APT Conference 2017, University of Greenwich

“The future ain’t what it used to be: inventing and re-imagining higher education practice”

On 4th July, the fifteenth annual Academic Practice and Technology conference took place at the University of Greenwich. The theme of the conference this year was to explore some of the challenges and opportunities emerging from the changing landscape in Higher Education. This week, our blog contains some snapshots of some of the presentations from the conference.

Ed De Quincey pic

Ed de Quincey, Senior Lecturer in the School of Computing and Mathematics at Keele University, gave the keynote address, “Reimagining Higher Education ; The Journey from Amateur to Professional”. Ed described how he has used Twitter as a predictive tool for flu outbreaks to enhancing pastoral care. Currently, Ed is working on the construction of a digital platform which gives students a way of visualising their progress both for themselves and in comparison to their peers. Students are asked to identify their motivation for entering Higher Education and this then becomes a central part of the personalised tracking programme. The key message delivered in this keynote, was the need to put the user at the centre of how we reimagine Higher Education, a theme that was continued in the sessions that followed. A copy of Ed’s slides can be found here.

The Padlet Project made its conference debut.Using Padlet as a means of increasing student engagement both in preparing for and participating in the seminars was discussed. Students are asked to work in small groups to prepare a post for a Padlet wall. The post can be either a consolidation post or an extension post dependent on the student’s own level of understanding of the key reading. Other students in the seminar group are asked to comment on the other groups’ posts. In preparing their post for the Padlet Project at GreenwichPadlet wall, students are urged to move out of their comfort zone and try to use digital tools that they may not have previously tried. Having started with only 3 apps for students to experiment with, we now have over 30 – the result of collaboration between myself, the students and the Technology Enhanced Learning team at Sussex (@SussexTEL). More details of the Padlet Project can be found here on the active learning site.

I wonder how many of us still rely on end of year assessments to measure progress in learning? If so, you may be interested to hear about the work being done at UWE, Bristol by Dr Chris Moore, Chris has been experimenting with the use of mobile device based controlled conditions assessment rather than the traditional paper based exams. Marking is automated and feedback is immediate for students, enabling them to tailor their revision based on their strengths and weaknesses. Questions can be randomised and the variety of questions is much wider than simple MCQs, including pick and mix activities, pictorial cues and gap fill questions. Students undertake 6 of these in-class assessments across the year with the best 5 contributing to their final mark. In each assessment, as well as 20 questiChris Moore talkons on recently covered material, there are 10 questions on previously covered material from earlier on in the term, ensuring that students do not just cram at the last minute but gradually build up their knowledge base as the term progresses and continue to engage with their material all year round. Chris hopes to use the data obtained to paint a picture of consistency across the year for each student.

As research into games based learning proliferates, it was great to see the work of Geraldine Foley and Sarah Leach in producing a board game for over 1000 students IMG_0429to use in seminars. “Capture the market” was designed from scratch by LSE teacher José Javier Olivas and the Learning Technology and Innovation (LTI) team at the London School of Economics. Students work in teams of 2-3 players with a maximum of 4 teams playing. The game is a tiles based board game (inspired by the open data game Datopolis) that requires students to apply their knowledge from a core module looking at the impact of Government intervention in markets and the bounded rationality of those competing to invest. The game was designed for a new Markets module, in the LSE’s compulsory multidisciplinary LSE100 course for all undergraduates, that will run for three years. Feedback from students in this pilot, suggested a role for play in engaging students and enabling them to learn co-operatively.  

For me, a most inspiring presentation in the conference was the one given by Chiandra Jayasekera, Samir Patel, Samuel Lam and Lyle Willis-Blackwood from St. Mary’s St. Mary'sUniversity. Sam and Lyle are two students who have created their own you-tube channel, “Uni-Bites”. The videos are produced in conjunction with the learning technology team to show fellow students how to eat healthily on a budget. Using the kitchens in student halls as the venue, Sam and Lyle show the steps involved in producing each meal. The presentation described some of the challenges involved in the project as well as the on-going development of the project.


Jayasekera, C., & Patel, S. (2017). . In eCentre. Retrieved from https://showtime.gre.ac.uk/index.php/ecentre/apt2017/paper/view/1150

Foley, G., & Leach, S. (2017). . In eCentre. Retrieved from https://showtime.gre.ac.uk/index.php/ecentre/apt2017/paper/view/1144

Garnham, W., & Betts, T. (2017). . In eCentre. Retrieved from https://showtime.gre.ac.uk/index.php/ecentre/apt2017/paper/view/1152

Moore, C. (2017). . In eCentre. Retrieved from https://showtime.gre.ac.uk/index.php/ecentre/apt2017/paper/view/1136

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