Photograph (L-R): Sir John Jones and Professor Debbie Holley (Head of CEL)
Last week the fourth annual Service Excellence conference was held at BU. Attended by both professional service and academic staff, the conference offered a variety of workshops and visiting speakers to explore themes of kindness in the workplace and going the extra mile – the #BUIcingOnTheCake that makes the difference between good and excellent service.
Former Head Teacher Sir John Jones, who gained his reputation and his knighthood for working in challenging schools across the North West of England, spoke passionately about what excellence in education, or “the magic-weaving business” as he calls it, meant for him. “My work has led me to a point where literally thousands of people have described their… [educational] experience as pivotal to their development and the influence of a teacher as crucial to their success”.
“They will be smart enough, if I am good enough”, Sir John poignantly reflected, as he outlined the importance of educators in realising student potential and self-belief.
Here at BU, we know that the standard of our teaching is more than ‘good enough’. We realise it through accolades such as The Times Higher Education 150 under 50 list or top 200 most international universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and although it’s fantastic to hear about the brilliant individuals, we don’t necessarily need the ‘You’re Brilliant’ awards to know our staff care.
How can BU further support its staff to be as ‘good’ as they can be? As we stand on the cusp of a new virtual learning environment and its first phase of implementation in September 2017, the Vision4Learning project is about giving our community the tools, knowledge and the training to choose how they deliver on BU’s shared vision of learning excellence. BU’s new virtual learning environment will go some way to help realise that success.
Brightspace’s learning analytics capability means that academics can monitor student progress, and will know when a student most needs help. Fit for mobile devices, staff can use the VLE to reach out to students whilst they’re on the move, wherever in the world they might be; its range of easy-to-use integrated tools for content, assessment and feedback complete an educational experience that best-mirrors our students’ online social lives.
These features, with many more combined, will make BU’s new VLE a powerful tool in supporting academics to deliver a 21st century education and Sir John’s formula for fulfilling student potential: educational “creativity, ingenuity, portability and flexibility”. It seems as though Vision4Learning is in the business of helping staff to weave a little magic of their own.