We believe in lifelong learning

This September sees an opportunity to take part in our Ageing Well: Falls course, the third time we have delivered the course on FutureLearn.

FALLS_300x250 Starts 5 Sept Box

Looking back at our previous two courses, it is a real pleasure to see how engaged and enthusiastic our learners were with the course materials.  Learners worked together as a community and participated in discussions, activities and quizzes, creating an active and supportive learning environment.

Should this be a surprise?  Well not really, we know that FutureLearn have been working hard to “pioneer the best social learning experiences for everyone” and our course shows that this still holds with an older audience.

In the UK, only 9% of people aged over 65 and 36% of those aged 55-64 used a computer on a daily basis when surveyed in 2006. But by August 2014, these figures had risen to 42% and 74% respectively. Of particular relevance to our Ageing Well: Falls course, is that when older people use the Internet, one of the main reasons is to seek health information. 1, 2

Data from our course also helps to show that older people engage with online learning. The graph below shows the age distribution of 412 people who volunteered their age during one of our activities.  The oldest learner completing this activity was 87, showing that you are never too old to learn!


As before the course will be facilitated by Dr James Frith, and colleagues from the Newcastle Falls and Syncope service. You can sign up at www.futurelearn.com/courses/falls

  1. Office for National Statistics. Internet Access – Households and Individuals: Statistical Bulletin; 2014.
  2. Morrell RW, Mayhorn CB, Bennett J. A survey of World Wide Web use in middle-aged and older adults. Hum Factors 2000;42(2):175-82.


Maintaining meaningful connections

A recent study found that two-thirds of people living with dementia feel isolated.   Our free online course “Dementia Care: Staying Connected and Living Well”  starting on 23 May has been written to to help people stay connected and to communicate well.

In the first week of the course we explore dementia’s effect upon the person, on our personal relationships and on daily life.

Here is a sneak preview of one of the videos featuring Dr Lynne Corner:

The course has been written with family carers in mind.  In it we hear from carers and experts as we explore practical strategies that can improve communication.   Lynne draws on Newcastle University’s great expertise in ageing and dementia research and together with colleagues shares knowledge on dementia, language and practical strategies that can improve communication.

To find out more about the course and to sign up please visit https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/dementia-care/



Dementia Care

Dementia Care: Staying Connected and Living Well” is a course for carers, to help maintain connections,  manage stress and diffuse difficult situations.


We have been delighted to meet some of our learners who have signed up for the course and introduced themselves to us on our pre-course welcome page.  It is great to have these introductions in the back of our minds as we put the course together.

Today we’ve been capturing video footage around daily living to illustrate our articles, videos and discussions around the real challenges of caring for a person living with dementia.


You can sign up for the course here


Entrepreneurs Panel

During the first run of The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen we held an Entrepreneurs Panel.

Simon Laing and Roland Glancy are entrepreneurs, so they are well placed to talk about becoming an entrepreneur and the everyday life of an entrepreneur. The challenges can come well before you even start developing your idea. During the first run of this course, we invited Simon and Roland into the Shed and explored with them how their lives have changed since becoming entrepreneurs. You can view the recording here.

The full video is 39 mins long, so you can select 2 or 3 questions from the list below that interest you most. If you click on the links they will take you to Roland and Simon’s answers in the video.

Questions posed during the session

Why should you join us in The Enterprise Shed?


Katie Wray, Lead Educator for the course explores why we should all be joining her in The Enterprise Shed

“Firstly, let me unpack ‘enterprise’. For me, enterprise is about making creativity, problem solving and ideas practical. This makes it relevant across all areas of education, not just business. Where enterprise is applied to creating a new venture, it is commonly known as ‘entrepreneurship’. We are increasingly aware of entrepreneurship, through the steady creation of new businesses (particularly in austere times), but also through the media. From this awareness we can each draw our own conclusions about what an entrepreneur is? The Enterprise Shed challenges a variety of definitions of an entrepreneur and looks at enterprise and entrepreneurship at a grassroots level. On the course you will be introduced to a whole bunch of entrepreneurial individuals and teams, not all of whom refer to themselves as ‘an entrepreneur’.

So if you can be ‘entrepreneurial’ (behave like an entrepreneur) without actually being an entrepreneur (starting a new business venture), who is ‘entrepreneurial’ and what can you do with your ‘entrepreneurialness’*?  We are committed to exploring this with you throughout the course, and to supporting each participant to draw their own conclusions about how they can make change in their own context. Our other commitment is to exploring your ideas, to collecting insights into what a solution looks like, and to help you to turn that idea into something tangible.

This course is about you; it is about your role, through your ideas, in making change. There are 3 main reasons why you should commit 3 hours per week, for 4 weeks to The Enterprise Shed:

  1. You will develop confidence in yourself as a ‘doer’. You will do this through analysing the behaviours of other entrepreneurial people that you will be introduced to on the course, and drawing conclusions about the way that they ‘do’ and what you might ‘do’ when approaching your own challenges, problems and projects.
  2. You will discover ideas that address problems you want to play a role in changing. You will do this through identifying problems, sharing them with others, creating and collaborating on ideas generation, and developing solutions together with peers on the course.
  3. You will have the opportunity to meet people and build networks.WE will do this by forming virtual and physical networks around the globe, which can outlive the end of the course. You will meet people that share your passions and drivers to make change in your world, find out where you can go for help, and collaborate to achieve impact.

The Enterprise Shed is not just a course, but a place where you can go to think, and critically, to do.

Join us from 15th February 2016 in The Enterprise Shed and Make your ideas happen”.

*Actually, you can also be ‘intrapreneurial’ (behave like an entrepreneur as an employee in someone else’s business), but I’ve tried and keep it simple for this post.”

Katie Wray
Lecturer in Enterprise

New Year, New Ideas, Your Opportunity

Come and make your ideas happen in The Enterprise Shed! This free online course starts on 15 February and lasts 4 weeks, with a time commitment of around 3 hours a week. It is led by Katie Wray, Lecturer in Enterprise from here at Newcastle University.

Join Katie on this highly interactive journey exploring and developing your own entrepreneurial mindset with a community of like minded people from all over the world.

“we were all sparking off each other and I really felt I was learning and being encouraged”

“I am now more confident about my big idea and am excited to get started”

“So inspiring, and exposing me to much more than I anticipated.”

On the course, you’ll meet a whole bunch of thinkers and doers; those just starting out, makers, tinkerers and experienced entrepreneurs. Sharing your ideas with them and other learners will encourage you to have more confidence to think and do more to create change and solve problems in your own world.

You don’t need any specific skills or experience – just passion and a willingness to get involved.

Sign up at www.futurelearn.com/courses/enterprise-shed

You can download a flyer too to share with your friends, colleagues and family.


To go alongside the summer 2015 run of our Hadrian’s Wall course we held a panel discussion on the theme of “Why do we employ Visualisations“.  Dr Rob Collins chaired the session and posed questions from learners on the course to our lead Educator, Professor Ian Haynes,  and to Bill Griffiths, Head of Programmes at Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums.

Transcript for this video

Here is a list of questions asked – the links jump to Ian and Bill’s responses.


Can anyone be an entrepreneur?

We had the chance to ask Sir Richard Branson a question at a ‘Mentor Me Branson’ event held at Newcastle University in March 2015.

Katie Wray asked the panel: ‘do you think any type of person can be entrepreneurial?’

After Jimmy Cregan and Sir Brian Souter answered here’s what Sir Richard Branson said:


I’ll try to be a bit more controversial.  I think that if you have got an idea that can make other people’s lives better, but you think I’m not necessarily entrepreneurially bent, I would say just forget that thinking and just try it. And I do think that, most people, if they try it, they’ll learn about it, and they may not become a serial entrepreneur, which is not necessarily a good thing, they may just want to specialise in that one thing that they have got a passion for.   So I think most people ought to be able to become entrepreneurs, if they put their mind to it.

We love this answer and will be exploring the theme of “enterpreneurial mindsets” further in the early stages of our  Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen course.

Katie Wray (Lecturer in Enterprise) is the lead educator for the four week course starting early in 2016.


Wallsend’s Wonky Wall

In between posting comments on our Hadrian’s Wall course,  Dr Rob Collins has been out and about on the Wall itself.


“Yesterday I had the privilege to visit and examine recent excavations outside of the Roman fort at Wallsend, Segedunum. A recent grant has allowed Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) and the WallQuest project to explore a stretch of the Wall curtain just northwest of the fort and the bathhouse to the southwest of the fort.

The stretch of Wall curtain is extremely interesting. As you can see from the photo, this stretch of the curtain is best described as wonky!   But this wonkiness, and detailed examination of the stonework reveals vital information. For one thing, there was a stream that the curtain crossed (which thanks to recent rainfall is very visible in the photo) and which ran behind the Wall. This stream seems to have destabilised the land on the eastern side of the stream, and made the Wall lean and probably collapse. You can see this from the very sharp angle of the lowest building courses in the picture. Subsequently, there were a number of rebuilds of the Wall curtain in this area, which canbe broadly dated with pottery. This seems to show that the curtain of the Wall was repaired and refurbished until at least the later 3rd century.

Wall excavations

The bathhouse has been excavated over recent weeks, and this is the first bathhouse along Hadrian’s Wall to have been excavated under modern standards. Only the lowest courses of the building remain, as the bathhouse seems to have been dismantled or demolished around 1814 when it was encountered by builders. The remains of the walls of the structure reveal a number of phases of activity,  proving that the Hadrianic bathhouse – that is the original bathhouse – was in use and adapted over at least a century, possibly more.

Results will be published in due course (though this can often take many years from completion of fieldwork), but for those that live locally, there is a conference in South Shields on Sat 14 November, where Dr Nick Hodgson will present the results of the excavation to date.”