Category Archives: Announcements

What works? Sharing effective practice with online/blended learning

A recent DELT Forum was a great impetus for collecting some new examples of what works with online/blended learning here at Newcastle University as the current situation has meant that lots of colleagues have been doing lots of really great stuff to make student learning experiences rich and meaningful.

There are 9 new case studies to explore right now and more to come soon at the case studies site.

A team drawn from LTDS and FMS TEL drew together examples of effective practice in action on three themes:

  1. Supporting and promoting a sense of community for students in online environments.
  2. Providing pathways for students through online modules/programmes to help them structure their studies and learning.
  3. Achieving, promoting and maintaining student engagement with online learning. 

The slide deck from this event is available to all Newcastle University staff.

It contains examples from all three Faculties together with supporting resources and pointers to more developed case studies and contact details for colleagues.

If you have something you’d like to share please let us know by emailing and we will get back to you.

Recent updates to ePortfolio

To improve functionality, and in line with staff and student requests, there have been some recent updates to the ePortfolio system.

Graduate Framework

The new Graduate Framework was embedded in ePortfolio for the start of this academic year, and is now the default skill set for taught students. Students can link blog posts (reflections/evidence) to attributes of the Framework. Students can download their information as a PDF, including a summary of number of posts by graduate attribute. The old Graduate Skills Framework is still available for those who have used it previously.

Supervision Groups

Supervision Groups are used to support projects, placements and other activities. Supervisors can communicate with groups of students, whilst students share reflections and updates with just the supervisors in a safe environment for non-collaborative work.

The groups now support multiple supervisors following requests for this. In addition, the interfaces for Supervision Groups and sharing portfolio content have been simplified and made more efficient.

Placement Support

The Placements sub-system for ePortfolio supports access by external supervisors as well as students and staff. It includes rubric-based assessment, custom forms, automated form scheduling, and 3-way file sharing. This went live in 2018/19 for PGCE programmes and additional programmes are using it in 2019/20.

There have been numerous enhancements based on requests from different placement schemes, including additional options for rubric-based assessment, CSV downloads of form data, admin notes, and quick links to create record meetings.

Other Changes

There have been various other enhancements/bug fixes in ePortfolio, including:

Meeting records – now includes a duration (requested for Admin recording of meetings and avoiding overlapping events).

Accessibility – you may notice some changes, including darker colours for buttons in order to meet accessibility colour contrast requirements.

Various changes – to support switching to a new institutional data feed, which is more efficient and sustainable.

If you would like to know more about any of these changes, or would like to know more about utilising new functionality, please contact Sam Flowers in LTDS.  

Why is my list of tutees displayed incorrectly at the start of the academic year?

At the start of the academic year, some staff members have reported that students are appearing in the wrong year, or across two years. Some images are set as graphics rather than the student photograph.

Previous tutees show in ePortfolio because of a ‘grace period’ for students from the previous academic year which we apply so that returning students don’t ‘disappear’ as they come to the end of their registration period. This is to support students if there is a delay in them registering (as is frequently the case) and also it enables returning students continuing access to various systems over the summer prior to the formal start of the academic year – especially important for the numerous programmes which start before the main start of the academic year.

Our practice has been developed over the years to address the short period where registration data is so fluid that it cannot be the sole basis for identifying current tutees.

This problem is compounded because it is common practice by Schools to assign tutees to tutors on SAP for an indefinite time, so we cannot reliably use the recorded end date. We have also include admissions data so that tutors can see new tutees prior to registration.

From the 2nd of October, the ePortfolio system will revert back to registration data as the vast majority of students will have had time to register.

Meeting slots are now available for use with any group of students

We are pleased to announce the release of new functionality that will allow you to create meeting slots with any group in the University. Meeting slots are a popular part of the tutoring functionality in ePortfolio that allows tutors to specify particular timeslots they are free, and tutees can then sign up to a slot.
In the version released today, you can use meeting slots with supervision groups, tutees, whole modules, and any other bespoke group of students or staff.
To access the new functionality, navigate to the Meetings section using the drop down menu at the top of the screen (9 dots icon). You will see a new section labelled “Slots”. By selecting this you will be taken through to the page where you set up the slots, but you will notice in the top right hand corner of the page the option to “Add people to Slot Group”.
Meeting slots button

Selecting this will bring up the a search tool that shows your tutees/supervisees on the right hand side, but also allows you to search for anyone in the University.

Search people in ePortfolio

You can search by programme or module code, username, and by first or surname. If you search by module or programme code, there is an “Add All” button at the bottom of your search. This will add all students from the module / programme to your set of slots, allowing you to offer contact to a cohort of students in an organised manner.
If you are a user of supervision groups, you will see a new button on the Supervision Group page. This will allow you to create meeting slots for your supervision group.
Meeting slots for supervision groups
Having selected the students that the slots are to be offered to, you will then pick the length of slot and times you’re available and the students selected will be sent a booking email.
If you would like some extra support with the use of meeting slots, please email

New release of ePortfolio

We have launched an updated version of ePortfolio today. The main update made is the functionality that will allow administrators to record meetings on behalf of tutors. They can create individual and group meetings in advance, or retrospectively. They cannot create meeting slots. We are running training webinars on the administration interface.

It is still the responsibility of the tutor to ensure meetings are arranged. The decision to use the admin functionality is a local one to be taken within an academic unit, this email should not be taken as a presumption that your School Office is offering this support.

The full list of developments in the release are:

Admin recordings of meetings

  • Creation of new meetings admin role and a backend application to manage who has this role.
  • Administrators can create, edit and delete meetings.
  • Administrators can create group meetings.
  • Log files will be created with a list of changes by administrators
  • Administrator history for meetings so admins can review previous .
  • Backend administrator ability to view/edit/delete admin meeting logs.

Other developments

  • A new dropdown on the homepage to add students in stages to meeting/slot/emails.
  • Show programme and relevant stage for students in Find Person search results.
  • When viewing search results, show a popup when clicking ‘View’ rather than taking user away from search.
  • allow adding of new students to existing meeting slots
  • add ‘print’ button to blog post.
  • info tab on student profile showing current programme registrations.
  • show safety confirmation dialog box when clicking outside or closing blog post without saving. This will stop work being lost accidentally.

ePortfolio webinars

We are going to be running some short webinars about ePortfolio, and how it can be used to support the personal tutoring process.

What is a webinar?
A webinar is short for a web seminar. It is a scheduled interactive training session that takes place online. Participants will be sent a link that they follow to join an online virtual classroom. Within this online space, we will be able to demonstrate techniques by sharing our screens, delivering presentations and taking discussions amongst the participants.

When you sign up for a webinar, we will supply you with a headset and microphone if you need one. We will send you a test page that will check your computer is setup correctly for the webinar, including your audio set-up. Please run this set-up at least a day before the session.

We use Adobe Connect to deliver the sessions. You can view a short video by Adobe about this software below:

The first webinar sessions we are running will be 15 minutes long, and are titled “How to record a meeting with your tutee in ePortfolio”. To book on this webinar, please visit the LTDS workshop page.

ePortfolio Implementation Pilot Evaluation

During the 2013/14 academic year, Newcastle University had approximately 40 implementation pilots involving the use of ePortfolio. 11 of these pilots used ePortfolio to support the personal tutoring process. Antony Mullen, a postgraduate student at the University has conducted an evaluation of these pilots. Antony was looking at the effectiveness of ePortfolio to support personal tutoring – the positives and the negatives. This has helped to inform future developments of ePortfolio.

His evaluation is attached below.