2014 HEA Conference Highlights

I was at the Higher Education Academy (HEA) Annual Conference held at Aston University in Birmingham last week. The event marked the tenth anniversary of the organisation.

Here are highlights from some of conference sessions I attended:

Working together for future employability – an employer’s perspective

Keynote,  Morrison, HEA

Anne Morrison, Director of BBC Academy (the BBC’s organisational training centre), mentioned during her opening keynote that the BBC Academy uses Twitter to conduct staff development master classes. This is to enable BBC employees interact and engage with industry experts via a Q&A format.

I found this interesting and I would like to explore the use of social media tools like Twitter and Yammer as means of conducting staff development at the University of Huddersfield.

How to share good practice with busy academics across a large university

Kelly, HEAKieran Kelly and a small team of AV staff member identify and film academics at the University of the West of England (UWE) who wish to share their good teaching and learning practices. These videos are hosted on an internal portal for other UWE staff members to watch. There are currently 37 videos and the site gets about 39 unique visitors per day during the academic semester. Kieran stated that it takes about 2-3 days to record and edit the video resources. The issue of scalability was raised during this session’s Q&A.

I believe a way to get round the scalability issue and the cost of creating these video resources is to curate them instead. There are already many innovative teaching and learning video resources available for free on Youtube and Vimeo which could be curated for time-poor academics.

Digital development – experiences offering staff development using the student’s online learning environment.

Robson, HEA


Linda Robson and Rehana Awan reported on a pilot project at the Open University (OU) which conducted a staff development conference using asynchronous online communication. A decision was taken to convert the poorly attended staff development face-to-face conference into an asynchronous online conference. The conference keynote was recorded and uploaded on to the Moodle platform. OU colleagues who were selected to be conference presenters were asked to created 7 minute long screencasts which were also uploaded on to the Moodle conference site. These contributors responded to the comments and questions posted by online conference delegates in response to their screencasts. The initial conference feedback has been positive and there are plans to continue with this asynchronous format.

Establishing global connections to engage international students: lessons learned from an academic writing MOOC.

Wilding and Watkins, HEAElisabeth Wilding and Sebastian Watkins from the University of Reading shared their experiences of running an academic MOOC on the FutureLearn platform. This MOOC was aimed at international students and there were participants from over 140 countries. 60% of the MOOC participants had no prior online course engagement before enrolling on the course. Survey results revealed that participants’ interaction with peers and discussing things online with other learners scored low on the survey while learning new things and watching videos were popular. The Reading team plans to use the lessons derived from the MOOC to launch a SPOC (Small Private Online Community) next academic year.

I suspect that SPOC will be the next HE buzz word in 2014/15.

Post by Ola Aiyegbayo


About talintuoh

Supporting and connecting colleagues to develop inspiring and innovative teaching and learning
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One Response to 2014 HEA Conference Highlights

  1. kpk003 says:

    Hi Ola, I agree with the suggestion on scaling the use of video and we re now moving to incorporate media held on other platforms. However one of our original criteria was to ensure that the context resonated with our colleagues in a UK post-92 University. I think the curation metaphor is therefore a useful one.

    Kieran Kelly, UWE Bristol

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