Teaching & Learning


Q&A with Dr Mina Sotiriou

14 October 2015


Dr Mina Sotiriou (Senior Teaching Fellow, UCL Life Learning & CALT (Quality Assurance)) summarises her current projects and shares her tips for teaching.

What are you working on at the moment?

I just finished working on a new development for UCL Life Learning, the online approval process for all new non-credit bearing short courses and CPDs. The online process or Course Initiation Questionnaire (CIQ), is part of the first ever framework for UCL Life Learning and is consolidated by regulations and policies addressed in the new academic manual.

The new online approval process will be applicable in the second term and at the moment I am working with my Life Learning team colleagues on developing a comprehensive toolkit to support course developers. The toolkit will include resources, suggestions, good practices and examples from across UCL for every step of a course development: planning, developing, marketing and evaluating.

In addition, I am working on another new initiative, to build a cohesive suite of UCL specific educational design and development support resources accessed via the T&L Portal. The initiative will bring together colleagues from CALT, Life Learning, E-Learning Environments, library and academic services and will support academic colleagues in shaping UCL's educational ambitions. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to develop the way they teach?

Have a plan and speak to colleagues! Although it sounds obvious, leaning design or storyboarding, is not something that loads of us do prior to teaching. The result is that we usually end up not having alignment between what we said the students will learn and what we are asking them to do; over-assessing; not using learning technologies creatively enough for both our and the students’ benefit and not Connecting the Curriculum. Depending on what you want to develop, speak to colleagues in CALT, Life Learning and E-Learning Environments and explore what you can do efficiently and effectively to suit the needs of your course and also build connections across your programme.

How do you expect higher education to change in the next five years?

Globalisation, technological advances and funding models are all critical factors contributing to the reshaping of higher education. As Prof Andrew Eder in his Q&A said, the ever changing socio-economic environment creates the need for continuous knowledge ’upgrading’. Universities will need to demonstrate excellence not only in what they do but how they do it.

I believe that in the next five years we will see greater investment in learning technologies, development in ‘just in time’ training for both university staff and external customers, smart working practices and greater collaboration with both students, other institutions and industry.

What piece of technology do you find invaluable in your teaching?

Video! Videos can have great impact in teaching and learning and both students and teachers can use it imaginatively and in an authentic way in all different types learning activities i.e. acquisition, collaboration, investigation, practice, discussion and production.

What achievement are you most proud of?

My current post as a STF in Quality Assurance for Life Learning activities, gives me the unique opportunity to create something new for UCL. My role requires knowledge and understanding of quality assurance, pedagogy, evaluation methods, learning technologies, academic guidelines and process and even though I have only scratched the surface in addressing all the above, I am very proud to be able to contribute towards the construction of a knowledge society.

Dr Thomas Kador (UCL PACE), our previous interviewee, asks:

How could you creatively employ objects and materials and utilise the resources for object-based learning, creative and performance based practice available at UCL in your day to day teaching?

Object-based learning is an interactive and creative way of teaching which allows students to understand and connect with the past and give meaning to the present. Objects tell stories and stimulate conversations. Stories are an engaging way of teaching and although currently I’m not teaching, I always advise my teaching colleagues to adopt storytelling practices in their teaching.

What question would you like to pose to the next interviewee?

How would you Connect the Curriculum in your area of work?