Last week, Bloomsbury Institute’s annual Teaching and Learning Conference convened at International Student House, welcoming delegates from across our departments and divisions, and external guests.
The theme of the conference ‘Taking Shape’ was inspired by reflections over the last year on the how of teaching, in particular form and style. While these reflections arose in part from the Institute’s increased engagement with digital pedagogy, they have perhaps inevitably led to a greater awareness of teaching as an act of communication that is consciously crafted, designed, performed, and exhibited.
Opening the conference, Cal Courtney, Director of the Centre for Community Engagement and Learning, welcomed special guest Lesley Ewen from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Lesley began the day by treating delegates to a fun and highly interactive session about how our bodies tell a story. Mixing performance, neuroscience, meditation and mindfulness, Lesley’s session was a thoughtful reminder of the full potential of bodies to be part of the art of communication in the classroom.
We were also delighted to welcome Professor Claire Taylor, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Wrexham Glyndŵr University, and Diana Beech, CEO of London Higher. Claire and Diana joined a conversation with Bloomsbury Institute staff about breaking down barriers in higher education, and how we work together to achieve this. To read a summary of Diana’s excellent remarks, take a look at her Breaking Down Barriers Together blog on HEPI.
Throughout the rest of the day, delegates were thoroughly engaged by conference contributors who used a variety of methods to explore aspects of teaching, student learning and outcomes. Dr Sebastian Lesniewski’s research unpicked the features of learning videos that make for high impact. Savaira Zoraiz and Lynn Danzig’s reflection on student work experience with Bloomsbury Institute’s Learning Technology team sparked interest on social media, and hopefully inspires practice elsewhere.
The theme of employability was continued by two ex-students turned staff members of our Student Engagement and Wellbeing Support team: Narmin Yousaf and Sara Sackey. Their discussion with delegates drew applause for its exploration of the transferable skills acquired during their studies. Elizabeth Hollis-Watts showcased our lecturers’ innovative application of educational technology, and Sara Bashir Malik drew delegates into an active discussion on simple strategies for improving student engagement through inquiry-based learning.
Entertainment was provided throughout by Bloomsbury Radio, and by Ana Neves violinist from Music Masters, an organisation that works to break down barriers to music education. Delegates also enjoyed a poster and table display of creative talent from the Business Society members at Bloomsbury Institute Guild.
You can read more about the staff who presented at the conference on our staff page. Watch out for a blog next week on one of the annual highlights of the conference, the staff awards!
If you missed the conference, there will be a chance to catch up on some of the research presentations at our forthcoming Research Seminar Series 2022-23.
Thank you to everybody who attended the conference and helped make it a success, especially our guests and our staff and student presenters.