the art of the possible 2021

Following the success of The Art of The Possible in July 2019 which focussed on accessibility, you are invited to The Art of The Possible 2021 which focusses on blended learning, effective practice, ways to share, and opportunities to learn from each other. 

The Art of the Possible 2021 will:

  • Showcase the excellent practice developed across the University in blended and online learning over the past year by spotlighting case studies and interviews with colleagues across the University.
  • Inspire ideas for blended learning proposals for consideration by Faculties
  • Re-focus minds on the education strategy objective for Newcastle University to become recognised nationally as a leading university for the use of technology enhanced learning to support campus-based education

The second Art of the Possible week will take place the week commencing 5 July 2021. The week of online events will include presentations, workshops, case studies, and the launch of the Newcastle University Learning and Teaching Podcast. 

All delivered in a light, fun and adventurous way but with a clear link to the Education Strategy and the Graduate Framework. 

The week will begin with a presentation from Professor Helen O’Sullivan Chair of the Association for Learning Technology, Provost and DVC, Chester University, who will deliver a keynote session on the lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic. And what can we take from the pandemic into the future.

Find out more about each day below :

Monday 5th July

Keynote Session with Professor Helen O’Sullivan Chair Association for Learning Technology, Provost and DVC, Chester University 

Preparing students for their future, not our past: How the pandemic pushed us past the tipping point into education 4.0 

Time: 11am-12noon 

Colleagues and PGR students can register here

Students can register here

Designing online activities for university learning  (Part One) with Helen Beetham  Session fully booked

Time: 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Tuesday 6 July

Saving time and enriching your courses with Canvas Commons with Nuala Davis & Graeme Redshaw-Boxwell, LTDS 

Time: 4pm – 5pm

Colleagues and PGR students can register here

Wednesday 7 July

A Series of lightning talks and Q&A about virtual fieldwork and virtual labs  

This 90-minute session, hosted by  Dr Cees van der Land, will explore how virtual fieldwork and labs have been developed over the pandemic and what effective practice we can take moving forward. 

You’ll hear lightning talks from:

  • Dr Louise Callard, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology
  • Dr Cristina Navarro, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Dr Sara Marsham and Dr Heather Sugden, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Dr Alison Gregory, Faculty of Medical Sciences
  • Dr Graeme Wells, Biosciences Institute
  • Dr Jo Matthan, School of Dental Sciences

Time: 10am – 11:30am 

Colleagues and PGR students can register here

Launch of the Newcastle University Learning and Teaching Podcast 

Thursday 8 July

Saving time and enriching your courses with Canvas Commons (repeat of Tuesday’s workshop) with Nuala Davis & Graeme Redshaw-Boxwell, LTDS 

Time 11am – 12noon

Colleagues and PGR students can register here

Friday 9 July

Designing online activities for university learning  (Part Two) with Helen Beetham  Session Fully Booked 

Time 12:30pm – 1:30pm

You can register for any of the sessions above through our Elements page. Please note, if you sign up to Helen Beetham’s session, you will need to sign up to both parts.

Digital Residence

The blog post was written by Dr Lucy Hatt, Senior Lecturer in Leadership at Newcastle University Business School.

Have you ever wondered how many places you can be at once?  Before Covid19 lockdown homeworking, the most places we could manage to be at once was two.   Unless we happened to be a Time Lord, most of us could only be in one place physically, and perhaps another place mentally, at the same time. 

However, online learning requires us to inhabit a third space – the digital space.  As well as the incongruence and mental stress that’s created by being physically at home and mentally at work, we need to be present on-line in the digital space too.  And, in order for our students to engage fully in on-line learning, we need to support and encourage every student to establish a digital residence as well as a physical residence.

Dave White, Head of Digital Learning at the University of Arts, London, researches the phenomenon of digital residency and came up with a framework to describe and analyse people’s approach to online spaces.  In this framework, we can choose to be present professionally and personally online across a continuum that ranges from visitor to resident.

Digital residency quadrants

Take Gemma, a fictional student of a post-graduate executive education programme.  In her professional role as marketing manager, Gemma is a visitor of the digital space, seeing it as a collection of tools she can use to gather information useful to get a particular job done.   However, in her personal life, she has created a digital residence in the form of her Facebook and Twitter posts and in Zoom calls with her friends and family.  In her personal life, Gemma sees the web as a series of spaces or places where she chooses to be present with other people.

When we are in the digital space in “visitor mode”, we leave no deliberate social trace of ourselves.  We might be searching for information on Google, reading product reviews, watching videos, shopping, or “lurking” on social media reading the posts of other people.   When we are in the digital space “in resident mode” we are living out a portion of our lives online.  We leave a social trace, which remains when we go offline.  To be a digital resident requires a digital identity, which we create and develop by making social media posts, participating in discussion boards, making comments, giving reviews and feedback and responding quickly to direct messages.

In order for our students to engage fully in the learning experience, as educators we need to engage with them in all four quadrants of the framework.   In order to encourage digital visitors, our digital learning platforms need to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate, so our visitors can easily gather the information they need.   In the past, we have contented ourselves with students who are digital visitors, because we have been able to engage more fully with them when we have shared the physical space of the classroom. 

However, now Covid19 has restricted that possibility at least in the short to medium term, we need understand how to encourage and support our students to be digital residents too.  If our students only “visit” online learning spaces rather than residing in them, we are failing to engage them fully. Learning is likely to be more superficial and less transformational – and altogether less satisfactory.  We need to find ways to allow and encourage our learners to develop a digital identity in which they feel safe to integrate their “shoes-off” self and establish digital residency.

We can do this by such behaviours as acknowledging, sharing and relating to domestic intrusions, encouraging “off grid” student WhatsApp groups, having regular check-ins at the start and end of synchronous teaching sessions, using music and ambient sounds, integrating wellbeing activities, incorporating playful tasks and maintaining a sense of humour.  In order for professional learners to integrate their work identities, its important to design activities that require the integration of theory and practice, perhaps reflecting on how theory has informed practice encouraging students to identify opportunities to use practice to develop their theoretical understanding.

As with many of the ways that Covid19 has forced us to change our educational practices; being aware of the various ways our learners engage with the digital space will benefits that will last long after we get back into the classroom.  Recognising and valuing the “reality” of the digital space will enable us all to establish our own digital residence more consciously, and in doing so, we will encourage more learner engagement and become better educators.  

Read our Case Study to find out how we applied the Digital Residency Framework to the design and development of the online spaces for learners on the Executive Education Programmes.


Thanks to Dr Helen Webster, Head of the Writing Development Centre, Newcastle University, whose presentation in the HaSS Education Community Room, introduced us to the work of Dave White on Digital Residence, and to Rosalind Beaumont and Dr Tracy Scurry who lead the HaSS Education Community Room.

New Digital Learning Website

Student working on laptop

We are excited to announce the launch of a new Digital Learning website

This new site brings together the digital learning activities taking place across the University, providing you with information, step by step guides and ideas to help you to get the most out of digital technologies for learning, teaching and assessment.  

Visit the site to find out about: 

Canvas– the University’s exciting new Virtual Learning Environment replacing Blackboard from 1st August 2020. Staff and students can find project updates, information about the support available, answers to FAQs and upcoming events. 

TEL Services, lots of information about our centrally supported technologies and systems, digital exams and access to TEL guides providing you with step by step instructions. 

Blended Learning, if you want to explore online educational materials and collaborative learning opportunities with traditional face-to-face delivery, visit these pages for inspiration and support. 

We will be continuing to update the site with resources so please let us know if there is anything else you would like to see that can support you in your role. Get in touch at

Transforming Assessment Webinars

Dr Mathew Hillier, Monash Education Academy, Monash University, Australia and Professor Geoffrey Crisp, PVC-Education, University of New South Wales, Australia will be hosting a series of webinars over the coming months focusing on transforming assessment with  topics such as digital literacy, written and audio feedback and blended simulation-based learning. Take a look at the further details below. Continue reading “Transforming Assessment Webinars”