Conferences, Pedagogical Resources, Students, Universities

The ABT Conference 2019 – Student Workshop

(Picture of the ABT Conference Student Panel, (c) Alan Staton, Booksellers Association)

Six international students took part in the student workshops at the ABT Conference 2019.  They were respectively from Mexico, The Netherlands, Italy, Iran, South Korea and Indonesia.  The workshop was run twice, so that all delegates could attend once (it ran back-to-back with a publisher / bookseller workshop).  It was moderated by Louis Coiffait.

Much of the discussion focused on textbooks.  The students agreed that the purpose of a textbook is to impart knowledge, rather than introduce controversial or exploratory ideas.  Simplicity of approach is therefore key to success. “You have a student who wants to know something; don’t put it in a complicated way.”  The layout and structure of a textbook is also extremely important.  Textbooks should be constructed in an accessible way; and although the definitions included in them probably don’t change much over time, students would appreciate it if the practical examples are updated regularly, to maintain currency and interest.  Worked-through examples, either in the book or on a complementary website are extremely important in some subjects – e.g., Business or Engineering.

Asked what kinds of learning resource they used other than textbooks, the students said they started by looking at core articles for which references were supplied in the resource lists, then selected follow-up references in order to grasp “the big picture”.  “The Library guarantees access to a lot of publications not normally available.”  (This meant material not available via Google or Google Scholar.) One of the students, an Italian, said the choice and range of materials available for students to access from the Library in this country is much better than in Italy.  Here it’s “brilliant, wonderful”.

Most of the students agreed that they should not have to pay extra for resources over and above their tuition fees.  For international students, the point is of particular importance, because many of them pay higher fees than home-grown students.  Some had borrowed family money to study in the UK, which would have to be paid back eventually.

Asked about discovery, all agreed that they would like discovery systems and publishers’ search engines to replicate Google; and they would also like publishers to produce more ‘how to’ video clips of the type found on YouTube. 

The students were also asked how they knew they could trust material they just found on the Internet, as opposed to via the Library or conventional publishers’ sites.  “You get to know which ones are most tried and tested; and students talk to each other about them.  I struggled with Maths two years ago.  I found a website that gave good explanations and clear examples and operated at my level in the subject.”

Louis asked them when they felt lecturers were or were not helpful.  Opinions on this varied, from “Textbooks are a guide only; the role of the teacher is most important”, to “Some lecturers tend to over-explain” and “Sometimes you need to go through the whole book to search for the keywords they’ve mentioned”.  Some lecturers fail to put an author on the reading list and then mention them extensively in the lecture – so the author and his or her work is “lost in the wind”. 

Asked how much they would be prepared to pay for a textbook, they suggested that £30 was a “manageable” price for a book they really needed.  “£50 is too much, even with discount.”  However, two of the students said that if a book was more expensive but contained more worked examples, they would then buy it.  Accompanying answers to the questions or worked examples are also vital: “If there aren’t answers provided, I don’t look at the questions.”

Tables of Contents came in for some criticism.  “The explanations in them aren’t detailed enough.  It makes me frustrated when they don’t describe what’s actually in the chapter.”  Short textbooks were almost universally preferred.  The students felt that book length could be cut down considerably by omitting details of the provenance of a concept and how it evolved – though one said that maybe such information might be more interesting in later years of study.  “An engineer doesn’t need to see the history of what he does, but I guess that, for the Humanities, there is a need to draw a lot more connections.”

None of the students regretted choosing to study in the UK, despite the expense.  “It’s a great country – in education, it sets a very high standard.  I’m from a developing country.  There are people needing these types of materials in my country, that are accessible to them.  They want a real textbook that is relevant for them.  Publishers might think this is obvious, but maybe the message hasn’t got across.” However, these students didn’t necessarily think that textbooks would be the key resource of the future, as they still are of the present.  “It is really difficult to be able to say that this is the form / shape / structure of the material I will always want to buy.”

Conferences

Highlights from the ABT Conference 2019

The ABT Conference 2019 was held in Kenilworth on 9th and 10th May.  It was chaired by Louis Coiffait, the newly-appointed Head of Policy at London Metropolitan University.

Louis Coiffait

Louis also gave the opening keynote talk, which, like his address at the 2018 conference, was entitled The Shipping News (capturing many changes that have taken place in HE over the intervening 12 months).

Before giving his presentation, Louis introduced Lynne O’Neill, the current (but, sadly, outgoing) chair of ABT.  Lynne said that although publishers and booksellers appear to operate by different rules, they are pursuing the same goals, and do need to work together.  The long-term prospects for both industries are encouraging, although in the short term Brexit brings with it continuing uncertainty.  UK Higher Education institutions retain their high reputation, but UK researchers are being excluded from EU projects; and the question needs to be asked whether we can still demonstrate the benefits of a university education to the young. 

Louis said that students were now truly at the heart of the system: the Office for Students [OfS] puts students first, whereas its predecessor, HEFCE, acted as something of a buffer for universities.  There have been many reviews and reports: Augar is just the latest of a long line.  There is a big risk that universities will get pulled in two directions: teaching vs research.  What does the government want from universities?  Economic growth, to take the UK to the OECD average; HE “market choice” – new providers, more competition; and “fair” value for money, for both taxpayers and students.

Jackie Labbe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at de Montfort University, talked about Subject-level TEF and How it Works.  She said that, like TEF itself, subject-level TEF is still metrics-driven, but the reports are more narrative-based.  The key to success for universities is just to present the facts as they are: “Don’t rationalise; don’t justify; don’t argue”.  At de Montfort, most of the subject-level TEF activity took place centrally and was led by senior management.  De Montfort was one of a handful of universities to pilot subject level TEF, beginning in the academic year 2017 – 2018.   In the first year, the pilot experimented with 2 models: Model A, by exception, which looked at 12 – 13 subjects that didn’t achieve Gold status in the general TEF; and Model B, which took all subjects offered at the university aggregated to 7 subject areas.  Along with most of the other pilot institutions, de Montfort felt that neither model was particularly successful.  In the second year, more local expertise was introduced, in the shape of course leaders.  Model C was added – this involves a 5-page narrative statement based on 9 metrics.  It was agreed this worked better.  Many challenges still remain, including mapping ‘hybrid’ subjects to specific courses or programmes; obtaining engagement, especially from students; reconciling competing demands within the university; and measuring student outcomes – i.e., understanding what success looks like.  Jackie concluded “Some form of subject TEF will survive, but probably not Model A, B or C.”

Jackie Labbe

Becky Roberts, Customer Insights Manager at Cambridge University Press, and Stuart Webster and Dr Andrew Ashwin, respectively Digital Solutions Manager and Head of Publishing at Cengage, shared with the audience some of their recent work in Changing Pedagogies: the Challenge of Developing the Right Resource Materials.  All concluded that understanding pedagogical needs in a rapidly changing HE environment was a complex process.  Not least among the challenges is the need to partner with third parties.  The traditional textbook publisher provided core, curated content with little outside input; now change is the name of the game and publishers must work with ‘Ed Tech’ and ‘Learning Science’ companies.

Becky Roberts

Sofie Wennström, Managing Editor, Stockholm University Press and Analyst, Stockholm University Library, gave as the title of her talk The Deal-Maker and the Content-Creator: the Academic Library as Transformative Agent for OA.  She said that in both roles she had developed a user-centric approach, delivering to users what they need when they need it. Sweden, which is one of the leaders of Open Access in Europe with its BIBSAM project, takes many of its publishing goals from the EU.  These include making everything available on EOSC; adopting creative commons licensing to preserve author rights; working towards no embargo periods and 100% OA; and updating electronic platforms and formats to allow TDM.  When implementing these initiatives, there is a definite bias towards STM subjects and the article format.  Open Access for journals articles in the sciences is common and accepted.  It is more difficult to engage with AHSS subjects because they don’t get the research funding to support OA; and then there is the question of monographs.  Sofie said the change to OA monographs would be much slower for the Stockholm University Press; but there are other players who already have a good track record here: for example, UCL Press and the University of Amsterdam Press.

Sofie Wennström

Linda Bennett of Gold Leaf, who has been the conference’s programme director for the past eighteen years, offered key points from the Sage / Gold Leaf Pedagogical Report and said this would be her farewell to the conference in an official capacity.  More details about the report can be found here.

At the Academic Book Trade Awards ceremony which followed the conference dinner, Oxford University Press won Ingram Publisher of the Year and Blackwell brought home all three Macmillan Study Skills awards for booksellers: Chain Bookseller of the Year, Academic Bookshop of the Year (Blackwell, South Bridge, Edinburgh) and Bookseller of the Year (Clare Pepper of Blackwell University of Kent in Canterbury). The Ingram Rep of the Year award went to Lucy Pink of Taylor & Francis, and “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari (published by Vintage) was awarded Academic Book Week Book of the Year. 
The BA’s outgoing CEO Tim Godfray was given the Outstanding Contribution Award for his career of over 30 years working in, with and representing the bookselling community.
The after-dinner speaker was Bec Evans, who talked about the techniques of making ideas happen and how to learn from failure which are the topic of her most recent book, “How to have a happy hustle” (published by Icon Books).

Andy Stephens, FCA, Director of Finance at Loughborough University, took as his subject University Finances … on the Brink?  He explained how the finances of a medium-sized UK university work.  Loughborough – which was awarded Gold in the TEF last year and is the Sunday Times University of the Year this year – has a turnover of £320m, 18,000 students and 3,800 staff.  He said that, contrary to popular belief, the university sector operates on a very small margin, despite which this is getting tighter; among all universities there is an increasing reliance on tuition fees as the government withdraws funding; and it is a false assumption that university income is supplemented by research, as most research money has to be spent on the project it is intended for. Furthermore, any increase in the student population will “massively dilute the student experience”.  There is also a 5% decrease in the home student demographic, but as a country “we haven’t exactly put out the Welcome mat for overseas students”.  The upshot is that some universities will grow at the expense of others; and some will be hobbled by debt, the result of unwise past investment decisions.  However, the current climate offers universities the chance to take stock; to examine and challenge the way they do things; and to diversify and explore new ways of attracting income.

The overall themes of the conference were collaboration – between different stakeholders – and efficacy – the perennial holy grail to prove the link between academic resources and academic achievement.

Please look out for the next post, which will summarise what was said at the conference workshops.

Conferences, copyright, London Book Fair

Copyright, Books and Progress

This year’s Charles Clark Memorial Lecture at London Book Fair, entitled Copyright, Books and Progress, was delivered by Professor Daniel Gervais, Milton R Underwood Chair in Law and Director of the Vanderbilt Intellectual Property Program at Vanderbilt Law School. 

Professor Gervais said that copyright is more about intermediation than authors; it is meant to help create value in the marketplace.  Today, the power of online users has eclipsed many of the discussions on the rights of authors and professional users.  The new intermediaries are not copyright owners, but companies such as Facebook and Google who generate revenues by selling advertising.  Their aim is to pay as little as possible for creative works.     

Copyright implies “one size fits all” – but now this doesn’t work.  Allowing the re-fragmentation of rights materials to create a single protected object does work.  The ability of the Internet to disseminate worldwide at little cost is a powerful leveller; but saying no to a user online is the least desirable option.  If copyright can be aligned with purpose, the need for more limitations and exceptions will be reduced. 

The nature of content should matter to us all; progress doesn’t necessarily mean “new”, because new doesn’t always justify progress. Does copyright law incentivise the right things? In order to achieve its aims, new content must not only be created but made available, while finding ways not to disadvantage those who have spent their lives perfecting their creative craft. Spending time on creativity is essential for humanity to reach maximum levels of achievement. 

In the knowledge economy, creativity has replaced the value of material goods.  Human emancipation through science and the arts is progress; the role of governments is to promote progress by ensuring that the “greater proportion” of change is for progress. Good governance of human progress is about promoting conditions for business to thrive across borders and for humans to develop their potential. 

 Professor Gervais offered a few “concrete” suggestions:

  • In the face of the takeover of human creativity by a small number of large technology companies, we can either take a laissez-faire approach, or we can use copyright to foster creativity more proactively. 
  • OR we can regulate dissemination.
  • OR we can implement a policy that implies some regulation.

Internet users certainly need filters; but for many forms of enterprise, the Internet is “it”; and the Internet is also the only means of revenue for many companies. 

Copyright law therefore matters: it is the main policy tool we have to effect financial flows to professional creators and publishers – highly desirable goals for the future of progress.  “The Internet’s purpose should be to foster, not hinder, rights.”

Conferences, TEF, Uncategorized

Academic Book Trade Conference 2018

For the second year running, the Academic Book Trade Conference (ABT) was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon; also for the second year running the BA chose two gloriously sunny days. The conference took place on Thursday and Friday, 10th and 11th of May.

This year’s conference theme was The TEF, Brexit and More: what’s happened, what’s happening, what to do next. As in previous years, Gold Leaf’s Linda Bennett put the programme together, and what an exciting programme it was! Without having briefed any of the speakers on this specific aspect, “telling a story” was a recurring motif raised in various ways by the different speakers.

The chair of the Academic Booksellers Group, Lynne O’Neill, was first to pick up on this theme.  She quoted Romeo and Juliet to illustrate the symbiotic, sometimes turbulent relationship enjoyed between booksellers and publishers: “Two households both alike in dignity …”  She referred to the huge changes that have taken place in the academic landscape over the past year, especially the setting up of the Office for Students [OfS]. Richard Fisher, the conference chairman, added that HEFCE officially came to an end in April, to be replaced by the OfS and UKRI [UK Research and Innovation].

The next speaker – William Bowes, Director of Policy and General Counsel at the Publisher’s Association – spoke about the UK and the its importance in publishing, nationally but also internationally. He said that, although there has never been a better time to be involved in publishing, “for an industry whose sole purpose is to tell stories, we’ve not been very good at telling our own”. He concluded that Brexit offered publishers the opportunity to start telling their story better: an opportunity they all need to take advantage of.

Meryl Halls, recently appointed MD of the Booksellers Association, announced the launch of the Academic Publishers Shopfloor Project, which encourages publishers to spend time working in academic bookshops – “even doing the hoovering” – to experience what being a bookseller entails.  A similar initiative was managed very successfully by the BA in High Street bookshops last year.

The keynote talk was given by Dr Clare Goudy, Director of the Education Planning Office of the Vice-Provost at University College London. Dr Goudy gave the audience a very honest view of how UCL had approached the TEF and how “telling a story” had made them receive a TEF Silver award, whilst the metrics alone initially had put them into the Bronze category. An important part of telling this story had been the Library – the Library Services had played a pivotal part in this narrative of academic research and teaching achievement. However, taking the same approach at subject level for the upcoming subject-level TEF will be a challenge in many ways.

Louis Coiffait, Associate Editor at WonkHE, gave a captivating talk entitled “The Shipping Forecast: What’s really going on in HE?”. He elaborated on a number of interrelated stories, including the mystifying and complicated issue (which he expertly unpicked) of how many individual government and related bodies influence funding and decision-making at universities; and stakeholder pressures with regard to who pays / who should pay, not least from students’ parents. His final message for universities was to stay focussed on the passengers and to embrace the challenges new types of study and students bring.

The talks were followed by a panel session, in which Helen Adey, Resource and Acquisition Supply Team Manager at Nottingham Trent University, Dr Peter Jones, Principal Lecturer in Social Sciences at Greenwich University and Dr Clare Goudy discussed the needs of students today. The panellists agreed that students now need all kinds of help besides provision of resources – for example, information about how to give presentations, how to read critically and time management.  They want resources presented in such a way that they can understand exactly what is expected of them.  From the Library’s perspective, electronic resources can be made more available to more people and are often more affordable: but, given the choice, many students still prefer print.

IMG_6097-2

Introducing the report “How are Students and Lecturers Using Educational Resources Today?”, which was commissioned by Sage Publishing – print copies were given free to all of the delegates, kindly supplied by Ingram – Kiren Shoman, Editorial Director of Sage and Annika Bennett of Gold Leaf provided insights into the mixed picture of resources requirements in UK HE today.  81.4% of the librarians and 69.4% of the academics who participated in the research said that the resources used have changed; reasons for this included the increasing prominence of “flipped learning” and technologically-enhanced learning.  However, their views on which resources were being used were markedly different. Another important finding was that there are often discrepancies between the resources people actually use and the ones they say they use.  A second report will explore this further, but in the meantime, more details on the current report will be published soon in a separate blog post.

cover

Mark Hunt and Laura Annis, of Ingram and VitalSource, presented the findings of a recent survey, one of which was that 89% of the participating students said that e-textbooks and related course materials had had a positive impact on their learning experience.

At the awards ceremony which followed the conference dinner, OUP won Publisher of the Year (and has now won this title 9 years running) and Greig Watt of Blackwell’s Aberdeen won the Bookseller of the Year Award.  The after-dinner speaker was Ziyad Marar, whose recent book, “Judged”, is about the value of being misunderstood.

The second day of the conference was opened by Greig Watt (Blackwell’s) and Emma Farrow (John Smith’s), who gave two different accounts on booksellers’ best practice and how they can flourish in both traditional and non-traditional surroundings. This was followed by two workshops run back-to-back, one a student panel, the other devoted by Helen Adey to demonstrating to publishers the sorts of decisions librarians have to make when managing resources funds.  The conference was wrapped up with a Q & A between Richard Fisher and Louis Coiffait. Sadly, Richard Fisher has decided to conclude his chairmanship after this, his third year – he has been one of the most distinguished chairmen the conference has ever had.

(c) photos: Sharon Benton

Conferences, TEF

How are Students and Lecturers Using Educational Resources Today?

[Press Release]
SAGE Publishing and Gold Leaf partner on major study to provide insight into the UK higher education pedagogical environment

Higher Education in the UK is undergoing huge change. Much of this is directly affecting how students, faculty and librarians interact with pedagogical resources. But what impact are these developments having on learning? How is this influencing the type of resources being used in the present-day classroom? More widely, what impact will factors such as the TEF and Brexit have on the acquisition and deployment of pedagogical resources and educational technology?

In the first part of a major study, How are Students and Lectures Using Educational Resources Today, commissioned by SAGE Publishing and conducted by Gold Leaf, researchers Linda Bennett and Annika Bennett unpack these questions. The report offers analysis to help understand trends and practices driving the positive impact of pedagogy on student success in the UK HE environment.

To date, at three of the participating universities (the University of Greenwich, the University of Huddersfield and the University of Surrey), a total of 31 in-depth interviews have been conducted with librarians and academics. 4 student focus groups have also taken place from across several disciplines.  These have been complemented by three UK-wide online surveys circulated to academics, librarians and students, which attracted responses from across 113 UK Higher Education institutions. This interim report focuses on qualitative results from non‐Russell Group universities. The final report will include qualitative results from Russell Group universities.

The report addresses questions concerning student expectations; pedagogical tools and their representation in resources lists; changed methods of university funding; and the role of publishers and academics.  Interim findings across the wider UK surveys so far include:

  • 81.6% of academics and 62% of librarians believe that the approach to pedagogy at their institutions have changed.
  • The use of the flipped classroom, and an increased focus on technology-enhanced learning were the most‐mentioned catalysts for change, together with concern over existing teaching standards.
  • Textbooks (both print and electronic) and journals continue to be the most listed resources mentioned by academics, librarians and students.
  • Asked about their institution’s policy on who should pay for learning resources, 49% of the librarians, 42% of academics and 39% of the students said that students could and should be able to obtain all the resources they needed from the Library. Only 4% of librarians and 9% of academics said that their institution paid for essential texts for each student.

Kiren Shoman, Editorial Director, SAGE, said:

“SAGE is keen to take responsibility for learning how changes in education are impacting the communities we serve. Since our founding we have been driven by the recognition that education is vital to a healthy society, and we continue to work with our academic community to support their engagement with education and to best address their wider needs. We have been delighted to work with Gold Leaf as an independent research consultancy to explore the current landscape and best understand how we can support and address the challenges and changes in higher education resourcing and teaching today.”

Linda Bennett, Founder of Gold Leaf, commented:

“Gold Leaf feels very honoured to have been chosen to carry out the research for this important study.  Working on it has been a privilege and the results are fascinating.  I’d like to say how grateful we are to everyone who has supported it, especially Kiren and her colleagues at SAGE and the many academics, librarians and students from Greenwich, Huddersfield and Surrey who have participated.  We have started work on the second report now and look forward to sharing it with the HE community in a few months’ time.”

You can find out more about the report and follow the study as it progresses by sending an email to info@goldleaf.co.uk.

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Part One of the report is being presented at the ABT Conference sponsored by the Booksellers Association on 10th and 11th May.

Part Two of the study will be completed in the autumn of this year.

For further information on either parts of the study please contact info@goldleaf.co.uk.

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About SAGE Publishing

Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE is a leading international provider of innovative, high-quality content publishing more than 1,000 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. Our growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company’s continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne. www.sagepublishing.com

About Gold Leaf

Gold Leaf was set up in 2001 to provide business development support and market research to the academic publishing and academic librarian communities as well as academia itself.  It has published several important studies about pedagogies, electronic resource provision and the changing role of libraries as well as many bespoke reports for individual clients. Gold Leaf facilitates a number of librarian advisory boards worldwide.  More information about Gold Leaf may be found at http://www.goldleaf.co.uk/index.html

 

Conferences, TEF

Conference: The Incredible Machine – What next for TEF?

The TEF results were due to be released this week, coming only second to the General Election as the most anticipated day this year in the UK Higher Education sector. The day after the election, the Department of Education announced a postponement of the publication of TEF results; a new date has yet to be confirmed.

Interestingly, the other dataset eagerly awaited, the first instance of Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) – statistics on graduate salaries up to 5 years after graduation – were released on Tuesday as planned.

In anticipation of the TEF result, around 140 delegates came together on Election Day to discuss the current status and the future of the TEF. The event “The Incredible Machine – What next for TEF?” had been organised by the HE Policy blog WonkHE and was attended by “leaders, managers and staff working across policy, planning, strategy, communications, marketing, public affairs, quality, registry, student experience and in students’ unions” (so went the announcement of the event), but also by HE consultants, software companies… and some publishers.

From the academic publishing sector’s point of view, it was notable how little the provision of learning resources were mentioned, and how an awareness of the importance of these on teaching outcomes seems to be lacking amongst the self-declared “TEF wonks”.

Publishers did not get a voice (or even an ear) during the conference – which was perhaps to be expected – but even university libraries seemed to play a subordinate role in the TEF discourse. Not a single librarian attended the conference, and libraries were mentioned exactly twice. In a full day of discussions about the quality of teaching, this was pretty surprising.

However, the conference itself was highly interesting. During the opening address, given by Mark Leach and Ant Bagshaw of WonkHE, the audience was asked about its attitude to the TEF, and it was obvious that the majority of those present were very sceptical about whether the TEF aims were actually being met.

Different panel sessions led the proceedings throughout the day, discussing the current situation, the metrics, and the future of the TEF. The audience was very engaged and there was plenty of time allocated for questions, comments and discussions.  Full use was made of this, and many interesting aspects were raised.

Jayne Mitchell (Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Bishop Grosseteste University), who was also a TEF assessor, Alastair Robertson (Director of Teaching & Learning Enhancement, Abertay University Dundee) and Michael Wykes (Director of Policy, Planning and Business Intelligence, University of Exeter) sat on the first panel; each gave an overview of how they had approached the TEF application process at their universities. It was fascinating to hear, as the universities they represented were very different (both by type and by geography) and therefore their attitudes opinions and the approaches they adopted towards fulfilling the TEF differed significantly. Sector wide, there has been a huge variation on how the submissions were put together, where the focus was laid and which data or qualitative information each contained. It certainly will be fascinating to  examine how varied the submissions are collectively when all have been published.

The second panel of the day focused on metrics, data and league tables. Joy Elliott-Bowman (Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Independent Higher Education), Matt Hiely-Rayner (Director of Intelligent Metrix and Head of Planning, Kingston University) and Jackie Njoroge (Director of Strategy, University of Salford) talked about the independent HE sector and the implications of data for it, about if and how the TEF data can influence the Guardian University Guide rankings (answer: it will not!) and about the benchmarking of TEF metrics. This would have been an appropriate session in which to introduce discussion of learning resources, but, as already mentioned, these played a much smaller role than I had hoped for.

After this panel session, Sue Rigby, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Lincoln, who is also involved in the HEFCE Learning Gain initiative, spoke about Learning Gain and the use of metrics. Her focus was on the metric, and not on the “how to”, so Learning Resources were once again not mentioned. Sue came to the conclusion that “Learning Gain is not going to provide a better proxy; it is an opportunity to think hard and better about learning”.

In the last panel of the day, Mark Jones (Chief Operating Officer, Higher Education Academy), Simon Marginson (Professor of International Higher Education, UCL Institute of Education) and again Sue Rigby talked about the future of the TEF, looking at projected future developments and the future of teaching quality enhancement. It was agreed that the TEF didn’t actually measure teaching quality and that the HE sector needed more involvement in the development of the metrics.   Following the discussions at the ABT Conference, which demonstrated that the academic bookselling and publishing industry has already recognised this, it was probably the most important conclusion of the day. Maybe it could be a point of connection for the BA and PA to start their lobbying.

The discussion then moved on to performance measurement in teaching, in which individual lecturers are being measured (in this instance, the approach shows a more direct transfer from REF to TEF) and the international impact the TEF may have. Prof. Marginson said that the REF had a big impact internationally, but he doesn’t think the TEF will. (This is a moot point, given that the TEF itself is a symptom of the sea-change that is taking place in how teaching and learning are carried out, in both the UK and many other countries, rather than itself generating that change.
In this discussion, the library was mentioned a couple of times, but the quality and impact of learning resources and their provision was not in the speakers’ (nor the audience’s) minds, which was surprising and somewhat dismal to see.

This was a day with many informative discussions and lots of relevant background information for the publishing sector.  It emphasised once again the importance of lobbying by the Book Trade Industry if it doesn’t want its considerable contribution to teaching and learning be side-lined in the future developments of the TEF.

A full write-up of the conference can be found on the WonkHE website: http://wonkhe.com/blogs/live-the-incredible-machine-what-next-for-tef/

Conferences, TEF

Addendum – what’s next for TEF?

On June 8th, WonkHE will host the Conference “The Incredible Machine: What next for TEF?” at the Royal College of Physicians. This conference is now sold out, but Annika Bennett of Gold Leaf managed to get a ticket. So, again – check our Twitter account (as I will be tweeting live) and keep an eye on the blog to stay updated on any developments on this. issue.