Innovation and getting your EdTech ducks in a row #LTHEchat

Fiona Harvey. Digital Scholarship & Content Innovation manager at the University of Southampton and President of ALT.

This week we are talking innovation with the President of the Association of Learning Technology (ALT) and Digital Scholarship & Content Innovation manager at the University of Southampton, Fiona Harvey! @fionajharvey

Over to Fiona to get a flavour of the topic on Wednesday 22nd March.

Innovation is an overused term that means a lot of different things to many people with little innovative practice harnessed within higher education.

When we talk about ‘innovation’, some involved in learning technology will argue that they are innovative but are they? Is looking after IT systems or supporting the implementation of a VLE innovative?

What would be useful is a definition, and from that, we can start to determine what is innovation and what is ‘business as usual’.

In my search for definitions of Innovation in higher education, I came across a remarkably useful document from Educause. I encourage you to read it because it not only provides an explanation of their definition, but it also provides a toolkit for determining the level of innovation within your institution. They explain that for any institution to become innovative, there needs to be “a shared definition of what innovation means within the context of its work”. They also refer to the culture of an institution, and that is important, culture clashes are one of the main barriers to stifle innovation.

Factors for innovation

1) Learning spaces

This is not new, in 2006, Diana Oblinger (then director of Educause) published Space as a Change Agent In 2007, Learning Spaces formed part of the Learning and Teaching conference at Oxford Brookes; JISC produced the Designing and Evaluating Learning Spaces and of course, incubator ‘hubs’ like the Disruptive Media Learning Lab in Coventry, with their ethos of being a ‘safe space to fail’ enabling students and staff to explore and engage in real learning using technology.

2) Curriculum design and development

The development of digital literacies skills and capabilities as well as the effective use of educational technology to support collaborative, proactive learning. UCL have their ‘Connected Curriculum’ bringing research into education. The Open University have an Innovation Unit, actively exploring new ideas and technologies and in FE, some colleges have solo innovators to enhance the curriculum.

3) Supportive networks

Through Networked Learning, Communities of Practice and Communities of inquiry. MOOCs could be classed as a missed opportunity here. Open access fits here, as a tool to enable, share and support these communities.

4) Institutional support

Across these areas of ‘innovation’, creativity and risk-taking prevail. Without the backing of an institution the risk is personal, but with support, strategic direction and resourcing innovation can happen.

Regarding the UK government’s perspective, funding bodies resist ‘innovation’ as a risk and within TEF innovation is absent. On the other hand, agencies like the HEA, QAA, JISC and ALT actively support and encourage exploring and reflecting on working together to develop and share innovative practices. It is an exciting time, as arguably, the EdTech ducks are in a row, educational and network technologies have reached a point where they are more accessible (faster and cheaper) than ever before.

To join the LTHEchat, follow the #LTHEchat hashtag on Wednesday between 8-9pm. Join in the conversation or just listen in. Everybody welcome.



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#LTHEchat 79: Do our Referencing Standards and Expectations measure up?

This weeks chat is kindly hosted by Yaz El Hakim

Yaz El Hakim is the Education Strategy and Communications Director at, Co-Chair of  and Honorary Learning and Teaching Fellow at the University of Winchester.

Having been Director of Learning and Teaching and Student Engagement at the University of Winchester previously, his interests are in: Student Engagement, Assessment and Feedback, EdTech, Educational Development and HE Policy.

He co-led the project and is on the Advisory Board for the REACT project ( .


There are many places in our daily lives where standards and shared understandings create some organisation in our chaos. From speeding limits on roads to not stealing. Wherever we go there are rules, laws and some widely understood standards that can be expected of citizens. This is true within Higher Education too!

I have been fascinated by several standards within the sector, but one has perplexed me for some time – ‘institutional referencing styles’ and the associated bespoke standards they create. Why do institutions, subjects or academic staff within departments attempt to force students into such a unique way of referencing? Why do we feel the need to have the University of Poppleton Harvard Referencing Style?

My previous employer, RefME, identified thousands of varying styles within the platform, which we saw as a point for reflection. The thousands of styles, were largely based on approximately 12 popular styles, 12 styles that evolve into new editions (e.g. Harvard Cite Them Right 10th Edition most recently). The list below demonstrates the number of occurrences pertaining to some of the core style which the Citation Style Language is based on:

  • 808 Harvard styles (or styles based off Harvard styles)
  • 97 MLA styles
  • 807 APA styles (or styles based off APA styles)
  • 414 Chicago styles (including most but not all Turabian styles)
  • 1307 Vancouver styles (or styles based off Vancouver styles)
  • 18 MHRA styles
  • 221 IEEE styles
  • 118 Nature styles
  • 18 OSCOLA styles
  • 245 AMA styles
  • 9 APSA styles
  • 18 ASA styles
  • 7 Bluebook styles

A standard can be defined as ‘a required or agreed level of quality or attainment’ or ‘something used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations’ Oxford Dictionary (2016). Both of which point to one of the key benefits of a standard where one can rely on the standard being fixed and can achieve the desired outcome by following the model or norm. However, when the standard is not adhered to by lecturers, markers or tutors, the resultant feelings can be confusion, frustration, irritation and anxiety.

Analysis of the Most Used Harvard Styles

We compared Harvard Cite Them Right 9th Edition to 9 other institutional Harvard styles to see how identical the styles were. Every character that is either different or in the wrong place (including spaces and punctuation) registers as a mistake. The system subsequently calculates the number of incorrect characters as a percentage of total characters, e.g. if a reference was exactly 100 characters long and 4 were wrong and 6 were in the wrong place it would give a 10% error.


  • Harvard – Cite Them Right 9th Edition           %
  • University A Harvard                                          14.02%
  • University B Harvard                                          25.67%
  • University C Harvard                                           19.77%
  • University D Harvard                                           26.91%
  • University E Harvard                                           17.03%
  • University F Harvard                                           30.32%
  • University G Harvard                                          16.11%
  • University H Harvard                                          8.31%
  • University I Harvard                                           38.43%

On average the different institutional styles had 21.84% errors from the core Harvard 9th Edition Style. However, it cannot be omitted that one style at the most extreme resulted in 38% errors against the core Harvard 9th Citation Style. This is controversial due to the size of difference, but why are any institutional styles different? Is non-standard practice helpful to students when referencing, I suspect not!

Conclusion: A Natural Evolution back to a single Standard … or even 12.

It seems important that a shift to global standards of popular citation styles would remove bureaucracy from the system and allow interoperability, whilst adhering to the highest possible standard. Such a shift would mean that memorisation of how to accurately reference a blog in APA would not be the most important aspect of referencing that a student (or staff member) should be focusing on. The skill authors, staff and students, could benefit from focusing on, is the quality of the source, the depth and width of wider reading needed to generate informed views/positions and a clearer understanding of information literacy. All of which are currently masked by an anxious focus on where the dots and comma’s go.

You can find the Storify here.


Oxford Dictionaries | English. (2017). standard – definition of standard in English | Oxford Dictionaries. [online] Available at: [Accessed 13 Mar. 2017].

I wish to acknowledge Jamie MacPherson and Jana Hanson, two very clever colleagues who helped me create this data set that we felt adequately provoked this reflection.

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#LTHEchat 78: Personal Pedagogies


This week’s chat is kindly hosted by Prof Norman Jackson (@lifewider1).

Norman Jackson is Emeritus Professor at the University of Surrey and is founder of the ‘Lifewide Education’ (@lifewider) and ‘Creative Academic’ (@academiccreator) learning networks and resources hubs. He is currently developing the idea of learning ecologies.

The idea of personal pedagogies and how they form and evolve is emerging from a project being facilitated by ‘Creative Academic’ to explore how teachers create ecologies which enable students to learn, and use and develop their creativity. This LTHEchat is concerned with understanding participants’ perceptions of pedagogy, how they embody the idea of personal pedagogy and the influences on its formation.

You can find out more and contribute to the ‘Creative Pedagogies for Creative Learning Ecologies’ project through this link and Creative Academic Magazine (CAM7)

Please see the Storify here.


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#LTHEchat 77: Using e-portfolios for PDP, Assessment and Beyond…

This weeks chat is kindly hosted by Dr Marjorie Wilson (@DrMarjWilson).

marjorieDr Marjorie Wilson is a Senior Lecturer in Human Physiology, and University Teaching Fellow at Teesside University in the School of Health and Social Care. Some of her learning and teaching work has looked at using web-based approaches to deliver pre-induction materials and support transition for students into year 1. More recently she has reviewed the current e-portfolio provision in the School of Health and Social Care.

By definition “An e-portfolio is the product, created by the learner, a collection of digital artefacts articulating experiences, achievements and learning.” (JISC, 2008).

In response to the changing face of the world of work, there is an increasing emphasis on developing the digital capability of our students. This is in order to improve their employability and skills for a future digital working life. E-portfolios can provide a repository for collation of personal development planning, assessments, practice competency sets, to give some examples. They can also provide a means of electronic communication between students, academic staff and staff in professional practice responsible for mentoring or assessment in the workplace setting. This does not come without challenges, and the literature suggests handling the process with care.
This LTHEchat is interested in the gathering and sharing of experiences the implementation, execution and use of e-portfolios. Perspectives and experiences from staff, students and external users are all welcome. In particular, how good, bad or ugly the process has been for users.

Join us Wednesday 1st March 2017 8p.m. – 9 p.m. #LTHEchat

The Storify will follow after the chat.

JISC (2008) Effective Practice with e-Portfolios: Supporting 21st Century learning.

JISC (2012) Crossing the Threshold. Moving e-portfolios into the mainstream
Peyrefitte M & Nurse A (2016) e-portfolios: evaluating and auditing student employability and engagement. York, Higher Education Academy.

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Joint tweetchat on Wednesday 22nd February 2017 – Can Curriculum Development be Guided by Product Design

Joint Tweetchat on Weds, 22nd February  8pm – 9pm (UK time).

This week’s joint chat with the HEA is hosted by Dr Kate Cuthbert & Dr Helen May

In their blog post – Can Curriculum Development be Guided by Product Design Kate and Helen focus their on curriculum development and the design process that sits behind this. They discuss how curricula is developed and ‘imagined’, how the design principles are assumed when developing curricula and hope that you are able to join the chat and share your own curriculum design practices.

Prior to the chat there has been activity on twitter to capture some principles from others – #Designcurr

We hope you will join us in the joint #HEA and #LTHEchat on Wednesday between 8pm – 9pm. It’s a collaborative effort on the last Wednesday of the month!

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#LTHEchat 76 – Virtual Reality with Ethan Leung


Ethan Leung, Information Technology and Business Management student at University College London.

This week’s tweet chat is kindly hosted by Ethan Leung, Information Technology and Business Management student at University College London.

Ethan is from Hong Kong and has a deep passion for learning technologies, spending the previous summer developing strategies for companies to use virtual reality to boost profits and enhance customer experience.

Ethan’s specific areas of interest include virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. He is currently working on his dissertation, which is focused on assessing the potential of adopting virtual reality in university curricula.

Topic: Virtual Reality in higher ed?


“Fiat 500X” flickr photo by Janitors shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license.

Virtual reality is a major technological advance, unlike any technology the world has seen before.

The computer-generated simulation of a 3D environment enables users to feel as if they are in a completely different setting than the one they are currently in. Based on the description of virtual reality alone, one can perceive its vast potential.

However, the current development of technologies and software that enable virtual reality is heavily focused on the entertainment sector.

What if virtual reality is applied to an area that is in pressing need of reform?

What if it is applied to higher education?

Studies have shown that lectures are an ineffective way to educate students, where the goal is information transfer rather than developing higher order thinking skills.

Incorporating virtual reality into university curricula can be a revolutionary change that can transform higher education and bring tremendous benefits to educators and students. This is what this TweetChat aims to discuss.

Please see the Storify here.

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#LTHEchat 75: Managing the Sophomore Slump, OR, how to Motivate Second Year Students as the Middle Child of the Higher Education Experience?

This weeks chat is kindly hosted by Dr Kerry Gough & Luke Millard



Dr Kerry Gough (@drkerrygough) is a Learning and Teaching Consultant at Nottingham Trent University. Having spent some time focusing upon the development of student transition programmes, this interest has recently shifted to consider the motivation of second year students in the continuation of their studies and the responsibility of higher education for supporting that .





Luke Millard (@millluca) is Head of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Birmingham City University. His investment in the second year experience is informed by a desire to enhance students’ employability skills in support of BCU’s Graduate+ programme.





What is this week about?

In the last decade, student engagement has become synonymous with innovation and re-design of the Higher Education learning experience, with much attention being paid to the transition, retention and progression of first students (and, of course, the associated financial implications for both the individual and the institution!) (Stuart Hunter et. al., 2010).

But, what happens when our students successfully transition and progress into their second year of study?

Many students report feelings of alienation and isolation as the social integration activities drop off, the expectations of their growing academic capability increases and the looming pressures of career choice exposure foretell the coming closure of the excitement of their higher education lifestyle. Termed the ‘second year blues’ in the UK and the ‘sophomore slump’ in the US, Yorke (2015) highlights how ‘the lack of focus, the drift, the seductiveness of socialising, the difficulties with relationships and a limited commitment to second-year work’ are characteristic of this period in a students’ higher education experience.

In effect, our second year students have become the middle child of the Higher Education experience. The honeymoon is over and now it’s time to study!

In our #LTHEchat, we are interested in exploring the research experiences and expertise of colleagues who are invested in supporting and reinforcing the second year student experience in higher education. This is an area that is achieving some critical attention in the US, as supported through the work of the National Resource Center for First Year Experience and Students in Transition, while many UK institutions are looking to extend the engagement work conducted around the first year experience, and to adopt the resource and support developed in support of the second year student experience. These developments include approaches to academic advising, development of career pathways, curriculum development, inter-disciplinary and inter-faculty projects, undergraduate research, study abroad programmes, opportunities to participate in undergraduate research and extended residential engagement.


Come and help us to develop the second year student experience by engaging

in the conversation on Wednesday, 8th February 2017 8-9pm (UK time) at: #lthechat



Stuart Hunter, Mary, et. al. 2010. Helping Sophomores Succeed: Understanding and Improving the Student Experience. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Yorke, Mantz, 2015. Why Study the Second Year? In: Milsom, Claire, Martyn Stewart, Mantz Yorke & Elena Zaitseva (Eds.) Stepping Up To The Second Year at University: Academic, Psychological and Social Dimensions. London: Routledge.


The storify is available here.

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#LTHEchat 74 What do you see? Using visual media to communicate our teaching and research

This week’s Tweetchat is kindly hosted by Alex Spiers and Tünde Varga-Atkins.



Alex Spiers                             

Alex is a Learning Technology Developer in the eLearning Unit at the University of Liverpool with over 12 years experience working in the learning technology field. He is the coordinator of the ALT North West England SIG which is a network that brings together learning  technologists with the aim of supporting the informed use of learning technologies in the region. He is also a member of MELSIG (Media Enhanced Learning SIG) organising group having presented and supported a range of events since 2008. His areas of interest include the use of social media to support authentic learning and develop digital literacies. He is also passionate about the use of personalised mobile devices to support learning and has co-facilitated the Bring Your Own Devices for Learning open online course for the past two years. He studied History of Art at the University of Glasgow and is a regular contributor to the music and art scene in Liverpool.



Tünde Varga-Atkin

Tünde is a Learning Technology Developer and researcher at the eLearning Unit, University of Liverpool, developing a specialism in TEL (technology-enhanced learning) research and evaluation. She co-facilitates TEL Research @Liverpool which is aimed at building capacity around TEL research within the institution and also co-convenes a regional research group, ELESIG NW with colleagues from Manchester and LJMU. Her specific areas of interest include learner experiences of e-learning and the development of digital literacies. Her interest in visual research methods all feature in her research and evaluation work. She is currently studying on Lancaster University’s E-research and Technology-Enhanced Learning PhD programme, and embarking on a thesis that would like to focus on exploring the use of visualisation of TEL research activity to benefit organisational learning.

Tweetchat (Weds, 1st February)

What do you see? Using visual media to communicate our teaching and research

Taking up the baton ofseeing’  from last week’s #LTHEchat on park running and teaching on “Excellence…I know it when I see it”, we will share ideas this week on using visual media to communicate our teaching and scholarship.

You know this quote is coming: yes, a “picture paints a 1000 words”! Why is this the case?


What do we mean by visual media? There are certain ways of thinking about visuals: they can be ‘found’ or created images – although nowadays this binary has become quite blurred.  Banks (2001) distinguishes a verbal-visual spectrum, placing words and text on one end and images (photos, drawings) at the other end. Diagrams, for instance, are somewhere in-between, contain both textual and visual information. We have lots of sub-genres of visuals like maps, mind-maps, concept-maps. Then we have static and moving images!

Certain disciplines have special relationships with visuals. Art historians, archaeologists will be immersed in visual imagery of paintings, photos, drawings, sketches – visual representations of artefacts. Engineers and designers will be conversant with diagrams, 2D and 3D representations of spaces and objects. English and other writers will be fond of typography. Marketing and social media experts will be apt observers of how visual communication channels and artefacts work in different cultural contexts. What about when it comes to our teaching practice? Do we have the same relationship to visual communication as we do in our respective disciplines? Are we making best use of this mode of communication for meaning-making and learning (and helping others to learn)?

How? What works? What doesn’t? Have you got any practical tips for tools to use that help you creating – or finding – visual artefacts?  

Are pictures ‘just’ for illustration? (Madeleine Hallewell and Natasa Lackovic conducted a really interesting piece of research into the use of images within powerpoint slides in psychology lectures) Do you use them for learning and meaning-making? There is a whole body of literature on multimodality in social semiotics (Kress, Jewitt). This is concerned with different (hence multi) resources, or modes, that can be used for meaning-making. Examples modes are:

  • Written text

  • Spoken word

  • Audio

  • Visuals

  • Kinetics e.g. TOUCH etc.


What they argue, or interested in, is how the different modes can interact to create or enhance meaning, or when traversing between different modes, how different insights can be created during such a conversion process. You have all probably experienced how putting together a presentation slide or a poster of an academic article helped crystallise salient points – due to the fact that content or findings had to be converted and communicated in a visual form.


In preparation for this week’s #LTHEchat, we would love you to reflect on what visuals you work with, and how you use them in your teaching. We hope to share ideas, experiences or learning tasks in which you ask students to draw on the visual mode to help access, communicate their learning or leading them to insights in different (visual) ways.

See you soon!

Alex and Tunde

The Storify for #LTHEchat 74 can be found here.



Banks, Marcus. 2001. Visual methods in social research. London: Sage.

Hallewell, Madeline Jennifer (2013) Creatively re-mediating the integration of visual resources with spoken expositions during slideshows in undergraduate psychology lectures. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

Lackovic, Natasa. 2010. Creating and reading images: towards a communication framework for Higher Education learning. – International journal of media, technology and lifelong learning Vol. 6 – Issue 1 – 2010


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The challenge of defining excellence – I know what it is when I see it


Dr Kay Hack

Joint Tweetchat on Weds, 25th January 8pm – 9pm. 

This week’s joint chat with the HEA is hosted by Dr Kay Hack, Academic Lead for STEM with the Higher Education Academy – and regular parkrunner.

In her blog post, The challenge of defining excellence – I know what it is when I see it, Kay considers what excellence looks like within the parkrun community, and asks whether there are  lessons to be learnt for the TEF.

She hopes this will spark some  lively debate about what excellence is, and what it can look like in different disciplines. Hopefully this will help us all to develop a clearer picture of teaching excellence and how it can be evidenced.

Join both HEAchat and LTHEchat on Wednesday between 8pm – 9pm. It’s a joint effort on the last Wednesday of the month!


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#LTHEchat 73 Change, leadership and pedagogic research

A photograph of Dr Hala Mansour

Dr Hala Mansour @HalaMansour the winner of #LTHLEchat Golden Tweeter Award Senior Lecturer in HRM/OB.

This week’s Tweetchat is kindly hosted by Dr Hala Mansour, Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at the University of Northampton.

Hala received her PhD in Management 2012 from Keele University and MA in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 2013 from Keele University, UK. From 1995, Hala has held, also, research and teaching commitments in different universities.

Her research focuses on Organisational Effectiveness, Organisational Culture, Organisational Change, Human Resource Management. She is also interested in publishing from her teaching practices in Assessment and Feedback in Higher Education. Dr Mansour won the prestigious Keele University Excellence Award in Teaching and Learning (2014).

Tweetchat (Weds, 18th Jan)

Change, leadership and pedagogic research.

This chat aims to develop a conversation around the impact of changes and leadership in HE on pedagogic research and practice.

Although profound changes redefining the role, mission and value of universities are sweeping through the HE sector, current conceptualizations of leadership and change management lean towards New Public Management’s high-level objectives and efficiency (Mansour, et al, 2015).

Alternative models, such as Whitchurch’s (2013) concept of ‘third space’, the strategic management of intellectual capital, primarily human resources (Devecchi and Petford, 2015), and notions of shared or even absent leadership (Laloux, 2015; Robertson, 2015) provide new ways to analyse how different stakeholders can create new and mutually effective ways of working together.


A team from The University of Northampton @UniNorthants and Keele University @KeeleUniversity is working in a project funded by the Leadership Foundation in Higher Education @LFHE about Change and Leadership in Higher Education @LCTinHE.

Through a mixed method approach, this project develops an understanding of the dynamics of leadership practices and strategies, and how these impact on academics, professional services, managers, and formal leaders’ ability to cope with change.


Dr Cristina Devecchi, Associate Professor in the Centre for Education and Research, Faculty of Education and Humanities.

Dr Cristina Devecchi @dmc_devecchi is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Education and Research, Faculty of Education and Humanities, at The University of Northampton where she is responsible for the PhD programme in Education.

She has carried out national and international research on various aspects and stages of education from the inclusion of children with disabilities to transition of young people with disabilities from secondary to further and higher education.

Her main interest is in how educational settings manage and foster collaboration between different members of staff. She was winner of the Outstanding Author Contribution Award at the Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2011) [Devecchi, M. C. and Nevin, A. (2010) Leadership for inclusive schools and inclusive school leadership. In. A. Normore (Ed.) Global Perspectives on Educational Leadership Reform: The Development and Preparation of Leaders of Learning and Learners of Leadership Advances in Educational Administration, Volume 11, 211–241]

LinkedIn profile Researchgate profile University profile 

Photo of Dr Jackie Potter

Dr Jackie Potter, Head of Learning and Professional Development at Keele University.

Dr Jackie Potter @Jac_Potter is the Head of Learning and Professional Development at Keele University.

A Fellow of the Staff and Educational Development Association since 2008, and more recently a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, she leads teams of professional services staff that deliver educational development, learning technology support,  researcher development, staff development and some organisational development for the University.

She maintains a research profile with her most recent activity focused on the scholarship of teaching and learning .

LinkedIn profile Academia profile  Researchgate profile


Nick Allen, Executive Officer in the Office of the Vice Chancellor at the University of Northampton.

Nick Allen @NAllen1976 is Executive Officer in the Office of the Vice Chancellor at the University of Northampton.

In this role, Nick works with the Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer to support, among other activities, strategic planning and risk management processes.

Nick has previously worked at The Open University and Sheffield Hallam University and is currently one of two Joint Midlands Regional Co-ordinators for the AUA.  His research interests relate to governance in higher education and the relationship between academic and professional services staff.

The Storify is available here

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