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!

New to NU Reflect: structured reflective templates

Example of Templates area of NU Reflect

You told us that reflective templates would help you to make more of students’ learning. Structured reflective templates give students prompts to enable them to record their learning and add tags that will help look back and build up a portfolio of learning to demonstrate competencies, knowledge and skills that secure that next step.

Following demand from colleagues and students, and a successful pilot in academic year 2021/22, structured reflective templates will be available within NU Reflect from the 1st August 2022. The Templates area will allow you to create bespoke reflective templates or choose from predefined templates, to support structured student reflection within your programme/module contexts. 

Each template will offer guidance text to support students to write qualitative, impactful reflections in different context, e.g., for personal development, against course specific competencies, etc., providing a meaningful way to engage with reflection, leading to a developed understanding of the reflective process and more autonomy to engage with it throughout the learning journey. 

More information on the Templates area of NU Reflect is available on the Learning and Teaching @ Newcastle website. Case studies from pilot participants highlighting the positive impact the templates had on teaching and learning will be available soon.

If you would like to find out more about how you can implement reflective practice within your programmes/modules, please contact LTDS@newcastle.ac.uk  

Learning Analytics system usability testing

Are you interested in using student engagement data to support the student learning journey?

The University has entered a tender process to acquire a Learning Analytics system that informs and supports students’ attainment, engagement, and wellbeing journeys in one centralised interface, putting students at the heart of decision-making about their ongoing development.

We are looking for volunteers to take part in usability testing as part of the system procurement process. Testing will take place between 1st August to 12th August 2022, and you can complete the testing tasks at any time over this period.

If you are interested and have capacity to participate, your contribution will be a key part of the evaluation stage of the tender process and will have a direct impact on which Learning Analytics system the University introduces from next academic year.   

Usability testing is open to all University colleagues. To participate you need to commit to test all systems that meet the University’s mandatory requirements, which we estimate may be between 2 and 4 systems, to ensure that the evaluation process is fair. We will be able to confirm the number of systems being tested the week before testing begins.   

Full instructions will be provided for each testing task, and you can complete the tasks at any time that suits your schedule over the usability testing period.

To register your interest please complete this form by Wednesday 27th July 2022.  Please contact LTDS@newcastle.ac.uk with any queries. 

Learning and Teaching Conference: Review

Education for All: Learning Together

The Newcastle University Learning and Teaching Conference took place on March 31. This year’s theme was all about learning together, sharing effective practice, and exploring an education for all.

The event was opened by Professor Tom Ward, PVC Education, and was followed by a keynote presentation from Professor Paul Ashwin, Professor of Higher Education and Head of Department for Educational Research at Lancaster University.

As a result of the fantastic response to our call for submissions we ran several parallel sessions throughout the day, including over 40 workshops, lightning talks and presentations. Video recordings of the event presentations are now available to view via ReCap.

Conference poster and video winners
A massive congratulations to Ashley Reynolds and Eleanor Gordon who won our video competition with their demonstration of how animations can be used to enhance teaching and learning, and to Anna Reid and Vicky Gilbert who won our poster competition with Learning dogs; a winning ‘pawtnership’.

Thanks also to everyone who entered and voted for our winners. All posters are still available to view and video submissions are available in a ReCap playlist.

Conference feedback needed
If you attended the conference, or if you registered but were unable to attend, we would greatly appreciate your thoughts and feedback. This will help us improve our Learning and Teaching Conferences in the future.

Education for All: Learning Together, Learning and Teaching Conference 

31 March 2022, Frederick Douglass Centre 

Join us for this year’s conference to celebrate learning and teaching and share ideas across the University.  We can’t wait to come together, in-person, for those much-missed opportunities to catch up over coffee and we can promise a fantastic lunch.  

Come along to: 

  • Hear from Paul Ashwin, Professor of Higher Education and Head of the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University who will deliver the keynote ‘What is a university education for?’ 
  • Get involved in interactive workshops. 
  • Be inspired by approaches to assessment, wellbeing, student voice, changing practices and much more. 

The full programme will be ready early March so keep an eye on the conference website. There’s also lots of opportunities to get involved online and we’ll be sharing which sessions you can take part in on the website. 

All colleagues and students are invited to attend. Colleagues can book here and students can book here.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch nultconf1@ncl.ac.uk  

Learning Communities Toolkit

Students around a table

Working alongside student interns, Newcastle University HaSS colleagues have developed a new Learning Communities toolkit – a range of accessible and reusable ice-breaker and community-building resources. Available via Canvas Commons, this toolkit is ideal for educators looking for ways to encourage and facilitate effective learning communities within their module groups.

Why is a learning community needed?
Developing a learning community amongst a group of students can be hugely beneficial. Not only does it provide students with the opportunity to come together in a safe place to share opinions and ask questions, but it also allows them to feel a sense of belonging and connection with other students (this is particularly useful where minority groups are concerned). Learning communities also provide academic benefits: encouraging attendance at lectures, active engagement, and group collaboration. This toolkit provides a range of ideas to get you started and support you along the way in the development of your learning community.

How to use this toolkit
We’ve published our Learning Communities toolkit on Canvas Commons to make it easy to find, download and reuse in your own courses. To help you find activities quickly, we have organised them into three separate categories: Icebreakers, Building Community Activities, and Maintaining Community Activities.

You can preview and download the toolkit here:

https://lor.instructure.com/resources/bb4c049eeff34e15b2091c6fd4755651?shared

Free stuff for Newcastle University …

Ok, now I’ve hopefully got some attention … (honestly, this post doesn’t take too long to get to the ‘free stuff’ bit).

Perhaps one of less noticed, but still in some ways important, elements of the huge changes in the English higher education sector over the last four years has been the changes for some long-established sector agencies. QAA lost what was in effect its role as the lead national agency in England for academic quality and standards, and has reinvented itself (including a very significant slimming down) as a membership organisation. The Higher Education Academy, Equality Challenge Unit and Leadership Foundation for Higher Education combined forces to become AdvanceHE.

So what?

Good question. One of the things it has meant is that QAA and AdvanceHE have now put huge amounts of their resources behind what amounts to a paywall – if your university’s not a member you’re not getting in. The good news for Newcastle staff is that the University is a signed-up member of both QAA and AdvanceHE, so you can access both organisation’s resources using your Newcastle email address.

So why would you sign up?

Well QAA’s an interesting one. There’s a range of membership services, including both resources (for example some Advice on Digital Assessment Security written by a group that LTDS was a member of) and events (including a webinar in July at which LTDS presented).

The bit that’s interesting is that having become a membership organisation there’s been a bit of a shift in terms of the kind of things the Agency is doing. The five themes of the membership programme for 2021-22 (https://www.qaa.ac.uk/membership/what-we-are-delivering-for-members-in-2021-22 ) are: the future of digital and blended learning; creating inclusive learning communities; global engagement and TNE; evaluation and data-based decision making; and securing academic standards.

So a lot of the kind of thing you might expect QAA to do, but quite a lot that might make you think ‘I didn’t’ know QAA were interested in that’. Some of this is open access; other areas you’ll need to register to get access to (but it doesn’t take long – the form is at https://www.qaa.ac.uk//en/membership/resources/register and all you need is your NU email address).

There are a small number of QAA resources we don’t have access to (it’s like a gym with levels of membership, and we didn’t go for the maximalist option), but there’s still a lot of valuable stuff up there that you can access for free.

(And while I’m talking about QAA, one of its best kept secrets, at least this side of Hadrian’s Wall, is the great work QAA Scotland has been doing for years under its Enhancement Themes banner. There’s lots of interesting and valuable material on this website – https://www.enhancementthemes.ac.uk/. The current Enhancement Theme is Resilient Learning Communities, but past themes like Evidence for Enhancement and Student Transitions are well worth a look as well. And again, it’s all free).

It’s a similar deal with AdvanceHE. There’s a huge amount of valuable material available (and their Knowledge Hub database is a good way to access this), across lots of areas -including learning and teaching, but also around EDI as well as leadership and management. AdvanceHE’s programme for 2021-22 is available at https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/membership-2021-22/member-benefits .

Again all you need is your NU email address to access the site and its resources. One thing to look out for though is that while there’s a lot of things you can access for free, there’s also quite a bit of AdvanceHE activity (particularly events) that are chargeable. People at NU get a member’s rate, but there’s still a fee for quite a bit of what they’re offering.

So there’s a lot on offer. A lot of it supports areas that we’re strongly committed to as a University and as individuals. It’s worth a look. And (lots of it) is free.

Coming Soon: Interactive Content Made Easy with H5P

Example H5P Hotspot item – click the + to try it out

Adding engaging and interactive content to your online course materials will get easier very soon.  The University has bought an enterprise licence for H5P for use by colleagues for a year.  Towards the end of August we’ll be making it available to all Canvas and MLE Teachers giving them the ability to make accessible interactive widgets, like the ones on this post. H5P isn’t just restricted to Canvas and MLE, it can be used on web sites too. 

We’re particularly excited about H5P!  Once it is turned on there will no longer be a need to be an HTML guru to do things like: 

  • Add accordions 
  • Add single question formative quiz questions 
  • Generate branching scenarios 
  • Create 360 degree virtual tours … and much more 

H5P has been successfully used by our friends in other universities– it’s very well documented and each content type has its own tutorial. 

We will be using the fully supported (H5P.com) version of H5P and, while we are plumbing this in, if you would like to have a peek at what is in store do check out H5Ps web pages for their documentation.  We would recommend holding fire on creating accounts on H5P.org and wait instead until we have our Newcastle H5P site up and running. It won’t be long! 

How you can help us? 

We have H5P for a one-year pilot initially – so we will need feedback on how you are using it, how your students are finding it, and how you would like our H5P support to develop. 

If you would like to get early access to H5P, receive updates, or help our evaluation please  JOIN OUR H5P COMMUNITY by filling out this form.

Sample H5P Course Presentation – try moving between the slides and answering the questions

The Art of the Possible 2021 – A look back.

Firstly, thank you to everyone who joined a session this week and engaged with the new material we released for Art of the Possible 2021. A big thank you to all our hosts who delivered wonderful online sessions to full or nearly full capacity.

The week started with a welcome message from Tom Ward to introduce the week, and continued with a really thought-provoking keynote session with Helen O’Sullivan Chair of the Association for Learning Technology, and DVC at Chester University.  Helen’s session was called ‘Preparing students for their future, not our past: How the pandemic pushed us past the tipping point into education 4.0.’ And really dug deep into how education has changed and adapted since March 2020. Participants said they really enjoyed the session, the session was recorded (please note all video will require a Newcastle University log in and closed captions are currently being added) and can be viewed at any time.

Independent researcher Helen Beetham delivered a fantastic two-part session on designing online activities for university learning. This was a great opportunity for participants to learn, discuss, and reflect on some of the work they have been doing and what others have been doing, to give the best possible education to students, especially in an ever-increasing digital world. Highlights from part one and part two can be found online and viewed at any time.

Nuala Davis and Graeme Redshaw-Boxwell delivered two sessions called ‘Saving time and enriching your courses with Canvas Commons’. These sessions looked at how we can use Canvas Commons and how it can enhance our courses. Further information can found in the session slides and Canvas Orientation course.

Dr Cees van Der Land led a session entitled ‘A Series of lightning talks and Q&A about virtual fieldwork and virtual labs’ that looked at some of the inspiring, inventive, and innovative ways we have adapted our teaching to give the students great learning experiences in the absence of present in person land and fieldwork. Eight speakers did a series of lively presentations giving a cross university perspective of the work that has been done to move the hands on elements of a students experience to a digital platform. You can find all seven videos on ReCap.

Throughout the week we have been releasing a series of new case studies that will take you through some of the creative and innovative ways we have adapted since March 2020. These case studies really highlight the fantastic work we’ve achieved.

Podcast icon

Finally, we were extremely excited to release the first two episodes of the Learning &Teaching @ Newcastle university Podcast. This fortnightly podcast will explore some of the great things we’ve been doing in Learning and Teaching here at Newcastle University.

You can download the first two episodes right now and it is available to download wherever you get your podcasts.

Remember to download, like, and subscribe, and you won’t miss an episode.

Conversations about Canvas Commons

Canvas Commons

All colleagues who have a Teacher role in Canvas can access and contribute to a huge repository of content in Canvas Commons.  You can use Commons to share content with the global Canvas community or choose to restrict its visibility to teachers at Newcastle University.  You can also share content with yourself!

For the Art of the Possible we hosted workshops to explore Commons with Colleagues.  Our participants got stuck in enthusiastically.

What we liked:  

  • Commons is a great way to access generic content e.g. getting started with the library, or to share content across programmes.  (Our induction project team are using Commons to share induction materials with schools this year.)
  • Even if you don’t want to use the content it’s helpful to see how others have approached teaching your subject – it can give ideas and inspiration
  • The ability to gather quiz questions to adapt
  • It could help improve consistency between modules / courses
  • Commons is a good way to hold content that needs to be included in all/some courses – assignment templates, school policies, supports consistency.
  • You can use Commons to hold content that is private to you – making it easy to add content into multiple courses.
  • It makes it easy share content across the institution – rather than importing/exporting or adding permissions
Commons example

Why would you share content to Commons?

  • A way of sharing effective practice, building your reputation, and that of the University
  • Evidence your impact / influence for promotion
  • Building in consistency
  • When you don’t know who specifically will need to access the content
  • By sharing you are contributing to the educational community
  • To share knowledge and expertise

Some Cautions

Several participants commented on the huge amount of material in Commons, we saw how we could filter this by stage (UG/PG) or restrict our searches to content shared just with the Newcastle University.   We saw how we could share permalinks to content elements in Commons to make finding resources easier.

Canvas Commons content isn’t policed so we had good discussions about the need to check content for accuracy, and also to look out for international differences (eg prescribing guidance, legal regulations etc…).  We spoke about how different creative commons licenses could be added to support reuse and about how to give attribution to Commons Content shared with CC licenses.

Eportfolio redevelopment workshops

The ePortfolio system is being redeveloped and relaunched for academic year 2021/22 and we would like your feedback. We aim to develop a system that emphasises reflection and supports students to capture and develop their learning activities whilst at Newcastle University, supporting employability in the future.

After consultation with colleagues and students, prototype designs have been created to show how the key tools within ePortfolio will appear in Canvas.

The ePortfolio team will be holding 30-minute workshops for colleagues on Thursday 20 May to explore the prototype designs and to answer any other questions. To sign up, please declare your interest in this sign-up sheet.

Workshop times:

  • 09:00 – 09:30
  • 09:30 – 10:00
  • 12:00 – 12:30
  • 12:30 – 13:00
  • 16:00 – 16:30
  • 16:30 – 17:00

Your feedback is valuable in helping us to redevelop the system to support student reflection and enhance skills development.

If you have any questions regarding ePortfolio, please contact ltds@newcastle.ac.uk