Between 31st August and 4th September 2015 I visited the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. I was fortunate to be able to do this as part of Erasmus+ training programme during which I worked at the University of Groningen looking in to how their MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are developed.
The MOOC project at the University of Groningen is handled by the Educational Support and Innovation Unit (part of the Centre for Innovation and Technology), which is similar to us here in Educational Development in the way that it is a support department and is not part of any faculty.
The Centre for Innovation and Technology has 164 full time members of staff, whilst the Educational Support and Innovation Unit has 19 full time staff, most of whom are teacher trainers and e-learning technicians. The priorities are teacher development, promoting and supporting e-learning and providing technical support.
In addition to developing MOOCs the Educational Support and Innovation Unit is involved in a number of other projects including:
- Teacher certification
- Assessment experts, student survey analysis
- BlackBoard support
- Technical support during student examinations
- Video productions for flipped classroom projects
- Curriculum redesigns
‘An introduction to Dutch’ MOOC
The University of Groningen is well known in the MOOC world for producing an extremely successful MOOC ‘Introduction to Dutch’. This offers learners basic skills in Dutch. This free online course was also used by the University of Groningen as a tool to promote paid online courses offered by the Language Centre at the University. 75 people joined the paid version of the course after the first run of the MOOC had finished.
I met the educators who developed the course – Jeroen van Engen, Birgit Lijmbach, and Margried Hidding – to discuss what made it so successful. I was particularly interested in how the course was marketed and what the secret was to recruiting 35,000 people on this course.
I learnt that in addition to the traditional course advertising done by FutureLearn, a variety of other marketing channels were used such as:
Continue reading Developing MOOCs in Groningen
‘Education is the proper employment, not only of our early years, but of our whole lives.’
William Roscoe, 1817 (painting by Martin Archer Shee (1815-17)
Last term I attended a special lecture on the history of Continuing Education (CE) at Liverpool, delivered by Dr Anna Pilz. Based on archive material going back more than one hundred years, Anna’s lecture built on and extended what we knew from her booklet, Continuing Education at the University of Liverpool (commissioned to celebrate the centenary of CE’s home, 126 Mount Pleasant) which started life in The Royal Institute, opened by William Roscoe in 1817. Reading his motto inspired me to be more determined than ever to support and promote today’s CE.
I was fascinated and delighted to learn that the idea for local university lectures had been first mooted by suffragist Miss Anne J. Clough who, with others, established the North of England Council for Promoting the Higher Education of Women in 1867. In the same year the Council invited James Stuart of Trinity College Cambridge to give a lecture. He was so impressed he took the idea back with him and inaugurated university extension lectures in his own institution. The idea spread to London, Oxford and back to Liverpool, becoming the ‘Society for University Extension in Liverpool and District’ in October 1899, operating under the auspices of the brand new University College Liverpool.
From reading Anna’s report we already knew about the huge number of people who attended lectures before the First World War, and had read of the often heroic efforts on the part of staff and students to continue learning and teaching during the privations of the two wars . But her lecture brought it to life, and made us realise just how precious learning is.
Continue reading ‘Education is the proper employment, not only of our early years, but of our whole lives.’
I am delighted to announce that seven more Fellowships of the University of Liverpool Teaching Recognition and Accreditation (ULTRA) framework were awarded at a meeting of the Recognition Panel recently. Many congratulations to our new ULTRA Fellows! Their achievement demonstrates their commitment to excellence in providing the best learning experiences for University of Liverpool students.
Fellowship is awarded in one of four categories, in recognition of excellent practice in learning and teaching in higher education. The achievement of the seven members of University of Liverpool staff is shown below:
|Dr Steve Barrett
|Dr Alan Greaves
||Archaeology, Classics & Egyptology
|Dr Richard Huzzey
|Ms Helen Orton
||School of Health Sciences
|Dr Luciane Vieira De Mello Rigden
||School of Life Sciences
|Dr Judith Walsh
|Ms Cath Williams
||School of Health Sciences
ULTRA provides an experience-based route to professional recognition of experience and expertise in learning and teaching. The framework is accredited by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) which means that achievement of Fellowship of ULTRA brings with it nationally-recognised fellowship of the HEA.
Dr Janis McIntyre
For further information please go the ULTRA website, or contact Dr Janis McIntyre at Janis.email@example.com
As University academics we are committed to our subjects and, at Liverpool at least, committed to supporting students from all walks of life to engage in the subjects we love and in doing so to help them to develop and grow in confidence and ambition. So, it’s nice when a good news story comes along that demonstrates the value of our hard work.
John Hill’s is just such a story. He started at Liverpool as a Continuing Education student with few qualifications but a passionate interest in Archaeology. John began his academic journey with a couple of Open University courses, but when he saw a leaflet for Continuing Education (CE) in a local Visitor Centre he rang us and was welcomed onto CE courses leading to a Diploma in 2003.
In his speech at the party to celebrate his success John told how he was welcomed by CE Academic Organiser Dr Jane Moore, who allocated a supervisor Dr Joan Taylor who subsequently encouraged him to take an MA. Then along with Dr Phil Freeman, Joan encouraged John to go on to take a PhD. When Joan retired, Dr Matthew Fitzjohn and Dr Duncan Garrow took over supervision; John was full of praise for his supervisors. Meanwhile Dr Zosia Archibald, as Academic Organiser, suggested that John contribute to teaching CE courses. He has been doing so successfully (with classes of 25 plus) ever since. John now also teaches and helps to manage International Summer Schools in the Centre for Lifelong Learning. Dr Hill said:
“CE is like a doorway or entrance for people like myself to enter into higher education, especially for those that haven’t, for whatever reason, obtained previous educational qualifications. Secondly, once the doorway has been entered CE then provides the guidance and support to further one’s own development.”
But CE is more than a group of professional support staff – it’s also the academic staff, in this case the Archaeologists in SACE who work together with CLL to give the kind of support that helps all our students. Now that this lovely graduation week has come to an end, it’s worth remembering that much of the success of the students throwing their hats in the air is down to the passion, expertise and dedication of university academics. Treat yourselves a huge pat on the back – and give yourself a well deserved summer break.