Students Staff
University of Essex

June 2, 2016

TEL-Con 2016 a big success!

Filed under: Developing Excellence,Developing Knowledge,Networking & Collaboration — Tags: , — Marty Jacobs @ 12:40 pm
Martin Sands chating at TEL-Con 2016

Martin Sands talking to delegates about his use of ThingLink.

Last week, we ran the first Technology-Enhanced Learning conference at the University of Essex. I’m pleased to report that the event was a resounding success. In total, 79 people turned up to take part in TEL-Con 2016, far more than we had expected. We were especially pleased by this level of attendance because the day we picked for the conference ended up accidentally clashing with the first day of a two-day strike organised by the University and College Union (UCU)!

There was a palpable buzz in the atrium of Essex Business School as people start to turn up and register for the event. The conference was opened by Aletta Norval, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Education, who gave delegates a brief overview of TEL activity at Essex. She also highlighted the distance that we’ve travelled over the past year and a half, and encouraged staff to explore and develop their own digital capability. Next, attendees were treated to four “TEL talks”, each focusing on a different technology or pedagogical approach.

The first talk was given by Susan Stallabrass, who is a lecturer from the School of Health and Human Sciences. Susan spoke to the expectant crowd about how she has redesigned a research methods module to make better use of Moodle, and encourage her students to improve their own digital skills; her presentation included a specially prepared animated video that outlined the process she used (see video below).


Susan’s video documenting the process of transforming HS858: Research in Healthcare.

This was followed by a talk on ThingLink by Martin Sands, a physiotherapy lecturer also from the School of Health and Human Sciences (pictured above). ThingLink is a web-based tool that allows you to create interactive images. Martin’s talk answered the following intriguing question: Can using ThingLink keep learners in Moodle for longer and, as a consequence, improve student engagement? Both of these talks proved to be very inspiring and garnered a lot of interest from the attentive audience.

The next topic of conversation was video production using a tablet or smartphone. Samer Gharib from the EBS Learning Team gave attendees an overview of the SWIVL—a robotic camera mount (and app) that can automatically track your movements during a lecture or seminar. Samer showed several uses for this exciting new technology. This included filming lectures without the need for a camera operator, and recording student presentations for performance analysis purposes.

The final TEL talk was given by Louise Beard from the School of Biological Sciences. Louise talked about the benefits of live audience participation technology. She got the attendees to answer questions in real time using credit-card sized voting handsets, which she uses on a regular basis with her students for both formative and summative assessment (TurningPoint handsets are available on short-term loan from AVS). Louise even gave prizes out to the people who got the highest score on her quiz! This interactive talk proved to be the perfect end to the first session of the conference.


A video about Turning Technologies, the company that make the audience response clickers that Louise uses with her students.

After the TEL talks, everyone went back into the atrium to get a well deserved cup of coffee and Danish pastry. We then spent the next hour chatting about technology and its place in the teaching and learning process. Several technology experts, both from within and outside of the University community, attended this event. Delegates were able to talk to staff from IT Services, the Albert Sloman Library as well as fellow TEL-Con attendees. Katherine Bone, our representative from Jisc, also made the journey to Essex to talk about the support and services she can offer to University members. In addition to this, Matt Softly kindly brought his Virtual Reality kit all the way from Southend for people to play with, and Satnam Darar came to answer any technical questions about the SWIVL (Satnam runs company called TechInvasion, who are the sole UK distributors of the SWIVL).

The conference ended with three optional, hands-on workshops on ThingLink, the Moodle Quiz tool and Live Audience Participation technology. All three workshops were well attended.

The Technology-Enhanced Learning Team would like to thank everyone who attended TEL-Con. We’d also like to thank Susan, Martin, Samer and Louise for preparing and delivering four excellent presentations, as well as all of the technology experts who gave up their time to attend the networking session. Without your input the event wouldn’t have been possible. I’d also like to thank Aletta for opening the conference for us, and Jo Hopkins for helping us organise and run the event.

We managed to recorded the four TEL talks, they’ll be available via Moodle next week for those people who were unable to attend the event in person (an delagates who want to refresh their memories!). For more photos taken at the event can be found in the TEL-Con album on Flickr.

If you’d like to be involved in next year’s TEL-Con, or you’re interested in any of the technological approaches mentioned in this post, please contact the Technology-Enhanced Learning Team (email: tel).

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