Education Continuity

A new resource has been created to support colleagues in the move from campus teaching to alternatives in light of the changes to practices due to COVID-19.  

The Education Continuity pages of the Digital Learning website provide information, guidance and user guides for colleagues.  

The information provided currently covers the key initial considerations for staff making changes to their modules and programmes, and guidance on communicationlecturesseminars and accessibility

The resources will continue to evolve and be added to substantially, so please check back regularly.   

There is support for remote teaching delivery including a number of daily webinars and a twice daily online drop-in session to get real time help with delivering teaching remotely. These currently run until Friday 3 April. 

Examining Different Learners’ Development of Critical Learning Skills: University Education Development Fund

Dr Lana Liu, Newcastle University Business School and Dr Mei Lin, School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences.

Critical thinking is one of the core skills for academic success but can be one of the biggest challenges for students studying one-year taught masters programmes. 

Dr Lana Liu, Newcastle University Business School and Dr Mei Lin, School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences set out to explore how critical thinking can be enhanced in their most recent project, funded by the University Education Development Fund: 

Examining Different Learners’ Development of Critical Learning Skills in Postgraduate Taught Programmes: A Comparative Study in MSc AccountingFinance and Strategic Investment and in MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL 

This collaborative project is well underway with surveys and first round of interviews with postgraduate taught students nearly completed and evaluation of the transcripts about to begin. We caught up with Lana and Mei to find out more: 

What motivated you to begin your project? 

We teach on Masters courses in quite different subject areas. Over the years we both identified common challenges in terms of lack of critical thinking our students were demonstrating when they started their course.  This may arise from our expectation, as we were assuming a high level of critical thinking skills because of our set entry criteria to masters programmes. However it became clear that not all students were working at the same level. This was evident from in class discussions, the questions students were asking and in some cases we directly asked students about their understanding of critical thinking at both the start and end of their course.  This has led both of us to investigate underlying issues.  

Continue reading Examining Different Learners’ Development of Critical Learning Skills: University Education Development Fund

Accessibility and inclusion update

This blog post is to provide an update on the work that has been undertaken over this academic year to raise awareness of the need to create digitally accessible content. The aim is to support staff to develop the skills required and helping them to make simple changes to their practice that will result in more accessible resources to enable all our learners to take part in their learning without having any barriers in their place.

Visits to academic units

33 presentations to academic units have either taken place, or are scheduled to take place in the 2019-20 academic year. The reception from staff to the information in the presentation has been extremely positive with colleagues keen to find out how they can engage with the work to improve accessibility for all. The team are very happy to present at all appropriate forums so if we haven’t visited your area, please get in touch with LTDS and we can arrange this.

Accessibility in Practice Workshop

The “Accessibility in Practice” workshops ran in academic units, and centrally and is always well received. In this workshop we focus on quick wins to create accessible documents. We support staff to use accessibility checkers on documents and, they experience how learners adapt and work with digital content. We explore how SensusAccess can empower students and staff to make the inaccessible accessible. This is a hands-on workshop, staff will take away ideas, check-lists and tools that support inclusive practices. Feedback from staff to the session include:

  • “Great for someone new to the topic but also still valuable to someone who is aware of the basics.”
  • “Super practical. Learnt about loads of features I had no idea about.”
  • “I enjoyed learning about the resources available within Newcastle University and on software such as Office 365, an often ignored topic in teaching training I’ve attended in the past”

Accessibility and Inclusion on the Digital Learning website

An accessibility and inclusion section has been added to the Digital Learning Website that highlights how inclusive teaching practices can support all learners, not just those with particular learning requirements. The site covers the requirements and deadlines from the most recent accessibility regulations, the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018.

There are useful links to many of the resources across the University that will help you make your content more accessible including updated NUIT Guidance, and SensusAccess. Further resources relating to the University approach to accessibility and inclusion are available, including a screencast of the presentation we have been providing to academic units.

Access Canvas and book on to the first phase of Canvas training now

All Learning and Teaching colleagues can now log in to Canvas, our new Virtual Learning Environment, which will be replacing Blackboard from 1st August 2020. This is an exciting milestone as we transition to Canvas and with access to a personal sandbox (practice) course and an online Canvas Orientation course, colleagues have an early opportunity to familiarise themselves with the platform.  

How do you get access? 

Go to https://canvas.ncl.ac.uk and log in with your nid@newcastle.ac.uk account. Once you have access you will see your personal sandbox (practice) course and the Canvas Orientation course on your Canvas dashboard. Please do not use Internet Explorer as this browser is not supported by Canvas. 

What training and support is available? 

To support you with the transition from Blackboard to Canvas and to help you to get the most out of Canvas, a comprehensive suite of training has been developed including Canvas Fundamentals, Professional Service sessions, Assignments and Quizzes and more. 

Sessions taking place throughout April-June are now available to book. There will be further sessions released in March to run from July 2020 onwards.  

If you are based at our London, Malaysia or Singapore campuses and are unable to attend face to face training sessions in Newcastle, we are working with colleagues at each campus to organise suitable sessions, which will be communicated to you shortly.  

Further information regarding PGR access to training will also be communicated soon. 

In addition to training, the following support is available: 

  • Access to the 24/7 help from Canvas. This is a fantastic resource and is available to all staff and students. You can contact Canvas via live chat, from within the platform, phone or email for all of your ‘How do I’ questions. 
  • The online Canvas Orientation course accessed from the Canvas dashboard. This has been designed to support you in using the key features and tools in Canvas and there are a number of self-check quizzes for you to check your understanding as you work through each section.  
  • A comprehensive library of Canvas step-by-step guides and video tutorials. These can all be accessed via the digital learning website or the Canvas Community or from the Help Menu within Canvas. 
  • The digital learning website. This is a key source of information with answers to FAQs, upcoming events and project timelines. 

If you have any queries about any of this information or would like to speak with a member of the project team, please contact canvas@ncl.ac.uk

Student Competition: Design a logo and win headphones or an Apple Pen to the value of £100

Newcastle University Technology Enhanced Learning Advocates (NUTELA) are a group of academic and professional services staff who are passionate about promoting technology in teaching. 

We are inviting students to help us design a new logo! Something simple yet eye-catching that we can include on our website and in presentations, social media, and other printed materials. 

You can find out more about NUTELA and some of the events we run at go.ncl.ac.uk/nutela  

What you need to know? 

  • This competition is open to registered students across all Newcastle University campuses 
  • The logo must be 100% original and clearly feature the name NUTELA 
  • The logo must look good in colour and when printed in black and white 
  • The logo can’t contain licenced or copyright material (other than those owned by Newcastle University) 
  • The logo must be easily reproducible and scalable for large and small formatting 
    The logo should indicate the group is part of Newcastle University 

How to submit

You should submit your design to nutelaops@ncl.ac.uk  by 30 March 2020.

All submitted designs will be judged by a panel of members from our steering group. Please send any questions to nutelaops@ncl.ac.uk 

Good luck! 

Vice-Chancellor’s Education Excellence Awards 2020

We are pleased to announce that the Vice-Chancellor’s Education Excellence Awards 2020 are now open for submissions.  The closing date is the 15  April 2020.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Education Excellence awards aim to raise the status of teaching and learning at Newcastle University by rewarding those individuals and teams who make a marked impact on enhancing our student educational experience.

The Award is open to all members of staff, at Newcastle, NUIS, NUMed and NUL, whose work enhances the student educational experience. In addition, applications are welcome from staff of associated employers with direct and substantive involvement in the delivery of the student experience at Newcastle, for example, staff of INTO Newcastle University. Groups of colleagues who work closely together are invited to apply for the team award.

The awards fall into the following 2 categories:

Category 1: Individual award

  • Up to 4 awards for individual members of staff (academic or professional services staff) whose contribution to education at Newcastle is exceptional.

Category 2: Team award

  • Up to 1 award for teams of staff (either academic or professional services staff, or teams consisting of both) whose contribution to education at Newcastle is exceptional.

For further information on the award, including the application process, please view the Appendix 1: Guidance notes, or visit the VC’s Education Excellence Award section of the LTDS website.

You can  find out more about last year’s winners who demonstrated an exceptional commitment to enhancing our students’ educational experience in this blog post.

If you have any questions about the awards or need any further information please contact ltds@ncl.ac.uk

Transition to the Digital Exams Service: A Timeline

Following our October 2019 post introducing the digital exam service, we have a progress update and some news about what’s happening next.  Centrally supported digital exam provision (including the OLAF Service, and the Diversifying online exam provision project) is being combined into a single service, and we are reviewing our requirements ready to tender for a system that meets our needs. 

February 2020 

Requirement Mapping Workshops will be taking place. The outcomes of these sessions will help to inform the requirements that we will take to system providers.  All academic and professional services staff with an interest in digital exams are invited to contribute.  Please sign up via the link to have your say! 

March 2020 

Tender for digital exam system (30-35 days response time). A set of final requirements will be issued. 

April – May 2020 

Scoring of tender submissions against requirements will take place alongside user testing of software that meets our mandatory requirements.  Look out for updates about how to get involved. 

June  July 2020 

A provider will be awarded the contract to supply a digital exam system to the University.  

Following this, work will be undertaken to move as much of existing digital exam questions and content into the new system as is possible. 

August 2020 

The new system will be vigorously tested and integrated with University systems. User guidance and training for all stakeholder will be developed. 

Note that August resit exams will need to be taken on paper. If an exam ran in Blackboard or WISEflow the resit will need to take place on paper. This is in part to prevent students having to use a different system to take an August from the one used for the main exam, and in part because testing and implementation of the new system will not have been completed by the resit period. 

September 2020 

Digital Exam Service launches with new software – OLAF is no more. 

All digital exams previously taken in both Blackboard as part of the OLAF service and in WISEflow as part of the Diversifying Online Exam Provision project will be delivered using the chosen software. 

Training will be offered to all academic and professional services staff involved in delivering digital exams, and briefing information will be available for students. 

New Digital Learning Website

We are excited to announce the launch of a new Digital Learning website go.ncl.ac.uk/digitallearning

This new site brings together the digital learning activities taking place across the University, providing you with information, step by step guides and ideas to help you to get the most out of digital technologies for learning, teaching and assessment.  

Visit the site to find out about: 

Canvas– the University’s exciting new Virtual Learning Environment replacing Blackboard from 1st August 2020. Staff and students can find project updates, information about the support available, answers to FAQs and upcoming events. 

TEL Services, lots of information about our centrally supported technologies and systems, digital exams and access to TEL guides providing you with step by step instructions. 

Blended Learning, if you want to explore online educational materials and collaborative learning opportunities with traditional face-to-face delivery, visit these pages for inspiration and support. 

We will be continuing to update the site with resources so please let us know if there is anything else you would like to see that can support you in your role. Get in touch at LTDS@ncl.ac.uk

Advance HE: Good Practice Grants

The Advance HE Good Practice Grants are now open for applications. These grants will give Advance HE members an opportunity to develop and share innovative practice.

Newcastle University is an Advance HE member so all Newcastle University staff would be eligible to apply.

There are two funding strands:

  • Up to £1000 for ‘What Works’ case studies
  • Up to £4000 for solution-based proposals

Projects that use creative approaches and mediums such as film, animation, and infographic-rich reports are particularly welcomed.

Advance HE are also particularly interested in:

  • Good practice in inclusive leadership: What works?
  • Fostering a sense of belonging for staff and students: What works?
  • Successful transitions: What works for different student groups?

Application deadline is the 7 February 2020 and you can find full information on the Advance HE website.

Canvas Roadshow Events – 20th-22nd January 2020

Have you heard Canvas is coming to Newcastle?

Canvas is the University’s new Virtual Learning Environment replacing Blackboard from August 2020. This Roadshow event will showcase this new platform and the benefits it offers to students and colleagues.

This is your opportunity to meet Canvas colleagues who will be on-site for this event, see live demonstrations of the fantastic features Canvas provides and get involved in discussions with the Canvas and Newcastle University Project team.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions during the sessions, but if you wish you can also pre-submit any questions you would like the teams to answer by emailing canvas@ncl.ac.uk.

Some of the sessions are tailored to specific audiences so please sign up to the most appropriate session for you.  Please register now to attend.

The lntroduction to Canvas sessions will be livestreamed for those unable to attend in person. You can access the livestreaming links below:

Introduction to Canvas, 20th January 2020 10:00-11:00
Introduction to Canvas, 21st January 2020 9.30-10:30  
Introduction to Canvas, 21st January 2020 14:00-15:00
Introduction to Canvas, 22nd January 2020 10:00-11:00

We really look forward to seeing you at one of these events.​