#LTHEchat 83: Enhancing First Year Experiences

Join us, Diane Nutt, Ed Foster, and William Carey on the 10th of May at 8pm to discuss ‘Enhancing First Year Experiences’. 

This Twitter chat focuses on some of the ways we might support first year students with their transitions into and through the first year of higher education.

We recognise that there are probably as many first year experiences as there are first years, but we also consider that a successful transition into HE is sometimes challenging and offers all students an accumulation of ‘firsts’, even if these may vary, for example:

first lecture;

first HE assignment;

first time away from home;

first time using a VLE;

first time calling a teacher by their first name;

first seminar;

first independent study time-management challenge;

first encounter with discipline language;

first time finding your way around buildings with no logical room numbering;

first time living on your own in a new town (or country);

first time being taught everything in English;

first time managing a split site learning experience;

first time studying full-time alongside taking care of a family;

first time reading academic articles;

first time writing a lab report;

first time you have ever heard the term semester, or even trimester

Add to this accumulation of first experiences having to learn a new subject from new teachers, with new fellow students and it can all be just too much. Even students who are not tempted to leave may find it difficult to do their best.

How can we help? Most universities provide a range of additional support (welcome week, student services, drop-in library help desks, etc) to help those new to university life, but do we also help in the way we teach and support learning? Is the curriculum designed to support the transition effectively? Are we providing tools and approaches which enable new students to connect with their subject and their new learning journey. Is there more we could do?

This session follows the traditional #LTHEchat pattern of 6 slowly released questions and an open free flowing Twitter discussion. To give you more characters to work with, we suggest using the acronym FYE for First Year Experience/s in your tweets.

The Storify for the chat is available here.

Your team for this week’s chat (in alphabetical order):


William Carey has recently moved to University of Manchester Students’ Union as the Head of Education and Advocacy. Prior to this he was a Teaching and Learning Manager/Advisor for Student Engagement at The University of Manchester – it took a long time to move just over the road! He has taken into his new role a passion for student engagement and peer education, and is learning more about how these areas can inform/be informed by his new role, which also includes campaigning, advice service and democracy. He has supported a number of pilots in student/staff partnerships, most recently with the REACT project and a joint HEFCE/TSEP project incorporating Student Voice into the new APR. As an original member of the European First Year Experience Network (EFYEN) and host of the 2011 conference in Manchester, the first year experience has been an energising thread throughout his career. He is hoping the upcoming Twitter chat will add more fuel to the fire for him and others to continue to build a great first year for all!

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Ed Foster is the Student Engagement Manager at Nottingham Trent University (NTU). He currently leads an Erasmus+ funded research project to investigate strategies for supporting student transition into the first year with KU Leuven and Universiteit Leiden. He is responsible for delivering the NTU Student Dashboard learning analytics resource. Ed is an active member of the European First Year Experience Network and he and his team hosted the conference in 2014. He previously led one of the original “What Works? Student Retention and Success” projects investigating those factors that caused first year students to consider dropping out and those factors that helped them to stay. He previously organised and delivered NTU’s Welcome Week programme for nine years and was responsible for study support at the University. He is also a volunteer cub scout leader on Wednesday evenings. If he goes quiet during the L&Tchat, he’s probably helping some cubs tie a sheet bend.


Diane Nutt is an Independent HE Consultant, which sounds much more pompous than it actually is. She works with institutions and individuals on a variety of issues relating to teaching in universities and to supporting student learning throughout the student journey. She has a particular interest in how you develop staff who teach in HE, and how you help academics teaching students in transition. She is currently working on a SEDA small grant funded project exploring those issues. Before she started out on this exciting independent life she worked at Teesside University, where she set up a Student Retention Team and led a first year and students in transition strategy. She has researched and written about First Year Experience and student transitions. She also set up the European First Year Experience Network and Annual Conference, which has now been running for 11 years. She hopes to see some of you in Birmingham in June this year for that event! She is also on the International Advisory Board for the USA National Resource Center for First Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Finally, it would be wonderful if we could hear the student voice loud and clear this week. Do you have any students who would like to join in the chat? Please let them know about it and how to join in. Would your students be able to send you a short talking head talking about any thoughts, issues, or reflections from their first year experience (30 seconds to 1 minute)? If you have any student video or audio to share, please get in touch and we will tell you where to send them! You can also share a link on Twitter on the day.

Many thanks,

Diane, Ed, Will, Santanu, and Becci

Some links relating to FYE that might be of interest:

European First Year Experience Conference forthcoming in 2017 (Birmingham June 28th-30th) http://www.efye2017.co.uk/

Conference proceedings and some presentations from the EFYE 2014 conference https://www4.ntu.ac.uk/apps/events/9/home.aspx/event/151843/multimedia

Join the EFYEN (European First Year Experience Network) JISC mail list for discussions about all things first year experience EFYEN@jiscmail.ac.uk

USA National Resource Center for First Year Experience and Students in Transition website

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#LTHEchat 82: Evidencing practice for TEL

We are back after our Easter break! This coming Wednesday, 3rd May, we have Sue Watling and Patrick Lynch. Over to them…

Patrick and I have been invited to experiment with the #lthechat format. Hence this link to a google doc for anyone wanting to break free of the 140 character tweet limit.

We’re also flipping. Some (not all!) of the questions are already available on the google doc (above).

We are asking:

  • Is there evidence technology can make a positive difference to learning and teaching?
  • If so, where it is?
  • If not, does it matter?

For evidence read data. We (in particular Patrick) are interested in data of all shapes and sizes.  By the end of Wednesday evening’s chat we aim to have:

  • surfaced the role of data in TEL,
  • uncovered evidence of what has already worked
  • highlighted places where TEL is making a difference to what students do (for better worse!)

Alternatively, we might simply raise more questions than answers.
The chat has a TEL focus but if you feel inspired to contribute anything around evidence based practice in face-to-face environments (e.g. I could have used technology but didn’t) please feel free to do so.

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

The storify will follow shortly after the chat.

Sue is a Teaching Enhancement Advisor at the University of Hull and previously Senior Lecturer in Education Development at the University of Lincoln. With a background in technology enhanced learning, Sue supports staff and students with the shift from face-to-face to virtual environments (learning design, developing digital capabilities, accessibility etc) while her PhD research explores how staff conceptualise learning and teaching in a digital age. Sue is co-author of Social Work in a Digital Society https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/social-work-in-a-digital-society/book238687 and maintains the Digital Academic blog https://digitalacademicblog.wordpress.com/


Patrick is currently a Teaching Enhancement Advisor at the University of Hull. Patrick has spent (too many) years working with learning technologies in a role supporting staff in their development of learning and teaching, sometimes with the use of technology. Patrick is the community coordinator for the international Apereo Open Source Foundation Learning Analytics Initiative and has recently been working with US company Unicon Inc. supporting the Jisc Effective Learning Analytics Project. Patrick is a proponent of combining Learning Analytics and Learning Design.

Patrick Lynch

1b503731f5fa1b98f40d0dd868660d9d_13Please remember to claim your #LTHEchat guest badge from here by submitting the related post to this specific chat. We will also remind you through the weekly blog posts.

The storify of the chat is available here

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The #LTHEchat is having a break. We will be back on the 3rd of May!

Hello #LTHEchatters,

As this term has come to an end, the team taking over the baton, would like to wish you all a wonderful break and thank you our outgoing #LTHEchat organising team Haleh, Sally, Will and Neil who was their mentor, as well as all our wonderful guests, Simon our loyal doodler and all of you who engaged so passionately in the weekly exchanges around learning and teaching.


Spring means new beginnings! Image source

We will be switching off the chat for just a few week but will return with fresh energy and ideas on the 3rd of May.

The week before, please remember the next joint #HEAchat and #LTHEchat is on the 26th of April.

Ok, so we are the new #LTHEchat, Becci and Santanu. Together we are going to lead the #LTHEchat activities until the end of June and our plan is to shake things up a little bit.

1b503731f5fa1b98f40d0dd868660d9d_13Please remember to claim your #LTHEchat guest badge from here by submitting the related post to this specific chat. We will also remind you through the weekly blog posts.

Be prepared to be surprised and willing to immerse yourself in a range of tweetchat formats this coming term. We will also welcome ideas and wishes from our guests to encourage further experimentation, learning and development that will keep us all stimulated.

You will also have the opportunity to vote to whom the Golden Tweeter Award should go next 😉

We are very excited and can’t wait to see you in May!

Becci and Santanu
Your brand new #LTHEchat organising team.

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#LTHEchat 81: Towards Hybrid Learning Spaces

andrewmidAndrew Middleton (@andrewmid) is Head of Academic Practice and Learning Innovation at Sheffield Hallam University. He leads the Media-Enhanced Learning SIG. In both capacities, innovative thinking about the importance of space to learning and their effect on student belonging has driven his research and practice.

In this tweetchat we will consider learning and space and how they relate to each other, especially as we think about the future of learning in higher education.

Developing thinking about teaching and learning in higher education by focussing on learning spaces reveals why academic innovation can be so difficult when trying to address priorities as single issues. Consideration of learning spaces necessitates a holistic and experiential view of the world and immediately challenges convenient beliefs, silo thinking, or assumptions that innovation is individual and ‘ownable’. Innovation is an output of networked co-production.

At every turn, conceptualising spaces for learning brings you up against artificial binaries and borders where your own thinking rubs up against that of people with different interests, roles and drivers. Framing innovation in the context of learning spaces demands that we work with others. Learning spaces affect and are affected by educational developers, learning technologists, academics, students, estates manager, caterers, senior managers, AV managers, information specialists, disabled student support teams… well everyone.

This interdependency is increasing as we remember that the richest learning experiences, as with the richest uncertain conceptualisations of knowledge, happen on the borders and across boundaries. For example, what used to be conceived as the binary of formal or informal spaces is an organisational construct; not a cognitive construct. Similarly, the binary of physical-digital is widely understood as having little value in the age of permeable and persistent digital-social media. The learning experience today does not recognise these inherited demarcations. Instead, I argue, we conceive of learning space as being hybrid and experiential

The storify will follow shortly after the chat.

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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 www.Kortext.com, Co-Chair of www.SEDA.ac.uk  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 www.TESTA.ac.uk project and is on the Advisory Board for the REACT project (www.studentengagement.ac.uk) .


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: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/standard [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’ http://www.lifewideeducation.uk/ (@lifewider) and ‘Creative Academic’ http://www.creativeacademic.uk/ (@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 http://www.creativeacademic.uk/creative-pedagogies.html and Creative Academic Magazine (CAM7)  http://www.creativeacademic.uk/magazine.html

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. https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20140615090512/http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/publications/effectivepracticeeportfolios.pdf

JISC (2012) Crossing the Threshold. Moving e-portfolios into the mainstream https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20140616000328/http://www.jisc.ac.uk/publications/programmerelated/2012/~/media/5835B81AA3524740BFD0AD289C0BEA88.ashx
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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