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Halmstad University is positioning itself as a dynamic and innovative higher education institution. Last week, for instance, the university was the venue for the annual meeting of Swednet, a national network for educational development within higher education.
How do we make students show up for class? In his opening speech Vice-Chancellor Mikael Alexandersson said that one of the future challenges in teaching and learning in higher education is to actually fill our lecture rooms with students.
As a result of our increasing use of digital technology, students meet to a lesser extent than previously for face to face discussions. The not very cheerful long-term prospect might be “deserted universities,” remarked Mikael Alexandersson.
– Teaching and learning in higher education becomes a crucial tool for making students come to campus and create good values together.
While on the topic of innovative teaching methods, Mikael Alexandersson, mentioned that Halmstad University is currently planning for the construction of a digital laboratory centre.
This year Halmstad hosted the Swednet conference and some 30 educational developers came from different parts of the country. The hosting institution had the privilege of deciding on the theme of the conference: “Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning,” which seemed like a natural choice since Halmstad University identifies so strongly with the concept of innovation.
Marie Arehag from Chalmers University of Technology did not hesitate when answering the question why she keeps coming to the Swednet conferences:
-It gives me energy and courage to make drastic changes to the ordinary teaching procedures.
Stefan Larsson from Kristianstad University was another enthusiastic participant who also attended last year’s conference:
It’s close to professional negligence not to come. This is where all interesting ideas about teaching are discussed and then we take them back with us in order to develop our own practice.
Mobile technology, observed Jo Smedley, Professor of Learning Innovation at the University of South Wales and one of the keynote speakers, will play an even greater part in future learning than it does today. Smedley integrates mobile technology in her own teaching and she tried this approach on the conference participants who were asked to answer a poll by choosing one out of five alternatives and texting it to the professor’s phone. The statistics were then displayed on a screen. A person in the audience asked: But what if there are students who don’t have a mobile? Smedley replied that this does not present a problem since her students work in pairs so there is always a mobile that can be used.
The Swednet conference is one event in a chain of activities focusing on the topic of quality in teaching. Another activity subsumed under this theme is the seminar series that has been running through the Spring term and which concludes with a panel debate on 28 May. Then, on 18 November, teaching staff will gather for the first teaching and learning higher education conference ever at Halmstad University. This is an event organised by the Centre for Educational Development and the theme of the conference is Encounters for Learning.
Text and photo: MIKAEL EVARD
Translation: CECILIA BJÖRKÉN-NYBERG