Open Education

Course design – it’s as easy as ABC….

Last week as part of the TLC/LTI Atlas programme we were delighted to host Clive Young and Natasa Perovic from UCL’s Digital Education Advisory Team for a ABC learning design workshop.  ABC was created by Clive and Natasa to enable programme and course teams to develop a logical and holistic approach to the design of learning on their programmes.   Teams can use the workshop as an opportunity to review courses or programmes with any particular focus in mind, for example moving to a more blended approach or focusing on a school strategy or approach to teaching and learning.

Since its inception at UCL only three years ago,  over 75 workshops have been run at UCL with nearly 500 academics (and students) redesigning around 200 modules. The participant response has been overwhelmingly positive and ABC is now used at 20 other universities in the UK.  UCL Digital Education has also been awarded two years Erasmus+ funding to develop their ABC learning design workshop with 12 European universities.

ABC takes a hands-on team-based learning design approach in which participants co-create a visual storyboard for a module or course in just 90 minutes.  All the workshop materials are released under Creative Commons licence and can be adapted and localised.  Clive and Natasa briefly outlined the workshop structure and aims and then Steve Bond from the International Programmes office at LSE explained how they are currently using ABC to develop new online courses and review current courses.

There were several programme teams from the LSE intensive courses practice exchange forum present and they quickly got to work on the first task which was to create a tweet which described their module or programme and to map out the current shape of activities on their course or programme as well as the balance of online and face to face activities.  The aim of this activity was to make sure that everyone had a clear shared vision of the aims of the course or programme and review any areas for change or improvement.

The next step was to start mapping out the learning types (Acquisition, Collaboration, Discussion, Investigation, Practice, Production) used in the course and then once this was agreed they could be described in more detail with methods of assessment indicated using gold stars (for summative) and silver stars (for formative).  The shape of the revised course was then marked up on the original sheet and an action plan for next steps for any proposed changes were planned. Discussions during the workshop were lively as course teams talked through each activity and the course format and structure.

By the end of the session each team had a clear visual record of their course or programme and each table had a very different result.  Although there is no right or wrong format for a course or programme , the final worksheet allowed immediate patterns to be identified such as the balance of assessment and the type of learning activities students are being asked to do.  This can be particularly useful when looking at courses over a whole programme and allows convenors and other members of the programme team to see a course from a student point of view. Other institutions have also included students who have already completed the course to take part to gain more insight and feedback from alumni about how the course could be improved.


Feedback from participants was very positive as one participant noted:

Working together to think systematically about the module was really helpful in bringing us together as a team and ensuring that we have a common sense of what we are trying to achieve with this module.”

Going forward we are hoping to run the ABC workshop at LSE with more programme and course teams. If you are interested in taking part in an ABC workshop then do get in touch ( and let us know.

October 30th, 2018|Events & Workshops (LTI), Open Education, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Course design – it’s as easy as ABC….|

Copyright, the future and Brexit – what does it mean for education?

Copyright guide coverThe following post is based on a post published on the UK Copyright Literacy blog by LSE’s Copyright and Digital Literacy Advisor, Jane Secker and Chris Morrison, Copyright and Licensing Compliance Officer at the University of Kent. An edited and abridged version appears below. 

I’ve now been to two recent events on the future of copyright in the UK following our exit from the European Union. Whatever your views on Brexit, we can’t deny it will happen but there is much uncertainty about what it means for education and what copyright implications there might be. This is because in recent years much UK copyright legislation has been amended following directives from the European Union. And there are important new changes going through the European Parliament currently on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. On 12 January 2017, the Commission’s proposal was debated by the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI). This week EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) issued a statement on the need for copyright reform across Europe, supporting the statement issued by five key organisations (including LIBER, and the European Universities Association) on ‘Future-proofing European Research Excellence‘. LIBER are also calling for more change to copyright to give Europe a real opportunity to become a global leader in data-driven innovation and research.

So what does the future hold for copyright in the UK? In October last year I was interested to read this LSE blog post from Professor Alison Harcourt of Exeter University. However, I thought I would share a few thoughts from recent events. Firstly in October last year I attended a meeting at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to discuss the copyright implications of Brexit on the higher education sector. Then earlier this week a conference organised by the Journal of Intellectual Property, Law and Practice (JIPLP). Both events were an opportunity to understand more about how important copyright and IP are particularly in the context of international trade but also the increasingly global education offered by the UK. In both meetings all agreed that following Brexit the UK would not have the same relationship with the Court of Justice of the EU, but no one was clear if decisions of this court might be taken into account by English judges. There were references here to important recent cases on issues such as whether hyperlinking is copyright infringement.

However what is clear is that not only does Brexit mean Brexit (and of course we all know exactly what that means) it also means we are unlikely to get a new copyright act in the UK any time soon. This is despite the view of Sir Richard Arnold, British High Court of Justice judge, that we are much in need of one. On Monday he gave us eight reasons why the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended and revised) was long overdue a major overhaul, technology being his first reason and Brexit being the last. This last reason was a recent addition – for the original list of seven reasons see his Herchel Smith IP lecture from 2014. However he concluded by saying that copyright is unlikely to be a priority for parliament over the next few years.

So in these dark, rather depressing January days is there any light on the horizon? The IPO suggested Brexit might be an opportunity to rethink copyright and make it fit for the UK. The lobbying work of organisations such as EIFL and Communia are hoping to convince Brussels that reforming copyright to support education and research is vital. We would like to think that those within the research and education world might be able to play a significant role in shaping the future of copyright in the UK. But it remains to be seen….

January 24th, 2017|Conferences, copyright, Ed-Tech news and issues, Open Education, Reports & Papers, Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on Copyright, the future and Brexit – what does it mean for education?|

Christmas treats

As it’s nearly the end of term we thought we would recommend some good online resources to help you enhance your teaching and learning.  Treat yourself to some time to explore these sites and you could find some inspiration for teaching in the new year!


12-apps-of-christmas12 Apps of Christmas

For the third year running the Dublin Institute of Technology are running their award winning course.  Sign up online and then explore an app a day that you can use in your teaching and learning.  You can also view the app’s from previous years courses.







BOB – Free catch up TV service

Bob (Box of Broadcasts) is a service for staff and students to record programmes from over 65 free to air channels.  LSE subscribes to the service and so everyone can not only record programmes from tv and radio but has access to view programmes that have already aired.  You can then create clips to use in your teaching and learning.  Simply select LSE from the list of institutions and then login with your LSE username and password to get started.




teluTELU – Technology Enhanced Learning For You

A nice collection of online micro lessons designed ‘to help busy educators use technology to support their teaching and learning’.  Select your area of interest to find examples to suit your needs.  The website also contains case study examples with a good search feature.  Content is added every month so it’s worth keeping bookmarked.






December 7th, 2016|innovation, Open Education, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Christmas treats|

Edtech: The student view on educational technology

Given the limited amount of innovative tools used in their studies, it is hard for students to actually know how technology could better their education.

Having reviewed all the interviews from our Student Voice project, we created a video highlighting a few of our key findings.

As the video suggests, a majority of students stated that PowerPoints are the main “technology” used in the classroom. Many added that, given the limited amount of innovative tools used in their studies, it was hard for them to actually know how technology could better their education.

That being said, students believed that technology – if used correctly – could challenge the current “one to many [educative] system”. The expression “one-to-many” refers to lectures where teachers talk and students listen, often giving the impression of a unidirectional information flow. Students stated that technology could be implemented to make lectures and classes more interactive, to foster teacher-students and student-student collaboration.

The video also suggests that students expect an increase in online pedagogical content. This includes more online courses and online exercises but also online exams. Students suggested that, to prepare them for the use of technology in their future career, more tasks should be carried out on line.

All findings are currently being written up and the full report will be available shortly!

The previous post can be found here

‘NetworkED 2020: The London University’

What if all of London were a networked University?

What do we do when we gate-keep our spaces?  

What if everyone could work in everyone else’s spaces?

What if there were no tiny little islands in London?

Or, in a University?

Digital can be a mechanism for breaking down barriers-learning spaces are digital and physical. Let’s talk about the present, and see what it might tell us about what’s possible in the future of teaching and learning.

Introducing Dr Donna Lanclos

Donna Twitter AvatarDonna Lanclos is an anthropologist working with ethnographic methods and analysis to inform and change policy in higher education, in particular in and around libraries, learning spaces, and teaching and learning practices. She is Associate Professor for Anthropological Research at the J. Murrey Atkins Library at UNC Charlotte.

Her research includes how students and staff engage with the nature of information and knowledge, how ethnography and anthropology can be used as tools in academic development and can influence policy and practice in higher education, physical and virtual spaces in academia, and how technology impacts learning, teaching and research. She collaborates with librarians, engineers, anthropologists, sociologists, education technology professionals, architects, and designers.

Dr. Lanclos has conducted anthropological research on academic practice in libraries not only at UNC Charlotte, but also University College, London. She collaborates with colleagues in the US and the UK investigating the nature of learning landscapes and academic taskscapes, so as to better contextualize the behaviors that take place and problems that erupt in library spaces. She has conducted workshops for professional development at Imperial College, Kingston University, NUI Galway, Parsons the New School (NYC), and Carnegie Mellon University.

Details about this work and other projects can be found at

Dr Lanclos will be presenting a NetworkED seminar ‘NetworkED 2020:  The London University’ which will discuss these themes on Wednesday 16 September at 3pm in Parish Hall, room PAR.2.03.  The event is free to attend and places can be reserved on Eventbrite

Tweet your questions and join the debate #LSENetED


The recording of the event can be found on the LTI Youtube channel

The perfect teaching experience: a Family Fun Day of coding at the LSE

On Saturday Stephanie Hellings (LSE IMT Infrastructure) and I did the teaching part of the BCSWomen Appathon Guinness World Record Challenge.

So, on a Saturday I went to work. Giddy with anticipation. To work. And it was one of the best work related days I’ve had in a while.

Stephanie had co-ordinated the day superbly, organised a great bunch of helpers, a lovely lunch, generally made sure everything ran smoothly. Steve Bond (LSE IMT Training), official time keeper, blew the whistle at 10.30 sharp and I took the start of the lesson.

What’s “android”? What devices have you brought? Have you ever programmed using Scratch? Java? Do you like playing games on your computer? Are you ready to create your first app today?

It wasn’t difficult to enthuse the audience – of all ages, all abilities – everyone wanted to be there, wanted to learn (and wanted to break that record), they wanted to create. The lesson outcome was deliberately kept simple: using the MIT AppInventor we got everyone to create a button made of a cat picture, which, when pressed would make a sound. Simple perhaps, but it isn’t often that you see the faces of a woman in her thirties, a man in his sixties, a 12 year old child, light up as they repeatedly press a button that shrieks meow back at them, knowing that they *made* their phone do this! When Steve counted us down to end the World Record Attempt, the moment he blew his whistle 40 participants filled the NAB Thai Theatre with meows. And across the UK, up to a 1000 participants were doing exactly the same.
The rest of the day then continued, mostly given over to everyone trying to create their own apps. Matthew Taylor (LSE IMT Integration & Data Management) and his daughter created a school quiz app; Imre Bard (LSE Methodology Institute), his girlfriend Isabella & two other participants created an app that asks you to categorise architectural features (Gothic or Baroque); others concentrated on playing around with delaying the meow of the cat, or adding a meow sequence – both apparently far more difficult than you’d imagine.

This is what made this Saturday extraordinary and memorable for me: it was an example of the perfect, the *ideal* teaching experience. Every participant was driven by a desire to learn and an urge to create. It was entirely free, entirely open, entirely voluntary. There was no competition. The group learned as a group. Nobody was bored or disappointed, and there was no pressure on anyone to achieve a set outcome. There was no pressure on anyone staying till 3pm, but most did. Some of the younger children were happy playing on their ipads, listening to animal noises, drawing, spending time with their parents. Some of the younger adults took the basic AppInventor principles and ran, flew off with it, leaving us helpers – certainly me, less so Steve – far behind (I hit on this ‘ruse’: “my lesson to you is this, look around you, who looks like they know what they’re doing? Go up and ask them for help. Don’t be fooled by my being a presenter, I already know less than you do.”)

This is what teaching and learning can be like. Not always – that kind of excitement, enthusiasm, giddiness would be physically and mentally unsustainable. But it’s good to know it can be had, it is an ideal to strive for – and I’d happily “give up” another Saturday for this in the future.

We still don’t know if we managed to break the record, nationwide. We might find out on Monday. But it’s a totally unimportant concern right now. The day itself, the experience of being in that room with such brilliant participants was, for me, corny a it sounds, reward enough.

June 14th, 2015|Open Education, Teaching & Learning|Comments Off on The perfect teaching experience: a Family Fun Day of coding at the LSE|

Crowdsourcing the UK Constitution


Last night was the successful launch of the Constitution UK Phase II project, a collaborative platform designed to crowdsource and hack the UK constitution, led by Professor Conor Gearty of the Institute for Public Affairs.  LTI was a partner in the project along with the IPA and supplied significant leadership around the instructional and technological design of the platform and how the engagements and interactions of participants will help achieve the desired outcome and build on the reputation of the LSE as an innovative learning organisation.

For 10 weeks the project invites you to share your views and ideas on what should be in a new modern written UK constitution. You will be able to submit content, vote ideas up or down and question the experts. Your ideas and discussions will count. At the end of March your ideas will feed into a Constitutional Convention where we will put together a written constitution using only the crowdsourced content in time for the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, June 2015. Discussions will include the role of the Head of State, the Prime Minister, how should we elect our representatives?, what is the purpose of Parliament?, what powers should be devolved?, what should be the responsibilities of local government?, what rights do I have in the UK and how may these be affected or maintained by our judicial system and the European Union. Finally what values do we uphold in the UK?  Moderators, all of whom have expertise on different aspects of constitutionalism, will be on hand to assist you with the process of constitution drafting.

On behalf of Learning Technology and Innovation, the team led by Darren Moon and including Chris Fryer and Malte Werner has worked closely with Conor and the team of the IPA to develop innovative methods of engagement, train the facilitators and moderators and work closely with the platform (Crowdicity), social media organisations and special interest groups to ensure a successful integration of learning outcomes and the effective and representative engagement of the community in the platform.

The contribution of LTI was recognised by Professor Conor Gearty  at the launch last night. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the LTI team for their commitment, enthusiasm and effort, above and beyond the call.  They have been instrumental in getting this project running within an extremely tight deadline, to deliver on the innovative approaches that the project demanded and to provide the School with an excellent example of what we can do when we are provided with an engaged academic project, funding that supports non-traditional and learner-led approaches to on-line learning and a wholehearted commitment from an enthusiastic and passionate advocate whose voice and engagement motivate and empower a community to get involved.

We invite all of you to share in this involvement, be part of the process and participate in one of the largest digital civic engagement projects in the UK.  Go to, sign up and take part.


Update > Constitution UK project has been awarded a Campus Technology for Innovation (pg 30).

January 16th, 2015|Constitution UK, innovation, Open Education, Projects, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Crowdsourcing the UK Constitution|

Open data & education – hacking the archive

Our NetworkED seminar with Marieke Guy on 26 November was on open data in education. Marieke gave a broad overview of the topic of open data, discussing the different ways that open data is currently being used, who is using it and how it could be used in the future. Marieke gave lots of interesting examples of projects that have used open data and pointed out various open data tools such as Histropedia which allows users to timeline and tag data from Wikipedia or which allows HE institutions to sharing educational equipment and facilities.

One of the most interesting aspects of the talk for me was the idea that we should be doing more with open data in the classroom. Marieke advocated using real data sets in teaching and learning as a way to engage students and get them to apply concepts, theories and critical thinking to real world issues and to help them develop their digital literacy skills. This leads in nicely to our upcoming NetworkEDGE seminar with Professor Matthew Connelly which will be on ‘hacking the archive’.


Professor Connelly will be talking about his course ‘HY447 – Hacking the archive’, which uses big data from various International History databases and teaches students new tools and techniques to explore various the vast array of material available online. Students are encouraged to rethink historical research in the digital age as older primary sources are increasingly becoming available online alongside newly declassified information and ‘born digital’ electronic records.  Interdisciplinary research is becoming more essential with academics collaborating across disciplines and with the broader public in order to mine extensive amounts of online data.

Matthew will be speaking at NetworkEDGE on Wednesday 14 January 2015, at 5pm

networkEDGE.fwThe event is free to attend but places are limited so will need to be reserved via the staff training and development system or by emailing  All our talks are live streamed and recorded for those who can’t make it.

See the slide share of Marieke Guy’s presentation here: and go to the LTI Youtube channel for the video of the event and to watch previous NetworkED and NetworkEDGE seminars.



Open Education’s Fantastic SHED Show

On 24 November I attended the joint SHED (Scottish Higher Education Developers) and JISC event on Open Education, in Glasgow. Speakers from various Scottish universities (and other educational organisations) presented on a range of topics related to the idea of making higher education available to all.

The highlight for me was Sheila McNeill from Glasgow Caledonian University, who explained how her team had created GCU Games On, an online learning ‘event’ centred on the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and done so within a matter of weeks. An off-the-cuff suggestion, made in a meeting on 11 June, had become an online space with activities ready to start on 10 July. Although the resulting ‘event’ was modest in scale, it indicated a can-do attitude and absence of organisational barriers that I found most encouraging.

The event included:

  • Course content taken from various subjects related to the Games, e.g. sports science, some of which was converted into interactive activities;
  • A mix of social media channels to allow participants to contribute, including Twitter, Gmail, Trello and Padlet;
  • Use of Open Badges (see later in this post) to reward completion of activities.

There were no blogs or discussion forums, since there was no staff resource to support such things. A total of 211 people took part over 3 weeks, sending 424 tweets, and reaction was good, particularly the way participants embraced the idea of badges. Sheila admits that the enterprise was “pedagogically suspect”, but they learned a lot by turning around such an event in such a short time, and are now ready to do something more interesting next time.

I liked this not so much because of the event itself, but just in seeing a working example of “event-based learning”. I think LSE could do something very interesting in this area, with online learning focused on specific political and world events (elections, summits, outbreaks, wars), aiming to provide a space where people can learn about the background to events as they unfold, while contributing to a live debate around them.

Another interesting presentation came from Kerr Gardiner of the University of Glasgow, who gave an overview of Glasgow’s foray into MOOC provision. Glasgow’s are working with FutureLearn, and followed this process:

  • Initial staff meetings to gather ideas and discuss approaches
  • Call for bids from academics and departments
  • Selection of successful bids done by the senior management team, thus guaranteeing buy-in
  • £15K allocated per MOOC – but see below for more on costs
  • Production done by local teams, but with centralised oversight and media production

The interesting aspect of all this was the cost. That £15K covers copyright costs and GTA wages amongst other things; but it doesn’t include the costs of in-house media production, nor an awful lot of uncosted academic effort. It’s clear therefore that the figure of £15K is a red herring, and Kerr hopes to look into this further, to estimate the “true hidden cost” of a MOOC.

Another lesson was the need for specialised copyright support. Since MOOCs are so visible, developers need to be extra careful about obtaining rights. The fact that MOOCs were being done by separate groups, and the lack of centralised copyright expertise, meant that it all proved expensive.

Finally, Celeste McLaughlin from the (soon-to-be-defunct) JISC RSC for Scotland talked to us about her use of Open Badges to incentivise and accredit CPD activities. Open Badges can be awarded for achievement of certain criteria, and those viewing a person’s badge online can click it to find out what those criteria were.

Some examples used for online courses were “Completer” and “Influencer” badges. Completer is given for finishing an online course, but only upon completion of a post-course reflective summary, based on a template. The template asks questions such as “what ideas will you take forward from this course into your work?” and “what challenges do you anticipate in using these skills?”. Full engagement is encouraged by the use of minimum word counts, completed exemplar forms, and negotiation with the participant.

The Influencer badge, meanwhile, was awarded to those voted by their peers as having contributed most meaningfully to an online course. The promise of achieving this badge seems to have increased markedly the level of contribution to courses.

Sheila recommended the JISC Open Badges Design Toolkit as a good place to start.

Overall, then, more fantastic than bobbins: an interesting and varied day, attended by a friendly and helpful community of practitioners – much like the M25 Learning Technology Group that we have here in London.

November 25th, 2014|Conferences, Open Education|Comments Off on Open Education’s Fantastic SHED Show|