Tag Archives: creativity

Conference engagement: a personal view


by Natasha Taylor

So, how will you engage with your own conference?’, asked a colleague, yesterday.

This last fortnight has been a whirlwind of printing, uploading and dealing with last-minute panics, all with the aim of making sure 500 people have a good conference experience next week.  But a conversation yesterday made me stop and think: what am I looking forward to?

Organising a conference can be all consuming. It is easy to get lost in the admin and barrage of deadlines. I’ve read every abstract, liaised with every presenter and toiled for hours (literally) to make sure that everything makes sense. I know the programme better than anyone else, and there is something in every session  that is genuinely of interest to me. So, how do I decide what to do and go to on the day?

For me, going to a conference is a rare opportunity to learn about something new. So, I try to choose sessions which are not obviously and directly related to my discipline/research topic, but appeal because they make me curious. What could I learn from other people’s worlds?

Based on this reasoning, I will go to at least one of the Make Space workshops. I’ll confess that I am a ‘maker’ at heart; I’m not artistically talented but I love learning new creative skills, especially in the company of other ‘enthusiastic novices’. There is enormous satisfaction to be had in being free to think about things in different ways – in my work there is not much scope for exploring images and sounds and the writing is always very academic – and some of my most satisfying learning experiences have come through making collages, drawing (awful) pictures, and building sculptures. So often, it is not the artefact produced at the end of the lesson that is important, but the learning process you go through to get there, and the conversations you have with others. These experiences have profoundly impacted on my teaching practice, and I constantly find myself finding ways of using activities, resources and assessments which encourage my students develop key academic skills and build confidence through creativity.

In putting together the programme, I have been lucky enough to enjoy fascinating conversations with the SIA staff who have kindly opened up the doors of their studio spaces for the conference. We can learn so much from the pedagogies of the creative arts and I find it almost impossible to chose between the workshops on offer. I can easily see how I might draw on the techniques used by Peter Kaye for helping students who struggle to use language, to define concepts and analyse things. Frazer Hudson’s work excites me because it reminds us to look outwards, to be aware of the world and to be open to see things differently (he has also found a way of using the workshop as part of his own research project and that is just brilliant). Liz Noble’s session on screen printing is as just as much about learning a process, in a very special room with special equipment, as it is about developing a learning community. Finally, Joanna Rucklidge’s workshop explores how you can use play and interaction to support creative thinking, helping students out of that ‘fear of getting things wrong’ mode. Spoilt for choice, I think I might join Frazer’s session because I can see so many applications for his approaches in my own work (that said, I am inextricably drawn to the idea of getting inky hands!).

When I step back and think about it, I have no control over how 500 people engage with the conference on the day. But I have made it my own mission to engage with it creatively; I’m going to step in to the realm of another discipline and learn from their pedagogies. I’m going to finish the day with ideas to try out in my own teaching. Most importantly, I’m going to enjoy it!

243 – Creating and Manipulating Images using Maths and a Spreadsheet – Jeff Waldock

Experiential or active learning is a powerful mechanism for enhancing student motivation and engagement.  At one level it can demonstrate real-world applications of abstract theory, deepening and embedding understanding of it; at another it can represent realistic work-related learning. The mathematics programme at SHU is distinctive in the sector because in addition to developing subject-specific skills it focuses on developing real practical skills in applying mathematics, with graduates better prepared for the workplace.  This presentation will describe one specific mathematical modelling activity in which students research mathematical algorithms to implement a variety of effects on a digital photograph.  The mathematics involved can be very simple, such as using addition to brighten an image – or more advanced, requiring two dimensional calculus for sharpening an image. Students are very familiar with using spreadsheets, and therefore an Excel add-in has been developed which can take a digital image and import the individual pixel values into the worksheets of a workbook.  Existing skills can be used to carry out the necessary effects; the add-in provides a mechanism for recompiling a jpeg image from the worksheets. Because an image can be compiled directly from the worksheets, this paves the way for more creative use to be made of mathematical skills in generating images from scratch.  Students have found this to be a great way to explore their creative side – something rare in a mathematics programme.  Examples of images created using mathematics in this way will be shown, including the development of movies generated by running successive images together.  The experiences of a group of final year undergraduate students who have used the software will be described and some possible extensions and other applications explored.

Click to view presentation:  243 SHU_LTA_19June13_Digimages

83 – Using social media to develop course communities – Sue Beckingham

This thunderstorm session will introduce you to the potential of social media as digital communication channels to develop communities of practice engaging both current students and alumni of the course. It will look at the role of social media as an effective and collaborative information channel, a discussion forum and a creative space to share as well as question through a variety of digital mediums. A selection of case studies from various disciplines will be referred to.

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/suebeckingham/15-tips-on-using-social-media-to-develop-course-communities

2012 Virtual meeting and tutorial spaces

Melanie Levick-Parkin

Design is traditionally a studio-based subject and thus design education has also always centred around the physical creative space. This space has not just been important for the physical production of things, but as a joint thinking space. Modern Universities room utilisation systems and hourly based timetabling have made the time and space available for traditional studio teaching very sparse and the issue affects subjects far beyond the studio culture of art & design. 

This problem is not unique to the design discipline, because many subjects have at their core creative processes, which need mental space to flourish and make joint physical space desirable.

To the uninitiated any creative process can seem quite unproductive and unfocused at times, and it is sometimes difficult to argue for the need to have space for students to just be in and for teachers to drop in on.

So teaching and contact has had to become very focused and compartmentalised and all other activities such as production and ‘creative idling’ have to be taken elsewhere.

This creates a physical and mental distance between the teachers, the students and their peers, and severely limits the times and spaces in which feedback or exchange can occur. 

Is it possible to use the digital realm to create spaces where this contact can take place in a more responsive, organic way, more sympathetic to the creative process? Will students participate and take advantage of the space and the extra contact offered and will it have an impact on their achievement and learning experience? With Case study example to discuss

D7 – (EN56, EN11, EN22, EN28) 15.30

2012 Multiple experiences, multiple modes: engaging learners through the production of educational support resources

Cathy Malone, Oksana Fedotova, Melvyn Ternan, Helen Walmesley, Sam Dorrian, Nathan Elliss and Rachel Clarke

The co-lab is based on a recent collaboration between educational developers and academic staff  teaching on BA Animation, and a small-scale qualitative study evaluating this experience.  Using the preliminary research findings as a starting point, we shall consider the value of introducing audiovisual assessment methods into critical-theoretical modules.  Secondly, we shall consider the ways in which the University services can act as partners in pedagogic interventions, expanding students’ work-based learning opportunities and benefitting from their creative input.  The presentation will be illustrated by short screenings of student work.   

The use of multimedia teaching resources has been well documented, particularly in relation to  online tutorials and demonstrations (Sugar et al 2010).  Theories of multimedia learning suggest several advantages of mixed modality presentations (Moreno and Mayer 1999).  Addressing several modes at once (verbal, audio, visual) increases learner engagement, as well as acting as a welcome ‘just in time’  refresher   (Coutinho and Rocha 2010).    More recently,  there has been a shift towards student-produced digital artefacts,  underpinned  by the constructivist views of learning and the appreciation of the participatory nature of contemporary youth culture.  Acting as decision-makers, producers  and evaluators positions the learners at higher stages of Bloom’s taxonomy (Shafer 2010).  Kress et al (2001) argue that this process has a transformative nature, both due to the learner actively reshaping the available semiotic resources, and in terms of the resulting cognitive shifts.  

The first part of the presentation will focus on the curricular developments applying these ideas to a second-year module, traditionally dealing with theoretical texts and academic essay writing.   The second part of the paper describes the work the students undertook after the end of the module, for a number of University clients, including disabled student support, wellbeing, and study support. 

On presenting the preliminary research findings, the seminar participants will be invited to discuss the pedagogic challenges, operational and resource implications and their potential transferability outside media arts disciplines.  


Coutinho, C. P. and Rocha, A. M. M. (2010) “Examining the use of educational video clips on distance education. “, SITE 2010 : Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, San Diego 

Kress, G., Jewitt, C., Ogborn, J. and Tsatsarelis, C. (2001) Multimodal Teaching and Learning: The Rhetorics of the Science Classroom, Continuum 

Moreno, R., and Mayer, R. E. (1999) “Cognitive principles of multimedia learning: The role of modality and contiguity effects”, Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 

Shafer, K. G. (2010). “The proof is in the screencast”,  Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 10 (4) 

Sugar, W., Brown, A. and Luterbach, K. (2010). “Examining the anatomy of a screencast: Uncovering common elements and instructional strategies” The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 11 (3)

C5 – (EN50) 14.20

2012 Internships: insiders’ perspectives, issues and questions

Rachel Barton

The question of internships is an innovatory policy development within the University and in particular for the Business School. Using graduate internships as an example, the paper explores the use of critical reflection to consider the insights and tensions which can occur when graduates are brought into the University as interns. Critical reflection is defined here as a continuous process of sense-making. Sheffield Business School currently employs five graduate interns on six month fixed term contracts. These posts involve, four “project sponsors” and one mentor. In my capacity as intern mentor, I have sought to explore the dominant academic discourses surrounding employability and internships and the often unidentified assumptions underpinning them. The paper advocates that greater critical academic engagement is required, in for example, the processes of role development and consideration of the purpose and value of internships both at an institutional and individual level. Drawing on the perspectives of the participants and the academic literature, this paper seeks to raise issues and questions about the legitimacy of aspects of the assumptions underpinning the institutional rhetoric and practice surrounding internships generally and my role, position and practice in particular.

B4 – (FU43 and FU01) 11.50

2012 The Digital Frontier: a look at tools beyond the VLE to support learning and teaching

Robin Gissing and Juliun Ryan

Whilst blackboard contains a robust set of tools for learning and teaching, you may be aware that in addition to these there are a vast number of ‘third party’ tools and services available online that offer potential to enhance the learning experience.

This hands-on workshop aims to introduce staff to some of these free and easy to use tools and explore how they can be used to offer new and innovative opportunities to enhance practice through the use of technology.

The workshop’s facilitators argue incorporating such tools constitutes a meaningful opportunity to develop students’ experience, knowledge and understanding of the wider digital landscape. This so-called ‘digital literacy’ is a vital graduate attribute, enabling students to live, learn and work in the 21st century. Its development is something both students and employers alike are increasingly keen to see universities address. Coinciding with the changes to the funding arrangements for students post-2012 we are embarking in an increasingly market driven learning economy. (JISC 2011) and some of these approaches may go some way to enhancing student experience and authenticity.

So, with that in mind, the workshop will provide ideas and specific examples of not only how these tools might be used, but also how one or more of them might be dynamically combined to create new configurations and thus new opportunities for facilitating learning and teaching. An example combination might be; an online interactive presentation tool and combined with a screencasting tool. This might create a video presentation with a more dynamic feel than that of a recorded powerpoint. 

The session will aim to create a social and creative environment for both the presenters and participants, which due to the nature of the session should be accessible to people of all levels of technical skill.

The facilitators will introduce the topics and tools as well as the themes and aims of the session. Attendees will then work together in groups, actively engaging in hands-on exploration of the tools functionalities to inform base pedagogic rationales for the use of those tools.  Attendees are then expected to feed-back to the wider group what they have discovered about the tools.

Attendees will then re-assemble into smaller teams to develop specific examples of how two or more tools can be used in combination in a “building block” approach to essentially develop a new tool which is the combination of 2 or more tools. Feedback of these new tools will then be expressed over a variety of media forms by attendees and the facilitators.


JISC. [online]. 2011. Last accessed 8 March 2012 at: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/developingdigitalliteracies

D4 – (EN19) 15.30

2012 Practitioner partnership model delivers transformative student learning experience

Chris Cutforth, Steve Wood, Val Stevenson and students

This session will highlight an innovative learning and teaching approach involving a partnership between an academic and an industry practitioner to deliver a post-graduate sport module which focuses on strategic thinking, planning and management skills. 

Along with the more traditional module learning outcomes, the goal has been to enable students to think differently and to help create ‘leaders of the future’.  

Chris Cutforth, Senior Lecturer in Sport, and Steve Wood, a freelance corporate and personal coach, whose specialities include business excellence, coaching and corporate theatre, have worked together to create a learning experience which challenges traditional sports industry thinking and practice, combining relevant academic content with generic leading edge principles, practices, tools and techniques. 

The module has been delivered using various innovative approaches including role play, coaching, action learning, case studies, visualisation, goal-setting and motivation exercises, along with more traditional teaching approaches. Together these have created a stimulating learning environment and a transformative learning experience for the students.

Feedback on the module has been extremely positive with a significant number of the students stating that it has equipped them with additional knowledge, skills and confidence to initiate and lead strategic developments within their organisations, and in other organisations in the future. Students also stated that the combined input from academic and practitioner significantly added value to the learning experience.   

 Following the success of the module, discussions are planned with the new professional institute for sport and physical activity to align the curriculum to the Institute’s recently launched professional development framework. 

The session will be delivered by Chris Cutforth, supported by additional contributions from Steve Wood, some of the students, and Val Stevenson, the course leader and Employability Lead for the Sport department, who will place the approach adopted for this module into a broader employability and professional development context.

Presentation:  A7 EN17 LTA conference presentation

A7 – (EN17, EN26, EN27, EN29) 11.00

2012 Open Educational Resources (OER) in the context of teacher and education training

 Anna Gruszczynska, Richard Pountney and Nicky Watts

This presentation will draw on early findings of a project “Digital Futures in Teacher Education” currently being undertaken in the Faculty of Development and Society as part of the third phase of the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) UK Open Educational Resources (OER) programme, where OERs are teaching resources freely available online to learners for re-use/repurposing. The presentation will discuss some issues that are emerging as we attempt to embed OER practice within the context of digital literacy in teacher training and programmes such as PGCE and PGCertHE.

The project considers digital literacy to be a blend of ICT, media and information skills and knowledge situated within academic practice contexts while influenced by a wide range of techno-social practices involving communication, collaboration and participation in networks. Overall, the authors of the paper align themselves closely with frameworks which  move from the singular ‘literacy’ to the plural ‘literacies’ which emphasise the sheer diversity of existing accounts of digital literacy (Lankshear and Knobel, 2010). In that context, our engagement with the narratives which have arisen in the context of the project focuses on “the constantly changing practices through which people make traceable meanings using digital technologies” (Gillen and Barton, 2011). 

There is a pressing need for educators to engage with digital literacy issues. Increasingly, the skills and experience that learners (and their teachers) have or need is changing and the baseline is being raised. At the same time, professional development in new pedagogies facilitated by digital technology is still patchy and, in terms of the potential of new social media for learning, relatively unaddressed. Therefore, the presentation will focus on the ways in which OERs can address the opportunities and challenges of creative uses of digital literacy in the context of teacher education training .

The presentation will outline key issues which emerged in the context of our work with PGCE students at participating universities (SHU and University of Sheffield), who shared their understandings of digital literacy through participation in focus groups. The presentation will also discuss our collaboration with the “Digital Literacy and Creativity” project (currently undertaken at University of Bedfordshire) whose aim is to produce an online module ‘Digital Literacy and Creativity’ for accredited PGCertHe programmes, which focuses on the ways digital literacy can be deployed creatively to support teaching, learning and administration.

Importantly, these questions are being addressed through a reflexive approach towards project methodology whose guiding principle is that through reflection, teaching practice can be critically reviewed and better understood in order to articulate a framework for digital literacies which best maps onto the experiences of project participants. Overall, the emphasis on reflexive tasks builds on the body of research which posits teacher inquiry as integral to teacher knowledge about teaching (Cochran-Smith and Lytle 1993). 

Cochran-Smith, M. and Lytle, S. (1993) Inside/outside: Teachers, research, and knowledge. New York: Teachers College Press.

Gillen, J. & Barton, D. (2010). Digital literacies.  A research briefing by the technology enhanced learning phase of the teaching and learning research programme. London: London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education, University of London.

Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2010) New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning (3rd Edition). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Click to presentation:  Open Educational Resources (OER) in the context of teacher and education training

D7 – (EN11, EN22, EN28, EN56) 15.30