Writing retreat at Putteridgebury

On Tuesday 31st July, we will be running a one-day writing retreat in Putteridge Bury for colleagues who intend to submit their HEA portfolio through our HEA-accredited Experiential Portfolio Route. The retreat will be led by our Educational Developers who will explain the EPR process and answer any questions you may have.

The retreat is open to anyone who would like to gain HEA recognition as an Associate Fellow, a Fellow or a Senior Fellow or to upgrade their level of HEA Fellowship.

To sign up, please complete our online form.

If you have any questions about this day, please do not hesitate to contact us at pts@beds.ac.uk.

Keynote speakers announced for the Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference 2018

Please see below for the announcement from Advance HE (formerly HEA)

“We are delighted to announce the keynote speakers for the Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference 2018 taking 3-5 July, Birmingham, UK.

This year we will welcome Professor Christine Jarvis, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning), University of Huddersfield; John Gill, editor of Times Higher Education; and Shai Reshef, President of University of the People, USA. You can read the full news story here.

The conference will position the spotlight firmly on teaching in a global context, exploring how we can learn from global communities to ensure the best student experience for all. In addition to the keynote speakers, the conference will include over 300 sessions from over 500 presenters.”


Online Moderation and External Examining: Academic Briefing Sessions

The University is moving the moderation and external examining process to be fully online, in order to streamline activities.  This will mean that all the information will be located in one place for markers, second markers and external examiners.

We will be running a number of briefing sessions throughout June, September and October which will cover the new process and outline what you need to do in preparation. Each session will last for an hour followed by an optional 30-minute technical support session.

Sessions will take place as follows;

5th June 14:00 – 15:30 Luton
20th June 10:00 – 11:30 Bedford
27th June 10:00 – 11:30 Luton
5th September 10:00 – 11:30 Luton
19th September 10:00 –  11:30 Bedford
26th September 10:00 – 11:30 Luton
10th October 10:00 – 11:30 Luton
17th October 10:00 – 11:30 Bedford

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us at cle@beds.ac.ukTo sign up, please follow this link.

Providing Feedback Online: University Policy Update

The University has updated its policy in relation to how feedback is provided to students. This is a focused activity as we are looking to enhance assessment practices.

We will be running a number of sessions throughout June, September and October which will cover changes to the policy and implications for practice. Each session will last for an hour followed by an optional 30-minute technical support session.

Sessions will take place as follows;

7th June 14:00 – 15:30 Luton
20th June 14:00 – 15:30 Bedford
27th June 14:00 – 15:30 Luton
5th September 14:00 – 15:30 Luton
19th September 14:00 – 15:30 Bedford
26th September 14:00 – 15:30 Luton
10th October 14:00 –  15:30 Luton
17th October 10:00 – 11:30 Bedford

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us at cle@beds.ac.ukTo sign up for any of the sessions, please follow this link.


News from the HEA (now Advance HE)

We recently became Advance HE, from the merger of the Higher Education Academy with the Equality Challenge Unit, and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education. The official vesting day was 21 March, when our new Advance HE website went live and we also launched the new social media accounts on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn. Please follow our new social media accounts and visit the new website for news and frequently asked questions where we will keep you updated with our progress.

The theme for this year’s Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference (formerly HEA Annual Conference) 3-5 July 2018, will be “Teaching in the spotlight: Learning from global communities”. If you missed the Annual Conference last year and would like to know more, you can read about the highlights or watch the videos of the keynotes on our YouTube channel.

Last month we also celebrated Fellowship Week after reaching the milestone of 100,000 HEA Fellows. This infographic provides a snapshot of what a Fellowship of 100,000 people looks like. During the week we were proud to be able to share blogs written by our community of Fellows around the world about the impact Fellowship has had on their teaching

CLE writing retreat May 4th

On Friday 4th May, we will be running a one-day writing retreat in Putteridge Bury for colleagues who would like to dedicate some time to writing and collating the evidence for their HEA portfolio.

The retreat is open to anyone who would like to gain HEA recognition as an Associate Fellow, a Fellow or a Senior Fellow through our HEA accredited Experiential Portfolio Route.

To sign up, please complete our online form.

If you have any questions about this day, please do not hesitate to contact us at pts@beds.ac.uk.

CLE workshops March 12th-23rd

The following workshops will be delivered in March – just click the title to sign up:

12/03/2018 – Introduction to PebblePad Version 5 – 12:30 – 15:00 – Luton, F304
13/03/2018 – Object-Based Learning  – 09:30 – 12:00 – Luton, F304
14/03/2018 – Effective Assessment for Learning – 09:30 – 12:00 – Luton, F304
14/03/2018 – Object-Based Learning – 09:30 – 12:00 – Bedford, P2.05
15/03/2018 – Effective Assessment for Learning – 09:30 – 12:00 – Bedford, T0.07
15/03/2018 – Writing for Publication – 09:30 – 12:00 – Luton, F304
16/03/2018 – PebblePad Version 5: Next Steps – 09:30 – 12:00 – Luton, A404
19/03/2018 – Leadership and Creativity in Teaching – 09:30 – 12:00 – Luton, F304
20/03/2018 – Leadership and Creativity in Teaching – 09:30 – 12:00 – Bedford, G1.11
20/03/2018 – UIF/CIF Drop in – 10:00 – 12:00 – Luton, F304
21/03/2018 – Introduction to PebblePad Version 5 – 09:30 – 12:00 – Bedford, Training suite 1
21/03/2018 – Creating Engaging and Valuable Feedback – 09:30 – 12:00 – Luton, F304
21/03/2018 – Course Co-ordination – 09:30 – 12:00 – Luton, A109

22/03/2018 – Creating Engaging and Valuable Feedback – 09:30 – 12:00, Bedford, P1.20
22/03/2018 – PebblePad Version 5: Next Steps – 12:30 – 15:00 – Bedford, T0.09
23/03/2018 – Course Co-ordination – 09:30 – 12:00 – Bedford, P1.20


Want to find out more about the GDPR?

Demand from the sector for information and advice on the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been strong, and seems to be increasing the closer we get to the day it becomes law on 25 May, 2018.

In response, Jisc staged a free GDPR conference on 6 December, which quickly sold out. If you missed it, don’t worry because each of the main speakers and the resulting films are online now.

For more information, follow this link.

PebblePad for Apprenticeships: reflections on an event held in December

Degree Apprenticeships and eportfolios

Every year, the team behind PebblePad tries to run an event aimed squarely at exploring topics our community would like to learn more about. Last year they explored the use of eportfolios to support professional development, and the year before that looked at the idea of future readiness.

This year they’ve turned their attention to Degree Apprenticeships, a topic exercising and exciting universities in equal measure. Although Degree Apprenticeships are currently only available in England and Wales, there should be plenty of interest in this blog post for readers elsewhere too.

Find out more here.


Course Co-ordination workshops

The CLE will be running two Course Co-ordination workshops in December;

  • 14th December between 9:30 – 12:00 in Luton
  • 15th December between 9:30 – 12:00 in Bedford

The workshop will explore effective course co-ordination for new and experienced co-ordinators by considering responsibilities of course co-ordination and exploring leadership styles, effective management and how to influence others.

To sign up, please use our online form.

If you cannot attend these sessions, they will run again in March 2018 (22/03/18 in Luton and 23/03/18 in Bedford)

Writing for publication workshops

David Mathew, author and editor of the University’s Journal of Pedagogic Development will be running two writing for publication workshops on 7th December 2017.

The first session will be held in Luton between 9:30 – 12:00 and the second session will be held in Bedford between 13:30 – 16:00.

The workshop will explore the practical elements of academic writing and publishing by looking at the construction of a piece of academic writing. During the session you will have the chance to develop a piece of writing for possible external publication.

To sign up, please use our online form

Object-based learning workshops

Come along to the CLE’s Object Based Learning workshops, facilitated by Maria Kukhareva.

The workshops will be held on:

  • 5th December between 9:30 – 12:00 in Luton
  • 6th December between 9:30 – 12:00 in Bedford.

Object based learning is an interactive hands-on method that offers a creative way of inquiry into your own discipline.  You will use objects and images as a tool for creating both depth and breadth of thinking, which will then be applied to your own practice.

To sign up, please use our online form.

PebblePad workshops

In December Averil Robertson will be running two PebblePad workshops – Introduction to PebblePad Version 5 and PebblePad Version 5 Next Steps.

The Introduction to PebblePad workshop is aimed at those who are new to the system. During the session you will discover the basic features of Pebble+ and ATLAS and learn how to use PebblePad to support learning.

Pebble Pad Version 5 Next Steps is aimed at those who have some familiarity with PebblePad but want to know more. During the workshop you will learn more about the enhanced features of Version 5 and discover how to use PebblePad for assignments/with BREO/with Turnitin.

The Introduction to PebblePad workshop will  take place as follows;

  • 4th December between 9:30 – 12:00 in Luton (F304)
  • 12th December between 9:30 – 12:00 in Bedford (T0.10)

PebblePad Version 5 Next steps will take place as follows;

  • 8th December between 9:30 – 12:00 in Luton (F304)
  • 13th December between 12:30 – 15:00 in Bedford (Library Training Suite 1)

Sign up here for the Introduction to PebblePad workshop and here for the PebblePad version 5 workshop.

CLE workshops December 11-15 2017

The Centre for Learning Excellence will be offering a number of workshops between 11th and 15th December in Luton and Bedford.

Sessions we are offering include;

Workshop Date Time Location
Leadership & Creativity in teaching 11/12/2017 12:30-15:00 Luton
Introduction to PebblePad version 5 12/12/2017 09:30-12:00 Bedford
UIF/CIF surgery 12/12/2017 10:00-12:00 Luton
PebblePad version 5: next steps 13/12/2017 12:00-15:00 Bedford
Course co-ordination 14/12/2017 09:30-12:00 Luton
Leadership & Creativity in teaching 14/12/2017 09:30-12:00 Bedford
Course co-ordination 15/12/2017 09:30-12:00 Bedford

If you would like to attend any of these workshops,  please visit our website for further information on booking a place.


Webinar Nov 28th: Using technologies in the co-creation of assessment

This interactive presentation seeks to show how students and academics alike can empower their practice through the use of technologies in co-creative assessment.

Over the past few decades, Higher Education Institutions have been making concerted efforts and building detailed strategies to empower the student body to have a louder, more potent, voice in order to influence and impact all areas of student life. In turn, this has led to an advancing interest in the role of students in pedagogy with key concepts, such as ‘co-creation’, ‘students as producers’ and ‘students as partners’ being defined, developed and delivered from this culture shift.

In this webinar our own Nick Botfield from the CLE will describe a small piece of action research which used student response systems, a virtual learning environment, synchronous word processing software, and video-conferencing technology to facilitate the co-creation of a post-graduate summative assessment on a blended learning course.

This presentation will aim to give participants an opportunity to:

  • gain an insight into how technology can be used to empower both students and staff when embarking on co-creating an assessment
  • take part in a small co-creation activity using technology
  • consider the potential pitfalls and opportunities of using technology to co-create assessments
  • investigate preliminary results of a study into student attitudes and perceptions of using technology to co-create assessments.

You can register for the webinar here. A recording will be available afterwards.

HEA’s TEF 2 submission analysis and webinar

This HEA research is an analysis of the narratives taken from the submissions from the first ‘trial’ year published in June 2017, and explores themes that UK universities have identified as being relevant for delivering excellent teaching.

Here you can read the full report, the report infographic, HEA’s response to the report and the press release.

The HEA is hosting a webinar on Thursday 14 December 13:00 (GMT) that will provide highlights from the research. This webinar is free to subscribers.



Upcoming workshops Dec 4-8 2017

The Centre for Learning Excellence will be offering a number of workshops between 4th and 8th December in Luton and Bedford.

Sessions we are offering include;

Workshop Date Time Location
Introduction to PebblePad 04/12/2017 12:30-15:00 Luton
Object-based learning 05/12/2017 09:30-12:00 Luton
Object-based learning 06/12/2017 09:30-12:00 Bedford
Effective Assessment for Learning 06/12/2017 09:30-12:00 Luton
Effective Assessment for Learning 07/12/2017 09:30-12:00 Bedford
Writing for publication 07/12/2017 09:30-12:00 Luton
Writing for publication 07/12/2017 13:30-16:00 Bedford
PebblePad: next steps 08/12/2017 09:30-12:00 Luton

If you would like to attend any of these workshops,  please visit our website for further information on booking a place. Some will be repeated the following week (further details to follow).

If you have any questions, please email cle@beds.ac.uk.

HEA writing retreat

On Friday 1st December, we will be running a one-day writing retreat for colleagues wishing to focus on their HEA fellowship portfolio (Senior, Fellow and Associate).

The retreat is open to those who have previously registered on to the Experiential Portfolio Route,  those who wish to progress on to the next category of HEA fellowship along with those who have started to gather evidence for their portfolio but not yet registered.

To sign up, complete our online form.

Please note, we have updated our guidance so please visit our BREO site at for further information on how your portfolio should be structured.

If you have any questions about this day, please do not hesitate to contact us by email at pts@beds.ac.uk.

Wonkfest 17: revenge of the experts

The first Wonkfest will be held at Ravensbourne College on November 6-7

Wonkfest is for UK higher education professionals: from the policy wonks and planners to comms, marketing and public affairs professionals, academics with an interest in the future (and present) of UK HE and everyone in between. Joining them will be politicians, journalists, civil servants, business leaders and others from civil society with a stake in the future of our universities.

It’s a festival, not a conference, so sessions will run concurrently, food and drink will be available throughout both days and there’ll always be something to do at one of our different stages and areas.

For more information, follow this link.

Jo Johnson announces changes to the TEF

From today’s WonkHE blog:

“Last week a series of important changes to future iterations of the Teaching Excellence Framework were announced by Jo Johnson in his speech at the Universities UK annual conference. The headline change is the halving of the weight allocated to National Student Survey metrics, something which arguably diminishes the role of the student voice in the exercise and relegates the metrics most related to actual ‘teaching’. The relative impact of employment outcomes has increased by adding the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) earnings data as a supplementary metric.

One of TEF’s key strengths, and its strongest advantage over league tables, is the benchmarking process comparing an institution’s performance against students with similar characteristics. This is essentially the tool which allows ‘excellence’ to be recognised wherever it’s found, not just confirming the prestige of the oldest and most research-intensive universities which attract the students with the highest entry tariff. In addition to adding LEO as a supplementary metric, TEF assessors will be told when an institution has scored in the top or bottom 10% of any measure. While used in addition to the core metrics, the inclusion in the process of these absolute measures diminishes the case that TEF adds value to what can be found in league tables and could make the judging process even more subjective.

Tweaks have also been made to find a way of providing NSS scores in cases where the NUS-led boycott meant that some institutions and courses didn’t meet the normal threshold. The message to disappointed boycotters is clear: the government will always find a way to fudge the numbers no matter what you do. There is welcome news for majority part-time providers as a new approach will allow them to supplement their submission with additional data better contextualising their position. This is a change made to encourage the Open University to take part in TEF next time, having sat out the first process.

It doesn’t take the most expert of data wonks to see that these overall changes are likely to benefit London-based institutions through the diminishing role of NSS and the inclusion of salary data. The changes should also benefit some Russell Group institutions which have high absolute scores but are under-performing against the benchmark. As we have seen throughout TEF’s development, there has been a consistent slide away from data to the qualitative elements and the judgement of the panel, something which – as seen in some perverse results from TEF2 – means that those who play the game best will do well, not necessarily those with the most excellent teaching.

Also new for TEF is a measure designed to tackle grade inflation. This may not be surprising to readers of the summer’s newspapers, but it may alarm some in the sector to see in black and white the lack of confidence in institutions’ standards. Future TEFs will reward institutions which are judged to have made efforts to keep a lid on increasing Firsts and Upper Seconds, something at odds with the league tables.”

University of Bedfordshire shortlisted in the CATE awards

HEA announces National Teaching Fellowship Scheme Awards and Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence finalists


Fifty-five new National Teaching Fellows (NTFs) are announced by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) today, alongside the fifteen team finalists for the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE).

The CATE recognises outstanding contributions to teaching by teams at higher education providers. The criteria for the CATE award are: excellent practice, teamwork, and the team’s dissemination plan. Teams will need to have shown they are working in collaboration with direct student involvement in their work.

Fifteen institutions have been shortlisted for the award. Six of these institutions will be awarded grants of £15,000 to disseminate their learning. The six teams will be announced at the formal celebration event for all these awards at Church House, Westminster, London, 1 November 2017.

You can read the whole story on the HEA website.

Foundation year support

We are running a workshop for colleagues who support foundation year students. The workshop will cover learning outcomes and expectations at Level 3, characteristics of foundation year students and how best to support them. At the end, there will be a dedicated time slot for discipline specific questions.

The sessions will run on Monday 4th September between 10:00 – 13:00 in room F305, Luton and Thursday 7th September between 10:00 – 13:00 in room G2.21, Bedford. To sign up, please complete our online form at https://form.jotformeu.com/72411489713357 .


Join the next PebblePad webinar

Want to learn more about using technology to support reflection? Pebblepad’s next webinar will be examining just that.

Topic: Using technology to support reflection on individual learning journeys
Date: Wednesday, 30th August 2017, 16:00 BST
Location: Online Zoom Meeting Space.
Presenters:Sarah Tutton, PGCE and QTS, Canterbury Christ Church University, lead student presenter; Geoff Rebbeck, Professional Studies Tutor, PGCE, Canterbury Christ Church University

Here’s a summary of what they’ll be talking about:

During their PGCE year, Sarah and her class have considered what education looks like in today’s digital society and identified areas in which technology has changed the world and how we need to prepare students for this new era. In the webinar, Sarah, supported by Geoff and her student colleagues, will showcase a particular assignment, in which students used workbooks and assets to improve their own educational experience and prepare for technological frontiers. They will highlight that it is not the technology that is important, but how we can use this technology to improve pedagogy and teaching practice.

Sarah has just won the CCCU PGCE prize for creativity on the PGCE. This is the top student prize and is given to the student who has shown and demonstrated by publication the greatest creativity in their teaching practice and we are delighted to have Sarah presenting her work.

You can sign up here.

Using assistive and accessible technology in HE

Assistive technology has undergone a revolution in recent years. There is a wide range of established commercial and free and open source software products available (such as screen readers, on-screen keyboards and spelling aids), as well as in-built accessibility features in computers and programs.

More people use mobile and portable devices with assistive apps. One significant benefit of technology is the provision of a voice for those who are unable to speak themselves. Apps for tablet devices for example that use scanning and a touch screen interface can now provide this at a fraction of the cost of some of the more complex and advanced hardware technologies.

In this guide, Jisc provides an overview of the types of assistive technologies available and how they might be used in a learning and teaching setting.

Developing digital skills: new MOOC

Digital skills are essential in today’s workplace; there are few jobs that don’t require them, yet employers report a shortage.

Building on the highly successful Blended Learning Essentials series of MOOCs, the third course entitled ‘Developing Digital Skills’ has just been launched and will start in October. This course, commissioned and funded by the Ufi Charitable Trust is designed specifically for the Vocational Education and Training sector.

Professor Diana Laurillard, one of the lead educators behind Blended Learning Essentials, says, ‘We’re hearing every day about the need for digital skills in all kinds of jobs in the modern workplace. The idea of this course is to help the FE and Skills sector with gearing up to supply the graduates industry so desperately needs.’

More information: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/blended-learning-digital-skills.

Blended Learning Essentials is a free online course developed by the University of Leeds and UCL Institute of Education, supported by the Association for Learning Technology and funded by the Ufi Trust.

News and upcoming events from the HEA

September will start with a bang with the announcement of the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme winners and the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence finalists, days before the NET2017 Conference and the gala dinner which will celebrate the first winners of Global Teaching Excellence Award.

To help ease you back into the swing of things, and plan for your continued professional development throughout the year, the HEA has extended its early bird offer on all 17-18 training and events* if you book before 15 September 2017.

*Excludes NET Conference 2017 and Global Insights USA


Conferences and Events

> NET2017 Conference – LAST CHANCE TO BOOK
5-6 September 2017, Churchill College, University of Cambridge

> Teaching Excellence Programme – First Workshop
7 September 2017, HEA, York

> New to Programme Leadership: Higher and Degree Apprenticeships
12 September 2017, Manchester

> Virtual reading group: September
18 September 2017, Online

> Academic Leadership Programme – First workshop
19 September 2017, HEA, York

> Principal Fellow Writing Retreat
21 September 2017, Friends House, London

> Senior Fellow Writing Retreat
21 September 2017, Friends House, London

> New to Teaching in Higher Education
27 September 2017, HEA, York

> HEA STEM Conference 2018: Creativity in Teaching, Learning and Student Engagement
31 January & 1 February 2018, venue TBC – Call for papers now open

Using PebblePad to embed employability into the curriculum

PebblePad have recently released a webinar on using e-portfolios for employability.

Embedding employability into the curriculum – a university wide approach to eportfolios by Heather Pate, Senior Learning Designer, Edith Cowan University Dr Katrina Strampel, Manager, Teaching Support & Senior Lecturer in CLT

ECU defines employability as having the skills, knowledge personal attributes, and self-awareness that make securing, and being successful in fulfilling, employment more likely. Through an integrated learning experience, the JIGSAW approach aims to improve employability outcomes by enhancing students’ ability to understand, demonstrate, take responsibility for, and articulate their learning, thus improving their written applications for employment, their verbal interviews, and their continuing professional development.

In this presentation, Heather will outline how this approach is being implemented with seven pilot courses across the university. Using PebblePad workbooks, courses provide students with scaffolded opportunities to recognise and articulate their knowledge, skills and achievements, and to collect evidence to support these. Students use the stories and evidence gathered to create portfolios, documenting their learning journey and preparing them for employment.

Watch the webinar here.

Switching to PebblePad 5 today!

Today (July 4th) we’re switching over to Version 5 of Pebblepad. There won’t be any change in functionality, and all assets and resources will still be there – the main change you will notice will be the more streamlined interface.

Get in touch with us if you encounter any problems or want to arrange instruction in the updated version.

Apply now for the PgCTHE 17/18!

Applications are now being taken for the Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (PgCTHE) which will commence in September 2017.

The PgCTHE will allow you to further develop your pedagogic skills and understanding, gain a professional HE teaching qualification, and gain Higher Education Academy Accreditation.

The course is available to the following members of staff;

1) Full-time staff who are teaching/supporting learning for a minimum of 50 hours over the duration of the course (12 months);

2) Part-time staff who are teaching/supporting learning for a minimum of 50 hours over the duration of the course (12 months);

3) Hourly Paid Lecturers who are teaching/supporting learning on a substantive contract (i.e., at least one unit).

Unfortunately, we cannot accept applications from research students. If you are unsure whether you meet any of these criteria, please contact us.

The PgCTHE is a 12 month Master’s level course which is delivered via face-to-face workshops and online sessions. Further information about the course can be found on our website at https://www.beds.ac.uk/pts/pgcthe.

To apply, please complete our online application form by 5pm on Thursday 7th September. You MUST provide two satisfactory references including one from your line manager confirming how you will meet the 50 hours teaching requirement.

The course is free to eligible staff but you MUST send us a completed fee waiver form which has been physically signed by your line manager to supplement your application. Once complete, please return to PTS Admin, Room F305, Luton. If any of these requirements are not fulfilled, we will be unable to process your application.

Using portfolio-based learning at scale

Thinking of using e-portfolios to support learning? Want to implement that strand of our new strategic plan?

This webinar from PebblePad will show you how e-portfolios are being used at scale at Plymouth and Bradford Universities.

If you want to know more about how to use PebblePad, contact Averil Robertson in the CLE – and look out for our switch to version 5 on July 4th!

UoB staff conference – just one week to go!

We are now just over one week away from the start of our staff conference and fringe events. Click the links below to sign up – the CLE team will be appearing in many places!

If you have any other questions please email uobconference@beds.ac.uk.

CLE staff heavily involved in staff conference!

Our team will be appearing in a number of places at the annual staff conference, both during the main event and in fringe activities. Hope to see you there!

Main conference

Dr. Maria Kukhareva: ‘Every teacher is a bit of an actor’

Dr. Mark Atlay & Dr. Diana Pritchard: ‘Utilising the TEF to identify the learning gain of our students’

Averil Robertson & Megan Loveys: ‘Ten Days of Twitter: running a social media course for university staff’

TED Talks

Dr. Mark Atlay: ‘The power of introverts’

Mark Gamble: ‘Draw your future’

Fringe events

Nick Botfield: ‘Engaging students in large group teaching’ & ‘Creating a MOOC’

Averil Robertson: ‘Developing Open Badges to support student achievement’

Dr. Maria Kukhareva: ‘Object-based learning: promoting creativity and lateral thinking’

Mark Gamble: ‘The development of Course Metric Infographics’

Teaching excellence framework results to be published on 22 June

The results of England’s teaching excellence framework (TEF) will be published on 22 June, it has been confirmed by Madeleine Atkins, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Universities will be informed on 19 June whether they have achieved a gold, silver or bronze award in the TEF, Professor Atkins said.

All other UK funding bodies and the Department for Education will be informed shortly after institutions are made aware of their own result, while a full set of awards will sent to all participating providers under embargo on 21 June.

The TEF results were originally due to be released on 14 June, but this was postponed by HEFCE owing to uncertainty caused by the result of the UK general election.

The framework will rate universities’ teaching as “gold”, “silver” or “bronze”, based on metrics for student satisfaction, retention and graduate employment, and submissions made by institutions.

Some of the UK’s most prestigious universities are expected to be among those rated as bronze, an outcome that could limit their ability to raise tuition fees.

Times Higher Education, June 16th 2017

Brace for the TEF

The WONKHE blog has produced this summary:

The results of the Teaching Excellence Framework (Year 2), which had been due for release in late May, delayed until after the General Election and then again following the election results, will finally be published this Thursday. After all the waiting, we will finally get our hands on the judgements from one of the most significant, and most hotly contested, policy initiatives of recent years.

When the idea was first mooted in the last Conservative manifesto, written by a junior MP by the name of Jo Johnson, few in the higher education sector thought that a TEF would be seen through to implementation. Many expected Labour to lead the government following the 2015 election, or for the idea to be dropped in coalition negotiations that never took place.

At times, this scepticism from some sector leaders about the will to see a TEF through has bordered on denial – so many predictions were confidently made that it would never happen. And not only has TEF survived, it’s also managed to surmount the shifting political sands around it: Brexit, a new Prime Minister, parliamentary opposition, the passage of a Bill, and now another General Election. With Johnson returned, against the predictions of a ‘Jexit’, the future for TEF also now looks more assured.

Despite the political machinations, Jo Johnson’s original vision for the exercise has remained largely intact. Yes, there have been successive delays in tying the outcomes to fee increases, and there will now also be a review of the whole process in 2019 which was mandated by the final tweaks made to the Higher Education and Research Act.

Nonetheless, TEF will be a distinct evaluation of universities’ ‘performance’ for three main reasons:

  1. Unlike almost all higher education rankings and evaluation exercises, research performance will have no bearing on the outcomes.
  2. Unlike other evaluations, students’ entry grades will not be used as a judge of quality.
  3. Unlike other rankings and evaluations, TEF will provide a judgement of relative, rather than absolute, performance through its data benchmarking process.

There are many other features of TEF that make it distinctive from other rankings and evaluations, for example the ‘split’ metrics, which will evaluate the equitability of student outcomes compared to peers from different backgrounds. And crucially (if rather obviously), TEF is a government-backed and branded evaluation giving it extra media credibility. It’s quite possible that this credibility will have some bearing on prospective students’ decision-making.

The current acknowledged hierarchy of universities in the UK, as shaped by newspaper league tables, is primarily based on the linked factors of the age of foundation, research volume and quality, and students’ entry tariff. These are not indicators of teaching quality. For all its faults, TEF will come closer to representing the quality of teaching, learning and student experience at universities than other ranking exercises because it has not included both of these measures. But we should not forget that the definition of ‘teaching’ in TEF is quite a stretch: it is more student experience, or ‘education’ than ‘teaching’, or ‘learning’ for that matter.

Expectation management

Most universities’ will already know the outcome of the exercise based on the benchmarked data supplied to them in advance of making their submissions. Some are likely to be nudged up from Bronze to Silver, and Silver to Gold based on the provider submissions and the TEF panel’s largesse. From the data we know, it is expected that several prestigious universities will find themselves with Bronze ratings. On the flipside, some modern universities not used to topping traditional league tables are expected to perform very strongly and obtain Gold.

There is an outstanding question about the influence that providers’ written submissions will have on the final outcomes. The HEFCE guidance released late last year stated that the metrics would only create an “initial hypothesis” outcome. It also stated (in bold) that “the more clear-cut performance is against the core metrics, the less likely it is that the initial hypothesis will change” as a result of provider submissions.

Nonetheless, TEF chair Chris Husbands and DfE officials have been at pains to stress the importance of the provider submissions and their potential for influencing changing the initial hypotheses. We will only get a sense later this week of the true balance between quantitative and qualitative measures in final outcomes. If qualitative evaluations appear to carry more influence than initially expected in the HEFCE guidance, Husbands and his panel will have to be sure that they can defend their judgements in a relatively objective manner.

There are thus two ‘rings’ of expectation management which could shape the media narrative on outcomes. On the one hand, observers with some knowledge of the exercise and the expected metric outcomes could have expectations confounded if written submissions are particularly influential. On the other, the general public’s expectations of ‘good’ universities could be confounded if the final outcomes closely match the metrics.

Read more:

As a refresher ahead of the results later this week, Wonkhe’s Ant Bagshaw has produced a beginner’s guide to TEF.

Course Co-ordinator workshop, June 23rd

We will be running a Course Coordinator workshop on 23rd June between 9:30 -12:00 in Bedford.

By the end of the workshop participants will:

  • Explored notions of effective course co-ordination.
  • Considered the responsibilities of course co-ordination.
  • Explored leadership styles, effective management and how to influence others.

UoB staff can sign up using our online HR system.

If you know this course will be of interest to a colleague, please pass this on.

University staff conference 2017

We are now just three weeks away from our staff conference and fringe events; we hope to see many of you at the various sessions. Staff from the CLE will be presenting at both the main conference and the fringe.

You can find out more information from the links below:

In the meantime if you have any other question please email uobconference@beds.ac.uk.


Coming soon – PebblePad V.5


In August 2016, we upgraded to V5 of PebblePad.  Since then, Version 5 has been running concurrently with the ‘Classic’ version, in order to minimise disruption to those staff and students already working within it.

However, the older version will shortly cease to be supported by PebblePad, and we will therefore be switching as an institution to Version 5. The switchover will take place on July 4th at 8:30 a.m.

It’s important to note that the main difference in the new version is its ‘look’, and improvements to functionality – existing assets etc. will remain in your personal spaces. We have been working on a range of supporting materials (for staff and students), and will provide various hands-on sessions: for novice PebblePad users; for those who are transferring to V5; and for those who are already using it and just want to know more – look out for opportunities to sign up for these.

On July 12th, a representative from PebblePad will be at the University and available for Q&A and practical sessions – please get in touch if you would like to know more about this.

Please note that ATLAS is not changing in the short term, and all assessment activity (such as setting up assignments and marking) will continue as before.

Inclusive learning and teaching – free online course

We would like to draw your attention to a free online course ‘Inclusive Learning and Teaching Environments’ beginning on June 5th that is very relevant to HEFCE’s requirement to move towards a more inclusive approach, as well as the cuts in Disabled Students Allowance.

Who is the course for?

This course has been created for teachers and educators interested in inclusive practices, learning technologists and education design professionals. It will also be relevant for marketing and communications professionals working in training situations and those with disabilities who want to understand problems in education and how to overcome them.


4 ways to improve student retention

Colleagues may be interested in signing up for the following webinar, coming up soon:

4 ways to improve student retention – sign up here.

Making students feel included, engaged and listened to is a real challenge lecturers and teachers face and a hot topic in the education currently, which the April 2017 ‘What Works?’ HEA report highlighted.

We look at how technology can help create a sense of inclusion and belonging between students, but also make them feel they are being heard by their lecturers and teachers.

Join MeeToo’s Education Customer Success Manager, Amie, in this webinar to take a look at this report and discuss how Meetoo can help address some of the issues, covering the points below, and more:

  • Key takeaways from the latest ‘What Works?’ report
  • Supporting research carried out by Meetoo
  • How technology can help increase retention
  • Results seen from use of Meetoo within a leading UK university
  • Supporting success across an institution

Social media short course, June 5-16

This short course aims to introduce you to some of the main social media tools and how they’re being used in Higher Education.

Unlike most of our courses, this will not be a linear process – you can dip in and out and have a look at the tools that most interest you, over the course of two weeks.

We’ll include examples and some further reading so you can think of ways in which you can introduce these tools in your own practice to enhance student engagement and skills.

You can sign up here.

For more information, email pts@beds.ac.uk