360° Employability Skills: Understanding, Cultivating and Applying Professional and Continual Development Skills

Workshop presented by Carmen Álvarez-Mayo, Associate Lecturer and Spanish & Portuguese Coordinator, Languages for All, Department of Language and Linguistic Science. 31 October 2016.

The term employability as we know it has been around since the 1980s, when international corporations, global competition/trade and technology cemented the foundations for a new economic environment. The influx of new technologies set the pace of change, and has been shaping communication and trade ever since. We live in a global world where IT keeps on developing faster and faster, highly impacting in our lives and determining the employability skills required for a successful career. It is essential to understand this in order to develop the motivation and skills required to be able to keep on evolving along its side.

Education itself no longer defines learning, but rather technology does. To set out on a prosperous career, now more than ever it is necessary to keep on learning and developing good independent/self study skills and CPD competencies. It is paramount to instil in our students a taste for trying out and doing new things – that, learning is fun; exploring and discovering new ways is not only fun but necessary. In the 21st century reading and writing are not enough; IT literacy skills and an understanding of IT’s ongoing development are essential in order to be able to keep up with progress and change, and to be successful.

Furthermore, in a global world, developing intercultural competence and communication will equip graduates and postgraduates with international skills to augment their potential and scope for work opportunities and prosper. Such skills can only be acquired through learning and using a foreign language, either spending long periods of time immersed in the culture: living/studying/working abroad, or through an international bilingual collaborative e-learning project like TANGO.

Therefore, current student work and assessment practice should be reviewed and updated in order to ensure that all skills, traditional and ‘new’ can be tested – as well as to allow equal opportunities of assessment ensuring inclusivity and accessibility. We need to make sure that our graduates and postgraduates are fully equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century job market, who need to be all-rounders and possess the full range of skills, 360° skills.

A more holistic approach to the York Pedagogy and employability would be appropriate to ensure that all the good principles and ideas endorsed in the Pedagogy are taken into account and applied, sharing them effectively with our students to allow for a successful implementation of the University’s approach to excellence in education, thereby having a positive impact in society – as underpinned in the five values of the Learning & Teaching Strategy.

Summary by Carmen Álvarez-Mayo

L&T Session B2: Is there evidence for the filpped classroom in STEM teaching

Mike Dodds, Department of Computer Science

AbstractPresentation | Recording

The flipped classroom (or flipping) is a new educational technique which seeks to invert the traditional model of in-classroom lectures and out-of-class homework. Instead, it advocates in-class interactive group learning, and out-of-class instruction via videos or podcasts. Intuitively, this moves classroom time away from mere dissemination of information, and allows teachers to focus on solving student problems and eLT Event Talk 84.jpgnabling learning. This connects with the increasing evidence that problem-based learning is an effective teaching technique.

The intuition for flipping seems compelling, reflected in attention in the non-academic media. However, flipping is not trivial to apply. Applying it means restructuring the entire course to focus on group learning, while also recording supporting instructional material. Given the up-front costs, it is important to know whether flipping is truly effective before applying it in practice.

Mike presented the evidence that flipping is effective in improving student learning outcomes in STEM subjects, and also examined some of the pitfalls and opportunities flipping presents.

Within Computer Science, the example Mike referred to has been written up as a Case Study on Flipped Approaches where you can view the approach used by Dr Louis Rose with a third-year module.

For me there were two key discussion points: first on the time and workload of running a flipped learning course; second on how the structure of a flipped course can ensure student engagement. The two are intrinsically related.

Recording good video captures is something that will require practice, new technical skills and careful planning. As we discussed in the session, if you can break down the course content into short (5-10 minute) recordings, you are both thinking more carefully about the key learning points students should take away, and creating resources that are better adapted to students learning online. Short videos should not include tangential information, but deliver new knowledge in a succinct way. For each video, explicitly state what students should learn as a result. This enables students to judge for themselves whether they understood the new concepts. The risks of longer videos is that they try to convey too many points, and aside from that it can be difficult to watch a longer video without succumbing to other online distractions.

With shorter videos, clustered around specific topics, as an instructor you can include activities that relate to those videos requiring students to demonstrate their understanding through evaluation, collaboration and application. This can be in the form of a online quiz, or more aligned to the discipline practices, as shown in Computer Science where students had to take their understanding from video-lectures and apply to a programming task. There is a clear and designed-in link between the student work outside the face-to-face contact time and what they can achieve through activity and interaction in class.

If you are interested in the ideas presented by Mike Dodds, then please do watch the recordings from our recent ELDT Webinars and blog posts with further case studies and references on Flipped Learning Design and Flipped Learning Technical.

Matt Cornock (ELDT), Workshop Chair

L&T Session B3: From building research skills to professional development: using blogging in humanities teaching

Emily Bowles, Department of English and Related Literature

AbstractPresentation | Recording

This workshop introduced the potential of blogging: not only to support existing learning outcomes and course-specific skills, but also to extend modules further and incorporate careers skills at the programme level, adding value for Humanities students that will assist them in the most common areas of graduate employment.

LT Event Talk 109.jpg

Although blogging forms part of some degree programmes, such as the Computer Science ‘Skills, Knowledge & Independent Learning’ module, it has much more to offer Humanities teaching in helping students develop key academic skills and skills for the workplace than has been recognised. This year, as a PGWT for ‘Global Literatures’ in the English Department, Emily had developed a blog for which students produce all content, improving their independent research, referencing, close reading and confidence with the material. Students were also exposed to basic principles of digital marketing, including how to write effectively for Search Engine Optimisation and for a non-specialist audience.

This workshop discussed the challenges and benefits of blogging in practice, including student feedback, and introduced delegates to methods of incorporating social media into degree programmes more easily as both formative and summative assessment.


Happy New Year and welcome back

Happy New Year! We hope you had a relaxing and recuperative Christmas break…

We are already in the thick of term, but whether you are emerging from piles of marking, working with final year students on their dissertations and projects, planning lectures, or all of these and more all at once, we hope you might find time to take a break and come along to one of our Learning and Teach Forum workshops this term.

the20workshop-218x105We kick off with ‘the Workshop’ workshop on Friday 29 January, 12:45-2:15pm in Law and Managment LMB/023, where Celine Kingman (TFTV) and Jenny Gibbons (Law) ask what we mean by ‘workshopping an idea’ or ‘to do a workshop’?

computer20based20testing-218x142On Monday 8 February, 12:30-2:00pm, you can hear from Zoe Handley (Education) and Richard Walker (Head of E-Learning, ASO) discuss the potential of e-exams in their workshop, ‘Engaging learners with computer-based testing‘, in Heslington Hall HG/21.


technology-218x145Sara Perry (Archaeology) and Tom Smith (IT Support) return to talk about technology in practice, in ‘Creativity in the connected classroom‘, covering everything from social media and networking to Google apps, tools and Awesome Tables. How awesome, you ask? Find out on Monday 22 February, 12:30-2:00pm, also in Heslington Hall HG/21.

a20question20of20peer20assessment-218x105The last workshop of the term, on Tuesday 15 March, 12:30-2:00pm, looks at the role of peer-review and assessment, led by  Ollie Jones (TFTV). More details can be found at ‘Deep learning or easy marks? A question of peer assessment.’

For all these workshops, you can sign up via this booking form or by emailing learning-and-teaching-forum@york.ac.uk

team20image-218x348Don’t forget that in June we will hold our Annual Learning and Teaching Conference – Value added graduates: enabling our students to be successful – on Tuesday 7 June. The deadlines for applications to contribute and present are coming up: Wednesday 20 January for workshops, and Wednesday 6 April for posters.

And lastly, if you have ideas for any workshops for 2016/17 you think you would like to see, or perhaps run yourself, we are always looking for ideas and volunteers – drop us a line at learning-and-teaching-forum@york.ac.uk.

Have a great term!



Blowing bigger bubbles: Using social media to share good practice in learning and teaching

Simon Lancaster, University of East Anglia, explores the power of social media to share practice.
This article was originally published in Forum 37: 8-9.


Look hard enough and you can find examples of innovative and engaging practice in every department, faculty, student support agency and institution. Sometimes the endeavours of our colleagues will be recognised by their peers or students and occasionally even rewarded.

A graphical representation of the fourth #LTHEchat Twitter network.

A graphical representation of the fourth #LTHEchat Twitter network.

However, too often innovators feel isolated and lack a means to share and refine their approach. Forum exists to provide a platform to share these practices throughout the institution. Writing for Forum prompts us to reflect and to seek evidence but it also opens our studies to constructive comment and potential collaborations. Despite these advantages, writing for an audience like Forum can often feel like preaching to the converted. Are we confined to a relatively small bubble of like-minded people? The larger the pool of practitioners with whom we consult, the greater the likelihood of encountering something relevant to our field, and the more opportunities we will have for exchanging initiatives and subjecting them to constructive scrutiny. How then do we reach out beyond the enthusiasts in our own institution? Traditionally conferences have provided the stages on which we might disseminate our ideas and seek inspiration from others. However, conferences are costly consumers of our precious resources and, while cosy, can often prove equally parochial bubbles.

Finding practice

Imagine you’re the editor of Forum: you have an imminent copy deadline and you want to look outside your institution for contributions to an edition on dissemination. Where would you look? Professional journalists often turn to Twitter. At its best, Twitter is a 365 days a year 24 hours a day low-carbon conference on everything, at which countless experts and myriads of the merely opinionated give freely of their wisdom and experience.

Some academics will roll their eyes at this point. “I joined Twitter years ago and I don’t know what all the fuss is about.” is a familiar refrain. The key to success in Twitter is your network, the people you choose to follow. Unless you follow someone, your timeline will be empty and your membership pointless. We recommend you follow @RuthMewis. But don’t stop there. Look who she follows. Do you know them? Follow them too! Who do [9] they follow? Has Ruth tweeted something interesting? Retweet it! And therein lies the power of Twitter, the ability, through the retweet button, to amplify an idea and to spread it quickly around the globe. The other, often cited, criticism of Twitter is that it is impossible to keep up with all those tweets. Absolutely, it is futile to try and that is absolutely fine. The author follows over 3000 Twitter accounts and reads a fraction of a percentage of the tweets that pass across his timeline. But never forget the power of the retweet. If it is important enough it will repeatedly appear and you will notice it or someone responding to it. And if it is meant specifically for you, then your username will have been included. 1

Twitter is revolutionising academic practice. It is now possible to know about every opportunity, every pedagogical innovation and every event as soon as the internet does. Famously the news of an earthquake on Twitter travels faster than the shockwave. But it is better than that. By contributing to the discussion you can refine an argument, build a network and a reputation in a fraction of the time it would have taken otherwise. Take for example, the invitation presented by @Professor_Dave to deliver a seminar to the Chemistry department on October 17th 2012. The associated @Storify account illustrates that social media exchanges need not be ephemeral. 2 Indeed when Twitter is used at a conference, it becomes a powerful tool to crowd source a record of both the content and the ensuing discussion. 3

Sharing practice

A topical discussion of the value of Twitter in an organ like Forum would not be complete without mention of the programme of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education Twitter chats (#LTHEchat). 4 These hour-long facilitated discussions cover topics such as ‘lecture flipping’ and ‘co-creation’ and provide an intense but inspirational professional development opportunity and a readymade network.

Twitter is a microblogging site, messages are restricted to 140 characters. While that can be a blessing in promoting concision, it is not always going to suffice. Instead Twitter tends to serve as the nexus, where links to content on other social media sites containing richer content can be posted. A comprehensive account of all the means by which learning and teaching is disseminated has not been presented because it would inevitably read like a list. 5

@Professor_Dave's YouTube channel

@Professor_Dave’s YouTube channel

YouTube is not easily overlooked and yet it is rarely the respondent’s first choice when asked for an example of a social media site. This searchable archive, with hundreds of millions of users, is the perfect platform on which to disseminate a message in video form. There are instructional films on YouTube and Vimeo on every educational topic. At York, Prof. David Smith has demonstrated the power of YouTube for outreach to huge audiences, for example using Breaking Bad as the backdrop to discuss organic chemistry. 6 Increasingly the trend is to engage students in the (co-) creation of academic content and here again academics at York have shown the way. 7

Copyright considerations

When considering the interface between social media and academia, we need to broach the thorny issue of copyright. By default all content on the internet is copyright protected, all rights reserved. Clearly that is not conducive to sharing learning and teaching materials. The solution is to source and to publish work with a creative commons license. 8 There are two very good reasons why you should give away the rights to your work: because (1) in a reciprocal sense you will then have a clear conscience when benefiting from resources prepared by others; (2) anything that facilitates the diverse application of your ideas and materials increases their (and your) potential impact.

Arguably the best example of a socially mediated academic resource is the Slideshare site. 9 Here, complete presentation slide sets are shared. This can mean anything from a lecture on a specific academic topic or a discussion of pedagogical innovation to “Using Social Media Strategically for Learning and Teaching”, 10 which would seem to bring us full circle.

How can we possibly monitor all of these disparate social media channels? There lies the beauty of Twitter. As content is added to sites such as Slideshare and YouTube, it will be reported on Twitter and not just once but repeatedly, essentially in proportion to its impact.

It would be wrong not to concede that social media, even Twitter, is another bubble. However, it’s an awfully big bubble and encompasses a significant proportion of the global figures who are predisposed towards sharing good practice in learning and teaching. Can you afford the time to engage with social media? Can you afford not to?

  1. For an introduction to Twitter for academics see http://www.slideshare.net/suebeckingham/getting-started-ontwitter-35704954
  2. https://storify.com/S_J_Lancaster/york-chemistryteaching-forum-17th
  3. https://storify.com/S_J_Lancaster/heastem-17-18-april-2013-birmingham
  4. http://lthechat.com
  5. And there is a web category dedicated to lists too, the listicle: http://thelisticles.net/
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwEbcKZ9hK8&list=PL16BF42E87C9566B8
  7. (a) iTube, YouTube, WeTube: Social Media Videos in Chemistry Education and Outreach, J. Chem. Ed., 2014, 91, 1594–1599. (b) https://www.youtube.com/user/ProfessorDaveatYork
  8. http://creativecommons.org
  9. http://www.slideshare.net
  10. http://www.slideshare.net/suebeckingham/using-scialmedia-strategically-for-learning-and-teaching

lancasterprofileSimon Lancaster is Professor of Chemical Education at the University of East Anglia. Simon is a dedicated and innovative teacher and has been rewarded by UEA’s Sir Geoffrey and Lady Allen teaching excellence award. His application of technology to support student engagement has been supported by Teaching Fellowships and funding from both the Higher Education Academy and the University Annual Fund. He is the recipient of the 2013 Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Higher Education Award and in 2013 was recognised by the Higher Education Academy as a National Teaching Fellow. Simon is one of the RSC 175 Faces of Chemistry which profiles scientists who represent diversity in its broadest sense.

23/02/15 Technology in practice: Creativity in the connected classroom

techWhen: Monday 23 February 2015 (week 8) 12.30-2.00pm [Lunch available from 12.15] Where: Room HG09, Heslington Hall Who: Tom Smith, IT Support Services and Sara Perry, Archaeology This workshop offers an introduction to the principles, challenges and best practices of using a variety of Google-enabled digital media technologies in student teaching, research and public communication. Tom will provide a guided tour of the often overlooked, or little known corners of Google tools, from Apps Script to Awesome Tables. Sara will discuss the application of Blogger, YouTube, Google Groups, Google Docs and related social media spaces in building intellectual independence, critical thinking, professional networks, visibility, and confidence amongst their users. These tools offer not only meaningful creative opportunities, but also mechanisms by which the very nature of academic and professional fields of practice can be prodded, extended and perhaps even fundamentally reconfigured. Although often fraught with tension, digital social technologies are powerful conceptual devices for both students and instructors. We discuss here how they promise both to narrow the gap between theory and practice, and simultaneously hone and empower emerging professionals. This is an interactive session – please come ready to discuss your experiences and share your questions and concerns about digital media in the academic environment. If you wish to attend an event, please use our booking form or email learning-and-teaching-forum@york.ac.uk If you are unable to attend an event but would like a copy of the materials, please contact janet.barton@york.ac.uk