Apr 122016

The HEA Arts & Humanities conference took place last month in sunny Brighton: there were quite a few interesting ELT-related sessions at the conference which are outlined below plus links to further information.

Jonathan Worth, Newcastle University Open Lab: Synthesising approaches to openness

Excellent keynote by Jonathan Worth from Newcastle University Open Lab: he talked about not just ‘Teaching with‘ the digital, but ‘teaching of the digital.’  Jonathan discussed his #Phonar global photography classes, Phonar Nation, an international initiative enabling young people to take part in their own representation as well as much, much more: hugely inspiring and thought-provoking.  You can read more about his work on using the affordances of social media in teaching here.

Christopher Wiley, University of Surrey: How to use electronic voting systems creatively in arts & humanities teaching

Using electronic voting systems in the context of Dance, Drama and Music to enhance critical engagement.  1.2 abstract here – his presentation isn’t available but you can read more about Christopher’s work, including his role as a Turning Technologies Distinguished Educator here.

Christopher Hall, Sheffield Hallam University: Infographics as module guides (Poster Presentation)

Using infographics to capture an entire module guide on one page – used as a front page in Blackboard and as hard copy.  You can read the poster presentation abstract here.

Infographics as Module Guides

Christopher Hall’s poster showing a module guide presented as an infographic

Sarah Crowson & Simon Denison, Hereford College of Arts: How to build a less formal online learning space

Students felt more ownership of the informal online learning space created in WordPress, and engaged more with this space compared to the the official VLE.  12.7 abstract here and you can read in more detail about Sarah and Simon’s action research project here.

Alexis Taylor, University of Northampton and Phil Perry, University of Coventry:#CovNorth
16.8 abstract here and you can see at #CovNorth the way that students preferred email to Twitter for professional communication.  My favourite quote of the conference came from this presentation: ‘Twitter is for old people’ according to these students at least.

More on the conference website: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/events-conferences/event/inspire-%E2%80%93-sharing-great-practice-arts-and-humanities-teaching-and-learning

Julia Reeve

Jul 072015

Andrew Reeves is a Lecturer working with the School of Energy and Sustainable Development. Andrew teaches a number of modules and this short blog post focuses on his practice when engaging with a small cohort of students on the People, Society and Climate Change MSc module.

Andrew’s current cohort comprises of two attending students and nine Distance Learning students. Two of the Distance Learning students who are currently enrolled are able to commit to being online at the same time as Andrew’s timetabled sessions.

The teaching approach that Andrew deploys is one that is grounded in small group discussions and activities to help students construct knowledge and learn from each other whilst Andrew facilitates in the classroom. Traditionally, materials would be made available online for the Distance Learning students to engage with but this year, Andrew has extended this approach by bringing his Distance Learning students into the classroom using Google Hangouts.

Each week, Andrew will start a Hangout and the Distance Learning students will join the Hangout and join in with the discussion based sessions. This contribution firstly helps the Distance Learning students to engage and feel part of the student community but their presence also enriches the discussion as by their nature the Distance Learning students bring different perspectives to the discussion as they are generally mature students who have industry experience to bring to the table.

One of Andrew’s sessions involves a card sorting activity. Traditionally, the attending students would be given pieces of paper and they would work together to achieve the outcome. Using the Hangout in conjunction with Google Sheets Andrew has replicated this exercise online; enabling the Distance Learning students to take part in the card sorting session.

The Distance Learning and attending students who are enrolled on People, Society and Climate Change this year have been very positive about the use of online technology to provide an inclusive experience:

“Thanks so much for including us via Google hangout. I have really felt part of the course and far more engaged than just communicating via email.”

Not only does Andrew find that involving the Distance Learning students in this way helps to deepen the discussions; this practice also ensures that the small group discussion approach is sustainable. As this is a small cohort of students, should one or two of the attending students be unable to participate, having the Distance Learning students present via the Hangout ensures that discussions and activities remain meaningful.

In conversation, Andrew is now thinking about extending this inclusive approach by utilising other tools that may enable discussions to continue in an online space in between the timetabled sessions. This extension of Andrew’s approach would also help should any of the Distance Learning students be unable to attend virtually. Andrew is also looking to pilot this approach in other post-graduate courses with larger student numbers.

Thank you to Andrew Reeves for agreeing to the production of this blog post.

Ian Pettit
ELT Project Officer

Apr 292014

A joint venture with POD and UNISON- 19.05.14 to 23.05.14 

CELT activities –  Monday 19th May and Friday 23rd May  between 12.30pm to 2.30pm in Eric Wood 1.13 

This two-hour slot will contain three bite-sized exhibition style activities that will repeat throughout the two hours: 

  1. How to create audio and visual feedback using screencast software.
  2. Using word 2010 to assist navigation of a PDF.
  3. How to set-up your own website/blog in the DMU Commons.
  • (Each activity is likely to last around 15 -20 minutes) 

How to create audio and visual feedback using screencast software – overview

  • In the hands on session you will create feedback videos using screen capture software. This technique creates feedback where students hear the tutor’s voice and inflection, which adds meaning, significance and enhances students learning of the feedback. 
  • You will learn how to: mark an electronically submitted assignment; save it as video file; and upload it to Blackboard. Where your students can download it as a podcast.

Using word 2010 to assist navigation of a PDF – overview

  • Lengthy PDF documents within Blackboard are often left unread by students. By applying Word2010 tools to that document you can enhance the PDF making it easy to navigate and subtract the information required. Applying this to topics, or highlight significant detail, creates an engaging and inclusive PDF for the different learners in your cohort.
  • Using a typical handbook the hands on session will teach you how to: create a template of headings and subheadings; applying them to the document; and save as a PDF.

How to set-up your own website/blog in the DMU Commons – overview 

  • DMU Commons is based on the WordPress platform. It is used by staff and students across DMU to create a blogging platform, web space, and/or social network tool; linking everyone into one online community.
  • This session will demonstrate and provide you with an understanding on the basics of WordPress. Provide a hands on activity that will allow you to: create a DMU commons account; set up and build a website/blog; and how to maintain the site.
Mar 262014

Using social media tools to affirm study skills

Zoë Allman is the Programme Leader, Media Production BSc, Faculty of Technology and a DMU Teacher Fellow.

Up until the 2013/14 academic year, one of the modules that Zoë taught was the Social Media and Technology module; the learning outcomes of which are focused on students developing their study skills such as how write group essays, revision techniques and other study skills. The module also focuses on how to write for social media platforms and the importance of keeping an up to date online profile.

Traditionally, when engaging with study skills tutorials, students would work in isolation during lab sessions and in quite a didactic manner, feedback would be given on the pieces of written work that the students had produced. It was obvious to module leader Andrew Clay, supported by module tutor Zoë, that this approach to teaching study skills as part of Social Media and Technology was not pedagogically appropriate as students were seen to have forgotten what they had learnt through the feedback and therefore they set about to innovate the teaching and assessment techniques used in this part of the module.

Andrew and Zoë decided to marry the subject of the module ‘social media’ with the study skills learning outcomes. This made sense as this created a situation where the students would be using the tools that the module is focused on to develop and construct their knowledge relating to study skills.

Students were already using Facebook and Twitter in other modules and in their personal lives so in consultation with the students the module team agreed that Facebook and Twitter would be used as a platform for students to engage with each other and work collaboratively on their study skills – this approach also lent itself to the curriculum as one of the summative assessment tasks is to produce a group essay.

Initially, Andrew and Zoë adapted the traditional approach by building in the use of social media. As a module team they encouraged students to share their attempts at writing in an academic style using a Facebook group. The students found that being able to see and formatively critique each other’s attempts helped them to understand the principles behind academic writing and to learn from each other’s feedback.

This approach helped students to retain what they had learnt about study skills but the breakthrough came when one group of students decided to take their learning into their own hands.

An assignment was set whereby small groups were tasked to produce a piece (written or otherwise) to demonstrate that a specific study skill had been mastered. All groups, with the exception of one, submitted either a written document or a short video in a piece to camera style.

However, Zoë was pleasantly surprised when she reviewed one group’s submission to find that they had taken a popular song, parodied the video, re-written the lyrics and presented a produced ‘pop-video’ style piece that demonstrated fully that they had learnt how to write a group assignment.

The following week, as part of the co-teaching activity, Zoë showcased this submission to the other groups which prompted one group to go directly to the media production studio and create a parody of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies for the following week.

Now, rich multimedia content has become the normal for students working in groups or individually on the study skills assignments as part of Social Media and Media technology. Submissions are now shared and critiqued using the DMU Commons rather than Facebook but the principles are the same and students also use the DMU Commons to blog using the FutureMedia site as championed by Rob Watson, Principal Lecturer.

Andrew and Zoë also encourage the students to Tweet about their learning experience. With guidance from Dr Andrew Clay, Principal Lecturer, Critical Technical Practices, Zoë and the students have been making use of the storification tools in Twitter to build up a chronological portfolio of reflective Tweets that others can see.

Students are also encouraged to stay up to date with social media trends when using these platforms to collaborate and produce pieces for assessment. For example, students embraced the ‘Harlem Shake’ trend and group’s submitted Harlem Shake style videos to demonstrate their understanding – this links to the social media focused learning outcomes of the module as it encourages students to not only use such tools for their own assessment pieces but through using these tools they are also learning how to use them in the context of their course too.

The students enjoy these approaches to teaching and formative assessment, and have taken control of their own learning by pro-actively extending their use of social media by parodying videos and talking about their experiences and the work they have produced in these spaces.

The students described here are all first year students and through these activities they are encouraged to begin to take control of their own learning through these innovative approaches to teaching study skills.

Ian Pettit

Apr 092013

The next meeting of the DMU Social Media Group is scheduled for the 18th April 2013, from 1pm to 2pm in the Transdisciplinary common room. The meeting will discuss WordPress as an online CV and Personal Development Auditor.

If you are interested in attending please come along or contact Steve Mackenzie:



Mar 112013

Pinterest is one of the most popular image sharing websites. It allows individuals to set up an online profile where they can post personal information, upload photographs, pin images sourced from other websites and organise the material in virtual pinboards which are available publicly.

Jisc Legal has published a paper and video on Pinterest, Image Sharing Websites and the Law. The resources will help staff to understand the legal considerations when using an image sharing social network.
Feb 282013

Transdisciplinary DMU Social Media

Explorers of all things Social Media


The Social Media Group meets in the transdisciplinary common room. The focus of the group is to share practices of social media used for learning and teaching and too evaluate how effective they are. During the forthcoming weeks there will be dissemination on different social media programmes; how they are used; and their effect on learning and student experience.

To join the group and find out more information:

Select this link https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/112373844650640338606 to join on Google groups

Or email:- Steve Mackenzie or Thom Corah at DMU