#lthesep12 week 2 second go @pgcap

Well, I am not sure this is the right time and it actually somehow feels wrong but I am going to give it another go as my previous reflection on week 2 was a bit messy as I found it difficult to keep my mind focused when I was putting it together. Would it have been best not to reflect at all then and wait? I am not sure as I did feel that I wanted to capture my thoughts and emotions at the time, so it didn’t feel forced… and while I am starting fresh here, I had a quick look at my previous reflection linked to week 2 and can now more clearly see how different thoughts, disconnected, melted into one. As I feel that I have left the reflection about week 2 session incomplete, I would like to try and focus one more time here. Looking at the pictures we took last week helped me remember which does proove that images can trigger memories and bring experiences back to life.

Ok, let’s give it another go. Week 2 was about Good teaching in HE, developing reflective skills and peer observations. I have to say that I was really proud of all my students and their current knowledge and understanding of how good teaching looks like. I am pleased that the activity we did around identifying good teaching features worked really well and enabled all students to contribute their ideas and collectively create the bigger picture. The idea at the beginning was to group students in their action learning sets… I forgot that completely and was reminded by my slides… oops. it was however too late and I left the groups as they had been formed organically. I think it worked but I do need to remember next week to give students the opportunity to work with their learning set members too.

1. How did I feel?

Pleased and proud with what we have achieved already as a group thanks to the openness of my students.Also very pleased with the progress we are making and how students engage in the collaborative tasks. The exchanges are rich and learning is happening in the classroom as well. IT was lovely to see how students embraced the activity around Good teaching practice in HE and putting Top Tips for Peer Observarions together.

Observation tips

LTHESep12 Top Peer Observation Tips

Also concerned that some are behind with their portfolios. I think I mentioned that last week as well. Well, after offering another 2 sets of portfolio workshops, I think there are still about 50% of students with no portfolios… this is what worries me… still, our colleagues from TMC are not on Blackboard. I understand that they have  been registered and I have tried to add them to Blackboard but the system does not find their names yet. This is extremely frustrating as I am trying to offer an inclusive learning experience for all and this is impossible at the moment. Calls to follow @pgcap on Twitter and the PGCAP news blog have not brought colleagues closer, which is also a shame.

2. What did I learn?

I learnt that learning in collaboration can be very powerful. Also, when students get to know each other, they do open up. Stydents are all interested in personal stories and sharing these when they feel safe. Opening up happened as the session progressed and this was especially evident during the “Open your heart” activity.

LTHESep12 week 2

opening our hearts

While initially I asked everybody to capture their reflections and not share them with anybody else, when I finished the questions, I asked everybody to stick their heart at the back of the door for everybody to see. Nobody did! Nobody was ready for this. The door was the world. However, what students said and did is that they would feel ok to share with others around their table. This was wonderful and the first step towards opening up in a safe environment. Not everybody contributed their stories to start with but progressively, as some made a start, others felt also keen to share their stories. It was wonderful to experience the interest students had in listening to each other stories and providing help, support and commenting. Peer support in action. Why can we not do this when we reflect on our teaching practice? Why is it so hard to find somebody who would love to hear our stories we experience in the classroom and share ideas? It can’t be that hard!

LTHESep12 week 2

it is developing in our classroom as well

3. What would I do differently?

The ballgame around the module guide (I have to admit that I forgot all about it until I saw the pictures again!) didn’t really work this time, as I understood that not many had read the module guide… maybe my instructions were not clear what this game was all about… also possible. I feel that it is important that students read the module guide carefully before the start of a module or at the start of a module and come to class with questions they have. I have now to assume that students…

  • understood everything and have no questions
  • didn’t want to ask any questions
  • didn’t read the module guide
  • felt embarassed to ask questions or
  • didn’t understand what they had to do

Too many slides. I felt that they got in a way a lot during this session and were not really needed, at least some of them.  Pleased that I ignored them when we discussed peer observations and I think it actually worked much better without them.

So, I think actually next time I offer this session, I would try less is more or no slides at all. Maybe just some bright pictures with a message that would help me remember the plan? Also possible.

Looking ahead
I will be observed by Frances Bell on Tuesday. I have to say that I am nervous and as the day comes closer, I feel even more nervous and at the moment I can’t even think what my plan is and what I will be doing with my class. I am ready but as everybody else who is observed, I want to do a good job. But I don’t just want to do a good job because I am observed. Teachers should do a good job all the time and not just because they are observed. So, I will just be me, do the things I do and hopefully it will work. There will be some improvisation in there too, there usually ise… Well, some of it might not work so well but we will see and find out after the observation. Usually teachers also know what works and what doesn’t.

I have given Frances access to my pre-observation info and hope that I will feel relaxed when she is there… wish me good luck. Week 3 looking at planning sessions, modules and programmes.

#lthesep12 week 2 reflections or not @pgcap


sit down and reflect, not on your own

don't play hide and seek with yourself

why hide?


taste, feel, see, listen, smell – experience!


the world is not going to fall on you


love what you do and do what you love – learn to love and love learning


Open your window! Open your eyes! Open your mind!


Don’t give up! Go for it!

Warning! When I started this photostory, I was thinking about our LTHE session. Then something happened and thoughts about the session started mixing up with other recent events, episodes and conversations and my story started taking me to different places. My messy thoughts were guiding me to capture what you see here and the messages that I try to express through the images and captions. Looking at it now, I am not sure if this is even remotely connected with our session and will try at the end of the week again to put something more focused together. In a way, I think the story works at different levels for me. How about you? What are you taking away from this story? Can you see anything that is somehow linked to our Tuesday session?

pre-observation data for #LTHESep12 week 3 to be observed by Frances Bell @francesbell

Pre-observation Form

Observer’s Name Frances Bell

 Date & Time
9 November, approx arriving at 11am

Pankhurst Room, Faraday House, University of Salford

 Module & Session title Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE module) /
introduction to designing sessions, modules, courses

 Number of learners  17


This is week 3 of the LTHE module. This group is really diverse. We have colleagues from around the university and from The Manchester College. Among the students are colleagues who have some teaching experience and others who are completely new to teaching. One thing I would like to add is that we have students from different disciplines in this cohort. Many are from Media this time. All are lovely people and seem, so far, positive, about the module. There are some issues still with accessing Blackboard, especially for our colleagues from TMC, which is very unfortunately. However, I am providing resources and opportunities to engage using social media (our PGCAP news blog and Twitter). These have not been used widely… unfortunately. Also, there seem to be issues with time tables and finding time to do the module. I have noticed that some ‘disappear’ before the end of the session and this is worrying me. Also a number of students haven’t created their portfolios yet. I worry a lot about this, as the assessment of this modules is based on the portfolio which should be developed during the module. A number of portfolio sessions have been organised, unfortunately the uptake was small. Never had that problem before… everybody seems busy with other things…

Learning outcomes to be achieved during the session

 By the end of the session, students attending and engaging in the session will have had the opportunity to:

•discuss and critically evaluate own design process and approaches used

•explore innovative student-centred methods and active learning approaches when planning lectures, seminars, workshops and tutorials to maximise engagement
•develop a better understanding of technology-enhanced curriculum design processes and explore applications in own context

Session outline

This session will be highly participatory (like all my sessions ;). A draft plan is ready. We will start exploring the learning environment first through an activity which I don’t want to reveal here for obvious reasons. The activity should make students think about being a student and how it feels to learn in a specific environment and what we teachers can do to make this environment more welcoming and effective for learning. 

We will then progress into finding out how everybody plans sessions at the moment. We will be able to identify current strengths and areas for development and shift-priorities (hopefully!). We will capture our ideas using a mindmapping tool to which everybody will contribute. This will be lead by two students.

Intended Learning Outcomes, what these are and how they help us shape our sessions/modules as well as constructive alignment will be discussed and debated and experiences shared before having a short break.

In the second part students will work in action learning sets (I must remember to re-arrange everybody!) and create a session plan for a specific cookery session based on a series of parameters. Findings will be shared and evaluated by other groups.

Now writing all this, feels already too much… am I over planning? I might but I prefer to have planned for more and use activities depending on how it goes in class. I might therefore skip one or the other activity to move on to what the class finds useful and stimulating.

We will progress to module and course design but will only skim the surface… if time allows. Students will be asked to bring in a module guide and/or programme handbook to critique in action learning sets. And also have a conversation around Quality Assurance and Enhancement of modules and programmes and related processes as well as threshold concepts.


Modelling collaborative learning. Challenging existing ideas and enable students to re-think practices. Working in groups throughout. Using low-tech and digital resources, including an electronic mindmap at the beginning of the session. Nobody will be able to hide and not participate 😉 Active and activity based learning in groups. Also opportunities for individual tasks and reflection as well as peer learning. The plan is to facilitate learning and take into account what students already know (this is very important to me). I would like to bring their current knowledge and understandig to the table and help them extend this further, through questioning and challenging current beliefs and approaches. Feedback will be provided throughout, probably verbally bit it won’t just come from me. Peer-to-peer feedback will be a feature of this session.

Are there any aspects of the session you would like the observer to focus on?

  • Group work
  • Use of resources
  • Providing feedback and stretching students through questioning

Message to observer

Hi Frances,

I am looking forward to seeing you in class on Tuesday. There will be a chair for you when you arrive and a camcorder. Please record short snippets that I can use to reflect on the session afterwards and share with my students. Also, it would be useful to organise a feedback session to discuss the observation. Last semester we did this in class immediately after the observation. There were a lots of benefits for the students to do this. However, I felt that I needed some time first to reflect on what happened. I am happy to go with what you suggest and what the students would find useful. We could also record our feedback conversation and then make available to all.

Students have been informed about your visit and I will introduce you when you arrive.

Further info about the LTHESep12 group so far are available at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pgcap/sets/72157631221114190/

The presentation will be added to this form as soon as possible.

If you need anything else in advance of the session, please let me know.

Thanks again and see you on Tuesday.


ps. A bit nervous now… ;(((

#lthesep12 week 1 reflections @pgcap


In the spotlight, the programme, the module, you, us

This week was so so rich. We had our first face-to-face sessions for all modules. I am really pleased how all modules started. A lot of hard work had gone into preparing a powerful and creative start to the semester and I can say that we did achieve this across the programme. It was wonderful to see all our students, I managed to peak into all sessions, and see our students’  and tutors’ passion for learning and teaching. I feel that the programme is getting stronger and tutors work now closer together to make this programme a real success. We already had a number of successes but I know that we and our students are able of even greater things and I am positive about the future. The key is to work together in this with all tutors and students but also the support team to make our big dreams become reality.

What were the highlights?

It has to be the seeing my new LTHESep12 group but also all students I had last semester and some I had before then. I could how eager they all are to get started. I hope all our students wil find the journey exciting and learn loads that they can apply in their practice.

LTHESep12 week 1

breakfast is served

During the session we did perhaps a few controversal things such as knitting, playing with Lego and speed dating too. This was on purpose. I wanted to warn them from the very beginning to expect the unexpected, if that makes sense.  But also show them that we should all experiment with different approaches and that the programme is a safe place to do this. I am of course experimenting with my students and this turns learning into a partnership. I loved their laughters how they started already supporting each other, during the knitting activity but also througout the session.

The most wonderful thing that happened is probably that what we did, or better how, made already some students think about their own practice and by the end of the session I heard a few saying that they are going to try some of the stuff we did in their own sessions, others started writing about it in their portfolios. Yes, I am smiling 😉 What else could I have hoped for?

How did I feel?

I felt the buz, the adrelanine was in the air. I was ready for action. It had been too many months without teaching and I have to admit I missed it. I was of course nervous too and each time you start fresh with a new group, there is always the fear or concern that it won’t work, that people won’t like you or won’t get what you want to achieve. But it did work, I think and I am really looking forward to what is going to happen this semester. The grey clouds are gone…

I have to admit that I did feel a bit sad. Sad seeing my previous cohort in other classrooms, with other tutors… I do find it hard to let go especially since we have worked so well together. But I know they are all in good and capable hands and am happy with the progress they have made. I will see them around anyway and I am working on projects with some of them… just need to remember this 😉

What did I learn?

Spending a bit more time at the beginning with a new class to enable us to get to know each other,  can really make a huge difference. It was lovely to see how chatty students were and there were a lot of smiles and a genuine interest in helping others. I loved this.

LTHESep12 week 1

knitting our network

I have to admit that I have trialled the knitting activity with another cohort and it didn’t work. However, I saw value in this and thought that it was a good idea to try again. And I did and it work so well this time. This shows that we might create a learning opportunity, have an idea which we put into practice, that won’t work, but this should not discourage us from trying it again if we feel that there is value in this for our students. I think I learnt from the previous time I tried it, that it wasn’t probably the right group (?) and the wrong time {?)… I should have reflected a bit more in action to realise this and not even do it then.

What would I do differently?

I am concerned that not everybody has a portfolio yet. We have so far offered 2 portfolio sessions and we have stillover 50% of students with no portfolio. I don’t know how to resolve this. A third session is planned but I don’t know how many will be available to attend.

We do need to work on our application process. It all happens last minute and created loads of difficulties. Including the issue with the portfolio. If we would accept applications a semester ahead for the next semester, we would have plenty of time to plan and help our students to familiarise with the programme. At the moment we are looking at streamlining the processes with the whole team. So this is something that we definitely need to do differently next time around.

What else?

Well, this week was also a milestone for me. I was officially accepted to start a PhD at Edinburgh Napier University around Open Learning. I am really looking forward to this new adventure and am keen now to get started development and research. This research project is linked very closely with the PGCAP and our Flexible, Distane and Online Learning (FDOL) Module which will be developed in collaboration with colleagues in Sweden. This is all very exciting and I am pleased I survived the Skype Interview this week. It was actually much easier than I thought and I relaxed as the conversation progressed.

PhD interview prep and safety net? Didn’t use any of my notes…

In week 2 we are going to look at reflection and observations of teaching. My trolley is almost full and ready to roll to Faraday House on Tuesday. If you would like to observe, feel free to come along to Pankhurst Room, 9.30-12.30pm

#lthesep12 pre-induction almost done now @pgcap


All on board, the journey begins! Let’s have an open mind and discover new worlds together!

The PGCAP programme started again. We have been online now for almost 2 weeks and I have had the pleasure to meet some of my students on the LTHESep12 cohort during our portfolio building workshop. New faces, new experiences, new stories, new adventures. Really looking forward to be learning together and making new discoveries.

However, after the summer break and not having done any teaching for a few months now, I keep thinking and wondering I suppose if I can still do it… I mean teaching. Feeling somehow a bit rusty. How will it be being in class again?

Nervous? Who, me?

Students feel nervous as learners. Teachers do as well. We want to do a good job and create the right environment for our students to learn. Of course at the beginning we don’t know our students. We  are a stranger to them and they are strangers to us. But not for long, if we get it right! I feel that it is so important to reach out and create bridges and pathways that connect teachers with students,  students with students but also others outside our immediate groups that make learning and teaching a more personalised and meaninful experience. Just yesterday, I was called Big Sister and I actually liked that. I do feel like a big sister even if some of my students are older than me. I guess this is the real big sister and mother in me who cares for her little siblings and children and it just feels right that they need me and I will do whatever I can help them. These caring feelings are quite strong and I have to admit, that I have a problem of letting go, just like any mother has when her children grow up and don’t need her anymore, but we can talk about this some other time.

How is anybody else feeling about starting again teaching after the summer? Please leave a comment if you would like to share with me how you feel about this. Thank you.

Ok, back to these 2 pre-induction weeks.

What were the highlights?

Meeting students during the portfolio workshop. Good to see everybody and get a better feel about the different personalities and the group dynamic developing. Also, was pleased that I did remember to start taking the photographs with the names and hope that I will be able to learn my students’ names much quicker this way which I think is vital if we want to show that we care about our students. Some might say, well you can do this, you only have 20-30 students. How could we learn and use our students’ names if we had larger classes? I have an idea but would be interested in your views.


Sample photo with smiley Helen

How did I feel?

Nervous, as mentioned above. I am still nervous about the induction when I will see the whole cohort. But also very very excited. I feel like a little girl who has prepared loads of goodies and can’t wait to share them with my new students.I want to see their re-action! Can’t wait to see what they will think! Will they engage? Will they embrace? Will we have fun? Will we learn? And will we all have an open mind? … going through an(other) emotional rollercoaster at the moment… Emotions are a vital part of learning!

What did I learn?

It is useful to have a pre-induction to extend opportunities for familiarisation and socialisation. However, this worked partly this time, as we are still accepting applications and not everybody had the opportunity to join the pre-induction because of this. Also others, I suspects, have been busy with their own student inductions this week and were therefore less present in our online pre-induction.

What would I do differently?

I need to think about this a bit more but I we definitely need to change the timing of our application process. We should really have a cohort in place in advance of the semester and this is definitely something I need to work on with our Programme Support Team.

Just a few more days until induction… my heart is zooming faster as the day approaches. Everything is ready… all resources in place, even the trolley to take to Faraday House is waiting for me. I have planned the session for loads of interaction, guests will be there too. Will it work? What will work? We will find out on Tuesday morning. Be there if you are a student on the #lthesep12 module.

Looking forward to seeing you all.

music sheet - notes

Let the music begin 😉

participating in open course on open badges

badges for learning

badges for learning

Well, I want to learn more about open badges since we, Cristina and I, are considering introducing them to open TESS and other academic development activities, including the PGCAP. I already have some ideas of how I could use badges for 3 actvities on the LTHE module with our new cohort and the P2PU has 3 mini courses that would fit well with my plans. I think I am going to give it a go, but first I need to find out more about open badges.

While we are already thinking about the design of our own badges, and have a designer as well, not really a surprise, I think I need to do some serious learning around open badges and I found a way to do this.

our inspiration

our inspiration for the design of our badges

I signed up for an open course at P2PU where an Open Badges course is offered. This course is about open badges and I will get my first 2 open badges, I think, if I complete this successfully. Somehow it already sounds better than just completing a course. Do these badges remind us of stickers, or in my case stamps we got in school for work completed well?

Well, I could just read on my own about badges, couldn’t I? Yes, I could but would it be the same or better? I don’t think so… participating in a course about open badges for open badges (this doesn’t sound so good now what I just wrote and makes me wonder if learners would just zoom through a course or activities to get the badge and learning would become less important…), well, for learning and open badges will enable me to experience first hand what it means to learn in a more structured way and get my badges at the end, if I do well enough, to evidence that I completed his course. Do open badges make a difference for open learning? Can they act as motivators in open environments? I am curious to find out.

I started the P2PU course yesterday and noticed that other people are taking it but so far it feels like a lonely journey. I would like to connect with others and hope that this will happen so that we can share experiences and help each other gain a better understanding of these open badges but also learn about how others are thinking to use badges.

Today is a day of reading so that I get a better understanding about open badges. I will do this and am sure, that I will have loads of questions. Hopefully I will be able to ask a few questions and get some answers from peers. I plan to use my personal learning network on Twitter for this purpose as well. We will see how this goes.

Ok, I guess I better do some reading. Will be back here to capture my learning journey on the P2PU course on open badges. Anybody would like to join me? Sign up here 😉

capturing thoughts while reading

capturing thoughts while reading

I have now completed the reading of the resources made available through the P2PU open badges course. The above photo captures the notes I made based on what I felt was important. Some of the texts where more technical and there are others I will go back to. The course suppose to be completed in 6h. Not sure if this is realistic. I think in 6h you would probably be able to zoom through it by skimming all resources and links but meaningful and deeper engagement will, I think require more study time. The good thing is that you can do the tasks one by one. And completing individual tasks makes you feel that you have achieved something and you know that you are gettig closer to completing the course. But it shouldn’t be just about completion. In our courses we focus on the journey, the process of learning. Will badges create more assessment driven learners? The text that stood out for me was the 7 things you need to know about badges.  This provides a comprehensive overview of open badges for students and teachers and I plan to use this for our PGCAP course when introducing badges.

But also the below clip with Doug Belshaw from Mozilla


So, far, I have now completed the tasts up to joining the Google group on open badges. This was a useful discovery and will help me during but also after the completion of this course, to stay in touch with people who are exploring open badges. I noticed that conversations are happening there and questions are answered. So there is peer support out there and I hope to be able to help others too when I have a better understanding of badges and share my experiences linked to these with the group.

Looking forward to the rest of the course. Definitely feeling that I am learning. I love the expressions Badge Backpack and Baking Badges. Is there an open badgemaker available? Just wondering.

I have now completed 2 challenges at http://openbadges.org/en-US/, even before completing this course, and received my very first open badges. The backpack is no longer empty and can be accessed at http://beta.openbadges.org/share/9916d57574c211dd2dbd1becb10fea96

Tried to find a way to find the code of the badges and add to my WordPress portfolio, but I seem to be unable to do so… ;( Help!!! I hope I will work it out somehow. Must go back to the Google group and ask the question there.

There more I read about these open badges, the more opportunities I see, using open badges for tasks on the LTHE module of our PGCAP programme. I identified already 3 very specific opportunities which I am listing below:

open badges via P2PU for

  • creating an eportfolio (this happens at the beginning of this module and the basic functionality is introduced then. Great to discover that there is a badge for the successful completion of this task)
  • editing a wikipedia page (the task is to edit a wikipedia page around a specific learning theory. I then discovered that we could get a badge for doing exactly this)
  • creating an educational game (we play a mixed-reality game and this badge would be an extension to this and exploring application in own practice, ideas and reflections could be captured in the e-portfolio)

BTW, I am definitely spending more than 6h on this open badges course but it is worth it. Discovering so much useful stuff that I am going to trial this semester with my new LTHE cohort. This is all very exciting. Also looking forward to designing our own badges for TESS with Cristina Costa.

Task 4 is next and I will add my reflections and thoughts here when ready, probably tomorrow 😉 Tomorrow arrived, a few days later… unfortunately.

But here I am now. I completed all tasks and am in the process of finalising Task 7 which is actually this account here. I have to say that I have found this course really useful. It enabled me to gain a better understanding of open badges. More importantly, I know now where to go for help. I will keep in touch with badgers on Twitter to continue the conversation.

We are definitely interested in open badges and the more I think about it the more it makes sense to use these in accredited but also non-accredited academic development provision. They could also be linked to CPD Frameworks. I feel that the opportunities are endless. We just need to be careful and craft and clear pedagogical rational. It shouldn’t just be about collecting as many badges as possible or just collecting any badge! The main thing is learning and using badges as a recognition for this. Therefore I think we need strong peer review processes. Not sure yet how these could look like and any ideas are very welcome.

As I am starting the development of our Flexible, Distance and Online Learning (FDOL) module of the PGCAP, and this is an open access module, I definitely think that we could make use of badges for non-credit learners and also on other PGCAP modules and the TESS programme as mentioned earlier in this post.

A big thank you to P2PU for this course which gave me so many ideas. We might even run the FDOL module within P2PU. We will see.


the @pgcap starts again semester 1 (12/13) reminder to self and @pgcap students

a new journey begins for all of us

a new journey begins for all of us

Open! Open you eyes and your mind

Open up! Open your eyes and your mind.

Look for each other! Find each other! Connect.

Look for each other! Find each other! Connect.

Taste and try what you never had before

Taste and try what you never had before. Share it!

play and love and love to play

Play and love. Love to play

Read and digest, question, debate and learn!

Read and digest, question, debate and learn!

Go places! Explore and discover.

Go places! Explore and discover.


… the opportunities are endless.

celebrating together

Celebrate everyday achievements! Grow as teachers in HE.

Students in a million nomination @pgcap #lthejan12

Just wanted to let you know that I submitted the following for the Student(s) in a Million Award

A nation-wide hunt to find and reward the most inspiring students of 2012

I love this cohort, every single student and all of them together! Anne, Ben, Carena, Carlo, Cheryl, Craig, Rania, Gemma, Jason, Jialiang, Jon, Kevin, Liz, Mohan, Oliver, Philip, Becci, Rosie, Sarah and Stanko! These students embraced creativity and innovation, threw themselves into the unknown, took risks, experimented actively and made valuable discoveries during their learning journey which in many cases lead to a shift in thinking, a shift in behaviours, a shift in beliefs and practices. The changes are fundamental and the impact massive! I will put this into context so that you understand.

My name is Chrissi (Nerantzi) and I am the programme leader of the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) at the University of Salford, which is offered to all academics and other professionals who support learning at the university. So all our students who join the programme to develop as teachers in Higher Education (HE) and gain a recognised teaching qualification in HE are actually teachers. Who says teachers are only teachers? We teachers need to model learning –we need to practise what we preach! Learning is not an embarrassment, and being a student is definitely something to be proud of. This group of students who are also teachers inspired me to continue my mission and made me proud, many times during the module. I can’t wait to hear their next success stories.

My nomination for the one in a million is for all my students on cohort 4 who recently completed the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) module of the PGCAP programme. The whole group showed real commitment to learning, overcame struggles with the theory, battled with the technology, confronted creativity and most importantly, through their engagement, they proved that they truly cared about their own students. They were keen to be experimental, keen to be creative, keen to provide rich and stimulating learning experiences to their students – and they did it all really well!!! My students had a lot of fun learning, played games, and immersed themselves into less common learning and teaching approaches. We were a learning community and developed trust. The students stuck together and they supported each other. They learned with and from each other. Cross-disciplinary partnerships and collaborations were formed. Sharing of ideas and good practice happened organically. These students broke out of their silos, practised thinking and teaching outside-the-box and recognised the value in connecting with colleagues from other disciplines and professional areas. These students have become proper innovators for life! Developing and growing progressively before my eyes. I witnessed it through observing them teaching, through learning conversations we had in and outside the classroom, through their reflections in their electronic portfolios and research they carried out. I can’t stop smiling writing all these wonderful things about my students and feel so proud about what they have achieved.

This group of PGCAP students is a real inspiration for future students on the programme but also for their own students and all students and they deserve a formal recognition from the wider learning community for all their hard, innovative and inspirational work. These students are also an inspiration for me! They gave me the confidence to believe that teacher education can make a real difference, especially if we challenge our own habits and beliefs, if we have an open mind and are willing to take risks and actively experiment.

These teachers who are students on the PGCAP programme drive change and have the will, the commitment and the creative energy to transform learning and teaching in their classrooms into stimulating and valuable experiences. Voting for my students means voting for all students who deserve excellent teachers. My students are definitely one in a million!

Snippets from their journey can be found at

  • Flickr

Cohort 4 in pictures http://www.flickr.com/photos/pgcap/sets/72157628530194147/

  • Youtube

Embracing creative teaching http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL17749761E4EC93D7

Embracing peer observations http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8BEB736FAAFFC5D0

Embracing the value of the eportfolio http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8E02FDA6C2E47A2D

Embacing the professional discussion http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9AA3BD8E7263D435

Portfolio samples

Gemma’s portfolio at http://gemmalace.wordpress.com/

Becci’s portfolio at http://rebeccajacksonpgcap.wordpress.com/

Cheryl’s portfolio at http://cherylspgcap.wordpress.com/

Patchwork e-portfolio on the PGCAP Programme with a focus on how it is used on the LTHE module @pgcap


This is a summary of our patchwork e-portfolio implemented in the Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) module for formative, summative and mobile assessment introduced in the blended multidisciplinary Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP), Academic Development, University of Salford.

The patchwork e-portfolio assessment has a positive impact on learning and teaching. It engages students in practice-based assessment, feedback conversations among peers, tutor and the wider learning community. The assessment design is innovative and combines old and new, face-to-face and digital, collaborative and self-directed features. It supports and promotes inclusive practice for a diverse student body and consists of a Reflective Journal using social, mobile and rich media (audio, video, comic, drawings, digital stories). It also includes a Professional Discussion with a panel of a PGCAP tutor and an academic, during which a Lego model is used to visualise learning journeys, trigger and extend reflection, conversation and engagement captured afterwards in students’ e-portfolios. Students are autonomous in their learning and assessment and as such feel engaged and motivated. The assessments include supportive facilitation and modeling with intervention and active experimentation linked to an evidence-based approach. Deep critical reflection is developed and shared. Learning for and beyond assessment are evident and students feel empowered and enthused about learning, teaching and assessment.

Impact on learning and teaching

  • Growing through assessment and reflective learning: Assessment and learning woven organically with Assessment link directly with personal practices and students to grow as HE practitioners. Students reflections often lead to new discoveries transforming thinking, beliefs and practice.
  • Dynamic feedback conversations: e-portfolios are live, dynamic spaces  accessed and updated from mobile devices; tutor and peers  engage in learning and feedback conversations throughout modules, anytime, anyplace, creating a sense of community and trust (providing mutual feedback) Feedback by tutor and peers is ongoing; Strengths are recognised and areas for further explorations, highlighted. These conversations are motivating and engaging within and beyond the module boundaries, establishing a collaborative, networked learning experience. Many make their e-portfolios public, giving students an opportunity to engage in global conversations with practitioners from other institutions. Some promote their PGCAP e-portfolios via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • My e-portfolio: Social media e-portfolios are owned by students who enjoy creating and personalising them. They are seen as assessment spaces as well as professional development: there is evidence that some continued using them beyond the PGCAP.
  • eAssessment, emarking, emoderation through modeling innovative practice: Use of an innovative e-portfolio for formative, summative and mobile assessment and feedback through peer learning; effective facilitation and administration, marking and moderation is modeled. A variety of assessment and feedback approaches are combined and social media, mobile technologies are utilised. External experts and assessors, become part of the learning and assessment experience. Marking, moderation and preparation for the Exam Board is done fully online. Being resourceful and creative is expected in these challenging times and institutions need to do  more with less. This approach gives students a rich flavour of possibilities, benefits and challenges creating appetites for re-thinking their own assessment and feedback practices. The approach is constantly refined making students aware of their responsibility keeping assessment fresh and relevant. The use of the e-portfolio triggers creative and innovative thinking. We are introducing the best e-portfolio award “Rich Journeys” this academic year.
  • Academic Development as a Greenhouse: Assessment on this module and the PGCAP programme shows that Academic Development should act as a Greenhouse of pedagogical interventions and the place where our staff, who are students on the programme, are given time and space to experiment in a safe/supportive environment. Academic developers and peers exploring new pedagogies and technologies feel enthused adopting more adventurous and creative learning, teaching and assessment using available technologies.

Video clips discussing the different and dynamic elements of the approach are highlighted in these urls:

  • e-portfolio:


  • Professional Discussions:


Sample of current e-portfolios

Design principles

Our assessment approach is based on collaborative and constructivist learning theories and practices. Digital tools and rich media enrich and extend assessment as learning. New learning is constructed through experience and immersion.

Modeling innovative practices, technology-enhanced approaches for learning and assessment within a trustful learning community have been especially successful on the LTHE module of the programme. A few tutors on the programme have their own  professional e-portfolios which are shared with students.

Quality enhancement in academic development is why active experimentation and research with colleagues and students informing practice are so important. The module assessment evolved over 2 years using an evidence-based approach carried out collaboratively by tutor and students. Research findings, activity and feedback received from students and External Examiners inform the enhancement of assessment strategy and are disseminated through workshops, conference contributions and academic papers (a recent dissemination activity during the eAssessment Scotland 12 can be accessed at https://chrissinerantzi.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/some-thoughts-and-reflections-linked-to-our-eassessment-webinar/). The importance of an open dialogue and collaboration is key. Learning, teaching and assessment interventions are discussed with students and colleagues in partnership prior to implementation. This has been the case of the patchwork e-portfolio intervention over the last two years.

Assessment of the whole PGCAP programme is now based on a networked social media e-portfolio. This enables students to carry out authentic, practice-based assessment simultaneously experimenting with new pedagogies and digital technologies. Capturing and sharing their reflections and interventions engages all  students and tutors in ongoing local and global learning conversations beyond the classroom.

Inclusive practice

Inclusive practice is at the heart of this e-portfolio e-Assessment intervention. This assessment is rich and versatile and models a variety of innovative assessment approaches in the digital age. It enables all students to participate in a meaningful way learning and assessment on their own and with others. They build on their strengths, boost self-confidence and belief in their abilities and embrace diversity and individuality. It stretches and challenges them to achieve the intended learning outcomes of a specific module and programme and also gives them the freedom to grow, create and co-create new knowledge in a safe, supported and caring environment.

This assessment is authentic and practice-based. It is fair, varied, fresh and stimulating. In the patchwork e-portfolio, process and product merge and meaningful learning conversations take place and are captured in media-rich format. There is also evidence of transformative learning and impact on their own practices which are extremely important achievements for Academic Development.

All assessment components, digital and non-digital, are interwoven organically and  use technologies. Social media and digital tools, including mobile technologies, are used based on a pedagogical rationale and therefore enhance and extend connectivity, accessibility, usability as well as engagement and achieve enhanced inclusive practice.

Learning through creating and making is powerful. Making is an activity that gives people pleasure. It helps individuals make sense of their ideas, thinking but also visualising their thoughts, making discoveries and sharing them with others. This is what is achieved through this assessment strategy.

Learner engagement and motivation

The patchwork e-portfolio boosts engagement throughout and enables dialogic and collaborative learning. It also triggers deeper reflection, motivation, self-analysis, self and peer evaluation beyond the assessment requirements. The intended learning outcomes of this module are achieved and students set their own personalised learning goals. The e-portfolios are rich, personalised and creative learning spaces that keep students interested. Students are motivated and self-directed in a supportive atmosphere. Many, inspired by this assessment approach started implementing social media into their own modules and programmes and find a patchwork e-portfolio valuable for their own practice.

Students who struggled with technology initially, embraced it progressively and developed the necessary knowledge, understanding and skills to re-think their own assessment practice.

Students learn through active experimentation with their tutor and peers. In their e-portfolios they stitch artifacts and thoughts together using rich media to represent their thinking, learning and development. During the last semester over 10 weeks,  450+ comments were made in 20 e-portfolios, including tutor and peer comments which clearly evidences the collaborative and connected nature of this assessment approach.

The Lego model making activity, e.g. (see images at  http://www.flickr.com/photos/pgcap/sets/72157629541603128/) transformed the Professional Discussions which could be a stressful summative assessment method, into a relaxed and shared collaborative activity. It extends engagement beyond assessment and acts as a trigger for extended self- and dialogic reflection through the use of social media ( http://despard.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/professional-discussion-post-thoughts/). Learning and reflection through making is a vital characteristic of this approach and evidence shows that increased engagement, motivation and performance.  External examiners were impressed by the depth of engagement during the Professional Discussions and the evidence captured in the e-portfolios. While the Professional Discussions are a summative assessment component and participants were only required to participate in the face-to-face discussion, many students decided to create a reflective review of their learning journey in preparation for their Professional Discussion page in their e-portfolio. This extended their reflection and learning, activities which were not required or assessed.

I would like to mention that I always feel motivated by my students who are  hungry to learn and highlight how much I am learning from them and their Learning Journeys. We learn to trust each other and are growing and developing in partnership. I am extremely proud of what my students achieve.
External Examiner’s comments linked to our assessment strategy

Aug 12 extracts from annual report 11/12: “It was evident that students were clear regarding assessment requirements. The methods of assessment foster a high degree of creativity, and facilitate interesting and diverse ways in which students can present material, enhancing learning and teaching skills further. […]The core module encapsulates and promotes best practice in learning and teaching, appropriately supported by close adherence to UK PSF and HEA principles. This module provides a good foundation on which to develop as a Teacher. Reflective practice is a strong aspect of the core module. This comes easier to some students than others (depending on their specialist subject / discipline), with varying degrees of success. Some student reflections this year have developed a more critical stance, which is a credit to the efforts of the tutors. […] Programme content has facilitated assessments this year that are far more diverse and creative, which enables the student to work in media they feel most comfortable with (which is positive), but does offer some challenges in terms of equity of grading of work presented in different formats. To the team’s credit, they did assess in a fair, transparent and equitable way so it was clear to the student that learning outcomes had / had not been met.

The portfolio makes evident the learning journey the student undertakes, which for some is articulated as not an easy one. Several students discussed in their portfolios the difficulty of finding time to study. This is not unique to this programme. Across other institutions staff new to teaching, often with a full teaching (and research) load, describe the difficulty of finding time to devote to their post-graduate teaching certificate.

The programme is structured to enable tutorial staff to offer feedback on the portfolio on an ongoing basis to enhance critical reflection on the students’ practice. The module team offered formative feedback at intervals that were undoubtedly critical in supporting student momentum and motivation.

A portfolio is the most effective way of demonstrating achievement of the module learning outcomes  and UKPSF standards within these modules and the programme as a whole. Reflection on teaching practice, and tutor and peer observations are effective and essential to developing expertise in learning and teaching practice. The portfolio also enables the student to clearly articulate their learning journey throughout the programme, making transparent their learning, their challenges and their achievements. The use of WordPress enabled some real creativity in terms of how the students’  activities and learning were presented. The ALT project is also presented within the WordPress portfolio, and this seems appropriate in terms of demonstrating learning across the programme.

I have looked closely at the Programme and module learning outcomes alongside the assessment strategies and student work when examining samples, and a close alignment is evident between the assessment and learning outcomes.

The marking and moderating process is clear and adhered to. Internal marking appears  consistent. All markers offer detailed feedback (and feed-forward) to students, and it is made  clear by the marker which criteria are being commented on. Moderation appears robust, and  there is consistency in points raised by the moderator, and the external examiners. Any issues raised by the moderator or the external examiners are taken on board by the programme team,   and changes / modifications are evident in the subsequent iteration of the module / programme.

Students’ assessments evidence high quality teaching and assessment guidance, and reflect concerted tutorial support. Assessment tasks are structured to reflect the students developing  knowledge and skills within the context of their actual teaching practice, thus directly enhancing their practice.

Feedback to students is detailed, and makes clear to students areas of strength, areas of their work that are not reaching the required standard, and advise to improve their work. Formative feedback offered on an ongoing basis within the portfolio is important in enabling students to address issues as they progress, encourages them to reflect on their practice and undoubtedly motivates.

The PgCAP curriculum, the learning, teaching and assessment strategies it employs and the programme team model best academic practice to students.”

Dr Paula J Crick, Head of Subject: Nursing and Healthcare Practice, Faculty of Education Health and Sciences, University of Derby

some thoughts and reflections linked to our eAssessment webinar #eass12

eAssessment Scotland webinar

this is my PC which I couldn’t use because of my silly headsets that didn’t want to work…

Yesterday, we, Dr. Chris Smith a former colleague at the University of Salford, Craig Despard, a current student on the PGCAP programme and I shared our social media eportfolio assessment approach at the eAssessment Scotland 12 Conference as part of the online programme.

Further clips about our e-portfolio are available here
It was a real privilige to be involved in such an exciting and innovative conference and we had a rich conversation about using social media to build portfolios with colleagues who asked us loads of interesting and challenging questions that made us think. Which is a great! We had the opportunity to reflect on the finer details of our intervention and identify further opportunities to make it even more effective for future cohorts.

Our webinar was well received and we were 40 participants in total (later we were invited to participate in a RadioEduTalk show in the evening, the recording is available at http://edutalk.cc/radio-edutalk-29-08-12-eassessment-scotland-o (our conversation starts 45min into this recording), including us and our conference facilitator. The webinar has been recorded (and I dread the moment when I will watch it…  still feeling very strange when listening to myself and seeing myself and hearing my own voice). I think though that the recording will be a useful resource for our programme and provide some details to future students why we are doing what we are doing and how it is working. We are of course, in constact conversation with our students and have taken their ideas and suggestions on board so far and will continue to do so.

During the webinar we shared some sample e-portfolios and I am including the links here as well for your information.

portfolios from current students on the programme

Craig Despard at http://despard.wordpress.com/

Rebecca Jackson at http://rebeccajacksonpgcap.wordpress.com/

Dr. Gemma Lace-Costigan http://gemmalace.wordpress.com/

a complete portfolio from an alumni

Neil Currie (Neil kindly made all his feedback, including summative feedback available to the public. So that you can get a rich flavour of all the feedback and conversations we had throughout the module.

Yes, we are very transparent. Feedback is not locked away. All formative feedback is openly shared and accessible to everybody who has access to the e-portfolio. Actually we never said to anybody that the formative feedback should be private or public. It seemed to be normal that they would keep it public, which is really encouraging for us tutors and of real value for all our students since all students would be able to access tutor and peer feedback provided. So learning through feedback provided to others is also enabled and there is evidence that students do read the feedback tutors and peers provide to their peers. Ok, here is Neil’s e-portfolio http://asboallstar.wordpress.com/

During the webinar questions were asked about

  • why we picked the specific platform
  • privacy
  • how assessment and marking works
  • impact on students’ own practices
  • if the style, organisation and creativity are included in the assessment criteria
  • how feedback works

As soon as the recording is available, it will be added here.

We didn’t really focus very much on the details of our feedback approach but disussed more generally the assessment approach and I am therefore including a link to a clip about the feedback we provide and what I feel is important and why. This can also be found within the list of clips linked to our e-portfolios.

eAssessment Scotland Conference

in full flow, using Cristina’s double screen PC, yeh, the headset worked!!!

Book chapter linked to this work
Smith, C and Nerantzi, C (in print) ePortfolios: Assessment as learning using social media, Waxmann publishers, series ”Gesellschaft for Medien in der Wissenschaft” (Association for Media in Science, http://www.gmw-online.de)