Journal October 15th 2014

Write a brief summary of any work-related activities undertaken on 15th October 2014 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.


Hi all,
It has been really interesting reading some of the other posts on here- thank you!
Sorry I have been meaning to do a diary entry since my colleague sent this through to me. As per usual with the winter term- Time just seems to disappear!
I am the Education Support Manager in the Library Services at Imperial College London. It is a new role and I have been here since January, so coming up to anniversary. It is an interesting and varied role, so have found myself invovled with a variety of projects etc as well as the day to day role of co-ordinating the non subject specific workshop programme and the workshops that we run through the Graduate School. I am also lucky to be involved external committees and have a particular interest in the area of Open Educational Resources. As such I have been rather busy preparing for some workshops and webinars that will be running for these committees- please can someone remind me that this term is not a good one to volunteer for things!!!!
Today I have been preparing for a webinar that I agreed to do for the ALT SIG for Open Education. The webinar focus is on how to prepare and write and OER workshop, so something I am relatively familiar with but I have never given a webinar before. I am looking forward to the experience, but also absolutely terrified that the technology will break down….. so have spent some of the morning trying to pre-empt and test various laptops etc. Which on top of last minute edits to powerpoints etc and co-ordinating with a colleague of mine in Glasgow has been quite fun.
So keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow about 1pm!
The other part of the morning I spent looking at materials for developing plans for a new lunch time workshop on the topic of critical thinking. As it has been a topic that has cropped up many times in discussions.
The lunchtime workshops for the college are in full swing at the moment, so then I had to dash off to take one of these on reading and note taking, its never the most glamorous subject, but I took pride in the fact that no one closed their eyes and their head suddenly drooped  It was also extremely heartwarming at the end of the workshop when a young chap came up and thanked me at the end of the workshop and shook my hand…..
Managed to grab lunch and then dashed off to the next teaching session with some colleagues from our Business School. This time teaching plagiarism awareness to a group of 70 or so students. We have developed the materials to compliment an online course that the School makes all students complete. Great to be able to drop in a case that I heard in the news just this morning about Pharrel Williams and Robin Thicke.
Then off to the next session with some Electrical Engineering PhD students with one of our Liaison librarians to talk about reference management tools that they can use, in particular Mendeley.
I am always on the look out for anything to make teaching referencing and plagiarism a little more interesting….. so I am really interested to hear more about Dr B LEGO workshop…. maybe could be pursauded to release the lesson plan as an Open Educational Resource  Pretty Please!!


Hi, I am Sandra Sinfield and am now an Education and Learning Developer within the Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching at London Met. Tuesday 21st October was a pleasant day:
Tuesday started about 08.30 with a brief quick collage as part of my #ccourses MOOC. #ccourses ( is a very fluid cMOOC on the topic of the co-creation of knowledge in a connected world – and although it has been going for several weeks now, it’s not too late to join in the conversation if you’re interested. I was doing the collage as one of our Daily Connect challenges – the one where we had to select 100 pieces of paper and use them creatively – without throwing any of our artistic attempts away. I chose 100 large index cards and I am trying to make quick and dirty collages on them. I have managed nine so far – so I am NOT the perfect student here – but I am enjoying the task.
09.00-12.00 emails and admin – cannot remember what now – but obviously massively important at the time.
12.00-14.00 – drop-in Writing Clinic – saw seven students – some quick and easy interactions – some a little more complex. I enjoyed this time with real students and their concerns…
14.00 onwards was a mix of more emails – and the drafting, with Tom Burns, of our Take5 post. With Take5 we are trying to seed conversations about Learning and Teaching across our own University – but ideally with the wider academic community – about what rocks our boats when it comes to exciting and engaging classroom practice. This post was about Role Plays and Simulations – please see – which will take you to the website and the blog. We have a series of post-apocalypse scenarios that start off the chain of simulations – and they really do seem to make studetns think – but importantly at the beginning of the year and with a large group of students – they get people talking with each other and bonding as people. Not a bad way to start a course! It would be wonderful if people joining in this conversation felt moved to join in that one too.

Dr Ruth Watkins

Hi –
My name is Ruth Watkins and I work for the Student Learning Services at the University of Stirling. We are a very small team (1.5 FTE and a couple of part-time occasional members of staff) and so our jobs are very varied. We work with both students (the usual workshops and tutorials) and also with staff (reviewing assessments, input into strategy and policy, designing workshops etc).

I have found all the contributions really interesting. At the start of 2014 I did a survey of all the ‘Learning Development’ units in Scotland to find out things such as – where they were located in their institutions, what they were called, what activities were covered and challenges. This gave a really good over-view but of course was lacking in detail. This diary blog about working days is really useful as it gives a much greater level of detail – and I have found it interesting to think about what I actually do do. Some days I feel I have worked really hard – but it is not always clear what has taken the time!

On Tuesday 21st October I spent a lot of time catching up (having dared to take the previous Friday off). On the way to work, stopped at the supermarket to but a tin of ‘Celebration’ chocolates to use as a prompt in a reflective writing workshop (this is a good time to buy them – all on special offer before Christmas!). The morning started (9.10am) with a quick trawl through e-mails, dealing with the most urgent (student requests for appointments) first and leaving a lot of flagged messages for attention ‘at some point in time’ when I have a spare minute! Tackled some of the e-mails with a phone call as I have found that this is often a quicker way to resolve issues. Then I spent some time completing admin work associated with an Access ‘Learning Strategies’ module we run. The individual feedback session for this module have just finished so I spent time checking my grade sheets, moderation sheets etc were complete and ready for an examiners’ meeting. Phoned the Programme Director of the Access course to talk about a couple of students I had concerns about. The rest of the morning was spent preparing a workshop (in which the chocolates are an integral part) to be delivered later that week – reflective writing for MSc Sport Psychology students who have a PPD portfolio to complete. I have run the workshop before but it needed some refinement – better examples of theory informed practice and relevant journal articles. Did not really get lunch but had a sandwich whilst I chatted with one of our PT tutors about a referencing workshop she was delivering for first year History students the next day. Chatted about the message we are trying to convey and the balance between ‘positive academic writing’ and ‘avoiding plagiarism’. After a late ‘lunch’ went back to working on an operational plan which is in progress and needs to be completed for a meeting the following week – still a lot of unanswered questions so took to the e-mail to arrange some relevant meetings/ask necessary questions. Broke off in the middle of these tasks to take an emergency student tutorial. Completed one more section of the operational plan, last glance at the e-mails and then home (5.50pm) – to help my son revise for his next Curriculum for Excellence test!


Oh all these busy busy days! It would be really interesting to see your study on Learning Development provision in Scotland – have you formally published it anywhere – or blogged about it? Best, Sandra


I’m the Senior Lecturer in Student Learning and Support here at St George’s. This wasn’t a typical day, because it’s quite ALDinHE heavy, but here goes
1. Analysed some data from a research project I’m doing with colleagues on how students learn about how the NHS works. This is a big deal for me, haven’t looked at this type of data in years and the last time I used SPSS I prepared the data on data sheets and took them to a punch card bureau – truly. Ecstatic that i was able to remember the training provided by a colleague and do it by myself. Project really interesting for me because I see not knowing about the NHS as a potential barrier to learning, particularly for international students. My curriculum specialist colleague sees not knowing as a productive stimulus to learning. Very interesting discussion, good to have your assumptions challenged.
2. Printed out handouts for a visiting teacher who will be teaching a session in our brush up your science series of classes run for first years.
3. Saw a student who wants to discuss making her study time as effective as possible
4 Attended an online ALDinHE meeting
5 Prepared for a meeting of the ALDinHE Professional Development Working group, which I chair
6.Prepared the teaching for 2 groups of students, one repeating a year of study, one with low marks. These are semi-compulsory sessions for these students (we can’t make them go, but we can express our great disappointment if they dont!).


What I like about our work is that no two days are ever the same – and this one of yours seems fascinating! Who is your Brush up your science course for – and does it confer something like a GCSE grade C equivalence? Best, Sandra

Yvonne Cotton

I’m a Learning Advisor at Teesside University. As part of my role I run our PASS scheme and my first meeting today was a debrief with our Psychology PASS Leaders. We were still having issues with attendance due to timetables still not being finalised in the School, but despite this the PASS Leaders are so positive and creative in thinking of ways to encourage attendance. It’s always a pleasure dealing with them. After this, I spent part of the day following up on issues related to the debrief.
I had a meeting with one of our Academic Librarians to plan an academic writing workshop we were taking together later in the week. We are part of the same team as the Academic Librarians and I used to be an Assistant Academic Librarian before moving into this post. We run a successful suite of workshops on both information literacy, writing and maths and for many of the workshops, our Academic Librarians and Assistant Academic Librarians get involved with the writing ones. As someone who moved from librarianship to skills development, I see this as a natural progression for librarians.
I also had a number of one-to-one tutorials with students. As our appointments are only 30 minutes, we ask students to send work in advance so I spent time reading through work in advance.
My day finished with the joy of finding out the person I was back-up for to cover the late night desk was fit and well, so I managed to leave at 5 instead of 7!


Nothing better than find out that a cover session is no longer necessary – I feel your joy! We are going hell for leather for PASS here – any big tips to share? Best, Sandra


In terms of introducing PASS, just keep plugging at it! If things don’t wok out exactly as you intended, try another way. (We didn’t get enough Leaders for one subject area this year, so decided to get students to sign up for the PASS sessions rather than open it to all. It’s worked well and we’re confident that we’ll get enough Leaders next year because of the experience the participants have had) Make use of the PASS National Centre and the Supervisor mailing list. There’s loads of people who are happy to pass on their experience. Even if getting it off the ground is hard work, it’s worth it as you work with some great students. Yvonne

Phil Vincent (@PhilVincent)

I’m the Technology Enhanced Learning Manager at York St John University.

On the 21st Oct my day started with an early morning ‘Breakfast Cafe’ session on using ‘TurnItIn for Assessment & Feedback’. We find that, like may of you I suspect, our typical face-to-face workshops/sessions aren’t very well attended, so instead we have started a series of ‘Breakfast Cafes’ which run from 8am-9am with coffee & croissants. Unsurprisingly, attendance is much higher at these events than traditional events in the past (more details about ‘Breakfast Cafes:

Then, the remainder of my day was dominated by planning & preparing for our Undergraduate Research Conference ( This year we decided to ‘gamify’ the event in order to increase engagement & interaction. My role at the event was to manage the conference ‘game’ (, so I spent most of Tuesday making sure the leaderboard was up and running, and the quiz was in place etc.

You can read my reflection/summary of the ‘gamification’ of the event here: I’d highly recommend this to anyone who is running an event or conference!

Other than a few short meetings, and a mountain of emails, that was my Oct 21st 


Dear Phil – really impressed by your Conference – and the Gamification! We have a student-facing Conference here at London Met, Get Ahead – and it’s organised by a small taem of students, for the wider student body. This year it’s scheduled for about Week 20 (this is our W6) – I wonder if we could get some sort of link between your studetns and ours on the day? Best, Sandra

Gerd Bräuer

Hi, I am from Freiburg/Germany where I started a writing center at the University of Education 13 years ago. We do have a strong liaison with our library. That’s why my workday started at 9 AM with a meeting at the library where we discussed new ways of collaboration. From 11 AM until 12 noon I helped out with one-on-one tutoring in the writing center since our student tutors were quite busy with drop-ins. From 1 PM until 2:30 PM I facilitated a workshop for teaching staff on how to use writing as a tool for learning. After that I had a meeting with the IT center of our school where we talked about optimizing the ePortfolio we have been using for incoming students to reflect on their learning. Just by pure coincidence, after the meeting a students showed up at the writing center asking about how to use his ePortfolio and so I was able to test the things the IT Center had just fixed. Everything worked out well, the student was pleased and I was happy myself about the concrete results this day ended with.


Nice to see you in here, Gerd – I read some of your posts on the EATAW list! How do you convince people that we can get students to write to learn (rather than learning to write)? Best, Sandra


My day is very busy- I’ve just started a new job at Newcastle University, heading up their Academic Writing Service. One of my main tasks at the moment is to figure out what I will typically be doing!
I spend some time when I get in looking at our online web presence and how our ‘offer’ is presented, and review some of the processes behind the way the service works – booking appointments and workshops. I’m getting used to how different it is working in a Library context to a Student Services one.
I’m also meeting colleagues today as part of my induction- a meeting with one of the Liaison librarians to discuss how we can collaborate more, which I’m really looking forward to as it’s a natural partnership for a learning developer, and another with the head of Business and Management Services for the Library – less sure about what this might involve, but actually we have a great discussion about how I can get involved with the fantastic pop-up library initiative which was so successful last year and take provision out to other locations to make it more available to students. I love interprofessional working and find that working with colleagues in Faculties and Central Services has really enriched my practice in the past and led to many opportunities, so am keen to make the most of this open-ended discussion and any ideas which arise.
I’m joining the service at the busiest time of the year, induction (the students’ induction as well as my own!) and so I’m in at the deep end with workshops, planning, delivering and catching my breath in between. it reenforces for me how vital it is to get to know the students and to build good relationships with staff so my provision can be well tailored to the level and discipline, as well as the university’s culture.
The day doesn’t end at 5 unfortunately – I have another two workshops tomorrow to prepare, as well as a couple of induction meetings, so I take work home with me. I’m lucky I can draw on my past experience in similar roles, but it’s still always tough, starting a new job! And Learning Development is slightly different everywhere, so I’m trying to draw on the experience of my new colleagues as well as listening to and learning from the students themselves as I get to know my new role and institution.
A very busy day, but still smiling!


Oh boy – busy indeed! Keep smiling and good luck with the new job. I am looking forward to more updates from you here, best, Sandra


I work at the Centre for Initiatives in Education at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. The department offers a one-year transition program for students who do not meet traditional entrance requirements. Students take regular university classes and attend weekly support workshops similar to PASS or PALS. I supervise 25 facilitators who lead the workshops. That is half of my job. The other half consists mainly of student advising (I am assigned to our mature students) and program evaluation. I also have a second job teaching a 4th-year psychology course.
Today starts at 10:30 a.m. when I arrive for a meeting of the student Advising team. Two members are away and the other informs me that she is too busy with training our new receptionist. Yay! A free hour to catch up. I check in with my admin assistant and with facilitators who happen to be in the office. One facilitator has requested to reschedule his workshop to attend a thesis-related conference. I don’t want to let him because he’s already juggling too many balls and dropping some, but I find myself unable to say no because it’s a good reason. Next I answer some advising emails and try to set appointments with students – one has been uncooperative in his Chemistry workshop, one cannot find stable housing. Then I check in with another facilitator who missed a class last week due to a crisis with her brother. I commiserate as I have the same issues with my brother.
11:30 I download the lesson plans of three facilitators for review. All facilitators submit a detailed weekly lesson plan to a team leader for feedback. These three facilitators are themselves team leaders, so I supervise them directly.
1:25 Finished reviewing three lesson plans and dealing with some more email while eating lunch at my desk. Five minutes to run to the washroom before weekly meeting with my admin assistant at 1:30.
2:42 Just finished meeting with my admin. Main focus is preparing for my round of 22 workshop observations to take place throughout November, followed by mid-year review meetings with all 25 facilitators.
3:45 Just completed biweekly meeting with my facilitator team leaders. They are such a great group. They share ideas for running their weekly facilitator meetings, troubleshoot the observation and feedback process, and we organize a round of cross-team workshop observations (each team leader nominates one or more facilitators on their team who would benefit from having someone new observe their workshop and give feedback).
5:00 Just finished meeting with Indigenous Studies facilitator and the coordinator of our Indigenous programs. Meeting includes a teaching about canoe-building as a metaphor for university education. We are working on an supplementary guide to our facilitator training manual, to help future Indigenous Studies facilitators to “Indigenize” workshops for our Aboriginal, Inuit and Metis students.
5-6 meeting with two advisees, both mature students. I find it rewarding to work with mature learners who are so eager to plan for the future and are always well-prepared with questions about key administrative matters. Another advisee fails to turn up for her appointment.
6-7 Advising presentation at the mature-students’ seminar, talking about qualifying to enter a degree program. My advisee who missed her 5 o’clock appointment comes in late and is disruptive in my presentation. This disruptive behaviour is typical and was the reason for our meeting. When I finish presenting, II pull her out for a chat and repeat my request for her to meet with me.


Lovely to see someone from Canada here – welcome! And – gulp – your day sounded REALLY busy!

Maeve Gallagher

Here at Trinity College Dublin, the Student Learning Development Service is very busy. We have almost seen as many students in the last month (attending our drop-in service) as we saw across the whole of the last year). There is a sense of students being quite anxious, and I notice in particular a lot of mature students, who have been out of education for a number of years, are using our service to seek reassurance, gain confidence and develop study skills. We are also looking at developing our online resources to deliver workshops and services in a more flexible way to students who travel to college, are working or are unable to attend our face to face workshops. It looks like it’s going to be an energetic and dynamic year. Better get the Weetabix and vitamin pills out!


I can’t believe this brilliant set of posts from all round the world! Really enjoyed your account! Sandra

Katharine Reedy (@KathR)

I’ve really enjoyed reading these. Dr B I like the sound of using lego to teach referencing – please tell me more!
I’m a digital & information literacy specialist at the OU Library. After a very busy couple of months, this week is slightly less pressurised.
So today, I’ve also been thinking about referencing. We recently ran a live Q&A session for students, using Livestream (see, at which we promised to come up with answers to questions we didn’t have time to answer in the session. Some of the questions verge on the philosophical (e.g. why are there so many different reference styles?) and require a bit of thought.
I spent some time with a colleague, going through the plan for our Information skills materials for researchers. Quite a few years ago we created a site called Information Skills for Researchers, but time has moved on and now much of the stuff is in the OU’s Virtual Research Environment. A couple of new pages on the Library website should take care of the rest.
I’ve also been thinking about upcoming projects, including a student-friendly version of our Digital & information literacy framework ( It will be important to get input from students themselves.
I had time to take a quick look at Twitter. Like Pauline I find it a very useful source of current awareness for areas I’m interested in. I also try to contribute any interesting news I come across.
In between times I ran a lunch-time sectional rehearsal for the OU orchestra (there’s a free concert this Friday lunch-time at 1pm if anyone is in the MK area) and went to a colleague’s leaving do. He will be moving to a learning development related role, so I was able to put in a good word for ALDinHE!


Must ask how your Livestream event worked? Do you think it is easier for you at the OU to get studetns to engage in things like this? What tips would you give people in less Distance-learning type institutions? AND – absolutely intrigued by the OU orchestra – are any of your events streamed? Best, Sandra


My day is much more leisurely than Carina’s (see previous entry – all I can say to her day is wow!) because I am now semi-retired. Officially down to one day a week, but in practice I may do two or three staff workshops one week and then nothing much the next apart from some work-related reading and emails. At the moment my focus is on supporting curriculum teams redesigning their courses – and among other things ensuring that learning development is embedded in the design of every stage. Luckily I can point them to excellent resources on our ASK website ( managed by my colleagues Lucy and Catherine. Also spend much more time on Twitter than 2 years ago, which has become my first stop for alerts of interesting new research, and has expanded my horizons in all sorts of ways.


Nice to see that semi-retirement means only working two or three days per week of a one day per week schedule 
Something to look forward to… Best, Sandra


Ah but then i may have two weeks with no work at all! X

Dr B

Well, I’m the Learning Skills Tutor at Solent – the one and only – so my days get busy and that for me is the worst part of my job. The individual elements are fine, there’s just so many of them!
So, today, my 10am student didn’t show up, despite having already rearranged this due to a previous no-show. I didn’t mind because it gave me time to finish off my Senior Fellow application, due in today, and that’s a weight off. I’ve had a nice cup of tea and I’m currently going through a back log of emails, until I have to go teach Research Methodologies to some mute second years at 11. Fun.
I’ll be leaving them a bit early because I have to get down to the other end of town for 12 to teach referencing (with lego) to some graphic design students who have their own building, and on the way back at 1 I’ll take the opportunity to get some cash out so I can buy toothpaste and also pay my staff quiz entry fee – it’s on Thursday.
At 2 I begin a 2-hour stretch teaching critical thinking to some lively 2nd years, so that should be fine, and I’ll leave them a bit early too so I can get across the park in time for a 4pm class teaching referencing to some 3rd years who ought to know better. Oh, I need to get their activity sorted out now before the treadmill begins! Mustn’t forget.
That class I intend to have done by 4.55, giving me enough time to scoot out and catch my train home. All in all, quite an easy day…!!


Oh boy!! AND – have you blogged about using Lego in a referencing session – I know we all want to do it? Best, Sandra

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