University of Kent hosts top Science teaching conference

Scientists at the University of Kent’s Canterbury campus were chosen to put on this year’s Variety in Chemistry Education and Physics Higher Education Conference – the foremost national conference in chemistry and physics Higher Education.

The online conference was also the first fully digitally accessible ViCE/PHEC conference for delegates with hearing, visual and other computer interface impairments

Dr Stefano Biagini, who presented a paper on integrating digital accessibility in the sciences, coordinated the accessibility part of the programme to ensure that people with hearing and visual impairments could fully access the papers and presentations. Dr Biagini said ‘This is the first time that it was ensured that presenters were given not only full guidance but personal assistance on how to prepare accessible papers.’

“Ironically, some of the people who could benefit the most from others making their contributions accessible, needed the most guidance to improve their own presentations.  We ensured the basics like making full slides and presentations available before the conference began but also helped with embedding close captioning, providing alternative text for images and ensuring that papers could be easily navigated by people who use keyboards rather than mouse controls”.

During the conference, delegates learnt how to incorporate games – such as science themed Escape Rooms – into teaching to improve student engagement and heard how to use virtual teaching strategies developed to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic long term.

The Organizing Committee comprised of Dr Vicky Mason, Dr Chris Lynch, Dr Alex Wright, Nikki Gregory and Dr Stefano Biagini.

The conference was sponsored by: The Royal Society of Chemistry; The Institute of Physics; and Learning Science.