Impact – An Assist

A while ago I was in the country music hall of fame, as one is, and I came across this story.  On the wall in a frame, written on a paper napkin (UK = serviette) were the lyrics to the song ‘Me and Bobby Mcgee’.  The exposition about the napkin said, something like, Kris Kristopherson walked into a bar (ouch! – Tommy Cooper) and sat next to someone who asked him, “How do you write songs, where do the ideas come from?”  Kris says something along the lines of “they just come, no idea how or why.” So, the person says, “could you write a song if I gave you a title?”  “Sure, I’ll give it a go.”  And the title was … Continue reading


‘Learning Technology in Higher Education – challenges and opportunities’ – SEDA Conference keynote

I was delighted to be invited to speak at this year’s SEDA conference. It’s a special honour this year, as both SEDA and ALT are celebrating their 25th anniversary and my talk followed inspiring keynotes by Pauline Kneale, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Teaching and Learning, from Plymouth University and also Julie Hall, Professor of Higher Education and Deputy Vice Chancellor, Solent University Southampton as part of the conference programme. Continue reading

The case for teacher training beyond ‘eduspeak’ and not throwing the baby out with the bath water

The 12th October Guardian ‘anonymous academic’ article “My university forced me into teaching training”. It was all dry ‘eduspeak’ ‘hit me where I live’. In fact, it provoked quite a response in the comments section and particularly on the SEDA (the professional association for staff and educational developers) mailing list. Many colleagues felt the article took an opinion on a specific course to offer a generalised view of teacher training courses that didn’t reflect their own, extensive, collective experience or that of research reviews that generally suggest positive results from pedagogical training. Below is a collaborative blog detailing the response of the SEDA mailing list. Continue reading

Making a list checking it twice …

So, when Santa has made his list and checked it twice (was he moderating or standardising?) he has a group of children who have meet the criterion referenced requirements and received feedback (the gift). However, the motivation is extrinsic and over-justification certainly may take place although there is no conflation. There is common understanding of the criteria although perhaps it is geo-socio-culturally influenced! Continue reading

Flying high: active learning helps to craft research proposals

As a researcher developer working with new M.Res and Ph.D students I know there is often a sense of struggle for students when faced with crafting a coherent research proposal. At Masaryk University, Ivana Rapošová’s approach detailed in a recent book chapter helps students to create their own research proposal as a ‘flying carpet’ designed to “carry students safely through their entire research project”. Continue reading

Having fun! Boosting non-native speakers’ confidence through collaborative group work

It is a particular pleasure to have been invited to review chapter 2 of this book on teaching innovations. My own journey into being an academic developer began as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language and teacher educator of non-native speakers of English, so the aspects this chapter includes really struck a chord with me. This chapter will be of particular interest to academics who want to use interactive teaching techniques to create more active learning for their students. Continue reading

A novel teaching strategy to enhance student’s participation: using cut-ups and topic maps to teach Media courses

A newly published study by Michał Tkaczyk from Masaryk University discusses the results of an innovative teaching strategy which addresses the problem of low levels of student participation in semiotic analysis of media contents seminars. Although active classroom participation plays an important role in knowledge acquisition (Murray and Lang 1997), students might lack the motivation or interest to engage in practical sessions. As emphasized by Tkaczyk, several factors might explain this issue. These include students’ academic dispositions, their lack of understanding of semiotics’ practical applications, and the possibility that interest and knowledge are not closely related, despite the claims in the scholarship. Continue reading

#15toptips for Student-Centred Teaching 15: Develop your pedagogical ‘tech’ toolkit – it could be the key to enhancing the learning of your students

Let me make one thing clear from the outset. I am not a ‘techie’. I rely on my oldest daughter to sort out my Wi-Fi hub when it crashes occasionally at home, and I never did figure out how to set my old VCR recorder to record a TV programme in advance. Needless to say, I also haven’t as yet figured out how to record TV programmes using the ‘box’ that replaced my old VCR. Some things never change.  I’m aware of this failing, and keep promising myself that I’ll do something about it – but as long as my daughters are still living with us, I guess there is little urgency to develop this particular skill. Online banking remains a complete mystery to me. So I think its fair to say that my relationship with technology in my personal life has always been a ‘troublesome’ one. If I confess that I’m now thinking of investing in a record deck with an old fashioned diamond-tipped stylus so that I can play my old vinyl albums which have lain forlorn in my garage for the best part of 30 years, I think you’ll have some idea of my attitude to technology. I’m not one of the ‘early adopters’ that new gadgets are marketed at these days – I’m more of a ‘reluctant adopter’ who uses technology when it becomes difficult to avoid it. Continue reading