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.

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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.

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Posted in Technology Enhanced Learning

5 new changes in Padlet

Padlet is a great tool which is popular around the University, the tool has also received a number of new updates over the last year or so which have added functionality and improvements to one of our favourite tools.

So relax in the lovely sunshine/rain and catch up on five changes that have been made to Padlet over the last year or so.

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TEL Events: DARE to Transform – Realising relational education 14th June 2022

Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) were very happy to have external speaker Dr Emily McIntosh (Director of Learning, Teaching and Student Experience at Middlesex University) present for the DARE To Transform network on the topic of ‘Realising relational education: Integrated spaces to promote scholarly pedagogic enquiry and impact.’

The webinar discussed the importance of the third space (Whitchurch, 2012) in promoting the work of teaching professionals, pedagogic practice, scholarly enquiry and impact in higher education. In this talk Dr Emily McIntosh presented the third space as the place of crossed boundaries, where colleagues from professional services or industry experts undertake teaching and/or research, and overlap with the academic sphere. 

screenshot of Dr Emily McIntosh presenting her webinar.
Dr Emily McIntosh presenting her webinar.

This insightful talk considered how promoting a culture of third space working can impact positively on scholarly inquiry and help to explore, reflect upon and champion the scholarship of education. Colleagues found this a very rich and thought-provoking discussion, where McIntosh was able to give a contextual background with which to identify.

Dr Emily McIntosh unpacked what it meant to work within the third space by drawing on the works of traditional Freirean philosophies of pedagogy and other models of relational and relationship-rich education, which think about learning in contexts that extend beyond the boundaried nature of traditional disciplines and teaching spaces. The presenter then considered the occupation of this third space to the following four dimensions: (1) the relationships nurtured, (2) the space occupied, (3) legitimacies held, and (4) knowledges developed (based on Whitchurch, 2013).

While the growth of the third space brings challenges to secure identities, clear career trajectories and respect and understanding within HE community, it also provides exciting opportunities. McIntosh’s talk highlighted some of the opportunities that exist within the boundary-crossing third space as she promoted her new book The Impact of the Integrated Practitioner in Higher Education (Routledge 2022) and welcomed colleagues to contribute to her blog: Third Space Perspectives.

Further resources

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The online Global Festival of Active Learning

In 2022 the Active Learning Network, with the University of Sussex, Anglia Ruskin University, University of Glasgow, the University of Coventry and other key universities, hosted the second Global Online Festival of Active Learning. The Active Learning Network is a global community supporting the development of teaching and assessment practices that encourage students to take active approaches to their learning. The festival itself is a chance to celebrate playful and innovative strategies for active learning and to showcase approaches to teaching and assessment that others can adopt in their own teaching context.

The festival was attended by over one hundred and eighty participants from seventy different institutions. Feedback was overwhelming positive about the event and comments included: 

I am loving this festival and want to thank the organisers, other presenters, and participants. Such a great community of practice. So inspiring!

Really impressive and imaginative use of synchronous and asynchronous modalities.

Fun and engaging as well as meaningful.

Like last year, the festival ran ‘breakfast’ sessions between 9am and 10am and ‘tea time’ sessions between 5pm and 6pm. The idea of these times is that UK participants can join the sessions without interrupting their work day; to encourage people living in eastern nation timezones to join our morning sessions and people living in western nation time zones to join our evening sessions. This idea has been very popular with attendees with over one thousand three hundred sign-ups for different sessions. 


The festival made extensive use of ‘free’ social technologies, which allowed easy sharing and re-use of texts and materials. For example, contributors to the festival built their slides to create their submission, which then formed part of the programme. The technologies included Eventbrite for booking, Google Slides for the programme, Google Forms for feedback and metaverse for networking and socialising. The University of Sussex Zoom account was used to create ‘Jamming tents’ for the sessions.


The online festival ran two types of event: synchronous ‘Jam’ events where we all met together to engage in activities, discuss and build artefacts, usually co-creating digital resources, and asynchronous ‘Moshpit’ events where we engaged in activities and built artefacts in our own time throughout the week. 

The ‘Jam’ events

There were twenty-six ‘Jam’ events (including the launch party and closing finale) and there were two or three parallel sessions running at one time. All the sessions were highly interactive with many collaborative writing activities, collage creation and role play.

Many active learning tools were introduced with the technologies that supported them. To name but a few:

  • Jamie Heywood from Anglia Ruskin introduced the use of social media in teaching.
  • Adam Tate, Bianca Fox and Sandy Cope from Nottingham Trent University used Google Jam Boards so participants could mindmap the challenges of training new members of staff about the use of active learning approaches to their teaching. 
  • Oliver Haslam and Beth Hammond from the University of the West of England who introduced Seppo, a location-based learning tool.
  • Helen Walmsley-Smith and Matt Coombe-Boxall from Staffordshire University asked us to consider leading teaching through the medium of quizzes and multiple-choice questions (MCQs) created by the tutor and students. 
  • Alison McCandlish from the University of Glasgow introduced Freemix for creating collages.

Many sessions used Padlet and Polleverywhere such as Brena Collyer de Aguiar and Lucila Newell from the Online Distance Learning team at the University of Sussex who used them to discuss the solutions and challenges of delivering distance education. And many used Google apps to co-create documents such as Mary Jacobs from the Aberystwyth University who had us Designing Active Cognitive Tasks and Tab Betts from the University of Sussex in his co-writing session creating a Manifesto for Inclusive and Accessible Education. Environmental sustainability was a theme too with Beatriz Acevedo, Romas Malevicius, Hassiba Fadli and Carmen Lamberti from Anglia Ruskin in their ‘Love, Think and Act project of art and education for sustainability’ and Russell Crawford and Jake Causely from Falmouth University who used a ‘Diamond Nine Curriculum Ladder’ for us to co-create a priority list for embedding environmental sustainability into university curriculum. There was Lego building too and many sessions of ‘Kicking the Hornet’s Nest’ where controversial ideas were presented and discussed.

The ‘Moshpit’ events

There were five asynchronous moshpit events that participants did in their own time. These activities included:

  • A ‘Put Yourself on the Map‘ activity which gave a visualisation of where we were connecting from (and where they wanted to be)! 
  • A ‘Pull Someone into the Moshpit Tent‘ where participants interviewed each other on matters of Active Learning.
  • A ‘Walking Tent‘ where participants were invited to go on a daily walking adventure – centred around an Active Learning challenge.
  • An ‘Art Tent‘ where participants contributed their artistic creations.
  • A ‘Food Tent‘ where participants shared what they were eating and related it to active learning.

That week, lunchtimes became a hive of creativity and celebration for festival attendees.


The Global Online Festival of Active Learning celebrates teaching strategies that encourage students to actively engage in learning content we are delivering. The TEL team at the University of Sussex, in line with our 2025 strategic framework which foregrounds kindness, integrity, inclusion, collaboration and courage, supports the Active Learning Network and its endeavours to support active learning approaches.
Please visit the Active Learning Network website to find out more about the organisation and sign up to the mailing list.

Posted in Events

What’s in your pocket? The apps the TEL team keep on their phones

Several years ago we blogged about the apps that the members of the TEL team keep on their phones. Since then the team has changed, apps and phones have developed and we’ve all found ourselves in a pandemic. So as a fun ‘end-of-term’ activity we have looked again at how some of us use our phones.

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Posted in Apps and tools, Mobile learning

TEL Events round-up

April and May saw the return of in person events for Technology Enhanced Learning. The three events below highlight just how diverse the work of TEL is, from Online Distance Learning, to Playful Pedagogies, via Digital Personas, there was something for everyone. Don’t forget to keep an eye on our website for future events. It’s been a real joy getting back to in person events and we hope to see more of your over the coming months and the next academic year.

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Posted in Events, Online Distance Learning (ODL), Professional Development

Top 10 tips for getting your Canvas modules ready for 22/23

The new empty Canvas sites for 2022/23 modules are now available to University of Sussex staff. TEL have provided guidance on how to get them ready for the new academic year and here is a top ten of things to remember.

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We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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