Planning for Student Learning in a Digital Society

On Thursday 24th May,  Educational Development looks forward to hosting a day of educational development events facilitated by David Baume PhD SFSEDA FHEA.

David will  be delivering a guest lecture on digital Literacies and facilitating two staff development sessions. Guest Lecture: Digital Literacies – Fads or Fundamentals? 1 .00pm – 2.00pm The idea that we and our students need a range of digital literacies – the capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society (from JISC 2010) – is probably mostly uncontentious. But issues remain. Which particular digital literacies? Who defines them? Where does responsibility lie for developing staff and student digital literacies? What are the best ways to develop digital literacies? Are digital literacies best treated as generic or discipline-specific capabilities? How do we deal with the fact that the capabilities that constitute digital literacy today will not be those of twenty years, five years, one year in the future – sometimes, it feels, of next week? Using current work by the JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme, this session will address the questions above, and suggest some possible ways forward. Workshop: Planning courses that lead to good student work and maximise the value of staff teaching time. 9.30am – 11.30am
This workshop will be of interest to course designers, those working in quality assurance and those involved in curriculum development activities. We will explore ways in which we can use student and staff time more productively, in part by being more explicit about how staff and student time and effort are used. Starting from what is known about what makes for effective and efficient student learning, participants will be supported and encouraged to design courses as coherent and appropriate sets of learning activities. A major determinant of student success is the nature and quality of student effort and student work. A course which concentrates on helping students to do good work can also make more efficient use of staff time than a course which concentrates on teaching. Workshop:  Policy and practice in the development of digital fluency.2.30 – 4.30pm “I am digitally fluent when I confidently, critically and appropriately select, and skilfully use, digital technologies to achieve my goals.” The workshop will start from this and then support, and perhaps occasionally challenge, each participant to identify what digital literacy means in their work, in the various particular disciplinary and professional roles they occupy.   The outcomes should be some insights and some plans for further productive work on the develop of your digital fluency and the digital fluency of those for whom you have some responsibility. The Facilitator  

David Baume PhD SFSEDA FHEA is an independent higher education researcher, evaluator, consultant, staff and educational developer and writer. He was founding chair of the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA); a founder of the Heads of Educational Development Group (HEDG); and founding editor of the International Journal for Academic Development (IJAD). He was previously a Director of the Centre for Higher Education Practice at the Open University. He has co-edited three books on staff and educational development, and published some 60 papers, articles and reports on higher education teaching, assessment, evaluation, course design, portfolios and personal development planning. He is currently working on academic development and digital literacy for JISC. You can book onto any of these events on by visiting the CLL bookings site or visit the page at All are welcome to attend these free events and we look forward to seeing you there.

Symposium – Critical theories of ‘social representation and reality’

Organised in affiliation with the International Herbert Marcuse Society

University of Liverpool, Monday 18 June 2012 (1pm. – 5pm.)

A symposium that will be of interest to researchers, students and professional practitioners who are engaged with or use critical approaches in their work.

The multiple and proliferating streams of Critical Theory continue to enrich scholarly and research fields in the humanities and political sciences. In the fields of education theory to media analysis, from cultural theory to theories of ‘the city’, from aesthetics to theories of the law critical theorists continue to employ perspectives and approaches that challenge, provoke and subvert the standard clichés and tropes of empirical sociology and positivism in the humanities and political sciences. At this symposium we will hear papers presented by four scholars whose work questions and exposes the power dynamics and hidden conflicts that underlie and structure our social realities. Each in their different ways explore the myriad meanings of ‘representation’ in our culture. Alex Callinicos (King’s College London) explores Marx’s critique of political economy; Penny Burke (Paulo Friere Institue, Roehampton) interrogates the British widening participation agenda with a ‘critical eye’; Catalina Montoya (Javeriana University, Bogota) explores the changing role of the media in Colombian civil society using Chomsky’s ‘propaganda model’; and Mark O’Brien (Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Liverpool) considers the deceptions of language in the policy rhetoric of the UK Coalition Government. All critically-inclined researchers, students and professional practitioners are invited to this symposium. A collaboration between the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Liverpool and the Paulo Friere Institute at the University of Roehampton and organised in association with the International Herbert Marcuse Society, the event takes place at the University of Liverpool on Monday 18 June. To book your free place from within the University of Liverpool, go to:  (find the Symposium and click on the ‘date’ to book) To book your free place from outside the University (or if you are a student) go to: (please provide your institution, if relevant, your email and a contact number).

For more information contact Mark O’Brien at

Another step forward for the UoL-UHS (Pakistan) partnership

The University of Liverpool (UoL) has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Health Sciences (UHS) in Lahore, Pakistan, to enhance the provision of medical education throughout the Punjab (population 80m). UHS was recently declared by the Higher Education Commission, Pakistan to be the No 1 public sector medical university in Pakistan.

Janet Strivens and Ian Willis of CLL have just returned from running courses for UHS on practice and theory of teaching. The MoU has provided the basis for a developing partnership that is currently receiving funding from the British Council under its International Strategic Partnerships in Research and Education (INSPIRE). So far we have reached agreement for UHS to send up to 10 funded PhDs per annum to UoL as well as initiating a Knowledge Exchange project supported by Dr Milla Shah of the University’s Business Gateway team.
This visit was focussed on delivering a pilot programme “Introduction to Teaching for New Medical Educators”. Essentially, it is a learning teaching and assessment course derived from programmes offered by the Educational Development Division here at UoL. The aim is that this will become a mandatory programme for all new staff in UHS’ affiliate medical and dental colleges throughout the Punjab.

UHS acts as an examination centre for approximately 30 colleges; that’s most of the medical institutions in the province, and means that UHS has a real influence over the quality of medical education. Whilst we don’t know the exact number of staff who might take the programme it will clearly be a significant number each year.

One of our first tasks is to train experienced Pakistani medical educators to take over the running and assessment of the programme so that it becomes a sustainable and locally owned undertaking. Fortunately, we were able to involve some excellent ‘trainers’ from our connections formed during earlier visits. This latest visit involved actually delivering the first stage of the programme and ironing out its quirks, plus sharing the content and philosophy with the trainers at the same time. Even though that entailed quite a bit of organising, our Pakistani colleagues, class and trainers, are a pleasure to work with; so it’s great to be engaged with people who are keen to learn and contribute to changing their educational culture.

It looks like we are well underway on this project, with some of the trainers ready to run this first stage of the programme in their own institutions. One college has asked us to run a one day workshop for all their staff and as many students as possible; up to 600 people we believe. That will be fun if it comes off!

In parallel, we have continued discussions and market investigations regarding a proposed Masters in Medical Education to be developed as a UHS-UoL Joint Award. This is an altogether more rigorous enterprise, but so far the signs are promising.

To add a little variety, we ‘popped’ up to Islamabad for the weekend to present at the Association for Excellence in Medical Education conference. Popped is a bit of an understatement, it’s a 4½ – 5hr journey each way through the Punjab, covering some of the most productive land in the country. It’s based on an extensive canal system for irrigation put in place during the Raj and still being skilfully maintained and operated. The conference was the inaugural event for the Association for Excellence in Medial Education and attracted speakers from UK, USA, Saudi, Oman and Australia. It was really well organised and allowed us to get a sense of national developments in medical education, a key priority of the Pakistani Medical & Dental Council.

As an interesting aside, the conference was held in the Pakistan-China Friendship Centre, a superbly equipped facility and billed as a symbol of their “everlasting friendship”. Overall, we’re really pleased to have furthered our ties with colleagues at UHS and to have delivered some tangible outcomes (plus the food and hospitality are exemplary 🙂 ).

Ian Willis & Janet Strivens

Poster Day Online – presenting research in an Online environment

Presenting work online is increasingly used to bring together geographically dispersed researchers, with opportunities to present research to a wider audience than is normally possible. Events are cheaper through avoiding travel time and expenses, but how useful are these opportunities for online networking?

Poster Day Online has been developed for off-site research students as an alternative to the Poster Day provided on the Liverpool campus. The online participants are a diverse group based around the world including mainland Europe, XJTLU, Malawi and more distant parts of the UK. The group also includes students undertaking fieldwork and those at conferences on the date of Poster Day. Our online event aims to offer a closely equivalent experience to that on Campus, as well as allowing these students to fulfil the “Poster Day attendance requirement” for their degree.

Inevitably there are large differences between the two events. With a disparate audience working across time-zones, the online event cannot have the “buzz” of real-time conversations. We allow three weeks for Poster Day online so that viewers can read posters at their leisure, in their preferred environment, and at their chosen times of the day.

The question and answer discussion area is necessarily asynchronous, but viewers, particularly students, produce considered questions and the presenters usually answer at length, with references to further resources if relevant. As in the live event, students vote on their favourite posters, and are encouraged to view posters from all faculties. For many students this offers a rare opportunity to view widely differing research topics.

The event has developed considerably from its first conception in Vital, largely in response to constructive feedback from past participants. Adaptation of the technology in Vocal has enabled many improvements in technology and design, most notably the automatic emailing of questions to speed up the discussion process.

This year, we have added the option of a gallery style layout to meet requests. The success of the online discussions is crucial to this event. In the first year of the event only a few participants actively engaged in discussions. Subsequently this participation was included into the “attendance requirements”, resulting in much wider engagement, but, while participants are asked to comment on two other posters, most engage much more widely. The feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive:

It is quite innovative and I am enjoying the experience very much.” “Nice that you can spend a little more time frequently perusing the posters.” “It’s also really nice that people take the time to make comments, some in great detail

A major complaint has been of the lack of outside contribution from staff members in the University! To experience this years’ Poster Day online for yourself, learn of the research of over 60 participants and engage in the online discussions, see External visitors can access the event at  and login in using user-name: pdo2012;  password: Liverpool; We also welcome your feedback. You may add to our event feedback form, or offer your opinions on the benefits of this form of event below. How far can we promote active networking in an online environment?

Teaching for Researchers – an accredited teaching qualification

The Teaching for Researchers Course has been running for two years already. We are delighted to report that as of March 2012, 88 Research Staff and Postgraduate Research Students have successfully completed the course!

This Learning and Teaching development opportunity allows those who complete it to receive a recognised qualification as Associate Fellows of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA). Researchers who completed the course have gone through the application process successfully and found the interaction with HEA effortless. As a result the University is increasing steadily the number of staff with a recognised teaching qualification.
The interest in attending this course has been remarkable and the feedback we have received demonstrates that researchers appreciate this development opportunity. The fact that the provision is accredited by a recognised professional body makes it attractive and highly beneficial in terms of professional development aspirations. Furthermore, our participants have been very positive about the whole learning experience.

The opportunity to meet up with other researchers across the University and form a cohort over two academic semesters is also valuable. The discussions over lunch, during the sessions, the peer support that is ongoing through the process and the feedback from tutors are all highly valued and commended by our participants.

The course makes use of VITAL, the University’s virtual learning environment for uploading learning material, submission of assessment tasks and feedback. This gives participants the opportunity to experience the benefits (and occasional challenges) of using an online learning environment. Our aim as tutors is to offer researchers the opportunity to experience the whole teaching practice as it currently happens in classrooms across the University.

Finally, we are delighted to announce that following the very positive Skype meeting with our External Examiner in February 2012, we have received confirmation that the class of October 2011 has now completed successfully the Teaching for Researchers course. Certificates have already been issued and our participants can start applying to obtain their accredited qualification by the HEA. Congratulations to the class of October 2011!

For more information about this course, please contact us: Christos Petichakis,; Stuart McGugan:

Chemistry Department wins funding for internationalisation project

We are delighted to announce that our application, “Developing strategies and activities to improve interactions between home and international students and to enhance teaching and learning”, for the joint HEA/UKCISA funding and also for the Faculty of Physical Sciences funding was successful.

This project will run by the Chemistry Department and the Centre for Lifelong Learning Centre. The purpose of this project is to identify and develop some of the skills needed in inter-culturally competent graduates prepared for life as global professionals by generating strategies to facilitate interaction between home and overseas students that is mutually beneficial to all students and staff. The aims are to:

  • develop new strategies and introduce new activities to make the student experience enjoyable and applicable to international and UK students,
  • extend the existing peer mentoring scheme at UoL in order to train new mentors for international students,
  • implement the peer assisted learning in our department to help with academic and personal development,
  • set new induction activities for international students on their arrival in order to engage home and internationals students with each other,
  • examine how to enhance the teaching and learning methods, such as incorporating collaborative group projects, and other inclusive forms, into teaching and
  • generate guidelines and online resources for staff and internationals students before starting the academic year 2012-13.

We would like to invite staff members involved in the area of internationalisation to take part in this study. We anticipate that the results will easily be adapted for any department within the University of Liverpool. Finally, I would like to thank Ian Willis for his consistent support to get this funding and also for his future help in this project.

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:

Focusing on Student Induction

Student induction is a tricky problem. Is it simply a one off, all bells and whistles Welcome (Freshers’) Week?  We know, from  research by the Student Induction Group  over the last couple of years, that students want to be involved,  informed, and inspired when they join the university and properly introduced to their academic departments and their academic studies, as well as making friends. We also argue  that induction is not, and should not be, a one off event.

If we are to be effective at inducting students into the institution then it must be seen as a process that continues well beyond the first week. Having worked initially on developing Welcome Week activities to better reflect this view of induction, Educational Development, on behalf of the Induction Working Group, ran a very successful dissemination and discussion event on 26 January 2012 to promote best practice in ongoing induction. Staff came from across the university to hear academic colleagues describing seven different approaches to ongoing induction using posters developed especially for the event. Working in small groups staff were able to engage with the ideas, share their own experiences and consider new and innovative ways forward. There was also an opportunity to look at seven different ideas for supporting student induction from professional services staff. Again, debate was lively and constructive.

  • “I thought the event went really well yesterday.”
  • “the induction event was great and staff were really engaged”
  • “Thanks for arranging today’s event. It was very useful and I enjoyed the day.”
  • “Brilliant’s rare that I can say that I truly enjoyed / profited from such a thing.  Today was really good.”

The next step is to gather more examples of practice in ongoing induction from participants who attended the event. We know that there are many more examples of good practice at large across the institution. We plan to bring all this together to design a Guide to Student Induction at Liverpool, and hope to have this available on our web site by Easter 2012.

All the presentations from the Induction Event and the reports produced by the Student Induction Group can be accessed at student induction. The posters from the event will be displayed at the annual Learning and Teaching Conference [20thJune 2012].  if you have a good example that you would like to contribute to the Guide then please do get in touch. Patrick Doherty and Anne Qualter

Teaching at university for doctoral students: raising awareness amongst the postgraduate community

Evidence from the past decade suggests that postgraduate research students (PGRs) are increasingly being used to support the teaching needs of an expanding UK higher education sector. This growth has both pros and cons. On the one hand, teaching opportunities can provide PGRs with valuable income and learning experiences, while on the other, the casual employment of PGRs raises issues of ‘exploitation’ and, if inadequately supported, lead to poor quality teaching.

Anna Pilz and I were recently invited to speak at an event held at Salford University for postgraduate student representatives. I am responsible for GTA training at Liverpool while Anna is a final year research student in the Institute of Irish Studies who has gained a range of teaching experiences during her postgraduate study. She is currently writing up her thesis on the topic of ‘Late 19th Century Irish Drama’.

The session, which was attended by representatives from throughout the North West Region, reviewed areas of teaching activity for postgraduate students and the potential benefits that this type of work offers. Discussion then went onto explore concerns about this form of teaching and how the postgraduate community could address these. This formed the basis for an agenda that participants could take forward into their practice. The session was very well received and is another example of the value of the good working relationship that exists between Educational Development and University of Liverpool Guild of Students.

Evidence from the past decade suggests that postgraduate research students are increasingly being used to support the teaching needs of an expanding UK higher education sector. This growth has both pros and cons. On the one hand, teaching opportunities can provide PGRs with valuable income and learning experiences, while on the other, the casual employment of PGRs raises issues of ‘exploitation’ and, if inadequately supported, lead to poor quality teaching.

Stuart McGugan

Teaching in Pakistan

Recently Janet Strivens and I visited the University of Health Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan for two weeks as part of a British Council funded INSPIRE project. INSPIRE stands for International Strategic Partnerships in Research and Education.  These are 3 year partnerships set up to develop closer multi-level links between Pakistan and UK universities. They  require the involvement of different activities and different departments.

Our project’s overall aim is to ‘enhance learning and teaching in medical education in the Punjab’.  Just a bit of background, UHS is a ‘hub’ university and administers the examinations for medical education throughout the Punjab, that’s 30 affiliated Medical and Dental institutions, both public and private, in Pakistan’s most influential province, population 80m.  So the potential for impact is significant!
The challenge is to make sustainable, locally owned improvements that last beyond the duration of the project.  We’re working on systemic enhancements, one of the most tangible being an introductory teaching programme for all new medical educators that will be delivered locally by qualified staff and at an international standard.  With staff from throughout the Punjab we’ve been agreeing on programme content with critical thinking, active learning and using technology getting plenty of interest.  Paul Duvall also came and taught for one week and has posted his E-learning experiences at elearning@liverpool.

Links between the universities are strengthening in other areas.  We have just reached agreement for 10 PhD students per year, for the next five years, to come to Liverpool to study.  They will come primarily to the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences in areas most likely to contribute to health improvement in Pakistan and that are aligned to UoL’s strategic research areas. In addition, staff from UHS have visited the university to discuss our experiences and systems in Knowledge Exchange and innovations in Medical Education. It’s an example of a teaching based project contributing to several of the University’s strategic goals and making a valued contribution in an important region for the university’s international reach.

As part of the visit Janet and I went to four regional universities to run seminars.  This took us from the south near to a desert area, to the industrial heartland and finally to a more mountainous region.  Wherever we went we were very warmly welcomed and treated to the renowned Pakistani hospitality, which involves plenty of official ceremonies, photographs and excellent food.

We managed to make local and national press. Clearly Pakistan attracts negative headlines in the world press but we were kept very secure and not able to go out and about.  Nevertheless we got a sense of a fascinating and complex country. We are learning how to adapt our UK systems and experiences to a new context, as it is essential not to attempt to just transplant our ‘ways of doing things’.  This means getting to grips with Pakistani traditions and practices in medical education, understanding how staff are rewarded and motivated and working out how the university system operates.  Only then can we usefully discuss how we can adapt our programmes to local needs, build in sustainablilty and local ownership, whilst ensuring international standards.  Not surprisingly this involves lots of meetings, lots of listening and plenty of tea :).

It’s been a  brilliant experience for us and it would be great to hear from others with comparable experiences.

Ian Willis

See University news item. recent visit of UHS Vice Chancellor