Michael Knight and I recently visited Oslo University College of Applied Sciences to primarily experience peer learning and library academic skills in an established European University, building further relations with them and sharing best practice of our own Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) schemes. Additionally, is was an opportunity to help Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences develop their scheme in order for it to grow in a similar way to BU, through sharing our experiences of the scheme to key stakeholders.
This was an incredibly successful visit and very enjoyable (especially with such beautiful weather!) some of the highlights included:
- The seminars held by Michael and I were well attended with a range of professional support staff and academic staff. Many expressed an interested in starting up their own PAL scheme or adapting what they already have to follow our model.
- The Oslo University College of Applied Sciences Library support department have agreed to run PAL centrally through the library (following our seminar) and will give substantial financial support to help current members of staff to offer training and resources to those academics and support services who want to run PAL within their course or faculty.
- We met with the e-learning team at the host university to discuss their work (particularly around flipped classroom and using academics to share learning materials through short videos.)
- We were fortunate enough to meet a number of the University’s writing mentors, discuss their training, role and skills gained, I will be speaking to certain academics I am working with on Fusion projects whether we could develop similar methods in terms of training and feedback delivery to do with using students as trainers in e-learning or using students to act as writing mentors and providing feedback.
- We also had a conversation with the Library’s interior design group to discuss the process by which they were re-designing their library using librarians and students reflections and trying to take away the book stacks and create more student learning space. The University has 4 Libraries on its main campus and a further 2 on its other 2 campus’ (so plenty of spaces to redesign!) The library at the Kjeller was definitely my favourite with glass ceilings and seemed to have so much space despite the fact it was probably as well populated with study spaces and book shelves!
- We will continue our partnership between BU and the Oslo University College of Applied Sciences and share best practises and their progress with the scheme. They will also be attending the UK, Ireland and Europe PAL Leader Conference that will be hosted at BU in November.
For me, discovering a new education system was very interesting and understanding the differences between British and Norwegian education system but also the similarities in which we could relate and share experiences of how to solve them in terms of student engagement and retention.
However, it wasn’t all work! We did have the opportunity to explore the city which was truly beautiful. We discovered areas ‘off the beaten track’ as well as the main landmarks within the city centre.
I would really recommend the Erasmus Staff mobility award to other staff members for personal development but also establishing links with other international institutions.