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Using Collaborate for online learning

A vlog by Dr Dan Allen @DAllen110 about his first experiences of using Blackboard Collaborate in facilitating learning

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New years resolutions #creativeHE

Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to develop your teaching practice? Joining the #creativeHE network could help you achieve this goal and there are many ways you can get involved.

The main action for #creativeHE happens via the Google+ community. This is an informal learning space where we share ideas and resources to help us develop our teaching practices. We also use #creativeHE on Twitter and the Creative Academic magazine as ways to share and develop. There are regular #creativeHE weeks which contain specific activities to explore and maximise our creativity. In the North West, we also hold regular meet-ups where we play with educational approaches and tools, share our lunch and grow our networks. More information on each of these below…

NW #creativeHE meet-up 19/01/2018

This month’s meet-up is hosted by us at the University of Salford and will be held in Mary Seacole Building, room 302 from 12:00-14:00. We will be exploring how we facilitate ideas generation using Ketso, other tactile approaches and using technology. Join us for a couple of hours of educational playtime. Find out more…

#creativeHE week  22-26/01/2018

Explore together fresh, alternative and novel ways to transform learning, teaching and assessment into creative and diverse practice. Let’s make it a bit or a lot more stimulating. Just imagine how our ideas can grow and evolve when we share them and learn together. The plan is:

  • Day 1 Creative induction, introductions: belonging
  • Day 2 Spicing up learning in the classroom (campus-based, blended and fully online)
  • Day 3 Extending creative learning outside the classroom
  • Day 4 Assessment and feedback that works (better)
  • Day 5 Reflecting on the week and moving forward.

Find out more…

So what’s stopping you from getting involved? Just 5 minutes involvement can spark an idea that will influence your development as an educator. You will see the benefits and your students will too!

See you on the dancefloor 🙂

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Developing my first animated video – 8 steps to academic success

A post by Anna Sherliker @AnnaSherliker

I recently created my first animated video using Powtoon so I thought I'd share my experience and final product

The video has been received very well by the team and the new group of long course student midwives, which I showed during Induction week.

It took me much longer than expected with a bit of trial and error, and was not aware of 'premium content' on the free sites like powtoon, although I did know there would be a catch somewhere. However once I had completed the video animation by myself I felt very proud of my achievement, learning how to slow sections down by adding seconds so that all the animations didn't start at once. I actually found using powtoon easy (more than Moovly - but I probably need to practice more). Incorporating into Blackboard meant I also had to become proficient in screen casting and using Medial, the University of Salford media server.

Although time consuming I feel much more confident with the online resources and have since made 1 more animation and 3 videos.

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Real life data analysis project to make quantitative research methods more appealing

A post by Dr Daiga Kamerāde @dkamerade 

GMVCO partnership event

Teaching quantitative data analysis methods to social sciences students is a challenge. Students usually do not enjoy studying quantitative methods– they often see them as scary, irrelevant and boring.  Many fail because of the lack of an engagement with the module. However, as our experiences from teaching a quantitative research methods module to second year undergraduate students in sociology and criminology at University of Salford suggests, this challenge can be successfully addressed by introducing a real-life data analysis as an assessment for this module.


In 2016/2017 we drew on an existing long-term collaboration with the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation (GMCVO) to bring a new and innovative real data analysis project to the quantitative methods classroom. As part of their QRM module at Salford, students had to complete a data analysis assessment using real data collected by GM TalentMatch team as part of their Big-Lottery funded project on young unemployed people.  The research carried out by the students looked to identify whether volunteering had an impact for young people with a number of barriers to employment in their journey to work. The teaching team, Daiga Kamerāde and Sara Grace, helped to identity the specific questions that the GM TM team wanted to answer using the data and then translated them into assessment tasks for students. The students had to answer these questions using the data made available to them and had to produce a professionally prepared research report. After all reports were marked by the teaching team, the best of them, with permission from the students, were shared with the GM TM team. To celebrate this collaboration students received certificates of achievement from the GM TM team in a special awards ceremony.

Students clearly enjoyed participating in this project.  One of the students, Steph Hevingham, in the awards ceremony said:

“It felt really good to work on real data from a real charity. There’s a real sense of achievement for us as students because we have analysed data and our findings are going to be used by the charity to see where this approach works. We have all got a sense of satisfaction knowing that the results of the research will help to change people’s lives by influencing policy and practice in the future’’

Other students also noted that this assessment helped them to understand the real uses of quantitative data, to become more informed users of research evidence and most importantly, to change their prejudices against ‘numbers and quants’.

The real life data analysis assessment was also very positively perceived by our industry partners. Katherine Bird, senior project officer at Greater Manchester Talent Match, said:

“The relationship we have built with the university during the research has been brilliant. We were so impressed by all of the students’ dedication to the research and we are pleased that we are able to reward them for their hard work. We look forward to further collaboration which will in turn benefit young people across Greater Manchester.”

The teaching team will be continuing to work with the programme and other partners to identify where we can carry out further research.

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Erasmus Funding Success

A team of Mental Health Nurse academics in the School of Health & Society have successfully secured Erasmus funding for an initiative instigated through Dr Elizabeth Collier’s external links. The successful team comprising Dr Angela Cotton, Gary Lamph, Dr Gillian Rayner and Dr Julie Wray secured funding for the project entitled:

STRENCO: “Strengthening multi-professional competencies in mental health in an international context, through co-production with academics, students, service users and professionals”

STRENCO is an exciting 3 year educational project which aims to develop an Assessment Tool for mental health and general competencies (via e-learning and intensive programmes and training).

Issues of Stigma, as a challenge across European countries (in spite of emphases upon positive approaches recovery-orientated practices) will be a focus, alongside competencies in supporting social inclusion and strengthening self-efficacy with a view to increasing a sense of involvement  via a shared understanding, equality and a dialogical approach.

Students will develop their competencies in mental health and Information Communications Technology (ICT), through a tripartite learning model. Engagement with service users in co-producing materials for mental health education is central, along with International co-operation between partners throughout Europe (future and current professionals, service users and academics).

A participatory research design is planned, exploring the knowledge triangle between education, research and mental health care settings in the creation of knowledge to inform practice (tripartite model). This will involve international co-operation with equal partners in development of a way of working that values and respects those involved – i.e. co-production. E-Learning and E-Health are central,  with an emphasis on ‘learning through doing’.

Educational materials will use ‘Gamification’ (principles from computer game-design and applying these to learning in a non-game context). Learning methods used in the project will be made available to all, with dissemination activities and e-Learning materials being made available online’.

We are proud to have been successful in this collaborative €313,135 bid and excited about the opportunities this provides for us to network and learn from our European partners,  students and service users. The project will include students, service users and academics and is being led by Dr Mark Monahan at Trinity College Dublin. Collaborators include The University of Salford, England, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Finland, Vives University College, Belgium, Jyvaskyla University of Applied Science, Finland and Technologiko Ekpaideftiko Idryma Athinas, Athens, Greece. To find out more about this project, contact Dr Angela Cotton or Gary Lamph.


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What will the future midwife look like?

The School of Health & Society midwifery team recently hosted a listening event to discuss what skills and attributes midwives will need in 2030.

Karen Barker Rachel Burden & Rose McCarthy

The event was attended by invited guests, all with a vested interest in midwifery education ranging from service user representatives, current students through to Heads of Midwifery. Speakers raised topical and sometimes controversial issues for debate, all focussed on the #futuremidwife from their own perspectives. Professors, Regional Maternity Leads and  representatives from the City of Salford, Health Education England, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the President of the Royal College of Midwives spoke passionately about the profession. Rachel Burden, BBC presenter talked candidly about her own birth experiences and the unique relationship families have with midwives.

Audience participation was encouraged in a variety of ways including  small group discussions, open questions, audience ideas & views displayed creatively on a Ketso board and online voting with the following instant results:

The day concluded with a Heads of Midwifery question time which tackled some sensitive and challenging issues. Discussions were captured by a local new mother and artist who produced a visual narrative of the day.

The information will help inform and develop the new midwifery curriculum as well as raising the profile of the team with stakeholders and the regulator. The day was a resounding success and the feedback from speakers and audience was overwhelmingly positive.

Do you want to find out more about the event or contribute to future conversations around this topic? Contact the event organisers Karen Barker @karenelee2 or Rose McCarthy @RoseMcC_ukmdwf.

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The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

Update from Neil Withnell, Associate Dean Academic Enhancement, SFHEA

Results from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) submission from the University will be known by the end of May.
The TEF is “rated” according to the aspects of quality below

Aspects of Quality  Teaching Quality  Learning Environment Student Outcomes &    LearningGain
Dataset evidence  Teaching, assessment & feedback (NSS)  Academic support (NSS) & non-continuation (HESA)  Employment / further study, including highly skilled (DLHE)


As can be seen by the table the emphasis is on three key areas – NSS, DLHE and non-continuation (retention). With this in mind we need to focus our attention into these key areas and we have negotiated working with the Higher Education Academy to start to address employability and retention. A small number of colleagues from within the School will be able to attend bespoke workshops that run at the end of May. It is anticipated that actions from these workshops will be deployed across the School.

As a School we need to continue the great work that is already in place, and look at areas that we could improve on.

Suggestions for improvements include:

  • NSS – feedback to be clear and to enable feed forward, assessments that are fit for purpose,
  • DLHE – internships, job-shop, engagement with students to ascertain their destination on leaving,
  • Retention – coaching for personal tutoring, early retrieval, enhanced induction, keeping warm activities, wellbeing support.

Whilst this list is not exhaustive a good learning experience, quality feedback, opportunities for employability and support to remain on the programme are areas that we all have an influence.


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Day 5 – Creating BYOD4L

Well it’s the end of the #BYOD4L week and what a frenzied, inspiring week it has been. The course has challenged my thinking, expanded my network of colleagues and forced me to get back into the habit of blogging. So it was definitely worth it! If you haven’t had time to join in, don’t worry because the course materials and the Google+ community are open all year. Today’s theme is creating so read on to explore learning through ‘making’ using smart devices.


“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns” Edward de Bono

I don’t think I could add anything to this statement, nuff said!


Here are three ways you can facilitate creating using digital applications:

  1. This teacher designed an assignment where students sought and shared images around their studies using Instagram and commented on each others posts.
  2. Lee Dunn (@leeandrewdunn) has a creative module where groups of students produce outputs to demonstrate their social learning around the question ‘What is the point of education?’. Outputs have included narrated presentations, animations and streaming media. More information can be found here.
  3. Mentimeter is a great tool for quizzes and feedback. You could collate the thoughts of a cohort around a specific topic e.g. leadership, racism, professionalism via a word cloud which can be a powerful visual to debrief. You could then return to their word cloud at a later date in the course to see if they have shifted their thinking. Here’s an example where we asked people to add three words to describe their experience of the BYOD4L course. You can still add your thoughts to this BYOD4L word cloud here and see the live results here.



So what are you going to do next? Why not try joining in some of the weekly #LTHEchat or a Teaching & Learning Conversation webinar as your next step? They are friendly and developmental communities so please just jump in.

My action plan after this week is to continue blogging, although it will be more like every fortnight rather than every day! If you want to contribute a blog post to this site, just get in touch, the more the merrier! Don’t forget we hold a weekly drop-in if you want to chat through any teaching & learning ideas or need support. We also have coaching and mentoring schemes available for your development as a teacher.B

Thanks BYOD4L, see you next year!

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Day 4 – Collaborating BYOD4L

Well we are now on day 4 of the Bring Your Own Devices 4 Learning course and the aim of these blog posts are to help you in your teaching and academic practice. I must say I’m finding today’s post the most difficult to write so far but I think that’s because writing a blog every day is hard! Anyway, I hope you are finding these useful and don’t forget to check out the main BYOD4L course for more information.


Collaborative working underpins teaching and research. As a successful teacher you will regularly collaborate with colleagues and encourage collaborative behaviours in your students. The digital world has revolutionised collaboration, enabling us to interact and work with others more frequently and efficiently. Don’t get me wrong, face-to-face collaboration is still important in making the magic happen, but online tools can augment, consolidate and occasionally create a meaningful collaborative relationship.


There are so many tools and ways we can collaborate, here’s just 3 examples to get you started:

  • The Google suite (docs, slides, sheets, spaces etc) is brilliant for collaborating. For example this teacher shared via Twitter that her students were creating collaborative lecture notes (see image below). I regularly use Google to collaborate on bid writing, teaching sessions and drafting papers so the possibilities are endless!


  • Padlet is a fantastic tool for collaborative and active learning. For example you can split large groups up and each smaller group can be adding to the same Padlet that you can show at the front of class. No more death by flipchart feedback! More examples can be found here.
  • You might have come across the presentation tool Prezi before but did you know you can collaborate in real time on presentations? I’ve used this in the past to create conference workshop presentations, see this example. We were working real time on Prezi and phoning each other to discuss critical points.


What you use or encourage your students to use to collaborate is guided by the activity. From sharing files and folders using cloud storage systems (think Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive) to generating collaborative mindmaps (think Spiderscribe, Popplet) digital collaboration can be used throughout your daily activities. Personally, I’m going to investigate the potential of Twiddla which seems a bit like Padlet but allows you to annotate and draw on the canvas. What are you going to collaborate on? Share your ideas and examples in the comments below, via #BYOD4L on Twitter or via the Google+ community

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Day 3 – Curating BYOD4L

Take a look at the resources and scenarios on the BYOD4L website around today’s theme of curating to get started. Curating is my favourite day of the course as it gives me the chance to talk about improving productivity in our day-to-day activities!


By 2018, video will account for over 2/3 of mobile usage (Socialnomics 2017) with over 400 hours of video content being added every minute! The research world is no different to the rest with Altmetric tracking over 17 million mentions of 2.7 million different research outputs in the last year. There is too much content available for anyone to consume so how do we navigate this overwhelming amount of information? Knowledge curators is the answer. Our students need us to help guide them to the best, most relevant sources for them to learn effectively. And we need to help each other to save precious time in our busy lives.


I still go back to Clay Shirky’s analogy of information overload and how we have all learnt to navigate a bookshop despite the amount of information on offer. Here are three of my favourite curation tools with examples of how they can be used in your teaching and to manage your own daily activities:

  1. Managing incoming information: Using feedly to create a personalised online newspaper
  2. Notetaking and organising: Using evernote to manage notes and professional development and Using OneNote: Basics for students I know this is actually 2 examples but effective digital notetaking can transform your day so it’s worth the extra example!
  3. Collating links for yourself and your students: The teachers guide to Pinterest


What to curate really depends on your interests and how you want to engage with your students. Maybe curating video playlists via YouTube would be useful (see this great example from David Garbutt on End of Life Care videos). Or maybe your students could do with more context for resources encountered on their learning journey (check out this new tool Wakelet which gives you the power to add a narrative to your group of links). Or maybe you just need to do something to help you keep on top of all the latest developments in your field (cue Feedly, see the video in point 1 above). The key is that you don’t need to create all of your content from scratch, just try out a tool to curate existing knowledge in a meaningful way.

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