ae1: Widening participation

Widening Participation (WP).

Promoting and providing equal opportunity to everyone to successfully participate and succeed in higher education regardless of background, age, ethnicity, disability or gender.

Widening participation is one of the strategic objectives of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

HEFCE undertakes this by :

    1. Collecting information from HE on WP.
      1. The national strategy for access and student success gathered strategic assessments and interim strategic statements on WP to better understand institutions approach and response to WP issues.
    2. Monitoring equality and diversity, particularly :
      1. Ethnicity and degree attainment.
      2. Access to L&T for disabled students.
    3. Administering the National Scholarship Program (NSP) – a fund made up partly of government contributions for supporting :
      1. Students with fee costs.
      2. Institutions with outreach programs.
    4. Offering student support :
      1. Hardship funds.
      2. Bursaries for students wanting to teach in FE colleges (although this is being phased out).

HEFCE particularly focuses on students from / with :

    1. Disadvantaged backgrounds.
    2. Disabilities.
    3. A high risk of not finishing their course of study.

WP at UAL.

    1. UAL is committed to WP aiming to innovate and stimulate creativity, value diversity and respect individuality.
      1.  Partnerships with FE colleges and schools, pupil referral units and special education needs institutions.


Widening participation in my own context.

Learning Technology Support (LTS).

    1. My role at the university supporting students and staff in open access IT area
      1. Aimed at overcoming digital literacies access issues people from different backgrounds and abilities may face. This includes accessibility issues relating to hearing or visual impediment, dyslexia and physical access issues. We provide a friendly and approachable face for potentially intimidating technologies!
      2. Workshops. Students can request IT / software workshops or 1on1 support.
    2. Learning environments.
      1. Audio reinforcement for lecturers (microphones and speakers so everyone can hear). (Will have to look into whether we provide hearing loop for hearing impaired students).
      2. Visual display. Suitable projection / screen and ‘repeating’ screens in teaching rooms. Cameras and displays for workshop demonstrations.
      3. Learning content. Process learning materials and video content. Lecture caprture (so students can watch again if they need to).
      4. Appropriate décor,  furnishings, adjustablelighting and environmental controls conducive to comfortable learning.
      5. Providing spaces to support group learning (Free desks, bookable pod rooms), casual discussion (common rooms).
    3. Online technical resource designed to give students better access to technical resources at the college by enabling them to search online.
    4. ORB (Online resource booking).


    1. Identification of needs and requirements of students in attendance.
    2. Providing written learning materials, reference to online resources.
    3. A variety of learning activities to encourage engagement and participation.
    4. Direct support.


How do I support inclusive learning with my own teaching practice?

I begin each session / series of sessions with individual introductions, encouraging students to outline their experience, aims and interest. I also introduce my background. This is aimed at :

    1. Ice breaking.
    2. Understanding better the needs and requirements of individuals in the group.

Variety of learning activities to encourage participation from different types of learners.

    1. Presentations supported by slides and written hand outs.
      1.  Eg a typography introduction for a desktop publishing unit.
    2. Watching related video content.
      1. Eg examples of animated gif movies for an animated gif workshop.
    3. Tutor lead demonstrations.
      1. Eg step by step Photoshop retouching project.
      2. Good for visual learners?
      3. Participation is possible regardless of level.
      4. Hearing difficulties can be catered for through supporting notes.
      5. Challenges : language difficulties / group concentration issues.
    4. Group discussion.
      1. Eg students all look at a magazine and talk about how it uses design to communicate its brand identity throughout the publication, to encourage :
      2. Social integration.
      3. Idea sharing,
      4. Diminished responsibility for arriving at definitions.
    5. Practical activities.
      1. Eg Cutting up magazines and sticking them back together in new layouts.
      2. Good for kinesthesic learning styles.
    6. Independent class work / homework.
      1. Eg a retouching project to be completed in the lesson / watching a tutorial video for the next class.
      2. Students work at their own pace.
      3. (In class) Option to ask for direct support with their own workflow.
      4. (Homework) Option to watch the video over and over again if necessary.
    7. Pyramid techniques.
      1. I’ve only really employed this on one occasion where a class needed to produce a group project (a website) for assessment. We started out developing skills individually and then the students combined into pairs and eventually their groups for the final piece.


Introduction to study for Higher Education (ISHE)

A 20 credit lvl 4 unit available for all undergraduate degrees aimed at :

Introducing learning at an undergraduate level.

Orientating students within their courses, college and the university.

Introducing specific practices and knowledge base in the student’s discipline.

Overcoming issues adapting to overwhelming university environment affecting student performance.

The site contains a resource pool across these areas :

  1. Creative practice. (My favorites were ‘Critiquing the crit’, doing graphics (practical how to guides for A&D essentials), making the most of a lecture and the jargon buster.)
  2. Academic practice. (Harvard referencing, Academic writing and plagiarism, quick dyslexia diagnosis activites)
  3. Assessment.
  4. Social induction (Ice breaking)
  5. Plagarism.
  6. Learning support. (Library, language centre and study support).
  7. University services.


Describe an Induction activity I use to give a sense of belonging and group cohesion in the first term.

I use an ‘ice breaker’ introduction exersise at the start of a workshop or a series of sessions in a unit. It gives students an opportunity to express their interests, experience and any aims they might have with reference to the subject being studied so I can better meet their needs and requirements. It also gives them an opportunity to meet me and  understand where I am coming from.

In retrospect I think I would like to try and get students to do something a bit more cooperative in the first lesson of a unit, maybe a project in pairs or groups of three or four, something to get them working together and inputting into a joint effort. It’s always tricky thinking of ways to get software skills teaching away from the computer screen facing stereo type so I’d need to think more about exactly what brief / activity would be set.

*** UPDATE ***

See comment below….

I’d welcome any comments or feedback on any of this post. I’ll try to respond to any that get posted…



7 thoughts on “ae1: Widening participation

  1. Wow! Such a detailed account!
    I love the way you’ve broken it down into easy to read sections, filled with really useful and insightful information.
    Your opening paragraph on Widening Participation has clarified it so clearly.
    You have summarised each section in such detail, making it very accessible.
    I especially enjoyed reading about your own teaching practice and how you actively encourage different learning activities for different types of learners, which gave me food for thought.
    Must complete mine now!


    1. Hey Verity,

      glad you found it helpful (and accessible). In respect of the last I find the formatting options on this blog so cumbersome. It doesn’t display bullet points properly or let me change font size. And it doesn’t let me space things out. Grumble grumble.

      Grumble over.

      Ping us when you get your blog post up 🙂


  2. *** UPDATE ***

    Having thought a bit more about the challenge of engaging students in a creative IT ‘ice breaker’ I am going to try a new exersise with students next term, getting them to pair up (I’ll chose the pairs so there is a random element and people are not all sitting with their friends), take a photograph of each other on their phones, email it to each other and then following step by step instructions photoshop the images so they ‘swap’ faces. This exersise is always lots of fun (we use it later in the term normally), so I think it will be a good way of getting the students excited about photoshop and to make them feel more like part of the group.


  3. I really like your updated ice breaker exercise. Having taught software all day last Friday I sympathise with the problem of getting people away from the screens. I try to encourage people to work in groups or pairs for part of my Final Cut Pro session, especially if some people ‘get it’ straight away and others are struggling. If they teach each other, they both learn. The first part of your blog really explores in detail how your teaching methods are appropriate for inclusive learning. It made me think I could have been more thorough in my blog…!


    1. …its odd isn’t it, teaching software and aiming to avoid screen time… but it makes sense in a way… I think its perspective… that 1.5 hours of class time can be better spent when when you consider the actual amount of screen time necessary to really get into PS or other software is many times that amount.

      There is a place for it but I definitely want to focus on principals of design and conventions rather than follow the click which I think is often better learnt through vids and short exersises…


  4. Hi Adam

    The thoroughness of your blogs is fantastic and I agree with Verity on the clarity of your opening paragraph and also your consideration of multiple approaches to learning.

    I know that software such as Photoshop presents particular problems as groups will often contain such a mixture of levels and perhaps bad, data destructive habits that can make building on group knowledge a little perilous. Having said that I agree that peer teaching is important and I really like the pyramid techniques you have suggested.

    I will definitely try out your second ice breaker.

    All the best



    1. Glad u r finding them helpful James. I think looking at some of u guys responses I could be a bit more emotionally and contextually engaged with the topics, I feel like I’m getting the essence of things but missing some of the history and rational.

      Still this is the advantage of all reading each others answers, we reap the benefits of each others research as well as our own 🙂


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