keep up to date on Conference and other RAISE news.

British Conference of Undergraduate Research: Student blog

This year 18 Newcastle University students attended the British Conference of Undergraduate Research at the University of South Wales.

Ján Dixon, from the School of Medical Education was one of the 12 students who successfully applied for funding to attend the conference. Ján presented his research to fellow undergraduate students on the day.  Read more from Jan below.

I applied for BCUR19 and was lucky enough to receive a scholarship from Newcastle University to attend. I submitted an abstract to BCUR because of the impact of presenting to such a large and diverse audience. The opportunity to present to an audience outside of the research field allows for an excellent shared learning experience; encouraging the presenter to distil the essence of their work and the audience to explore topics outside of their subject.

Continue reading British Conference of Undergraduate Research: Student blog

Pedagogies of Scholarship and Teaching (PoST) Insights Series Presents CONVERSAZIONE

An informal discussion on pedagogy in higher education with              Professor Colin Bryson, Newcastle University, and Professor Sally Brown, Independent Consultant

 This conversazione offers an informal opportunity to hear from two extensively published authors in the field of learning, teaching and assessment in a semi-structured conversation. Each will outline how they got started in writing for publication, including discussion of their rationales for the kinds of publications they have produced, and the impact this has had on their careers and on colleagues around them.

Colin and Sally will make suggestions for those newly embarking in writing and publishing on higher education pedagogy. They will illustrate their perspectives from their publication journeys with anecdotes and stories about mishaps and pitfalls on the way, in ways that will help others avoid their mistakes and move on with their own publications confidently.

1st May @ 1pm in King George VI Building,  Room 1.43B

Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/conversazione-post-series-event-tickets-60568119877

Learning and Teaching Conference 2019: Resources

The changing landscape of Higher Education

3 April 2019

Over 250 delegates attended this year’s conference to celebrate learning and teaching here at Newcastle University.

The packed programme included  45 presentations, workshops and lightning talks, as well as keynotes from  Professor Alison Shaw, Vice-President, National Foundation for Educational Research and Founder, North East Futures UTC and Chris Millward, Office for Students.

You can find a full range of resources from the conference below, including ReCap recordings and copies of presentation slides.

If you are interested in finding out more about this or future learning and teaching events please get in touch at ltds@ncl.ac.uk.

Don’t forget to save the date for next year’s conference which will be held on  2 April 2020. You can also sign up for the conference reminder service if you want to find out when the call for submissions and registration opens.

Welcome

Professor Suzanne Cholerton, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Education

ReCap recording

Curtis Group Shot

Continue reading Learning and Teaching Conference 2019: Resources

NUTELA 3Ps: Using Video in your teaching

Are you interested in using video in your teaching?  The latest NUTELA pizza, pop and practice event looked using ReCap outside of the lecture theatre, Microsoft Stream and Box of Broadcasts.

Resources

If you are interested in finding out more  and accessing some of the resources join the NUTELA Team where you can also share ideas with colleagues.

Thanks to Carol Summerside, LTDS, Dr Chris Graham, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics, Graeme Redshaw-Boxwell, LTDS and Marc Bennett, NUIT, for delivering the session.

Find out more about NUTELA

Get in touch with the Steering Group if you want to find out more about NUTELA and future events.