Collated Curriculum Design Resources

With the new semester fast approaching we know many colleagues are looking at refreshing and revising modules.   As you know Padlet is one of our favourite tools and over the summer we’ve been exploring some of the new layout features which give some really useful additional ways of sharing and curating resources.

We’ve also produced an overview Module Design Guide which covers all the basics from setting objectives, writing learning outcomes to constructive alignment.  This resource has been designed to be used either in a facilitated groups setting or individually.

We’ve collated this along with our other curriculum design related resources into the padlet wall below using the canvas template which allows you to make links between resources, kind of like a mind map.

You can view in full screen by clicking on the arrow  Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.17.53 icon at the top right hand side of the wall, or by using this link.

Made with Padlet

Turnitin Feedback Studio – now available in GCULearn

Turnitin has released a major product upgrade.  The new version of the service, called Turnitin Feedback Studio or TFS offers all the functionalities of Turnitin, but with a simplified, more intuitive interface.  This should improve the user experience of the service. TFS is now fully integrated into GCULearn.

The short video below gives an overview of  the old and new versions.


More information and guidance is available from the following links:

Update on our data extraction experiences #jiscanlytics

With the upcoming Jisc Learning Analytics Network meeting next week I though it would be useful to share a little bit of our experiences so far with extracting data from our student records system into the Jisc LRW (learning records warehouse).  Ken Fraser, Business Intelligence Analyst, in our IS department has been leading the work on this. He took 10 minutes out of his schedule to share with me how things have been working so far, in terms of getting set up and using Pentaho Kettle for data extraction and validation in the LRW.

GCU Data Extraction Update, April 2017 (MP3, 7.5 minutes)

We are still waiting for our VLE data extraction – hopefully that will be happening in May, and we can start to really explore the data and share some more of our findings.

Open voices, art, inclusion and the common good #oer17

This week I attended the #OER17 conference in London. It was an inspiring event with practitioners from across the globe sharing how they have been using and developing both open educational resources (OER) and open educational practice.

One key theme that ran throughout the conference from the keynotes to the paper presentations and panels was the need for clearer articulation of open education. There is still a lack of mainstream knowledge and understanding of open education and the benefits it can bring to both individuals and institutions.

I was struck, once again by how much some of our GCU strategies, practice and activities align with open education, but how we don’t actually use “open” to explicitly define and share them. e.g. our mission “for the common good” and the developing Common Good Curriculum. They are are fundamentally about working with, and for the benefit of the wider community, which aligns perfectly with open educational practice.   We already have some very good foundations in place with our OER guidance from the library and edShare.

The keynotes this year were all excellent. Maha Bali (Associate Professor of Practice at the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo), highlighted the need and nuances of inclusion and diversity.  Artist/activist Diana Acre, reminded us of the power of social art, of creating art activism within communities to bring about change at a community level and to help us create meaningful interactions and understanding to and with our wider community. Lucy Compton-Reid (Chief Executive, Wikimedia UK) highlighted the powerful ways in which incorporating  wikimedia into the classroom can bring about  extension of knowledge, contributions to “real world problems”, internationalization, working for the common good, and develop crucial digital literacy skills.  I will be writing a longer reflection on the conference on my own blog, but in the meantime I would encourage you to watch the keynotes, and share any of your thoughts in the comments.

Learning Spaces Inspiration

Last week I attended a Heads of eLearning Forum (HeLF) event on Learning Spaces at Birmingham University.  It was good timing, as GCU is planning to transform a floor in the Hamish Wood Building with state of the art teaching spaces, as well as refurbishing a number of lecture theatres.  Learning from the experiences of others who are further down the road with these changes is really inspiring.

We heard first of all about past and future developments in teaching rooms and study spaces at the University of Birmingham, guided by their Learning Spaces Strategy. It’s interesting to note that Learning Spaces projects come under the wing of the Centre for Learning and Academic Development and Learning Spaces, where they have a Learning Spaces Development Officer.

Caroline Pepper from Loughborough reminded us of the UK Higher Education Learning Space Toolkit produced jointly by UCISA, SCHOMS and AUDE, which is a practical guide and another source of inspiration. I like the fact that the toolkit focuses very much on facilitating learning. It emphasises the diverse range of stakeholders who should be involved from the outset, including students and teaching staff.  The fdevelopments at Loughborough are based around a set of key principles.  Useful practical advice included the importance of flexibility to allow spaces, technology and learning to evolve over time, and the importance of natural light, especially in IT labs where it is often forgotten. Establishing an evaluation baseline early on against which success can be measured is vital.

We were also reminded that when new active learning classrooms are established, academic development is key to ensuring lecturers are prepared for making best use of the spaces with their students.

Peter Ryan of Canterbury Christchurch University shared experiences of the development of a new state of the art library building in its Canterbury campus as a learning space, including ‘maker spaces’ to encourage collaboration and co-creation among students.

We also heard from Paul Burt of UCL, who outlined the highly ambitious programme of teaching space upgrades that is taking place across UCL’s London campuses. It was interesting to hear that they have created new specialist AV/Learning Spaces posts (4 in all) rather than employing external consultants. This is allowing them to build up in-house expertise resulting in speedier start-ups and greater success for new projects.  UCL are sharing their experiences with the sector and have produced their own learning spaces and AV guide.

All in all, the day allowed a really useful exchange of experiences and ideas. There was also some future-gazing into a shift away from fixed lectern equipment and the standard ‘teaching wall’ at the front of a room.  Wifi capacity is key. As one participant put it, ‘If I can connect my iPad easily to my TV at home, why is it still so difficult to enable that for students and staff using their own devices in a teaching space?’ Why indeed.

UCISA Learning Spaces Toolkit

Developing digital capability through flexible curriculum design

We are delighted that GCU features as one of a number of new case studies launched by Jisc last week at #digifest as part of their growing set of resources around building staff digital capabilities.  Our case study, titled Developing digital capability through flexible curriculum design focuses on our recent developments in curriculum design and supporting staff for more fully online delivery.

You can download and read the case study here.


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Next blended learning coffee club – GCU DASH and analytics update, 22 March

The next Blended Learning Coffee Club will take place on Wednesday 22 March, at 12.30 in H116.

Kirsty Roden will be giving an overview of how to use GCU DASH,  an interactive suite of management information dashboards, to support the programme monitoring process. There will also be an update on our progress with the Jisc Effective Learning Analytics programme.

There is no need to book a place, just come along.  Unfortunately we can’t provide tea and coffee anymore, but feel free to byo (bring your own).

Blended learning still a key trend, Horizon 2020 HE Edition

Every year the NMC produce a trends report for HE. It’s always something to look out for, to give an indication of trends in learning and technology for the sector. The report is developed with input from an invited panel of international experts who collectively deliberate, cogitate and develop the key trends for each year. (The also report includes a detailed overview of the Delphi based methodology that was used).

The infographic below provides a summary of this years report.


The trends are just that, trends. Some you will agree with more than others, some seem to have a bit more longevity than others.  Interestingly this year, the report includes a review of the past six years, which clearly illustrates some of the recent ed tech fads and fashions (e.g. MOOCs), and some of the more enduring (real?) challenges the sector is facing.

Blended Learning (or blended learning designs as it is called in the report) appears consistently in the key trends since 2012.  For those of us involved in this area, that is great. It shows that we still need to focus on design learning and effective use of technologies. I also suspect that blended learning has embraced and embedded a number of the other key trend, significant challenges and developments in technology identified by the reports over the past six years, particularly mobile and bring your own device.

Blended delivery is now mainstream.  Ensuring that we are designing effective learning activities, assessment and feedback opportunities is constantly evolving.  Hopefully it will be a key trend for a few more years to come.

You can access the full report here.





Once again GCU is taking part in the national open, online course, Bring Your Own Device for Learning (#BYDO4L) which is running for 5 days next week, 16th – 20th January.

BYOD4L is a bite-size facilitated open course offered over 5 days for educators and students  in HE but also anybody else who would like to learn with us as to how we can utilise our digital devices for professional, lifelong and lifewide learning. You can find out more about the event here.

During the week participants explore topics based on the 5C Framework.  The Blended Learning Coffee club ( facilitated by The Academic Development Team) will be providing daily lunch time drop in sessions for staff in H116 , where we will be discussing the topic of the day, and our own professional (and personal) experiences.

  • Day 1 (Monday  12.30 – 1.30) : Connecting – introduction and connecting to/with BYOD4L.
  • Day 2 (Tuesday 12.30 -1.30): Communicating – how can  we communicate more effectively internally and externally using mobile devices/apps/social media?
  • Day 3 (Wednesday 12.30-1.30): Curating – update on edShare, our educational resource repository.
  • Day 4 (Thursday 1.00- 2.00pm): Collaborating – Using Collaborate Ultra GCUs learning and teaching web conferencing system  (online session, but you can come along to H116 and have a collaborative experience too). Join the session here PLEASE USE CHROME BROWSER,
  • Day 5 (Friday 12.30 – 1.30 ): Creating – reflection on the week and sharing our BYOD4L stories, what have been the highlights and how can we share those experiences in our own contexts?

We hope that many colleagues will be able to join us at various points over the week.

Open, and free CPD opportunity in January #BYOD4L

Do you feel like you’re not getting the most out of your mobile technology? Do you want some help with how to use it in your work? Then Bring Your Own Device for Learning (BYOD4L)  may be for you.

This free open course, starting Monday 16th  January 2017 and running for five consecutive days, looks at how you can make the most of your smart device (tablet/phone/laptop) through short activities and additional resources. The five days cover 5 Cs – connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating and creating. The short course will enable you to connect with peers and learn within a wider community.

There is no requirement to join in every activity; the decision of how much time you wish to spend on this is entirely up to you. During the week there will be activities around the University so keep your eyes and ears open!

Once again, the Blended Learning Coffee Club will be running drop in sessions every day throughout the week.  These informal sessions will provide an opportunity for staff and students to connect and collaborate with the theme of the day and share experiences and practical tips for making the most of mobile technology for learning and teaching.

The lunchtime sessions will run each day in H116 between 12 and 2pm. In the meantime you can find out about the course here and you can follow updates on twitter via @BYOD4L and #BYOD4LD

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