Journal January 15th 2011

Write a brief summary of any work-related activities undertaken on 15th January 2011 and/or your nearest working day . In posting your reply, you consent to the potential use of anonymised extracts from this material in resources that may in future be published by the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE), for educational and professional development purposes only.

Debbie Holley

Monday 17th First meeting – 9.00 Carluccis in Russell Square! My ex PhD supervisor Martin Oliver & I had a planning meeting for the paper we are co-writing for CAL on why students are relcuatnt to engage with wikis. Then up to my old stomping ground at LondonMet to meet Alan Hudson, a specialist in second life. We are working on an industry project to design a ‘toxic warehouse’ you can follow us on our blog Then presented the work Claire Bradley and I did on mobile learning with my students at the ‘SWAP’ workshops i the afternoon – small funding from the remains of LearnHigher and WriteNow funding – colleagues all presented an amazing array of projects too. Sandra Sinfield tweeted about it so you can locate the webpage with all the papers. A lovely day in HE – so nice to see we can still have some working with delightful colleagues

Janette Myers

Thursday 13th Jan is the nearest representative day to the magic 15th as I too spent a great day at the CPD event on 14th. I began with a training session on being appraised, so spent some time thinking how my role could be summarised in SMART targets, an instructive process. Then I attended a meeting on a degree which my inistituion is to franchise abroad. Thinking about how students abroad could have an experience of learning development and student support which parallels that of students in the UK will generate a lot of SMART targets. My final formal meeting of the day involved a pet project of mine. I am working with our Careers Adviser on a case based learning session on careers education. It will slot into existing science themed case based learning, so we are keen to see whether students feel that they can used the same investigative, collaborative approach in a very different subject area. The pilots are next month, then we will evaluate and decide whether to timetable it for these students and extend it to others.

David Bowers

Friday 14 January 2011

Woke up in a strange bed this morning! No, it’s not what you’re thinking…..

Had travelled up to Leeds the previous evening (hence overnight hotel stay) in order to attend the ALDinHE CPD event hosted by Skills@Library at Leeds University. Around 50 Learning Developers (in the widest sense of the word) had come together to network, share ideas and learn from the experiences of others. Workshops related to the use of new technology to engage students, the effectiveness of one-to-one support, embedding LD within the institution, sharing online resources, the specific requirements of maths support, and marketing and promoting LD services.This was a free professional development event organised by ALDinHE, the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education. If, dear reader, you are not yet a member of ALDinHE, please do consider applying for institutional membership in order to benefit from excellent events like this in the future!

Lots of ideas still buzzing in my head as I made my way back to the station for the evening train home. More worthy colleages of mine would have spent the four hour train journey drafting up a written report, developing a resulting action plan, catching up on emails. I am ashamed to say I just slumped in my seat with a Stieg Larsson novel. Well, it was Friday evening….

Alice Gray

As an HPL embedded in the Business School, I spent the 15th ploughing through the marking of 20 out of 130 Academic Skills essays submitted by my 1st year Economics students. With double-marking and mark entry deadlines looming, I have to use my ‘own’ time for this and work mostly from home since I have no quiet office of my own on campus.

I rollercoasted between relief and shock as my students either achieved or failed to meet acceptable standards of English, referencing, research, critical self-reflection, essay structure and ability to interpret and address all parts of the question. Was my teaching effective? Did this assignment merely rank very low on their list of priorities?

I had to intersperse all this with the intermittent feeding and entertainment of my 6 year-old daughter, who is (luckily for me) well able and used to looking after herself when her mother is doing her ‘homework’.


I did not work on the 15th and as I am 0.8 and I do not work on Fridays either, my nearest working days include Weds/Thurs 12th & 13th January – but also Monday 17th January – so here’s a little bit about all of those.
Some context: as you all know, we all work in increasingly pressured, work heavy and time poor environments – pushed forever to do more with less, for less and in less time. At the same time we are all deluged with increasingly peremptory and steadily mounting demands and pressures: this year we are all blended learning – get up to speed, produce new course designs & resources, develop new Teaching, Learning & Assessment practices … yesterday – or else. Ooooh, this year we are all transitions & student engagement: three-line whip to attend workshops, sit on discussion groups, produce policy documents whilst remembering that we are still ‘blended learning’ so must keep producing those resources and new course designs and activities whilst the university deletes administrative posts so that we all have to do a thousand extra admin tasks as well …
And so it goes! Thus generally we are all nose to grindstone, shoulder to wheel and forehead to door of fridge – and no matter how hard we work, how many hours or days of unpaid over time we give – we never feel we have done enough or that we are good enough…
BUT – they announced our redundancies in November… and this brings me to the 12th & 13th January:
Last week amongst the email and admin which is endless and forever… I dragged my nose, shoulder and forehead to my desk and decided to play. We learn through play. We are engaged by and in play… So I opened a twitter account and started tweeting. I resurrected my blog ( and started blogging. I entered my facebook account without shame – and IM’ed an ex-colleague who now lives in Dublin. I also followed threads and links and posts … I cannot tell you how much I learned in those two days. I now feel ready and able to really DO blended learning. More so than any amount of micromanaging or bullying or hectoring could ever have accomplished.
Homily: In these increasingly harsh times, let us fight for those creative and emancipatory spaces for ourselves. Let us take the time to explore, develop, share, learn and grow – in fun and joy.
17th January: the other day nearest the 15th that I worked involved the usual email and admin – but also our SWAP symposium. The LearnHigher and Write Now CETLs at London Met funded pedagogic research projects in reading, notemaking and writing around the theme of Supporting Academic Writing Practices (SWAP). On Monday we had a symposium wherein the majority of participants were able to report back on their projects. Over 50 people attended the event – and there were fascinating presentations on: Using mobile phones for studying and notemaking; Writing in public: exploring the use of Web 2.0 in developing students’ academic writing; Using tweets for reflection during practice; Re-purposing a Reflective Practice learning object; A teaching resource to guide biological laboratory and scientific report writing; Read to succeed – a project to embed reading and the Academic Liaison Librarian to aid the transition of first year undergraduates; Writing in the disciplines E-pack; and A handbook for creating a story-telling space on virtual 3D environments(Second Life).
A merry lunch was eaten and a good day was had by all. Hopefully also this event did not draw a line of closure – but has sparked further ideas, including for further collaborations, between participants. Personally I am hoping that our Events management students will get together with our Computing, multimedia and animation students to run a virtual Get Ahead conference for us this year as there is definitely no money left in the pot to run a real one!

John Cowan

I seem to be having problems posting my diaries. I’ve done one every month, but one seems missing and the January one seemed ot appear as gobbledegook. So I’ll paste it in here.

Share Diary 15th January 2011
07.10-07.20: Up after stormy and noisy night. Checked e-mails (nothing much). Ran Registry Mechanic. Opened new diary record.
07.20-08.20 Made breakfast. Took it back to bed. Read paper. Spend some time just lying there, thinking about this foreword which the editor wants to be a chapter, with marginal comments which are giving me problems. After a spell of ten days in which I have put four drafts in for review, and spent two days on being ac critical friend for two South Africans writing for a journal with which I have no connection, and commenting on 43 Taiwanese critical thinking postings, and two Scottish pg WBL reports, I feel written out. But this is not a blog, and I must concentrate on today, and press on.
08.20-09.40: Amending foreword – on file. Interesting that this old stager, who finds it difficult to prepare for a review of a paper submitted to a journal without having it on hard copy, is finding it difficult to edit his own draft and has gone this morning from hard copy to file. But I shall then print out, and edit.
Meantime, breaking off to go into e-mail and find and respond to return comments from Taiwanese students.
Later, two thirds complete on file, time to shave, shower and dress!
10.05-11.00 : Resume. 15 minute break for coffee along the way. Now it’s done. Print out, edit, and revise next.
11.00-11.35: Break to help my wife set up the January “Marmalade making” factory.
11.35-12.55: Carefully editing on hard copy, hopefully for the last time – well, meantime. Phew, complete and ready to transcribe
13.40-14.55: Done. What a tedious job!
14.55 – 15.20: Went on e-mail. Attachments for my wife. Didn’t notice they were zipped. Opening them plays havoc with my laptop, 35-40 empty Internet Explorers, and then hangs. Difficult to restart for a technologically disadvantaged old guy like me.
15.20-16.30: Walk in rain for exercise and to buy a birthday card for a neighbour older and more infirm than me.
16.30-17.15: Football results on TV
Eating and clearing up after evening meal.
Watching TV
20.00- 21.10: Check e-mails. Just a couple needing replies.
First stab at the last of my presently outstanding writing commitments. Not making good progress. Trying to define, rather than express in draft, precisely what I want to mean by interaction, and move on to when and why it is desirable or effective in HE.
21.20: Better take a break. Have a bash at the Scotsman Weekend Crossword. Did not badly.
22.35-22.45: Quick revisit to what written so far. Made two small changes. Time for bed.


It was a Saturday John! How do you cope? I get exhausted just reading this! All the best, Sandra

Helen Bowstead

Eight o clock on a Saturday morning. Very unlike me to even be out of bed. Never was much of a morning person. But today I found myself wide eyed and restless. The weight of forty portfolios needing to be marked bearing down on me. Questions about formative assessment. I’ve marked most of this stuff once already. Do I do it again? Questions about plagiarism. Can a personal statement be plagiarised? Is it wrong to ‘borrow’ the hackneyed cliches that we all resort to when ‘selling’ ourselves? Questions about testing overseas students’ English. Haven’t they already jumped that hurdle to get here in the first place?

English for Academic Purposes. Purpose. For what purpose?

Ann Barlow

My nearest working day was Friday 14th January. It was an unusual day. We work with postgraduate researchers and we have been becoming concerned over the number of interruptions and extensions we give due to anxiety and depression. The University runs well-being activities for staff so we decided to run a well-being day for PG researchers. We had a great day. We collaborated with the Health and Fitness co-ordinator from our Sports unit and with the Counselling Service to offer workshops on Managing Stress, Overcoming Sleep Problems and Achieveing Calm Energy as well as tasters in Tai Chi, Yoga and Shiatsu Massage. We organised a team of massage therapists to offer 15 minute neck and shoulder massages. There were basic health checks on offer. 1 minute on an exercise bike made you a smoothie and there was plenty of information to take away along with stress balls and healthy snacks. We’ve yet to collate the evaluations but the general feel as people left the building was that everyone had enjoyed themselves and felt much better for it. We had a good time too.


That sounds absolutely wonderful Ann! If anything is left of us here – will attempt to do the same!


Monday 17 January

I started the day by working on a paper about barriers to and strategies for supporting the retention of male students. The work is based on the HERE Project doubters’ survey from Easter 2009. Unfortunately (speaking for my sex) the biggest difference between male and female students appears to be that male students are self-reporting working a lot less hard than their female colleagues. That, and some of the other data, appear to suggest that male students are less engaged and less integrated into the support structures of the University. If we can characterise it, it looks rather like male students are walking off the metaphorical cliff without noticing any of the warning signs.

Way to go chaps!

I met with the head of quality assurance to discuss ways of maintaining good communication between the two teams. We also ran through projects that our two teams were working on and explored ways of continuing to work together.

After lunch I had a meeting with my colleague Becky to start the process of planning to develop a feedback app for smart phones. It’s not our first choice for an app, but we need to move quickly to give the web team the time to develop the app and get it out to students during this year. We have agreed that we will develop an app with 12 exemplars of staff feedback to students along with some text explaining what it might mean and pointers to ways of actually using the data. Becky suggested that we call it WTF? (What The Feedback?) – I’m going for the more utilitarian “Understanding Tutor Feedback (after you’ve handed in an assignment, the tutor’s marked it and given it back to you)”

Discussed how to write up sections of the HERE Project tool kit with Sarah L. The tool kit will be available for academic staff to download from the web and audit their own working practices. We will be making recommendations based on the feedback from our doubters’ survey and a series of interviews with programme teams. We’re struggling to get the tone right and are concerned that we’re going to be teaching grandmother how to suck eggs. I also spoke to the web developer who’s been working on the HERE Project website. We are behind schedule and it’s getting frustrating. I am assured that we’ll be meeting later in the week to hand over a fully working site and I’ll then be able to populate it fully.

Becky, our academic writing specialist, is leaving work to go travelling, so for a large part of the remainder of the day I re-drafted a job description, person spec and other supporting documents for the post. As we have academic writing expertise elsewhere in in the team, we are going to change the priorities for the new post. The new post will be a maths specialist with project management responsibility for Welcome Week.

Quiet email day – (30 emails) emails I sent out were about: organising a retirement meal for my line manager, setting up a meeting with the deans of school, booking a place at a conference, a question about the HERE Project, planning for Welcome Week in September, organising stress management workshops in the summer term and responding to a request from a colleague to be ‘linked in’ to them.

Quite an interesting day really


My god – you do an awful lot! Really interested in your current projects – hope you will let us all know when the HERE website goes live – and your APP sounds greaet – and I’m with Becky, call it WTF!! Good luck! (Cool pic!)

Carol Elston

As usual I started the week by checking through last week’s emails to make sure nothing was outstanding. We held an ALDinHE CPD conference in Leeds last Friday so I then had a few emails to send regarding the workshops I was involved in as well as information I promised to send to delegates.

I then wrote an article for a JISC conference I am presenting at on 2nd March. This involved writing around 300 words about the Library Induction resource that we developed last summer. The workshop will demonstrate the resource; consider focus group feedback and future project directions. As always this task took longer than anticipated.

The remainder of the day was dedicated to a project I am currently involved in to develop an e-learning resource for a digitisation toolkit. I spent the next few hours working with Jade, our Learning Technologist to design some e-learning activities. We became so absorbed we realised that it was 3 p.m. and we hadn’t stopped for lunch.

Terry Finnigan

I was working on the 14th january. That day is my research day and in October 2010 I started an Ed D at the Institute of Education.

I went to the IOE library and got out some books about educational research. I started reading two of them. This term I have to write a 5000 word research proposal. In the afternoon I came home and was marking some essays from an introductory study module. They have to be completed by Monday for the IV meeting.

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