An innovative project being led by the Coleg Cymraeg has brought universities from across Wales together to create over 130 brand-new digital learning units to support students all over Wales who are studying through the medium of Welsh.
The project has created specialist and unique resources to teach a number of popular subjects through the medium of Welsh, from Sport Sciences to Social Sciences. The resources provide asynchronous learning packs, including the highest quality video lectures, reading packs and interactive content for Welsh-speaking students to use, wherever in Wales they are studying.
The Coleg worked with the Universities Wales Learning and Teaching Network to submit a collaborative bid to the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) for £2,730,000, to safeguard current digital provision. As part of the bid, the Coleg had identified the need for Welsh language digital resources to support students who are studying through the medium of Welsh, and in December 2020, £420,000 was earmarked to develop the resources project under the Coleg’s leadership.
Dr Cynog Prys, a lecturer in Sociology and Social Policy at Bangor University and part of the national team leading the project, said,
“The new packs have increased the Welsh-medium provision available to students, and also increase the supply of Welsh language teaching materials available for lecturers to use.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of having digital resources for learning and teaching, especially as we’ve all had to move to learning and teaching from home. The resources have real use well beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, as we develop new models of learning and teaching for the academic community in Wales.”
After consultation with the universities, six priority subjects were chosen: Business Studies; Psychology; Social Sciences; Law; Sport Sciences; and Social Work. The packs also provide opportunities for academics from Welsh universities to collaborate on creating content that can be used across those institutions, even after the return to classrooms.
Dione Leigh Rose, a PhD student at Cardiff Metropolitan University, has developed a new unit for Health and Well-being in response to reform in Welsh education policies on health and well-being for children and young people.
"It’s been great to have the opportunity to collaborate with universities across Wales to develop new and up-to-date content in the form of a digital resource that enables us to have more interaction with students in the Welsh language.”
Dr Siôn Llewelyn Jones, a lecturer in Social Sciences at Cardiff University, has recently introduced a brand-new module based on some of the digital materials, Astudio Cymru Gyfoes, studying contemporary Wales.
"The module focuses on society in Wales and looks at how Welsh society is different and similar to other societies in the world. Students have the opportunity to explore different features of Welsh society including gender, social class and national identity. The digital learning materials have enabled us to increase our offer in Welsh and have enriched the experiences of Welsh-speaking students. This is one of the School's most exciting developments – that we can now offer a module entirely in Welsh.”
Dr Ioan Matthews, Chief Executive of the Coleg Cymraeg, said:
“When the lockdown was announced in March 2020, the Coleg decided to consult with universities to understand what support they needed in order to continue to offer high-quality Welsh-medium provision online, and this project is the culmination of that work. We are very grateful to Professor Claire Taylor from Wrexham Glyndŵr University for leading the funding bid on behalf of the Universities Wales Learning and Teaching Network, and of course to HEFCW for agreeing that the bid should be supported financially.
“As a result of the project, Welsh-speaking students will from now on be able to benefit from the expertise of academic staff from universities across the whole of Wales; they will benefit from asynchronous Welsh language sessions created by staff from other universities, and benefit from input and discussion with more students. This will be particularly valuable for students in departments where the numbers taking modules through the medium of Welsh are relatively low. We are also hopeful that the project will lead to students having opportunities that would not otherwise exist to study part of a module through the medium of Welsh, and possibly to study entire modules that may be created and delivered for the first time via this project.”
The project included the appointment of two E-learning Technologists, Bethan Wyn Jones and Siân Edwardson-Williams, who were seconded from the Information Technology Services Unit at Bangor University.
Dr Matthews added:
"Bethan and Siân have provided expert technical guidance and training to the six project teams who created the materials, as well as support for the academic staff in creating, packaging and hosting the resources."
The resources are mainly for undergraduate students, but also for A level students. Academic staff will also use the resources within their teaching. All of the new resources can be found through the Porth Adnoddau resource portal and all project outputs will be published by the end of the current academic year.