THE MOVE to home working and online delivery means innovative thinking has been a key driver for a digital transformation at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD).
The University has recently set out a new direction of travel and embraced the opportunity to review its current academic offer and design a suite of modules across its portfolio which aim to develop students’ skills and competencies, as part of a Graduate Attributes Framework.
In the future, the University’s courses will be prepared in such a way that the delivery experience will accommodate traditional campus-based learning and online delivery for a blended learning approach.
“At every level of a university degree, some modules will only be offered through online learning and the content of our degrees will reflect the reality of the employment challenges our students will face, particularly post Covid”, says James Cale, Director of Digital Services at the University who is also leading the University’s Estates and Infrastructure Task Group, as part of its Post-Covid Transition Group.
“Whilst the safety and well-being of all our students and staff is our highest priority, we are of course also fully committed to providing our students with the highest quality study and social experience that we can.
“We have made a commitment to all our students that, through our blended learning provision, they will be able to receive face-to-face teaching on campus whenever it is safe and possible, and both asynchronous (learning the same content at different times) and synchronous (learning at same time) online teaching delivered to those students off campus, will continue to be available where possible.”
The University knows that access to academic staff is important to UWTSD’s students and that personal attention from staff is among the many reasons why the University has been voted 1st in the UK for the second year in succession for its Courses and Lecturers in the What Uni Student Choice Awards and is 1st in Wales for its learning community in the 2020 National Student Survey.
“That personal attention can also be provided through both on-campus and online via solutions such as Microsoft Teams” says James. “We will provide regular contact time opportunities both with tutors and fellow students”.
“We know that some students have concerns about online delivery of learning”, James continues. “But providing online alternatives to lectures does not mean that students will miss out on the in-person university experience and research shows that blended learning can offer more flexibility and better learner outcomes”.
Larger group teaching will be delivered digitally if necessary and where online delivery is not possible, the University will make sure these are accessible to all either by recording or streaming them.
Online teaching sessions will give students the chance to follow up and post questions online in discussion spaces and where academic staff will post answers and further explanations. This is a long-term approach that will enable the University to provide increased accessibility, flexibility, and equity.
The University has also been actively working on appropriate solutions as some students have limited access to devices when off-campus and some are in areas with limited or no broadband provision.
Working through its Student Services team, the University has invested in its bursary funding to provide support for those that need it in the form of Microsoft Surface Go devices, financial support for connectivity and access to resources for Welsh Government grant funding for areas with poor broadband connectivity.
Professor Dylan Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor concluded: “The strength of UWTSD is the diversity of our students and we aim to provide the very best educational environment for each individual to reach their potential. Our recent campus developments have emphasised small group and practice–based teaching, integrating physical and virtual study spaces for maximum impact. The pandemic has accelerated this approach, but the direction of travel was already determined as we seek to prepare our graduates for a constantly changing workplace in which the utilisation of technology plays a central role.”
Aberystwyth Vice Chancellor pays tribute to community-wide efforts to control COVID-19
ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY’S Vice Chancellor has paid tribute to local organisations and workers for efforts to control cases of COVID-19 in the area.
Marking the anniversary of the initial lockdown, Professor Elizabeth Treasure said that the actions of organisations such as Ceredigion County Council and Hywel Dda University Health Board had saved lives and she offered her heartfelt thanks.
Professor Treasure said: “I wanted to take this opportunity to outline my gratitude to those local partners who have worked so hard to combat COVID-19 transmission locally. Their efforts have saved lives over the past months, and we will no doubt need to continue to support them over the coming weeks and months.”
Following the Welsh Government’s decision to allow all students back to university campuses after the Easter break, Professor Treasure thanked the wider community for its support over the course of a difficult year since the start of the pandemic.
Professor Treasure added: “I am very pleased that the Government has decided that students can return for in-person teaching after the Easter break. I have received a great deal of positive feedback about the responsible actions of our students over recent months from other sections of our community.
“We are all helping to make a difference – contributing in our own ways to those life-saving efforts.
“We are fortunate to live in a community which is inclusive and welcoming, and I am so grateful for the wide support for all our work.”
On Monday 15 March 2021 the Welsh Government announced that students could return to universities after Easter for in-person teaching. Further practical details are expected to be released by the Welsh Government over the coming weeks.
As has been the case from the outset of the pandemic, Aberystwyth University is adhering to Welsh Government guidance as it plans for the return of students to Aberystwyth and to a COVID-secure campus.
In addition to initial significant contributions of PPE for healthcare workers, since the start of the pandemic the University has provided locations in Aberystwyth for public COVID-19 testing facilities and a mass vaccination centre.
U-turn on compulsory lifesaving lessons in Welsh secondary education
SCHOOLS in Wales will now teach first aid and lifesaving skills as part of the new curriculum.
Wales will join England and Scotland by introducing first aid and lifesaving kills to their national secondary education curriculum.
Kirsty Williams, Education Minister had previously rejected the calls for emergency resuscitation skills to be compulsory in school.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was introduced in the secondary school curriculum in England in September 2020.
Local authorities in Scotland have also committed to introduce lifesaving skills to their secondary education curriculum.
The British Heart Foundation had backed the campaign for CPR to be taught in schools.
In a long fought battle, Suzy Davies, a Welsh Conservative Member of the Senedd for South Wales West, secured the commitment from the Welsh Education Minister in the course of debating amendments to the new Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill, which will make sweeping changes to the way Welsh children are educated.
The new curriculum for Wales is planned to come into force from 2022.
Children, parents, families and medics have long argued that regular teaching of CPR in particular will raise our children to have the skills and confidence to step in and save the life of someone in cardiac arrest if they encounter them outside a hospital setting.
The commitment was included in the Welsh Conservative manifesto for the Assembly election in 2016, and Suzy Davies, the Shadow Education Minister, said:
“After 10 years campaigning for this, I was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen.
“From securing cross-party support for this in my early days as an Assembly Member, through several debates and pitches to different Ministers, on to my own proposed legislation which found favour among Senedd Members, it was difficult to understand why Welsh Government was so resistant.
“In this country, our chances of surviving a cardiac arrest outside hospital are as poor as 10%. In countries around the world where teaching CPR and defibrillator use is compulsory, those odds improve dramatically. These skills are quick and easy to learn and easy to remember.
“ Alun Davies MS – himself a cardiac arrest survivor – has rightly argued that we should be able to learn these skills at any time in our lives and that defibrillators should be a commonplace feature of our public landscape. I couldn’t agree more – but how simple it is to ingrain these skills from an early age and raise generation after generation of lifesavers.”
Under the new curriculum, teachers must follow statutory guidance made by Ministers to support various aspects of the new way of teaching. After changes guaranteed by the Education Minister, this guidance will now instruct teachers that they should teach lifesaving skills and first aid: It is no longer optional.
The mandatory teaching of life saving skills and first aid (not just CPR) has been supported by the medical profession, including paramedics and fire service co-responders, as well as charities like St. John’s Cymru, British Heart Foundation, Calon Defibrillators, Cariad and the Red Cross.
It is taught through many youth groups, including Torfaen Sea Cadets who trained Aneurin Metcalfe, the young man who saved someone’s life only this week.
Styling their way to the top
FOUR hairdressing learners: Holly Mathias, Jenna Kilgallon, Helaina Thomas and Leah Rees, recently earned themselves a place in the next stage of the Concept Hair Magazine Learner of the Year Competition.
The candidates were invited into the College to show their fully presented entries as evidence and then submitted them remotely to the Concept Hair Magazine judges in December.
The categories for the competition were: Festival Hair, Red Carpet, Old School Barbershop, Celebration of Colour and Safari.
The unique styles allowed the learners to show off their creative hair styling skills from plaits to updos, to bold colour creations.
Charlotte Jones, Hairdressing lecturer was over the moon with the learners’ success; “We were all so impressed with the creativity, dedication and enthusiasm of all the students who took part in the competition. Also, the students who supported the entries during the day and the models who gave up their time to be involved. They should all be very proud of what they have achieved. The results were amazing!”
The students worked to COVID regulations ensuring all the correct PPE and procedures were followed.
Finalist, Holly Mathias entered three categories which included; Styling Level 2 – Festival Theme, Hair Up Level 2 – Red Carpet and Avant Garde – Safari.
Holly shared her experience; “Taking part in the Concept Hair competition, has really boosted my confidence and proved that hard work really does pay off. The support from the staff at Pembrokeshire College is outstanding. I would recommend everyone to take part in this competition as not only is it an amazing experience, but it really allows you to think outside the box and be as creative as you can! I would 100% take part in this competition again.”
Holly plans to go into full-time employment when she completes her course and hopes to one day work on cruise ships or even own her own salon.
The next stage involves the candidates submitting photographic entries on the 12th March where six will be shortlisted for the national finals which is set to take place virtually in April.
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