Category Archives: Other

Matt Price – Meet the New Education Officer

Matt pRICEWe met up with the new Newcastle university Students’ Union’s Education Officer to find out a little bit more about him and what he hopes to bring to his new role….

What are you looking forward to the most about your new role?

I’m just really looking forward to starting the role. This is a really important year for the University in terms of teaching and learning because of the Higher Education Review. I hope this is a year where we can get a lot done – there is already some great teaching taking place in the University but I want to lay the groundwork to make things even better for students.

What sorts of issues do you hope to address in your year as Education Officer?

I really want to make a much bigger thing out of the Teaching Excellence Awards because I think that the staff at Newcastle work tremendously hard and we need to acknowledge really excellent teaching when we see it. I’d like to open nominations for awards earlier this year and work harder to encourage students to nominate outstanding teachers in their Schools. I’d also like to publicise the whole Teaching Awards event much more through social media and to really promote the good teaching going on across the University.

I’m also particularly interested in ReCap as a resource for students. It was something that was really useful to me as a student, I used to work so hard in the lectures on my course to really follow exactly what the lecturers were saying and take it in and then use ReCap later to take notes. I just really didn’t want to miss anything! I know some staff have reservations about the system but I really want to work with them too to put the student case and also to see if we can find a solution which addresses their concerns.

What is the single most important thing you hope to improve?

I’d really like to address the issue of exam feedback and to make a lasting and positive change on that. I found it really frustrating as a student that I often couldn’t view any feedback on the exams I sat, much less get hold of the past papers without great difficulty. I think it’s really important for students to get feedback on all of their work, even exams, so that they can improve or even so they can see where they went wrong. I’d also like to see a more consistent approach to exam feedback when it is available, sometimes you get a little and sometimes a lot – I suppose it’s difficult for staff to know whether students will see it or whether they are just pouring words into the void and that might be discouraging – but I think it would be really good to address this issue across the University and see if we can get some sort of consistency. Just access to decent feedback on exam assessment. It’s that simple.

You can contact Matt through

You can find out more about his manifesto and his interests and approach as a Union Officer here.

STAR CASE STUDY – Mobile Devices in Teaching and Learning

NUTELA Award winner Graham Patterson has been spearheading innovative technology-led teaching in the School of Civil Engineering and Geomatics.
Graham has worked extensively with staff to oversee the adoption of mobile Android-devices to support teaching and learning across the School.
Graham said: ‘We started using Android tablets three years ago, giving one to each student in their first year
‘They get used for all sorts of things. We use software called Responseware to get feedback in lectures, polling students on the correct answers to questions or to see if they understand.
‘We’ve also used it to replace paper handouts which we used to use a lot, so now students can download PDFs before lectures.
‘We have worked with staff over the last three years to format these PDFs so that there is room for a slide or diagram and then for the student to take notes as the lecture goes on.’
At the beginning of their first term Graham and academic lead on the project, CEGS Teaching Associate Henny Mills organise three sessions to introduce the students to the technology.

Graham Patterson
Graham Patterson

The first session is aimed at familiarising them with the device and the Android operating system, the second focuses on University facilities on the tablet, such as accessing University drives and timetables and the third is a Drop-In session to address any teething problems.
Students have responded really positively to the changes and to the scheme is going from strength to strength is CEGS.
‘Students really like being able to use the tablets in practicals, as a second screen.
‘The Galaxy Note 10 was very carefully selected because it allows them to have two screens open at once, so they can be looking at a PDF and taking notes on the lecture.
‘It also allows them to view AutoCAD documents and others and has a great camera for field trips which they find useful, health and safety permitting.’
As more and more schools across the University start using responseware and other sorts of technology to enhance their learning and teaching experience, it’s becoming increasingly important to share good practice in what sorts of devices, software and support systems work.
Graham said: ‘We thought that this system was going to require a lot of technical support but actually after the initial sessions, students are very capable of using the devices provided there are no problems with the hardware.
‘We were also concerned about students using facebook and twitter in lectures and not paying attention but I think, with mobile phones and laptops, students who wanted to do that were always just going to find a way anyway.
‘We’ve made it clear to students that this is not a gimmick or a toy, it’s something they must bring to lectures and it’s something that they are responsible for.
‘Most of them respect that and use it responsibly.’
Is there an example of innovative or good practice in teaching in your school? Email: For other great teaching ideas have a look at our Case Studies Database.


social media etiquette

We just had to re-post this excellent guide to Netiquette, online etiquette for students.

If your course contains online elements like a discussion board, blog or Twitter, this guide is a great way of talking with students about how to interact with each other in an academic setting.  Feel free to take it and adapt it in whatever way suits your course or students!

Thanks Melanie Barrand (Leed University) for putting this together and for letting us use it:

‘Netiqutte is a set of informal rules or conventions which can help ensure your online communication is clear, respectful and courteous. There are numerous versions of netiquette rules in existence however they all have the same central message: Be nice to each other, stay on topic and do the best you can.

Be nice to each other:
•Remember where you are and act accordingly. Robust discussion, or critique in a blog or discussion board does not require insults or slights.
•Be careful with your language and remember your audience – some conversational language and common idioms may not mean the same things to other readers.

Be helpful:
•Spell well.
•Write sentences, consider using paragraphs, and use punctuation (it’s free!).
•Use plain english.
•Don’t uz txt spk.
•Construct informative subject headings: A thread or post titled ‘Some reasons for Henry’s military success’ will be much more informative in a discussion about Henry ll than one titled ‘Henry’.
•Use formatting, bullet points and headings where necessary to add clarity to your communication.

Stay on topic in discussions:
•If your question or post in a discussion board is off topic but still related to the discussion begin your subject title with OT: to mean off topic. If your post is significantly or perhaps completely off topic, post it in another discussion room, perhaps the one set up for general questions.
•If your tutor asks you to reply in a specific thread please do so, don’t start a new thread.
•Avoid repetition. If another student posts a message making a point with which you agree, resist the temptation to post lots more messages saying ‘Me too’ or ‘I agree’. You should always say more, perhaps explain why you agree, or bring more evidence to support your position. Equally, if you disagree, explain why.

Quote or cite where necessary:
•If you quote from other people’s messages in yours, be careful to ensure the meaning of their words remains intact. People may be offended if you misquote them.
•Quote only where necessary. In a threaded discussion you don’t need to quote all of the text that came before yours. In a blog comment, a small quote from the original post will help contextualise and anchor your reponse.
•Be aware of copyright. Ensure that any material you reuse in your online communication is free from copyright issues. If you did not create the content yourself, you will need to check copyright.
•If you use a source, cite it – other people in the discussion might want to use the material and your citation will help them find it. To learn more about referencing, try a referencing tutorial from Skills@Library.’

You can read the original piece here.

The Innovation Fund – One Year On

One year on from her Innovation Fund win, Biology’s Alison Graham is handing over the reins of a very successful PG demonstrators training programme to other colleagues.
The Innovation Fund is administered by ULTSEC (the University’s Learning and Teaching Student Experience Committee) to support schemes which represent new or innovative approaches to teaching and learning in the University.
In particular, it hopes to financially support schemes which can be taken up by faculties and schools across the University.
Alison’s idea has already been picked up by other Schools in the University and Alison feels that it has brought a great deal to both UG and PG students in the School of Biology.

‘We realised several years ago that there was a real need for consistency in the standards of our demonstrators, all of whom had very varied experience and skill sets.

‘This was something the PGs themselves had pointed out and it was something that was coming across in the feedback from our UG students who felt that the standards of their practicals were dictated largely by the abilities of their PG demonstrator.
‘They also did not seem to know what the demonstrators did or that they were research students in the School so we wanted to find a way to introduce them.’
Alison applied to the University’s Innovation Fund for funding to run a programme which aimed to ‘to engender a more productive learning environment for undergraduate and postgraduate students alike.’
The team began by arranging an informal workshop to introduce PG Demonstrators to new UG students.
‘We had them come in and do some very basic experiments – one of their favourites is using paintbrushes to tickle the feet of stick insects and measuring how many feet they will take off the ground at once!

PG demos
PG Demonstrators talk to new undergraduates their own work in the workshops

‘So we had them doing that and then had each demonstrator take some time to tell the new students about their own research.

‘This gave the UG students a sense of the PG’s place in the school, an insight into their own future career paths and a sense of who each demonstrator was.

‘Both groups responded really positively and it’s now not unusual to hear the UG students asking how someone’s research is going, making everyone feel like part of a research community.’ The workshop will run again this year.
Alison said: ‘We’ve also completely changed how demonstrators can sign up for modules and how they can let lecturers know what their particular skills are, which is making planning this year’s practicals very much easier.
‘It’s really been a huge success, making PGs more comfortable with their teaching and with their marking and UGs more familiar and confident with those demonstrating in their practicals.
‘It’s been a real win-win!’

Do you have a great idea to put forward to the ULTSEC Innovation Fund?

The call for applications for the 2015/16 fund is open now!
Or if you have an example of really effective teaching practice in your School do get in touch with

What else can you do with e-portfolio?

E-portfolio is not just for helping to manage personal tutor groups and keeping track of supervisions.

Did you know you can also use it for assignments?

Graeme Redshaw-Boxwell explains: ‘You can use it to set up supervision groups for classes you teach.

‘the students would use the blog and link evidence against particular competencies (including the GSF).

‘They can also use tags to filter the blog posts and export as a rich text document so that you can mark them.’

This is an easy and informal way of assessing how students interact and gaining a sense of how much they understand outside more formal assessment techniques.

Graeme’s running lots of workshops over the summer so you can either refresh your knowledge of using e-portfolio for supervision and personal tutoring or think about new ways of using it for assignments.

Workshops will take place:

Mon 29th June

10am – Supervision Groups

2pm – Supervision Groups

Wed 1st July

10am Supervision Groups

14.00 Supervision Groups

Mon 13th July

14.00 Personal  Tutoring

Thurs 16th July

14.00 Personal Tutoring

Friday 17th July

10.00am Assignments

Tuesday 21st July

2.00pm Assignments

Thursday 23rd July

10.00am Assignments

You can sign  up here.



Having problems viewing the blog?

Some people appear to be having problems with viewing the blog.

This is due to a centralised policy applied by Newcastle University’s IT Service that forces any intranet site viewed through Internet Explorer to be displayed using “Compatibility Mode”.

This will render any site as if you were using Internet Explorer 6 or 7, which is why you are unable to see some parts of the blog or get an error message.

IT Servicedesk responded, “Internet Explorer is going to be rolled relatively soon and then SAP will support the relevant sites in standards mode, at that point that flag will be flipped.”

If you want to view the blog in Internet Explorer you can disable this setting by following these steps in the browser:

Tools -> Compatibility View Settings, then uncheck ‘Display intranet sites in Compatibility View’


Or you could use a different browser to Internet Explorer.


Durham Blackboard Conference 2015 Abbi Flint Keynote – Engagement through partnership

Engagement Through Partnership – Abbi Flint

Abbi started her keynote discussing the framework that the Higher Education Academy launched regarding students as partners. Below are my rough notes from the presentation combined with Dr Rebecca Gill’s more comprehensible notes!
Fostering partnership – it’s a strong way to increase student engagement – growing topic recently.

What do we mean by partnership?

Definition(s) of partnership:

  • Partnership isn’t interchangeable with student engagement, but is a specific form of it. It is a movement away from the assumption that students aren’t initially engaged, and emphasises shared responsibility of students and staff, students and staff as ‘co-learners’.
  • Defined partnership as a process; the form of a project may not necessarily be one of partnership, but partnership is established for example by giving students autonomy and an active role in producing research, disseminating outputs and finding solutions.
  • It is contextual (specific to institution, discipline and wider culture), therefore an ideal model is impossible to produce.
  • Partnership can encompass cooperation between students as well as staff-student interactions. Embedding students within an academic community is central to student retention and success.
  • Emphasis on understanding the expertise students can offer as pedagogic consultants in curriculum design: staff provide disciplinary expertise, students are experts on the curriculum as experienced in practice.

Specific form of student engagement – student engagement – is this a buzzword? So many different meanings when looking at the published research.

Evernote Snapshot 20150106 110638


1. What does partnership with students mean to you?

2 why are you interested in partnership in teaching and learning?

Why are you interested in partnership in teaching and learning?

 Evernote Snapshot 20150106 110143

Pedagogically powerful approach – deeper learning, sense of community.

Behavioural perspective – something that they see and do. How often do students engage in study? A lot of research around this.

Psychological perspective – how are students engaging cognitively?  What is their sense of community?

Social cultural – how does the culture of the institution affect student engagement?

Active participation is relevant across all perspectives.

Learning relationship as well as a working relationship. Students learning as part of the partnership.

Highly contextual – this is about people and their particular context.

Partnership values-
Authenticity, inclusivity, reciprocity, empowerment, trust, challenge, community, responsibility. (these are in HEA documentation)

 Evernote Snapshot 20150106 111209

Learning and teaching assessment
Flipping the classroom
Personalisation of learning
Peer education
Active and collaborative learning
Broad vision (University of Westminster)
Subject based research and inquiry
Embedding research and inquiry based learning
Student as producer – University of Lincoln
Boutique UG research schemes
Think Ahead: SURE
These examples still need to be considered within the process. Examples above aren’t necessarily partnership, but the process needs to be considered.
Scholarship of teaching and learning
Students are often the focus rather than the partners of any research.

Institutional examples

University of Exeter – voluntary scheme where student research their teaching and learning environments and report outcomes to the staff student committee in their School. This has had high impact.

Curriculum design and pedagogic consultancy
Students often surveyed at the end of their course, but not often consulted at course design / approval stages.
This is one of the more challenging aspects of partnership. Often institutions/academics don’t want to give up any control in this area.

How do we embed partnership beyond the discrete activities that goes on?

Case studies:

 Evernote Snapshot 20150106 112830

  • Significant change to existing practice/processes needed.
  • Inclusivity and scale: who is able to participate?
  • Power relationships and blurring identities: dominance of hierarchical relationships, access to resources. Experience of partnership in one context may have a problematic impact on hierarchical relationships elsewhere. Partnerships can place staff and students in different roles.
  • Reward & recognition: staff motivated by paid job role, what motivates students? Need opportunity to be full members of partnership – ensure access to larger agendas and history of projects (e.g. induction & ‘outduction’ of sabbatical officers) – students have a time limited engagement with their institution.


Areas for further exploration

  • Pedagogies of partnership: disciplinary research – are there disciplinary approaches to partnership?
  • Sharing lot of successes but need to learn from failures. Where does it not work and why?
  • Impact: longer term, explore potential ways of using existing institutional data more smartly to look at impact of partnership on broader learning experience.
  • Ethical implications of engagement through partnership.
  • How different student demographics engage with partnership/levels of impact at different intersectionalities (e.g. gender, race, age).

Mick Healey website – case studies with students as change agents.