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11th annual Enhancement Themes conference

by User Not Found | Jun 23, 2014

This year saw the Enhancement Themes annual conference reach its 11th year at the Edinburgh Conference Centre on 12 June. This one day event was planned to provide an overview of the work done over the last three years in the outgoing Theme, Developing and Supporting the Curriculum, and launch the new Theme, Student Transitions. The packed programme featured presentations from Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions and the three DSC project teams. In addition to those, we also had a presentation by the Learning from International Practice project plus, for the first time, a contribution from the Student Network. We also had keynote addresses from our Chairs of SHEEC and DSC, and one from Professor Liz Thomas, Professor of Higher Education, which officially launched the new Theme. All that and we still had lots of time for networking and visiting our exhibitors and poster presenters.

The day began with a Welcome from Professor Andrea Nolan and an overview of the work done by SHEEC in what was her final engagement as Chair of SHEEC. Andrea highlighted the range of activities SHEEC has undertaken in the last year as we celebrated the 10th year of the Themes and came to the end of the current Theme. Following Andrea, Rowena Pelik took to the stage and presented a comprehensive overview of the last three years of the Theme. A Theme which produced numerous events and reports, and generated lots of contacts.  Following the conference, took off one hat and put on another as the new Director of QAA Scotland so will continue to be involved in the Enhancement Themes.

The first of our breakout sessions saw eight our institutions present and featured topics such as ‘Learners at the centre of the curriculum’, ‘A collaborative learning community’ and ‘Interdisciplinary approaches to curriculum design and development’. There were also presentations from two of our DSC project teams, Staff: enhancing teaching and Flexible Curriculum, which discussed the findings from their projects.

The morning’s programme continued with the introduction of Professor Roni Bamber, of Queen Margaret University, who will be Chair of the new Theme. Roni spoke about what lies ahead for the next three years of the Theme and how it will be an exciting time for all who will be involved. She then welcomed our conference keynote speaker, Professor Liz Thomas, who gave an engaging and stimulating presentation on Transitions and officially launched Student Transitions as our new Theme.

The afternoon saw delegates heading back into the second and final breakout session of the day. The remainder of our institutions now got the chance to present on their DSC work from the last three years and this included areas including ‘DSC: what did we do and what did we learn?’, ‘Enhancing flexibility through new technologies’, and ‘Learning from curriculum reform’. We also had a presentation from the Learning from International Practice project which discussed their findings, including those from their very successful workshops which ran all over the country this year. The afternoon session also saw a highlight of the conference which was a contribution from the Student Network. Student engagement is at the heart of the Enhancement Themes and we were grateful to have fiver very engaged members of the Network describe the Network and their thoughts for the future, as well as share examples of how the Enhancement Themes have benefitted students at their campuses, students who usually don’t know a thing about the Themes.

The conference also included a goodbye and thank you to Andrea, who is stepping down as Chair of SHEEC, and it was a goodbye to Developing and Supporting the Curriculum. As delegates chewed down on the, now obligatory, cake at the end of the day, thoughts turned to the future of the Themes: a new Chair of SHEEC, a new Chair of the Theme, and, of course, the new Theme of Student Transitions which will run for the next three academic years. Lots to look forward to and we hope you get involved.

Resources from our conference are now available to view online.

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