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Enhancing Learning Through Technology in Wales

Introduction In April 2008 the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) published ‘Enhancing learning and teaching through technology: a strategy for higher education in Wales’ . Image: ©Swansea University

This provided a ten year strategy, from 2007 to 2017 that aimed to accelerate the mainstreaming of technology-enhanced learning and teaching provision, processes and practice, and to support Welsh higher education institutions in embracing new technologies and identifying how their application could enhance learning, teaching and the overall student experience. The strategy was reviewed in 2011. by a team of independent consultants. The review concluded the strategy had played a significant role in advancing technology-enhanced learning in the sector and that all institutions had achieved a good level of maturity in this area with some excellent examples of good practice. This brochure accompanies the publication of the review outcomes and highlights some of that good practice.

Strategy Objectives 

enhancement of learning, teaching and assessment, and of core processes


an enhanced student learning experience


increased flexibility and accessibility of provision


effective collaboration and sharing of current and good practice


institutional engagement with the strategy

This brochure features some vignettes of good practice in technology-enhanced learning (TEL) covering the first four objectives of the strategy. The examples come from Gwella, Building Capacity and other activities. The institutions highlighted are not the only ones working in each area (for example all Welsh universities are developing their assessment and feedback practice) but they serve to give a flavour of the range of activity going on across Wales. Readers are invited to read the full review to gain a more thematic view of topics such as: students as partners, digital literacies, learning in and for work and curriculum transformation.

Institutions have engaged with the strategy through a series of implementation initiatives. The most significant of these was a programme managed by the Higher Education Academy, which came to be known as Gwella. Gwella was supplemented by a JISC programme entitled Building Capacity. Gwella and Building Capacity have a series of published outputs and the review report gives a comprehensive set of references to published projects. Image: ©Trinity St David University

Cover Image: ©Swansea University

enhancement of learning, teaching and assessment, and of core processes

Welsh universities are building on small scale successes and innovation projects and starting to apply technology holistically in all of the core processes that support learning, teaching and assessment. Cardiff is developing PALET a Programme Approval Lean Electronic Toolkit to support a more agile and efficient approach to approval and review and ensure new programmes are developed on the basis of a sound business case.

TEL is now part of Estates planning in many places and innovative new Learning Spaces, such as The Quad at Trinity St David, support formal and informal learning and are proving popular with students and staff alike. The new Centre for the Creative Industries at Glyndŵr is designed with sustainability in mind and promotes, innovative, interdisciplinary teaching and industry links.

UWIC has reviewed its quality assurance processes to ensure TEL is an integral element, staff with TEL experience are involved in all validation and review activities and academic staff are offered Programme Design Sabbaticals to give time for innovation in TEL.

Image: ©University of Wales Institute Cardiff

Assessment and feedback has been a major focus of enhancement for all institutions including Aberystwyth where initiatives include audio feedback. Students at Bangor are actively involved in ‘feeding back and feeding forward’. Image: Trinity St David University

Staff development is key to ensuring good practice is spread & embedded. Swansea Met has incorporated TEL into its staff appraisal process. At Newport the range of creative approaches to support critical reflection includes an e-learning retreat and delivery of a postgraduate certificate in higher education entirely online so that teachers practice as they study. Image: Cardiff University

Glamorgan has a suite of integrated assessment tools including e-portfolios, e-assessment and plagiarism detection software and has implemented online assessment submission on a large scale. The Swansea Web PA project investigated a variety of tools to support peer assessment in order to improve student understanding of assessment practice, develop skills of judgement and lighten academic workload.

An Enhanced student learning experience

Welsh universities are exploring a range of tools to enhance existing programmes of study and facilitate new pedagogic practice. Aberystwyth makes widespread use of lecture capture as a study aid. Material is often posted in advance so the ‘lectures’ become more interactive and seminar-like. Bangor uses Audience Response Systems (clickers) to increase interactivity in large groups and aid revision. Swansea has used podcasting to bring to life ancient Greek and Roman sites.

UWIC is using collaboration on a wiki to promote deeper engagement with lecture material and critical thinking skills with a positive correlation between engagement on the wiki and module grades. Trinity St David is promoting innovation with Web 2.0 technologies via a series of ‘lunch and learn’ workshops for staff. At Cardiff the Postgraduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning will no longer teach what a Blog or Wiki is, instead it will seamlessly incorporate activities requiring the use of such tools into the curriculum.

Image: University of Glamorgan

Glamorgan uses advanced simulation equipment in its health courses. It has also trialled use of Twitter to scaffold learning in a range of clinical decision making scenarios. Swansea Met is using Virtual Laboratories to overcome the problem of access to specialist equipment for geographically dispersed learners. Glyndŵr has integrated information previously on a range of sites into a single student portal. Newport is exploring the potential of the Virtual World, Second Life to support learning and digital inclusion via research topics as diverse as digital heritage and robotics.

Image: Swansea University

Image: Swansea Metropolitan University

Image: University of Wales Newport

Increased flexibility and accessibility of provision

Welsh universities are using technology to help make their education accessible to the widest possible range of learners and to offer flexibility for learners to study where and when it suits them and work-based learning is an expanding field for many universities. Aberystwyth is supporting students to develop their digital literacies and library and learning support services offer a rapid and flexible response by using social media such as Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging to handle queries and resolve problems. Bangor is a major contributor to open learning resources in Welsh and makes extensive use of video-conferencing to tutor Welsh speaking students throughout Wales in their native language.

UWIC has worked with the Sector Skills Council for Food & Drink to develop short courses tailored to labour market needs and uses Skype to connect with learners in the workplace. Glyndŵr has reorganised into two Institutes that use the latest technology to deliver courses focused on the practical needs of industry often involving projects solving real commercial problems. Healthcare provision at Cardiff is being enhanced by use of video-conferencing to allow students to interact with volunteer groups of cancer patients. Swansea has created the TRIO virtual learning environment, rich in Web 2.0 tools, to support learners in SMEs, social enterprises and the voluntary sector.

Image: ©University of Wales Institute Cardiff

Trinity St David is investigating the use of e-book technologies to support students with Specific Learning Difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia. To support widening access Swansea Met loans equipment such as netbooks, laptops and flip cameras to students and encourages them to blog about their use to provide self-help guides for other students. Glamorgan is a partner in the Communities 2.0 initiative supporting community groups and social enterprises to help people in the most disadvantaged areas of Wales engage with new technology.

Image: ©Bangor University

Image: Swansea University

The Newport eInclusion website informs teachers and support staff about the variety of hardware and software tools available to help students with additional learning needs.

effective collaboration and sharing of current and good practice

Welsh Universities recognise the value of collaboration and sharing of good practice and have developed a range of effective networks and community resources. Many universities have created sites to support internal networks and are finding they are of value to the wider community. Examples include the Aberystwyth Nexus site, Swansea Met iCAN Collaborative Academic Network , TEL case studies from Bangor and UWIC and the outputs of Glamorgan CELT (Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning) and Swansea SALT (Swansea Academy for Learning & Teaching). The Gwella programme fostered a sense of community that is being continued through a Gwella sub-group of the UK-wide ELESIG (Evaluation of the Learners’ Experiences of e-learning Special Interest Group) network. Glamorgan is also leading a series of peer groups using the CAMEL approach.

Image: Aberystwyth University

Image: Swansea Metropolitan University

Aberystwyth and Bangor deliver some joint teaching and have a joint Initial Teacher Training Centre. Image: South West Wales Higher Education Partnership

Technology is being use to support learning through a range of collaborative initiatives including the South West Wales Higher Education Partnership (SWWHEP) project involving Swansea, Swansea Met and Trinity St David which created a virtual academic library.


All Welsh universities are working together on Y Porth, an e-learning platform which offers a flexible way of sharing resources and collaborating on teaching through the medium of Welsh. Some resources have been developed collboratively and some modules are delivered in parallel to students in different institutions.

Image: Y Porth

Some universities work extensively with partners in the FE and Skills sector and GlyndĹľr has migrated to a different virtual learning environment to facilitate collaboration with the 14-19 sector. UHOVI the Universities Heads of the Valleys Institute is a collaboration between Newport and Glamorgan and a range of FE colleges and training providers to deliver local provision in an area of low participation in higher education. Welsh higher education has a strong international dimension with Cardiff having a worldwide reputation and many other universities forming overseas partnerships.

Image: Universities Heads of the Valleys Institute

About higher education in wales

This brochure features the universities with their main base in Wales. At the time of publication they are:

HEFCW funds a range of agencies and services, many of which give support in the area of enhancing learning and teaching through technology including:

Aberystwyth University

Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

Bangor University Cardiff University University of Glamorgan

The Higher Education Academy, Wales

Swansea Metropolitan University

The JISC Advance family of services including the Regional Support Centre Wales

Swansea University

The Welsh Video Network

Glyndŵr University University of Wales, Newport

University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Image: ©Swansea University

UWIC (University of Wales Institute, Cardiff) The Open University in Wales is also a major provider of higher education.

The review of ‘Enhancing learning and teaching through technology: a strategy for higher education in Wales’ was carried out by Aspire consulting who authored this brochure. The review report can be found at: URL for report

Image: ©Glyndŵr University

Enhancing Learning Through Technology in Wales  

Brochure to accompany review of HEFCW ELTT strategy.

Enhancing Learning Through Technology in Wales  

Brochure to accompany review of HEFCW ELTT strategy.