U21 Educational Innovation Conference

Start Date
23 October 2014
End Date
24 October 2014
UNSW Australia
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The Annual EI Conference, this year with the over-arching theme of Personalised Learning.

The purpose of the annual Educational Innovation (EI) Conference is to bring substance to the aim of U21’s EI cluster: to articulate the leadership challenges, and identify, share and develop strategies for advancing, at scale, the following challenges:

  • effective and sustainable approaches to learning and teaching in a rapidly changing digital environment (including through MOOCs, online and blended learning);
  • a broadening of the educational experience and strengthening of student engagement through a shared focus on global citizenship;
  • a strengthened teaching-research nexus, supported by contemporary scholarship;
  • effective virtual and physical learning environments, adaptable to changing learner needs

In 2014, the lens that will be used to explore these challenges is Personalised Learning.

Throughout the last decade there has been a growing interest in and commitment to the notion of "personalised learning" in both school and higher education. 

In higher education, not only has there been growing interest in the nature, role and importance of personalised learning amongst those involved in educational research (just Google "personalised learning in higher education" to get a sense of the level of interest and enquiry on the topic!) but serious efforts have been made to explore how learning might be personalised as part of institutional efforts to enhance students’ learning experiences. 

The 2014 U21 EI Conference programme has been designed to stimulate participants’ engagement with the topic and provide participants with opportunities to:

  1. consider a range of lenses through which to explore the topic;  
  2. reflect upon and share their institution’s current policies and practices to determine to what extent and how effectively they currently enable and support personalised learning;
  3. discuss and debate whether personalised learning is an important strategic issue for research intensive universities moving forward; and if so, 
  4. explore the nature of the changes that will need to be made to current policies and practices within individual institutions to implement personalised learning strategies, and 
  5. consider how the U21 network might support individual institutions in such efforts.  

A range of devices including preparatory reading, stimulus papers, keynote addresses, posters of current practice, and group and plenary discussion fora will be used to provide participants with these opportunities. 


Keynote speakers 

  • Professor Simon Bates, University of British Columbia, "Personalised Learning: Implications for curricula, staff and students”
  • Professor Simon Buckingham Shum, University of Technology, Sydney, "The role of data and learning analytics in the personalisation of learning"
  • Professor Eric Grimson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "Developing institutional capacity and implications for development of institutional infrastructure in personalisation of learning". 
  • New this to year's conference will be a fourth keynote, offered by a panel of students, who will address questions around the personalisation of learning from a student perspective.


NEW FOR 2014

This year we are also organising two pre-conference workshops on Wednesday 22 October 2014.


The first workshop, which will take place from 9:00-11:00, will be

Virtual Mobility and Shared Learning Across U21

Online provision of learning, through MOOCs or fully developed, credit bearing online courses, offer exciting prospects for  U21 universities to increase the virtual mobility of our students, complementing our very significant student mobility programs.  In November 2014, U21 will run a closed-instance online course on Critical Thinking in Global Challenges, which will be available to all students in participating universities as a co-curricular activity and will offer them the opportunity of learning together.

This workshop will look at the potential learning outcomes for students and staff through participation in the UOCC and will explore both the challenges and opportunities that emerge from this informal instance of shared learning.  The outcome of the workshop will be a greater understanding of the current pilot and an enhanced awareness of the potential next steps that might embed shared online learning in our curricula and increase our capacity to draw on the cultural diversity of the U21 network to enrich the educational experience of our students.

The workshop will be run by Amy Woodgate and Sue Rigby from the University of Edinburgh.


The second workshop, which will take place from 11:30-14:00 will centre on 

Recognising and Rewarding Teaching Excellence in U21 Universities

While approaches to recognising and rewarding excellence in research are relatively well-developed and are regularly subjected to international benchmarking, those for excellence in teaching are less so.  The purpose of this workshop is to consider ways in which the U21 Educational Innovation cluster might contribute to the development of robust methods for recognising and rewarding teaching innovation and excellence in each of our institutions. 

The workshop will begin with an analysis of promotion guidelines contributed by member universities that is kindly being overseen by Professor Graeme Aitken (University of Auckland) and will consider some possible ways in which we might strengthen our capacity to recognise and reward educational innovation and excellence.  For example, we will discuss whether there is value in:

  • Systematically sharing criteria for promotion based on teaching innovation and excellence;
  • Developing shared guidelines and/or standards for the appraisal of teaching innovation and excellence for the purpose of promotion within our institutions;
  • Establishing a U21 community of experts on teaching innovation and excellence who can contribute to judgments of excellence and guide benchmarking for the network;
  • Establishing a U21 Teaching Award scheme, to be judged against a core set of principles to be developed by the EI cluster.
The conference's keynote presentations are being streamed live online.  Click here to view them.
Lavinia Winegar Gott