A guide on teaching with tablets

NASA Visulization Explore (APP)By 2017, half of the British population will use a tablet*. The device has found its place in many households, but how is it – or can it be used in the context of teaching and learning? Prof. Frank Cowell, winner of an LTI grant, and his Research Assistant, Xuezhu Shi looked into how tablets could be used by teachers in their lectures and devised a guide to help them select the right material and tools to use them as a “virtual chalkboard”

May 20th, 2015|innovation, LTI Grants, Teaching & Learning, TEL Trends, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on A guide on teaching with tablets|

Interview with Dr Suki Ali about course design and LTI grants

rsz_1ltig-logoLTI grants allow academics and students to integrate the use of new technologies in teaching and learning.   We are currently accepting applications for projects for the academic year 2015/16.

In order to get people thinking about how they could use the grants to innovate their courses we spoke to USSC Chair Dr Suki Ali about her experience and advice regarding innovative course design.

Q1. As Chair of the Undergraduate Studies Sub Committee (USSC) you see all new course proposals for Undergraduate students at the school.  What type of innovative course designs or uses of technology have impressed you most?

I’m most impressed by the willingness of people to try new things and to think about different forms of teaching and assessment.

“I am most impressed by courses that have moved to include active modes of learning and which employ less traditional models of assessment.”

There is of course great variety of teaching and assessment practices across the disciplines, so it’s not like only one stands out.  I am pleased to see courses that have moved to include active modes of learning and which employ less traditional models of assessment.  You can tell they’ve been thought through!  I like seeing course proposals with a clear rationale that informs the whole course design, including the aims of the course, the learning outcomes and the final assessment, and which incorporate feedback properly, from formative tasks to summative assignments. Those courses also utilise technology to engage students in creative ways and to enable giving more comprehensive feedback to students.  For example I think there are exciting possibilities for e-portfolio assessment which ask students to build their work in a formal way over the span of a course.

Q2. Have you noticed any trends in course design (including assessment) between departments and over time?

Yes, there appears to be an increased number of half unit courses which reduces the amount of contact time that students receive and makes the issue of getting students to engage early on and attend even more vital.  There has also been a move away from the traditional model of 100% exam and towards more essay assessment and some new types of assessment.  New course designs from many departments have included assessment such as projects and case studies or group work.

Q3. What are the key challenges and opportunities in creating innovative course design? 

One of the key challenges is being aware of inclusivity issues when designing courses and reconsidering or rethinking forms of assessment.  It is extremely important to involve students and explain why they are they being asked to complete tasks and how they meet the aims of that specific course.  Students need to be given guidance and support particularly with regards to alternative forms of assessment that they may not have experienced before.  You need to give students freedom to take risks and get excited about learning but you can’t make assumptions about what they already know.  It can raise anxieties if it is not clear what is what is expected of them.

One of the key opportunities is to explore possibilities to refresh and innovate your own teaching.  You shouldn’t be afraid of making changes as there is lots of support and guidance to help in the process.  Also I would point out that innovation doesn’t have to be on a huge scale as quite small changes can make a big difference to the students’ experience of a course.

“One of the key opportunities is to explore possibilities to refresh and innovate your own teaching”

Q4. What advice would you give to those thinking about submitting an LTI grant application?

I suppose it goes back to the first question, about good course design.  Innovation and technology should be appropriate to a need, don’t just try and fit something in, go back to the course design and ask yourself what are the course aims? Do your learning outcomes match the aims? and how are you assessing the learning outcomes?  Then consider how this changes for each stage of learning.  Innovation should not be a ‘stick’ to beat people with, but something useful that enhances learning experiences and outcomes.

Course design does involve some trial and error so you perhaps use formative tasks to test out alternative forms of assessment and lessen the risk to students as you find out what works before making changes to summative assessment.

LTI grant applications  now open until Friday 29th May.

More information about the different types of LTI grant projects can be found on the grants section of the LTI blog or by clicking on the images above.


May 19th, 2015|Announcements, innovation, LTI Grants, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Interview with Dr Suki Ali about course design and LTI grants|

Hacking Learning – The pedagogy and the practices behind Constitution UK


In January 2015, the London School of Economics and Political Science, through the Institute of Public Affairs, launched the third stage of an innovative civic engagement project which aimed to crowd source the UK Constitution.  Involving over 1500 participants, generating hundreds of ideas and thousands of comments and votes, the crowd generated the clauses of the constitution, commented on them, voted them up and down, debated the relative merits of competing clauses and then refined them to a manageable number that could be aggregated and argued at a constitutional convention in April 2015.


‘On the whole I found the experience very stimulating and to discover there are a lot of folk out there who are thinking along very similar lines to my own leads me to hope that such exercises are the seed to seeing real change in this country.’ (Comment from project participant)

Learning Technology and Innovation came into the Constitution UK project in September 2014 to pilot an innovative model of engagement and participatory online learning that challenges the dominant paradigms of on-line pedagogy and design. Our approach is built on the potential that exists in leveraging and magnifying the power of the community and the ‘massive’, in order to empower citizens to engage in debate and identify solutions to what may be intractable, impossible or controversial problems or challenges.  Our approach is informed by some detailed theoretical and practical interrogations of a number of conceptual frameworks such as peer learning, incidental learning, digital pedagogies, crowd learning and ideation. It also integrates some aspects of modern digital pedagogy such as hacktivism, making and digital citizenship (especially in terms of participatory democracy), exploring the notion of learning as incidental, tacit and exploratory.  There were no readings,  there was no ‘course’, no lectures, no explicit theories, just a series of challenges, a semi-gamified process of engagement and a framework to create, motivate and empower the community to make something based on what they knew and had learnt.


 ‘Many other participants were considerably more educated than I am, and I don’t usually get the opportunity to attend things like this, while I expect it is more normal for the (large!) group of people who had postgraduate degrees. It was wonderful to be included’ (Comment from project participant)

Our approach challenged the role of the institution and the academic in an open space.  The ‘traditional’ constructs and practices that define scaffolded learning, course design and pedagogy and constructive alignment were flipped to entrust learning to an engaged, creative and critical community.  The project was underpinned by an innovative pedagogical model, informed by the notion that learning can occur through a variety of informal engagements and activities, supported by both peer and academic interaction, but not privileged by either, effectively flipping the role of the academic and academy.  The environment in which people could choose to learn and/or apply their learning was relatively unstructured, fluid and under the control of the community.


‘There are issues about the fact that the technology privileges people who have access and time to take part, which needs to be addressed. There are other ways it could be developed, but generally I think this is a very positive and exciting initiative.  I do think universities should be doing this kind of thing, and more of it.’ (Comment from project participant)

This pilot led to some interesting observations about the model we were testing, especially regarding what is defined as participation and how deep or resonant (lasting) that participation was.

1. Harnessing slacktivism and/or clicktivism

The fleeting nature of mainly online interactions through social media is directly apparent in engagement statistics around MOOCs.  What constitutes involvement can be measured in single clicks.  In a community where participation started at the point where competing ideas and perspectives were voted up or down in hopefully informed ways, the depth or resonance of learning becomes an interesting question.  Modern educational lore (especially in the MOOC space) argues that ‘being there’ is an educationally valid a form of participation as ‘learning there’.  Certainly a challenge for our approach was harnessing the power of clicking, hacking and slacking within a community, or at least accepting that there may be learning informing those behaviours.  The game aspects of our model rewarded a more in-depth engagement, but towards the end of the project where motivation and participation had begun to wane, rewarding clicking (through the mechanism of up/down votes on an idea) increased overall engagement with the project as opposed to the more traditional trail off.

2. Social observability (where the more public the engagement, the more there is observable ‘subsequent meaningful contribution’ (Kristofferson et al., 2014)

Where learning was demonstrated by participants in the project, it was clearly in the glare of the public and open to the community to comment.  One of the key aspects of the model was to make it easy not to lurk. Barriers to entry were low, it was easy to post, comment and vote.  In fact, despite expectations before the project, we found it easier to generate ideas than to get votes!  But most importantly, it was safe community, with excellent facilitators, a wide variety of participants from a number of fields of society and a very gands off approach by the academics. Ideas became comments which became votes, flipping engagement from the traditional .  Having their idea voted down didn’t stop people from participating.  Openness, transparency and authenticity of interaction directly enhanced the quality of the ways people demonstrated their learning and (sometimes vocally) expressed their views and ideas.  It is what makes collaborative learning powerful, the ability to share your views, debate, defend, redefine and restate them in the face of competing and supporting opinion.  It is a 21st century skill of sorting and validating the relevant from the sea of information (in this case the millions of words on the platform)


‘Community members were surprisingly good at separating their own views (I voted this idea down) from the broader task (but the community supports it, so what is a workable provision). Debate was generally high quality and respectful, with many very well informed participants.’ (Community from community participant)


3. Keep the involvement of the crowd at the highest possible level
Wherever ‘traditional’ educational assumptions pervaded the pilot, it was clear that these ran counter to the wider intentions of the approach.  The approach sought to value the crowd, leverage what it means to be part of a community and learn incidentally and through doing.

‘…have noticed there was a tendency to assume only academics could properly understand and assess the issues, a common problem not just with academics but other professionals, we tend to assume it is only our own professions that can really grasp the issues in full.’


The Constitution UK was a brilliant first pilot of what we hope will be an innovative programme of projects harnessing the power of the crowd, learning by, through and from the community in ways that challenge and shape the traditional approaches to pedagogy and leverage the transformative and disruptive influences of the social sciences.


We are presenting the findings from the pilot at three conferences over the next four months, if you are interested in finding out more, we will be sharing the slides, papers and outputs from those conferences on this blog, or just come along and see what we have to say.


Academic Practice and Technology Conference – July 7th 2015

Crowd Sourcing the UK Constitution – Participation and learning in a post-digital world

ALT-C – Association of Learning Technology – September 2015

Stop making sense: Learning, community, digital citizenship and the massive in a post-MOOC world

14th European Conference on e-Learning – ECEL 2015 – October 2015

Disrupting how we ‘do’ learning through participatory social media: a case study of the Crowdsourcing the UK Constitution project

‘The experiment gave this 85 year old retired professional engineer a feeling that there’s hope for Britain yet’ (Comment from project participant)


Image from

May 18th, 2015|Constitution UK, innovation, Projects|Comments Off on Hacking Learning – The pedagogy and the practices behind Constitution UK|

Show and tell on students creating and sharing content

LTI show and tell on students as producers projects took place on the 30 April. Some common themes emerged amongst all the presentations which highlighted the importance of integrating the academic with the practical and embedding the projects into the assessment process.

Lecture capture of the event can be watched online and a summary of the presentations with the slides can be found below.

BillProfessor Bill Callahan from International Relations presented on the changes to the Visual International Politics course IR318. Students were asked to work in small groups to produce and edit their own documentaries in order to combine academic analysis with the practical skills of documentary film making and give students an insight into the visual politics of IR. Professor Callahan worked with LTI to deliver five seminars on film production and gave students access to editing facilities. The final films were shared on a Vimeo group and showed in a final ‘film festival’ seminar. Feedback from the students was positive but many would like to increase the weighting of the film component from 25% to 50% of the final mark.

Slides from Dr Bill Callahan’s presentation

‘I have really enjoyed this course. The topics were very intellectually stimulating. I enjoyed the practical aspect the most although it was very challenging.’

Chinese New YearAn intergenerational story



LeeDr Hyun-Jung Lee from the department of Management discussed the use of video in group work projects. Students on the post graduate courses ID419 and MG463 were put into groups with mixed backgrounds and had the option to create a short video to demonstrate case studies and theories on cross-cultural management.

Slides from Dr Hyun-Jung Lee’s presentation
The films from the projects can be seen online and by clicking on the picture below

Cross cultural management


SarahSarah Paterson from the department of Law talked about her use of Moodle to develop students critical writing skills.

Moodle Wiki
Sarah used the Moodle Wiki to enable students to write collaboratively. This worked well although it took some time to check and edit student responses once they had completed their submissions.

Peer assessment using Moodle workshop tool
She used the workshop function on Moodle to get students to provide peer feedback on assessment. Each student was randomly allocated another students work and asked to mark it using the course assessment criteria.

Online feedback via the assessment tool

She also gave students the option of uploading writing exercises that they had done in class to a online assessment in order to receive feedback. The students really enjoyed being able to develop their writing skills in class but were reluctant to submit their assessments online. There was some discussion on how they could be encouraged to submit (by making the assessment anonymous for example).


Dr Peter ManningDr Pete Manning from the department of Sociology shared his experiences of getting students to produce and curate material as part of their group presentations. Students used Prezi and Padlet to collect material on virtual pin-boards. The resources could then be used for exam revision and essay preparation. The students were asked to peer assess each presentation and were also asked to submit a self reflection on the exercise. The students enjoyed being given freedom to explore a subjects of their choice and it allowed them to share real world examples of concepts in a very theory heavy course. However the task did not count towards their final mark and did require extra work so ideally it would replace a summative task in the future.

Slides from Dr Pete Manning’s presentation




CatherineDr Catherine Hua Xiang from the Language centre was awarded an LTI grant with kit to enable students studying Mandarin Chinese on LN808 and LN814 to work collaboratively to produce news reports on a global event or an interview on a current issue topic. The students were required to film themselves speaking Mandarin Chinese and then apply English subtitles to their finished project as part of their continuous course assessment. This project was very successful and the films can be used as a resource for future cohorts.

‘Although I spent a lot of time on the project, I really enjoyed it as we have real product and we have also been awarded a grade’

Slides from Dr Catherine Hua Xiang’s presentation

Video example:



SivaSiva Thambissetty from the department of Law gave students the option to submit a short video or series of images on Prezi or Slide share that explains an aspect of copyright infringement. Student feedback was generally positive with 60% recommending that the assignment continues next year.


Slides from Siva Thambissetty’s presentation

‘Quite refreshing after three years of essays!’



If you are interested in developing your own ‘students as producers’ project then you might want to apply for an LTI grant see our blog page for more details and contact us at LTI for some advice and to discuss your idea

May 14th, 2015|Assessment, Events & Workshops (LTI), Images, Audio & Video, innovation, LTI Grants, Show and tell, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Show and tell on students creating and sharing content|

Learning Commons Competition: The results are in!


Last month LSE students submitted their entries for our design competition. The panel, made of members from the library, IMT, estates and the student union selected their best entries and here are the results :

  • First Prize (iPad Air 2) : James Dunn
  • Highly Commended Entry (£100 Amazon voucher) : Portia Roelofs
  • Other commended entries and students who submitted their ideas via our online survey received a £10 Amazon voucher


James was awarded his prize by Nicola Wright from Library Services and Nick Deyes from IMT

The objective of the competition, open to all LSE students, was to “Create a modern and engaging environment for the Library lower ground floor that caters for contemporary and future study requirements.”

The panel selected their best entries according to the following criteria:

  1. Functionality of the new space design
  2. Quality and accuracy of the rationale
  3. Originality, innovation and imagination
  4. Considerations of limitations, explicit or otherwise

As a member of the panel explained, James’ design was selected because he “has done a masterful job addressing the multiple functions required of a space like the LSE library lower ground floor.” His design was praised for taking into account students’ explicit needs as well as anticipating less obvious ones : “This design would transform the space by giving students more of what they want, and a great deal of what they did not even know they were missing.

Below are some elements from James’ design, as well as a plan of the current layout:

As he himself put it, the rationale behind his design “is a simple one : transforming a large box-like space into a more humane, functional and beautiful study area without diverging too far from the aesthetic of the rest of the building’s interior”. James’ focus was on increasing the number of study spaces by using vertical space. Accessibility, light, sound, charging points and sustainability were also key to his design and choice of equipment and materials

Portia’s work was also highly commended, in particular her idea of fitting the space with “spiral study huts”:



Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all the students who took part in the competition or answered our online survey! LTI will be happy to answer any comments or further questions on the competition. Please email them to

May 7th, 2015|Announcements, innovation, Learning Spaces, Projects|Comments Off on Learning Commons Competition: The results are in!|

Working with TeenTech

Maggie Philbin (yes, THAT Maggie) recently published a report about digital literacy skills in the UK. I agreed with much of what she said, except that I thought she forgot to make a key point: that people need the ability to engage CRITICALLY with the information that’s out there, i.e. being able to discern what is useful, academic, trustworthy and what isn’t. We all need to learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff, online.

Maggie and I subsequently struck up a very good rapport during a productive meeting and I have since become involved with TeenTech, of which she is CEO. TeenTech run lively one-day events to help young teenagers see the wide range of career possibilities in Science, Engineering and Technology. They also have an annual competition where students work in teams on a project of their choice. Awards are given at an event at the Royal Society in June and the projects are judged in a range of categories. I will be a judge on a panel for one of these awards, a new one which recognises excellence in research and information literacy in 11-16 year olds. This award is sponsored by the CILIP Information Literacy Group, a professional group that I now Chair.

We know that university graduates need to have well-developed digital and information literacy skills, but all research shows that individuals need to start developing them before they start their degrees. As Maggie said: “Search engines like Google are powerful and really valuable tools but, like any tool, students need to understand the best ways to use them. They also need to see how they can use them in conjunction with other ways of finding information.” This new award supports exactly that: it will celebrate how young people can be truly information literate researchers – dispelling the ‘Google Generation myth – as they explore their ideas to make life better, simpler or easier.

I am quite excited about this – and not a little star-struck! – because my work revolves so much around embedding digital literacy skills in adults and time and again it becomes clear that these skills need to be fostered at an early age, to produce the innovative academics of the future we need.  Schools or libraries can register their interest now for the awards for 2015/6, or can contact TeenTech for more details. I’m really looking forward to being involved.

April 22nd, 2015|Ed-Tech news and issues, innovation|Comments Off on Working with TeenTech|

Students as producers show and tell event

SAPSThursday 30 April 12:00-13:45 NAB.2.14

On Thursday 30 April LTI will be holding a show and tell event on the students as producers projects that have recently been carried out at LSE, many as a result of the 2014 LTI grant process.  An outline of some of the projects can be viewed on our events page and you can reserve a place at the show and tell event via the online training system.

‘Students as producers’ describes activities which encourage students to create and share material, see Healey, M., Flint, A. and Harrington, K. (2014) Students as partners in learning and teaching in higher education. York: Higher Education Academy

The Learning Technology and Innovation Grants contain a strand for students as producers projects which are those that “encourage the production and sharing of student generated media content, encouraging students to work collaboratively and enhance their learning experience”.

Applicants can apply for kits of equipment (DSLR’s, iPads and Podcasting) to give out to students to create content.

I first came across the concept in the NetworkED seminar by Helen Keegan on 05/11/14.  You can watch the recording of Helen’s talk on our Youtube channel.  Describing her ‘students as active collaborators’ rather than passive consumers, Helen gave a really inspiring talk detailing various projects which often involved students working collaboratively across various institutions and countries.

You might think that her field of ‘Interactive Media and Social Technologies’ lends itself to this type of teaching more easily than the social sciences. Yet here at LSE students as producers projects have successfully run in the fields of Sociology, Management, Law, Languages and International Relations.

If you are interested in applying for a LTI grant to try out some students as producers take a look at our blog page and padlet for some ideas:

Introducing the LTI grants and ideas for applications

LTI Grants 2015/2016 – opportunities for funding

LTI Grants logoNow that we have reached the end of term we hope that you have some time to catch your breath and reflect on your teaching in order to think about any changes that you might like to make for the next academic year.

In order to help with this process LTI are currently accepting applications for Learning Technology and Innovation Grants. Funding will be awarded to projects which make effective and innovative use of technology in teaching, learning and assessment.

The deadline for applications is Friday 29 May 2015 and more information about the various application strands can be found on the grants’ page.

Practical advice on using technology in your teaching

LTI are running a number of workshops that give practical advice on using technology in your teaching.  The workshops below will involve working with other academic staff; sharing your teaching practice and selecting and developing new teaching approaches. They will also give you an opportunity to try out some of the technology and ask any questions that you may have.

Flipping lectures
Thursday 26 March 10:00-11:30am 32LG.15

‘Flipping’ is taking content delivery out of the classroom and putting it online so that the students get the content before they meet up and the face to face time can be used to allow them to do something with that content. Participants on this workshop will explore:

  • Alternative ways of delivering course content
  • Interactive use of face to face time
  • Preparing students to get the most out of this new way of learning

Encouraging active learning
Thursday 26 March 11:30-13:00 32LG.17

This practical workshop is an opportunity to explore and evaluate a range of learning technologies and their possible role in fostering active learning in your teaching. These technologies will include: computer based simulations and games, audience response systems and more advanced use of Moodle for active learning including quizzes, use of groups, wikis, glossary tool and discussion boards.

Writing collaboratively with wiki’s and Google docs
Wednesday 13 May 12:30-13:30 R08

Collaborative writing can:

  • improve efficiency of group work & quality of interactions between students in group
  • help with self reflection and critical thinking

This workshop will give participants an awareness of the issues that must be considered when using collaborative writing tools. It will also equip participants with the skills required to enable them to think about how they might incorporate collaborative writing tools into their teaching.

Book a place via the LSE training system

Assessment with technology
(date to be confirmed)

What is online assessment? What are its benefits? How can I move my assessments online? This workshop introduces  online assessment, considering

  • methods of assessing and grading online
  • improving feedback and
  • helping students to avoid plagiarism.

This will be a discursive session and will not cover training in how to set up eAssessment. We will introduce the systems available at the LSE and discuss the best way of bringing them together.

Places for all the LTI workshops can be booked via the online training and development system and any queries should be sent to

We will be publishing more ideas and case studies which contain examples of how technology can be incorporated into teaching, learning and assessment so watch this space for ideas of ways you could use an LTI grant.

March 24th, 2015|Ed-Tech news and issues, Events & Workshops (LTI), innovation, LTI Grants, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Introducing the LTI grants and ideas for applications|

SADL Celebration: thanks to all our ambassadors!

The Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy (SADL) project has involved 40 undergraduate students this year from Statistics, Social Policy, International Relations and Law. We are almost at the project end, and tomorrow afternoon have organised a celebration for everyone who has been part of the programme this year; staff and students. After that we will be starting our evaluation and impact study of SADL, to plan how we go forward in 2015-16.SADL blog

Our students attended four workshops over the course of this academic year. As part of SADL we also encouraged students to share what they were learning with each other and with peers on their course. They had a Facebook group, a Moodle course and various ways of sharing with each other, but this proved to be the hardest part of the project. The workshops we ran included:

We had two new aspects to SADL this year. Firstly, we appointed four students from the first year of the programme to act as ‘Senior Ambassadors’ to help us plan and run the workshops, and to mentor the currently cohort. The second new initiative was to divide the students into groups and set them to work on short projects. The projects are presenting tomorrow afternoon at our celebration. Each group has had a Senior Ambassador to mentor them and the topics they have researched include:

  • Improving learning at LSE
  • Improving learning spaces at LSE
  • Improving Moodle and
  • Improving peer support.

It will be great to see what the students come up with, but most of all tomorrow is a celebration and a chance to thank the students for being part of our programme.

Finally SADL is an example of what Jisc are now calling a ‘Change Agents Network‘ and I’m really proud to be taking two Senior Ambassadors, Seow Wei Chin and Eugene McGeown to the Changes Agents Network conference next week in Birmingham, where they will be joining other students from UK universities to discuss their experiences these last two years. Seow Wei wrote a great blog post earlier this week about her experiences on SADL over the last two years, and I really hope that this programme has been as aspiring for all our students.

March 10th, 2015|Announcements, Events & Workshops (LTI), innovation, Social Media, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on SADL Celebration: thanks to all our ambassadors!|

Watch the student entrepreneur panel live stream

Watch the live stream on the LTI Youtube channel:

Tweet your questions and join the debate #LSENetED

Read details about the panel members on our blog