Welcome to the November issue of Teaching Matters: Student author month

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The University Chancellor, The HRH Princess Royal, talks to students at the workshop about blogging for Teaching Matters. Photo credit: Douglas Robertson.

This month, I am delighted to announce Teaching Matters’ focused intention to authentically engage students into conversations about learning and teaching across the University. While we have published posts written by students before*, this is the first Teaching Matters issue that is authored solely by University of Edinburgh students (and student alumni).

A flourishing field of student partnership work has recently emerged (e.g., Cook-Sather, Bovill and Felten, 2014), which critically discusses and reflects on how universities can involve students in roles that, ‘actively shape and enhance their experiences of learning and teaching’ (Healey, Flint and Harrington, 2014). ‘Students as Researchers‘ is one such movement where the traditional teacher/student binary is disrupted, and undergraduate students are invited to research and contribute to the broader base of their discipline (Walkington, 2015).

However, there are practical and political barriers to genuinely involving students in publishing academic articles. For example, the lengthy time it takes to submit and publish a journal article is often at odds with students’ enrolment time at university. Furthermore, students need to be invited into the dialogue of scholarship of teaching and learning in order to learn the nuances of writing and publishing a rigorous academic output. Again, this takes time, and perhaps extra research methods teaching.

Blogging is one way that we feel students can authentically engage and disseminate their experiences and thoughts on teaching and learning. After all, students are the experts in being students, at any particular moment in time! Furthermore, students are increasingly involved, and in the driving seat, of innovative learning and teaching practices, which Teaching Matters aims to support and disseminate. Therefore, inviting students into an informal dialogue about learning and teaching – through blogging – is an exciting and, we hope, authentic platform for student voice.

To support this approach, we ran the first student blog writing and vlogging workshop in October (2018), which was held as part of the Lister Teaching and Learning Centre official opening celebrations.

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Students at the workshop. Photo credit: Huiwen Wang

Students spent three hours learning about blog writing, and exploring how to storyboard and film a short ‘vlog’ (a short video clip, where video replaces the written word).

Students story-boarding their vlog ideas. Photo credit: Hannah Cornish
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Practising filming with some DIY film kit. Photo credit: Hannah Cornish

The students were able to experiment with a film-making kit, which utilised their smart phones, to create their own vlogs, and then can be hosted on Teaching Matters:

Much looking forward to creating a vlog with my lovely fellow Reps… Many thanks @UoE_Teaching for appreciating our activities & invitation to blog for their widely read Teaching Matters blog!

Somia Imran, tweet

The University’s Chancellor, HRH The Princess Royal, was in attendance during the morning to officially open the Lister Building. Students had the chance to meet HRH, and talk about the benefits of blogging, and how this compared to traditional academic outputs.

The HRH Princess Royal talking to students alongside Jon Turner (right), Director of IAD, and the University’s Principal, Professor Peter Mathieson (left). Photo credit: Douglas Robertson

Look out for the students blog and vlog posts this month, and going forward. We will be running more student Teaching Matter blog writing and vlogging workshops in the future, and would love to hear from any students interested in getting involved.

* Some previous posts written by students include:

Mini-series: Lecture recording

Upcoming highlights in the Teaching Matters Lecture Recording mini-series include how the University has devised an innovative solution to the challenge of recording writing surfaces, a ‘don’t panic’ blog on content and copyright for lecture recording, and a review of the current research base on lecture recording.

The LTW Monthly Showcase in November will feature presentations from lecture recording PTAS projects as well as a presentation on the University-wide evaluation on the value of lecture recording at Edinburgh. I’ll be saying a few words about the Teaching Matters mini-series at the Showcase event and announcing an exciting new mini-series podcasting initiative.

You can book a place at the LTW Monthly Showcase here.

Happy reading!


Cook-Sather, A., C. Bovill, and P. Felten. 2014. Engaging Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching: A Guide for Faculty. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Healey, M., A. Flint, and K. Harrington. 2014. Engagement through Partnership: Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. York: The Higher Education Academy.

Walkington, H. 2015. Students as Researchers. York: The Higher Education Academy.

Jenny Scoles

Dr Jenny Scoles is the editor of Teaching Matters. She is an Academic Developer (Learning and Teaching Enhancement) 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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