October 2022

Robots, VR and Lego: University conference showcases innovative teaching for next generation 

By Darren Campbell

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From roaming robots to cutting-edge cameras and virtual reality, lecturers at University College Birmingham have been exploring the latest tech to help develop exciting new learning opportunities for students as part of an annual conference event. 

Staff from across the University gathered at this year's Learning and Teaching Conference at McIntyre House to discuss and discover innovative new ways to support students' learning following two challenging academic years impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Held in September, this year’s conference featured a range of guest talks and workshops, with staff showcasing their wealth of knowledge and innovative teaching practice. 

Among the variety of sessions, academics had the opportunity to examine VR content created by hospitality, tourism and creative lecturers alongside the University’s Digital Innovation for Creativity in Education (DICE) team. 

They also had the chance to get hands-on with cameras and other equipment in a dedicated 'technology playground', and discover applications of robotics in everything from engineering to healthcare and hospitality – even coming 'face-to-face' with a robot waitress and robot photographer. 

"It was a great example of how putting the student front and centre in our activities can lead to a range of innovative and best practice that benefits all"

Dr Charles Knight Senior Advisor (Learning and Teaching), Advance HE

Other sessions explored the benefits of Lego Serious Play to engage students creatively, as well as the world of Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) projects, designed to enable students to engage internationally from the comfort of their own home or institution. 

The event forms part of the University's current Learning and Teaching Strategy, aiming to support the delivery of engaging and effective teaching and learning experiences. It also saw the launch of the new Student Success Strategy, seeking to create the right conditions and experience for students to succeed at University College Birmingham. 

The conference opened with a keynote talk from Dr Charles Knight, Senior Advisor (Learning and Teaching) at Advance HE, exploring how to create transformational post-Covid learning experiences for the next generation. 

The conference was opened with a keynote speech from Dr Charles Knight

"The conference was fantastic," said Charles. "It was a great example of how putting the student front and centre in our activities can lead to a range of innovative and best practice that benefits all." 

Also speaking at the conference was David Grey – Chief Executive of UK Advising and Tutoring (UKAT), an association promoting student success through the advance of personal academic tutoring – who was on hand to introduce staff to the UKAT Professional Framework and Recognition scheme. 

In pictures: Learning and Teaching Conference 2022

The conference featured a 'technology playground', where staff could get to grips with the latest tech for supporting teaching and learning

Elsewhere in McIntyre House throughout the day, staff were able to attend a workshop on the Industry Exchange Programme, supporting colleagues to work within a chosen sector throughout the academic year, forging strong industry networks and enhancing the curriculum as well as teaching and learning practice. 

Other sessions also covered areas such as enhancing inclusivity in programme design, innovative industry-led assessment, creating accessible module content, applying for professional accreditations and much more. 

Tsai Lovett, Deputy Dean (Teaching, Learning and Digital) at the University’s School of Business, Tourism and Creative Industries, said: “This year’s Learning and Teaching Conference has put a spotlight on the exceptional teaching quality and student support here at University College Birmingham, both of which have been endorsed by students who voted for us to win University of the Year and Best Student Support at this year’s Whatuni Student Choice Awards. 

“I am thrilled to see our Learning and Teaching Strategy being brought to life following its launch this time last year.” 

About our Learning and Teaching Strategy 

University College Birmingham’s Learning and Teaching Strategy (2021-24) has been developed amid the revolutionary changes to teaching and learning during the Covid pandemic over the past two years. 

Aiming to develop an inspiring, innovating and future-focused curriculum, the strategy focuses on three key ‘pillars’ for achieving its aims: 

  • Pillar One: Provide accessible and inclusive teaching and learning across a wide range of vocationally-led programmes 
  • Pillar Two: Develop next generation opportunities and skills through innovative, future-focused curriculum and pedagogy 
  • Pillar Three: Shape local and global sectors, promoting sustainable futures and global citizenship 

Find out more about our current Learning and Teaching Strategy here

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