Tuesday, 22 June 2010

HEA Conference Day 1 Digest

I left Newport at 7.38am and managed to get lost on the London Underground between Paddington and Kings Cross and missed my connection, whereas Rachel Stubley caught a later train from Newport and arrived at Hatfield before me!

The Higher Education Academy (HEA) Annual Conference is being held at the University of Hertfordshire's De Havilland Campus, which is apparently one of the most, if not the most, expensive campus developments in the UK in recent years. A very modern campus with some interesting architecture - a good venue for the conference.

I arrived halfway through the opening keynote by Prof Calie Pistorus, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hull. He advocated innovation university's (rather than innovative university's), which was controversial to some. This was followed by the first session, which I attended a talk by Tracey Maddern of the HEA's UK Physical Sciences Subject Centre on the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs). I've also been involved in the same JISC-funded project with the Geography (GEES) Subject Centre, so it was interesting to see it from another projects' viewpoint. My pencast is here.

At lunch a book I edited, published by the HEA, was launched, entitled 'Linking research and teaching in Wales'. It looks good and seems pretty clean of errors. I also found out that Paul Andrews and Lyndsey Muir from the School of Health and Social Sciences at Newport had been replaced by their colleagues Mike Simmons and Carl Sykes.

I then spent the afternoon attending sessions on teaching lecturers in HE on Postgraduate Certificate courses. This relates to the CELT PGCert in Developing Professional Practice in Higher Education at Newport:
  1. The first was by Peter Hartley and Ruth Whitfield of Bradford University who have developed an online Skills Mapping and Reflection Tool (SMaRT). Seems to be have a use in identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses against the UK Professional Standards Framework, but not sure how far it could be taken? My partial pencast is here (batteries then ran out).
  2. I then went to a talk by John Butcher and Di Stouncel of the University of Northampton who reported on a research project they had undertaken on the impact of staff taking their PGCert. The findings indicated that the "PGCert is effective in supporting the transition to confident, competent, reflective HE professionals".
  3. The last session for the day I attended was by Heather Worthington (Cardiff University) and Elizabeth Staddon (University of the Creative Arts). They discussed the development of a module for postgraduate tutors (i.e. PhD students that teach), and support as they applied for HEA Associate Fellowship. It was entirely based online through Blackboard, so similar in some ways to the distance learning PGCert at Newport.
The Conference Dinner in the evening was nice and the team sat with Prof Stuart Hampton-Reeves and Mandy Dillon of the University of Central Lancashire. Stuart gave a keynote at the CELT Winter Conference in Newport last December, so it was good to catch up with him again. After dinner Rachel Stubley took us to see a labyrinth connected to a presentation given by Jan Sellers of the University of Kent earlier this afternoon. Jan was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship and came up with a "wholly unexpected outcome"! Rachel recounted that Jan discussed the "staff and student use of the labyrinth to deepen reflection and creativity". Our YouTube report for Day 1 includes the labyrinth towards the end.


  1. Hey Simon, sorry I was bitching about your constant video-ing at the HEA conference - I take it all back, it's really nice to have this memento :-)