Faculty of Engineering & Design staff

Sharing experience and best practice across the Faculty of Engineering & Design

Macro of the month: Survey and Vote

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📥  Tracey's macro of the month


Survey and Vote are straightforward to set up and can be used in different ways. They enable the gathering of information, opinions and general feedback from visitors. Survey allows you to ask several questions and offers a list of responses from which to choose, Vote allows only one question; apart from this they operate in the same way.


Survey and Vote have the following function:

  • allows you to present questions to the user to elicit their knowledge, opinions, needs etc

How to add Survey/Vote

  • Place you cursor where you want the Survey or Vote macro to appear
  • Click on Insert (in the tool bar above) then Other Macros from the drop-down menu
  • In the pop-up window, type survey or vote into the search box
  • Set the variables up as you wish (you may wish to experiment with the settings)
  • Click Save
  • Type your list of questions into the macro box that appears (for Vote the question is within the settings)

How to use Survey/Vote

Having some interactive elements in your space is a good way of getting your visitors to engage and a great way for you to get some feedback on your work.

Survey/Vote can be a good way to find out from your visitors how they find using one particular page or the whole space. You can use Survey/Vote to find out how visitors would like you to develop the space further or what parts of the space they value most. You can also ask questions that determine what they have learnt from a resource or their opinion on some content.


Staff support

Survey(click on image to enlarge)


TEL: latest news... Moodle upgrade and more

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📥  Technology Enhanced Learning

With Induction week drawing to an end, it already seems a while since the summer months.

During that time, we have upgraded to Moodle 3.0, and we also have a new look Moodle theme. I’m sure you will have already had a chance to start trying out new version.

Image showing the Moodle home page


Here’s a quick roundup of some of the new features and developments:

  • The user Profile screen has been improved and displays all profile information (course membership, user logs etc.) on a single page
  • A new Preferences screen groups together all of the user defined account preferences (such as message preferences), into a single location
  • Users will now find a My courses menu in the horizontal menu bar—enabling rapid access to any (unhidden) course from within any Moodle page
  • Editing tools have had a make-over. Topic specific functionality is now accessible via a single Edit menu
  • This edit menu includes the option to delete (not just hide) entire topics - this is something that staff have been asking for some time
  • Table formatting via the text editor has been improved, with new Appearance options that let you customise the look of your table through an easy to use interface
  • In terms of new features, the most significant changes are to the Quiz activity, with four new question types

You can access a handy summary of the new developments in PDF format.

Yvonne Moore and I (Learning Technologists, Faculty of Engineering) also had the chance over the summer to run some Getting familiar with Moodle workshops. The workshops aimed to give staff in the Management, Specialist and Administration team an overview of some of the key activities and resources in Moodle, and give them a chance to try out some of the activities they may not have used themselves. This means staff can more easily answer initial Moodle queries, or direct you where to find more help.

Image showing post-it note responses about where to find help with Moodle

Exploring where staff go for help with Moodle

As part of these workshops, we set up a Moodle course (FED Moodle Examples) which introduces some key Moodle tools, and gives examples. To self-enrol as a student on the course, follow the link above, and enter the enrolment key – fedtel02

Image showing the Moodle examples course page

If you are still getting familiar with Moodle, you might find it useful to view the course and try out some of the activities in your own Moodle space. There is also a section on Advanced Editing which shows you how to add some nice web design to your courses using documentation from the developer of the new theme.

Images showing the Advanced Editing section of the course

Don’t forget you can ask for your own Moodle ‘sandbox’ course if you want a space to try things out, by contacting the e-learning team. You can also find tips about getting your Moodle course ready for the new academic year in the Moodle Service Blog.

Coming soon

Next month we will be busy collating the responses to our Faculty Learning Technologies survey (it closes today so there's still time to respond if you are quick!). We will be sharing the findings soon, including future plans for development projects and improvements to the support we offer.

Try me out… tips on the latest useful TEL resources

TELU (Technology Enhanced Learning for you) is a collection of free online micro-courses designed to help you use technology to support your teaching and learning. Sign up for a free account to access over 150 courses designed by experienced educators and designers, based on case studies from real teachers, and collated in useful topics. They are designed to be easily digestible and to save you time. We would love to hear from you if you try any of the courses out and would recommend them to other members of staff.



Apprentice Technician: Everyday something new


📥  Engineering & Design staff celebrating success, Engineering & Design staff experiences

Emma Walker, former Apprentice Mechanical Engineering Technician, has been nominated to receive the Building Services Construction & Engineering Work Place Learner of the Year Award. This award recognises the hard work, application and excellence in both her academic studies and technical ability throughout the final year of her apprenticeship. Emma writes about how she came to the University and what she has achieved here:

I spent 18 months doing work experience at Designability, where they introduced me to the engineering industry and encouraged me to pursue my career as an engineer by applying for an apprenticeship at the University of Bath.

Being an apprentice here at Bath has been an amazing learning experience for me because you never do the same job twice; everyday you’re doing something new. I loved getting involved in the teaching labs, where I would help and guide the first-year students through their time in our workshop. This greatly improved my skills in speaking to a large group of people, and pushed me to grow my social skills.

I’ve learned how to use machinery such as mills and lathes, laser cutters, and 3D printers. I also passed my forklift licence. I finished my apprenticeship six months earlier than planned, and from here I was given the opportunity to cover another unit in composites, where I was able to learn about carbon fibre and other materials, and working with the autoclave. Since finishing my apprenticeship I have gone down the composites route, so being able to cover the extra unit has benefitted me greatly.

I have been very lucky to have such a great support system here in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, where everyone is happy to answer any questions I have and offer advice. My colleague Clare Ball gave me support to help me through my maths module and my Assessor, Rob Aldous, visited me at the University once a month. Rob always made sure I was being treated fairly and that I was getting the best experience out of my apprenticeship.

What I plan to do next is to broaden my knowledge within the work that takes place in the composites department. I want to learn more about the materials I will be working with and also learn about the maintenance work for the autoclave. In the future I want to look into doing a supervisory and management course, this will allow me to climb further up the career ladder and be able to offer more to this company.

An apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity to start  your career, to learn new things every day and to get paid for it! However, an apprenticeship is not easy and is not something to take lightly, you have to work hard for the rewards an apprenticeship has to offer.


Sharing thoughts from the Association for Learning Technology conference (ALT-C 2016)

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📥  Technology Enhanced Learning

Last week I made a trip to the University of Warwick for the Association for Learning Technology conference (ALT-C 2016). I joined on the final day of the three day event. Even attending for just one day, there was a packed programme. I chose to attend lots of short presentations so I could hear about innovations in lots of different contexts.

I always find it interesting to visit another university campus.  I noticed lots of open spaces among the buildings (like mini courtyards or town squares) and plenty of indoor social spaces. This contrasts with the linear layout of our campus, where buildings are oriented along the parade. It felt more like the space outside the Limes and in the Edge. The campus environment seemed to encourage informal meetings.

The short presentations gave an insight into learning and teaching developments in different settings. Some key themes ran throughout the sessions. The messages which seemed especially relevant for us at University of Bath were:

  • How can we work together to ‘join up’ support for the use of learning technologies? How can we make support roles and services more clearly defined and easily accessible? Ongoing work on a new Teaching and Learning Hub, and the development of a Technology Enhanced Learning Strategy are moving in this direction.
  • How can we engage students to share their study strategies and skills? There is a need to open up conversations around staff and student expectations. This could help us to understand how initiatives such as lecture capture can be used in ways that encourage a more critical approach.

Designing for user needs in the Virtual Learning Environment


A demonstration of a Moodlerooms theme which

  • removes redundant links
  • improves flow from one learning activity to the next
  • makes activity completion much easier for students to track

The theme moves away from the standard Moodle architecture where the course page acts as a central hub. This allows more flow from one activity to the next.  (Leonard Houx, Senior Instructional Designer at Cass Business School)

Revolutionary Fork to the Snap Moodle Theme Will Streamline Your Learning Workflow

Discussion Points

  • How to deal with the problem of ‘clutter’ in the VLE
  • If the VLE doesn’t meet user needs, how to support best practice in other online environments (e.g. staff or student created Facebook groups)
  • How to make sure the VLE supports different user needs

Designing physical learning spaces, and spaces for blended learning


  • A presentation on the use of webinars to expand access to learning, for example to students on placement. This included some top tips on designing interaction into the online experience. (Daniel Metcalfe, Senior Learning Technologist, Plymouth University)
  • A new approach towards ‘joined up design thinking’ at the institutional level, to support staff in their use of learning technologies. This includes
    • prompt cards which neatly summarise and highlight all the supported technologies at the institution
    • a common framework and roles (such as student digichamps)
    • ‘design thinking’ events involving students

(Amber Thomas and Robert O’Toole, University of Warwick)

Student engagement in assessment


  • Insights into different experiences with peer assessment
  • Involving students being in writing their assessment criteria. (Sara Hattersley, University of Warwick)

Further resources at www.bit.ly/2caoVxA

Discussion Points

  • The importance of the ‘social space' for discussion around peer assessment activities – to help build up trust
  • The need for expert presence and intervention to guide the activity – it’s not a time-saving exercise

Student engagement in their learning


  • A fascinating presentation on coordinating lecture capture. This involved engaging with students to find out how they use recorded lectures, for example during revision time and during term time. Video guides were developed to share with all students, showing how they can make use of lecture capture in a focused way. (Matt Cornock, Lecture Coordinator and E-learning adviser, University of York). https://www.york.ac.uk/staff/teaching/support/recording-lectures/student-advice/
  • A presentation on using mind mapping with undergraduate students to help them develop a ‘learning design’ plan. The idea is to encourage independent learning and help students take charge of developing their study skills. (Asanka Dayananda, Middlesex University)

Discussion Points

  • The final keynote (Donna Lanclos and David White) considered the dilemma between technology for efficiency, and the potential it offers to open up a more transformative, ‘messy’ and human dimension
  • How can we provide reliable access to technologies and support digital skills, and at the same time move beyond this to help develop practices, behaviours and new identities?


New woodworking and timber engineering workshop in 4ES


📥  Refurbishment update from Julian

Julian Sulley, Director of Technical Services, updates us on 4 East South developments:

After months of planning, the ACE woodwork and timber engineering workshop moved into its new facility back in June. We now have a much larger workshop capacity than the old 6 East workshop and an adjoining dedicated laser cutting / rapid prototyping laboratory. The project has been an unmitigated success and is a reflection of the close co-operation and teamwork between the 4ES project management team, the contractors and our technicians throughout the planning process and move itself. We can be rightly proud of a spacious, light, energy efficient, state-of-the-art facility, ready to welcome its first students in the coming academic year.

Improved use of floor space and a radical rethink of dust extraction and energy conservation

As the project developed we implemented a number of new initiatives to better use floor space and rethink dust extraction and energy conservation. We originally intended to have a central dust extraction unit to service the four heavy application machines and this was to be housed in an internal bunker adjoining the workshop. However, following further evaluation, we decided to install individual extraction units to each machine, replicating the dust extraction provision to the other smaller demand units throughout the rest of the workshop. Not only did this represent a significant saving in capital outlay, it allowed dust extraction units to be controlled as needed (as opposed to a common system running irrespective whether the machines were being used or not).

A further benefit was that the surplus room previously designated to locate the cyclone could now be used for much needed material storage. The workshop incorporates a new technician’s office affording unrestricted viewing of the entire workshop, a key safety factor given the nature of the activity. A roller shutter door allows for material deliveries to be offloaded directly into the workshops material storage racks.

4 East South woodwork and timber engineering workshop

4 East South woodwork and timber engineering workshop

Cost saving and additional space

The move of all our tools, equipment and machinery was undertaken by our departmental technicians in May. Once again, this represented a significant cost saving to the project. Technicians relocated the machines to a signed off layout leaving connection of electrical supplies to the contractor. The additional space has also allowed us to purchase a vertical sheet panel saw, a valuable addition to our existing comprehensive range of machinery. Three new laser cutting machines have been ordered to supplement our existing three, giving a substantial increase in capacity of these heavily used machines.

A team effort

Members of the ACE technician team have been heavily involved in planning the new workshop layout, primarily fronted by the woodworking and timber engineering senior technician, Walter Guy. Thank you for all your hard work.


Macro of the Month: Search box

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📥  Tracey's macro of the month


Search box is another basic macro with one specific use. It enables visitors to find information on the space relating to their choice of search term


Search box has one function:

  • allows you to create a search box for your space into which visitors can type their own search term

How to add Search Box

  • Place you cursor where you want the Search box macro to appear
  • Click on Insert (in the tool bar above) then Other Macros from the drop-down menu
  • In the pop-up window, type search box into the search box
  • Set the variables up as you wish (you may wish to experiment with the settings)
  • Click Save

How to use Search Box

Bear in mind that different visitors will want to search in different ways. This gives visitors an alternative method of finding what they need, other than browsing through the left hand page tree or using the Index (if there is one). The more complex a space (greater number of pages, greater range of topics) the more useful the search box is to visitors.


Faculty of Engineering and Design staff area

Capture(click on image to enlarge)


Handing over admissions


📥  Engineering & Design staff experiences, Engineering & Design staff insight

During his time as Admissions Tutor, Dr John Chew has seen applications for Chemical Engineering increase by 50%. As he hands over the role, John shares his experiences with us:

I was the undergraduate Admissions Tutor (AT) for the Department of Chemical Engineering for three years from August 2013 to July 2016. When I applied to the position back in 2013, I knew the significance of this role to the Department and had some ideas of the implications and major challenges ahead. The level of excitement certainly outweighed my nervousness.

Sharing my subject

During my role as AT, I organised and ran Departmental Open Days and Headstart Courses. I always found running the Open Days a very interesting part of the job. I have a real passion for chemical engineering and get to share the subject and my personal experience with lots of bright, interested and engaged young people, helping them to make well-informed career decisions. In my subject talks, I discussed the range of courses we offer in the Department, how we run them differently compared to other Universities, and the excellent student support that the University has in place for undergraduates. It is not difficult to sell our courses, as Bath is consistently ranked one of the top universities in the UK.

Sorting through applications

Fortunately, I do not see every UCAS application. We receive more than a thousand applications and it would be impossible to deal with every one personally, especially as the 2015/16 recruitment cycle saw applications to Chemical Engineering at Bath increase by 50%. Applications are initially dealt with centrally by the Undergraduate Admissions Office. However, I sometimes see applications that are unusual, where non-standard qualifications have been taken or where special circumstances have affected an individual’s education. Not all undergraduate applicants are 18 year olds with A-levels and so I needed to be aware of the range of qualifications people take and how this affects their performance and standards.

Best bit:

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time as AT and I have learnt a tremendous amount. It was also great to feel so involved in the life of the Department.

The best (and most nerve-wracking) bit is speaking to hundreds of enthusiastic and intelligent young people and managing to convince them to come to Bath to study Chemical Engineering.

Worst bit:

I am not sure there is a worst bit, but certainly the most difficult situation is when I need to make final decisions about offers. There are always more excellent candidates than we have spaces for.

Advice for future Admissions Tutors:

Learn about the range of qualifications young people are taking and how this affects their performance and standards.

Enjoy and have fun!


Staff share experiences from the AUA annual conference 2016


📥  Engineering & Design staff experiences

Those who attended the annual Association of University Administrators conference shared their experiences with other University of Bath staff members recently. Rosie Hart, Programmes officer, reports on the session:

We invited Association of University Administrators (AUA) members to a feedback celebration to hear from staff who attended the AUA Annual Conference 2016 in Leeds. More University of Bath staff attended this year's conference than ever before so AUA advocate, Iain Forster-Smith invited attendees to present on their experiences.

Iain Forster-Smith started the session by talking about a working group he attended by Edinburgh Napier University staff. The group had got him thinking about our processes at the University of Bath. They had brought in a business intelligence software that made it easier to analyse information they collect to plan for the future, based on evidence. He found their honesty refreshing as they shared their experiences about the stages of the process. They openly admitted that the period at the start had been 'chaotic' and only now were they at a 'stable' stage.


Angela Pater talked about her rewarding experience of presenting at the conference and encouraged others to consider it in the future.  Angela traveled to Poland on an AUA Study Tour in 2015, visiting universities across the country to find out about differences and similarities in their university systems.  Her session at the AUA conference showcased her group’s findings and experiences.  Interestingly, some Polish born Brits had attended and were able to provide more information and insight during discussions.

Rachel Acres had a very unique story of her time in Leeds.   Rather than seeing the trip as a break or an excuse to take it a little bit easier than usual, she went for an early morning run on the second day.  In a dramatic turn of events, Rachel fell and injured her ankle and ended up on crutches with not one, but two fractures!  Still, she soldiered on and was back at the conference the same day and attending working groups, presentations and social events.

Tom Bond opened up discussion on the Higher Education Landscape following the CMA’s published recommendations to the HE sector, which led to lots of lively discussion in the room.  Tom also spoke about being an AUA newbie and how he had enjoyed attending his first conference. He is already thinking about next year and how he will select his working groups differently without feeling the pressure to attend only sessions directly related to his current role.

Emotional intelligence and collaborative teamsCaroline Dangerfield talked about the value of attending AUA conferences, with 2016 being her third time.  She gained from the time away from the office to think creatively, discuss some big issues, and work on her own self development.  Her experience of networking and making contacts from other universities gave her a sense of pride in her profession and a reassuring feeling that we’re all in it together.  Her favourite working group was on Emotional Intelligence and Collaborative Teams. It focused on a greater understanding of the benefits of developing emotional intelligence in HE.

Rosie Hart spoke of her enjoyment of Ben Goldacre’s talk (creator of www.badscience.net).  The humorous and highly entertaining nature of his talk provided some light relief.  He talked about the various inanimate objects the Daily Mail claimed contributed to cancer. He highlighted discrepancies with some in the list also being cited as preventing cancer, such as coffee.  His mission is to move focus from sensationalist headlines to truth, evidence and real results.  Rosie recommended his Ted talk to all.

Last up was Rebekah Hole, who shared Caroline’s enjoyment of the Emotional Intelligence and Collaborative Teams working group.   Most of the attendees from Bath went to this session and there was unanimous agreement that this was a successful and useful session that could and should be explored further.  Rebekah found their breaking down of the categories of emotional intelligence (EI) interesting.  As a line manager, she found it a really valuable process to think about these different aspects, how they can help us consider the way we interact with others in the workplace and the importance of EI in making a team work well together.

Presentations were followed by a buffet, which gave members an opportunity to ask each other more in-depth questions and make plans for next year’s conference.

Iain Forster-Smith
Bath AUA Advocate
Engineering & Design
Angela Pater
Regional AUA Advocate
Office of University Secretary
Rachel Acres Humanities & Social Sciences
Tom Bond Engineering & Design
Caroline Dangerfield Vice-Chancellor’s Office
Rosie Hart Engineering & Design
Rebekah Hole Humanities & Social Sciences

If you would like to know more about the AUA and becoming a member, email aua@bath.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter @AUA_Bath.


Effective staff induction


📥  Engineering & Design staff insight, Engineering & Design staff new initiative, Engineering & Design staff top tips

We are working on a new Faculty staff induction to complement the activities that happen at a departmental and University level. As part of this project we interviewed new staff about their experiences joining the University. We also asked some teams what they did to prepare for new arrivals. We discovered a lot of good practice happening within our Faculty. From our findings here are some staff induction best practice tips:

Put in preliminary work before new members start

Nearly all our new members of staff expressed frustration at not being able to access University systems immediately. Although there are many processes that can only be started once a new member of staff is on campus, there are still some aspects that can be prepared in advance such as folder access, informing and setting up meetings with relevant people (including those who can provide card access).

Develop your own materials

We discovered some teams have developed their own induction materials specific to their job function. These even included tasks and treasure hunts so that new members of staff could get to know folder structures and try out the University's systems.

Get the whole team involved

Creating a schedule of training where each team member takes on responsibility for a certain aspect helps share the workload and means each member gets to know the new recruit.

Start small

Some of the staff we interviewed talked about being overwhelmed by "meeting too many people in a short amount of time". One team within the Faculty draws up a plan where the inductee is introduced to their immediate surroundings and then shown other areas as the weeks progress, ensuring their network increases at a manageable rate.

Put the role into context

Understanding where your role fits within the wider university is an important part of working effectively. One of our job families produced a special induction document introducing the University's strategy and how their job function fits into this.

Get them connected

Our interviewees mentioned how useful it was to meet others outside their immediate surroundings who performed a similar job function. Many people aren't aware of the mentoring or buddy opportunities available at the University, so this might be a good thing to highlight to inductees early on and at the mid-probation point.

The little things

In our interviews small gestures like buying an inductee a coffee on their first day really made a difference.

Our staff induction module will be available on the Faculty of Engineering & Design's staff wiki space's New Staff page in the Autumn.


New Head of Department for ACE

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📥  Engineering & Design staff celebrating success, Engineering & Design staff experiences, Engineering & Design staff new initiative

Professor Pete Walker, outgoing Head of Department, looks back at his time in the role:

The past three years have literally flown by. When I joined the University of Bath in 1998 I did not anticipate that one day I would be Head of Department. A little daunted at first by expectations and the track record of previous Heads, it has been a tremendous privilege to be Head of the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering.

In particular I have enjoyed working with a broader range of colleagues across the University, and getting to know our Department much better. Recruiting new staff and supporting colleagues through promotion and probation, and seeing them receive the rewards their hard work, talent and dedication deserve has been particularly satisfying.

Other highlights over the past three years have included our REF 2014 success (we were joint first in the Architecture, Built Environment and Planning unit of assessment), receiving our Athena SWAN bronze award, and seeing 4 East South open in readiness for the 2016-17 academic year.

Moving ahead I look forward to having fewer meetings in my Outlook Calendar, refocusing on taking forward the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, and more teaching.


Professor Stephen Emmitt, incoming Head of Department, looks forward to the next three years:

Taking on the role of Head of Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering in its 50th anniversary year is a great honour. The Department is the only joint Department in the UK, founded on the philosophy of integrated working. We have a fantastic research record (joint first in REF 2014) and perform wonderfully well in our taught architecture and civil engineering courses, consistently at the top of the league tables.

This has been achieved by a highly dedicated staff and clear direction from management over a long timeframe – excellence is deeply embedded within our Department’s collective DNA. I am keen to build on this expertise to further enhance the quality of everything we do, while also extending our international profile.

The mantra that ‘there is no room for complacency’ is ever present and taking on the leadership of such a high-performing Department is not without its challenges. We have major events on the horizon; the next REF, the new pressures to be imposed by the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and the ever-rising tide of metrics. These are challenges to be embraced while also contributing to the 50th anniversary celebrations. I relish the opportunity to be a part of our continuing success.