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2013......a reflection

by User Not Found | Jan 21, 2014
2013 was an important year for the Enhancement Themes as it marked 10 years since their creation. The Enhancement Themes have introduced many improvements to the student learning experience and our 10 years of the Themes video tells you all about it.

The beginning of the year marked an end for the Themes as we held our final event in our Symposium series on 21 February at the University of Glasgow. It looked at professional bodies in relation to the development of graduate attributes in higher education and we were pleased to have Professor Mark Allison, Executive Director, Education and International at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) and Professor Jim McKillop, formerly Deputy Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Glasgow and recently reappointed to the Council of the General Medical Council as our speakers.

Phase 2 of the current Theme, Developing and Supporting the Curriculum (DSC), was underway by 2013 with work being carried out on the three topic focused projects: Curriculum for Excellence and its impact on higher educationStaff: enhancing teaching, and the Flexible Curriculum. Each project involves the team engaging with the sector, producing reports and holding sectoral events, the first of these in Spring and then early summer. Each were very well attended and updated delegates on the work done so far and also generated and developed ideas surrounding the current challenges and opportunities in Scottish HEIs.
The end of Spring also saw the end of Professor Philip Winn’s tenure as Chair of DSC, a position he had held for the last few years. The end of one season then brings the beginning of another and it was new beginnings for the Theme as Philip handed over the baton to Rowena Pelik of Edinburgh Napier University. Rowena will be at the helm of DSC until it ends in Summer 2014.

The highlight of 2013 was our International Enhancement and Innovation in Higher Education conference in June. Over 500 delegates from around the globe came together in Glasgow to discuss ideas, share good practice and make new contacts, making it one of the largest Learning and Teaching conferences in the UK. And of course they celebrated the 10th birthday of the Enhancement Themes. There was even a cake!

2013 also saw the development of the Student Network, a support system for the students in each of the institutional Enhancement Teams. Working with sparqs, we held meetings for the Network and heard the views of the students on the Theme, the work in their institutions, the conference and how we should go forward with student engagement. In the summer we sadly said goodbye to some of the students who have been part of the Themes and have made a great impact. But we also said hello to some new recruits and the Network started working on a contribution to the June 2014 Enhancement Themes conference.

The beginning of the academic year saw the start of the SHEEC and DSC meeting cycle and the first joint RPL/WBL workshop in November which examined the WBL Maturity Toolkit and a National Framework for RPL for HEIs in Scotland. The final reports from the Staff: enhancing teaching and Curriculum for Excellence projects were also published. As well as those, we published Professor Terry Mayes’ 10 years of the Themes report.

An important birthday deserves a party and in November we held a reception at the Scottish Parliament to celebrate 10 years of the Enhancement Themes. The event was hosted by Marco Biagi, MSP and we enjoyed speeches from him, Professor Andrea Nolan, Chair of SHEEC, Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, and Danielle Borrett, former student member on the DSC Steering Committee. We were also treated to traditional Scottish music from musicians attending the University of the Highlands and Islands. It was a great evening enjoyed by many and we have photos to prove it.

Winter is coming......but before we wound down there was a lot of activity to take us to the end of the year.  Two of our topic projects held further workshops with a Curriculum for Excellence event at the end of November and two Staff: enhancing teaching workshops in December.

2013 was a busy year for the Enhancement Team and colleagues, but also an enjoyable and informative one. Lots to come in 2014 too so stay tuned!

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