Posts in the Coventry University category

From left to right: Steven Ball, Valentina Mosconi and Conrad Webbe

From left to right: Steven Ball, Valentina Mosconi and Conrad Webbe

The International Week hosted by TAMK’s Vocational Teacher Education and R&D gathered a total of 24 guests from all around Europe. While workshops and group projects were great in combining different techniques and ideas, attendees also discovered interesting aspects related to student entrepreneurship and working spaces. Steven Ball, Valentina Mosconi and Conrad Webbe, all Learning Technologists came forward in TAMK’s Floworks to introduce Coventry University’s Centre of Excellence and opened up to future collaborations.

 

CELE or short for Centre of Excellence in Learning Enhancement is a specialist teaching and learning, research and development centre hosted within the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at Coventry University, in UK. Initially set up as a Centre for Interprofessional e-Learning in 2005, the faculty discovered there was a specific need for a team of learning technologists. So after the project was finished, it turned into a centre for excellence.  A core team of 11 people (including a director, learning technologists and researchers) work closely together with subject specialists, freelancers and students to develop eLearning packages and help out with the curriculum enrichment within the faculty.

“We support curriculum development, we do applied research projects and we also take commissions from businesses, mainly from the healthcare industry. We offer a range of services from web app development all the way up to augmented reality and virtual reality. So we cover a large spectrum of activities. “ is Steven’s description of CELE’s goals and activities.

When it comes to the use of technology in healthcare, Conrad explains the evaluation process and sees a potential opportunity for the students to be part of.

“Standard technologies like virtual learning environments, quizzes and assessments are used in various formats. Lecturers bring us different bits of software they use in trials to get a more professional opinion on their functions, to analyze if there is a gap in the curriculum or a potential for enhanced and increased learning and develop it from there. For some projects we employ students freelance and in placement positions as well. So if there is an opportunity to maybe do more programming, the computing students can help us with that. In regards of technology, some projects combine forms and modules to use in 3D game engines such as Blender, Unity and Oculus Rift simulated to test the effectiveness of our research.“

“Our faculty is very big so we have a lot of different subjects with very different needs”, Valentina adds.

Was there anything that caught their attention during the international week and worth considering applying back home? The first one to answer my question is Steven.

“To me, the student entrepreneurship aspect was really interesting, the way students gain their degrees and run companies. It’s really hands on the practical life scenario, which I think is really good. Also, virtual reality was one hot topic of the week and a couple of universities were interested in it. It really sparked people’s attention so we’re looking into that, connecting and maybe collaborating.”

“To me it would be thinking on how to apply this style of student learning and freedom into our areas since it seems to be working so well here, in Finland.”, says Valentina.

Conrad shows interest in the idea of international collaboration. “I think there is a potential for healthcare and virtual reality. We could start off with a chat to share all ideas and we’d be happy to do projects as well. And the one that we just came with within the development group sessions we had was in regards to international collaboration. How data and ethics work and looking on how we could do potential framework in that respect. It’s something to go further with, so yes, there are a couple of things that might actually happen from our meeting.”

 

Text & photo: Andruta Ilie

 

Note: Floworks is a 21st century development hub and a collaborative network at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) focusing on improving TAMK’s resources and capabilities in digitalized learning and teaching.

 

Coventry University has gone through a massive change during the past 6-7 years from a recruiting university seeking for students into a university that is especially chosen by the students. The university received the title University of the Year for Student Experience, 2015. The title Modern University of the year was given to it two times in a row for 2014 and 2015. These acknowledgements were given by The Times and The Sunday Times based on national League Tables for university rankings in the UK.

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A group of us from TAMK were able to peek into what lies behind this success. What we found was strategic leadership and consistent work throughout the university. The committed leadership team had a vision of Coventry University being on top of the ranking lists for teaching and learning. It was not only about setting the goal. Money was invested in modern learning environments, in students services, teachers were supported in developing activity led learning, and the campus was developed into a truly multicultural one.

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We had an opportunity to interview students from Qatar, Oman, Saudi-Arabia and three students from different parts of England. What especially impressed me was what the students said about their university. Their message was the same as the message we heard from the leadership: Coventry University is an excellent place to study because of excellent teaching (“teachers are helping students to learn”), excellent student support, good facilities and the multicultural university community.

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The student numbers have increased and now there are some 6 000 tuition paying ( 9 000 pounds per year) international students studying at Coventry University together with some 20 000 British students. This has created a surplus of income that makes the further strategic development of the university possible.

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As Coventry is now the top university for student experience it needs to look into developing its research activities to move up the League Tables. Again the university has set a stretching goal and is aligning the leadership and management processes for reaching this goal. There is no wishful thinking. There are clear plans and procedures to follow this new chosen path. Money is invested, support is given to staff. Based on what we saw, heard and experienced, I am certain Coventry University will, again, be a different university in five years known for its excellent student experience AS WELL AS it´s world class research.

Text: Aura Loikkanen, Director, Higher Education Services