Q1. Assessment: Supporting colleagues in contingency planning for Coronavirus

Supporting colleagues in contingency planning for Coronavirus: Covid19: A Special Edition #LTHEchat (Chat 170)

Question 1. is focused on issues around transitions to online learning, teaching and assessment, and we are absolutely delighted that the marvelous Professor Sally Brown has been kind enough to take the lead, and launch this weeks very special chat: Assessment.

Please visit this link to view a document Sally has created and please feel free to comment, edit and share your thoughts: https://tinyurl.com/tjhjrwf

This question is Q1. in a very special week long #LTHEchat. You can continue to add to Sally’s document all week. There will be one question each evening posted at 8pm. The week will end with on Wednesday 18th March with an hours chat 8-9 pm (GMT) hosted by both #LTHEchat and #AdvanceHE_chat.

Full details of this weeks arrangements can be found here: https://lthechat.com/

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Q2. How might you use pedagogical models to construct your online teaching?

Vicki H.M. Dale, Senior Academic and Digital Development Adviser, University of Glasgow, @vhmdale 

Blog Post

This question focuses on the use of pedagogical or conceptual models to inform the design of online learning. Why is this important? Well, we need to think critically about the role of the students and teacher in online learning, and how to promote effective engagement between them (students-teacher, and students-students) in the context of their discipline in order to ensure a high quality of online provision. It is very easy to take a translational approach to online learning, in terms of uploading traditional resources (e.g. lecture slides) to a virtual learning environment (VLE). However, is that the best experience that we can offer our learners online? Conceptual frameworks can provide a lens through which we can look at our own teaching. 

Some of the frameworks you might have heard of include Diana Laurillard’s ‘conversational’ framework’ that visualises teaching and feedback interactions between students-students and students-teacher, or Gilly Salmon’s ‘five step’ model, which seeks to scaffold the online learner journey through access, socialisation, information exchange, knowledge construction and development. Mishra and Koehler’s (2009) TPACK model was informed by earlier work by Shulman; it refers to Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge domains, and the overlaps between these domains (for example, how is the signature pedagogy of your discipline reflected in the ways you use technology?). The Community of Inquiry framework by Garrison and colleagues is a conceptual model that looks at the overlapping roles of teaching presence (design and facilitation of learning), social presence (student participation and belonging) and cognitive presence (how learners construct knowledge). 

We look forward to how you are using these and other frameworks to shape online learning and teaching, the successes and/or challenges you have had using these, and what advice you would give to other educators who want to think a bit more about how to optimise learning and engagement in online courses, but aren’t sure where to start. 

To Co-Edit this blog

Please join the online document here:


References and further reading 

Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T. and Archer, W., 2010. The first decade of the community of inquiry framework: A retrospective. The internet and higher education13(1-2), pp.5-9.  

Garrison, D.R., 2016. E-learning in the 21st century: A community of inquiry framework for research and practice. Taylor & Francis. 

Koehler, M. and Mishra, P., 2009. What is technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK)? Contemporary issues in technology and teacher education9(1), pp.60-70. 

Laurillard, D., 2013. Rethinking university teaching: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies. Routledge. 

Salmon, G., 2012. E-moderating: The key to online teaching and learning. Routledge. 

Salmon, G., 2013. E-tivities: The key to active online learning. Routledge. 

About the Author

Following Bachelor and Master degrees in Archaeology and Archaeological Computing respectively, and with over 26 years’ experience working in higher education (at the University of Glasgow, Royal Veterinary College, and UCL), Vicki’s roles have largely focused on learning technologies and self-directed learning. As well as being a Senior Academic and Digital Development at the University of Glasgow, focusing on staff development around active and blended learning, she is currently the Secretary of ALT-ELESIG (the Association for Learning Technology’s learner experience research special interest group, and co-lead for ALT Scotland with Joe Wilson from City of Glasgow College. She is a Certified Member of ALT and CMALT assessor, and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  

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Supporting colleagues in contingency planning for Coronavirus: Covid19: A Special Edition #LTHEchat (Chat 170)

Hello from your #LTHEchat spring-semester curation team! @belld17 and @drnsheridan


Welcome to this very special #LTHEchat.

Please may we begin by thanking our colleagues who have had ‘chat’s’ scheduled for sometime but have been flexible in re-arranging which has supported us in enabling this week long chat to occur. Especially Beverly Gibbs who has been so kind in giving up her session next week which has enabled us to make this happen. We cannot thank you enough.

So, to explain a little bit about #LTHEchat 170.

This special session arises as a result of numerous requests from colleagues seeking support in contingency planning and preparation in light of emerging developments related to Covid19.

The Plan for the next 7 Days

We began a special week long chat this evening (11th March). The rationale for this duration is that while ‘fast and frantic’ is wonderful, and we all learn so much every week, we believe that for this topic, with so many perspectives to consider and so much information to process an hour simply isn’t enough.

Running for a full week will be able to gather detailed responses from each question posed. Also as the week progresses, theoretically having read someone else’s post, colleagues can go back and re-visit, adding to posts. From here we can pool our ideas, and in doing so create a wealth of information to share within and beyond the #LTHEchat community. Furthermore, running over a week will enable our International colleagues (who are perhaps unable to join us between 8-9 pm each evening) to participate. Enabling access to the very best information from across the sector globally. We will begin by posting a new question each day. 

A new question will be posted at 8pm each day. We envisage there may well be activity each evening, but there is no requirement to join in only at 8pm, the questions are open and we would encourage colleagues to be active and share thoughts throughout the week. 

Running alongside the #LTHEchat this week, we will facilitate a series of blog posts. So, if there is something you want to share please get in touch and we can arrange to share your perspective, contribution, resources, questions or ideas.

Plan for the Week: An overview

  • Wednesday, 10th of March (9 pm GMT) live for 24 hours
    • Professor Sally Brown: Assessment. Please visit this link to view a document Sally has created and please feel free to comment, edit and share your thoughts: https://tinyurl.com/tjhjrwf
  • Thursday, 11th March (8 pm GMT) live for 24 hours
  • Friday, 10th of March (8 pm GMT) live for 24 hours
  • Saturday and Sunday: A weekend of resources
    • Beginning with resources provided by Professor Patrice Torcivia Prusko, Harvard Graduate School of Education, #LTHEchat invites you to share your resources and contingency plans. Share your resources here: https://tinyurl.com/w9txrq3
  • Monday, 16th March (8 pm GMT) live for 24 hours
  • Tuesday, 17th of March (8 pm GMT) live for 24 hours S
  • Wednesday 18th March 8-9 pm (GMT)
    • Consolidation. A review of the week hosted by #LTHEchat and #AdvanceHE_chat 
    • We are back on schedule as of tonight (18th March 2020) with a joined chat

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#LTHEchat 169: The Use of Exemplars in Practice with @MartinPAnderson and @helen_pittson

The Use of Exemplars in Practice

What is the purpose of this week’s #LTHEchat?

Exemplars represent a growing area of pedagogic interest.  Exemplars have been described as specific examples of assessment presented to students as being typical of various levels of achievement mapped against the assessment criteria. They provide an important tool to assist students in clarifying expected standards of assessment and assist with pedagogic feed-forward mechanisms and student engagement.  A moderate amount of research papers exist in this area with a focus on how students perceive them in terms of clarification of assessment criteria, how they engage with them in dialogue with other students and teachers and how they might affect performance. They are believed to enhance skills in evaluative judgement and bring forward the time of feedback mechanisms so that students might more readily act to achieve desired change.


Martin Anderson is senior lecturer in food science and management at Harper Adams University. He also acts as a senior tutor for Chinese students studying food courses at Harper. His interest in exemplars come from undertaking an action research project using exemplars in 2016, as part of a postgraduate certificate in teaching and learning. Martin subsequently became an active member of the University’s community of practice on exemplars and continued to study their use through a longitudinal study into how students use exemplars, which was accepted as part of a Masters by Research award in 2019. Martin is currently working towards his Doctorate with a working title of “Education, training and skills in the red meat industry”.


Helen Pittson is a senior lecturer in human nutrition at Harper Adams University.  She is also the senior tutor for the food department suit of courses at the university.  Helen began teaching just over 3 years ago and was an exemplar sceptic. When undertaking her own postgraduate certificate in teaching and learning she realised the benefit of exemplars for students and quickly adopted them into her own teaching practice.  She is now a committed convert! She has conducted an action research project on students feelings towards exam exemplars using a ‘pain’ scale and student reflections. Helen helps to organise the University’s community of practice for exemplars and has presented how this group evolved at the Assessment in Higher Education Conference.     


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#LTHEchat 168: What can visual thinking do for you and your students?

Welcome to this weeks chat with Professor Peter Hartley @profpeterbrad, Dr Chris Headleand @ChrisHeadleand and Dr Dawne Irving-Bell @belld17

What can visual thinking do for you and your students?

Our interest in exploring and comparing different approaches to what we call visual thinking came from a conversation where we compared completely different approaches to note taking and communication.

Our Background

Dawne is the Centre for Learning and Teaching Projects Lead and a Senior Lecturer in Teaching and Learning Development at Edge Hill University.

She can draw a bit and uses sketchnoting as a personal tool to organize her thoughts. In her teaching, she uses ‘sketchnotes’ both to communicate her perspective and help students develop techniques for their own use.

Peter is Visiting Professor at Edge Hill, National Teaching Fellow, and freelance educational consultant, previously Professor of Education Development at University of Bradford and Professor of Communication at Sheffield Hallam.

He cannot draw to save his life; he uses concept mapping. Having graduated from hand-scribbled (and badly drawn) mind and concept maps, he now uses Cmap for concept mapping as a personal tool and for presentations and workshops, always encouraging other staff and students to do it for themselves, both individually and in groups.

… and we are delighted that also joining us for this evenings chat is Dr Chris Headleand, Director of Teaching and Learning in the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln.

We discovered one very important shared principle (and this is supported by research evidence and by our considerable practical experience in teaching): using visual methods to represent concepts and their relationships can develop insights and understanding which are more difficult to achieve as effectively through linear written text. We also share the feeling that these visual methods are both under-used and under-appreciated across further and higher education.

We are exploring this area in an investigation, partly supported by a grant from ALDinHE, where we are:

  • investigating current notetaking practices/preferences in HE.
    Most of the research on student notetaking which we have found to date is quite old and examines practices which predate the use of technologies which are now commonplace across HE and FE. There is also some more recent research which can be challenged, e.g. the widely publicised study recommending that we abandon laptops in favour of handwritten notes in the classroom.
  • piloting a structured intervention to introduce different visual notetaking methods.
    We are offering groups of students (and staff) a choice of sketchnoting and concept mapping as these exemplify different approaches which will appeal to different students and may have different applications in different disciplines. Again, there seems to be relatively little research on which tools work best for different students.
  • producing/disseminating tools and approaches which can be further developed for longer-term investigation and applied/adapted by colleagues elsewhere.

This #tweetchat will allow us to explore different perspectives and practical approaches to visual thinking.

Missed the chat?

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 Dawne is the Centre for Learning and Teaching Projects Lead and a Senior Lecturer in Teaching and Learning Development at Edge Hill University.

Dawne can be found on Twitter at @belld17


Peter is Visiting Professor at Edge Hill, National Teaching Fellow, and freelance educational consultant, previously Professor of Education Development at University of Bradford and Professor of Communication at Sheffield Hallam.

Peter can be found on Twitter  @profpeterbrad


Chris is the Director of Teaching and Learning in the School of Computer Science, and member of the LALT academy board at the University of Lincoln. He holds a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and Ethics having completed and a Masters in Computer Systems. An innovation evangelist, having come from a creative background Chris applies design thinking to computer science, providing novel solutions to technical problems and specialises in improving student engagement.

Chris can be found on Twitter @ChrisHeadleand

Follow the chat on Wakelet to catch up



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#LTHEchat 167: Strategies for Institutional Change with @beckmccarter

#LTHEChat 167: Strategies for Institutional Change


Driven by growth opportunities, market forces, competitor pressure and technological innovation, the pace and scale of change in the higher education sector today is unprecedented. The frequency with which new strategies, structures, policies, processes and tools are launched and their resulting impact on our work poses genuine risks to our health and wellbeing; stress related illness has reached epidemic levels (Morrish, 2019) with many colleagues adopting survival mode simply to ‘get through’ the change. However, the underlying drivers of change are not static, rendering change a continual process and so more sustainable approaches are required.

As a tandem consideration, the distinctiveness of our HE institutions mean it is often inappropriate to directly ‘lift and shift’ theories and frameworks for managing organisational change from the corporate sphere (Allen, 2003). There is a clear need to take ownership of change initiatives if we are to preserve these valuable unique features as we work to assure the future of our sector.

In this tweetchat we will share experiences of institutional change initiatives, explore some of the reasons for their success and what we can learn from them and do to create desirable change that enables us to survive and thrive in these challenging times.


Allen, DK (2003), ‘Organisational Climate and Strategic Change in Higher Education: Organisational Insecurity’, Higher Education, 1, p.61

Education, 1, p. 61

Morrish, L (2019), ‘Pressure Vessels: The epidemic of poor mental health among higher education satff’, HEPI Occasional Paper 20, Retrieved from https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/HEPI-Pressure-Vessels-Occasional-Paper-20.pdf


Photo of Rebecca

Beck McCarter @beckmccarter is an independent consultant, educational developer and Senior Fellow of the HEA. She’s worked in partnership with a wide range of people and organisations to successfully implement learning and teaching enhancement initiatives and was part of the team awarded a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence in 2017. She has a particular interest in the use of empowering pedagogies to tackle structural inequalities in education and has been tilting at windmills since before records began.

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#LTHEchat 166: Microsoft Teams – A new model for communication and collaboration in education with @ChrisLearnTech

Microsoft Teams – A new model for communication and collaboration in education with @ChrisLearnTech

Microsoft Teams – Moving from learner ‘management’, to learner autonomy and skills for the future

I would like to start by acknowledging two excellent posts: one by Dale Munday, and another by Lawrie Phipps – both of which are extremely relevant and insightful pieces, that inspired me to write this particular blog post. I would absolutely recommend having a good read of these, if you haven’t already had the chance to.

Microsoft Teams has promptly become a topic of critical discussion across both the Higher, and Further Education spheres. This is partly due to emerging questions around the suitability of some existing and potentially ‘outdated’ digital learning platforms – often referred to as Learner Management Systems (LMS) or Virtual Learning Environments (VLE).

Note: For the purpose of this blog post, I will try (where possible) to avoid using such ‘labels’…

One distinction that could be made between said ‘traditional’ learning platforms and for example, Microsoft Teams, is the transition to an environment not driven by content or data, but by people, communication and collaboration.

Visit my blog post for more information.

Related links

 How Microsoft Teams can help higher education students take control of their learning

9 ways to transform the student learning experience with Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams – Moving from learner ‘management’, towards learner autonomy and skills for the future

Microsoft Teams: Top 10 tips for learner engagement

How can technology support inclusive and participatory learning?

Microsoft Teams: Communicate, Collaborate, Create

Cultivating collaborations with learner communities in HE

Missed the chat?

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Chris Melia

Chris is a Senior Learning Technologist in the UCLan TELT team, and digital learning lead for the University’s Faculty of Health and Wellbeing. He holds Fellowship with the Higher Education Academy and has completed a PGCert in Digital Education with the University of Edinburgh. Since 2018, Chris has led development of UCLan’s innovative and sector- endorsed “DigiLearn” model – to recognise and reward the inclusive digital practice of academic colleagues. Keen to widen collaboration across the sector, he established UCLan’s “DigiLearn Sector” – a community fostered to connect digital practitioners from across FE, HE and beyond. Chris is also an active member of the Microsoft, Jisc and ALT communities – regularly contributing to their respective blogs and presenting at various sector-level events. He is a lead contributor to UCLan’s own Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching blog, and has his own blog – #edtechthoughts. As a Microsoft Learning Consultant, Chris now works with other institutions – supporting their adoption of Microsoft technologies to improve both staff and student outcomes.

Follow the chat on Wakelet to catch up

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#LTHEchat 165: Transitions into Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) with Linnea Soler @DrLinneaSoler and Nathalie Sheridan @drnsheridan

Transitions into Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

What is the purpose of this week’s SoTL chat?

Linnea and I are not focussing on the definitions and debates around the terminology of SoTL. We want to explore how engaging in SoTL for the first time, impacts academics, including those coming from a non-social science background.  What are the stumbling stones? How can SoTL be imbedded into daily practice to help academics develop as they work? How can collaborative efforts, including cross-disciplinary collaborations, help advance SoTL and make it more fun? What nuggets of advice can be learned to help facilitate/motivate/de-mystify/enthuse the process?


There are many approaches for undertaking a SoTL project and your hard-earned training in your particular academic discipline may lead you to consistently take a set path without realising that there may be other approaches that could yield additional rich data and outputs. Furthermore, you may not have had formal training in SoTL and are feeling rather overwhelmed by the process and not know where to start.  For these reasons, chatting about what SoTL means to us, personally, our backgrounds, how we can embed SoTL into daily practice and how to broaden our skill- and knowledge-base can be very helpful, especially when learners at all levels of experience are willing to share their lessons and insights.  This LTHEchat exemplifies how we share and discuss our individual practice to SoTL and how we both have learned from it (and it must be noted that Linnea is definitely learning more from Nathalie than the reverse!).

“That’s what she said!” (Nathalie) One of my responsibilities is to support colleagues in their developing of SoTL and to help them find their feet in this new discipline. From working closely with Linnea, and with other colleagues from non-cognate disciplines, I have been learning where more support, clarification, and CPD is needed to aid in this transition. This has helped me to design and to develop additional supporting material and structures with the aims of facilitating my colleagues’ entry to and development in SoTL.

Nathalie, with her formal training in SoTL and Erziehungswissenschaften (Educational Sciences), understands the formalised frameworks and rationales behind them. Linnea, with her formal training in Chemistry, is working to learn and apply appropriate aspects of these frameworks to her SoTL projects. Together, they have raised, and chewed through, many questions, especially those pertaining to the transition of academics undertaking “research” in the “hard sciences” to undertaking “scholarship”.


Dr Linnea Soler

Photo of Linnea in front of Cafeteria sign

In my role as a Lecturer in Chemistry (Learning, Teaching & Scholarship track), SoTL plays an important role and underpins both my teaching practice and development of L&T resources. I have discovered that the skill- and knowledge-base, developed through my years of training as a scientist, often differs to those needed for scholarship (where social science based skills may be more applicable). Therefore, I am in the process of learning new skills and developing a grounding in SoTL and I am striving to marry these with my pre-existing research skill-set, grounded in the approach taken by the hard sciences. This transition is challenging, as it requires a re-wire of my brain, but also very rewarding because it opens up new horizons. In addition to collaborations with my Chemistry colleagues, I am also fortunate to undertake cross-disciplinary SoTL projects with colleagues from Engineering, Archaeology and the Arts. I enjoy sharing experiences with other academics regarding their SoTL experiences, especially those within the “hard sciences”, who face similar challenges in becoming Scholars. I feel that we can all learn from each other and help each other on this, sometimes frustrating but always exciting, path.

Dr Nathalie Sheridan:

Photo of Nathalie also outdoors with basecap on

I am a lecturer in academic and digital development at the University of Glasgow (LEADS). My first degree is in Erziehungswissenschaften (Learning Sciences, TU Dresden) with an MPhil (University of Glasgow) and PhD (University of Strathclyde) in education. I have worked in culture and museums education throughout my studies and been teaching in higher education since 2006. My focus is the translation of creative learning and teaching practices into higher education, through active pedagogies and rethinking learning spaces with the aim to improve the student experience and include disenfranchised learners and educators. In my role in academic and digital development, one of my key remits is to promote and support the scholarship of learning and teaching across the institution, particularly supporting colleagues from non-cognate disciplines who are undertaking SoTL projects for the first time.

For more background on SoTL



The Wakelet for this Session


https://awesome-table.com/-M-R2Bc64p3_XdycJRlB/view Interactive Map of Tweetchat participants

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#LTHEchat 164: Using media-rich ePortfolio assessments with Lydia Arnold @HarperEdDev and Duncan Cross @duncan_cross

Using media-rich ePortfolio assessments

ePortfolios can provide a rich assessment opportunity for students. Well-designed portfolios can facilitate feedback and peer interaction, they can help the authenticity of an assessment, and when underpinned by an assessment for learning philosophy they can help to motivate engagement. Technologies such as Pebblepad, Mahara and increasingly Teams can enable the use of different media in the portfolio mix, including video, animation, photographs, graphics and text. The use of mixed media portfolios in our experience raises a number of questions, challenges and dilemmas. When students are faced with this type of assessment it can bring out confusion and uncertainty as well as excitement and a sense of possibility. Staff often grapple with questions about parity and wordcount equivalence, and sometimes perceive quality regulations as a barrier. In this chat we explore the benefits and challenges of working with mixed media portfolios. We will consider strategies to support both students and colleagues in using ePortfolio assessment.

Missed the chat?

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Lydia Arnold

Dr Lydia Arnold is an Educational Developer and Principal Lecturer at Harper Adams University. Her interests include authentic assessment, technology, feedback, action research and UK PSF. She is an extensive and long-established user of ePortfolios is assessment, and began writing about patchwork media portfolios back in 2009. She currently uses media-rich portfolios in the context of the institutional UK PSF scheme and PgC Teaching and Supporting Learning, as well as in a Level 4 Business module.  She is a blogger (lydiaarnold.net) whose ongoing musings include thoughts on her ePortfolio practice.  

Can be found on Twitter at @HarperEdDev

Duncan Cross

Dr Duncan Cross PFHEA NTF is an Associate Teaching Professor at the University of Bolton. His interests include authentic assessment, students as partners, managing expectations, action research and professional recognition. Like Lydia, he is an extensive and long-established user of ePortfolios for assessment and professional recognition. He is the institutional lead for PebblePad, which is used extensively across teacher education programmes and the institutional UK PSF schemes. Occasional blogger (www.duncancross.co.uk) and a musician too.

Can be found on Twitter  @duncan_Cross

Follow the chat on Wakelet to catch up


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#LTHEchat 163: The Role of Curriculum Frameworks in Higher Education with Adam Longcroft @AdamL50 and Iain Cross @iain_d_cross

The changing UK higher education landscape

The last decade has seen rapid and dramatic changes in the higher education landscape in the UK. The lifting of the ‘cap’ on student numbers led to increased competition between higher education institutions (HEIs) and the influence of new market forces, whilst the introduction of the OfS has seen the replacement of a relatively benign funding body, with a new sector regulator.

Student numbers have increased rapidly resulting in the ‘massification’ of the HE sector, and fundamental changes in the make-up of the student body in most HEIs. Despite this there is intense competition to recruit students, and HEIs are opening their programmes to more diverse and non-traditional cohorts than ever before. Student support services and resources have had to be reconfigured, and academic programme teams have had to adapt their pedagogies accordingly. Previous quality audits of research have evolved into the now familiar REF, but we have also seen the introduction of the TEF, and more recently the KEF.

What may have seemed like stability has been replaced by a culture of what sometimes feels like an avalanche of rapid and fundamental changes, some of which impinge on the financial sustainability of institutions and some of which have driven major cultural changes – not least a rapid shift in student expectations of the higher education experience, and the relationship between institutions and their students. The relative strengths and performance of HEIs is now more transparent than ever, and reflected (however crudely) via published university league tables, NSS results and TEF rankings.

How have institutions responded?

Faced with these external and internal changes many HEIs have responded by reviewing the structure and organisation of their taught programmes at undergraduate or post-graduate level (or both). In some cases this process has been driven by a perceived need to reduce complexity and unnecessary ‘variance’ in the design or delivery of programmes, or by a need to reduce costs and achieve improved efficiencies in delivery.

In others, the development of new approaches to either structure or delivery has been deliberately focused around existing institutional strengths, such as the perceived ‘nexus’ where research and teaching intersect. Many HEIs have well-established and highly visible ‘Graduate Attributes’, and these have either been designed in tandem with new Curriculum Frameworks or have driven an enhanced subsequent focus on consistency in the design and/or delivery of programmes to enable these to be achieved.

A renewed focus on ‘teaching excellence’ or ‘student outcomes’ – driven in part by the NSS and the TEF – has also resulted in some institutions focussing more on ‘pedagogy’ and/or ‘student literacies’. A defining feature of many new Curriculum Frameworks is the inclusion of such literacies.

The emergence of Curriculum Frameworks

The growing recognition in the sector of the importance of defining or articulating institutional ‘distinctiveness’ in the design and delivery of programmes, and the approach taken to supporting effective learning, is reflected – at least in part – in the emergence of ambitious and often highly innovative Curriculum Frameworks of various forms.

One of the best know is the ‘Connected Curriculum’ at UCL, which focuses on the centrality of the power of research and way this informs both teaching and student learning. Now well-established, the Connected Curriculum provides UCL with a highly distinctive USP. At Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), the emergence of the ‘Active Curriculum Framework’ places a set of ‘powerful pedagogies’ and ‘student literacies’ centre-stage, with new ‘breadth modules’ (Ruskin Modules) providing students with new opportunities to step outside their particular specialism and engage with a broader curriculum.

At the University of East Anglia (UEA), the development of the ‘New Academic Model’ between 2010 and 2015 constituted an ambitious series of regulatory changes that placed a renewed focus on setting high expectations for students and ensuring greater consistency in programme design.  Similarly, the University of Sunderland’s ‘Integrated Curriculum Design Framework’ claims to “bring together, for the first time, various key policy drivers such as embedding graduate attributes, promoting employability and developing an inclusive curriculum which enhances the student experience”. Other similar Curriculum Frameworks include those at Reading University, the University of Portsmouth, which has a set of ‘hallmarks’ that courses have to be aligned with, and the Inclusive Curriculum Framework at Kingston University, which ensures that “the principles of inclusivity are embedded within all aspects of the academic cycle from the development and revitalisation of curricula, through the practice of teaching and learning, to the process of assessment and finally full circle to programme review, modification and revalidation”.

At St Mary’s University, Twickenham, we have been involved in leading, with students and staff, the design of a new Curriculum Framework (see figure below) which focuses on a more consistent and coordinated approach to learning and teaching (via an agreed set of ‘Effective Teaching Practices’ and ‘Student Literacies’) and the delivery of a new set of ‘Soft Skills’, ‘Practical Skills’, ‘Graduate Qualities’ (values) and ‘Graduate Attributes’.

Curriculum Framework  for St Mary's University, Twickenham.
Curriculum Framework for St Mary’s University, Twickenham (used with permission of the guest hosts)

This new framework  includes a strong emphasis on inclusive approaches to teaching and assessment, the creation of a new set of ‘Champion’ roles embedded in Faculties (for Employability, and Diversity and Inclusion), and interdisciplinary ‘breadth modules’ which allow students new opportunities to study outside the comfort zone of their own discipline at Level 5 and 6.

The challenges of Curriculum Frameworks

Of course, proponents of disciplinary variance and academic autonomy might argue that establishing an institutional-level Curriculum Framework or over-arching structural constraints of any kind constitutes an unnecessary and, indeed, undesirable objective that inhibits creativity and academic freedoms. This is a legitimate concern and one of which those involved in developing or championing Curriculum Frameworks need to be mindful.The reality, of course, is that in most HEIs academic programme teams already have to design and deliver their programmes within various pre-existing expectations and regulations (which are in turn normally strongly in formed by sector framework documents such as the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) and a panoply of other QAA documents), and also – crucially – the QAA subject benchmarks. Some may also have to align to pedagogic and content guidelines and advice given by professional, statutory and regulatory bodies (PRSBs). Even so, any Curriculum Framework is likely to be unsuccessful unless these concerns are confronted early on and overcome through extensive consultation and debate.

Missed the chat?

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About this week’s hosts

Dr Adam Longcroft

Dr Adam Longcroft is the Head of the Centre for Teaching Excellence & Student Success at St Mary’s. He began his academic career as an Academic Director in Continuing Education at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in 1995. He went on to serve as Teaching Director in the School of Education at UEA, and the University’s Director of Taught Programmes between 2011 and 2016. In the latter role he was involved I leading the development and implementation of UEA’s ‘New Academic Model’ – a University-wide initiative focused on streamlining the structure and regulations relating to the University’s undergraduate and post-graduate programmes. He subsequently led the design and initial roll-out of Anglia Ruskin University’s new ‘Active Curriculum’ between 2016-18 as the Deputy Head of Anglia Learning & Teaching, and was more recently appointed as the inaugural Dean of Learning & Teaching at St Mary’s University in Twickenham. In this role he has led the development of a new undergraduate Curriculum Framework which is now being implemented across the University. Adam is a National Teaching Fellow (2007) and a Principal Fellow (2015) of the Higher Education Academy (now AdvanceHE).

Dr Iain Cross

Dr Iain Cross is the Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching in the Centre for Teaching Excellence and Student Success at St Mary’s. He works with the Associate Deans in the Faculties and the CTESS team on a range of learning and teaching enhancement projects. He joined St Mary’s in 2011 as Visiting Lecturer in Physical Geography, and has since held positions as Programme Director for Geography and Academic Director for Teaching and Leaning Quality and Enhancement. He has particular interests in technology enhanced learning, and using virtual reality in education. He is currently researching climate change teaching in higher education. In addition to leading continuing professional development of academic staff, Iain has been instrumental in developing a new Personal Tutor Dashboard at St Mary’s and is playing a key role in implementing a new student record system at St Marys. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

A Wakelet of this chat will be posted as soon as possible after the event.

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