All posts by Graeme

Graeme is the development officer in QuILT (Quality in Learning and Teaching) at Newcastle University who is responsible for the pedagogical support of ePortfolio.

Fast Web view in .pdf documents

When viewing .pdfs online, there is a feature called fast web view. This is meant to help users by opening the first page of the .pdf before the rest of it has loaded, but sometimes this causes an error in Google Chrome. This results in only the first page being visible.

When creating exam questions, please ensure that any .pdfs created to not have fast web view enabled to ensure all students will be able to open the document in any browser.

To check to see if a .pdf has Fast View Enabled, look at the properties of the document (File > Properties). In the bottom right hand corner it will say Fast Web View Enabled: [Yes or No]



PDFs with Fast Web View are normally created from the Adobe suite of software tools. If you are creating a .pdf from Word you will not have this issue.

To disable fast view in Acrobat, go to Edit > Preferences > Documents > Save Settings > Save As optimizes for Fast Web View [deselect] .

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.

Phil Race and Sally brown – Assessment and feedback videos

Heriot-Watt University have released a range of videos of Professor Phil Race and Professor Sally Brown discussing key elements of assessment and feedback.

Phil is an authority on assessment and is widely published, including the excellent “The Lecturer’s Toolkit”.

Sally is Emerita Professor at Leeds Metropolitan and regularly keynotes at Educational conferences. Sally developed the National Teaching Fellowship scheme when working at the Higher Education Academy.

We’ve embedded some of the videos below, but please visit Youtube to view more of these videos.

Giving your first lecture

Marking your first assignment

Sally Brown – Marking your first assignment

Feedback on Assessment

Sally Brown – Feedback on assessment

Student Tips – feedback on assessment

Measuring Learning

Accessible digital content and systems

The University is carrying out work to improve the digital accessibility of systems and content across the institution. This includes the module content with Blackboard.

This work started with the Art of the Possible week in July 2019. This week of activity showcased some of the great work already underway in this area and provided useful practical CPD sessions for staff to engage with.

This is being followed by visits to academic units during this academic year to inform them of the benefits and ease of accessible content within Blackboard, and other TEL systems. These visits have started and will continue through Semester 1.

The accessibility in practice workshop that has been developed alongside the Student Wellbeing service the helps staff learn how to create accessible and inclusive learning and teaching resources will be offered to each academic unit, as well as being run centrally.

Other work reported on previously will continue throughout the academic year.

Some useful resources

National Teaching Fellows

The Advance HE National Teaching Fellowship scheme is a prestigious, national competition where nominees submit a reflective account of their approach as an educator, hoping to be one of the 55 NTF’s created annually. The University is delighted to announce that all three of the institution’s nominees have been awarded National Teaching Fellowship.

Dr Lindsey Ferrie, School of Biomedical Sciences

Dr Lee Fawcett, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics

‘I feel lucky to be part of an institution that promotes the development of excellent teaching practice.   I’m now excited about joining a community of National Teaching Fellows across a range of disciplines, to share examples of good practice and to further develop the impact of my teaching.’ Dr Lee Fawcett, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Physics

Dr Helen Webster, Writing Development Centre

‘Learning Development is an exciting new field, and I’m very proud that this award demonstrates how Newcastle is leading best practice nationally and internationally.’ Dr Helen Webster, Writing Development Centre

Find out more from the winners on the Newcastle University website.

Art of the possible

The Art of the Possible: Showcasing Technology Enhanced Learning at Newcastle University

Professor Suzanne Cholerton invites you to engage with a brand new series of Education Strategy focussed events, showcasing ‘The Art of the Possible’. Over the next year we will be running theme weeks of activities, with each theme week focussing on one of the four key themes in the Education Strategy:

  • Adopting and developing approaches to education that actively engage students in their learning.
  • A research-intensive environment that adds value to the education of all students at all stages.
  • Developing students as the whole person by supporting and preparing them to shape the societies in which they will live and the professions they choose to enter.
  • An educational experience supported and enhanced by technology.

These theme weeks will showcase the wealth of innovation and effective practice already taking place across the University, as well as focusing on new developments within the University and across higher education.

The first theme week will take place 1-5 July 2019, focusing on Technology Enhanced Learning given our commitment in the Education Strategy to an educational experience supported and enhanced by technology.

There will be a range of face to face and virtual events and activities including online case studies and videos to look out for, taster workshops, guest speakers and lightning talks. All delivered in a light, fun and adventurous way but with a clear link to the Technology Enhanced Learning Roadmap and the Graduate Framework.

We will explore the practical aspects of accessibility, inclusion and creating a variety of online content, and we will hear about effective practice taking place within schools and services, from across the University. We are also pleased to welcome Alistair McNaught, Subject Specialist in Accessibility and Inclusion, Jisc on Thursday 4 July.

Find out more about each event below:

Monday 1 July

A video introduction from Professor Suzanne Cholerton will launch this exciting programme which will run each year for the next four years.

Tuesday 2 July, 10:00-11:00

Lightning talks

Join colleagues to explore approaches to creating accessible videos, alternative models of assessment, diversifying online exams, creating accessible and flexible teaching resources and using tablets in teaching.

Thursday 4 July, 10:00-11:00

Small changes, big impacts. How technology tweaks support inclusion: NUTELA 4Bs event

Alistair McNaught, Subject Specialist, Accessibility and Inclusion

This is a practical session with a mix of presentation and activities. We explore the power of pedagogical practice in making content more meaningful. We consider the ‘accessibility profiles’ of different media and formats and identify the small practices that make big differences. We end the session by looking at a series of ‘good practice screenshots’ across the sector and reflecting on your own practice and priorities.

Friday 5 July, 15:00-16:00

Accessibility in practice

We all invest time creating documents and presentations to support teaching and learning. How can we make sure these can be used by our diverse student population? Find out more in this interactive workshop.

Registrations are open for all of these events.

Case studies

We will be promoting a variety of Case Studies over the course of the week so keep an eye on this blog to find out more about teaching ideas from colleagues across the University.

Find out more

Sign up to the Learning and Teaching Newsletter for more information about The Art of the Possible and other Learning and Teaching news.

Vice-Chancellor’s Education Excellence Awards 2019

We are pleased to announce that the Vice-Chancellor’s Education Excellence Awards 2019 will open for submissions from the 18 February 2019.  The closing date is the 17  April 2019.

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 2019 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 in this blog post.

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

National Teaching Fellowship / Collaborative Awards for Teaching Excellence 2019

The Higher Education Academy’s National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) celebrates excellent practice and outstanding achievement in learning and teaching in higher education. The awards support individuals’ professional development in learning and teaching and provides a national focus for institutional teaching and learning excellence schemes.

The Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence Awards recognising outstanding collaborative work that has had a demonstrable impact on teaching.

More details about the scheme can be found on the HEA’s website.

We are pleased to announce the launch of the University process to determine the institutional nominees to the 2019 National Teaching Fellowship Scheme / Collaborative Awards for Teaching Excellence scheme.

Application to be an institutional nominee

Nominations are welcomed from all members of staff who feel their work has a major, positive impact on student teaching and learning. Staff who would like to be considered should provide a maximum of 1000 words which address the following criteria.

    • Your personal practice and why this should be recognised as outstanding,
    • Your impact on colleagues, both internally and externally,
    • Your reflection on the above.

Nominations should be sent electronically to ltds@ncl.ac.uk by 12 noon on Friday the 9th of November 2018.

LTDS has developed a workshop that outlines the scheme and helps you consider whether you are ready to apply for the National Teaching Fellowship scheme. The workshop will take place on 17 October 2018, 12:30- 1:30 pm. Book your place now.

View the LTDS website for more information.

Vice-Chancellor’s Education Excellence Awards

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.

For more information about the award and the application process, please visit the VC’s Award page on the LTDS website.

Downtime on Hadrian’s Wall @VindolandaTrust

As we move into the weekend and we start to think about how we are going to spend our downtime, and pursue leisure activities, we’d like to share a video with you which gives a lovely insight into leisure time on Hadrian’s Wall.

Meet Dr Andrew Birley, one of our guest contributors to Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier. We asked Andrew to talk about his one of his favourite objects at Vindolanda where he is Director of Excavations.

Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier is a Newcastle University free online course lasting 6 weeks which starts on Monday 19 February (www.futurelearn.com/courses/hadrians-wall)

We can’t wait for Monday! Can you?