All posts by Suzanne

Based in Quality in Learning and Teaching. Currently working on a University project looking at diversifying the offer of learning and teaching programmes via online and distance provision, including MOOCs. Continues to work on copyright implications for lecture capture. Background in arts management and production. With Newcastle University since 1999. Expertise centred around elearning, open educational resources, project inception and management. Likes soup. And cats.

Resources to support designing, developing or delivering flipped, blended, or online learning

If you have been thinking about more flexible forms of module or programme delivery, then there are some resources which you may find helpful.

You will find:

  • An introduction to online and blended learning
  • Some definitions of online and blended learning
  • How LTDS can support online or blended course development
  • Some tips on designing online or blended learning
  • Advice on producing online or blended learning

There is also guidance on tailored workshops available and a ‘How To Build a Great Futurelearn Course’ course (approx 8 hours) which we can add you to.  For further information or to discuss your ideas contact online-courses@ncl.ac.uk

Student trade fair: come along to this a student, industry and academic event

Advertising for a mechanical engineering student trade fair.
Come along to the Lindisfarne Room on 25 April 2017

Anyone is welcome to come along to this exciting student trade fair.

  • Designed in response to industry and employer requests for graduates that can apply their learning, and who are entrepreneurial in their approach to developing new approaches, products and services for industry.
  • A chance for students to showcase their problem solving, innovation, product design and commercial awareness skills through problem-based, demand-led design.

This is about design and selling; in industry you need to present to clients and get their buy-in through a sales pitch. It takes students outside their comfort zone to look from the point of view of a client
(MWH/Stantec)

Mechanical Engineering  Trade Fair
25 April 2017
2pm to 4.30pm
Lindisfarne Room
Kings Road Centre

There is another Trade Fair for Computing Science on 2 May:
Computing Science Trade Fair
2 May 2017
2pm to 4.30pm
Lindisfarne Room
Kings Road Centre

Feeling Connected: Working with large groups

  • teaching_large_classes
    Teaching Large Classes Giulia Forsythe CC-BY-SA https://www.flickr.com/photos/gforsythe/8261536706

    How can you engage large student cohorts in the classroom/lecture theatre?

  • And how could you maintain those connections when the lecture is over?
  • How do you make meaningful connections with all your students?

Aimed at academic and professional services staff these practical workshops draw on examples of effective practice from within the University and from outside. Ranging from using technology effectively, and utilising basic acting techniques, to creating accessible materials for everyone, we share ideas and tips you can take away and try with your large groups tomorrow.

You can attend all three, or choose the ones that best meet your needs

Creating connections: Managing large groups in the lecture theatre

Tuesday 9th May 12.00-14.00, G.07 Daysh Building

In this workshop we share tips and tricks for how we can effectively manage large groups in the lecture theatre, You’ll be able to try out some techniques for yourself in this interactive session, with case studies from colleagues from across the University and some practical exercises ranging from maintaining audience attention and using lecture theatre technology to how to stop your voice giving out as term progresses.

Staying connected: Facilitating large groups outside of the lecture theatre

Tuesday 19th September 12.00-14.00, Herschel Learning Lab, Herschel Building

The recent NUSU report on the Teaching Excellence Awards contained some gems of information from students, one of which was that they really value the activities before and after a lecture. But how do you build meaningful activities and maintain attention outside of the lecture theatre? This workshop looks at ‘the lecture sandwich’ where we share tips and get some hands on experience  of using Blackboard, ReCap discussion boards etc to help build collaborative learning before and after the lecture. We also look at boundary setting and expectation management with email and in discussion boards.

Connecting everyone

Date tbc (pending timetabling)

Drawing on inclusive learning principles this cluster based hands on workshop focuses on learning for all and reaching everyone on your large group. We share tips on using multiple communication channels, and how using module handbooks, reading lists, well structured documents effectively can help get to hard to reach students.

Further information and bookings

For more information and to book: www.ncl.ac.uk/ltds/about/training/feelingconnected/

You can choose to come to all three or just pick the ones that best suit your needs. And bring a sandwich with you, if you like.

 

The Newcastle University Learning and Teaching Conference 2017

ncl_lt_17-2The annual Learning & Teaching Conference for staff at Newcastle University took place on Monday 27 March 2017. Celebrating learning and teaching at Newcastle University, it was organised by ourselves on behalf of the Pro Vice Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Professor Suzanne Cholerton.

This year’s theme was Reimagining Teaching Excellence, and the day was spread over two venues: the Lindisfarne Room in the Kings Road Centre and the Herschel Learning Lab, with lunch and an engaging poster session in the foyer of the Herschel Building.

We started with a short introduction from Suzanne Cholerton who thanked everyone for their contributions to making the student learning experience and Newcastle’s teaching reputation so good, before introducing our keynote speaker, Professor Paul Blackmore from the Policy Institute, Kings College  London.

Paul spoke eloquently about making curricular changes in higher education institutions and introduced us to examples from all over the world, including Melbourne Arizona State and Hong Kong Universities, whilst provoking questions about how such decisions are made, the associated risks, and how we know whether these interventions have been effective.

He went on to question Biggs’ ideas on constructive alignment, much quoted in educational development, and suggested these ideas were a good servant but a bad master for developing curricula. Asking what the real links are between research and teaching, he moved on to discuss the recent White Paper and the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

He also covered themes around commodity, interdisciplinarity, globalisation and networks.  Professor Blackmore’s keynote was well received and set the scene well for challenging what teaching excellence is, and for taking risks when thinking about changing the curriculum.

Next, Sara Marsham, JC Penet and Vanessa Armstrong took the stage to talk about teaching excellence and the Newcastle Educators peer educator network. In an interactive session they  asked us to share ideas of what teaching excellence is or could be, and made the point that the concept is very culturally bound.

The last session of the morning had everyone scribbling notes furiously as representatives past and present from the Newcastle University Student Union (NUSU) talked about the analysis they had done on the NUSU Teaching Excellence Awards, highlighting some of the report‘s findings. Students at Newcastle value an eclectic mix of learning and teaching approaches including blended learning, flipped classroom, TEL, and collaborative approaches to learning.

Our students see learning as incremental, and appreciate the intellectual generosity of their lecturers, their knowledge and expertise. They like lectures to be a conversation, through use of open discussion and participation in the learning process. This creates an atmosphere where students feel enabled to contribute and speak up, as well as opportunities to talk to staff informally.

The report highlights that what happens before, during and after the lecture are all important. This really highlighted how much students are engaged in thinking about good teaching. They really don’t see academic time as an unlimited, on-demand service.

At lunch the poster session took place and the audience was asked to vote for their favourite posters.

Photo of Prof Suzanne Cholerton and Craig Smith in the Herschel Learning Lab.
Professor Suzanne Cholerton (L) and Craig Smith (R) of Flint Spark Consulting led the first afternoon session.

For the afternoon sessions we moved from the Lindisfarne Room to the Herschel Learning Lab. A session using the facilities in the Herschel Learning Lab was facilitated by Craig Smith, who looked at developing the Newcastle University Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Strategy. Attendees contributed their ideas about the key factors that the new strategy should include, collaborating in group and utilising the room’s technology.

ncl_lt_17_3-3We attempted to use all of the affordances of the Herschel Learning Lab (HLL) in this highly engaging session (not least because of the omnipresence of Tina Turner!). Some colleagues who have successfully used the HLL then showed us how to use it properly.

Ulrike Thomas, Ellen Tullo, TT Arvind, James Stanfield, and Katie Wray were all familiar with the space and outlined how they had successfully used it with some diverse cohorts over very different courses, from all three Faculties. Ulrike reminded us that we can look at learning spaces in the teaching room finder.

TT suggested that planning how you were going to use the technologies in the HLL was essential to success, and by using the affordances of the space, the barriers between teaching and learning could be broken.

Linear and block teaching, group meetings, workshops, society meetings  all worked well in the space said Katie Wray, but group work, collaboration using activities, engagement and video all worked particularly well. What worked less well? More than 20 groups, lectern based lectures, and the inflexibility of the space all posed challenges.

The resources from the day are available from the LTDS website. Don’t forget you can find many examples of effective learning and teaching practice on the case studies database.

Please comment on this post, or email ltds@ncl.ac.uk to let us know how we can make next year even better!

l_and_t_conf_2017

Thinking of applying for promotion based on teaching?

There is a new collection of resources on the LTDS website designed to help you navigate your way through the process and help you assemble a case for promotion based on excellent or exceptional teaching.

As well as collecting together all the useful links from Human Resources, you will find pointers to case studies from people here at Newcastle University who have done it already,  supporting materials such video clips which describe the pitfalls and common mistakes, workshop materials and links off to supporting literature and resources. We hope you will find this collection useful.

Do you do internet shopping? Online banking? Have a fitness tracker? How secure are they? You need our Cyber Security free online course!

We use devices connected to the internet every day. Smart watches, mobile phones, fitness trackers, tablets, bookreaders and more. And they all contain a wealth of personal information: our browsing histories, banking details, passwords etc.

But how secure are they?

In Newcastle University’s newest free online course: Cyber Security: Safety at Home, Online, in Life we explore the security usability tradeoff that we negotiate every time we use an online service.

This enjoyable and engaging three week course will take you about 3 hours a week to complete. By the end of the course we hope you will more informed and understand the risks of fraud and cyber crime better, to help you make more enlightened decisions about how to protect your personal information.

A composite of mugshots.
Meet the Cyber Security Educator and Mentor team. L-R: (Top row) Steve, Dylan, Phyllis, David, Peter (Bottom row) Martin, Charles, Sia, Aad, Kovila, Maryam.

The course is led by Dr Steve Riddle with an Educator and Mentor team drawn from researchers and practitioners from Newcastle University’s School of Computing Science, an acknowledged Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research (ACE-CSR).

We invited some cyber security experts to preview the content. The North East Regional Cyber Crime Unit (UK) said:

I was impressed. The content is really relevant and dynamic and not just your basic security tips – there’s a bit more to it than that. It’s very user interactive.

You can join over 9000 people and sign up now. The course starts on Monday 5 September 2016.

Ageing Well: Falls starts 5 September

Ageing Well: Falls is a four week (2 hours a week) free online course, which starts on 5 September 2016. Previous learners really valued this engaging course which is having a real effect on people’s lives.

This course was excellent, it gave a lot of good information and dispelled many myths about “only old folks have falls”, as well as giving resources to check when problems arise.

Photo of Dr James Frith.
Dr James Frith, Lead Educator, Ageing Well: Falls

As we make the finishing touches to the course before it starts, we asked Dr James Frith, Lead Educator, a few questions which come up regularly:

Are falls really that dangerous?

James: Yes. Falls are hugely common and as we get older our bodies are less robust and are more likely to be injured during a fall. Serious injuries include broken bones and head injuries or serious bleeding. A broken hip can be devastating for some people. But for some people the loss of confidence following a fall can be just as disabling as a physical injury. Fortunately we can reduce the risk of falling and the associated injuries.

What is the most common story you hear from your patients?

James: Falls are complex and are rarely caused by a single factor. in each person who falls there are a mix of factors which contribute, so there is not really a typical type of fall.  However, common things which I come across are:

  1. Falling on the bus as people get up from their seats before it has stopped.
  2. Putting out the bins in wet or windy weather.
  3. Getting up too quickly to answer the telephone or the door.
  4. Slipping in the bath or shower.

What can increase a person’s risk of falls?

James: Researchers have identified hundreds of risk factors for falls, so we tend to stick to the ones that we can do something about. The main risks are having a poor gait or balance, poor eye sight, dizziness, some medications, and hazards in the home or on the street, but there are many more.

What can a person do to reduce the risk of falls?

James: Sometimes it can come down to common sense, such as keeping stairs free from clutter, turning on the lights and reporting dizziness to the doctor. But there are other simple ways too, such as keeping the legs active and strong through gentle exercise, having a medication review with a doctor or pharmacist, avoiding dehydration and having walking sticks measured by a professional.

What is the best way to recover from a fall?

James: If someone is prone to falls they should consider wearing a call alarm or keeping a mobile phone in their pocket, just in case they need to call for help. Some people can learn techniques to help them stand following a fall – usually from a physiotherapist or occupational therapist. In the longer term anyone who has fallen or is at risk of falls should seek help from a health professional to try to prevent future falls. Sometimes falls can be due to medical conditions which can easily be treated.

Everyone knows someone who has fallen. Why not join our friendly team of falls specialists and thousands of people like you to find out what you can do to help yourself, your family, friends or people you care for?

The lead educators were warm and engaging, and they were generous with their knowledge and expertise.

I liked the interaction between participants. It makes you feel you are not alone in your experiences.

Sign up now at www.futurelearn.com/courses/falls

Ideas to action in The Enterprise Shed: The Chatterbox

The Chatterbox is an unique high bandwidth Skype facility launched recently in our brand new Majorie Robinson Library Rooms. The idea was something which Jo Robinson-Lamb, a Communications Specialist from NUIT, had been mulling over for some time. Here she tells us how taking part in our free online course, The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen helped her turn her idea into reality.

Jo Robinson-Lamb
Jo Robinson-Lamb

“The original idea for the Skype Booth came from the Digital Campus Scoping Project, part of the University Digital Campus Initiative, which looked at how our students make use of technology in their day-to-day lives on campus. One finding that really stood out for me was the basic need for students to connect with friends and family at home – especially our international students.

The idea stayed with me; could we use our IT skills and services to offer students the ultimate ‘Skype’ experience: a private booth, large screen, comfy seats and great sound so they really felt the person was in the same room?

After further discussions with colleagues, the idea started to grow. I’d heard about the Newcastle University MOOC: The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen and the free online course seemed like the perfect place to share my thoughts and discover how to turn ideas into action.

After sharing the idea in a blog post, I was overwhelmed by the support from the Shed community and mentors. My post was picked up by colleagues in LTDS, who passed it to colleagues in the University Library; they loved the idea, saw its potential and decided the new Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms would provide the ideal opportunity to give it a go. NUIT Audio Visual Services and the Estate Support Service came onboard too and the ‘Chatterbox’ was born.

I couldn’t have done this on my own. The Enterprise Shed helped me to make the connections I needed to turn an idea into reality and I’m thrilled with the results.”

Sign ups are open for The Enterprise Shed: Making Ideas Happen which starts on 15 February 2016 and lasts 4 weeks.

1st FutureLearn Asia Pacific Forum, Shanghai, China

future-learn-cupcakes_cropped
FutureLearn cupcakes. Source: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/news/the-free-learning-revolution-simon-nelson-futurelearn-22-jul-2015 CC-BY-NC-ND

I was delighted to be asked to represent one of three UK FutureLearn partner institutions at the first FutureLearn Asia Pacific Partner Forum, held in Shanghai, 24 & 25 November 2015.

Partner Forums are one of the things that make working with the FutureLearn partnership so useful. A chance to meet others a few times a year who are facing the same challenges, providing regular opportunities to share experiences and learn from each other, as well as influence the development of the platform. And we do really influence the development of the platform. Previously Partner Forums have happened in London, but with recent expansions in the Asia Pacific partnership, an inaugural Forum was planned in Shanghai, aiming to replicate meetings in the UK, but for Asia Pacific partners.

I set off to meet up in Shanghai with Kate Dickens, Project Lead for FutureLearn from University of Southampton, Joanna Stroud, Project Lead for FutureLearn from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn, and 4 of his staff. We took part in a very well organised and intensive two day forum with around 70 representatives from HEIs and specialist organisations based in the Asia Pacific region, from countries including Australia, Malaysia, Japan, and Korea,  as well as several Chinese institutions and representatives from the British Council and Consulate.

In a packed two days, as well as getting to know each other, we got to know a bit about how the approaches developed within UK and European FutureLearn partners were being received by more recent Asia Pacific partners, and had the opportunity to share with each other some of the things we have learned in our time developing and delivering free online courses with FutureLearn.

FutureLearn’s mantra for free online courses, which appears at the beginning of nearly every presentation,  is to ‘Tell stories, provoke conversation and celebrate success’.

As Newcastle University courses have consistently succeeded in achieving higher than average engagement with our courses,  I was asked to present a session on Effective Storytelling in Newcastle’s free online courses, and to sit on a panel discussing approaches to course development and sharing top tips.

For the panel session, which took place on the morning of day 2, I was on the stage with Kate Dickens from University of Southampton, David Major, Learning Technologist from FutureLearn, and Professor Hongling Zhang from Shanghai International Studies University (SISU), Lead Educator on the Intercultural Communication free online course. The session was facilitated by Kate Sandars, Partnership Manager from FutureLearn and was based on questions from the floor, which were many, and discussion around them, which was lively. The session was very much about the practical aspects of developing and delivering free online courses, and about how this aligns with institutional strategy. The panel session overran and there was much continued discussion  in the following tea break.

Just before lunch on day 2 I presented a half hour slot on ‘Effective Storytelling’ in our free online courses at Newcastle University. I was pleased to be asked to do this session, as our courses consistently achieve higher than the FutureLearn average for social learning (engagement of learners with discussion and comments), and we also achieve higher than the average FutureLearn full participation rate (the nearest metric we have to ‘course completion’) – with our Ageing Well: Falls course having the highest full participation rate of any FutureLearn course to date, at 57% of those who started the course.

This indicates to us that there is something about our approach to working with teams of educators on developing our courses which works. Our focus on learning design is crucial to course success and we do focus on it a lot, right from course conception to delivery.

Why is storytelling so important? Well I think that the telling stories analogy is a great one for us to focus on. It enables us to talk about course creation in a different way, it encourages us to examine what is special about storytelling and storytellers. Why do stories work? Why are they compelling? What qualities to they have which are different to campus based courses? How can we replicate some of that in free online courses? And why is making courses online so different to making campus based programmes?

The session went down really well, and there was further lively discussion afterwards over a delicious lunch with colleagues from Monash University, the University of Malaya, RMIT, Fudan University, SISU and others.

An afternoon tea reception hosted by the British Council ended the Forum, which was an amazing privilege to be asked to attend, and which profiled the work of the University and its approach to online course development which has generated much interest from Asia Pacific HEIs.  We look forward to following up with these contacts over the coming weeks.  Many thanks go to Simon Nelson and his team at FutureLearn for asking us to represent established partners, for giving us the opportunity to profile our work and courses in the Asia Pacific region, and for looking after us so well in Shanghai.

What fascinates our FutureLearn educators about Hadrian’s Wall?

With the third run of our Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier free online course in full swing on FutureLearn, we asked our Lead Educator, Professor Ian Haynes and Educator, Dr Rob Collins what fascinates them about the World Heritage site, here on our doorstep in Newcastle upon Tyne. Here are their responses:

ian_haynes
Professor Ian Haynes, Lead Educator on Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier, and Professor of Archaeology, Newcastle University.

Now I must confess that there are times when a walk along the Wall lifts my heart and moves me to poetry. I shall not offer a sample here; my spontaneous compositions would only disappoint, but there is something about the Wall in its landscape setting that is so dramatic it is hard not to be moved by it all. This poetic impulse of course wrestles with another darker perspective. The Wall witnessed many acts of brutality in its long history; in a profound sense it monumentalised division.
Yet if I were to discuss what I find most enduringly intriguing about the Wall, I would have to say that the answer lies somewhere between a love of the Border Country’s beauty and an awareness of its savage past. And it may not surprise you at all that this fascination would concern one of my particular specialities, the auxiliary units and their families, the communities that sustained Rome’s presence on the northern frontier. The place the auxilia occupy not simply on the Wall, but in the wider story of the Roman Empire is something I sought to convey in my book Blood of the Provinces. I can put my fascination with these groups no better now than I did when I wrote that book back in 2013:
‘Marginalised even in many studies of the Roman army, themselves marginal in so much of contemporary scholarship of empire, auxiliary soldiers and the formations in which they served are both classic products and vital instruments of the empire’s ongoing capacity to incorporate the diverse into the whole. They are, furthermore, the invisible made visible. Our knowledge of rural settlement has grown dramatically through major survey projects and innovative excavation in the last few decades, but all too often, students of the empire find themselves at a loss when they seek to address the fate and experience of the mass of the provincial population. In many provinces, the lives and beliefs, homes and graves of the majority have received scant scholarly attention. Yet those who enrolled in even the humblest units of Rome’s armies – the auxilia – become much more accessible to modern researchers. Partly as a result of the very nature of material culture in the provinces and partly as a result of academic fashion, there are vastly more data currently available for these men and their families than those they left behind in the empire’s villages’. Hadrian’s Wall provides some of the richest data for these people, so often treated as the poor relations to Rome’s celebrated legionaries and to my mind so much more fascinating. Working on the Wall, I am constantly encountering their legacy, and repeatedly intrigued by Rome’s capacity to build an empire out of such diverse peoples.

If Ian’s enthusiasm for his subject isn’t enough to get you interested in studying archaeology more, or joining one of our Hadrian’s Wall study tours then perhaps Rob’s passion for the frontier communities in the late Roman period will inspire you?

rob_collins
Dr Rob Collins, Educator on Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier, and Research Associate, Newcastle University.

Try as I may, I’m not sure I can clearly explain why I love Roman frontier studies and Hadrian’s Wall in particular. For me, it is an interplay of many different aspects. At the foundation is a passion for archaeology – I like the puzzle-solving element of it, and the fact that there are new discoveries every year. Added to this is the frontier element. I know people are astounded by the huge temples and aqueducts that the Romans built, but I find the mix of Roman and native that you find in the provinces much more intriguing – the interplay of imperial culture and local tradition and understanding of this important foreign power. And the army magnifies this aspect, but all in the crucible of a military institution. And finally, I’m particularly keen on the later Roman Empire. I find it to be richer and more interesting than the early imperial period, with new forms and expressions of power and culture emerging as a pre-cursor to medieval Europe. So if you add all these separate strands together into an ‘intellectual rope’ – you get my real passion: the limitanei of Hadrian’s Wall (a frontier and its soldiers) in the late 4th and 5th centuries (late Roman Empire). From the outside, the whole scenario looks a bit like a tangled mess, but being able to wade in with research and tease out solutions to problems, or identify how we can solve a problem stimulates both the creative and the analytical. It’s great!