Nano Conference #8 - Beyond the Classroom

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Conference / Exhibition

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Wednesday 28 February 2024

10:30 AM - 12:30 PM


Online via Zoom



Nano Conferences are a series of online, bite-sized, convenient sessions that share practices to enhance the student experience.

Running once a semester, Nanos include 6 presentations lasting only 15 minutes each, showcasing staff and student insights from a variety of disciplines and settings across the CU Group, as well as external speakers. 

Agenda and speakers

  • 10:30am – Welcome

Brinder Rajpal, Academic Developer, Academic Enhancement and Professional Development 

  • 10:35am – Micro-placements: accessible work experience for time-poor students.

Understand the value of micro-placements for an increasingly time-poor student population. This presentation will share the value and impact from over 10 years of short-term voluntary opportunities offered by Your Student’s Union.

  • Debra has worked in Higher Education since 2001, with over fifteen years dedicated to Student Services supporting disabled and neurodivergent learners, thus has first-hand experience of barriers students can face. Her current role is Add+ Vantage Programme Manager Your Student’s Union, supporting a team of academics to empower students to succeed in volunteering micro-placements.

    Debra Jackson

  • 10:50am – Why not take what we do inside, outside? Reflections on teaching non-university students 

This talk shares Dr Arthur’s field notes from his research project that explored the feasibility of using Forum Theatre (FT) to expand the professional development of care staff in a North London care home. This project challenged his identity as a researcher and academic, being forced to reconcile the contradictions of being in the academy. This need to reconcile should be a point of reflection for all those who stand in front of students to teach or observe other human beings behind their notepads.

  • Dr Ryan Arthur holds a BA, MPhil, and PhD in the social sciences. He also has an MA in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and a coaching postgraduate qualification. He is Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of Warwick and describes his pedagogical approach as student-centred, dialogic, and engaging. His research interests include the BME award gap, decolonisation, and innovative pedagogies.

    Dr Ryan Arthur
  • 11:05am – What is Peer Mentoring at Coventry University 

Explore the value of peer mentoring for students, and why it’s vital to both our teaching practices and students’ extra curricula engagement. Discover how peer mentoring fosters a sense of belonging and community, particularly using the Vygo peer mentoring platform by connecting students across all CU Group UK campuses. This is an opportunity to consider how peer mentoring can be embedded in your teaching with examples of the Vygo platform being successfully incorporated into courses.

  • Hannah is Lead Practitioner in the Student Success Coaching team and Business Lead for the Vygo peer mentoring platform. Previously she has worked in child protection, secondary school teaching, and operations management in the financial sector. She’s driven by service user engagement and success.

    Hannah Giles
  • 11:20 – 11:30am Break
  • 11:30am – AI & the need for a Paradign change in HE Assessment

In today's rapidly evolving landscape of generative AI and chatbots like ChatGPT, universities must adapt swiftly to remain at the forefront of education. At the University of Sunderland in London, we've taken decisive action through our 'Assessment SPRINT' project. This initiative comprises two vital phases: first, a short-term focus on immediate in-flight changes, and second, a long-term plan for redesigning assessments anchored in two main pillars of authenticity and continuity. This presentation will share our successful implementation of the first phase and outline our strategic vision for the second phase, offering a glimpse into the future of Assessment in HE.

  • Senior lecturer in Academic Development - Lead on Assessment at the University of Sunderland in London.
    As Senior Lecturer in Academic Development (Assessment) at the University of Sunderland in London. He holds a PhD in Mathematics Education, MSc and BSc in Pure Mathematics with 25 years of international experience in higher education. His work focuses on innovative methods of assessment in HE.

    Dr Mojtaba Almari

  • 11:45 – Working with Office for Students funding to improve graduate outcomes for health and social care students on the North-Yorkshire coast.

CU Scarborough received £247,000 project funding in 2019 to support its students as, in 2017, CU Scarborough had been recognised as a Higher Education Cold Spot. The project focused on increasing applications to health and social courses, supporting health and social care students while studying at CU Scarborough, and working with employers to support their transition. The project increased applications and enrolments across health and social courses with significant impact on providing solutions to the health and social care workforce shortfalls across several disciplines. It successfully demonstrated that a combination of support to encourage student applications, support during study, and working with employers to provide clear pathways offers a concept which can be extrapolated and transferred to other employment areas.

  • Head of Academic Studies at CU Scarborough with a background in sport and health. Mathew’s research focuses on health and sports nutrition and international research discussing interventions to the international health challenges of an ageing population and age-related sarcopenia. He works with local, regional, and national partners to support projects in health and sport.

  • 12:00pm – A student's experience
  • Listen to Devina Whitwell’s views about the initiatives that supported her overall student experience and development.

  • 12:15pm – Closing

Brinder Rajpal - Academic Developer, Academic Enhancement and Professional Development