“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” (Carl Rogers)

Monday, 28 June 2010

CAL lights up Teaching & Learning Conference

[caption id="attachment_233" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Dr Philippa Semper presenting at the Teaching and Learning Conference, 23 June 2010"]Dr Philippa Semper[/caption]

The recent Teaching and Learning Conference, organised by APOD, was a great success and attracted speakers and attendees from across the University. The conference brought together teachers from the huge spectrum of disciplines at the University of Birmingham and was an extremely useful exercise in exchanging good practice, learning about recent technological innovations but also their limitations.

The College of Arts and Law had an increased presence in this year's conference. Hugh Adlington and Gillian Wright of the Department of English (EDACS) showcased a resource designed for students of English Literature which is used to enhance students' skills in the close reading of texts. This resource, designed by Marios Hadjianastasis under the Learner Independence Project for Arts and Law, looked at three specific texts from the Literature Foundation module and consists of a step-by-step exercise intended to teach the various parameters of close reading. The feedback from students was extremely encouraging and there are already plans for expanding the resource.

Monica Borg from the Department of Italian (LCAHM) demonstrated her use of Google Sites to create a collaborative wiki with students of the Visions of Italy module. The site, built with the support of Bill Miller, CAL Senior E-Learning Consultant, became an excellent resource and made learning an interactive and enjoyable experience for Monica and her students.

Anthea Harris from the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity highlighted a resource for pre-induction created in collaboration with Marios Hadjianastasis. The resource is released to incoming students before their arrival to Birmingham and contains information on aspects of life in Birmingham, learning at the University of Birmingham and basic information on welcome week events, registrations, student groups and so on. The resource is used by students not only during the first weeks of term, but throughout the year as an information directory.

Mary Harlow, also of the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, demonstrated her collaborative wiki (built on Google Sites) 'Romans FAQs', which she developed during her undergraduate module with the participation of students. Mary's presentation served to highlight the huge potential in the use of wikis, but also some of the limitations.

Philippa Semper from the Department of English (EDACS) showcased her use of the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition as an EBL tool with first-year students of English at Birmingham. Philippa conducted a number of visits to the exhibition with students, raising questions about the historical context of the treasure and the period in general, while at the same time interacting with the public and demonstrating in the best manner the relevance between our work at University level and the wider public.

Emma Wagstaff from French Studies (LCAHM) presented on her specialist option in French, where students develop skills on the formal analysis of artwork using an online model. These skills are then reinforced through a seminar and planned visits to the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

The conference was brilliantly planned and it offered an opportunity to members of CAL to observe practice elsewhere, as well as promote the good work carried out in the College.

The recently-formed e-learning team of the College of Arts and Law (elearnCAL) supported all the speakers in their preparation.

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View the photographs here

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