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 ltds@ncl.ac.uk and we will get back to you.

The Art of the Possible: Case Study

The art of the possible, Education Strategy Series, Technology Enhanced Learning, Accessible and Inclusive Digital Content, July 1-5 2019

Dr Chloe Duckworth from the School of History, Classics and Archaeology has used engaging, bespoke online resources and a range of practical group activities to create a relaxed learning environment for her students.

Find out more from Chloe in the video below as she describes how she considers accessibility issues  and ensures an inclusive approach to teaching.

If you are interested in reading more about Chloe’s case study or other case studies of effective practice take a look at the case studies website.


Star Case Study: Dr Rajesh Tiwari: Flipped Classroom Videos

Enhance the variety of teaching, create a resource students like to engage with and save time in the long run.  These are just a few positive outcomes Dr Rajesh Tiwari, School of Engeneering,  has seen through his use of videos when using a flipped classroom approach.

The videos work brilliantly well when Rajesh wants to give information about practical skills, as well as when there are difficult concepts that need some extra explanation.

Photo of Dr Rajesh Tiwari, School of Engineering
Dr Rajesh Tiwari, School of Engineering

Student Voice

Students have fedback some really positive comments about the videos: Continue reading “Star Case Study: Dr Rajesh Tiwari: Flipped Classroom Videos”

Star Case Study: Audio Feedback in the School of Modern Languages

Andrea Wilczynski has been providing  individual audio feedback to her Stage 2 students studying German.

Using audio feedback allows Andrea to give in depth feedback in a unique way and most importantly students seem to love it, with excellent engagement with the feedback, positive module evaluation results and even a TEA award nomination.

Photo of Andrea Wilczynski
Andrea Wilczynski, School of Modern Languages

If you are interested in finding out more you can read full details of the Case Study here.

Would you like to use audio feedback with your students? Continue reading “Star Case Study: Audio Feedback in the School of Modern Languages”

STAR CASE STUDY: Using Facebook to Facilitate International Debate

Dr Bronwen Jones uses Facebook to allow Newcastle University Law School students to debate legal issues with students at Helwan University in Eygpt.

The winning students from Helwan University in Eygpt.

The debate functions as part of Bronwen’s teaching on intellectual property law for undergraduate students.

The collaboration came about after Bronwen met with Professor Yasser Gadallah whilst at a series of workshops in Cairo. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when Dr  Shaimaa Lazem moved to Newcastle to begin working with Culture Lab.

Shaimaa set up a closed Facebook group which would bring together one group of student from each institution to discuss intellectual property law.

Bronwen said: ‘In part I wanted to do something to show that you could have international collaboration without winning a big grant or spending money.

‘But I also wanted to facilitate a cultural exchange. I wanted my students to think more critically about the ways in which intellectual property law can advantage or disadvantage people from certain countries or cultures.’

Each group was given one week to prepare material, write an argument and post it on Facebook.

This written response helped to ensure that the Eygptian students were not disadvantaged by conducting a verbal debate in English.

Bronwen said: ‘Some students who were initially worried about participating joined in later and it became more and more popular over the semester.

‘Some actually joined when the debate was over because the materials posted – videos, articles etc. were useful. And the page is still up and running now.’

Each argument was then evaluated by academic staff.

Shaimaa and Bronwen
Shaimaa and Bronwen

In fact, the debate has been a tremendous success with both groups of students. Helwan won the debate and Newcastle students attained higher marks in their assessments around this topic, informed in no small part, Bronwen is certain, by their experience of the debate.

Both groups enjoyed their experience and the teaching staff are currently in the process of analysing data from questionnaires they filled out about their experiences.

Bronwen has presented on the Helwan/Newcastle Facebook project in Cape Town in September 2015 and will present on the results of the questionnaire at the European Intellectual Property Teachers Network (EIPTN) meeting in Sophia, Bulgaria in July.

You can read more about how Bronwen did it and see more examples from across the University on the Case Studies database.

Do you have an example of great teaching from your school? Tell us about it!


STAR CASE STUDY – Saving Sim-Man

Are you struggling to offer active and experiential learning to large numbers of students?  SimMan could save the day.

SimMan is a high-fidelity patient simulator who can be programmed to display a wide range of physiological and pathophysiological signs and respond appropriately to treatment, be it physical, e.g. cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or therapeutic, e.g. administration of drugs.

But surely only a few students can make use of SimMan at a time?

Clare Guilding (Lecturer in the School of Medical Education) has developed an effective way of using SimMan along with interactive voting technology to provide an engaging learning experience for a lecture theatre full of students.

Clare explains, ‘To enable the entire class to engage in clinical decision-making, split-screen and interactive voting technologies are employed.’

One of the screens projects the physiological readouts from SimMan such as his blood pressure, ECG heart trace and oxygen saturation; the other screen is linked to a TurningPoint interactive quiz.

Each student is supplied with a TurningPoint handset and at a series of key clinical points throughout the scenario, the students are asked to vote individually and anonymously on the most appropriate course of action (e.g. initial patient management steps, which drug should be administered etc.).

The option with the most votes, (whether or not this was the correct) is applied to SimMan and the students then observe the physiological effects this has in real time.

Clare said: ’In the online end of unit evaluation 76% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that SimMan had enhanced their learning experience.’

It also enabled students to see how their lectures applied to clinical practice:

One commented that ‘the lecture using SimMan at the end was really good, especially using TurningPoint so that we could try to ‘treat’ SimMan. It kept the lecture clinically-focussed and enabled us to see how the information would come in useful in practice’.

To find out more about SimMan and read about medical students’ repeated attempts to save his life, read the full case study on the Case Study database.

Or if you have your own example of really effective teaching practice in your School do get in touch with ltds@ncl.ac.uk.


STAR CASE STUDY: Feedback Foghorn

Would you like your students to be able to see all of their feedback in one place?

Do you feel like you’re pouring useful advice and feedback into the void?

You need the feedback foghorn!

Lindsey Ferrie

Lindsey Ferrie in Biomedical Sciences has been piloting the scheme in Biomedical Sciences which allows students to use e-portfolio software to compile, track and store their feedback across their course.

The system allows them to track their academic progress across software such as Grademark, Turnitin and PeerWise in order to analyse areas of strength and weakness and to see clearly  their academic progress. Continue reading “STAR CASE STUDY: Feedback Foghorn”

Star Case Study – Mock Viva Video in Politics

Doing your viva in Politics has been revolutionised by a new mock viva video for Ph.D. students.



Politics PGR Director Professor Tony Zito and Kate Manzo (Geography) realised that students often were not attending or were not paying attention to more traditional approaches to preparing students for their viva, so he decided to show them exactly what to expect by making a video.

Tony said: ‘A lot of students were just not coming to the sessions I was running about vivas and what their viva would be like.

‘I think for those who were in first or second year of their Ph.D.s their viva seemed very far away and for those nearing the end of their project the viva had become something too scary to think about.

‘So we decided to make sure that there would be something online that they could always access, perhaps even in the middle of the night when they were worrying about an upcoming viva.’

Tony enlisted the help of politics student Russell Foster, himself preparing for an upcoming viva.

Russell agreed to be filmed during a mock viva with Tony and Kate taking the roles of internal and external examiners.

The mock viva was kept very formal, with Russell entering the room in a suit to greet his examiners, just like in the real thing.

‘It was great of Russell to agree to do that on camera because it’s a pretty scary thing but he was happy to help other students.

‘The video worked really well and will hopefully give other students an idea of what to expect as their viva looms.

‘You can see Russell go through the whole process so hopefully it will be helpful to them to see the whole thing so clearly laid out.’

The video was posted on Youtube, with Russell’s permission and is used frequently as a resource for students in GPS approaching the end of their Ph.D.s.

Tony said: ‘We’re not sure of the impact yet. We did this in October 2013 and Ph.D.s are a slow process so we’ve not had that many students through yet to notice any particular trends but we expect that it can only have a positive impact.’

Thinking of doing a similar thing in your school? Contact LTDS@ncl.ac.uk  for more information or for technical support.

For more examples of good practice in teaching and learning from across Newcastle have a look at the Case Studies Database.

STAR CASE STUDY: Using Industry Professionals in Law

Law School Lecture

Lecturers in the Law School are making use of industry professionals to teach students about ‘real-life’ as a legal professional.

The school makes use of professionals from local practices to assess first year’s interviewing techniques and invites Law Lords and senior judges to meet students in order to help them to establish contacts and feel comfortable in the formal and often cliquey legal world.

Jonathan Galloway, just one lecturer making use of professionals in both law and economics as part of his Competition Law module, thinks that regular contact with those working in the profession gives Newcastle students the edge.

Dr Jonathan Galloway of Newcastle Law School‘Not only is it great to hear from someone who can tell you in a more anecdotal sense how the theory you learn about during your degree works in real world situations, it also builds students’ confidence.

‘For many of them, the world of court, particularly places like the supreme court or Parliament can seem completely out of reach. Meeting a senior judge or law lord can help them to feel more comfortable and confident in applying for jobs or placements at these types of places later.

‘For some Newcastle students, they may never have met a barrister or a judge before. Having people who work at some of the most prestigious firms or in the top jobs deliver elements of their courses helps them to see that these sorts of professions are within reach for them and hopefully encourages them to aim high after they graduate.’

For Jonathan, this works both ways: ‘It also works the same way for the firms themselves. Although many of the most prestigious firms in London, they come into regular contact with students from London-based Law Schools, many may not meet many students from Newcastle.

‘Inviting them to speak means that they already have a sense of what Newcastle students are about and how much they could offer their firm as a graduate.’

The Law School makes use of professionals to assess interviewing techniques in the early stages of the degree and to deliver some lectures on modules such as Competition law and Human Rights law.

Although much of this takes place later in the course and Jonathan is keen to stress that students always already have a theoretical grounding in the area which professionals come to discuss, he thinks it is inherently valuable for the students:

‘We’ve had some really excellent people, not just lawyers but economists too to help the students get a more rounded sense of how wide-ranging legal studies is and how many different sectors the law touches upon.’

To read more about what Law is up to see the Case Study Database.

Or if you have an example of really effective teaching practice in your School do get in touch with Katherine.cooper@ncl.ac.uk.


School of Biology Gets National Recognition for Innovative Assessment Feedback

Do your students complain about the feedback they receive on assessments?

Are you interested in a more efficient marking process, which engages students and increases student satisfaction?

Alison Graham from the School of Biology, was a runner-up in this year’s Turnitin Global Innovation Awards because of her innovative use of GradeMark and Turnitin.

Alison integrates marking rubrics written specifically for each assessment into GradeMark and produces libraries of comments for that assignment.

She was a runner-up in the Student Engagement Category of the international competition.

These comments can be added directly to students’ work, noting how they can improve and providing more detail than possible on pro formas. Alongside these assessors can add free text comments specific to the individual student’s work.

School of Biology’s Alison Graham

Students like it because the can quickly see the areas which they need to improve on. Integrating the marking rubric into GradeMark gives the students a visual indication of where their work is at on each strand of the marking criteria, giving a useful level of detail to the single overall mark.

[The rubric] was the most useful aspect of the electronic feedback as this helped me to gauge which areas of the assignment I was lacking and therefore where I would need to focus my improvement for future work. It also helped me to understand why I had received the mark I had in relation to the marking criteria for each section and thus why my overall grade was within a certain grade boundary.Student feedback on the system

For staff the system, once in place, made marking quicker and more efficient. Online marking removes the logistics of lugging around paper copies of work, and the bank of library comments mean that common issues on the work can be quickly responded to with detailed, relevant and specific feedback.

Alison notes that “Markers are not restricted by the space in the margins and online marking removes any issues with students being unable to read handwriting”

Using GradeMark also leads to a greater consistency of marking on modules which are team-taught.

Alison has found that engaging students in the marking process, through timetabled sessions, helps them to understand the reasons for the marks they are getting. Modules using GradeMark consistently perform highly on the module feedback surveys, and on the National Student Survey there has been an increase in students agreeing that “The criteria used in marking have been clear in advance”.

This approach is now being used by a number of staff in the School of Biology and elsewhere, and online marking through GradeMark has clear potential to be used by staff in all departments across the university.

If you’re interested in finding out more about GradeMark and integrating it into your own teaching, we can help you. Get in touch with LTDS at ltds@ncl.ac.uk, you can see other examples of good practice using Grademark and Turnitin in our Case Studies database.