Behaviourism and Learning Development

#Becomingeducational What is an Academic Mentor? What should an Academic Mentor do?

AT LondonMet we have developed an innovative Academic Mentor Scheme – with learning developers embedded within every School, working closely with staff and students to improve student success…

This week we had an excellent session with Janette Myers and Rosie MacLachlan of St Georges – looking at the embedding of learning development in the curriculum via small, repeated drips of practice that teach, model, rehearse and reinforce successful learning practices…

As a timely follow up, we are re-blogging this post from Helen Webster exploring behaviourism and what it might teach us about how we can help students study successfully.

This post is the beginning of a short series on HOW STUDENTS LEARN… and how we can help them…

rattus scholasticus

I’m currently thinking again about what training for Learning Developers might look like. The day on One to One work focussed on the professional skills we need for this context, but bits kept creeping in from what I called the What of LD, rather than the How.

One of the elements I suggested might form the What of LD was an understanding of How Students Learn. To support the development of learning, a learning developer probably should understand what learning is and how it comes about! I’ve been looking back and reviewing things I learned during my PGCE, and in this and future posts, wanted to re-examine the theories I learned then, and reflect on how they might come into my work as a Learning Developer rather than a teacher. Theory is often derided as abstract and irrelevant, but to me, it’s a very practical tool to understand what…

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The New Media Consortium: its sudden death and what comes next

#becomingeducational Sad news before Christmas – another blow for creative EdTech…

The beauty of the web and using the web and the tech for creative education are the networks of creative, enthusiastic and engaged people who have been working for the best possible outcomes for Technology Enhanced learning – for technology and society.
This post tells of a seismic blow to the EdTech community in the USA…
And the very nature of this blogpost shows how good people respond when bad things happen…
Our thoughts go out to the people of the New Media Consortium – their lives are being drastically impacted – what to do? And how to save all that legacy – all that work.

Bryan Alexander

Yesterday many of us learned to our shock that the New Media Consortium (NMC) was going to be liquidated.

We learned via an email announcement, as follows:

The New Media Consortium (NMC) regrets to announce that because of apparent errors and omissions by its former Controller and Chief Financial Officer, the organization finds itself insolvent. Consequently, NMC must cease operations immediately. NMC would like to sincerely thank our loyal and dedicated community for its many vital contributions since its inception in 1994. NMC is grateful to its current executive director and NMC staff for their tireless efforts to connect people at the intersection of innovation and technology. NMC will be promptly commencing a chapter 7 bankruptcy case. A trustee will be appointed by the court to wind down NMC’s financial affairs, liquidate its assets and distribute any net proceeds to creditors. The case will be filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California. Please understand that NMC’s assets may be sold as part of the bankruptcy process and another entity, potentially a nonprofit, may yet go forward with our summer conference. Nevertheless, before sending any payment for 2018, please contact our counsel Reno Fernandez at (415) 362-0449 ext. 204, and he will connect you with the trustee once he or she is appointed.

Black background in the original.  This is a screen capture.

Shortly after receiving this Campus Technology asked for my reaction.  Here’s what I told them:

I am heartbroken and gobsmacked. The news comes as a terrible shock. My heart goes out to the fine NMC staff, who don’t deserve this. Instead they deserve being snapped up by smart employers, stat. I also rue the blow to the community of splendid innovators that gathered around NMC since the 1990s. Can we use our imagination and technology to build something new in the NMC’s ruins?

I stand by those words.

Right after the announcement broke Twitter lit right up with questions, pleas, mourning, and brainstorming.  I had just finished a long…

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Pilates/Yoga and Helping Students Write

#Becomingeducational It’s Week 11, last teaching week before 2018

Time to think about… Supporting Student Writing

The blog post below discusses QMUL’s Thesis Boot Camps – their structure and benefits – and also some lessons learned.
What tends to work: set times to write – collegial space to write in – support from structure – support from presence of other writers…

All this so expected?

Well – what also works is building in Pilates and Yoga – and focussing on the self care that you/we all need – not just for PhD writing – but for all our academic endeavours.

Question of the Month: Should we begin to develop Writing Retreats here at LondonMet – and not just for our PhD students – but for all our students?

Do post your thoughts in our Google+ group:

DoctoralWriting SIG

By Heather Campbell

Heather Campbell has a PhD in History and has studied and worked at Queen Mary University of London for a number of years. As a Learning Developer she now works with undergraduate and postgraduate students helping them develop insights and practices that will contribute to their success at university. As part of this role she helps to organise and run the ‘Thinking Writing’ PhD and staff events which include retreats, workshops, reading groups and Thesis Boot Camps. For more about the work of Thinking Writing, you can take a look at the website:

For the past three years Thinking Writing at Queen Mary University of London has been running a Thesis Boot Camp for late stage PhD students. We style our events after the award-winning program developed at the University of Melbourne, in order to help PhD students get over the final hurdle of ‘writing…

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Some Notes about Notes

#becomingeducational W10 It’s all about the notes…
We really love this Tactile Academia (and oh so #creativeHE) blog post about preparing to make notes…
Here the author has prepared her notemaking pages in advance – colour-washing a notepad – different pages – different colours and effects…
Then she chose which page suited which sort of note – which topic…
This is a cool way to get into the mindset of studying – and of taking control of studying…
But not in a rigid and strait jacketed way…
What are you notemaking or preparation strategies?
And if you are wondering what to do right now – why not join in with this week’s #creativeHE:

Tactile Academia

I am at the beginning of a new research project, and have been thinking about note taking. Not the note taking that you do once you are in the process of collecting data, whether primary or secondary, but rather the notes that you make before.

There is a very early phase of your research, sort of initial research, when you are finding your focus and honing your ideas into one clear question – a very exciting stage because at the moment there are lots of things this research could turn into.

For me this was always the stage where notes can be found all over the place. Filling up old envelopes is a favourite of mine, maybe because there seem to be some coming through my letterbox a few times a week and once they are emptied of their initial message they almost cry out for a new one. Of…

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The many hats of a Learning Developer

#becomingeducational Year of Learning Development: The Many Hats of the Academic Mentor/Learning Developer

We know that for many people this is the start of an amazing year and an amazing journey… These are the people who are either becoming Academic Mentors or Learning Developers for the first time… and/or those who are incorporating more LD into their current university position(s).

Learning Development offers energy, excitement and challenge: no two days are ever the same – sometimes, no two hours are ever the same; we are kept on our toes from moment to moment …

Here we are sharing Helen Webster’s reflections on the many hats of the learning developer.. Helen captures the energy and dynamism of our jobs – and we hope that you find it as interesting and entertaining as did we.

Please add a Comment – pass it on – keep the conversation going.

Sandra & Tom

rattus scholasticus

Learning Development’s a varied job- we’re never bored! Every hour could bring a different student, studying a different discipline with a different need. And, I’d argue, we too are different each hour in response.

I’ve addressed the question of what is a learning developer from various angles, but this time I’d like to look at how we’re more than just one thing. In our work, we play a number of roles, and wear a number of hats, depending on what suits the circumstances. At the ALDinHE Regional Development day at Newcastle University back in January, and again at a meeting of National Teaching Fellows in LD hosted by Sally Brown and Giskin Day at Imperial College, I encouraged participants to explore this diversity with an activity which looked at their responses to a number of roles. I distributed a number of cards, each with a different hat on. Those hats…

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Teaching Introverts

#becomingeducational Year of Learning Development: teaching introverts
Today we are happily re-blogging Helen Webster’s provocative post on teaching introverts.
Why – she asks – do we insist that people work together?
Why not allow some students to work on their own?
Or – perhaps – signpost your session – introverts one way – extroverts the other… and build the learning form there?
What we particularly like about this post – apart from making us think about the pain we inflict on introverts – is the ultimate point about allowing students themselves more choice in the way that they work.

rattus scholasticus

“Get into pairs and discuss with the person next to you…”

It’s the go-to model for workshop activities. One to ones are by definition dialogues, and we also try to capitalise on the social constructivist nature of learning in our group sessions. The whole of my PGCE beautifully modelled social constructivist principles in the way it was taught. And the amount of independent learning in Higher Education means there’s plenty of time for students to work on their own outside class, if they want to. However, I’m becoming increasingly uncomfortable with how many of my workshops include paired or group discussion as a first resort.

Why? Because I can’t stand it myself as a student.

I’m an introvert. I like to think things through carefully and work out what I think and how to articulate it before I then bounce that idea off others. I don’t find that starting off…

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Helping students write a literature review – Part II

#becomingeducational Year of Learning Development

The key focus of #becomingeducational posts this year will be on theories, case studies, strategies and resources designed to help those new to Learning Development; those with more Learning Development type responsibilities whilst their major focus might be with librarianship or another academic discipline; and/or discipline academics who might just want to develop their ability to support their students’ learning through emancipatory and empowering practice.

This re-blog from ‘Doctoral Writing’ explores how we might help students conceptualise and undertake Literature Reviews.

Do leave your own comments!

All the best,
Sandra & Tom

DoctoralWriting SIG

This is Part II of the guest post by Cecile Badenhorst of Memorial University in Canada. For an extended discussion of these ideas, go to her article on “Literature reviews, citations and intertextuality in graduate student writing”

In the first part of this blog post, I suggested that explicitly teaching students the genre of literature reviews and the many ways experienced academic writers use citation practices can help students understand this challenging genre. In this post, I want to focus on complexity in literature reviews. These papers require complex higher order thinking skills and the ability to critique, evaluate and review knowledge in sophisticated ways. Reproducing this complexity is often the most challenging for students. It is even more challenging for those of us involved in teaching this genre: How do we make the complexity more visible and accessible?

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