The themes for 2020 are Education for sustainable development, Digitalisation and e-learning, Assessment, examination and evaluation, The importance of the physical learning environment and Wide participation and increased student retention.
Education for sustainable development
The Higher Education Act states that "in their activities, higher education institutions shall promote sustainable development, which means that current and future generations are ensured a healthy and good environment, economic and social welfare and justice." Agenda 2030 emphasises that sustainability affects all aspects of society and thus all the university's education. In some subjects, sustainable development is a given content in courses and perhaps entire programs; in other subjects this is not as clear. Students need to be trained in dealing with complex problems to develop a readiness for as yet unidentified societal challenges that they will face in their professional lives. We would like to see pedagogical development projects focusing on how to integrate sustainable development as content and form in undergraduate education at Umeå University.
Projects are welcomed that for example examine the following areas and questions: What does education for sustainable development mean in practice? How can we work with complex problems in higher education (within our own discipline or interdisciplinary)? What is sustainable pedagogy? Can we talk about sustainable teachers and sustainable students – what would this involve?
Digitalisation and e-learning
The digital transformation of society also affects our courses, our teachers and our students. In order to maintain high quality in education, teaching staff should constantly develop their educational skills in order to systematically integrate digital tools into their teaching. During their education, students at Umeå University should be challenged and trained to understand and be able to relate to the conditions, functions and consequences of digitalisation in order to be prepared for a professional life where digitalisation is a natural element.
Projects are welcomed that for example examine the following questions: How can we teach accessibly in digital learning environments? How can teaching be developed with creative pedagogical methods in the field of digitisation and e-learning? In what ways can we educate our students in mainstream courses and programs to prepare for the digitalisation challenges of society?
Assessment, examination and evaluation
As an authority, we are tasked with ensuring students' knowledge through examination and assessment. An examination is also a learning opportunity and, like other teaching, can be conducted in many different ways. Most courses and programs currently use one of the university's learning platforms where there are tools that support different types of examination and assessment. In addition, teachers use a variety of methods, both digital and analog, to examine or evaluate the implementation of courses and programs. In this diversity, there are also challenges in the intersection between creative and legally secure examination forms.
Projects are welcomed that for example examine the following questions: What is an examination? How does the examination affect student learning? How can we examine practical skills in a secure manner? How can digital support facilitate or deepen students' learning while at the same time examining knowledge and competence? How can legal certainty be guaranteed for the examination of distance students?
The importance of the physical learning environment
The campus is being changed and flexible learning environments are being built with the aim of offering teachers more varied conditions for their educational activities. The physical environment is important because the rooms that make up the work environment of students and teachers influence the learning that takes place there. Similarly, digital learning environments create more or less appropriate conditions for teaching and learning. What can the physical environment contribute to the facilitation of learning?
Projects are welcomed that for example examine the following questions: What is the relationship between student learning and the physical and/or digital environment? How does the quality of the physical environment affect well-being, security and learning? How can we create safe learning environments that at the same time are sufficiently challenging to stimulate new ideas? That create opportunities for communication and collaboration?
Wide participation and increased student retention
Widened recruitment means that students from non-traditional backgrounds are increasingly applying for university education. Wide participation means that higher education institutions work systematically to receive, introduce and in various ways support these students. This is true in teaching in general, but also through, for example, providing support in academic writing, maths workshops, student ambassadors and assistance with time planning.
Projects are welcomed that for example examine the following questions: What does the classroom look like? In what way can different educational methods support broad participation and in the long run also increase student retention? What support measures promote retention at the university? How can higher education pedagogy be developed to benefit all students and contribute to better student retention rates?