Try something different in 2017

Over the last semester, CEL has been supporting staff across the university to ‘try something different‘ to enhance their teaching and professional practice.

One of the initiatives within this campaign is a BU-wide scheme called ‘iInnovate‘ where academic staff are encouraged to adopt one new innovation in their teaching.  With the agreement of all Faculties, staff have been invited to use a tool from the TEL Toolkit or any other innovation for example creativity, assessment and Lego Serious Play.  CEL has been supporting the initiative with a number of workshops across the two campuses in semester 1.

Staff trying something different have been asked to complete a short feedback form (available at

Some excellent innovations have already been recorded and some of this feedback is explored here.  One member of staff commented:

It was with great interest that I have participated into the iInnovate workshops so far. I have found them very useful to evaluate new ways of assessing learning, redesigning delivery or use new ways to engage students.

I have used some tools this semester as
– Mentimeter, to provide input for further discussion in class and gather feedback
– Wiki on myBU to provide a dynamic FAQ session
– Padlet, to capture feedback at the end of a lecture

I am reflecting on how to put other tools at best use, but just wanted to remark how useful has been to attend the iInnovate workshops!

Many of the CEL workshops this semester have been very well attended with some having to be relocated to larger rooms to accommodate the number of attendees.  Those attending the ‘teaching large groups’ session will remember we even ran out of chairs in the larger room!

Several innovations so far have been about assessment for and of learning and the many ways in which authentic and challenging assessments can be set for students.  For example, one member of staff noted how:

Students explore a subject related to the unit they are undertaking and then they run a workshop with the rest of the class. They decide on the format that the workshop will take with only advice from the lecturer. They develop their own evaluation form and have the rest of the class give feedback. This experience is then used by them to reflect upon in their portfolio which is the assignment for the unit. They are directed to also reflect on how they will take their learning from this experience in to their future nursing practice.  

Another member of staff combined a number of innovations (story-telling and an audience response system) to really engage students in the subject matter and provide a learning experience that will be long-remembered.

I wove a real-life story through a lecture on sepsis (life-threatening condition related to body’s response to an infection) to promote student engagement. Roughly every 10 minutes we returned to the story to find out what happened next. Students had been given vital signs observation charts (exact versions that the student nurses use in the hospital) and they had to document the vital signs provided as the patient deteriorated in the story. From that they had to calculate an early warning score (which indicates whether action should be taken) and then complete a form which would indicate whether on not the patient was exhibiting signs of sepsis. Students then indicated their answers using Mentimeter which allowed for discussion around the answers provided and so correct any faulty thinking that led to the wrong answer. The lecture concluded with the end result of the patient’s journey and I could hear some of the students were touched emotionally by that. This will hopefully have promoted knowledge retention and stimulated interest in learning more about sepsis.

These accounts of teaching and learning innovations are fantastic to read and demonstrate the creativity and willingness to experiment that are hallmarks of excellent teaching.  Please keep them coming in so that we can share them and encourage and inspire others to try something different.

So, if you are setting new year’s resolutions, why not add one to try something different in 2017?

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