Learning and teaching conference

Teesside University hosts an annual programme of Learning and Teaching Enhancement Conferences. This year it was held in Teesside’s ionic new landmark building known as The Curve, located on Campus Heart. It was a two-day conference that took place in June, designed to bring staff and students together to explore current issues under the broad heading of ‘Promoting Teaching Excellence’.

Keynote presentations are generally given by leading sector experts and Teesside did not disappoint, both  speakers were particularly interesting. Professor Stuart Hampton-Reeves from University of Central Lancashire delivered his keynote speech on the first day and Eric Stoller, Independent Consultant delivered his speech the following day. Day 1 was titled ‘Explore the interface between professional practice, research and teaching’ while day 2’s focus was ‘Develops future facing pedagogies for the 21st Century’.

The conference was open to teaching staff from other institutions, students and anyone who had taken an interest. My colleagues and I attended both days of the conference and signed up for multiple workshops delivered by a range of different speakers. Not only are these events a great way to network and especially useful for me since I am in the early stages of my PhD process but they are a great opportunity to learn about different teaching styles and how they affect students. As I am new to teaching I want to learn more about different strategies I can adopt and how and why emerging technologies such as Mahara (a form of Personal Learning Environment) and social media sites could be the future of teaching. Now, I’m probably not the only one thinking this but the thought of using social media in the classroom was, at first, bizarre to me. Although, think about it… It’s almost standard operating procedure these days for teachers and students to use social media on a regular basis; we just need to learn how to use it in a strategic way.

Throughout the rest of the day the speakers varied from lecturers to students. I really enjoyed all talks, especially the ones presented by the students. I attended a talk that involved lecturers from Teesside University’s Art and Design School using the student-centred learning approach to inspire students to re-design the top floor of the library. Ultimately they thrived from the experience. However, the discussion afterwards caused much controversy, emphasising how student lead assignments may not work under every circumstance. There is much debate about student-centred learning versus teacher-centred learning, which shifts the focus of instruction from the teacher to the student. I agree it’s not possible to use this approach on every occasion but this particular experience was great and shows how in some occurrences it can benefit both teacher and student.

Personally, I think the take home message is… we all have our own individual teaching style and if it engages students in the learning process then keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to adjust your style towards students’ learning needs and keep an open-mind when it comes to modern technology.

Why not come and join us at our next event – lunch is provided and delicious, if nothing else! Check out Teesside University’s website for more info.