Have you heard of IATL? – OurWarwick
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Have you heard of IATL?

…well, have you? Because if you haven’t, you’re missing out on a gem.

The Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning is a wonderful interdisciplinary department at the University of Warwick.

I can already hear you thinking, ‘Ok, but how is this relevant to me?’. Regardless of which degree you’re doing, it is relevant. The beauty of this department is that it runs modules (for both postgrads and undergrads) that are open to students from all departments. How epic is that??

Why would someone do an IATL module? Here are my reasons:

  • A different, personalised way of learning: these modules are run quite differently to disciplinary modules! From my experience, there’s a heavier focus on the process and developing as a person than memorising and regurgitating content.
  • Working with people from different departments: this is a truly exciting opportunity to work with people outside of your home department, which will give you exposure to different perspectives and makes for very interesting conversation.
  • Interdisciplinary topics: The modules sound really, really interesting! From ‘Serious Table Top Game Design and Development’ to ‘Reinventing Education’, there’s something for everyone. Check out the undergrad modules.

My experience with IATL: Design Thinking

In my second year, I was able to do a top-tier module called ‘An Introduction to Design Thinking Theory and Practice’. It’s fondly called ‘the platypus module’, and I’ve already mentioned my fascination with platypuses(?)/platypi(?)/platypodes(?), so obviously I had to do this!

This module has changed my life.

I’m not even exaggerating. I could practically feel my brain rewiring itself and my way of thinking change to such an extent that it has heavily inspired my third-year dissertation as well as my plans after graduation.

I think this is largely due to the fact reflection plays such a key part of the learning process – in fact, our reflections form a part of our assessment.

Needless to say, I would recommend this module because it is just *chef’s kiss*.

Step outside your comfort zone

I can see why the prospect of doing IATL modules can be a bit daunting, especially as they’re quite different to ‘normal’ modules and you end up working with new people from across the uni.

(“New people?!” she screams, while running for the hills.)

Seriously though. It’s ok. In fact, it’s more than ok!

I found it really refreshing to get to know people from different academic departments. It’s worth noting that nobody really knows each other at the beginning of the module, so everyone’s in the same situation of getting to know each other. If nothing else, it’s a fab opportunity to hear some gossip from other parts of the uni. 😉

Breaking outside my departmental bubble also made me feel more connected to Warwick’s student community. It’s quite easy to forget that there’s a world outside my department, especially when I’ve been living in the labs for days!

How… unusual

As for the fact that IATL modules are, well, unusual – I get that it does sound risky. Depending on the department, you may need to sign an ‘unusual options’ form and go through the process of getting it approved.

I over-catted (doing more than I need to do in terms of CATs) to hedge my bets in my second year because I wasn’t sure what to expect. In the end, it was unnecessary as it was my best module!

The difficulty with unusual options is that there’s no guarantee that timetabling won’t clash with your other modules. It happened to work out for me last year, and I’m really glad that I took the opportunity when I could.

All in all, I recommend that you don’t sleep on IATL. Or even if it’s not an IATL module, consider modules by departments other than yours – as I think this attitude towards interdisciplinarity is one of the things that makes Warwick really special.

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