NEW! #creativeHE combines offline & online conversations and activities

#creativeHE is an open collaborative community for creative and innovative practitioners growing out of the Greenhouse initiative that operated from 2014-2016 at Manchester Metropolitan University (Nerantzi, 2016) and the online #creativeHE community at through which a series of online events and courses have been offered by the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Manchester Metropolitan University in partnership with Creative Academic and facilitators from a range of institutions nationally and internationally. In the coming year we will continue connecting, collaborating, experimenting and learning together online, what is new, is the addition of gatherings locally, initially in the NW of England but ultimately anywhere there is an interest and we are welcome.

GooglePlusLogoThis initiative aims to support pedagogical rebels and free-thinking innovators in experimenting with, developing, sharing and getting support for novel learning and teaching ideas as well as initiate and disseminate research activity around these that have the power to transform the student and staff experience within and beyond institutional boundaries.

This community is open to anyone who would like to join, academic staff, students and the wider public. All who have an interest in creative and innovative approaches to teaching and helping others learn.

We plan to meet physically on a monthly basis, each time at a different institution. During our gatherings, we will have the opportunity to get to know each other, share and grow new ideas, take risks and support each other in our creative adventures, experiment and play, as well as test and develop pedagogical ideas and identify ways to take them forward.

We will continue using the #creativeHE online community space which now supports and connects a global community of over 600 people. Furthermore, this space will offer additional opportunities for professional development through online discussions, events and courses that are organised through #creativeHE, the Creative Academic and the wider academic community. The openly licensed #101creativeideas project will help us collect and share our ideas and the pedagogic innovators project (#pin) to engage in related research activities.

Our monthly local gatherings will be half days. We welcome institutions who would like to participate in #creativeHE events by organising a local gathering. All we need is a flexible space for up to 30 individuals.

We suggest that each gathering features time for socialising. As the gatherings will all be free and open, we encourage each participant to bring a gift of food and/or non-alcoholic drinks to share with other participants. Homemade and more healthy contributions are very welcome as are foods from different cultures. In this simple way we aim to encourage sharing of the many cultures that make up our society.

The institutional contact will coordinate the monthly gathering and a booking system will be in place through CELT at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Our first local gathering will be on the 24th of October at the University of Salford. Register at to join us! 

If you would like to become a #creativeHE champion in your institution, please get in touch with us.

We are really looking forward to seeing you again online and locally,


Chrissi and Norman on behalf of the #creativeHE team




#HEblogswap Anyone for T ?

#HEblogswap 13 september 2017

Contributed by Sue Watling

You see some great ideas on Twitter like #HEblogswap. When Chrissi Nerantzi invited me to exchange and mentioned it was the same week as MMU’s TEL-Fest, it gave me the idea for this post. Over at the University of Hull we’ve been restructured. The TEL Advisors are now Teaching Enhancement Advisors.

T for Technology and T for Teaching. What’s the difference?

In 2017 have they become one and the same thing?

What do you think?

For me the difference is an enhanced opportunity to promote learning design. TEL people tend to talk to the innovators and early adopters. Like attracts like. Using Rogers Diffusion of Innovations model, it can be harder to reach the late adopters. They often self-exclude from digital events, avoid technology workshops, don’t sign up for digitally themed conferences or funding opportunities, and rarely read the educational technology literature.

So I’d be really interested to follow your TEL-Fest to see if you’ve cracked this and if so, please can you share how to attract the digitally shy and resistant.

Rogers Diffusion of Innovations technology adoption curve
image from

I think a focus on learning design via teaching enhancement might be useful. Institutions are increasingly collecting data on learning outcomes and student satisfaction, so promoting learning design may have greater potential to reach those parts our TEL identities often fail to reach.

We’ve been busy studying existing approaches such as these:

Connectionist approaches, such as post-it notes, story boards, lego, play dough or activity cards, have been shown to enhance engagement and learning. The University of Stanford’s Reflect Imagine Try workshops use this Activity book and I’m looking forward to trying some of the ideas.

None of this means TEL has gone away; just that Pedagogy-First rather than Technology-First might attract those who say they ‘don’t do technology’.

Which brings us to the issues of digital skills and competencies. Whether the T is for Technology or Teaching, there’s always a need for digital confidence in curriculum design.

jisc digital capabilities model
image from

The Jisc Digital Capabilities model is often quoted as containing the essential elements for living, working and learning in 21st century.  Assumptions are  often made about individual digital skills but when you scratch the surface you find many online initiatives fail because a digital baseline is missing. Not everyone is comfortable working with the internet. In the 1990’s I ran Computers for the Terrified workshops and RSA CLAIT courses for Adult Education yet technology still doesn’t work for me – at least not as easily as it does for others, something my colleagues will vouch for!

Technology and Teaching are on the merge. The question we need to ask is  What does a digital literacy baseline look like for learning and teaching in HE.  If we can’t find ways to attract the late adopters we’ll continue to work with only a percentage of staff.

The digitally fluent and the digitally shy need to get together.

Around a table. Tea and Biscuits. Coffee and Cake.

We need to talk.

coffee and cake image from pixabay
image from

Let’s use #HEblogswap to think about a digital baseline. What skills does everyone needs to feel digitally confident in 2017.  Three ways to join in.

A collaborative Google-Doc has been set up.

Send me or Chrissi an email or

Tweet using the hashtag #DigiConfidenceHE

…which brings me back to the start of this blog and how you find great ideas on Twitter. Those who don’t use it for resources, support and advice relating to their work or research are missing out. But – we also need to consider how those who do use it might be inadvertently contributing to the same digital divides we’re trying so hard to narrow and bridge.

Mond the Gap image from pixabay
image from

European First Year Experience Conference at Birmingham City University

On Wednesday the 28th of June, I presented a show and tell session to a full house at the European First Year Experience Conference. This is the first time the research has been presented outside of MMU and we were really pleased to get some early feedback on the resources, which were well received.

The research I have been working on with my supervisor Rachel Forsyth focuses on the transition from further education to higher education, specifically for ‘non-traditional’ students. Transition to higher education is a complex area with a large body of literature. The findings from this project so far, has not pulled up anything particularly different from the literature, with the same issues in transition as was being written twenty years ago. However, we have used the data collected in this study to refocus our resources. Staff and students at MMU were interviewed who had either recent first hand or professional experience of transition.

At MMU, there is a drive to attract young people in further education to higher education who may not have considered the institution before. More information can be found here: I hope that the resources developed from this research will help staff to acknowledge the background of their students and consider what can be done to enhance student experience.

In collaboration with our colleague Liz Walshaw, we designed some resources to be used in the session. This included a poster, role-play exercises, a case study scenario and some illustrations based on the issues first year students may face such as making friends or work-life balance. The resources will be developed into a webpage on the CELT website that is going live in September and a full report following thereafter. Over the next two months, I will be running sessions to trail the resources further. Please get in touch if you would like to be involved with the resource trials and development.

Contact: Henry Coleman –


Exploring the Idea of Personal Pedagogies #creativeHE conversation 27-31 March 2017

All higher education teachers are unique: in their formation and development as a teacher each has followed a different pathway involving different experiences and influences. The way they think about learning and teaching (pedagogical thinking) has been derived from many sources and in this conversation we want to explore, through the multiple perspectives of  participants, what a ‘personal pedagogy’ might mean.
Over 5 days participants will be encouraged to reflect on their formation as a teacher and how they came to hold the knowledge, beliefs, interests and values they now hold as a teacher and how this pedagogical thinking influences their practices. The pedagogical narratives we share will help test, develop and give meaning to the idea of a personal pedagogy.
You can join the #creativeHE conversation at:
The conversation which begins at 08.00(UK) on March 27, is our contribution to
World Open Education Week
Prof. Norman Jackson and the #creativeHE team

Pedagogic innovators project (#pin) now live > join us

pin_newOpen invitation

Participate in the Pedagogic Innovators study or short #pin.

This study will investigate

1) The beliefs, attitudes and values of higher education teachers as pedagogic innovators.

2) Conceptions of pedagogic innovation in the context of their practice, their curricular design and students’ development.

3) Enabling and prohibiting factors of becoming pedagogic innovators for academics and other professionals who teach or support learning in HE

Check out the survey at for information regarding this project, to provide your consent after reading the related documentation  carefully and to complete the #pin survey.

The project is supported by Barbara Thomas, HE Consultant and Prof. Norman Jackson, founder of the Creative Academic Network.

Since April 2017, we have started an informal collaborating with HEFCE (Dr Helen King and the Catalyst projects) and City University of London. Please let us know if you want your institution involved and we will add it to the survey, so that you can get institution specific data. A summary of a recent #pin workshop can be found here.

Outputs from this study will be openly licensed and shared with the wider academic community so that we can all benefit.

Please share this invitation with further colleagues teaching in higher education who might also be interested. Thank you very much.

Chrissi (Nerantzi) on behalf of the research team
National Teaching Fellow

ICED Conference 2016: Purposeful Play workshop followup

This post is intended mainly for those people who attended Claire Hamshire and my pre-conference workshop at ICED 2016. The workshop aim was “To explore the potential of using games and scenarios to provoke and support discussion about quality assurance and quality enhancement”. Thanks to everyone who attended and made it so much fun: we hope you did also achieve the intended learning outcomes, which was “at the end of this session you will be able to use game theory to develop your own simple board games or scenarios to explore potentially challenging topics with staff and students”

To help with this, we have put together some further information about some of the games and activities on this page. Please don’t hesitate to contact either of us to ask questions, tell us how you might use the activities, or propose collaborations.

Claire Hamshire  @clairehamshire

Rachel Forsyth  @rmforsyth

Clinical Reasoning Activities:

Business card suppliers Moo (used for the clinical reasoning activities)

Medical images from the Wellcome Collection (used on the cards) – you need to ask for permission for re-use but it is very likely to be given, in our experience.

Staying the Course

You can find out more about the data used in this game at the Staying the Course website


You can download the game board and editable versions of the cards, together with some suggested rules, at the JISC DesignStudio site. The game was developed as part of a larger Curriculum Design and Delivery project, partially funded by the UK Joint Information Systems Council. The game pieces were bought very cheaply from eBay. The game is CC licensed and you are free to adapt it with acknowledgement.

Curriculum Planning Cards

These course planning cards can be downloaded in PDF format – they are very simple and the idea could be adapted to use names of activities more commonly in use in your own institution.  There are also ideas for their use on this page.

You can also download additional cards, which we didn’t use in the session, to add a bit more challenge to the planners – to consider how the proposed course might address employability and sustainability issues, or be adapted to be more inclusive. The assessment descriptions can be downloaded in PDF format here. All of these resources are  licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Check my Specs

This game is still under development, but if you email me, I can send you the Game board, as well as the Excel file with the examples in it, which we mail merged into a file to make the stack of cards.

Slides from the session  to download (sorry, large file!)

12 Apps of Christmas 2016 #12AoC


Are you interested in exploring which free mobile apps could help you in your teaching or supporting your students?

Would you like to take part in a fun, free, practical online course this December?

Then the 12 Apps of Christmas could be for you.

Last year, over 1000 participants from around the world took part in a new open course hosted by Regent’s University London – the 12 Apps of Christmas.  In just a few minutes a day, they learned about and tried out a range of free mobile apps with potential classroom use, built a community of practice, and had fun doing so.

The course was a success, winning the Credo Digital Information Literacy Award and inspiring people to run versions at other institutions.

Now, the original is back – better than ever! From 1st to 16th December 2016.

The 12 Apps of Christmas 2016 will offer a completely new range of carefully selected apps, while keeping to the same simple, entertaining formula which made it so successful last year. Expect guest posts, engaging hands-on activities, and a chance to be part of a friendly, enquiring community of educators worldwide.

And for those of you who took part last year – yes, we’re afraid the Christmas cracker jokes will be back…

To enrol on the 12 Apps of Christmas 2016, go to:

Watch the video here:

Twitter: @12AoC #12AoC