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The Connected Conference

July 14 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

The Connected Conference – (re)connecting with students, our campus and the city

This year’s Bristol Institute for Learning and Teaching (BILT) conference taking place on Zoom, will explore how different connections have been established and nurtured, both in-person and online, and how we can take this forward into next year for both new and returning students. Specifically, we will focus on: 

  • Connecting with tutees 
  • Connecting with the city
  • Connecting to the curriculum  
  • Connecting with cohorts  

Programme – further details will be added as confirmed.

10am – 11am. Keynote – Building communities in a digital age (abstract to follow shortly)

Prof. Helen O’Sullivan (DVC and Provost at the University of Chester)

As Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Chester, Professor O’Sullivan is responsible for providing strategic leadership of the academic function of the University, including enhancement of the teaching and learning experience. She joined Chester in April 2021 and before that was Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) at Keele University.  

Helen’s background is in biological sciences and medical education, and she led the HEFCE-funded Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Liverpool. Her research focuses on the role of emotional intelligence in developing professionalism and leadership in doctors. Her subsequent interest in how developments in digital education can support social learning as well as developing flexible, online and transnational education led to her appointment as Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Online Learning at Liverpool. 

Helen is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Association for Leaning Technology (ALT) and is a member of the Advance HE Board. 


11:30am – 12:30am – Parallel Sessions  

Session A – Connecting with Tutees 

This session will explore a range of examples illustrating how personal connections have been built with and between tutees during the past year and will include presentations from some of this year’s Bristol Teaching Awards – Outstanding Personal Tutoring shortlist. Contributors include: 

  • Dr Peter Scott from the Department of Music – speaking about the positive (and occasionally negative) impact of university extra-curricular activities, particularly in relation to first year tutees. 
  • Dr James Norman from the Department of Civil Engineering speaking about how tutorials offer many benefits to students, not least being our primary form of pastoral support. However, to ensure good student engagement with tutorials we believe that they need to be consistent, valuable and fun. To enable this to happen this year we created a 24 week plan and sent all tutors a weekly email with a ready made tutorial plan. Find out what was in the plan. What worked. What didn’t. What we will be doing better next time. And how to design a snack that is scary in under a minute!  
  • Dr Joe Williams from the School of Geographical Sciences  speaking about some easy ways to foster a sense of community among postgraduate students. Joe will discuss his approach during Covid-19 restrictions and will outline how this will inform his tutorials now restrictions are starting to lift. 
  • Julian Kendell a Lecturer in Academic Development in the BILT Team and Ruth Day the Student Living Officer in the Students Union speak about a collaboration between the Student Union Sabbatical Officers and BILT, to develop online training resources that introduces academic personal tutors to the key aspects of the role and will help them in other important areas such being inclusive and supporting students wellbeing.

Session B – Connecting with the City – staff contributions welcome 

This session will explore ways we can support students to connect with Bristol as part of, and beyond the curriculum. Contributors include:

  • Dr Keir Williams from the Centre for Innovation and Marika Zeimbekis a Subject Librarian – ‘How do we get students to be digitally literate in a way that’s meaningful to them’
  • Lucinda Parr, Registrar and University Secretary – details to follow
  • Hannah Tweddell the Engaged Learning Co-ordinator in the Careers Service – ‘Engaged Learning – how we can support your connection with the city’

1:30pm – 2:30pm – The First Connection 

In this panel discussion followed by Q&A, we will hear from experts from across the University about how we can best support students at the start of their University experience, following a year of restrictions. The panel will consist of Simon Gamble (Head of Study Skills), Maxine Gillway (Director of the Centre for Academic Language and Development), Suzanne Collins (Senior Digital Education Developer in DEO) and Scott Farmer (Interim Director of Student Voice at the University Union). 

3:00pm – 4:00pm – Parallel Sessions 

Session A – Connecting to the curriculum  

This workshop session will be led by Prof. Leon TiklyProf. Alvin Birdi and Prof. Madhu Krishnan – Drawing on recent examples from across the university, this session will provide an overview of the opportunities and challenges involved in efforts to decolonise the curriculum. The session will provide an opportunity for participants to reflect on how they might approach decolonising the curriculum in their own department.

Session B – Connecting with cohorts – staff contributions welcome  

This session will explore innovative ways to connect cohorts through informal learning opportunities. Contributors include: 

  • Iain Gilchrist and Chris Kent – on school assemblies in the School of Psychological Science 
  • DEO Student Digital Champions on fostering community in the University
  • BILT Student Fellows on the Bristol Undergraduate Research Journal
  • Alison Blaxter on the Summer Journal Club in the Vet School
  • Jennifer Norris a Study Skills Tutor from the Library Services – Coding Club


July 14
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Event Category: