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. More details regarding this will follow.

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

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 –


101 Creative Ideas

In September we launched the 101 Creative Ideas project to curate and share ideas for creativity in learning and teaching in Higher Education. We’ve been really impressed by the contribution that have come in since!

We’ve have ideas for novel approaches to common academic activities, such as academic reading. For example, Sandra Sinfield of London Met University contributed an idea for creating ‘Scrolls’ as a way to tackle course texts with students.

Some ideas have looked at different or additional ways to demonstrate learning. For example, Juliette Wilson-Thomas, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education here at Manchester Metropolitan University, suggested asking peer reviewers to respond to work with colleges or poem instead of the ordinary written text (see Creative Peer Reviewers).

Several of the contributions have been about techniques for encouraging creative thinking in both staff and students. Teryl Cartwright, a writer and education from the USA, contributed one of each: for students, you could try running a session where they can only answer questions with questions; and for staff, try creating analogies from within your discipline to use as teaching aids.

We welcome further contributions to the project! To do this, you just need to fill in this short form:

#101creativeideas is a #greenhouse contribution and part of the year long Creativity in Higher Education Project led by Creative Academic. To find out more, please check out

#creativeHE No 4 >>> 1-7 July exploring creative ecologies

GooglePlusLogoYes, #creativeHE is back! For the 4th time. 

Join us at

for a week to explore together

creative ecologies.

We start on the 1st of July and will be together for 7 whole days. Prof. Norman Jackson and many colleagues from different institutions in the UK and elsewhere will join us on this fascinating journey. Join the #creativeHE community and find out more about this great opportunity to connect, collaborate and learn within a diverse community.

We hope this event will be of interest and value to you and that you will enjoy the experience.

The #creativeHE team

Postgraduate Certificate/Masters in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education 2016-17

The timetable for 2016-17 for CELT’s Postgraduate Certificate in Learning & Teaching in Higher Education (PGCLTHE) and Masters in Higher Education (MAHE) units is now available on the CELT website.

Existing participants can now register for any of next year’s units here.

New participants can also apply – you will need to complete an application form (see infographic of the application process). Links to the relevant unit webpages and the application for can be found at as well as more information about entry requirements, admissions, delivery and contacts.

Note: The PGCLTHE and MAHE are available free to MMU staff with teaching and assessment responsibilities. There are also opportunities for staff in support roles and postgraduate students with teaching.

Not sure which is for you? Try the CPD Route Planner

Dissertations for Good

The university has joined the Dissertation for Good scheme which is organised by the NUS (see It is an excellent scheme that aims to match the research interests of undergraduate students with organisations/charities who have a need for small scale research projects. Instead of producing a project/dissertation which is for internal marking purposes only, students have the opportunity to be involved in real world research that might have some impact and benefit (hence ‘dissertations for good’).

 Trials at other universities have suggested that the scheme can enhance the students employment prospects.

 Please promote the scheme to undergraduate and postgraduate students who have a dissertation or project unit at L6 or L7.

 Also, if you know of a local charity that requires some research please encourage them to register the research on the DfG website. It is free for small charities.

MMU service providers – if you have some research that you would like to do about your service you can register this on the DfG free (our fee covers both u/g researchers and research from the institution)