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
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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
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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

CELT’s Workshop Programme

CELT’s Workshop Programmetaletoolkit

CELT’s 2016/2017 Teaching and Learning Essentials (TALE) workshop programme is open to all academic colleagues at MMU, as well as professional and technical services colleagues working in student facing roles. There are sessions on key themes such as personal tutoring, assessment, student confidence and employability, as well as sessions such as, group work, digital interactivity in lectures and learning through objects to refresh teaching practice. Here is the link to view the programme and book a place

#Greenhouse – 20th Oct – #101creativeideas project with Ellie @ehannan14

11221469485_c2fb47fa2f_mDear Gardeners and Greenhouse friends,

We hope you had a lovely summer and the new academic year started well for you.

We are currently putting together the programme for this academic year and our Ellie (Hannan) is organising the very first gathering on the 20th of October, 12-2pm in John Dalton E0.05. 

Ellie is leading a new OER project called #101creativeideas. We are very excited about this as it gives us loads of opportunities to share what we do with each other and also involve the wider academic community.

This greenhouse session will be an introduction to the project and how we can all get involved to generate and share novel ideas around learning and teaching and to contribute to this exciting OER project.

If you are looking to make your teaching more creative, or want to share and develop creative ideas for your role, come along and feel free to bring a colleague and/or students with you as well.

We really are looking forward to seeing you on the 20th!

Ellie and Chrissi
ps. If you would like to facilitate a Greenhouse gathering this year, please get in touch with Chrissi at c.nerantzi @ mmu . ac . uk (without the spaces)


FLEX 15/30 [Creativity for Learning] 2016/17 >>> join us! #creativeHE

This unit provides participants with a flexible, practice-based approach to teaching practice enhancement. A special version of FLEX with a focus on creativity will be offered by CELT in collaboration with London Metropolitan University during 2016/17. Colleagues from both institutions and elsewhere will have the opportunity to learn and develop together within a diverse and distributed community of higher education practitioners who are involved in teaching, supporting learning or development of others with an interest in creative teaching and learning, who would like to explore innovative learning and teaching.

Within this unit, enablers and barriers to creativity in higher education will be explored together with related pedagogical theory and literature. Participants will experience learning through play, games, models and stories and actively experiment with such approaches. This will help participants to further develop their understanding, knowledge, skills and practices in these areas and become more adventurous in their teaching. Participants will be able to critically reflect on their practice and identify opportunities to design, implement and evaluate an imaginative and creative innovation that fosters curiosity, maximises motivation and meaningful active engagement and discovery learning. The teacher is challenged to be creative in order for creativity to be developed in the students.

The unit will be offered online as a 5-day block using the Playground model (Nerantzi, 2015) with further support until the end of the term. All MMU participants will be invited to a portfolio building workshop before commencing the unit.

2 iterations in 2016/17

  • Term 2 >>> 16 – 20 January 17
  • Term 3 >>> 22- 26 May 17

Day 1: Introduction to creativity in HE, enablers and barriers, theory and practice
Day 2: Learning through play and making
Day 3: Using story for learning and teaching
Day 4 : Learning through making
Day 5: Sharing learning and next steps

Whilst these individual activities are to be assessed holistically through one mode of summative assessment, it is important that the activities are understood and reflected upon to ensure successful synthesis and incorporation into practice as they are experienced.

The summative assessment consists of a reflective narrative aligned with the UK/MMU Professional Standards Framework (MMU PSF), institutional drivers (such as the Strategy for Learning, Teaching and Assessment for example within MMU) where applicable and evidence engagement and impact of specific FLEX CPD activities on teaching practice.

On the 16th of May 2017 we are offering an introductory FLEX session which will also help you set-up your portfolio here at MMU for all those interested in joining us for FLEX [Creativity for Learning] in May. Register here.

The unit is available for free to all practitioners who would like to participate informally in the open online version of this course. You can join the #creativeHE community at

If you work in another institution and are interested in studying towards academic credits FLEX15/30 [Creativity for Learning], please get in touch with CELT as there is a cost for this.

Chrissi (Nerantzi) CELT, MMU and Sandra (Sinfield), LMU

#creativeHE will be part of the year long Creativity in Higher Education Project. For more information regarding this, please see

Learning & Teaching News 2015 in review, thank you all!

Hello everybody,

The stats helpers prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog which continued to grow this year.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,200 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 53 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thank you all for your contributions this year. We are looking forward to an exciting and creative New Year!