All posts by Jaye McIsaac

You teach? Try iTeach

iTeach is the online resource portal for those who teach and support student learning at The University of Liverpool .

Resources in key areas of learning and teaching are available. Recent additions include a glossary of teaching terms, discipline specific resources and access to other UoL teaching resources such as SPARK (new technologies in learning and teaching) and ‘how to’ guides in VITAL.

As examples, programmes going through approval have needed learning outcomes revision and colleagues have asked for information so these resources have been updated.  Some discipline-specific examples can be applied generally, such as Engaging Students in Engineering through their everyday experiences, which illustrates how the course design can improve student study motivation and interest. Tackling the challenges of teaching large cohorts, the Department of Electronics & Electrical Engineering highlight the importance of involving students and using technology – their examples are here.  Digital Literacy and Learning Capabilities are key strategic developments in Higher Education, so more is now available.

Three new areas will extend iTeach:  Education for Sustainable Development, Placements and Students as Partners.

Join your colleagues today – take a look and we hope iTeach is a useful source of support for your teaching and your students’ learning.


Jaye McIsaac

Self-Directed Learning in Health Programmes

Last week a multidisciplinary group of health professionals gathered in the School of Health Sciences to explore how clinical placement practice enables and encourages students to become Self-Directed Learners.  A third-year student group also participated sharing their perceptions and experience of this learning approach.

The University hosts this annual CPD event, which is co-ordinated by the School of Health Sciences Practice Placement Working Group. The event is for Practice Educators, Clinical Tutors, Mentors and Practice Education Facilitators, who work with Health Sciences colleagues to mentor, support and assess Health Sciences students when they are on placement in clinical practice across the region.

We started by considering key principles, characteristics and frameworks of Self-Directed Learning.   Implications for academic practice included an exploration of learning activities and assessment practice, facilitated by Elspeth McLean, Staff Development Office and Jaye McIsaac, Educational Developer. The session was well received and evaluated by a group of engaged and enthusiastic participants, who said they enjoyed the focus of the presentations, the contributions of the students, and the opportunities for discussion of key issues with colleagues and students. This is a good example of how the University can develop and share good practice, learning from our wider educational communities, impacting programme design and practice.

ALT-C 2012: a confrontation with reality

I participated in the Association for Learning Technology (ALT) conference for the first time last week.  Like many of you, I use technology in my learning & teaching practice and in my daily work but have much, much more to learn.

There was an overarching message about effectiveness and efficiency with these hard questions facing us as individuals and education institutions:

  • How can learning technology better support the core processes of learning, teaching, assessment, recruitment and retention?
  • What will be the place of open educational resources and other kinds of free, shared, low cost or informal support and organisation in good provision?
  • How should we respond to learners themselves, who are increasingly voluble in their desire for value for money and for effective use of technology?

I learnt plenty; here are a few highlights: Keynote Eric Mazur showcased the significance of collaborative and active learning – and the way technology enables this.  His work is underpinned by his research in university science courses in the USA.

The ways in which both students and teachers drive changes in the use of learning technologies was a common theme.  Learning technologies (software, platforms, and activities) are now hugely influential in learning design – enhancing the way in which teachers think about how students will make the best use of their time and engage in their subject. Richard Noss, from the London Knowledge Lab, suggests that the thought of using technology for learning is new; it’s evolving for us in education, so in the ‘real world’ technology for learning is just beginning.

And another thought, the importance of harnessing the potential for collaborative technology is crucial for learning.  See Technology Enhanced Learning, a UK teaching and learning research project.

Tunde Varga-Atkins and I presented some collaborative work on how learning technologies might enhance a student feedback technique which generated plenty of questions about some of the technologies we’ve tried and tested: Mobile Text EntryGoogle Moderator and Online Sticky Notes.

My overall impressions of the conference: well-organised and enthusiastic delegates (all 700!), good place to meet learning technology researchers, there was a good balance between practical (innovation) and research-informed sessions, online participation to meet others, very welcoming and easy to network.  It was inspiring to see the range of innovation and interventions in adult, vocational, further and higher education and the products available from commercial providers. Lots of presentations reported on development that is undertaken within and funded by Higher Education institutions.  The emphasis was on using technology for innovation to make learning and teaching more effective and more efficient, and how it is increasingly part of institutional strategy. You can see the keynote and invited speaker sessions soon on the ALT YouTube channel shortly.

University of Liverpool is an organisational member of ALT; see more about ALT’s work to improve practice, promote research and influence policy in learning technologies.


Building a new picture of student learning in Curriculum Review

The Undergraduate Curriculum Review is central to enhancing the student experience and Educational Development is working with programme teams in all faculties, using a variety of approaches, based on the review type and programme team needs.  The Curriculum Coordinators Team coordinates and informs curriculum review activities, requests, enquiries and resource support across the University.

We are building up a picture of the various ways in which staff and students contribute to curriculum development.  The curriculum is conceptualised as the entire student learning experience.  Curriculum Review activities over the last year have seen some key areas emerge: student engagement, internationalisation, module options, assessment and feedback, blended learning, enhancing employability, skills development, and research-led teaching.

Curriculum Review Workshops – deliberations and discussions! Our work draws on a range of expertise in the university on learning and teaching.  Further, institutional strategy also informs curriculum review; currently, Enhancing Student Employability, Elearning, Information Literacy, and Learning & Digital Literacies Skills. Educational Development is developing a web site with initial advice and guidance for staff.  In collaboration with the Teaching Quality Support Division and Computing Services, we are developing learning and teaching resources for the Online Programme Planner a new tool that enables programme teams to build a programme of study including changes to specification forms.

You may be interested in trying out the new module specification planning tool, or for any curriculum review query, do contact us at: