Last week, the Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL) visited Aberystwyth University to keynote and deliver workshops at the ‘6th Learning and Teaching Conference: Stepping up Students’ Learning‘. Jonathan Shaw (Director) and Oliver Wood (Innovation and Community Producer) were joined by Thamu Dube from the School of Media and Performing Arts to deliver a series of workshops on open and connected learning, and the use of LEGO as a teaching and learning tool. You can read the news article here.

The DMLL has always held the values of transparency and sharing in high regard, with all of our content freely accessible through Creative Commons licensing. Building on these open principles, we were keen to share our experiences as a Higher Education innovation centre with senior leadership, academics, and learning support teams at Aberystwyth.

Jonathan’s keynote provided a contextual base, explaining the purpose and thinking behind the DMLL, and the history as to how we have evolved over the years (click here for the slides). Jonathan discussed the focus of the Lab as mainstream and alternative approaches to technologies and how these are explored, repurposed and remixed. In an ever evolving Higher Education sector, Jonathan spoke about the Labs desire and drive for a hybrid and open approach to teaching and learning which works for students, staff and other stakeholders.

Putting theory into practice, the keynote was followed by a series of practical workshop activities designed to challenge thinking around the way we design classroom activities and digital spaces to support learning.

The LEGO sessions delivered by Oliver Wood built on a tried and tested methodology developed through hundreds of LEGO-based workshops delivered for students and staff at Coventry University. After exploring the background to the activity and contextualising the activity, participants were invited to engage in activities by building the ideal academic. Whilst showing the power of metaphorical modelling, participants delved into the nuances of a facetted academic, able to teach, research, communicate, sell, and much more. The academic role, it was determined, is no longer that of research-based teaching but encompasses a whole array of skills and competencies – a truly rounded individual. You can find out more about how we use LEGO activities by visiting

Thamu’s sessions dived into the role of the open web in teaching and learning. Moving away from the idea of the Virtual Learning Environment, these sessions explored how open-access resources can be used to support learning. Whether that includes staff designing learning websites, or students creating openly-accessible portfolios of their studies, the possibilities of the open web are near endless. The sessions challenged participants to critically consider their understanding of the role of the digital in a traditionally physical teaching experience. Building on the work of Jim Groom and our Coventry.Domains initiative, the session aimed to foster a connected and integrated approach to using the best technologies to support deep-learning in an open and accessible manner.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Aberystwyth University, and thank our hosts for looking after us so well. We look forward to working with James, Joy, and their teams in future.