Author Earle Abrahamson presenting and the phrase 'I came, I saw, ISEEC'
Annual NTF Symposia

Learning to be WISER for a day – reflection, connection, direction: Focus on SoTL

Associate Professor Earle Abrahamson, NTF, PFEHA FISSOTL, Learning and Teaching Specialist, Learning and Teaching Innovation Centre, University of Hertfordshire 

The ANTF symposium spanned two wonderful days of learning with, and from, colleagues. Hosted at De Montfort University in Leicester and set against a backdrop of the “WISER” acronym (Wellbeing, Innovation and Impact, Students/Staff/Stakeholders collaborations, Equity and Ethics and Reward and Recognition), the symposium sought to challenge convention, guide creativity, analyse enterprise and consider the value and pathways of, and for, recognition. It did this by connecting experience with allyship and inspired the participants to be bold and brave. Having only been able to attend the second day, I use this blog to reflect on my experience, my learning, my discovery and networking opportunities that the symposium offered. 

The panel chaired ably by Professor Julie Hulme and supported by colleagues from different universities shone the spotlight on innovation. The audience was encouraged to consider the role of innovation within the design of HE programmes. Discussion within the panel ebbed and flowed between disrupting higher education convention through vegetable metaphors, whilst learning to navigate the AI highway with an imagined journey into space. The panel laid the foundation for positioning in context, what matters most. How best do we reimagine assessment in light of advances in AI? AI juxtaposed within a pAIn or gAIn metaphor. Here, AI connects both the ideas of artificial intelligence with the practices of academic integrity. For me, the key message was around learning to be courageous, curious and noting that innovation is not about solving problems, but more interestingly, creating them. 

From pedagogies to padlets, to promotion, the sessions on recognition of scholarship and teaching exposed some of the cardinal questions around criteria, pipelines, support and valuing. These sessions reminded me to connect lived with learned with led experiences and engage with uncomfortable, yet necessary conversations, around what constitutes evidence and recognition within a scholarship pathway. It further challenged definitions and assumptions around scholarship by inviting discussions around the value of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) within the academy and strategies for introducing staff to scholarship outputs. What became evident, is that HE is reliant on answers and now needs to invest in asking different questions. It is not what lies between us that matters most, but rather, as Amanda Gorman (2021) suggests, what lies in front of us. Scholarship is messy and needs to be as it continues to disrupt and challenge thinking, practice and conversations by directing inquiry through investigation.  

As I began my journey back to London, I could not help reflecting on the learning, conversations and challenges that the second day provided. I returned to Felten’s (2013) pillars of good SoTL practice and silently thought about partnerships. My reflection exposed the idea that many in HE work in silence or in a silo and continue to produce wonderful outputs. What we all need to do is become WISER and communicate the processes, the challenges, the creativity and innovation that leads to impact, reward and recognition in an inclusive and diverse manner. This could then help us reimagine, reshape and refresh the HE learnscape. 

Through my presentation I inspired others with information about Impactful SoTL Educational Enterprise Collective (ISEEC), sharing links to the ISEEC padlet ( and I invite anyone interested to contact me directly  I also introduced the National Teaching and Scholarship Network and more details can be found the following links:

Image links to 'A national teaching focused network: Introducing our electronic mailing list: JISCMail-HETEACHINGNETWORK List at


Felten, P. (2013). Principles of good practice in SoTL. Teaching and learning inquiry, 1(1), 121-125. 

Gorman, A. (2021). The Hill We Climb: the Amanda Gorman poem that stole the inauguration show. The Guardian.  

Twitter: Follow @UHLTIC and @impactfulsotl for more information from Earle Abrahamson