Second Workshop

Second CIP workshop: Student Perspectives on Transitions and Control Over Content

12 May 2017


In May, the Centre for Innovation in Pedagogy held its 2nd workshop, where we once again celebrated collaboration and innovation in teaching and learning between what we have called the ‘non-obvious’ partnerships; between students and academics and academics and learning technologists. This year we ran a dual theme of the role of teaching innovation in higher education and the student perspective on transitions and control over course content and structure.

We heard presentations from Ali Owrak of Alliance Manchester Business School, from the student innovation teams, and from Learning Technologists, Will Moindrot and Phil Styles. The presenting student innovation officers were led by Weika Tan, Vanessa Mbamalu, Jun Gao and Pak Liu. With the centre now over a year old this was a good opportunity to say thank you to our outgoing third-year students; Rebecca Gilbertson, Rex Chukujama, Mariola Yankova and Marwan Mohamad and welcome in our newbies from year one; Michael, Mollie and Siyu.

Ali OwrakThis year we were very fortunate to have Ali Owrak as our keynote speaker. In an inspirational speech, Ali set the tone for the workshop by highlighting the need for conveners to take a step back and think ‘how exactly are we expecting our students to react to our assessments?’ Ali discussed the challenges faced by innovating academics in terms of relationships with colleagues, comparing himself to Jack Sparrow running back to his ship chased by a whole division of angry colleagues in a hilarious analogy on the life of an innovator. Ali also discussed the many innovations that he employs on his courses aimed at capturing student interest and engagement.

Opening for the students was Vanessa Mbamalu and Jun Gao in a very professional presentation on student challenges and transitions from further education, with a particular focus on the little-known perspective of the overseas student. Vanessa presented some findings from a survey asking students to rank the challenges they face with some surprising results; the most cited challenges being ‘too many coursework in too short a time span’, ‘recognising the value of fees’ and ‘understanding how to learn independently’ Gao then gave a moving account of the view and hurdles faced by overseas students in terms of social isolation and language barriers whilst away from home and at university.

After the break the student innovation teams presented again; this time it was the turn of Weika, our student lead and one of our newest members, Michael. Weika provided more detail from the student survey that had taken place in the run up to the workshop. Another question offered to students invited them to identify improvements they would make to the course if they were given convening powers. The most popular requests from the students are provided at the end of these highlights, but it was very surprising to see ‘printed hand outs/lecture notes’ on top of the list. Michael went on to explain the student innovation teams recommendations for an interesting and engaging course, which include lectures with some form of interaction, preview videos, real world examples, ebooks and (not so surprisingly!) more solutions and past papers, the debate continues on this matter!

Phil StylesWith such an excellent performance from the students, it was time for the eLearning technologists to rise to the challenge and provide the academics amongst those in attendance with further ideas for innovation and research in teaching, duly provided by the excellent duo of Phil Styles and William Moindrot. First to present was Phil who provided us with overwhelming evidence of the usefulness of classroom voting systems in the development of teaching practice; students are now requesting this, even remarking where interaction is absent on courses. Phil also provided the more advanced users of TurningPoint Respnseware (TP) some excellent ideas to develop classroom voting from simple MCQ type questions to a tool to invoke higher learning outcomes.

Will MoindrotNext up was William Moindrot who gave a presentation on some research currently ongoing on the use of social media such as twitter, as an extension to the learning environment. Will also discussed our early learning of how to use the data collected (whilst using TP) to ask more detailed questions in our research on teaching innovation; of course, we were lucky to have comments from Ken Clark, our resident econometrician and SOSS Director for Teaching and Learning. Thanks, Ken!


Many thanks to the staff who took part in the delivery and organization of the workshop and especially the student innovation team that worked so hard on the run up to the event.

Paul Middleditch, Director for SOSS Centre for Innovation in Pedagogy.