Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Leeds Beckett 6 week walking challenge.

3 million, 144 thousand, 916 steps – that’s how many steps the CLT team did who took part in the University’s step challenge in 2015 (this equates to 1,572 miles). The team comprised myself (team captain), Becky Sellers, Georgi Sinclair, Kate Hoban and Lyn Edwards and our only goal at the start of the six week challenge (to walk to equivalent of going from Lands End to John O’Groats) was not to be last!! At that stage we didn’t know the fitness levels of the other teams, nor how much we were able to do ourselves.

In the six weeks of the challenge we found ourselves going on as many of the additional walks arranged by the Wellbeing team that we could manage, in addition to going out ourselves on the other lunchtimes. I also put on some historical walks around York (it got me out walking on a Sunday when I might otherwise have spent it hunched over the computer writing!).

Kate walked a massive 170,000 steps while at Download Festival and Lyn clocked up some impressive daily totals nearing 30,000 steps dashing about Headingley campus taking photos during the DEAP Learning and Teaching conference. Meanwhile, Georgi and Becky got out and about in Portugal and Cambridge respectively, adding more steps to their totals. I didn’t go anywhere specific, but each week I aimed to raise my total and achieved 200,000 steps in my last week. We all did more walking going to and from our offices each day, but also ended up doing things like jogging on the spot waiting for the kettle to boil, pacing up and down while adverts were on!

It was a great challenge to take part in – particularly doing it in a team as you felt you had to keep up your individual steps for the sake of the others in the team. It was also terrific fun to see where you were on the interactive map each week after the Wellbeing team plotted your weekly steps.

First week we were in the vicinity of Andover, Hampshire and surprised to find ourselves in 11th position – that was unexpected and delightful. Week two found us skirting Sheffield (although we dropped back to 14th position – probably from sitting back on our laurels!). Then onto Scotland and just short of Dunbar – at that stage we were up to 12th. The fourth week we were just 20 miles short of John O’Groats and about 10th position. The question was what should we do in the last week knowing we had reached our goal? Upon checking we discovered we were in 9th position and that spurred us on, determined to remain in the top ten. That was our best ever week when several of us managed to beat our own record of daily steps as we all made a final spurt to the end of the six weeks.

And the result ……… we came in 4th! Admittedly many teams got to John O’Groats before we did and then stopped the initial goal being to get to JoG, but our personal goal was to do as many steps in the six weeks as we could. I was so proud of the effort the team put in.

Are we exhausted? Yes!

Has it made us want to get out and do more walking? Definitely. I, for one, will be doing more lunchtime walks instead of sitting at my desk, although I am relieved not to pace up and down the kitchen each evening!

Deb Chapman, CLT

PS In case you are wondering why we called ourselves ‘1,000 Walking Cranes’ – the distance from Lands End to John O’Groats is approximately 1,000 miles and we had an origami session at an awayday where we made cranes. If you make 1,000 cranes it is good luck….. J

Sheffield Hallam University Learning and Teaching conference 2015

On the 25th June myself and CLT placement student Kate Hoban took the train to Sheffield, we were invited to attend the Sheffield Hallam learning and teaching conference. The theme of the conference was 'Student engagement in and out of the classroom'. A copy of  the conference programme can be found here

After our own recent learning and teaching conference I was eager to see how another institution took on the challenge. The build up had been good with lots of activity on Twitter a glimpse of how much social media activity there was going to be during the day.

We arrived, grabbed coffee and our conference pack from the registration desk before heading into a large lecture theatre for the welcome and first keynote.

We both noticed how full the lecture theatre was, from a pre-conference tweet they were expecting 414 delegates to the one day conference. We also spotted an artist at the front of the theatre who was capturing the thoughts from the session on paper, a different way to summarise and visualise the ideas being discussed.

 The first keynote was given by Prof. Simon Lancaster from UEA, he talked about making lectures more interactive including the use of e-voting. We used the app ResponseWare from Turning technologies in the keynote to answer questions. He also demonstrated how it could be used for peer learning, by asking students to justify answers to peers sat next to them. An interesting and interactive keynote that set the tone for the day. It also became clear from the keynote that social media and especially Twitter play an important role at Sheffield Hallam with lots of staff tweeting and the event even trending at one point.

We left the keynote and headed to our first sessions of the day, the morning sessions were mainly about staff showing and talking about activities they had undertaken. We heard about surveys into the expected use of mobile technologies by staff from new 1st year students. The use of twitter to engage students after class and provide a twitter chat. We split up for the second session and I listened to 2 talks about supporting students in extra-curricula activities to support their studies, this included language modules and a trip to a leading London law firm.

Lunch was held in the large atrium and one of the things that wasn't available was the range of stalls and services to visit during the break. We took our lunch outside to enjoy the best of the weather.

The afternoon started with a Keynote from Professor Liz Barnes the Deputy Vice-Chancellor . The keynote was aimed more at internal staff and the afternoon sessions reflected this. Each session in the afternoon had to bring a single word back to the closing event, the word had to reflect 'What approaches do you use to ensure that you engage students beyond the classroom and contextualise their learning experience'.   The session we attended in the afternoon was led by the key words that supported their Inspirational teaching awards.  Each table got a word to think about how what it means in the context of inspirational teaching,  the word we had was credibility. These sessions were more interactive and set up as workshops. It was sometimes difficult to contribute as most people were discussing SHU specific initiatives and activities.

Overall the event was a good and engaging experience. It is always interesting to see how another institution puts on a learning and teaching conference and what kind of talks they include. With a bigger pool of academic staff to call on there was a wide range of internal speakers. Social media played a big part in the day and that impressed me. The follow up is that all delegates and presenters can have an open badge.  I think Sheffield Hallam should be pleased and proud of the event they put on.