#LTHEchat 157 A Proposal for a Sector-wide Framework for Personal Tutoring in HE with Ben Walker @benwwalker1

The Higher Education Research Act established a regulatory framework and the Teaching Excellence Framework with associated metrics for student retention, progression and employability.  In meeting these requirements, the significance of personal tutoring is clear. Despite this, according to existing institutional research, there is a need for developmental support, greater clarification on the requisite competencies, and adequate recognition for those undertaking this challenging role.  Moreover, arguably compounding these concerns is the lack of distinct professional standards for personal tutoring and advising against which to measure effective practice. This research draws on data gathered from a survey of practitioners designed to determine the demand for national personal tutoring standards, identify the competencies which may populate them, and determine the recognition with which they could be associated.  Additionally, it evaluates the relevance, adequacy and usefulness of existing standards such as the UK Professional Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning in HE. Important findings include a significant demand for a set of specific standards for personal tutoring and advising. Justifications provided for this and the opposing view are examined. Clarity for both individual practitioners and institutions was stipulated along with meaningful recognition and reward for this work which is considered highly important and yet ‘invisible’.  The surveyed professionals in the field identified relevant potential content along with illuminating the debate about the relationships between personal tutoring, teaching and professional advising roles. Valuable critical analysis of standards, recognition and reward also emerged. This is considered by discussing the connection between standards and changes to practice, responses to policy developments and the purpose of ‘standards’ in comparison to ‘guidance’.

In this chat, Ben will lead a discussion of the proposition that the introduction of bespoke standards is a necessary response to alleviate some of the current tensions which beset personal tutoring and advising in higher education.

The Wakelet for this chat is #LTHEChat 157.

Ben Walker

Ben Walker

Ben is a Senior Lecturer in Academic Development at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and Senior Lecturer in Teacher Education (HE) at the University of Derby.  As Vice-Chair of the UK Advising and Tutoring association (UKAT), he has responsibility for professional development in this organisation which is the sectoral voice and lead for personal tutors and academic advisors.  He is co-author of the highly regarded Effective Personal Tutoring in Higher Education which includes a foreword by Professor Liz Thomas, the author of the What Works? reports, seminal works on student retention and success.  Previously, Ben undertook higher education research at the University of Lincoln and was a teacher educator within college-based higher education in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University. Going further back, he was Head of English and a full-time teacher of English for several years.  He was the originator of UKAT’s current national webinar series, Tutoring Matters. His doctoral research is focussed on academic and pastoral support of students informed by critical pedagogy. He also happens to be a drummer in a Sheffield indie band… A keen writer and researcher within education, Ben is passionate about the impact the support side of a lecturer’s role, including personal tutoring and coaching, can have on students individually, as well as institutions more broadly, and I am committed to developing this field further.  You can find out more about Ben’s work at www.benwwalker.co.uk.

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#LTHEchat 156 ’Simulation as an assessment tool to promote authentic learning in Higher Education’ with Gustavo Espinoza Ramos @tavoer8

Authentic assessment

The traditional forms of assessment are based on conventional methods of testing that usually involves the production of written document including tests, essays and reports; and follow the transmission of knowledge from teacher to learner that creates a passive learning atmosphere (Herrington and Herrington, 2006). The criticism of this assessment rests upon the level of knowledge and transferable skills that can be applied in other contexts and it does not meet the needs of a “dynamic and changing workforce” (Herrington and Herrington, 2006, p.69). For that reason, alternative assessment methods have been developed. One of them is Authentic Assessment (AA) that involves the application of knowledge and skills in real-life settings (UNSW, n.d.). AA enhances the synergy between knowledge/content and skills that traditionally were viewed as mutually exclusive, and it can be integrated and applied across different disciplines in higher education including arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Examples of AA include completion of a real-world tasks, assessment in a workplace setting, and role-play or simulation. This week’s chat focuses on the latter example.


Simulation or a simulation game is a computer-generated reality (Longstreet and Cooper, 2012) that recreates a real, complex problem-solving exercise where students have to interact, developing judgement and make decisions over complex issues. This online environment promotes a space where students can make mistakes safely and systematically in order to learn; and allows the visualisation of the effects from their own decisions in a relatively controlled environment (Peacock, 1981; Rooney et al., 2015). Hence, simulation facilitates an active, engaging and fun environment, which represents an alternative to traditional assessment types.

Another important characteristic of simulation is that it allows students to receive rapid feedback of their results after completing the game or in debriefing sessions when educators guide students to reflect on their performance, the process and their roles when taking decisions (Petranek et al., 1992). As a result, simulations integrate three domains of learning (Breckwoldt et al., 2014): Cognitive or knowledge; Affective, or the growth in feelings or emotional areas; and Psychomotor, which are the manual or physical skills (Bloom, 1956). Simulation games have been used in social, natural and applied sciences including engineering, medicine, law and business.

Despite its benefits, simulation games have been subject of criticism due to the lack of research in simulation pedagogy (Dieckmann, 2009), the insufficient solid evidence to show how complex and real is the created environment (Poikela, Paula|Teräs, 2015), its effectiveness in comparison to real experiments or field work, and the application in other academic disciplines such as humanities.


There are some examples of simulation games, including:

Ecology, using The Ecology Game (Tribe and Peacock, 1976) that allows students in groups of between 6-8 members, to research the changes in flora and fauna in Britain by analysing two photographs from areas taken before and after the changes occurred (Peacock, 1981).

A level-6 module in a UK business school that uses a simulation game as part of a group summative assessment. The game is based on a car manufacturer, in which students have to take weekly business decisions submitting a spreadsheet. The game is centred on financial and operational indicators in the spreadsheet. So, the students will not see a live representation of the company or the manufacturing process. There is an individual assessment in which students reflect and apply theoretical concepts of the group dynamics and strategic theories when taking decisions in the simulation.

A level-5 module in a UK business school that uses a simulation game as an individual formative assessment. Students have to play A game individually on the PC, where they can see a factory and they need to manage the operations to complete the production of six products. Students are not marked based on the final results of the game but in an individual report where they need to apply theoretical concepts covered in the module when they takedecisions and reflect on their performance.

Reference list

Bloom, B. S. (Benjamin S. (1956) Taxonomy of educational objectives; the classification of educational goals,. 2nd edition. Addison-Wesley Longman.

Breckwoldt, J. et al. (2014) ‘Simulation Learning’, in H. Gruber S. Billett, C. Harteis (ed.) International Handbook of Research in Professional and Practice-based Learning. [Online]. Springer. pp. 673–698.

Dieckmann, P. (2009) ‘Simulation settings for learning in acute medical care’, in P. Dieckmann (ed.) Using simulations for education, training and research. 1st edition Lengerich: Pabst. pp. 40–138.

Herrington, A. & Herrington, J. (2006) ‘What is an Authentic Learning Environment?’, in Authentic Learning Environments in Higher Education. [Online]. IGI Global. pp. 1–14.

Longstreet, C. S. & Cooper, K. (2012) ‘A meta-model for developing simulation games in higher education and professional development training’, in 2012 17th International Conference on Computer Games (CGAMES). [Online]. July 2012 IEEE. pp. 39–44. [online]. Available from: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6314549/ (Accessed 30 May 2018).

Peacock, D. (1981) A simulation exercise on scientific research for use in undergraduate teaching. Journal of Geography in Higher Education. [Online] 5 (2), 139–143.

Petranek, C. F. et al. (eds.) (1992) ‘Three Levels of Learning in Simulations: Participating, Debriefing, and Journal Writing’, in Simulation & Gaming. [Online]. Sage PublicationsSage CA: Thousand Oaks, CA. pp. 174–185.

Poikela, Paula|Teräs, M. (2015) A Scoping Review: Conceptualizations and Pedagogical Models of Learning in Nursing Simulation. Educational Research and Reviews. 10 (8), 1023–1033.

Rooney, D. et al. (2015) The Role of Simulation in Pedagogies of Higher Education for the Health Professions: Through a Practice-Based Lens. Vocations and Learning. [Online] 8 (3), 269–285.

Tribe, M. A. & Peacock, D. (1976) The ecology game. Cambridge Univ. Press.

UNSW (n.d.) Assessing Authentically [online]. Available from: https://teaching.unsw.edu.au/authentic-assessment (Accessed 13 October 2019).


Gustavo R. Espinoza-Ramos holds a BSc in Business and Information Technology, and an MSc in Mining Engineering. His working experience in the mining industry and self-motivation underpinned his decision to undertake part-time PhD course at University of Westminster since January 2015. His research interests are centred on topics related to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the formation of social partnerships between private companies and civil society in developing countries. He is an enthusiastic lecturer at the Westminster Business and Law Schools teaching modules related CSR, business ethics, sustainable business and corporate strategy, both at an undergraduate and master levels.

LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/gustavoespinozaramos

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#LTHEchat 155: Extending Communities Through Networks and Frameworks with @femedtech #femedtech

This week’s #LTHEchat is going to be slightly different. Instead of being led by one or two people, it is going to be much more of an open, collective, networked affair brought to you by the FemEdTech community.  FemEdTech is

“a reflexive, emergent network of people learning, practising and researching in educational technology. We are an informal organisation with no funding: our resources are our passion, kindness, knowledge, enthusiasm and volunteer time.” 

You can find out more here; and by following @femedtech, #femedtech.

Our starting point was around developing and reflecting feminist perspectives primarily within the educational technology domain. Since its inception in 2016, the network has evolved and grown to embrace wider issues of openness, inclusion and diversity.  The main model of engagement is through shared curation of our  twitter account.  This model has enabled  sustainable and diverse engagement to flourish. As a community, we have developed a set of values, as well as creating an Open Space to share different voices and perspectives from across our network. Since http://femedtech.net was launched earlier this year, we have hosted several events, including the OER19 Open Space, WinOpen Webinar, and Values activity, which are now archived on the site. 

Feminism is a practical matter for the FemEdTech network, as we work to address inequality in our practice. For example, Deepwell (2019b) spoke of this in the work of the Association for Learning Technology, characterising its practice as:

“promoting equality on three levels: promoting equality as a challenge for Learning Technology professionals, promoting equality as key value in our organisational culture and promoting equality as a personal commitment.”

In this work, we draw on feminist theories and writings; for example acknowledging the diversity of women’s ways of knowing and the importance of intersectionality in drawing attention to what we might be missing. Charles (2019) explores the role of decolonizing the curriculum in making systemic change in organisations:

“The aim to self-decolonize is not limited to simply reading or support materials for teaching, learning and research, but includes ensuring that this critical ‘liberation lens’ examines all aspects of the pillars that makes the institution what it is: the student, staff, and the organizational cultural constructs and departments by, and in which, it operates.”

At FemEdTech, we extend our learning and reach, not only by following and being followed by diverse Twitter accounts, but also by curating and engaging with networks from which we can learn about the intersectional nature of inequality. From and with these networks, we can learn more about the issues of inclusion, diversity, openness, participation, and ethics that we encounter in our professional and private lives. An example of network curation can be found at Graves Wolf (2019). We would welcome more ideas on how to network with networks.

In this week’s chat we want to explore with the #LTHEchat community questions around inequality and the role that networked communities such as FemEdTech and LTHE play in sharing and using critical frameworks to develop and change practice.  We invite you to share your experiences, thoughts, hopes and ideas of how critically informed networked activity can help support and affect change across the sector.

Before the session we have selected some writings that may help frame interactions during the chat.

(some members of our community at the OER19 conference early this year)

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#LTHEchat 154: Design for Active and Blended Learning with Andrew Middleton @andrewmid

The idea of active learning is hard to pin down. It embraces a number of educational theories and pedagogic strategies including problem-based learning, enquiry-based learning, project-based learning, and team-based learning. Such philosophies and approaches are often presented in binary opposition to lecturing and other teaching-led methods – approaches which are often how today’s ‘lecturers’ experienced university. In reality, active learning and blended learning are integrated amongst a range of techniques that address and involve the student in different ways. This can be different according to discipline, teacher and cohort. This melding of approaches is seen most obviously in the concept of flipped learning where essential knowledge is first provided online where it creates the basis for a deeper social exploration through vibrant class-based activities.

Active learning can be off-putting to staff because group work is usually a characteristic of active learning. For example, discussion, projects, co-creation, peer-led assessment, while apparently student-centred can treat students as an anonymous and homogenous mass. Active learning can be noisey, teetering on chaotic, making the classroom harder to manage and students can resent being put into groups with peers who they perceive to be less capable or innately passive and uncooperative, especially where assessment fails to recognise individual contributions and talents.

The teacher’s role shifts from sage on the stage, to guide by the side and meddler in the middle. It can challenge academic identity and esteem, being perceived by some as a shift from wise expert to manager of people. 

Active learning and the technology-enhanced learning environment implicitly promotes engagement as a pre-requisite to learning knowledge. It becomes a two-stage operation: first stimulate the learner and make them curious. Then immerse the learner in knowledge and developing skills. The active and blended learning environment is an open-ended, risky, creative, agentic space. If the academic’s role now is to manage the learner, then it seems active and blended learning strategies are designed to make that management as complex as possible! It is understandable, then, that some in the academic community can approach the active learning paradigm with reservations, if not contempt. 

Given the number of students in higher education is greater than ever and our students are more diverse, we need to find alternative strategies for helping them to gain purchase, reveal their talents and capabilities, and share their diversity for the benefit of all. Active and blended learning strategies recognise student-centredness and the role that a university has in developing graduate dispositions for a connected world that rejects stability and thrives on innovation. In this context, new literacies and skills are needed so that our students can contribute and learn to take leading roles on a global stage. Many academics get this and are prepared to take pioneering roles in exploring the possibilities, especially now that technology allows any of us to connect our classroom to anyone, anything or any place in the world – instantly. Sharples (2019), for example, sets out 40 new ways to teach and learn using practical active and blended pedagogies. Ideas like ‘spaced learning’, ‘seamless learning’, learning through social media, and bricolage, hint at what academic innovators are doing. Active and blended learning, it seems, opens the door to fulfilling and creative academic practices. It reveals new ways for making learning more relevant, authentic and challenging ensuring that feedback is immediate and integral in the actions we take together. In brief, the learning paradigm creates a rich learning experience that contrasts with the teaching paradigm (Barr & Tagg, 1995). Ideas about active learning are not new – Piaget (1926), for example, describes learning as “a product of the learner being involved in a process of resolving practical or cognitive dissonance.” The LTHEchat provides us with an opportunity to explore the value of dissonance and challenge, and allows us to consider how we can present it in a way that persuades reticent academics and students so that the curriculum can be experienced as a coherent, rich and vibrant space for engaging students in developing learning habits so that they are ready to embrace the opportunities awaiting them.


Barr, R & Tagg, J. (1995). From teaching to learning: A new paradigm for undergraduate education. Change, November, 13-25.

Piaget, J. (1926). The child’s conception of the world. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Sharples, M. (2019). Practical pedagogy: 40 new ways to teach and learn. Abingdon: Routledge.

Andrew Middleton

Andrew Middleton is Deputy Head of Anglia Learning & Teaching at Anglia Ruskin University where he is leading work to support the University’s Active Curriculum Framework and digital learning. This includes initiatives on Media-Enhanced Teaching & Learning, Employability in Practice, and Learning Spaces for Student Success. Andrew researches and publishes on designing learning environments for co-operative learning. He blogs at Tactile: https://tactilelearning.wordpress.com/.

The Wakelet for this chat is here.

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#LTHEchat 153 Beyond the course team – the role of educational/curriculum development support with University of Liverpool Centre of Innovation in Education @LivUniCIE

There is no doubt that regardless of the criticism levelled at the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) it has raised the profile of how important high quality teaching and the associated curriculum is to students and to the Office for Students (OfS). Designing curriculum is a complex and time consuming process and sits alongside a wide range of competing commitments academic colleagues have to undertake. This is where dedicated support for curriculum development can play an integral role in the effective design of curriculum and improvements to the student experience. The Centre for Innovation in Education (CIE) at the University of Liverpool is one such unit and is dedicated to supporting academic colleagues across the institution in the designing of curriculum. Our relationships vary depending on the activities, but we do our best work when the core teaching team see us as integral members of the Programme Development Team. This LTHE Chat will pose questions set by the CIE Team, relating to the work of such departments with a plea to all course/programme teams to reach out to these internal departments as a critical friend at every opportunity.

For more information about the Centre for Innovation in Education please click here

To view the Wakelet for this chat. please click here

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#LTHEchat 152 ‘What does it mean to learn how to teach’ with Santanu Vasant @santanuvasant Steve Rowett @srowett and Sarah Honeychurch @NomadWarMachine

Can you be taught how to teach? Is this something that can be reduced to Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) on a PG Cert? Can “experts” in learning and teaching equip novices with the skills they need to be successful teachers?

Well, maybe. But we would like to suggest another way of thinking about this. During a particularly lively LTHEChat, the three of us realised that learning how to teach might be both more complicated and more simple than it had first seemed to be.

We started to think about how we had learned, and what that might tell us about how we might teach. We also recalled times that we have helped others to learn, and thought about how these experiences might help us to talk about learning how to teach. We don’t claim to be experts – far from it – but we hope that the questions that we think are important will also strike a chord with you.

Tonight we are asking six questions, but we also hope to start a larger debate.


Steve Rowett is Digital Education Futures Manager at UCL. He leads a small team exploring the potential for new technologies in teaching and learning across the university’s 75+ departments. Most recently he has been working to promote active learning classroom tools, introducing a new blogging platform for UCL and conducting a review of the institution’s digital learning environment through interviews with staff and students. 

Twitter: @srowett

Santanu Vasant 

Santanu Vasant is the Head of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, at the University of East London.

Leading the team of three Academic Developers and three Learning Technology Advisers plus an administrator within the University, Santanu has a research interest in how staff are developed and empowered to use technology in their practice but also to make better use of the physical learning space as a result. He also has an interest in how we motivate and engage those staff that don’t engage with CPD activity. Santanu has worked in Learning Technology since 2004 and has worked on projects as diverse as the issues of transition and induction into higher education (the subject of his MA Dissertation at UCL’s IOE (2012)), deploying PebblePad and developing activities for reflecting writing in BA Education, PGCert in HE and Business Studies (writing a chapter on this topic in Pebblegogy, 2011). More recently he has written a chapter on Bring Your Own Device Policy and Practice in Smart Learning: teaching and learning with smartphones and tablets in post compulsory education (2015) edited by Andrew Middleton and contributed to the UCIAS Learning Spaces Toolkit (2016). In June this year, he had his latest chapter published entitled ‘Attitudes, Practices and Outcomes Explored through the Use of Social Media’ in Social Media in Higher Education: Case Studies, Reflections and Analysis, edited by Chris Rowell. 

Web: www.santanuvasant.com | Twitter: @santanuvasant | LinkedIn: /santanuvasant 

Sarah Honeychurch @NomadWarMachine is a Fellow in the Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, where she is investigating ways of making learning, teaching and assessment less stressful and more meaningful for staff and students. She is currently also writing-up a PhD in Education which considers the effects of online peer interaction on learning, and this has led to her interest in lurkers in online communities. Sarah blogs at http://www.nomadwarmachine.co.uk/

To view the Wakelet for this chat, please click here

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#LTHEchat 151 Pedagogic Research: ‘Presenting and Publishing’ with Dr Isobel Gowers @Isobel_Gowers

Working in academia we often feel the pressure to publish. If you speak to most academics about presenting and publishing research they will start talking to you about their subject research. How many of us are publishing or presenting our pedagogic research and how many institutions are encouraging us to do this? 

Although a number of institutions have made moves to create greater parity between teaching-focused and research-focused staff, both the support and the need to publish differs considerably between these two groups of staff. Part of the issue comes from many institutions choosing not to submit research in HE pedagogy into the REF. This is a topic that has come under the spotlight recently with a paper published earlier this year by Anne Tierney, which follows up an early publication by Cotton et al. (2017) both of which look at the barriers to inclusion of learning and teaching research in the REF. 

One of the areas highlighted in these papers is that for some disciplines, lecturers have no experience of qualitative research or the type of research design needed for education research and therefore do not feel comfortable publishing. This was my own experience, coming from a molecular biology background when I ran very controlled experiments that produced numeric data. My initial pedagogic research was very much about providing evidence to support my own practice and I have found the challenge to be confident enough to publish as a personal barrier to sharing this research with a wider audience.

On the other side of this I have often been a consumer of pedagogic research. Either through reflecting on my own practice or helping encouraging others to reflect, finding evidence from the literature to support and help understand what I am doing has been invaluable. Equally at times I have found it frustrating that I have not been able research on some of the topics I have searched for, sometimes knowing that others have done work in the area. 

In this tweetchat we will explore ideas around benefits of presenting and publishing pedagogic research, barriers to achieving and hopefully the more prolific publishers amongst us can provide some insights into overcoming these.


Cotton, D. R. E., Miller, W. & Kneale, P. (2018) The Cinderella of academia: Is higher education pedagogic research undervalued in UK research assessment?, Studies in Higher Education, 43:9,1625-1636, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2016.1276549

Tierney, A. (2019) The scholarship of teaching and learning and pedagogic research within the disciplines: should it be included in the research excellence framework?, Studies in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2019.1574732


Isobel is currently Academic Lead: Active and Inclusive Learning at Anglia Ruskin University. During several years spent as a lecturer and course leader she developed a strong interest in using technology to support students creating their own learning. Having worked in both medical and veterinary education she is an advocate of evidence-based practice and brings this ethos to her own teaching practice.

Click here to go to the Wakelet following this chat!

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Special #altc edition of #LTHEchat – 28 August 2019 8pm

#altc conference logo#LTHEchat is partnering once again with #altc for a special edition chat as part of the Annual Conference of the Association for Learning Technology  This year we are opening up the #altc #LTHEchat conversation to include questions from Co-Chairs, presenters and organisers of the event focused around the conference themes: student data and learning analytics, creativity across the curriculum, critical frames of reference and learning technology for wider impact. 

For this special edition of #LTHEchat, we’ll be asking you to share your thoughts on data, dialogue and doing – ideas that inform your own critical perspectives in learning technology and to look at the bigger picture across the sector. 

Please join us at 8pm on Wednesday 28 August 2019. 

ALT’s Annual Conference 2019 takes place 3-5 September and is seeking to confront and challenge established assumptions, approaches and accepted truths in relation to key dimensions of digital education, and to advancing our practice and thinking through critical dialogue and reflection, closer scrutiny of evidence and theory, and a stronger commitment to values including creativity, community, social good, openness and porosity, and more democratic access to knowledge and learning.

The conference will be hosted at the University of Edinburgh and co-chaired by Melissa Highton, Assistant Principal and Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services, University of Edinburgh; Louise Jones, independent, and Keith Smyth, Professor of Pedagogy at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

If you are not able to attend the ALT Annual Conference in person or only attending part of the conference you can still participate online as a number of sessions are being live streamed and contribute to the Twitter #altc hashtag. To find out more tips about virtual participation here is Frances Bell’s post https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2019/news/guest-post-virtual-participation-at-altc19-by-frances-bell/

The Wakelet for this chat will be made available here.


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#LTHEchat 150 The International Mobility of Higher Education Academic Staff with Ross Espinoza & Hassan Osman @DrRossEspinoza & @DrHassanOsman1

The search for talent and innovation is increasingly becoming a prominent feature in many fields including Higher Education (HE). This follows a common assumption that knowledge capital generates new discoveries and innovations. In the field of HE, one of the many ways in which such concept takes hold is through the international mobility of HE staff – which is growing both in scope and influence. This population is said to diversify HE settings and make them ‘global campuses’ and ‘knowledge hubs’. They are also said to contribute to the creation and diffusion of tacit knowledge through direct interactions (OECD, 2010).

The international mobility of HE academic staff occurs through established channels and partnerships between transnational HE institutions and through career track individuals seeking to fulfil their own career ambitions. Academic institution are increasingly going international and seek to draw upon specific knowledge or abilities from expanded pool of talents. They do this in a number of ways – including creating international knowledge networks through their [foreign] international staff. For HE academic staff, mobility offers an avenue from which to exploit opportunities abroad and realise career goals.

There are several factors that shape international mobility. Skills–based selective policies play an important role in influencing mobility choices, but also in minimising the potential effects of legal and technical constraints including immigration and language barriers. Restrictive policies in the form of immigration and other technical obstacles are often blamed for limiting the international mobility of HE academic staff. Examples include the point–based systems in Australia and the United Kingdom and the H1B visa in the United States. Liberalizing immigration policies is likely to generate more competition for talent, and help with the flow HE academic staff particularly from low – income and non–OECD settings.

The labour market can also hinder international mobility. Figures from OCED on highly skilled academics suggest significant and surprising gaps between international mobility and income, the former being associated with lower earnings in several countries (Auriol et al., 2010).

The competition for talent is fierce, and inevitably, there are those who win (brain gain) and those who lose (brain drain). In HE landscapes, the former tends to be concentrated in a few high–income OECD countries, and the latter in low–income and non–OECD settings. More recent considerations on ‘brain circulation’ have reframed the discourse and highlighted the circularity of knowledge flows. Recent evidence sheds some light on the relationship between students and scientists flows, with individuals going abroad to study and then returning home with the know–how along with acquired innovations and networks (Del Carpio et al., 2016). This suggests brain circulation takes place within wide complex networks of highly skilled and internationally mobile academics, and provides an avenue to counter the effects of brain drain particularly in low – income and non–OECD HE settings.


Auriol, L., Felix, B. & Schaaper, M. (2010) Mapping Careers and Mobilities of Doctorate Holders: draft.

Del Carpio, Ximena, Çağlar Özden, Mauro Testaverde, and Mathis Wagner. (2016). “Reversing Brain Drain: Evidence from Malaysia’s Returning Expert Programme.” Policy Research Working Paper 7875, World Bank, Washington, DC.http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5kmlfbn2ddtd-en.

OECD (2010). The OECD Innovation Strategy: Getting a Head Start on Tomorrow. OECD, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264083479-en.

Dr Hassan Osman is a lead lecturer in research methods in the Faculty of Health & Wellbeing at the University of Bolton. Main academic interests: technology driven pedagogy, accelerated learning & education development in crisis or emergency settings (@drhassanosman1).

Dr Rossana Espinoza is an Online Learning Content Developer at the Centre of Academic Practice Enhancement at Middlesex University, helping staff with active practice based learning, collaborative learning classrooms or social media.  She supports the Staff Development Forum as Communications Officer since November 2016 on a pro bono basis. She is passionate about Education and technology (please note the capital E and lower case t!). She is formerly a lecturer in Languages, Business and Research Methods at Coventry University. Find her on Twitter. Find her on LinkedIn.

The Wakelet for this chat is available here.

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#LTHEchat 149 Conceptualising the Digital University with @sheilmcn & @smythkrs

Despite the increasing ubiquity of the term digital university, the concept of the digital university remains diffuse. Perceptions tend to slant in predictable directions: technological determinism; association within a particular account of education – open online learning for example; and concentrate on particular accounts of value and quality. We have noted a tendency to locate the digital in current institutional structures and processes within the university, instead of asking how the ‘digital’ challenges those structures and processes, and how in turn they can be reconfigured or reimagined.

We have been investigating, thinking and writing about how to create an alternative critique and narrative for discussion around the development of universities, with a particular slant on questioning the role of “the digital”. This has culminated in the publication of our book, Conceptualising the digital university: the intersection of policy, pedagogy and practice.   In the book, we propose a more holistic, integrated account emerging from our exploration of theory and research.  Central to our narrative are questions concerning the extent to which digital technologies and practices can allow us to rethink where the university, our curricula, and the educational opportunities the university provides are located and co-located, and how they can extend current thinking about the development of higher education as a publicgood. Our key areas of development include:

  • Emphasising the human and social processes involved in organisational change and the development of digital practice in the university.
  • Developing the notion of learning environments beyond a techno-centric perspective.
  • Advancing academic practice with respect to learning and teaching, literacy and human development through the effective use of digital technologies.
  • Redefining university participation, outreach and the common good in a digital age.

We critique the current neoliberal forces that seem to be driving the political agenda around the development of Higher Education.  We question the widespread adoption of such terms as education as a service, the business of education and the notion of the student journey.  Fee structures, loan repayments, AI and digital technologies seem to be the drivers of current discussions around the future of education. That technology will drive transformation seems to be a given.  The actual human element needed for transformation, and the practice of learning and the potential of using Higher Education to bring about meaningful social change is rarely given prominence. In this week’s tweet chat we want to find out about your experiences and thoughts on the notion of the digital university.  In particular we want to explore our notion of a digitally distributed curriculum. One in which core values of participation, praxis and public pedagogy are enabled through open scholarship, co-location, co-production and porosity. These enactment of such an open, distributed curriculum could be seen in variety of ways including:  more explicit emphasis on the development of agency and personhood across all disciplines, more diverse pedagogical approaches, different uses of digital and physical spaces, more open community development, student work that is openly available and not bounded within institutional digital silos.

The Digitally Distributed Curriculum, Smyth, 2018

Sheila MacNeill is an independent consultant, open educator, writer and artist specialising in all aspects of supporting digital learning and teaching primarily within the UK HE sector. She has over 20 years experience within education working in a range of national and institutional roles covering curriculum design, assessment and feedback, learning analytics, developing digital capabilities, learning spaces and almost everything else in between.  She is also the current Chair of ALT (the Association for Learning Technology), the UK’s largest membership organisation supporting the effective use of learning technology. In addition to her busy academic life, Sheila is active on a range of social media and has been blogging for over 13 years on her experiences and thoughts around various aspects of digital learning and teaching – She says it how she sees it! 

Keith Smyth is Professor of Pedagogy and Head of the Learning and Teaching Academy at the University of the Highlands and Islands. With a particular interest in digital education, Keith is known for developing the openly licensed 3E Framework for technology-enhanced learning and has been involved in a range of projects and initiatives focused on technology and inclusive educational practice, co-creative pedagogies and open education. Keith’s recent research with Sheila MacNeill and Bill Johnston explores the place of the digital in relation to the co-location of higher education and the curriculum beyond the physical and virtual confines of universities, and for extending Higher Education as a public good. These topics are explored in the newly published book Conceptualising the Digital University: The intersection of policy, pedagogy and practice. Keith blogs at http://www.3eeducation.org and is on Twitter @smythkrs “

The Wakelet for this chat is available here.

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