Welcome to July-August’s ‘Hot topic’ theme: Learning and Teaching Conference 2021

Image curated by Joe Arton

In this post, Jenny Scoles introduces the new ‘Hot Topic’ theme entitled, “Lessons from the Learning and Teaching Conference 2021“. The series will be published on Thursdays throughout July and August 2021.


In July and August, Teaching Matters will showcase some of the keynote talks and paper presentations delivered at The University of Edinburgh’s fourth annual Learning and Teaching Conference: Curriculum as a site for transformation. Following last year’s rapid re-organisation of the planned, in-person conference into an online format due to Covid-19, the Learning and Teaching Conference Team actively organised a fully online event for 2021. Nearly 1000 delegates registered for the three-day conference. For the first time, external delegates were invited to join, and 190 non-University of Edinburgh staff and students registered for the first day. They joined the rest of the University audience in listening to compelling keynote talks by Professor Kerri-Lee Krause (Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student Life) and Deputy Provost at The University of Melbourne) – “Curriculum considerations in supercomplex times” – and Professor Rowena Arshad (CBE, FEIS, Chair in Multicultural and Anti-Racist Education at The University of Edinburgh) – “Diversity in learning and teaching: Is inclusion truly available?”. These talks are available to watch on the conference website.

Over the three days, 138 presenters delivered workshops, research papers, short talks and poster pitches around the central conference themes: Assessment and feedback for the future; Building community; Equality, diversity, inclusion & social justice; Interdisciplinary learning & teaching: local & global challenges; New lessons in digital teaching – insights from hybrid and online learning; Innovation in science teaching; Experiential, place-based and problem based learning; and Student engagement and involvement.

All the presentations stimulated critical reflection and healthy discussion on how Edinburgh’s future curriculum should, and could, be a site for transformation. I noted time and again the focus on designing the curriculum to ensure student empowerment: to move from asking students to simply participate in a learning exercise to actively involve them in shaping and owning their curriculum. Such design encourages students to reflect on how their learning and knowing contribution can connect across disciplines and  communities inside and outside university. How this is done across the whole curriculum, remains the challenge for us all.   

In this Learning and Teaching Enhancement Theme, we hear from presenters who have kindly written posts about their talks. These include:

  • Rowena Arshad – From inclusion to transformation to decolonisation
  • Guillermo Diaz de Liano – Studying belonging and alienation among Widening Participation students.
  • Geoff Simm – Developing challenge-led, interdisciplinary teaching: helping make the Curriculum a site for transformation.
  • Fiona McNeill – Supporting first-year students at the programme level: A case from School of Informatics
  • Frances Parry – Dissertations at Distance: Supporting online dissertations for Global Medics

and many more…

This issue will also feature a reflection on the conference by a student delegate, and a collection of podcast episodes. You can also continue to view the conference posters on the conference website.

Happy reading and listening!

Jenny Scoles

Dr Jenny Scoles is the editor of Teaching Matters. She is an Academic Developer (Learning and Teaching Enhancement), and a Senior Fellow HEA, in the Institute for Academic Development, and provides pedagogical support for University course and programme design. Her interests include student engagement, professional learning and sociomaterial methodologies.

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