Online External Examiner Training

Starting this September, Newcastle University is working with Advance HE to offer an online External Examiner Training. The training will run over two months and is aimed at aspiring, new, or experienced examiners. It will support you to:

  • understand the role of the external examiner as articulated in the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, and be confident to undertake it; 
  • develop a deeper understanding of the nature of academic standards and professional judgement, and explore the implications for external examining; 
  • use evidence-informed approaches to contribute to impartial, transparent judgements on academic standards and the enhancement of student learning. 

Participation in the course can be used as evidence towards gaining (Senior or Principal) Fellowship of the HEA. 

The course begins on Monday 13 September 2021. You will be guided to complete five units over two months. Each unit takes 2-3 hours to complete, and on the whole there are 4 hours of online contact with the team.

More information can be found in the External Examiner Training Poster.

Colleagues should register by Friday 16 July by completing this form.

Should you have any queries, do not hesitate to contact ltds@ncl.ac.uk

Technology in Teaching: Reflect, Rethink, Repurpose

As the 2021 academic year is coming to an end, Newcastle University Technology Enhanced Learning Advocates (NUTELA) brought together a panel of colleagues to share:

  • Reflections on moving so swiftly to online teaching
  • Rethinking delivery with some examples
  • Re-purposing digital content for a blended approach

From practical tips on encouraging student participation to wider discussions around creating student connections, here are the highlights from the session.

How would you approach a flipped classroom?

Dr Ahmed Kharrufa, School of Computing describes how he successfully incorporated videos, reading materials, live sessions and practical activities into a relaxed weekly timeline.

Director of Digital Education Dr David Grundy gives an overview of the Canvas features he used to help students navigate through their course and shares some of the innovative new digital projects recently funded in the Business School.

As a guest lecturer on over 40 different modules, librarian Emily Dott brought a different perspective to the panel discussion. Sharing how a non-synchronous approach works for the library team, Emily reflects on what worked as well as the elements of synchronous sessions that aren’t as easy to replicate.

Integrating digital skills into courses can be challenging but is now more important than ever. Dr James Stanfield from the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, shares how the new module ‘Adventures in Digital Learning’ successfully addresses aspects of digital literacy. He also details how blogging can be a useful tool for reflective practice and shares ideas for increasing student connections next year.

If students could tell their lecturers one thing what would it be?

Dr Brook Galna shares some insights from Sport and Exercise Science students. From positive feedback about short, interactive lecture content to issues around access to technology, student reflections will have a real impact on next year’s teaching.

Find out more about NUTELA

NUTELA are group of academics, professional service staff and technicians, who care about improving learning and teaching at Newcastle University.

We have termly sessions focussing on technology in teaching. They’ve been a bit different this year but usually involve some pizza, pop and a chance to practice.

Microsoft Team

Join the NUTELA Team to continue the conversation about using technology in your teaching.  The Team includes resources, upcoming events and the chance to connect with colleagues across the University. NUTELA advocates are also on hand to answer any NUTELA related questions you might have.

All are welcome to join us.

Reflective Writing

Chris Whiting, Professional Development Adviser, Learning and Teaching Development Service

The importance of reflection and the importance of writing.

Learning is not exclusive to education. It is something we start engaging with as babies and will continue to engage with every day for the majority of our lives. It is, in many small ways, a daily activity and in these small ways goes unconsidered, like breathing. Acquiring new knowledge and skills may require us to consider how we are learning, but the developing and refining of knowledge and skills is often allowed to pass without a second thought.

David Kolb’s widely accepted theory of the experiential learning cycle (1984) presents learning in four stages: Concrete Experience; Reflective Observation; Abstract Conceptualisation; and Active Experimentation. Graham Gibbs’ (1988) Reflective Cycle expands on these four stages with six prompts that develop our thinking behind this learning experience: Description; Feelings; Evaluation; Analysis; Conclusion; Action Plan. Finlay (Finlay, 2008, 2003, Finlay and Gough, 2003) offers a comparable mode of thinking about reflection in three stages: Introspection; Critical Reflection; and Reflexivity. Finlay further emphasises the importance of progressing through the entire cycle so that reflections do not simply reaffirm current beliefs (introspection) or lack a productive outcome (introspection and critical thinking).

Image showing the elements of reflection described in the paragraph above

Whichever way you find most comfortable to think about reflection (and there are other modes and models available), a thorough and complete reflection of experience is a powerful tool to fuel, enhance and motivate your learning. As such, reflective skills are an essential aspect of developing autonomous learners so that they can guide and drive their learning within and beyond formal education.

But if reflection is a mental exercise then why do we need to write?

Essays, theses, compositions, experiments, etc… are all products of mental exercises but are not explicitly derived from them. That is to say, we do not write essays in our heads. We think, write, edit, think, write, edit… until we are satisfied (or we hit our deadline). Our thinking diverges and converges. The essay is a product of both thinking and writing, and it is through writing that it comes into being and is refined. As we write we enter into a learning experience. We read our words and ask ourselves: ‘are we happy with this?’; ‘does it say what it needs to say?’; ‘could it be improved?’ and we take actions based on our answers. The writing is therefore an extension of our thinking. It allows us to scrutinise our reflections in a way that it is extremely difficult to achieve as a mental exercise.

Further to this, thinking is a fleeting experience and only relevant to the moment. When the idea is committed in writing, it commits you to a reflexive action (more so than just thinking) and is a marker from which you can trace your learning and navigate in the direction that you are intending.

Finlay, L. 2003. The Reflexive Journey: Mapping Multiple Routes. In: Finlay, L. a. G., B. (ed.) Reflexivity. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Finlay, L. 2008. Reflecting on ‘Reflective Practice’. Practice Based Professional Learning Centre. January 2008 ed. Milton Keynes: The Open University.

Finlay, L. & Gough, B. 2003. Reflexivity: A Practical Guide for Researchers in Health and Social Sciences, Wiley.

Gibbs, G. 1988. Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods, FEU.

Kolb, D. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development, New Jersey, Prentice Hall.

Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey 2021

We’re keen to make sure our postgraduate taught students have the best possible experience while studying with us.  To do this, we need to know what they think works well and what we could do better.

The Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) is the student’s chance to tell us about their experience as a taught postgraduate student at Newcastle University.

The PTES launched in April and students will have already received an invitation from JISC to take part in the survey and also a further email on behalf of studentsurveys@newcastle.ac.uk with a personal link to the survey.  To date, 13% of taught postgraduate students at Newcastle University have taken part in the survey.

The survey will close on 17 June, 2021, and is anonymous and will only take around 15 minutes to complete.

Find out more about PTES on the LTDS website and if you have any queries please get in touch at studentsurveys@ncl.ac.uk.   

Eportfolio redevelopment workshops

The ePortfolio system is being redeveloped and relaunched for academic year 2021/22 and we would like your feedback. We aim to develop a system that emphasises reflection and supports students to capture and develop their learning activities whilst at Newcastle University, supporting employability in the future.

After consultation with colleagues and students, prototype designs have been created to show how the key tools within ePortfolio will appear in Canvas.

The ePortfolio team will be holding 30-minute workshops for colleagues on Thursday 20 May to explore the prototype designs and to answer any other questions. To sign up, please declare your interest in this sign-up sheet.

Workshop times:

  • 09:00 – 09:30
  • 09:30 – 10:00
  • 12:00 – 12:30
  • 12:30 – 13:00
  • 16:00 – 16:30
  • 16:30 – 17:00

Your feedback is valuable in helping us to redevelop the system to support student reflection and enhance skills development.

If you have any questions regarding ePortfolio, please contact ltds@newcastle.ac.uk

Reading group in LTDS

A little while ago we started a small reading group for colleagues in the Learning and Teaching Development Service to share ideas and discuss current issues and publications related to learning and teaching in Higher Education.

We set ourselves a couple of parameters to encourage engagement, as we had tried a journal club previously to not a great deal of success.

This time we decided to limit ourselves:

  • to things that could be read or digested in around less than half an hour
  • to try too keep the readings short and digestible
  • to keep the discussion sessions to 30 minutes
  • to use small groups for discussion of themes, impressions etc

Over the past few groups we have:

Our next group will explore microcredentials by looking at the recent QAA quality compass paper – which way for micro credentials.  

This will be the first meeting of a slightly expanded group which includes colleagues from FMS TEL .

We have one person running the group for 6 months (Me!) and I look after collating suggestions which come in from anyone who wants to suggest something. I try to have a range of different types of materials and cover a range of learning and teaching related viewpoints as our group has people who work in policy, practice, pedagogy, quality assurance, data and governance, professional development and all the intersections thereof.

Last time we listened to a radio programme about closed captions, which really made me think about how we approach captioning in HE. Some great ideas resulted from the session and it certainly got us talking!

Learning Design Bootcamp Success

A team of academic and professional services colleagues have successfully applied to take part in this year’s Learning Design Bootcamp. 

Introduced in 2019, the bootcamp is a fantastic opportunity for teams to work with experienced colleagues from other institutions to design and develop modules of their choice.  

The successful Newcastle University team are based in the School of Modern Languages and the Learning and Teaching Development Service, bringing lots of ideas and expertise to the process. The team will benefit from a range of workshops, the chance to connect with a community of practitioners and access to their own mentor and coach.  

The bootcamp will support teams with the implementation of online/blended learning covering 4 key aspects of learning design: 

  • Student journey 
  • Learning Design 
  • Evaluation  
  • Quality  

Nuala Davis, Learning Enhancement and Technology Projects Adviser is part of the successful team and has shared how it is going so far: 

“Even though we are now less than half-way through the Bootcamp we already have lots to reflect on and bring forward into our practice. It’s giving us the opportunity to learn more about module design in the context of a real project.” 

An educational experience supported and enhanced by technology is a key theme in our Education Strategy  and taking part in the programme offers a unique opportunity to develop confidence in broadening the choice of learning design approaches adopted by academic and professional services colleagues. 

Following the bootcamp, the team will have lots of knowledge to share, so look out for some case studies, events and our own internal bootcamp.  If you are interested in finding out more, get in touch with LTDS@ncl.ac.uk  

Sharing effective practice from Strategic projects in blended learning

A recent DELT Forum here at Newcastle looked at the outputs, lessons learned and what works from four strategic projects which are now running with students.

As the covid-19 crisis hit, these projects were the four which needed to carry on, as they were, about a year ago, in active recruitment.

The four projects were:

  1. Level 7 degree apprenticeships and CPD in the School of Computing, under the Institute of Coding project
  2. Executive Education PG programmes in the Newcastle University Business School including case studies onLearner-Centred Curriculum Design using the ABC Method and Engaging work-based learners in online spaces through the development of digital residency
  3. Laboratory safety work in the School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Sciences including the FMS BNS Health and Safety Case Study
  4. Flexible first year, General Engineering UG programme in the School of Engineering. Including a case study on using OneNote class notebooks as digital logbooks.

The last three were supported by strategic investment by the University in developing capability and capacity under Priority Actions 10 & 11 of our Education Strategy (formerly known as the TEL Roadmap).

The outcomes from all four were fascinating with intriguing insights into the programme level design processes which took place, the types of content produced to support learning key concepts, and the blends of online and face to face delivery which stood the teams in good stead as they had to move to wholly online.

The teams produced videos, presentations and case studies for each project and presented headlines at the DELT Forum, for which a slide deck is available to Newcastle University staff.

Each project above is linked to a webpage where you can see finished films and case studies – which will grow in number.

If you have ideas for strategic projects, please talk to your Faculty in the first instance. Or you can contact ltds@ncl.ac.uk

the art of the possible 2021

Following the success of The Art of The Possible in July 2019 which focussed on accessibility, you are invited to The Art of The Possible 2021 which focusses on blended learning, effective practice, ways to share, and opportunities to learn from each other. 

The Art of the Possible 2021 will:

  • Showcase the excellent practice developed across the University in blended and online learning over the past year by spotlighting case studies and interviews with colleagues across the University.
  • Inspire ideas for blended learning proposals for consideration by Faculties
  • Re-focus minds on the education strategy objective for Newcastle University to become recognised nationally as a leading university for the use of technology enhanced learning to support campus-based education

The second Art of the Possible week will take place the week commencing 5 July 2021. The week of online events will include presentations, workshops, case studies, and the launch of the Newcastle University Learning and Teaching Podcast. 

All delivered in a light, fun and adventurous way but with a clear link to the Education Strategy and the Graduate Framework. 

The week will begin with a presentation from Professor Helen O’Sullivan Chair of the Association for Learning Technology, Provost and DVC, Chester University, who will deliver a keynote session on the lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic. And what can we take from the pandemic into the future.

Find out more about each day below :

Monday 5th July

Keynote Session with Professor Helen O’Sullivan Chair Association for Learning Technology, Provost and DVC, Chester University 

Preparing students for their future, not our past: How the pandemic pushed us past the tipping point into education 4.0 

Time: 11am-12noon 

Colleagues and PGR students can register here

Students can register here


Designing online activities for university learning  (Part One) with Helen Beetham  Session fully booked

Time: 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Tuesday 6 July

Saving time and enriching your courses with Canvas Commons with Nuala Davis & Graeme Redshaw-Boxwell, LTDS 

Time: 4pm – 5pm

Colleagues and PGR students can register here

Wednesday 7 July

A Series of lightning talks and Q&A about virtual fieldwork and virtual labs with Cees van Der Land 

Time: 10am – 11:30am 

Colleagues and PGR students can register here


Launch of the Newcastle University Learning and Teaching Podcast 

Thursday 8 July

Saving time and enriching your courses with Canvas Commons (repeat of Tuesday’s workshop) with Nuala Davis & Graeme Redshaw-Boxwell, LTDS 

Time 11am – 12noon

Colleagues and PGR students can register here

Friday 9 July

Designing online activities for university learning  (Part Two) with Helen Beetham  Session Fully Booked 

Time 12:30pm – 1:30pm

You can register for any of the sessions above through our Elements page. Please note, if you sign up to Helen Beetham’s session, you will need to sign up to both parts.

Learning analytics resources

The University is currently exploring the use of learning analytics to support students’ learning. To find out more about our approach to analytics and how you can use analytics to enhance the student experience, visit the learning analytics pages on the Digital Learning website. 

Here you will be able to find out more about the benefits of using analytics in your programmes, how you can use the analytics tools available to you, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Canvas New Analytics

As part of the learning analytics available to colleagues, Canvas New Analytics is an interactive tool that offers insights into students’ performance and engagement within courses in Canvas. The Canvas New Analytics pages on the Digital Learning website have been updated to include guidance on using New Analytics in your courses, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, and possible scenarios where analytics can be used to support student engagement and performance. 

Canvas New Analytics workshop

An Introduction to Canvas New Analytics workshop will take place on 27 May 2021 at 13:00. The workshop is available to all colleagues who would like to know more about using the New Analytics tool within Canvas courses. 

The workshop will provide an introduction to the tool, and explore how you can use it to measure student participation and engagement with course materials.

If you would like to know more about learning analytics at the University, please contact ltds@newcastle.ac.uk