My Conceptual Model for Learning Development

#Becomingeducational First, Second and Third space: conceptualising learning development

We’re re-blogging this fascinating blogpost from Helen (Rattus Scholasticus) Webster on her ways of conceptualising learning development (academic mentoring etc) – and expanding the notion in within or outwith the curriculum.

How do you conceptualise or theorise your role?

Best wishes,
Sandra & Tom

rattus scholasticus

I was at ALDinHE’s annual conference last week, and have been digesting all the rich, fascinating papers and conversations I encountered- material enough for several blog posts!

One session in particular jumped out at me as something I wanted to work through more in a blog post. Rosie MacLachlan, from St George’s, University of London, ran a workshop asking us to develop a conceptual model of Learning Development, unpicking all the forms it takes and trying to position them in a model. She’s run sessions like this at ALDinHE regionals, and it was a fascinating exercise not just in scoping the various ways we practice, but also in how we understand and articulate them.

Many models positioned the different forms of provision along some kind of continuum or axis associated with the curriculum, one to ones and generic sessions being outside the curriculum, and sessions embedded as part of the module, or…

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#Take5: 18: The best way to tackle plagiarism?

#Becomingeducational To plagiarise or not to plagiarise – that is the question

A recent discussion on the ALT jiscmail (the discussion group for those applying learning technologies in education) – the talk was of Turnitin and plagiarism.

It so often is…

So we rummaged around and found again this excellent blogpost by Liam Greenslade that we originally published on our sister blog: #Take5 last year.

This is an excellent post that explores why students might be tempted to plagiarise… and developmental steps that we can take to raise awareness of academic conventions whilst developing student understanding and learning.

We hope you enjoy it!

And – if you have an approach or strategy for developing rich student learning – why not think about producing a #Take5 blog post of your own?

Best wishes,
Sandra & Tom

Take 5

Turn-it-off:  Making use of ubiquitous plagiarism to facilitate academic skills

Liam Greenslade

 While asking why writers plagiarize might seem to be a fool’s quest, it can actually be very helpful in preventing future plagiarisms. After all, if we assume it isn’t just the “evil” that plagiarize, it makes sense to take a moment and figure out what would make a “good” person commit such a deed.

Bailey (2017)

In our cut and paste culture, even if it is not actually the case, it sometimes seems that we are being overwhelmed by a plague of plagiarism, not just in academia but in all walks of life (e.g. Scroth, 2012). The current popularity of tools like Turnitin in higher education suggests that what started out as a solution in search of a problem may have opened a Pandora’s box in which our notions of academic honesty and integrity are…

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The significance of the field of practice ‘Learning Development’ in UK higher education (my doctoral thesis)

#Becomingeducational Celebrate Easter and its tales of re-birth and hope…

By engaging with this inspiring PhD thesis from Dr John Hilsdon, co-founder of the LearnHigher CETL, the LDHEN jiscmail list and the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education.

We in #Becomingeducational are proud to re-blog his Abstract – and John invites people to email him if they want the longer read.

We will be doing just that…

May be you will also?

Happy Easter, 2018,

Sandra & Tom

John Hilsdon's Blog

This post includes the abstract of my thesis and information about how to access the full text. It was written for my Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD), Plymouth Institute of Education, University of Plymouth, UK, awarded in January 2018.


The significance of the field of practice ‘Learning Development’ in UK higher education

This thesis analyses Learning Development (LD), a field of practice designed to support students’ learning, and explores what this relatively new field can tell us about certain aspects of higher education in the UK. Theoretical work deriving from Foucault underpins the research. The empirical data is constructed from interviews, observation and reflexive autoethnographic sources, and the analytical thrust employs sociolinguistic tools from critical discourse analysis. The result is a case study of identity, offering unique insights into the field of LD itself and, through the ‘lens’ of LD, an original focus upon the production of relationships…

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Learning Development and the Hidden Curriculum

#Becomingeducational What has the Hidden Curriculum got to do with me?

In this powerful blogpost, Helen Webster discusses the power of the Hidden Curriculum: the ‘rules’, mores, tropes of university ; of our disciplines; and of the way we teach, learn and assess.

Helen is not discussing issues of ontology or epistemology – but the underlying assumptions of what students are expected to know and do as university students: be punctual, attend, be this way, write that way… know the rules and don’t ask questions!

Critical pedagogues like Freire speak of colonising student minds with the way that we practice and the way that the narratives and discourses of teaching and learning are not made explicit – and thus are not open to negotiation and challenge.

But what, you might ask, has this to do with me as a learning developer or academic skills tutor?

Well – one thing that we can do is reveal these often hidden narratives and sets of expectations… We can meet our students where they actually *are* – welcome them for the human beings they are with the the talents that they do have… We can devise ways to help them showcase their strengths and develop their emergent academic identities without losing who and what they are already.

Moreover – we can work to defuse negative labels – especially those attached to ‘non-traditional’ students – who tend to be treated as deficit if they do not already know what our rules are…

Anyway – don’t just take it from us – check out Helen’s post for yourself…

Sandra & Tom

rattus scholasticus

I learned about the hidden curriculum during my PGCE. It was an eye opener.

What is it?

The hidden curriculum is the incidental, unintended, internalised, informal, unacknowledged, unofficial lessons that are embedded – ingrained – in the curriculum so deeply that we’re hardly aware we’re passing them on with the learning outcomes that we openly state. This is good behaviour, this is the correct way to communicate, this is the appropriate thing to do, this is the right sort of person to be. The hidden curriculum is the result of our own social norms, values, beliefs etc, that creep in alongside what we intend to teach. Education is after all a form of socialisation.

These implicit lessons may help to create a positive learning environment, but they may also take the form of prejudice; invisible lessons about gender, class, ability or race, as we socialise students into what we feel is ‘their place’ in academia and in doing so…

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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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