#LTHEchat 117 is about ‘Using Games for Learning’ with Matthew Crossley @mattycrossley

The next #LTHEchat on Wednesday 13th June 8-9pm (BST) will be hosted by Matthew Crossley @mattycrossley on ‘Using Games for Learning’.

I think it is fair to say that in 2018 there is significant competition for the attention of our learners. With entertainment on tap and a raft of complex life pressures HE learners constantly juggle, it is fair to say that vying for attention can be tricky, at best. The twinned problem of tackling learner engagement, and challenge of developing activities that are enlightening and entertaining is complex, and curious, and attitudes towards both are beautifully diverse.

There’s an argument that we can engage learners by entering the complex space of fun. Designing learning activities using practice from the entertainment industry – games, for example – helps us to ensure that we have sessions which learners want to participate in. Why not go a step further? Why not use games as objects, tools, or vehicles for education?

Introducing games for education is not new. We have been using analogue (or tabletop) and digital games to engage learners for decades. I remember in primary school, learning about wildlife (at least, I think that was the message) using a wonderful game about badgers – I’ve never managed to find out what it’s called, so if you know, please tell me.

However, the recent rise in the popularity of analogue games, and popular digital games producing education-specific variants (such as Minecraft: Educational Edition, Assassin’s Creed: Discovery Tour and Cities: Skylines), suggests that with some careful decision making and practice, we can usher in a golden age of using games for learning.

So, what are the next steps? First, we need to pick through our attitudes towards the use of games in learning. We need to analyse the concept with the appropriate lenses. Of course, we can’t (and perhaps shouldn’t?) adopt games for learning everywhere, because then we run the risk of losing the magic, and we need a variety of different activities and learning types to keep our learners engaged and enthused.

However, there’s scope for us to make more use of games in educational spaces. But we also need to consider the risks, and challenges:

  • Games are usually (though not always) competitive, and we need to consider carefully the role competition plays in education (particularly, where it may introduce/exacerbate gender differences – e.g. Niederle, 2010)
  • There’s a difficulty in balancing education versus entertainment – and I say this with a game designer/developer hat on (and an educator hat perched neatly on top, like a delicious hat burger). It is often the case that the desire to share an educational message competes with the entertainment aspect, though the same can be said moving in the other direction. We, as facilitators, need to ensure that the learning is taking place instead of relying on games to do it for us.
  • Should education be fun? Do we need to add extrinsic motivation when our learners should be intrinsically motivated? We face complex challenges that are not new. Timetabled sessions suffer from non-attendance, though the reasons are complex and multi-faceted.

I hope you’d agree, that the use of games in learning provides a potentially very powerful tool to increase learner engagement. While there are some deadly traps, the more we practice, and the more we share our practice, the better we will get at avoiding those pitfalls. This is, after all, the very way we master playing games, is it not?

Matthew Crossley @mattycrossley is a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he is Course Leader for Games Design and Development, and Assistant Programme Leader for the Computing and Digital Technology Network. He primarily teaches aspects of game design relating to player motivation and engagement, and game balancing, but also teaches game development, and has research interests in modelling and simulation, particularly of behaviours, and nature-inspired computing and its myriad applications to games design and development.

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#LTHEchat 116: Beyond advocacy for change – developing critical & open approaches in Learning Technology with Maren Deepwell @marendeepwell and Martin Hawksey @mhawksey

The next #LTHEchat on Wednesday 6th June 8-9pm (BST) will be hosted by Maren Deepwell @marendeepwell and Martin Hawksey @mhawksey on developing critical approaches in Learning Technology.

With the 25th Annual Conference of ALT, the Association for Learning Technology, just around the corner, we have been looking forward as well as back over how things have changed (revisit some of the developments with Prof Martin Weller, President of ALT, in his ongoing blog series “25 years of EdTech”).

We define Learning Technology as the broad range of communication, information and related technologies that can be used to support learning, teaching and assessment. ALT’s membership is made up of people who are actively involved in understanding, managing, researching, supporting or enabling learning with the use of Learning Technology. Using technology for learning, teaching and assessment hasn’t been a ‘new’ thing for a long time. But one thing that remains constant is the pace with which innovation moves forward, learner expectations develop and our constant need to evolve our pedagogical approaches. This creates demands/pressures and staff development needs for academics to develop competencies with digital pedagogies/approaches.

Regardless of where we are, or indeed where our institution is, in spreading or scaling up use of technology, we now have research, case studies and practice to move beyond advocacy, beyond enthusiasm for shiny gadgets or dashboards to developing a more critical, nuanced relationship to Learning Technology and to share our work in order to build a stronger, more diverse and robust discourse.

hTIIXeJq_400x400Maren Deepwell @marendeepwell is chief executive of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) and leads its work on professional recognition and development. Martin Hawksey @mhawksey leads on innovation, community engagement and technology for ALT.



ALT represents individual and organisational Members from all sectors and parts of the UK. Our Membership includes practitioners, researchers and policy makers with an interest in Learning Technology. Our community grows more diverse as Learning Technology has become recognised as a fundamental part of learning, teaching and assessment. ALT aims to increase the impact of Learning Technology for the wider community, strengthen recognition and representation for the Membership at a national level and lead professionalisation for individual Learning Technology professionals in a broad range of roles.

As the senior staff team of ALT Maren & Martin work with Trustee and Members on a diverse range of projects including ALT’s conferences, annual survey, national policy development and professional development. Sharing their approach to open leadership is a monthly blog series on running a virtual organisation and both actively disseminate their independent professional via their personal sites https://mashe.hawksey.info/ and http://marendeepwell.com/

Here is the Wakelet for this chat: https://wakelet.com/wake/fad6939c-74ee-4adc-bf72-2f3c031bfc8f

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#LTHEchat 114 will focus on Innovative Education in the Age of GDPR. The chat will be hosted by Lisa Harris @lisaharris

The next #LTHEchat on Wednesday the 23rd of May 8-9pm (GMT) will be based on questions from Lisa Harris @lisaharris about Innovative Education in the Age of GDPR.

GDPR legislation that’s about to be introduced presents many challenges to innovators in higher education. In particular, the value that educational applications of social media may be threatened by concerns over the sharing of personal data with third parties.

We will debate the issue and share examples of best practice in order to help to ensure that current challenges are channelled into positive outcomes for students in their preparation for lifelong learning in a digital workplace.

lisapic 2 (1)

Lisa Harris @lisaharris is Director of Digital Learning at the University of Exeter Business School. Previsourlt she was a Director of the Web Science Institute and the Web Science Centre for Doctoral Training at the University of Southampton. She enjoys inspiring innovative projects in partnership with students that result in new educational programmes, multi-disciplinary communities of practice and industry partnerships. Lisa is a contributor to: Innovation in HE a blog for teaching and learning innovators.

Lisa has recently achieved Higher Education Academy Principal Fellowship (PFHEA).

Here’s the Wakelet for this weeks chat: https://wakelet.com/wake/5b802436-4d97-4aab-ad70-837ffb7b6bc6


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#LTHEchat 113 is about Hidden figures – using evidence to understand our students. The chat will be hosted by @ThemesTweets #Themeschat


#LTHEchat #Themeschat

Wednesday 16 May 2018 from 8pm to 9pm

Hidden figures – using evidence to understand our students chat will be hosted by @ThemesTweets

We are part of the revolution – the data revolution.

In recent times there has been an exponential increase in the availability and visibility of data and evidence: Longitudinal Education Outcomes, Teaching Excellence Framework, widening access, UCAS and all with much greater granularity. Universities are investing in new data systems that are transforming their ability to generate data internally about student performance, including learning analytics.

The data revolution is here, touching everyone in the sector from students to academics.

Student demographics, retention and attainment is one of the three main sector level strands for the current Enhancement Theme –  Evidence for Enhancement. This strand of work is helping Scottish institutions focus and explore part of the current data landscape.

The composition of the student population varies between Scottish higher education institutions reflecting each institution’s priorities and strategic aims. This Theme strand provides institutions with the opportunity to work on common ambitions, for example supporting Scottish government initiatives such as enhancing retention, and allows scope to pursue work specific to a range of student characteristics / demographics. These characteristics include widening participation, direct entrants, care experienced, mature learners, students with a disability, and black/minority ethnic students.

Institutions’ approaches to the sector strand are varied and interesting, focusing on key aspects of the student journey: retention and progression, attainment and employability. The projects and topics being explored include: attendance monitoring; learning analytics; apprenticeship delivery models; digital technologies; and learning career progression.

Ultimately, this sector strand work will help build an enhanced understanding of the student population and differing students’ needs, so that support and interventions are targeted effectively.

This sector strand inter-relates with other levels of Theme activity including the optimising existing evidence sector level strand and collaborative cluster work, the latter including learning analytics, employability and evidence for the creative industry.

These topics will be debated at the UK’s largest Learning and Teaching Conference – 15th Enhancement event on 7 June 2018 and during the next #LTHEchat on Wednesday 16 May 2018 from 8pm to 9pm (GMT) in collaboration with @ThemesTweets.

Dr Clare Parks

Dr Clare Parks is a Quality and Enhancement Specialist at QAA Scotland. Her responsibilities include supporting the Scottish Enhancement Themes and the Enhancement of higher education in Scotland. Clare is currently supporting the new Evidence for Enhancement: Improving the Student Experience Enhancement Theme. One of her key interests is in the use of qualitative data analysis to support enhancement work.

Prior to joining QAA Scotland, Clare was an Academic Quality Officer at The Robert Gordon University. This wide-ranging role covered key areas of quality activity including; annual monitoring, institution-led subject review, student appeals and complaints, course approval, academic collaboration. Clare also has experience of Enhancement-Led Institutional Review, supporting her previous institution in this activity and serving as an ELIR coordinating reviewer.

Here’s the Wakelet for this chat: https://wakelet.com/wake/c7f5e45f-005e-4417-95f5-2316bf7bc95c




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#LTHEChat 112 with Dr Martin Rich @MartinRich106 about Pace in Learning and Teaching

The next #LTHEchat on Wednesday 9th May 8-9 PM (GMT) will be based on questions from Dr Martin Rich @MartinRich106 about Pace in Learning and Teaching.

For many of undergraduate students who I teach, their first big challenge, having started their course in September, comes when the clocks go back in the UK towards the end of October.   Not only is this when the initial novelty of studying has worn off, coursework deadlines start to loom, and their first exam period in January is close enough to cause some anxiety, but it’s getting cold and dark as well.  And in a London winter it’s not even cold in an interesting or attractive way: lots of trudging through drizzle but no skiing.

This observation set me thinking about how we manage the pace and timing of learning in higher education, and particularly how this fits in with various stages of the academic year.  It’s an integral part of what we do whenever we design and deliver our courses, yet I have found little written about it in the pedagogic literature.  We make decisions about assessment in particular which have a considerable impact on the timing of students’ work as a whole.  And we grapple with competing pressures about that timing, for example if we are to include formative assessment we need to ensure that students have time to act on it, but we also want to set it once they have learned enough to have some learning which we can assess.  Even if we get the timing right in teaching one subject, it can be difficult to coordinate different parts of a big and complex course.  That’s especially true if we offer students a lot of options with different modes of delivery and assessment – something that our students frequently tell us in the National Student Survey and elsewhere that they value, but which adds to the challenge of managing students’ workloads.

Sometimes the impact of a particular event, whether it’s a great party for freshers or a tough statistics test, can make a difference to students’ motivation and energy levels and it would be good if we could take this effect into account more effectively.  If, as in the courses where I teach, there is a significant amount of group work we need to build in time for these groups to form, storm, and norm and to consider when best to set group tasks.  If we teach students particular skills and knowledge that they can expect to use later in their course, we need to recognise that they might forget it if they don’t use it: I’ve encountered students who struggle with writing an extended essay for a final year undergraduate project because they learned to write essays in their first year but haven’t done any since.

And all this is before even considering the requirements of part-time students, who are balancing competing pressures from study and work and for whom there is a whole further set of issues around pace and timing.

Martin Rich @MartinRich106 is a Senior Lecturer, and  Course Director for the BSc in Business Management, at Cass Business School, which is part of City, University of London.  His work centres around how Management education can evolve to a changing and uncertain environment, and how different generations of students use technology within their studies.  He is interested in the connection between formal and non-formal learning particularly within the context of students attending degree courses where the principal channel for instruction remains face-to-face.  He has published about pedagogy in Higher Education and is a regular participant at conferences relating to this area.

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#LTHEchat 111 with Vivien Rolfe @VivienRolfe and Beck Pitt @BeckPitt on the topic of ‘open’ textbooks.

The next #LTHEchat on Wednesday the 2nd of May 8-9 PM (GMT) will be based on questions from Vivien Rolfe and Beck Pitt on the topic of open textbooks.

So what are open textbooks? The Wikepedia definition is: ” a textbook licensed under an open copyright license, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public. Many open textbooks are distributed in either print, e-book, or audio formats that may be downloaded or purchased at little or no cost.”

Open textbooks

Both Vivien and Beck work within a team on the Open Textbook project, where the aim of the project is to explore:

What is the viability of introducing open textbooks in UK higher education through the testing of two proposed models: OpenStax and OpenTextbook Network approaches?

The project hopes to achieve:

  • Adoption of open textbooks in a UK context
  • Guidelines for open textbook adoption
  • A set of open  textbooks adapted to the UK context and peer reviewed
  • A UK open textbook champion network
  • Evaluation reports of open textbook adoption
  • Research publications

Find out more about the open textbook project on Twitter @UKOpenTextbooks or  Open Textbook project

In this tweetchat, we would like to explore your students current use of and expenditure on textbooks on your course.  We will also discuss the barriers and facilitators to embracing open textbooks in the UK setting.

The #UKOpenTextbooks project team:



Vivien Rolfe 

Vivien is open education practitioner and has co-created a wealth of science and health open educational resources, working with academic staff, students and hospital collaborators.

viv2017b1 (1)Projects include the Virtual Analytical Laboratory (VAL). Sickle Cell Open (SCOOTER) project and Biology Courses project which shared resources for midwifery, forensic science and a wide range of subject areas. Her research interests are on student and staff benefits of open educational resources and practice, and the social and ethical impact of open initiatives, and in addition to many publications and conference presentations, she is a keen blogger at vivrolfe.com.

Follow on Twitter: @VivienRolfe

Beck Pitt 

Beck is a Research Associate at the Institute of Educational Technology (IET) at The Open University (UK). Beck joined IET in June 2011 having previously worked at the UK Data Archive, University of Essex, supporting the European Commission funded CESSDA-PPP project for its duration.Beck (2)

Upon joining IET Beck worked as project and research support on the Gates funded Bridge to Success project, which collaborated with community colleges in the Maryland area to remix existing OU whole course OER for use as bridging content for students beginning their college studies. Beck also supported the JISC/HEFCE Rapid Innovations Track OER project prior to joining the OER Research Hub in January 2013.

Beck was responsible for a range of collaborative activity during the OER Research Hub Phase I including research with open textbook providers OpenStax CNX, Siyavula and the BC Campus Open Textbook project. She also carried out follow-up research on the Bridge to Success project and worked with P2PU/Creative Commons and the Co-PILOT project. Beck also led the development and delivery of the OER Research Hub’s P2PU course Open Research, which was awarded a RCUK/Open University Engaging Research award in February 2015. Following two successful iterations in 2014 and 2015 Beck led the course’s redevelopment into an open textbook on Pressbooks. Beck led the research strand of the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project and was lead author of Becoming an Open Educator, which was awarded an Honorable Mention in the MOOC/OCW/Course category of the OE Consortium’s OE Awards for Excellence 2017.  Beck has a Phd in Philosophy and is also a committee member and social media lead for the UK Sartre Society, aspiring lindy hopper and novice sketch-noter.

Follow on Twitter: @BeckPitt 

Here’s the Wakelet for #LTHEchat 111 with Vivien Rolfe @VivienRolfe and Beck Pitt @Beck Pitt on the topic of ‘open’ textbooks http://wke.lt/w/s/YFyxE

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Reflections on organising the #LTHEchat

Tree_LTHEchatKathrine Jensen:

I was really pleased when Dr Chrissi Nerantzi asked me to be one of the organisers for the #LTHEchat for the period Jan-April 2018. Previously, I have been a participant in the chat and found the experience both useful, fun and energising as the community of people involved are really enthusiastic. So, organising the chat was a great way for me to offer something in return. It was great to work with Kiu Sum, my co-organiser, as we quickly saw eye to eye on dividing up the work and Kiu was always there to respond when I needed an update. Kiu also offered a really valuable student perspective and ideas about how to involve more students, which really added to the chats we organised.

A few chats in, it became apparent that the tool the community had been using to collate the chats (Storify) was closing so one of the LTHEchat community, Chris Jobling, suggested trying out Wakelet and they tested out the functionality. After that, Kiu and I set up a LTHE Wakelet account and tried our hand at using this tool; just one of the ways that participating means learning something new.

For me, some of the benefits of the LTHEchats, are the challenges to my thinking that they offer as well as that satisfying recognition that others are thinking the same way or are dealing with similar things. And I can only say that I was mightily impressed by the activity of the LTHE people every Wednesday and continue to be so.

Kiu Sum:

Being involved in student engagement in learning and teaching alongside my undergraduate study was something I never thought of doing when I first became a university student. Stumbling across #LTHEchat was too something that was “not planned” and it was only in 2017 when I “officially” start engaging with the week chat. Student engagement and pedagogy in higher education has become one of my interests (alongside what I do by day!) and is something that seems I cannot not let go. When the call for a new organising team for January to April 2018 was open, I saw the opportunity to take up a new challenge and expressed my interest. I was pleased when I got invited by Dr Chrissi Nerantzi to join Kathrine as one of the #LTHEchat organisers – was not expecting it to happen so soon!

A few months went by very fast and what an experience it was. For the first time, the teamwork was completely done online via the use of technologies – highlighting the importance that we can use digital technologies effectively! Whilst it was daunting initially, the support I had from Kathrine and Chrissi was incredible and we quickly gelled as a team despite only using online communication tools.

During the short 4 months, I was also given the opportunity to host my (first ever!) tweetchat! It was an exciting opportunity (and challenge!) and somewhat scratched my head a lot, not knowing how the chat itself would go coming from a student. So I decided to “flip the learning” and hosting it from a student’s perspective. With the chat falling on Valentine’s Day, “my date” for the evening was “Love Higher Education? Must be love, love, love…” (#LTHEchat 104*), with #LoveHE also. It made sense that it was related to love! With the continuous support from Kathrine and Chrissi, I thoroughly enjoyed hosting the chat and am pleased to see there were many fruitful discussions from the #LTHEchat community.

Participating in #LTHEchat has opened my mind to learning and teaching outside my experiences. Most important of all is having the opportunity to engage with other members of staff and students who I may have never thought of engaging with. One important lesson I have learnt using Twitter and joining in tweetchats, such as #LTHEchat has developed my confidence and communication skills. While it may seem so “unimpactful or “meaningless” at first participating as a student, reflecting my time spent on Wednesday evenings has made it more meaningful (1 hour does go by very fast!). It feels like a good CPD session to learn, to share practices and developing my ‘graduate attributes’. But most important of all is building professional relationships, getting to know other things outside your own academic discipline and having further opportunities to co-create potential new projects. Trust me, it does break down the ice of knowing how to start a conversation as a student when you finally (or trying to) get to meet those behind their twitter handles at events and conferences! Thank you to the #LTHEchat community for the opportunity and definitely got no regrets on stumbling onto #LTHEchat a while back.

*Summary of chat: https://wakelet.com/wake/456c5406-1701-4236-a79e-4c4383f14c9c


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#LTHEChat 110 with Nicole Brown @ncjbrown and Jennifer Leigh @drschniff “Ableism in academia – where are chronically ill, disabled and neurodiverse staff and students?”

The next #LTHEChat in Wednesday 18th April 8-9PM (GMT) will be based on questions from Nicole Brown @ncjbrown and Jennifer Leigh @drschniff “Ableism in academia – where are chronically ill, disabled and neurodiverse staff and students?”

In recent months there has been a shift towards more awareness of precarious working conditions, gender issues and racial injustice within society as a whole, and within academia, in particular. And while these developments are fantastic to observe, there remain many instances where the needs of students and staff are marginalised or forgotten, especially where the needs may not necessarily be visible but related to chronic illnesses, invisible disabilities and neurodiversity.

Over the last few months, articles and position papers in Disability and Society, the Times Higher Education and The Guardian have highlighted how within academia certain ways of working and learning are expected and that disabilities, neurodiversity and chronic illnesses are often not catered for.

In this tweetchat, we would like to explore our internalised expectations of workings in academia, consider how ableism (discrimination in favour of able-bodied/minded) intersects with gender, race, class, age and sexuality, and discuss what needs to be done to allow for a more diverse and inclusive environment for all.

Nicole Brown @ncjbrown

Nicole is a Lecturer in Education and Academic Head of Learning and Teaching in the Department of Culture, Communication and Media at UCL Institute of Education. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her research interests lie with advancing learning and teaching and ways of improving knowledge generation, mainly through creative methods. Underpinned by her interpretation of human communication relying on the metaphorical understanding of the world, her PhD research on academic identity uses participatory approaches and creative methods to data collection and analysis to capture what is otherwise difficult to express.

Jennifer Leigh @drschniff

Jennifer is a Lecturer in Higher Education and Academic Practice at the Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Kent. She is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her research stems from a background in movement, and focuses on embodiment, reflexivity, identity and creative research methods. Her doctoral work was a phenomenological study of how children perceived, reflected on and expressed their embodiment through movement. She won the Society for Research into Higher Education’s prize for Newer Researchers in 2016.

The Wakelet for this weeks chat can be found here.

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#LTHEchat 109 “Team Based Learning” with Beck McCarter @beckmccarter and Simon Tweddle @simontweddell

The next #LTHEchat will take place on Wednesday 11th April 8-9pm (BST). This week’s topic is Team Based Learning (TBL) and will be led by Beck McCarter and Simon Tweddle.

Dr Simon TweddleDr Simon Tweddell is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Bradford. He was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2015 and was part of the team awarded a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence by the Higher Educational Academy in 2017 for transitioning a large, established undergraduate Masters in Pharmacy programme from one that uses a traditional didactic approach to one delivered predominantly by Team-Based Learning (TBL). He serves as the only European member on the Global Board of the Team-Based Learning Collaborative and chairs the European Board of the Team-Based Learning Community.

Beck McCarterBeck McCarter is an Educational Developer, an accredited Trainer-Consultant in Team-Based Learning (TBL), a CATE Award winning team member and a sidekick extraordinaire. Passionate about improving both the staff and student experience, she is a #teambasedlearning #tbl evangelist.



Introduction to team based learning


We wouldn’t be doing you justice if we didn’t practice what we preach so in true TBL style, we’re flipping this week’s #LTHEchat. Your pre-work is to watch this short 5min video on some of the reasons we choose to teach using TBL. There may well be a test…


What IS Team Based Learning? – TBL in 60 seconds

Planning to participate in the #LTHEchat tonight but no idea what TBL actually is? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Here’s a very quick introduction to some of the key points…


The Wakelet story for this tweetchat is available HERE

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#LTHEchat 108: “Involving the public in the design and delivery of higher education” with Luisa Wakeling (@luisa_wakeling) & Ellen Tullo

The next #LTHEChat Wednesday 21st March 8-9PM (GMT) will be based on questions from Luisa Wakeling and Ellen Tullo on the topic of “Involving the public in the design and delivery of higher education”.


From left, Ellen Tullo, Laura Greaves and Luisa Wakeling

Ellen is a Lecturer in Ageing Education, Luisa is a Lecturer in Cell Biology and together, with Laura Greaves a research fellow from the Centre for Ageing and Vitality, they run a multidisciplinary, higher education module, Newcastle University Ageing Generations Education (NUAGE) aimed at undergraduate students from any academic background.

Student interns and older people collaborate with Ellen, Laura and Luisa to design, deliver and evaluate this module, which has now run annually since 2013. The collaboration, aiming to challenge the association of ageing with frailty and focus learning on healthy ageing, involves a team of older members of the public recruited through the user group VOICE. This multigenerational collaboration ensures learning is grounded in the realities of ageing in the community rather than solely reflecting academic research priorities.

The older public volunteers initiated the formation of a steering group (EXBEX- ‘expert by experience’) collaborating with student interns and teaching staff, guiding the development and delivery of the module. They also critically evaluate the NUAGE curriculum, obtaining a holistic and dynamic view of ageing.

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