#DAPP162 session 4 >>> 1+1=20

Yesterday, was our last session.

I was full of excitement and had prepared a double surprise. I couldn’t wait and despite the rain, we went ahead. Dr Nikos Fachantidis from the University of Macedonia (Greece) joined us who is a valuable collaborator on the #creativeHE course with his students and it was a great opportunity to share some of the work we do and enable him to get a flavour of some of the work we do with our academics.

I based the ‘session’ on a game I have played before. It is a mix of PBL and game-based learning. I have played it many times. Each time it is a unique experience and it always seems to be valuable for those participating. This time there was no cash for getting an artefact/object/resource that could help turning something tricky into something exciting and make learning memorable and stick.


in action… image source

It was very interesting that this created an additional challenge, which was however overcome through collaboration and resourcefulness that did develop through the conversations and explorations, it seems. Colleagues from different disciplines worked together and helped creatively problem-solve a teaching situation that didn’t work well. I was amazed at the ideas and the result and it was definitely time well spent outside the classroom that will lead to specific changes to practice. There is really something about changing environment and getting outside! I am really looking forward to find out how the ideas will continue to grow and how they are implemented in the classroom. 


findings… image source

I would like to share two things I learnt today.  

  • The game works with really large, medium, smaller and really small groups, which is good to know. Adjustments have, of course, to be made and were made. My key question, is how can we make such experiences buzz-full regardless group size?
  • Examples don’t always work. They seem to be channeling thinking… and leading… and directing… we need to find more sophisticated ways when using them. I need to think about this a bit more. (Often) It is not what you do it, but how and why…

Only one out of 20 #DAPP162 students came to this class. How would you feel?


Thank you Niko for joining in. Image source

This was our last session today. 

Missing you all already. 

#DAPP162 session 3 >>> planning for learning

A session around planning for learning and learning theories…

The plan today was to model self-directed learning. In my work process and modelling is perhaps more important that product… does this make sense? After sharing the outcomes for the session and reminding colleagues about the assessment for the unit, I deleted the presentation.

Yes, I deleted the presentation in front of my colleagues eyes and asked the group to design the main part of the session… I did help a tiny bit by providing a series of resources as well as suggesting a circuit training approach… perhaps I helped too much?

What follows are my thoughts as it was happening… using a sort of line poem approach… inspired by Dr Sam Illingworth and a Greenhouse session around using poetry in teaching.




The right time?






Was this right?






Going somewhere?



Can this work?





Very confused/

Coming together












Coming together





Going somewhere

But where?




Doing it

Doing it

All coming together

Almost done


Almost no more time

No more time




Did it work?

For some?



drawing the poem… using Doodlefan

Some pictures follow or the above story in pictures


designing for learning and learning through designing (image source)


Taking learning outside the classroom… follow me… (image source)


Threshold concepts in action (image source)


How you felt and what you thought of this process… (image source)

Next week is our last session and I am taking you all to Manchester City Centre. I can’t wait! 

#DAPP162 session 2 > The HE landscape

This was an high impact session, it definitely felt like it. Was it because of the meat tenderiser? … keep reading… Was I more organised and managed time better? Did, I learn a little something from last time? I suspect that it was a combination that made this cocktail work.

 As I told everybody in the first session that they don’t have to come to any of the sessions, it was wonderful that everybody actually did return this week. Voluntarily. Finding out from my colleagues what they got from the first session was important for me so I asked everybody to reflect on it and share it via the value jar. Not sure everybody did reply as we were more in class…

  • “creative examples of engagement”
  • An idea of peer observation and its advantages. I appreciated the effort/planning you put into your session”
  • “Observation ideas, how to collaborate with colleagues”
  • “Speed dating experience”
  • “The value of observing even above being observed”
  • “Getting student to go through Moodle page wa sbettern than tutor going through it”
  • “Structure of the unit and greater understanding of reflection”
  • “Good idea of asking one student to show the rest of the class the Moodle content”
  • “Observation is  common practice in HE to improve teaching and learning through reflection”
  • “Inspiration. Way we teach. Care about teaching”

I decided from next time to capture the responses on #101creativeideas cards as these could then also be submitted to the project.

This second session was about the HE landscape. A taster of it in the classroom and a main course as we “eat” it everyday. It would have been possible to purely report on all the changes that happened in the 50 or 60 years, but I didn’t. My colleague Stephen had prepared some flashcards inspired from John Lea’s book, which I decided to use in a group activity to spark some conversation about some of these changes in the UK.


in action… image source

The activity worked well and while it was all text-based it did trigger interesting conversations. Perhaps we could create timelines linked to our own academic journeys as students and staff. Would this have been more useful? It could have been done on paper or digitally as well? I felt that something was missing from this activity… an opportunity to contextualise and synthesise more. Further ideas are emerging which I will put together and adjust for next time.  


Just what we needed… image source

Ok, some of you might think, what did she do with the meat tenderiser, I mentioned at the beginning (see picture below). The idea was to run a debate in class. I have done it in the past around learning theories and it did work and generated a thinking classroom. 

Now my problem was that we didn’t have weeks or even days to prepare for this (as I didn’t warn anybody in advance!!!) and I wasn’t sure if it would work. Time was I think an issue… and not everybody understood how the TEF vs Open Education really could be a debate in the short preparation time we had. I witnessed a really well managed and civilised debate… maybe a little bit too civilised? 


Can you see the (wooden) meat tenderiser? How as it used? image source

I hope the debate triggered some thinking and generated the need to read more about both arguments that will help colleagues formulate their own position and better understand how the current big picture actually translates into their own professional context. Next time, I really should place colleagues in groups at the end of the previous session so that they would have sufficient time to prepare their case and co-ordinate related online and offline activities in preparation for the debate. How would it have worked then? 

Session 3 will again be different. I have plans… and also thinking of session 4 already.   

See you on the 9th of November, in the purple room

#DAPP162 week 1 > 12 Oct 16

I am one of the tutors on the Developing Academic and Professional Practice unit aas part of our PgCert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and this week was our very first session.

When you come back after the summer break of non-teaching… you ask yourself… can I still do  this?

I said that I would reflect with you all this term and this is my first entry. I decided to use Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle but with a twist… with images… they say, 1 image is worth 1000 words. Ok, there will be some words, but not many… Let’s give it a go.


DESCRIPTION: I met my new group and my group  met me. At the heart of what I wanted to acheve was laying the foundations for a learning community to grow out of this session using creative and playful approaches with my colleagues. Image source


FEELINGS: I felt excited, as I really want to take all my colleagues on an adventure to boost their  confidence in trying something that they would never have done before. A lot of preparation went into this session to make it varied and stimulating… Image source


EVALUATION: The best part was when colleagues worked together in groups. They didn’t really need me there and it shows that we just need to trust our students. I loved how colleagues engaged in this task and the other activities. There was a warmth in the room. The bad thing was… that I had over-prepared… but if I haven”t shared this… nobody would know… Why did I share it? I know… but do you? Image source


ANALYSIS: My bag was too full… I think my excitement to model a wide range of approaches in just one session was too ambitious…As it was a larger group, i found it difficult to engage with everybody and while I could see that many participated enthusiastically, others might have been thinking… “what is all that?” However, my strategy to bring colleagues closer together started working and it was wonderful to see how they opened up and many shared very honest accounts and fears… As I was a new person for most of my colleagues and they were new to me… we did test the waters in this session and it gave me a useful insight into the different personalities. The fact remains that I did prepare too much. Image source


CONCLUSION: Despite the challenges, we explored reflection and observations of teaching, which were the most important learning outcomes on my list. Ok, the UK PSF were mentioned briefly. But their significance was highlighted and engaging with these should be an ongoing process anyway… I could have removed or combined better some of the initial introductory activities. This would have saved valuable time. Also I completely forgot to use the name tags and the activity that I had prepared for this purpose… Image source


ACTION PLAN: Less is more! I guess, I need a plaque to remind me,. A badge or a T-short wouldn’t help as I wouldn’t see it! How did you experience this session? The journey continues… We will be back next week… Image source

Would you consider trying this approach?