Reading group in LTDS

A little while ago we started a small reading group for colleagues in the Learning and Teaching Development Service to share ideas and discuss current issues and publications related to learning and teaching in Higher Education.

We set ourselves a couple of parameters to encourage engagement, as we had tried a journal club previously to not a great deal of success.

This time we decided to limit ourselves:

  • to things that could be read or digested in around less than half an hour
  • to try too keep the readings short and digestible
  • to keep the discussion sessions to 30 minutes
  • to use small groups for discussion of themes, impressions etc

Over the past few groups we have:

Our next group will explore microcredentials by looking at the recent QAA quality compass paper – which way for micro credentials.  

This will be the first meeting of a slightly expanded group which includes colleagues from FMS TEL .

We have one person running the group for 6 months (Me!) and I look after collating suggestions which come in from anyone who wants to suggest something. I try to have a range of different types of materials and cover a range of learning and teaching related viewpoints as our group has people who work in policy, practice, pedagogy, quality assurance, data and governance, professional development and all the intersections thereof.

Last time we listened to a radio programme about closed captions, which really made me think about how we approach captioning in HE. Some great ideas resulted from the session and it certainly got us talking!

Education for Sustainable Development Resources

Are you interested in finding out about Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and how you might embed ESD in the curriculum?

We have recently updated the information on ESD on our Learning and Teaching site.

Along with exploring what we mean by ESD in the curriculum and how we can embed it to enhance the student experience, the site includes:

  • A toolkit for collaborative innovation with the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • A project on mapping SDGs across the curriculum
  • An SDG board game GETSUST! and
  • A range of excellent case studies from colleagues sharing ESD best practice

The resources available have been created by Academic Services, SNES, FMS and NUBS colleagues.

Canvas Blog: Using Announcements Effectively

This is the second post in our blog looking at specific tools and aspects of Canvas and how they can be used to further improve our students digital learning journey.

The Importance of Announcements

Canvas announcements are a potent means for fostering effective communication between instructors and students. Announcements can fulfill various roles, including welcoming and guiding students, summarizing key concepts, and reminding them of impending assignments, projects, and exams.

Despite their importance, there is a prevailing tendency among students to disable announcement notifications, attributing it to an overwhelming influx of notifications and email spam, in light of this, we present a set of recommended best practices.

Best Practices

  • Carefully consider your purpose before crafting an announcement, avoiding duplication of information already covered elsewhere.
  • Establish a regular schedule for posting announcements. Consistency helps students anticipate and look forward to updates, creating a routine that enhances engagement. These regular announcements could include recapping the previous week and providing a preview of what students can expect in the upcoming week.
  • Give your announcements meaningful titles that precisely convey their content. Utilize descriptive titles like “Week X Update” or “Important Date Change for Assignment X” to help students easily locate relevant information when needed.
  • When composing your announcement, use the toolbar features to format bulleted or numbered lists for improved readability. Employ headings to separate topics into different sections. If necessary, attach a document to an announcement rather than including a large amount of text in the body.
  • Establish clear communication expectations with your students at the beginning of the course. Consider allocating 5 minutes at the start of the semester to give students a tour of the Canvas course site and discuss how communication will occur throughout the semester.

Utilizing Delay Posting for Scheduling Announcements

To streamline the process of maintaining a consistent announcement schedule, we highly recommend leveraging the delay posting option. This feature enables you to draft announcements in advance and set a specific day and time for their publication in your Canvas course. Until the publication date, the announcement can be edited, allowing for the addition of any supplementary details or updates as needed.

Postponing an announcement is a straightforward process. Just create the announcement as usual (consider making a basic template for consistency), and then choose the “Delay Posting” from the list of options at the bottom of the page.

Finally choose a date and time for the announcement to be published. Your students will then receive a notification as normal once the announcement is published.

Next Steps

Instructure has an excellent set of web guides on how to use Canvas effectively:

Additional information can also be found on the Canvas Orientation page:

Additional Canvas training is provided by LTDS on a monthly basis, you can sign up on elements below.

Getting to Know Canvas – Introductory Webinar:

Using Canvas Effectively – Advanced Webinar:

Alternatively if you are interested in booking an in person workshop for colleagues within your school then please contact

Canvas Blog: Creating Engaging Interactive Content Using H5P

This is the first in a series of blog posts looking at specific tools and aspects of Canvas and how they can be used to further improve our students digital learning journey.

The Importance of Interactivity

Developing interactive educational content is crucial for creating an engaging online learning experience. This approach enhances students’ effectiveness, engagement, and motivation by facilitating active learning instead of merely receiving information passively. Furthermore, the ability to include small self assessment activities within such content promotes self reflection allowing students to identify their own strengths and weaknesses. According to Yung-Ming (2013), interactivity plays a huge role in

“the perception of the ease of use of the learning system, as well as the consideration of the usefulness and the interest that stimulates.” Theodosis Karageorgakis

Why use H5P?

As a busy academic, it can be challenging to find the time and resources to enhance your teaching methods. However, H5P is a powerful tool that can significantly benefit your teaching, even amidst a busy schedule. Here’s why: 

  • Interactive and Engaging Content Creation: H5P simplifies the process of crafting interactive and engaging content. This feature boosts student attention, engagement, and overall enjoyment of the learning experience.
  • Time Efficiency: H5P offers a user-friendly interface along with a diverse range of pre-designed templates, facilitating the swift creation of interactive content. Once you grasp the tool, time savings are achievable through template reuse and the modification of existing content—whether created by you or shared with colleagues—to suit various topics or courses.
  • Versatility in Activity Types: H5P provides a multitude of activity types, such as interactive videos, presentations, quizzes, games, timelines, and more. This versatility enables you to accommodate different learning styles and adapt your teaching methods to the diverse needs of student groups. Whether your aim is knowledge assessment, concept reinforcement, or fostering critical thinking, H5P offers a broad spectrum of options.
  • Seamless Integration with Learning Management Systems: H5P seamlessly integrates with our learning management systems, including Canvas. This integration streamlines the content creation process, allowing you to stay within your Canvas page. Consequently, it minimizes the need for students to navigate between multiple tools.
  • Accessible Help and Support: H5P includes built-in tutorials for all content types, providing readily available assistance. Additionally, we offer further support through workshops dedicated to using H5P, fostering a collaborative environment for sharing knowledge and skills among colleagues.

How to build a simple resource

The video below shows how you can quickly build a simple H5P resource and/or import the Christmas advent calendar to add to your Canvas course.

Examples of H5P in practice

Click on any of the content types below to see an example of some of the excellent resources being created across the University.

Course Presentation

Interactive book

Flash Cards

Interactive Video

Branching Scenario

Getting started – Next steps

The H5P website has a wide range of examples of content to get you started thinking about how you can use this amazing tool within your own teaching practice.

There are excellent step-by-step guides to creating various content types available at

Training is provided by LTDS on a monthly basis, you can sign up on elements below.

H5P Introductory Webinar:

H5P Advanced Webinar:

Alternatively if you are interested in booking an in person workshop for colleagues within your school then please contact

Finally if you are looking for some festive content for your students you can find the Newcastle University H5P Advent Calendar below, click the reuse button to export it. There are instructions in the video above.

Fellowship of Advance HE Celebration Event

Newcastle University’s commitment to excellence in education was front and centre at a recent event hosted by Professor Ruth Valentine, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Education, and supported by LTDS (Learning and Teaching Development Service). Approximately 45 attended, including colleagues and postgraduate research students, gathered at the newly refurbished Courtyard Restaurant for an evening of celebration and recognition. The festivities were complemented by refreshments, including drinks from our very own Stu Brew, Europe’s first student-run microbrewery. The event was not only a celebration of our students’ and colleagues’ achievements, but also a testament to the vibrant learning community at Newcastle University. 

The highlight of the evening was the acknowledgment of colleagues and PGR students who had successfully gained Fellowship recognition from Advance HE in the 2022/23 academic year. Professor Ruth Valentine, in her welcoming address, expressed her heartfelt congratulations to the 160 colleagues who achieved this prestigious recognition. Many colleagues who are UKPSF Mentors joined the event to celebrate the achievements of their mentees. The upbeat atmosphere resonated with the notable increase in fellowship recipients compared to the previous academic year, reflecting a growing commitment to excellence in learning and teaching. 

“As a university, we value our colleagues and are dedicated to providing a high-quality educational experience for our students,” said Professor Valentine. She emphasised the importance of reflecting on teaching practices and aligning them with relevant pedagogies, reinforcing the commitment to the institution’s core values. The Professional Standards Framework, with its flexibility and inclusivity, allows colleagues across various roles to achieve recognition, fostering a culture that values and supports diverse contributions. 

The occasion also highlighted the diverse range of roles among fellowship recipients. It was particularly pleasing to see education managers, technicians, and colleagues from central services such as the Library, NUIT, Careers, and LTDS, among those recognised alongside academic colleagues and PGR students. This inclusivity underscores the University’s commitment to excellence in all areas of teaching and learning. 

Moreover, the Professional Standards Framework’s alignment with the broader learning and teaching sector contributes to a culture that elevates the importance of education and promotes a sense of reward and recognition. The event served as a reminder that gaining fellowship recognition is not the final destination; it opens up numerous opportunities to contribute to the wider learning and teaching community at Newcastle. 

As Dr Paul Hubbard, Chair of the UKPSF (United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework) CPD Scheme Board of Studies, emphasised, becoming a UKPSF Mentor is one such opportunity. The event expressed gratitude to all UKPSF mentors, acknowledging their invaluable contributions. Mentors play a crucial role in supporting colleagues through the recognition process, and the Dr Phil Ansell Award for Mentoring, which was introduced in 2022/23, further recognises their dedication. This year’s deserving winner, Dr Matt Forshaw, exemplifies the impact mentors can have on their mentees. 

The event concluded with an invitation for all attendees to actively engage with the wider learning and teaching community at Newcastle. Opportunities are plentiful, from participating in the University Learning and Teaching Conference (18th April 2024) Learning and Teaching Conference | Learning and Teaching @ Newcastle | Newcastle University ( to becoming mentors or contributing to the case studies of effective practice database, as well as education networks within our Faculties and Schools. The call to contribute to national initiatives like the National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) and Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) was also extended. 

As the celebration drew to a close, it was evident that Newcastle University stands not only as a centre of academic excellence but also as a nurturing community that values and celebrates the contributions of every member. 

Registrations and Call for Submissions for the Learning and Teaching Conference 2024

education for life banner

The 2024 Learning and Teaching Conference – Education for Life 2030 – A Vision for Education and Skills at Newcastle, will take place on 18th April 2024 in the Hershel Building in the heart of the Newcastle campus.

You can now register for the conference and submit proposals for consideration by the Conference Committee. The deadline for submissions is Friday 26 January 2024. 
The conference is all about learning together, sharing effective practice, and exploring Education for Life 2030. Themes for the conference include: 


  • To provide a core, universal offer for all students, including tailored provision where needed, to ensure equity of access, experience and in outcomes for all, regardless of background, identity, nationality, location, or mode of study.

Fit for the Future 

  • Students – Embodied by our Education for Life Framework, provide an educational experience that ensures our students are fit for their future and the world in which they will live and work.
  • Teaching, learning and support – To ensure that our approaches are informed by developments in pedagogy and best practice and can meet the University’s ambitions for its evolving portfolio, size, shape, and modes of delivery.
  • Colleagues – To provide an enabling environment that supports colleagues to have the skills and capacity to embrace the possibilities present in the future world of higher education.

Encounters with the Leading Edge 

  • To put at the heart of our curriculum and learning experiences encounters with our world leading research and the leading edge of industry and practice.

You can share your experiences in these formats: 

  • Workshops (50 minutes) 
  • Presentations (15 minutes) 
  • Lightning talks – live or via video (5 minutes) 
  • Posters 

More information can be found on the Learning and Teaching Conference page of the Learning and Teaching @ Newcastle website and look out for conference updates in future newsletters.  

Remember you can sign up or submit a proposal, the deadline for submissions is Friday 26 January 2024. 

Inspera Authoring Videos Guides now available

LTDS now have a new range of short (10 minute and under) videos about creating your Inspera Digital Exam using the Authoring tool. These are available on our website, under the header Video guides for authors :

The content of these videos is designed to more briefly cover the 1-hour webinar available on the Learning Management System (LMS) ‘Creating and managing exam questions in Inspera’. These short videos group the content into more manageable self-help guides.

Video titleContent covered
Getting started with Authoring Questions on InsperaHow to access the Author tool via Canvas
Navigating the Author tab
Filtering and Labels
The difference between questions and question sets
Creating Questions sets on InsperaCreate and edit question sets
Adding /amended marks awarded per question
Previewing your question/question set 
Adding previously created questions into a question set
Basic Question set functionalitySharing a question set with colleagues
Printing a question set
The Design tab
Advanced Question set functionalityUsing sections in your question set
Question randomisation
Candidate selected questions
Using stimulus
Adding allowed resources

For all Inspera Digital Exams running in the standard Semester 1 assessment period, the deadline for the finalisation of Questions Sets within Inspera is November 17th.

We do still have some spaces left on our 1-hour webinar ‘Creating and managing exam questions in Inspera’ which is taking place on October 23rd virtually. Book your space on the Newcastle University LMS.

Applications for the Education Enhancement Fund are now open!

The fund (formerly the University Education Development Fund) provides grants of up to £10,000 to support the development of new approaches to learning and teaching across Newcastle University.

Group of students chatting

Two strands of funding are available: 

  • Strand A – applications up to £2500. Projects can be specifically focussed within an individual academic unit, or across multiple areas as appropriate to the project.
  • Strand B – applications up to £10,000. Projects must involve collaboration across academic units and/or services and have potential benefits that are applicable beyond a single school or academic unit.

Chaired by the PVC Education, the fund offers a fantastic opportunity to propose and deliver projects with real benefit to student education. Applications should further the aims and key themes of the Education Strategy.

Application deadline for Semester 1:

Applications must be sent to by 12 noon (UK time) on Monday 20 November 2023.

Full information, guidance notes, and the application forms are available on the Learning and Teaching @ Newcastle website. 

For queries please contact 

Graduate Teaching Assistants Developers Network – Summer Event 2023: A blog post

Venue/Time:    21 June 2023, University of Manchester

Network:            AdvanceHE_GTA Developers Network

Who:                    Dangeni, Professional Development Adviser, LTDS

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, Postgraduates who teach, including Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) play a crucial role in shaping the academic experience of countless students. These passionate educators form the backbone of university classrooms, bringing fresh perspectives and knowledge to enhance the learning environment. My role as a Professional Development Adviser at LTDS involves delivering workshops to postgraduates who teach at Newcastle University, supporting their professional development through the various modules and pathways we offer, e.g. ILTHE and ELTS.

I had the opportunity to attend the Graduate Teaching Assistants Network event at the University of Manchester in June, which brought together researchers and practitioners from different UK universities to share insights and support each other in promoting and developing GTA support. This blog post summarises the highlights and reflections from this enriching experience.

Prior to the event, the organisers facilitated the sharing of materials, resources, ideas and approaches related to GTA development from across the institutions, which can be widely disseminated to various key stakeholders working with GTAs. For example, a practical guide New to Teaching Geography, which offers a starting point for graduate teaching assistants, teaching fellows and demonstrators. Another great example is around measuring the effective teaching through designing a Teaching Observation Form based on undergraduate feedback. These resources already and will benefit GTAs by unpacking the hidden curriculum of teaching and providing practical suggestions for GTAs to take away and implement in their own contexts; it’s also valuable for practitioners like me to reflect on and embed the effective and good practice in our current provision.

What happened on the day

The session began by reflecting on our roles and perspectives, e.g. where we work centrally or in a department, in an academic contract or as professional service staff, is supporting GTAs a core element of our role or something we do in addition to our day-to-day work, understanding that institutional differences and the different roles we play in supporting PgRs with teaching responsibilities require more in-depth discussion and frequent communication to share effective practices and reflect together on potential challenges.

We had key themes running through the day-long programme, such as:

  1. Supporting GTAs within departments, faculties and disciplines across institutions.
  2. The new PSF and its implications for accredited programmes.
  3. Developments in GTA professional learning.

As our Academic Practice Team is working on the reaccreditation, the second theme provide helpful information  regarding support and guidance, such as Advance HE PSF 2023 Associate Fellowship Guidance, Calibration events and Accreditation Policy 2023 (and guidance). The key changes were highlighted regarding D1, Associate Fellow, i.e., for individuals whose practice enables them to evidence some Dimensions. Effectiveness of practice in teaching and/or support of learning is demonstrated through evidence of:

D1.1. Use of appropriate Professional Values, including at least V1 and V3

D1.2 Application of appropriate Core Knowledge, including at least K1, K2 and K3

D1.3 Effective and inclusive practice in at least two of the five Areas of Activity

Inclusion and EDI were mentioned, highlighted and discussed throughout the day, including a workshop on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion by colleagues from the University of Sheffield. This training material is a practical tool for GTAs and us to explore prejudice and discrimination and describe how it can occur in everyday teaching and learning contexts.

My presentation

I presented and shared how we support GTAs through formal programmes and a recently established informal community building event at Newcastle University. In running ILTHE and ELTS and gathering feedback from participants, we found that workshop participants wanted the opportunity to continue to engage with teaching practice and develop their teaching skills after the workshops. This online community has been created based on my teaching experiences as an international GTA and my previous research projects, which looked at GTA, peer-mentoring and researcher development.

What did I think of the day?

The day was packed with insightful, exciting and innovative presentations from colleagues and GTAs from different institutions. I also had many useful resources to take away and great discussions with colleagues to reflect on. Thank you for taking the time to read this GTA-themed blog post. Please get in touch at if you’d like to chat about our pathways and your practice!

If you are interested in finding out more about the modules and pathways we offer here at Newcastle, check out the following links:

Introduction to Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (ILTHE)

Evidencing Learning and Teaching Skills (ELTS)

Professional Development (Learning and Teaching @ Newcastle website)

Meet Dangeni!

I am a Professional Development Adviser in the Academic Practice Team at LTDS. My teaching and research focus broadly on the teaching and learning provision in the wider context of the internationalisation of higher education.

I am particularly interested in research and practices around international students’ access, engagement and success in postgraduate taught (PGT) and postgraduate research (PGR) settings.

Digital Assessment Webinar Training Programme Available

A photo of hands typing on a laptop keyboard.

We are pleased to share our Digital Assessment Training Programme for 2023-24. Our training sessions are delivered as webinars via Microsoft Teams.

Inspera Assessment (the university system for centrally supported digital exams) is supported by the Learning and Teaching Development Service with a range of training options open to all staff.

Follow the links below to find out more about each session and to book onto individual sessions via the University’s elements system. 

Inspera Webinars

Inspera for Professional Service Colleagues

  • 9 October 2023 – 11:00-12:00
  • 8 February 2024 – 10:00-11:00

Creating and Managing Exam Questions in Inspera

  • 23 October 2023 – 9:00-10:00
  • 19 February 2024 – 14:00-15:00

How to Grade using Rubric in Inspera

  • 9 November 2023 – 10:00-11:00
  • 26 February 2024 – 14:00-15:00

Marking and moderating an Inspera exam with manually marked questions

  • 13 December 2023 – 09:00-10:00 
  • 25th January 2024 – 10:00-11:00 
  • 1st May 2024 – 14:00-15:00  
  • 6th June 2024 – 14:00-15:00 

Marking an Inspera exam with auto marked questions

  • 14 December 2023 – 09:00-10:00 
  • 24 January 2024 – 09:00-10:00 
  • 29 April 2024 – 14:00-15:00 
  • 3 June 2024 – 14:00-15:00 

Digital Assignments: Canvas and Turnitin

Creating and Managing Digital Assignments

  • 19 October 2023 – 11:00-12:00 
  • 29 January 2024 – 15:00-16:00 

Online Marking and Feedback (Canvas)

  • 5 December 2023 – 14:00-15:00 
  • 24 April 2024 – 14:00-15:00 

Online Marking and Feedback (Turnitin)

  • 4 December 2023 – 14:00-15:00 
  • 22 April 2024 – 14:00–15:00 

Any queries?

If you have any queries on any of the above sessions, please contact

Meet the Team

You can meet the Digital Assessment Team in this LTDS Blog post.

Meet the Digital Exams Team

As the new 2023-24 academic year begins, we’d like to introduce the Digital Exams Team here in LTDS, who lead on the University’s Digital Exams via Inspera. A team of Learning Enhancement and Technology Advisers work together to facilitate digital exams through Inspera Assessment. Inspera Assessment is the University’s Digital Exam system used for present-in-person secure online assessments.

Meet the Team

First up we’ve got Maddie Kinnair who is one of our two Inspera Co-Leads. Maddie joined the team in September 2022 and has worked within the area of Learning and Teaching for 6 years. Maddie first joined HE in 2014 and has previously worked in the School of Computing, HaSS Faculty and within Central Services.

Maddie is also the lead for our peer assessment and feedback tool Buddycheck.

Next up, we’ve got Kimberly May-O’Brien, our second Inspera Co-Lead. Kimberly joined the team in July 2023, having worked at the University since 2019. Kimberly previously worked in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, as well as the central Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team.

Finally, we have Susan Barfield who started working at the University 13 years ago, initially in NUIT as part of the ReCap team, she then joined LTDS in 2019 as lead on online marking and feedback using Canvas and Turnitin, whilst also supporting digital exams.

More Information

You can find out more about Inspera and the training webinars and videos available to colleagues via the LTDS website.

If you have any queries around Digital Exams, you can contact the Digital Exams Team via

Numbas is the other centrally supported Digital Exam platform. You can contact the Numbas team via