Can you trust the cheaters?

There’s an episode of The Sopranos, quite early on, where Christopher Moltisanti has someone impersonate him and take the stockbrokers’ licensing exam on his behalf so he can run a dodgy investment operation. By this point in the series, we’ve witnessed adultery, fraud, theft, violence, and murder but somehow this act of dishonesty really shocked me. It was so brazen: an invigilator calls the register in the test centre and someone whom the audience know is not Christopher Moltisanti raises his hand and says ‘here’. Of course, the ramifications of such academic misconduct reach far and wide – how many other brokers are operating with a licence they didn’t actually earn? How many bankers? How many pilots?

Twenty years later the exam-taking racket has grown and grown. Just as the shift of commerce to online has brought an increase in cyber theft, so digital learning and assessment is making students and institutions vulnerable to criminals who claim to be on the side of the learners. This past month members of the Educational Enhancement team went wading in the murky waters of paraphrasing tools, essay mills and exam personators, and are here to tell the tale. Short version, it’s a con.

At the bottom of the chain are the paraphrasing tools. These have simple interfaces and use jolly verbs like ‘spin’ which make the process feel like a game. Recently a Google Doodle honoured Irene Bernasconi so let’s use the first paragraph of Wikipedia’s article on her to demonstrate:

  • Original text: Irene Bernasconi was an Argentine marine biologist specializing in Echinoderm research and best known for her work in the Antarctic. She was the first echinoderm specialist in Argentina and spent 55 years conducting research into echinoderms found in the Argentine Sea.
  • Altered text: Irene Bernasconi was an Argentine sea life scholar spend significant time in Echinoderm exploration and most popular for her work in the Antarctic. She was the primary echinoderm expert in Argentina and endured 55 years leading examination into echinoderms tracked down in the Argentine Ocean.

The tool increased the word count by 24 words (almost 10%) and rephrased certain sentences. Now, if you run this new text through a plagiarism checker it shouldn’t hit as high as the original Wikipedia text would have. Take a closer look though, ‘marine biologist’, the official recognised term for this role, is now ‘sea life scholar’, Bernasconi’s most renowned work is now what makes her ‘popular’, and the ‘Argentine Sea’ has been renamed, erroneously, as the ‘Argentine Ocean’. Can you spot any other curious edits?

So surely no HE student would fall for this nonsense?  They could instantly spot that the rephrasing is utterly useless and so go back to writing their own essay, right? But wait, what’s that button at the bottom? Well, it says ‘Advanced Paraphrase’ and clicking it will take you to another site where the paraphrasing makes more sense but reverts in similarity to the original – no getting past the similarity checker here. Now what? Let’s take ourselves back to the beginning of this blog post: a tale of criminals exploiting the vulnerable. The new site offers the enticing ‘premium’ option and encourages students to sign up for a chargeable service and this service includes a built-in plagiarism checker so anyone who uses it doesn’t have to worry about triggering any alerts when they come to submit their work. You see how they hook you? Remember, it’s a con.

For obvious reasons, we won’t be sharing everything that we learnt as we investigated further. Let’s instead focus on how we can be certain that these sites and services are on nobody’s side but their own.

  • The graphics. From cartoon characters to industry-style branding and academic looking logos, these sites all employ the kind of visuals that appeal to viewers. No matter the cutesy or corporate graphics, these services are neither kind nor honourable. It’s a con.
  • The pop-ups. Try to navigate away from these sites and a pop-up will alert you to possible savings if you sign up there and then. Of course these ‘one time only’ offers will always be there. It’s a con.
  • The chat windows. Every site we visited had a chat window that opened instantly. The text used direct address and conversational language and featured avatars of smiley youngish people looking right out at us. Our suspicion is that these start as bots and a real person joins if the user engages but we can’t be certain of that. After all, it’s a con.
  • They’re watching you. A simple Google search for ideas such as ‘how to start a philosophy essay’ generated a page of results each of which was a link to an essay-writing service. This makes it really easy for students to stumble onto these sites unintentionally and that makes them vulnerable to all the tricks we’ve listed above. There are a few ways to get to the top of a Google results page but the key one is money. These criminal sites are able to invest in their prominence by spending the money they convince students to part with. Remember, it’s a con.
  • We’re onto them. The eternal tussle between the cops and the robbers is at play here. We know of a number of sites and have firewalls in place, and we also know ways to spot a script generated this way. Now imagine what happens if a student is discovered having used an essay-writing service and faces an academic misconduct panel – do they get their money back? Of course not, it’s a con.
  • It’s illegal. Earlier this year, the Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2022 stated that ‘it is an offence for a person to provide, or arrange for another person to provide, in commercial circumstances, a relevant service for a student in relation to a relevant assignment’. It should not be underestimated that these sites are being taken very seriously and are being called out for what they are, cons.

This is a conversation that is far from over. For now, please remember that no one is offering to write anyone’s essay out of the goodness of their heart and any site that offers illegal services is not one to engage with. It. Is. A. Con.

Tagged with: , ,
Posted in Marking and assessment

Using the content authoring tool H5P to create interactive learning material

Sue Robbins is Senior Lecturer in English Language, and Director of Continuing Professional Development in the School of Media, Arts and Humanities.

In this case study Sue describes using H5P to create interactive learning tasks in an online English language development course for international students.

What is H5P?

H5P is a content creation tool that allows you to create rich interactive content that can be embedded in a Canvas page. There is a wide range of task types including interactive videos, quizzes and games (see the full list of activity types).

There are a number of ways in which H5P activities can help enhance the learning process and encourage learner engagement. For example, you can create tasks which allow you to:

  • Build in opportunities for learners to check their understanding as they work through course material.
  • Sequence activities in order to scaffold learning.
  • Share activities with your learners that allow them to self-evaluate their learning and receive formative feedback.
  • Design activities that prepare learners for group, seminar or presentation tasks in advance.
  • Offer learners a variety of ways of engaging with the course material.
  • Support learners to develop skills and approaches that suit their discipline.
  • Supply automated feedback (with scope for added commentary) to support learners in their understanding of the material.
  • Create flipped learning content.
  • Create revision activities for your learners.

Here is a sample task that is designed to help English language learners read and understand infographics and talk about statistical information. It uses the ‘Course Presentation’ tool to group the activities and ‘Fill in the Blanks’ to check understanding.

What was the learning or teaching issue that prompted this innovation?

Online learning has been in the media regularly over the past year – not without controversy. On the publication of this year’s HEPI/AdvanceHE Student Academic Experience survey Nick Hillman, director of HEPI, suggested that that ‘the sector must ensure the new era of blended learning is a route to students doing a greater volume of effective academic work rather than it being used as a reason to reduce student engagement.’ Finding myself unexpectedly in this ‘new era of blended learning’ and interested in learning how to teach better in this mode, I used some of my scholarship time to engage in professional development opportunities to that end. Neil Stokes, head of digital learning and teaching at De Montfort University, notes in this THE article that as academics have a good understanding of the technology required to teach online what we now need to think about is “how can you build … communities, how can you make sessions interactive, how can you make them more engaging?” With online learning being a mode, not a pedagogy or an approach, what matters is the learning design – the active cognitive tasks that we ask students to do. Using H5P is a practical way to build interactivity into tasks and make the learning more engaging.

How did you ensure that the innovation was accessible to all?

Once the materials were written I worked with a member of the TEL team to build the online course in Canvas. We worked collaboratively to consider how best to make the navigation as accessible as possible to students unfamiliar with the platform and drew on the principles of instructional design to consider the pedagogic implications of asking students to work remotely with the site. We also considered a wide range of digital accessibility issues, including the accessibility of the H5P tasks. H5P.com maintain an overview of the accessibility of the various H5P content types. Providing students with online or blended options can increase the range of possibilities open to them and thereby improve inclusivity.

What impact did this have on the student experience?

The online material was used as a self-access resource this Summer (used both in and out of classroom) for international students on campus for a short language development course. Feedback was positive with all students agreeing that it was easy to navigate the online materials and they knew what they had to do at every stage. They appreciated the automated feedback provided by the H5P tasks, enjoyed the interactivity and task variety and thought it was ‘fun’. Importantly, they were able to notice an improvement in their English, even in the space of a few weeks.

It seems important, therefore, that we embrace the process of change and continue developing online/blended learning opportunities to support leaning and build on the good it can bring about for equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Interested in using H5P with your own students?

If you’d like to explore H5P please note you will need to purchase your own licence. Educational Enhancement are happy to demonstrate H5P to you and speak to you further about how to use it in your teaching activities. For up-to-date information on pricing, please visit h5p.com. Whilst Educational Enhancement can’t arrange licences on your behalf, they can signpost you to colleagues who will be able to advise.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Case Study

Portfolios: Collecting the best

A portfolio is a collection of a students work built up over a specific period of time often highlighting their development and collating the best examples of their practice. 

Portfolios can be a great tool for assessing students’ development as well as a way of allowing students to build up a strong collection of their best work that they can then show to others to highlight their growth and knowledge.

This blog post will cover a few different considerations and tools you can explore if you wish to incorporate digital portfolios into your teaching.

Considerations

When using a digital portfolio tool there are a few things to take into account which may influence what tool you use:

  • What is the purpose of the portfolio? Does the portfolio exist to help a student reflect, to show a student’s learning and progression over time, to prove they have mastered certain learning goals or to showcase the best examples of their work? It may even serve a hybrid role combining two or more of these types of portfolios
  • What sort of content will students be capturing and collating? Will this content be text based or will it incorporate other media such as images or videos? Will it need to have links to online resources or host them within the portfolio (such as PDFs),? Are there more specialized media that will need to be collected, such as samples of code?
  • Who will need to access the portfolio? Will the portfolio be personal and only accessed by the student, will it be seen by the student and instructor, shared by the student, with other students and the instructor and/or seen by outside users? Further, which bits of the portfolio need to be shared?
  • Will it need to be submitted, if so at what stage? If the portfolio does need to be submitted then will this be something that a student has to submit at regular intervals such as once a week or will it only be submitted at the end of a period of time when the portfolio is completed? For more information on how students can submit their portfolios see the How will students submit their portfolios to Canvas section below.
  • Can the portfolio be exported in an accessible format? Will the student take this portfolio with them after they’ve concluded their studies? If so, how will they export their content in a format they can access in future?
  • Will the portfolio form part of a contributory assessment? Is the answer is yes then you’ll need to consider how student’s portfolios can either be locked down at the due date (in the case of the portfolio being hosted outside of an uploaded file such as if a student links out to a portfolio on another platform or somewhere else on the web, then you’ll need to have some capacity to also lock down that external tool) or if the students will need to submit a static submission I.e. a file that is uploaded at a certain point and cannot be changed afterwards.

What tools can students use?

Word and PowerPoint

Students can use their Sussex account to access Office 365 which gives them the web versions of Word and PowerPoint. Any documents produced with these tools can be turned into collaborative files that can then be shared with instructors and/or their peers. Both Word and PowerPoint allow for text and images. It’s then possible to download these documents as files if they need to be submitted to a submission point within Canvas. These can be structured around week or topic, either by using headers within Word or with separate slides for PowerPoint.

Students are likely to already be familiar with both tools given their widespread popularity and use (although this cannot be presumed) so there is an advantage in that students won’t need much training in using them.

OneNote

OneNote is a digital notebook tool that automatically saves and syncs your notes as you work, like a collection of digital documents. Students have access to this with their Sussex account as part of Office 365.

Instructors can set up and share a notebook with others and either allocate sections of a notebook to groups of students or set up a Class Notebook to give each student their own notebook. Instructors can then easily view everyone’s work and progress.

Users can insert images, audio, video, documents, or hyperlinks and use text or digital ink to annotate around them. This functionality can also be used to support ongoing feedback. Students can also export their OneNote portfolio as a pdf and submit it to a Canvas assignment.

For more guidance see Microsoft’s  OneNote: your one-stop resource, OneNote video training or visit the OneNote Teacher Academy.

How will students submit their portfolios to Canvas (if needed)?

Canvas Online assignment submission points serve as a route by which students can upload their portfolios to Canvas. It’s possible to manually setup these assignments in your modules or have them centrally created based on assessment data within SussexDirect. Assignments can be configured to allow students to either type directly into a text box or upload a file or a link as their submission.

If students are uploading a file then you can restrict submissions to a certain file type, for example you might want your students to create and upload their Portfolio as a Word document or a PDF. It’s useful to prescribe the format to ensure that the instructors and other markers can open and view them.

Allowing a link as a submission can suit cases where students may have created their portfolio in a web accessible format or in a cloud storage area. In this case they could generate a shared link to their portfolio that they can submit. It’s important to note that if the assessment is contributory then you’ll need some way to lock down the web-based tool or cloud storage to ensure that students don’t edit their submissions after the due date has passed. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to have control over the software, rather decide how they might share items of work or the full portfolio. For example, from OneNote you might require that a PDF export is submitted.

You can create multiple Canvas Online assignments if you’d like students to upload their portfolios at regular intervals, for example you might want to have students submit their portfolio once a week for 10 weeks. In this case you could create 10 assignment points, or you may wish to just have one assignment point where students submit their final portfolios. 

Next steps

Portfolios can hugely differ in their purpose or requirements so if you do with to use portfolios within your teaching then please get in touch with us at Educational Enhancement either by emailing tel@sussex.ac.uk or by contacting your School’s Learning Technologist.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Learning Technologies, Uncategorized

The F word or, how you can learn to stop worrying and love the process

Wooden hand pointing to the left of the frame. The wooden hand sign occupies most of the frame, the ground is covered in snow.

Wooden hand pointing to the left of the frame. The wooden hand sign occupies most of the frame, the ground is covered in snow.

Yes, we’re of course talking about feedback. So, what is feedback? This excerpt taken from our Effective Feedback page on the Educational Enhancement website, sums it up nicely.

‘Effective feedback involves sense-making. It should help students to make sense of information from various sources and use it to enhance their work or learning strategies. Feedback should, therefore, identify the gap between the desired standards and the student’s achievement – then offer guidance on how to close the gap in future.’ 

Educational Enhancement, Effective feedback

Whether it’s feedback on your teaching, or feedback on the dinner you’ve been working on for hours, its timing and applicability is what makes it useful.

Feedback does demand time and attention, much of this though can be front-loaded, as in the bulk of your time on feedback is done before the busy marking period. Educational Enhancement has a number of things already in place, like upcoming workshops, existing resources or useful technologies,  which means there will be something you can try today. There is no better time to engage with the process of feedback than right now, the second best time is tomorrow. 

Educational Enhancement’s top four feedback fixes.

Use rubrics

If there is one tool, or one technology, that can help save you time when marking – yes, actually save you time, it is the rubric. In its simplest form, a rubric is a grid on which you select the students’ performance on a scale against given criteria. Some schools have a generic school-wide set of criteria, which you can adapt to fit your assessment. These schools will have a central place where you can download the rubrics or in some cases grading forms for Turnitin. For more support with rubrics, speak to your Director of Teaching and Learning or your Learning Technologist and Academic Developer where relevant.

Try this today:

Upskill your students

It is important for your students to understand and be comfortable with the process of both tutor and peer feedback. Tell your students where and when they will get their feedback. Show them how to access feedback, whether in Canvas or Turnitin or other. Whatever it is you do, tell them and show them.

Any formative activities you currently employ can be tweaked so that students provide peer feedback using your marking rubric. This gives students the chance to practise both crafting, receiving and acting on feedback.  By the time they get round to the summative assignments, they have intimate knowledge of your rubrics, how they’ll be used and, based on the formative assessment, what areas they need to focus on. 

Try this today: 

Fast feedback

In the classroom, there are ways for your students to get rapid feedback on= their learning. Anything from a very simple show of hands, through to more complex activities such as Team Based Learning, can give your students that immediate feedback that tells them – ‘I’m not quite where I thought I was’ or ’I was unsure and now I’m feeling good’. One such tool, which is fast to utilise and quick to learn is Poll Everywhere. You can set up everything from a quick pulse check style poll, though to more complex surveys and fun stuff like word clouds. If you haven’t got access to our institutional account, please email Educational Enhancement on tel@sussex.ac.uk.

Try this today:

Follow up

Your students are well practised, you’ve provided the feedback, it’s well accessed and students know what they need to do, now what? Do they know where they can get the help needed to take the next steps? For example, student A knows they need to improve their referencing. You’ve made it clear in the scoring of the rubric, they’ve read your comments in the written feedback. In short, they’ve received the communication, they’ve interpreted it and they now need help actioning it. So how do we do that? Signposting will help your students follow up on your carefully crafted feedback. For example, you can might point out to student A they need to improve their referencing. If you also include a link to the Skills Hub you will empower them take the next step. Or, maybe you notice quite a few of your students got into a muddle with referencing, then let your whole cohort know how they can access support.This can of course be scaffolded, in foundation year or year one, we may choose to provide more signposts, but by year two and year three, students can be more independent having developed their academic skills. 

Try this today:

  • Mentioned in this section is Skills Hub
  • You’ll need to signpost your students to a number of places, but always have in mind ‘I’ve told them to do x, but how do they know how to do x and where can they get that info?’

So there you have it, Educational Enhancement’s top four feedback fixes, which are you going to try first? For more support, guidance and a friendly ear to run things by, get in touch with your School’s Learning Technologist or Academic Developer or email Education Enhancement on tel@sussex.ac.uk and we’ll get back to you.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in feedback

Exploring personas in Educational Enhancement

In May 2022 the Education Enhancement team (formerly TEL) hosted a workshop on Inclusive curricula using digital personas, with guest speakers Katie Stripe and Katie Dallison from Imperial College London. This workshop looked at one way of improving our service planning and delivery towards a more inclusive curriculum, using diverse student personas. Digital personas are archetypal individuals commonly used in user experience design, and help to represent the diverse characters and goals of a customer group, to refer to when planning service delivery, with the aim of improving the user experience. The guest speaker’s published work on the topic can be found here, ‘Using Personas to Promote Inclusive Education in an Online Course’. 

The hands-on workshop took attendees on a journey through how personas were realised as a tool for student services, by staff who understood the diversity of their audience, to make more inclusive content. The presentation and templates generated discussion around the key considerations for student personas, including a name, area of study, location, family situation, what they want to achieve, their frustrations, and motivations. Much of what was covered for considering the service audience, can be applied where planning and building online content, and for in person educational delivery.

Drafting and using personas 

Following this event, EE staff considered how they could use personas with their audience, who are largely teaching staff. Following research into the range of possible information to capture and include with personas, the team shared the different characteristics that they come across at Sussex, that can affect the service we offer. Characteristics were given tally marks, to identify which were more recognised by the whole team. By adapting the template seen in Putting Personas to Work in UX Design: What They Are and Why They’re Important characteristics were grouped to form, initially, three different made-up people, to reflect much of the diverse nature of Sussex staff. It was recognised that these personas might be stereotypical in some ways, and will be tweaked or expanded to more personas over time and use. 

The newly drafted personas were then utilised by a small EE working group, to help review and restructure the existing digital guidance the wider EE team provide. This content at the time resided across different Sussex platforms, and was linked between them. Referring to the personas to structure content in a way that these imaginary people may access the content, based upon how they might approach a task and their goals, helped form the sections for the new structure. During the session members of the group gave live feedback on the personas, including identifying similar phrases across them, acknowledging that work was needed before making these available for wider use. Shortly after the workshop, the working group were asked for their feedback to help form a 2nd version of these personas. 

Next steps 

Reflecting on who EE supports can help us build more inclusive content, and this includes restructuring our help and guidance content for staff. One of the next steps is to review and develop these draft personas, now that they have been applied to a task. One idea from the team is to survey staff that use our services, to collect wider goals, motivations and frustrations. The content we create and deliver as a team should be designed to support these diverse needs and goals, and help towards making our user base feel more included. 

Posted in Learning Design

Educational Enhancement (EE): a fresh start for TEL

Members of EE at a workshop.
Members of EE at a workshop.


To better reflect the activities of our department, Technology Enhanced Learning has been renamed Educational Enhancement (EE). In recent years the team, which was originally focussed on Learning Technologies, has grown to also include Academic Development and Online Distance Learning.

What does Educational Enhancement do?

There are three main teams within EE all of which work together, and with academic and professional service colleagues across the university, to support and enhance the educational experience of Sussex students.

There are four Academic Developers (ADs) and an Academic Enhancement Officer, who work in partnership with the school clusters. Alongside providing leadership on institution-wide projects and bespoke projects the ADs offer pedagogic advice and support for curriculum design and innovation in teaching, learning and assessment. They are also involved in supporting the development of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning across the university.

Dan Axson as Learning Technologies Manager leads a team of six Learning Technologists (LTs) who focus on appropriate uses of digital technologies as they work in partnership with each school cluster to provide pedagogic advice and support for teaching practice, curriculum design and innovation in teaching, learning and assessment. The team offers an institutional source of expertise in effective educational practice using technologies and members are involved in educational enhancement projects at School, cluster or institutional level.

The Online Distance Learning (ODL) team, led by the Online Learning Manager, Mellow Sadik is made up of Learning Technologists, ODL Coordinators, a Project Officer and an ODL Librarian. Together they plan, develop and deliver the Sussex portfolio of fully online postgraduate courses and modules ensuring the portfolio of ODL courses is high quality and provides an excellent experience for over 1000 students around the world.

The whole is held together by the two Katies, Katie Piatt as Head of EE and Katie Turner as EE coordinator.

Dan Axson, Katie Turner and Katie Piatt stand in front of banners saying 'The Education Awards'.
Dan Axson, Katie Turner and Katie Piatt at the Sussex Education Awards.

New web presence coming

Over the summer we’ve been working on refreshing our web presence to reflect these changes and bring together all the guidance we offer. Over the coming weeks we will be further adding to the site and updating materials. If you can’t find what you are looking for just get in touch.

The new website is also where you’ll find details of the programme of workshops (in-person and online) being run by LTs and ADs in the coming term.

More self-enrol Canvas courses are also being created to allow staff to learn at their own pace. The existing courses on Canvas basics, Padlet and Podcasting will be supplemented with Marking and Poll Everywhere courses soon.

Members of the EE team play rounders in the park
EE Team games in Stanmer Park.

Contacting us 

Have a look at the About Educational Enhancement page for more information on the team and how to contact us. We are still using the tel@sussex.ac.uk email address for the time being.

Tagged with:
Posted in Technology Enhanced Learning

Summer conference round-up

Educational Enhancement (EE) team members have been attending and presenting at a range of conferences over the summer months, as part of our work keeping an eye on sector developments as well as disseminating our own good practice and research. This post lists some of the events we have been taking part in.

Playful Learning 2021222 – July 2022

Conference website

Photo of George standing up during a conference session and throwing an object (a potato) while delegates observe.
Learning Technologist George Robinson exploring the ‘hot potato’ of copyright at the Playful Learning conference

Playful Learning is a conference exploring the intersection of learning and play for adults. This year’s conference was three years in one, as two years were postponed due to Covid. The conference is a great way to meet other playful people and be inspired by talks, workshops, activities and events. Katie Piatt (Head of Educational Enhancement) and George Robinson (Learning Technologist) attended the conference and presented their work on accessibility: ‘Quest not Questionnaire: Improving Accessibility Skills’ in collaboration with Jill Shacklock from the University of Brighton. Katie is now one of the co-chairs for the 2023 conference which will be held in Leicester.

Active Learning Network – July 2022

Conference website

This was the 5th International Active Learning Conference held online, on the theme of ‘Moving forward with confidence’. As one of the founding institutions of this network, many members of the EE team attended sessions throughout the day and were involved with organisation and session chairing. The conference highlighted some of the amazing active learning being undertaken around the world.

Cover of a book with large photo of a yellow butterfly, with the title 100 Ideas for Active Learning.
The cover of the open handbook, 100 Ideas for Active Learning.

The event also saw the launch of the new ‘100 Ideas for Active Learning‘ ebook. Congratulations to all involved on this collaborative and open handbook which contains contributions from many Sussex colleagues and was edited by Paolo Oprandi and Tab Betts.

EUROSoTL 2022 – July 2022

Conference website / Presentation link

Screenshot of title conference slide: Building communities through the scholarship of teaching and learning. There is an image of 5 hands touching above the University of Sussex logo.

In July 2022 EuroSoTL held its conference at Manchester Metropolitan University under the theme of ‘Building Communities through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)’. Sarah Watson (Academic Developer) and Susan Smith (Associate Dean for Education: University of Sussex Business School) ran a workshop asking participants to collaboratively problem-solve some of the barriers to building SoTL within HE institutions. Participants added potential solutions to a Padlet wall, which they could then take back and share at their own institutions. Sarah and Susan have subsequently been invited to repeat the workshop at Queen’s University, Belfast. Throughout the session, and the conference more widely, the importance of informal spaces for community-building was reiterated. In Germany this took the form of private conversations between colleagues in corridors on the way to class, in Sweden it was discussions of scholarship ideas over fika, and in the UK it was the lure of tea vouchers that got colleagues to sit down together and chat. The conference demonstrated that there were many ways to build SoTL communities, but perhaps the most straightforward and convincing was simply an informal space where colleagues could come together to eat, drink and discuss.

LTSE conference (Belfast) – May 2022

Conference website / Presentation link

Screenshot of title conference slide: Experiences of belonging: a comparative case study. The text is shown over a photo of a university building.


At the end of May 2022, the Chartered Accountants of Business Schools held their Learning and Teaching conference in Belfast. The event brought together over 300 participants from 90% of the UK’s business schools. Sarah Watson (Academic Developer) and Susan Smith (Associate Dean for Education: University of Sussex Business School) presented on their British Academy funded research into the persistent 10% awarding gap between UK and China domiciled Business and Management undergraduates (Crawford & Wang, 2015; Smith, 2020). The paper challenged the common assumption that China-domiciled students are academically disadvantaged by a ‘passive, unparticipative, and uncritical’ approach to learning (Lomer & Mittlemeier, 2021) and investigated the complex contributors to the gap, such as feelings of belonging. The paper was well-received and generated interesting discussion around the nuances of belonging and the need for future research into belonging amongst postgraduate cohorts. Belonging in HE was a key theme of the conference, alongside employability and sustainability, chiming with many of the University of Sussex’s key priorities.

We look forward to sharing more information about these and other events with colleagues over the coming academic year.

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in External events

AI in education – what can we expect in the future?

The field of artificial intelligence (AI) is progressing rapidly and, as a data-driven technology, AI-powered tools lend themselves to a wide range of applications. In this blog we will look at potential opportunities for AI integration into teaching and learning, current case studies of successful use, and the explicit limitations and vulnerabilities of using this technology-driven approach.

Read more ›
Tagged with: ,
Posted in Technology Enhanced Learning

About our blog

We are the Educational Enhancement team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow us on Twitter

Archive