Q&A with award winner Dr Erik Brogt

As a follow-up to the 2016 UC Teaching Awards, we profile award winner Dr Erik Brogt, Senior Lecturer Academic Services Group.

Q: What are some of your career highlights?
A: As an academic developer, my role is to support good teaching and learning at UC, so I work with a lot of different programmes. My pan-university work has been tremendously rewarding; I get to see the different ways of teaching that go on around campus, and I bring the good practices from one discipline to another, even though normally those disciplines would have little reason to talk to one another.

The press conference exercise for which we were awarded the Teaching Innovation Award is a great example of what can happen if you bring different areas of expertise on campus together, in this case Disaster Risk & Resilience (formerly Hazard and Disaster Management) and Journalism.

Q: What is your teaching philosophy?
A: The overarching theme of the press conference exercise is authenticity to make the exercise as real as possible for the students. The Disaster Risk & Resilience students are responsible for managing a crisis; usually we simulate a volcanic eruption of Mount Taranaki on the North Island.

The scenario is completely realistic and was peer-reviewed by our colleagues at GNS Science and the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management. GNS Science allowed us to use their logos and format of the official alert bulletins, so it all looks and feels like the real thing.

For the Journalism students, the exercise is about breaking news reporting. They know that there is an exercise and that it involves a natural hazard, but only find out what is happening when they receive the first volcanic alert bulletin. Then they have to get up to speed fast, just like in a real newsroom. We also have staff play roles of senior officials in government and the local business and lifelines sector that the journalism students can call, just like in a real event.

Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: I love building bridges between different disciplines, linking colleagues and together be innovative and creative about our teaching. The press conference exercise was based on all of us being willing to take a leap of faith and create something unique for both the Disaster Risk & Resilience and the Journalism programmes. It is very challenging for students, purposefully so, but the students know they have the skill and knowledge to do it. They really relish the challenge and rise to the occasion, and deliver great work.

For us as teachers, it is tremendously satisfying that the students always realise that having gone through the exercise makes them a better professional in the field. We had Journalism graduates from a few years ago come back to tell us that the exercise had helped them when they had to report on real breaking news events like the Cook Strait earthquakes. It is great to hear that the exercise has made a difference for them.

UC academics celebrate the written word

Creating a haven for authors and book-lovers, the WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival returns for 2016 with speakers from New Zealand and the world. The University of Canterbury have their stake in the ground with a range of events featuring UC academics.

Being the largest literary event in the South Island, with 80 events and over 100 speakers, here are a list of events this weekend featuring UC academics:

A theme of ‘Planet and People’ will be embraced this year to inspire, inform and entertain you, bringing the community together through their love of words in all their forms.

The biennial festival will be held 24 – 28 August 2016

Festival website


*New* Writing Courses – Essentials & Technical Materials

We are running two NEW pilot courses…But hurry, places are limited!
1. Essential Business Writing – 14 October (9am – 4.30pm), and
2. Create Fit-For-Purpose Technical Materials – 19 October (9am-1pm).

If you write emails, letters, reports, or anything related to your job, then the Essential Business Writing course is for you!

This workshop is practical and interactive, and you will work on your own work (yes, you read right).

You will learn the key up to date components of writing workplace emails and letters,  as well as the essential professional writing elements that will transfer across effective reports and all business correspondence.

Click here to find out more and to register.

Do you write instructions, user manuals, directions for using equipment, training materials, or anything designed for a user of said document?

Yes? Then enrol in our new course and Create Fit-For-Purpose Technical Materials.

This course is a half day, focussing on your own work (shock-horror!) so you learn easy, practical and logical ways to write all of that information down whilst still allowing Jo Bloggs to understand and – most importantly – follow your instructions.

Click here to find out more and to register.

Not what you are looking for? Learning and Development offer a vast range of Professional Development Courses, workshops and Seminars. Go to our website to find out more.

Erskine Profile – Robert Wilton (Canada)

Robert Wilton from McMaster University, Canada – Semester 2 2016

Robert - Erskine

Where you have come from and what do you teach?

I am a professor of geography based in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Much of my research over the past two decades has been concerned with the challenges that people with disabilities face in their efforts to participate in social life.  While these challenges stem in part from people’s impairments, they are also linked to enduring social, economic and attitudinal barriers that many people confront.  At McMaster, I regularly teach undergraduate and post-graduate courses on the social dimensions of disability, social inequality and North American urban geography.  I also teach research and field methods.

What interested you in the Erskine Programme/Why did you want to come to UC?

I had heard about the Erskine Programme from a health geographer in Ireland who visited the Department of Geography and spoke very highly of his experience. I was delighted when my colleague Sarah Lovell, a health geographer based in the School of Health Sciences here, asked if I would be interested in coming to UC this term.

What have you been doing at UC?

My main role this term has been to help with the development and delivery of a qualitative research methods course for postgraduate students in the School of Health Sciences. I have been working with Sarah Lovell and Lois Tonkin to develop content and readings for the course, which is being offered for the first time this term.

I’ve also given a guest lecture to undergraduate health sciences students on different models or ways of understanding disability. Later this term, I will give a research seminar on my current research, which looks at the role of social enterprises in creating work opportunities for people living with psychiatric disabilities.

What have you most enjoyed about your time here at UC/Christchurch?

The programme has provided a great opportunity to step outside my own disciplinary and institutional home, and to interact with faculty and students who come from different academic backgrounds. Also, the warm welcome that we’ve received at UC and at Ilam School where my sons are enrolled has been tremendous. People have gone out of their way to make us feel at home.  My oldest son has already indicated that he doesn’t want to leave at the end of the term! 

Shortcut to enter date in Excel

If you use Excel, sooner or later you will need to enter the date into a cell. The following shortcut inserts a snapshot of the date into a cell, formatted in whatever way the cell is formatted.

1. In Excel, open the worksheet you need to insert the date into.

2. Click the cell you wish to insert the date into

3. Type CTRL+; (press the Ctrl key followed by the semicolon key)

The date displays in the cell. Format it any way you wish (eg, long date, short date, colour, etc). It is a snapshot, so it will stay the same no matter what other date you open the workbook.

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