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Animated antics

16 May 2016

A few weeks ago, we hosted a creative workshop on using stop motion animation. Facilitated by Ginny Koppenhol @GinnyKoppenhol founder of Zoom Creations, we investigated the art of animation and even had a go at creating our first films – albeit in a very short time frame so please forgive the sound and focus errors in the video below!

It was a great day that helped us to think about our messaging in a simple and fun manner. With a bit of practice, stop motion animation is an excellent way to communicate and can be used very effectively in teaching. One of the staff attending the day said…

I enjoyed one of the most engaging training days ever with colleagues from health and social care and from library services. We participated in an animation course which enabled participants to try out different techniques in the course of the day. Finally we made brief animation films in groups of 2 or 3. Each one was very different, and for a first attempt, remarkably successful. The day gave everyone a taste for more. In fact I met a fellow participant in the corridor the other day and we decided we’d like to create a small animation group within the school to help develop our own skills and share them with our colleagues. Dr Fiona MacVane Phipps, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery

Of course, we have been playing with the tech since then, here are a couple of examples from Kyle Charnley @KMCharnley

If you want to have a go yourself, it’s really easy using a mobile phone, tablet or a PC (see the apps listed below). If you want to create animated videos but don’t fancy using stop motion, check out the alternatives below which can draw and animate for you.

Stop Motion apps:

Alternatives to stop motion animation:

Watch this space for more animations from ACE…

Formative feedback fundamentals

10 May 2016

A post by Donna Peach @Donna_Peach

Producing video guidance for students who are in the process of developing their essays is something I have been committed to and blogged about since I undertook my postgraduate certificate in academic practice.  At that time, I was a new academic, but I instinctively understood the benefit of formative feedback. Since then, I have learned a great deal from working with both undergraduate and postgraduate students. There are two principles which need to be explored, the first is the benefit of formative feedback, i.e. before an assignment has been submitted for grading, and secondly the value of video casting.

The importance of when we provide knowledge.

If you wanted to travel from Land’s End to John O’Groats, you are likely to look up the route on a map and you may even check with others what routes they would recommend.  An alternative would be to drive to John O’Groats, and upon your arrival be informed by a ‘smart-alec’ that they knew of a route, which would enabled you to arrive three hours earlier.  Admittedly, there is benefit in life to learning where we went wrong, but often, much greater learning can happen if we can avoid spending too much time repairing our mistakes.

Homer Simpson

Matt Groening

In my experience, the main reason academics give for not providing formative feedback is the fact it is time consuming.  They are right, it is.  Nonetheless, I would argue that the time invested at the formative stage, makes grading much easier, as the work submitted is of a better standard.  This also serves to save students the anguish of failing to achieve and having to resubmit work, which negates the time they then have available for their next assignment.  Thus, we hamper students who have most to learn, as they have to complete work for their next and previously failed assignments simultaneously.  However, this is not just about students who need extra support. As a doctoral student, my supervisors provide formative feedback on my draft chapters.  Why would I not want the same support for my students?

It’s not what you do it’s the way that you do it 

The human brain is a marvellous organ, but most of us cannot retain or recall each piece of information we  impart or receive in any conversation. In tutorials, students will ask me to repeat something I said, but it was not stored in my short term memory. I encourage students to use their phones to record our tutorials so they can revisit what we discussed. However, they then have to make sense of what I was actually referring to once they are back at home. I also have déjà vu as I find myself repeating the same information to numerous students, as I try to find ways to assist them to ‘get it’, i.e. to understand what they are yet to fathom.

I first used ‘screencastomatic’ (Salford staff use this link) to assist students completing an ethical approval form for a module assignment. I got lots of positive feedback which reflected the value of the student being able to repeat any part of the video when it was most needed.  So, I decided to have a bash at providing video advice and guidance on a student’s draft assignment.  This was a lengthy and detailed process and the examination of an introductory paragraph became a half hour video. This level of detail could not be given to each student for each paragraph, but it will form part of an additional resource that they can use.  It enables the student to access visual and audio information which they can revisit as they begin to construct their own introductions.  So far, the feedback has been very positive from both students and colleagues. This has encouraged me to plough ahead and there will be more videos online in the coming weeks. I would encourage other tutors to do the same, the students really value the time we give to vary the support they can access.

If you don’t measure results, you can’t tell success from failure

11 April 2016

A post by Dr Cristina Vasilica @cristinavas

I become acquainted with the logic model back in 2009 during a project which involved evaluating the impact of digital media on engaging young people in looking after their sexual health. Evaluation was something I never experienced before, hence it was certainly clear that I had to pick a model that resonated with my interests and skills. The logic model seemed ‘logic’ to me as it explained the relationships between what ‘we do’ and what ‘we get’ as a result of our actions, likewise in system planning and development (my field of work).

The logic model is as much an evaluation method of efficiency and effectiveness of a project as a way to provide a common roadmap or purpose to all the members involved.  The approach is situated within the theory driven evaluation. The theory-based approach is an umbrella term for two types of evaluation: realist evaluation and the theory of change. The former is concerned with identifying mechanisms (how change occurs) that work within a specific context (external constraints or setting) to achieve an outcome (results wanted) (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Realist evaluation, Pawson & Tilley, 1997

Figure 1: Realist evaluation, Pawson & Tilley, 1997




In this blog, I am going to focus on the ‘beauty’ of the theory of change, a concept that in research is often used synonymously with the logic model. There are various logic models developed including the Weaver’s Triangle (Figure 2) and the Wisconsin Model (Figure 3).  The Weaver Triangle is visually limited in showing the relationships among aims – outcomes – outputs, therefore used in smaller projects with a limited number of activities.

Figure 2: Weavers Triangle

Figure 2: Weavers Triangle










The Wisconsin model is the most common logic model used.

Figure 3: Example of the Wisconsin Model

Figure 3: Example of the Wisconsin Model







According to the model, programmes have Resources, Activities, Outputs and Outcomes, explained below.

  • Resources, also named Inputs are essential for activities, including human resources, time, technology etc
  • Activities are the actions taken as part of the project
  • Outputs are the result of activities with the selected audience
  • Outcomes refer to the difference made by the programme
  • Impact is the ultimate change planned and achieved within organisations/community.

The benefits of the logic model

  • Serves as a focal point for discussion regarding evaluation as it outlines ‘when’, where’, and ‘how’ to find information.
  • Connects activities with outcomes helping to avoid integrating actions with no intended effect.
  • Focuses communication amongst the team on issues that are important.
  • Identifies categories of data sources essential to support project operations.
  • Allows planning the bigger picture – simplifying reality into key actions.
  • The iterative process permits making changes and refining the model as the project progresses
  • Generates evidence-based knowledge.

Personally, I used the Wisconsin model because it enabled me to see the wider picture but also draw relationships. For example, I used it to compile a toolkit for a charity to evaluate the impact of their digital services. It provided a clear guide on how to plan and generate evidence-based data. Furthermore, I used the model as a blueprint for a realist evaluation on the impact of social media on patients’ information provision, networking and communication. It enabled me to find some logic and relationships amongst disconnected Context-Mechanism-Outcomes.

Most common pitfalls

Creating the logic model can be difficult and time consuming. There is a fine line between oversimplifying relationships and not adding enough detail. Furthermore, researchers argue that the logic model – unlike realist evaluation  – focuses mainly on ‘what works’ not capturing the pitfalls of projects.

Evaluation Steps:

  1. Establish the aims and objectives of the initiative and which aspects of the project could be evaluated. The outcomes of the project will then reinforce the questions that need to be asked to achieve them.
  2. Select the stakeholders that are going to be part of the evaluation initiative. Stakeholders can include students, funders, project staff, administrators, collaborating agencies and other parties that may have an interest in the programme effectiveness.
  3. Decide which part of the project you aim to evaluate: inputs, outputs or outcomes. You can choose to evaluate all aspects of the project or only some of them.
  4. Develop an evaluation question.
  5. Select indicators – Indicators provides clear signal whether a project or the participants are making any progress towards the outcomes.
  6. Choose appropriate methods
  7. Decide and test the resources used
  8. Gather data
  9. Analyse and write report

Evaluation summary

Evaluation summary

Further reading

Examples of evaluation

Welcome to the Academy of Creative Educators (ACE)

14 March 2016

The School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences has established the Academy of Creative Educators (ACE) in response to the recognised value of moving towards more creative educational pedagogies and assessments for education.

ACE provides an innovative community supporting all academics in the School to deliver excellence in teaching through a creative pedagogical approach which

  • Supports best practice in Teaching & Learning
  • Recognises and rewards excellent practice
  • Champions creative pedagogy and flexible learning
  • Researches into effective Teaching & Learning

The activities of ACE are determined by the ACE Steering Group. The group comprises representatives from all Directorates within the School as well as university and student representation.

The group have already begun to consider ways in which investment in embedding creative ways of offering education can improve outcomes and also have a positive impact on resources such as accommodation and staff time.  Members are also exploring how educational experiences can be enhanced with use of technology, increased digital awareness and skills and other creative ways of encouraging learning.

All staff in the School are encouraged to join in with ACE activities according to your interests and professional development plans. You are also welcome to join the ACE Steering Group or feed in your ideas for what the group should provide to help your development as an educator.

For more information, take a look at our events and follow us on Twitter @SalfordACE