Friday, 30 March 2018

Innovation and the Practice of Politics

By Matthew Wyman, School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment

In this short video Matthew outlines the approach taken in one of his modules the Practice of Politics.  The module recognised for its innovative approach through the Political Studies Association in 2016-17 has also been recognised by the external examiner for the programme

Contact details
Matthew Wyman (
Sarah Longwell (

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Innovation and the Practice of Politics by By Matthew Wyman, School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Academic Reading Retreats: Discovering criticality together

By Angela Rhead, Student Learning, Keele University 


Academic Reading Retreats are one-day learning and teaching events that explore the purpose and structure of academic journal articles and the dark art of ‘critical reading’. They offer learning opportunities for both students and academic staff: students gain confidence in handling academic papers, but also in becoming disciplinary enquirers, with a new understanding of why they read. Academics gain insight into the challenges students face in this aspect and often into their own assumptions about students’ reading behaviours, which in turn encourages critical reflection on curriculum design.

In conversation with students and colleagues from across the disciplines, reading emerges as an almost universally ‘sticky’ (Schon, 1987) concept for higher level learning, persistently frustrating for both students and academics alike. This seems particularly acute in the humanities and social sciences, with their disciplinary view of criticality often emerging from a student’s individual engagement with reading and their positioning in terms of that discourse (Moore, 2013). However, whilst the retreat has emerged from an interpretive perspective, I’ve come to realise that reading research articles for academic purpose is equally challenging for many students studying sciences. Whilst I always ‘warn’ applicants from scientific disciplines that the retreat does not focus on methods or statistics, those students that persist report positive learning experiences. Their participation has also enriched my own understanding of criticality and improved my ability to adapt to individual concerns and challenges in an interdisciplinary setting.

Academic Reading Retreats consist of three cycles of teaching, individual silent reading and reflective group discussion. Participants from any discipline bring an article they have selected for a specific enquiry or assessment, to which they apply the taught strategies throughout the day. Student participants are usually undergraduate second and third years approaching or already engaged in dissertations or independent projects, although postgraduate students can also benefit. One novel aspect of the retreats is to have academics reading alongside students to expose the continuing and inevitable challenge of reading for academic purposes. Ideally, two academics participate as ‘readers-in’ residence’ in a group of twelve to twenty (larger groups may require more academic participants).

Background and History 

Moving to Keele in 2015, metamorphosing from an Education lecturer into a ‘Learning Developer’, I was confident of strategies that could support students in reading and exploring intertextual relationships, but I continued to wrestle with the ‘stickiness’ around literature selection and those initial scanning stages. With a much wider remit now, and access to threshold concept discussions (Meyer and Land, 2013) across a range of disciplines, it became increasingly clear that these more fundamental practices, which unless addressed would make the later practices meaningless, needed closer attention in the curriculum. I began to experiment with two strategies aimed at engaging students in understanding the purpose of academic reading (and enquiry) and exploring the implication of that for literature selection and initial reading: the ‘stage’ and the ‘scroll’.

For more detail, background and to find out how to use the stage follow this link 
The Stage: Early work on selecting literature

For more detail and background about how to use scrolling follow this link 
Scrolling: Early work on initial reading of journal articles

Academic Reading Retreats: The early days 

In many ways, Academic Reading Retreats appear to work against the direction of travel I have been pursuing by bringing academic practice development back out of curriculum programmes. As a ‘Learning Developer’ I have concentrated on three aspects in my work with students and academics: firstly, a move from generic to contextualised content that locates the development of academic practices such as reading or writing within the discipline. Secondly, a move from extra-curricular to embedded delivery that sits inside the student’s programme and timetable with, hopefully, a reduced sense of the remedial or extraneous (Wingate, 2006). Thirdly, a change in relationship with academics from doing ‘for’ to doing ‘with’, which includes collaborative reflection, planning and delivery. However, I had become frustrated in curriculum-restricted one or two hour sessions by the limited space for deeper engagement with academic texts and reading. Additionally, students had also suggested more time and a whole day event might be more effective. Coincidentally, after presenting scrolling at a Keele Teaching and Learning Conference, two academics asked to observe the next scrolling workshop… 

…So, inspired by attending a writing retreat, I designed ‘academic reading retreats’. Loosely based on the same format as writing retreats, with scheduled silent time and group discussion, academic reading retreats are offered as open learning events, distinctly driven by formal delivery of key reading strategies, which take the content of a one or two hour workshop on academic and critical reading and lengthen the practical application phases. I invited both academics to attend as participant ‘readers-in-residence’ rather than observers and teachers, and advertised places to the second year undergraduate students. The impact of the first retreat was powerful for all participants, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from students and academics alike. For students, the combination of teaching with time for individual practice and group discussion gained most comment; for academics, the opportunity to gain insight into the challenges students face and to uncover their own previous assumptions. Whilst the retreats were wholly interdisciplinary, the individual learning was entirely embedded within the discipline and subject.

As a result of this pilot academic reading retreat, we collaboratively designed, and I facilitated, curriculum-based reading retreats in both programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, with a range of academics participating as readers-in-residence. This seemed to be taking the retreats back into the curriculum programme itself, where they belonged, as it were. However, in many ways the learning was less powerful, less rich than that in the smaller, interdisciplinary events and poses interesting questions for curriculum design.

Academic Reading Retreats: What next?

This is an exciting innovation, which has struck a chord across disciplines, and which I hope will begin to reach further into other programmes as I share this practice more widely at Keele and further afield, I have a strong commitment to inclusion and an awareness of the continuing barrier that common curriculum design and delivery practices present to that cause. The barriers are often laid down unknowingly, based on dangerous assumptions most of ‘us’ have about ‘them’ and their reading habits (MacMillan, 2014), which leads to student difficulties then being cast as a remedial matter, for which ‘they’ are responsible (Wingate, 2006). This transmission-based curriculum approach, coupled with the lack of confidence and real skills in practices of academic reading amongst many graduates and undergraduates alike, results in high levels of anxiety and concern. That anxiety is increased where students have little previous exposure to the HE academic community and its cultural norms. The importance of embedding both the purpose (in epistemological terms) and the processes of academic reading cannot be underestimated in supporting all students’ to achieve their best outcomes.

Open interdisciplinary Academic Reading Retreats will continue to be offered and developed. Their capacity to support both learning and teaching development offers a range of opportunities for further development. Where programme-specific reading retreats are planned, it is important to look for ways to recover the rich and powerful learning observe din the small-scale and interdisciplinary setting.

Academic Reading Retreat Programme and Materials

Follow this link to a detailed breakdown of how a Reading Retreat works

All I ask is you attribute me according to the creative commons licence but most importantly get in contact and let me know how it worked (


Brookfield, S. D. (1995). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Hill, P. & Tinker, A. (2013) Integrating Learning Development into the Student Experience Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Vol 5. Available at:

Macmillan, M. (2014). Student connections with academic texts: a phenomenographic study of reading. Teaching in Higher Education, 19:8, 943-954

Meyer, Jan H. F., & Land, Ray. (2005). Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (2): Epistemological Considerations and a Conceptual Framework for Teaching and Learning. Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, 49(3), 373-388.

Middlebrook, R.D. (1994). Instructional Benefits of Textmapping [Online]. Available at:

Moore, T. (2013). Critical thinking: seven definitions in search of a concept, Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 38 (4): 506–522

Schön, D. A. (1987) .Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Wingate, U. (2006). Doing away with study skills. Teaching in Higher Education, Vol 11 (4):457-469

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Academic Reading Retreats: Discovering criticality together by By Angela Rhead, Keele University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Friday, 16 March 2018

My experiences with technology-enhanced learning

By Dr Martyn Parker, School of Computing and Mathematics, Keele University 

Early in my academic career, I recognised that I had fallen into the same educational traps as many of my colleagues. At this stage, I worked in a department full of blackboards, and my initial attempts at educating students were identical to my experiences as a student.

A walk around mathematics departments the world over usually reveals corridors and rooms full of blackboards. It is not atypical for lecturers to fill blackboards several times over rather than use a few sketches or keywords. Other subjects use modern presentation tools and other learning methods, why not mathematics?

A typical mathematics department blackboard covered in technical mathematics. Image licence: The image is released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required.) 1 

Completing my first year teaching in higher education made me challenged myself to provide an excellent education that confronted the traditional blackboard method of university mathematics education. The entrenched view among mathematician that blackboard ‘chalk and talk’ is the only way at university and the ease with which I followed the ‘standard path’, meant I needed to demonstrate clear benefits to both staff and students of any alternative. This journey started before I joined Keele when I recognised early in my career that emerging technologies presented the opportunity to advance my educational practices. Nevertheless, it was not until I joined Keele that I made progress in developing both my practice and that of my peers.

I joined Keele in 2010 and challenged myself to demonstrate that mathematics education did not need to use nineteenth-century tools—the blackboard (or whiteboard). In particular, I wanted to demonstrate that appropriate technology has all the (perceived) advantages of the blackboard-based methods and can improve the student experience.

Mathematics is characterised as a `network of norms’ where interconnectedness must be material manifest2 . This networking of esoteric language is one reason so many departments use blackboards/whiteboards; learners need to see and engage mathematics as a process that creates the network and interconnected relationships3. For this reason, any technology that attempts to enhance mathematics education must continue to show these abstract ideas develop4 ; that is, replacing `chalk and talk’ with `PowerPoint and talk’ is not the answer!

Several stages characterise my approach. Rather than take these stages chronologically, it is better to discuss these by area. Below I summarise these areas, provide examples, detail the tool necessary to replicate them and some of the broader impact on the department.

Technology-enhanced delivery. My modules utilise a Tablet PC with a stylus (henceforth called a Tablet, the essential characteristic is a screen and stylus that can write directly on the screen). I employed a three-component framework5 consisting of a deficit, where technology provides missing support for learning activities; substitution, where a traditional element is replaced with a technology-based activity; enrichment, where technology offers a choice that complements existing materials. Tablets immediately address the three components. Specifically, they are a substitute for traditional blackboards, replicating the best features of blackboards: speed, space, visibility and legibility. They address the deficit of blackboards by providing the ability to switch between multiple delivery methods such as videos, quizzes, information delivery and Internet web pages allowing for breaks, consolidation periods and changes of activity within the class. Once complete, class material is uploaded to the KLE. This change in practice has impacted students with specific learning disabilities positively, rather than struggling to copy content from the board, they actively listen, knowing the written component is available to them after class.
Sample page from a class show a mixture of prepared material and content produced live. Students receive these gapped notes at the start of the module. They complete the examples with the class leader, engaging with mathematics as they do.
A short sample video taken from the lecture Playback demonstrating how the static image evolved during the class. Note, the video’s sound is muted due to students asking and answering questions. Furthermore, for brevity the video is sped up.) 

Equipment requirements: A standard Tablet PC with a stylus. Microsoft Office provides annotation tools. The department utilise software called PDF Annotator since staff outputs are typically PDFs.

Departmental impact: In 2010, no staff except me utilised a Tablet for class delivery, now almost all staff now utilise a Tablet to deliver their classes. The School issues all new mathematics staff with Tablets.

Feedback. A five-minute video is likely to contain the equivalent of 500 - 600 words of written feedback, so a video provides ‘more’ feedback. This advantage, however, must be tempered with the fundamental idea that quality is better than quantity. Social changes mean greater student exposure to visual and audio media and research suggests better students response to multimodal feedback, where the tutor’s voice and the visuals convey relevant information. For students with, for example, dyslexia, students receive visual and oral information. From the mathematical perspective, video feedback permits students to experience the process of mathematical reasoning, seeing ideas materialise in front of them; that is, mathematics is visualised as a process and not a product, a key reason cited by mathematicians for blackboard use6. The videos are embedded directly into the module KLE page.

A short sample of class test feedback

Equipment requirements: A standard Tablet PC with stylus and screen recording software such as Camtasia or Snagit.

Departmental impact: The percentage of students agreeing that ‘feedback on my work has helped me clarify things I did not understand’ rose from 68% agree or strongly agree in 2010 to 81% in 2016. The 2016 result compares to a sector average of 71%. The 2017 result for `I have received helpful comments on my work’ is 89%, above the 73% sector average.

Video tutorials and problem-classes. I wanted to increase student engagement with formative assessment. Using Tablet PCs, screencast technology, YouTube and the KLE I created pre-recorded online classes. The classes’ structure consists of online tutorials, supporting formative assessment material together with online feedback on the formative assessment. Learners engage with the content at their pace and can move onto a new tutorial when they judge they have achieved particular outcomes. The aim being for students to regulate their learning.

Example suite of video tutorials for a mathematics module.

Example tutorial videos and support materials. This tutorial covers the “Video Tutorial for Interacting Species” in the previous image.

Equipment requirements: A standard Tablet PC with stylus and screen recording software such as Camtasia or Snagit.

Departmental impact: Other members of the mathematics department now create video tutorials for their modules. I supported and mentored staff in the use and development of materials. The department currently has 765 videos that include feedback and tutorials. The analytics demonstrate student engagement that presently stands at 108,000 minutes watched from 23,500 video views. (These videos are only available to Keele mathematics students registered on the relevant modules.)

Multimedia-based assessment. I took the Keele-led in a National HESTEM Programme Grant on ‘Mathematical Modelling and Problem Solving’. The project’s primary aim was to aim to create a sustainable model that provides STEM undergraduates with the transferable skills and abilities to solve real-world problems. To meet this aim I designed a new module where students needed to create creative instructional videos that demonstrate the solutions to problems. The grant funded video cameras with students using free software to edit their creations. Students participated in the evaluation of each other’s presentation, with the department’s academic staff acting as facilitators and possessing the final say on marks. This approach provides a variant on Adaptive Comparative Judgement (ACJ) which is relatively untested in mathematics but has been employed in less creative settings7. The ACJ variant used is appealing since it is well suited to assess creativity and I wanted to determine its applicability as a peer-assessment tool. Engagement with this assessment was phenomenal. In all cases, students not only solved complex mathematical problems but provided incredibly creative video presentations of their work.

The video cameras found a second use. The School provides these to students preparing for presentation as a self-reflection tool so that they can film, watch and reflect on their presentations, creating their formative self-assessment.

Equipment requirements: Purchasing video cameras is optional; more recently, students use their mobile phones and free editing software. There is more to say, for example, recent developments include using YouTube's live streaming facility to escape from a physical classroom. Recognising there is more to say and looking back reveals the ever-changing ability for technology to enhance both the student and staff experience. The enhanced student experience is summarised by the words of a current student's response to their learning experience that "...brings Keele maths department into the 2010s." For me, technology has improved not only my practice, not only regarding student education but also my ability to effectively focus on education rather than just writing. It is worth closing by reminding ourselves that technology is one of many tools available to us and we must always be mindful of the words "the right tool for the right job".

1Phhere. (2017). The free high-resolution photo of writing, blackboard, math, research, text, handwriting, mathematics, lecture, presentation, insight, chalk board, abstract algebra, critical thinking, definitions, propositions, deductive reasoning. [Online] Available from: Accessed: 14 February 2018.
2Wittgenstein, L. (1978). Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics. Oxford:Basil Blackwell.
3Mason, J. (2002). Mathematics Teaching Practice: A Guide for University and College Lecturers. UK: Horwood Publishing Limited.
4D. O. Tall, D. O. and Mejia-Ramos, J. P. (2006). The long-term cognitive development of different types of reasoning and proof. In Hanna, G., Jahnke, H. N., and Pulte, H., editors, Conference on explanation and proof in mathematics: Philosophical and educational perspectives, pages 1 – 11. Universiat Duisburg-Essen, Campus Essen.
5Thorne, K. (2003). Blended learning: How to integrate online and traditional learning. Kogan Page, London.
6Greiffenhagen, C. (2014). The materiality of mathematics: Presenting mathematics at the blackboard. The British Journal of Sociology, 65(3):502–528.
7Jones, I. and Alcock, L. (2012). Summative peer assessment of undergraduate calculus using adaptive comparative judgement. In Iannone, P. and Simpson, A., editors, Mapping University Mathematics Assessment Practices, chapter 17, pages 63 – 74. University of East Anglia.

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My experiences with technology-enhanced learning, B by y Martyn Parker, School of Computing and Mathematics, Keele University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Back to Basics: Improving Accessibility in the Keele Learning Environment

By Dan Harding, Learning Technology Officer Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Keele University

Last summer, HumSS embarked on a review of its baseline course provision within the Keele Learning Environment (KLE), aiming to make each module an easier space to navigate for students. Previous attempts to introduce templates at an institutional level, combined with existing local practices, had seen some success. However, overall consistency remained patchy with navigation structures ranging from non-existent to overly complex and inaccessible.
Screenshot of online guidance available at
Drivers included feedback from past IT surveys, a recent pilot of the Jisc Student Digital Experience Tracker and discussions around accessibility with Student Services. All pointed towards the need for a back-to-basics approach that would pre-populate each module with clearer signposting to key resources such as handbooks, learning materials, and assessment information.
Example infographic, demonstrating how to use the new template structure.

Processes reliant upon commonly used tools within the KLE (e.g. Turnitin) also had the potential for improvement, particularly in relation to assessment. As the Faculty was moving towards electronic submission for summative assignments, the opportunity to create more standardised guidance would alleviate some of the issues often reported by staff and students. A network of TEL Champions, represented by academic and professional support staff from across the Faculty, would also be critical in understanding each school’s requirements.

Some of the main actions included:
The HumSS TEL Team meeting with TEL Champions to understand current practice, and to develop new, school-specific templates.

Exploring the possibilities for customising the Blackboard interface by manually altering some of its CSS. For example, making better use of ‘Review Status’ for acknowledging assignment submission requirements.

Revising the information at to feature downloadable templates for each school, and keep other areas of the University who use the generic template up to date.
Professional support staff taking responsibility for the initial setup of all KLE courses by applying a standard school template at the beginning of each semester.
To avoid a reoccurrence of the same issue, develop guidance materials that provide simple steps on how to keep courses intuitive and accessible.
A customised Blackboard Review Status for students acknowledging assignment requirements.
The inclusion of a ‘Study Support’ folder, containing links to University support providers (e.g. the Library, Student’s Union, IT and Student Services) also directs students to services available in relation to their learning. This is accompanied by local sources of information such as school blogs and social media feeds that have been added as custom panels within each home page to keep students informed of extra curricula activities they may wish to know about.
Quick Tips for KLE Accessibility - A Guide for Staff
Following a successful first year, there remains the potential for further work. By having templates in place, it offers a foundation for more collaboration with schools and support providers to target other areas for development; especially those identified in exercises such as the NSS, module evaluations and surveys related to the student digital experience. Also, it is hoped that by encouraging thoughtful course design and demystifying some of the features found within Blackboard, the KLE will continue its overall development as Keele’s main online learning environment.

For more information, please contact
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Back to Basics: Improving Accessibility in the Keele Learning Environment by Dan Harding, Keele University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at

Friday, 23 February 2018

The oxymoron of time-efficient teaching.

by Rebecca Laycock, Teaching Fellow in Environment and Sustainability, Keele University

Bekki is a previous winner of the Keele excellence awards more details can be found here

In the autumn semester 2017 I was faced with one of my biggest challenge I’ve had to deal with so far as a teacher. When I first started teaching it was expected that I would take more time to prepare for classes, be less efficient, and make more mistakes. It’s part of what it means to start something new.
picture of  a busy classroom with a plant in the foreground and blurred faces of students behind it
My first real teaching experience was a condensed two-week module taught in Nanjing, China at part of an international collaborative undergraduate programme in Environment and Sustainability. I have since taught this module two more times. 

But having completed over a year of teaching, I was starting to feel like a real teacher - not just someone faking it at the front of the class. And since I was a real teacher, there were certain expectations that were attached to this newfound credibility… one of which was that I needed to do more with less time. Fair enough, I thought. I am a real teacher now. So, I started finding ways to cut corners. My challenge became how can I deliver a quality educational experience as efficiently as possible?

Around this time, I also took on a role in the HEFCE-funded ‘Unmaking Single Perspectives: A Listening Project’. The aim of the project was to support students develop their listening skills. The rationale behind it was that, in spite of being an important communication skill, there is far greater emphasis on teaching students to argue a point than on how to be an effective listener.

Student Advisor Roxy Birdsall talks about her experience being involved with Unmaking Single Perspectives: A Listening Project

So what is listening? It’s more than hearing. You need to open a space for another person to speak. Because of this, listening is more than sitting and being quiet while another person talks. Listening uses your whole body. You use your ears to hear, sometimes you look at the person to read their body language - and you use your whole body too, to show the other person that you are listening. All of this enables them to openly share their thoughts.

Listening is challenging mental work because it isn’t passive – it requires physical and mental engagement. You need to be taking in what the other person is saying (though their words and tone of voice), and you need to be quick thinking enough to respond and probe thoughtfully without letting your own thoughts prevent you from listening, all whilst reading and responding to their body language.

Before getting involved in the Listening Project, I hadn’t reflected much on listening in the context of my role as a teacher. But before long, I became conscious of the range of listening skills that are required in all different modes of teaching, from lectures, to seminars, to one-on-one support. I came to be especially aware of listening in a particular type of one-on-one teaching interactions: meetings with dissertation students. My meetings with my dissertation students usually ran between 15 and 45 minutes, depending on their needs, the stage they were at, and their English language skills. I started arranging these meetings back to back to save time and to limit the length of the meetings.

But it didn’t feel right. It was utterly draining, and as a result I wasn’t able to listen properly to the students. My patience waned. I heard myself telling them what to do rather than asking questions to find out what they really meant. This was one area of my teaching that I couldn’t seem to make more efficient.

This push for efficiency, this challenge I was being faced with as a ‘real’ teacher, is a manifestation of the demand of the neoliberal university which asks academics to do more and more with less. This was (and is) a model I can’t make sense of – it is unsustainable to expect more efficiency year on year.

In the face of this apparent oxymoron, I found an article by Alison Mountz and her colleagues who were making a case for an alternative. They argued to slow down and claim time for slow scholarship as an in the face of a fast-paced, metric-oriented neoliberal university. I was heartened by this idea. Like them, I feel that slowing down represents a commitment to good scholarship, teaching, and service, and a collective feminist ethics of care that challenges the accelerated time and elitism of the neoliberal university (emphasis mine).

Like them, I am in favour of a fundamental restructuring of the university as a workplace

and learning environment, but this isn’t something that can be done overnight. This is why they suggest ways academics, as individuals and as a community, can take steps towards change. They say to take time for your work. Reach for the minimum (rather than maximum) level of achievement in order to produce quality rather than quantity. Say no to more work. Don’t respond you your email at all hours. All of these actions provide space to become a better listener, and a better teacher.

I help tend to the student-run beds in Walled Garden on Fridays. This is where some of the most genuine and productive conversations I’ve had with students have taken place. I attribute much of this to the fact that the conversations aren’t time-restricted or purpose-driven. [Photo by Greenie Mine]

It must be said that I do feel there are ways to be an efficient teacher. I usually take an afternoon walk to clear my head, so scheduling dissertation meetings either side means that I can have some mental respite before resuming the taxing challenge of listening. And it’s true that I need less time to prepare for lectures and seminars I have already delivered. But at some point, we need to recognise that the reality is this: a good teacher is not one who can be increasingly more and more efficient. Being a good teacher requires effective listening, and effective listening requires time. And there is no room for compromise.

To find out more about Unmaking Single Perspectives: A Listening Project click here, and click here to see their upcoming events.

Disclaimer: This post has also been made available at the Listening Project’s Blog.


Mountz, A., Bonds, A., Mansfield, B., Loyd, J., Hyndman, J., Walton-Roberts, M., ... & Curran, W. (2015). For slow scholarship: A feminist politics of resistance through collective action in the neoliberal university. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 14(4), 1235-1259.

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The oxymoron of time-efficient teaching. by Rebecca Laycock, Teaching Fellow in Environment and Sustainability, Keele University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Blog also available at

Friday, 9 February 2018

Seeds for Solutions: Innovation Projects from 2015/16

Project Title: An e-Learning Platform to Promote Active Learning through Screencast Technology
Project Leader(s): Laura Hancock

The use of screencasts to supplement learning is becoming commonplace in higher education but there are concerns that their use may promote mostly passive learning. The aim of this project is to create an e-learning platform that provides the appropriate scaffolding to stimulate active learning in chemistry by combining screencast technology with interactive quizzes to deliver instant feedback. Users of this resource will be required to demonstrate recall and understanding of basic concepts before gaining access to higher level screencast material, allowing users to construct their own knowledge and discouraging a passive approach to learning.  
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An e-Learning Platform to Promote Active Learning through Screencast Technology by Laura Hancock, Keele University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Project Title: Personalised Immersive Learning: Using Virtual Reality Headsets to Provide Engaging and Flexible Clinical Learning Opportunities
Project Leader(s): Mel Humphreys, Luke Bracegirdle, Pete Lonsdale, Tim Smale, Daryl Kerr and Ian Wood

New virtual reality headsets allow us to provide students with personal, immersive environments where they can take part in simulations of clinical episodes. Building on previous work between the Schools of Pharmacy and Nursing & Midwifery, we will be extending existing work on the Virtual Ward to allow access by a greater range of students from more diverse settings, and utilising a variety of scenarios. Students will be able to immerse themselves within clinical environments, interacting with patients and healthcare teams to explore the essential skills of teamwork, communication, and meaningful decision making in an authentic and safe setting.

Personalised Immersive Learning - Final Project Report

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Personalised Immersive Learning: Using Virtual Reality Headsets to Provide Engaging and Flexible Clinical Learning Opportunities by Mel Humphreys, Luke Bracegirdle, Pete Lonsdale, Tim Smale, Daryl Kerr and Ian Wood, Keele University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Seeds for Solutions: Innovation Projects from 2015/16

Project Title: Technology inspired student-led interactive drug design
Project Leader(s): Mike Edwards & Tess Phillips

An interactive, technology inspired, group exercise to encapsulate the process of drug design in the teaching of Medicinal Chemistry is proposed. Students will collaborate in small groups to distil the important theoretical concepts studied into the design of new drug candidates based upon real-world examples. Built upon the intuitive visual interface of the iPad app Asteris, the exercise draws upon the benefits of student led group work to provide a fast yet innovative approach to the teaching of medicinal chemistry, and leverages communication technology to display the results. We envisage this process will have broader application to other disciplines.
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Technology inspired student-led interactive drug design by Mike Edwards & Tess Phillips, Keele University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Project Title: eANT: Electronic Annotation to Enhance the Flexibility of Teaching, Assessment and Feedback
Project Leader(s): Elizabeth Symons & Reinhold Heinlein

This project will explore the use of the digital-pen facility on a Windows-based tablet to enhance student learning in two ways:

(i) Revisions to Blackboard grading allow electronically submitted assessment to be annotated as though ‘pen and paper’. This is most suitable for symbol-rich disciplines and will greatly enhance the value of feedback for students.

(ii) Presentation of course material (lectures and computer workshops) will be improved by digital pen annotation of statistical software output during sessions which will help student understanding during the demonstration. It will also assist student review of material it can be saved to the KLE.

eANT - Final Project Report

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eAnt: Electronic Annotation to Enhance the Flexibility of Teaching, Assessment and Feedback by Elizabeth Symons & Reinhold Heinlein, Keele University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Project Title: Creating Active Student Learners through Team-Based Learning
Project Leader(s): Graeme Jones, Tess Phillips, Chloe Harold, Laura Hancock, Falko Drijfhout & Stuart McBain

We propose to introduce Team-Based Learning into problem sessions within Foundation Year, Chemistry and Forensic Science and into workshops that are part of the Keele MBChB programme. A comparative student performance data evaluation will be undertaken as part of the introduction of TBL into Foundation Year and questionnaire data will be gathered across all subjects. We will disseminate our experiences of TBL within the University and provide TBL resources so that colleagues can incorporate TBL into their own courses.  We will also present our findings at national teaching events in our own subject disciplines. Those interested in team based learning and in using the IF-AT cards are asked to contact Graeme Jones ( 

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Creating Active Student Learners through Team-Based Learning by Graeme Jones, Tess Phillips, Chloe Harold, Laura Hancock, Falko Drijfhout & Stuart McBain, Keele University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.