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Emma Dillon and Anna O’Neill

Emma and Anna

Emma Dillon  RMN,BSc,PGCE,MSc,FHEA.
MHFA Adult Instructor.
Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing.
“As module leader for NPR3028P I really enjoyed working with Anne to develop a Xerte for the year 3 skills week for BSc Nursing.  Anne helped me to transform my ideas into an interactive e-learning package looking at well-being of the student/graduate nurse. It was fun to create and has really positive feedback from the students: “the well-being Xerte really motivated me to look after myself, it was fun and interactive – it really made me think” – “the Xerte reminded me of the core values of nursing and resilience”-” the well-being Xerte really bought the skills week together“.
Xerte E-Learning Package

Xerte E-Learning Package for Skills Week

Anna O’Neill
Lecturer in Practice Development
Faculty of Health and Society
“I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Xerte and the experience of using this package with our third-year student nurses.
Anne’s teaching style was such that I felt comfortable to develop the Xerte with support, so as to truly experience setting up the Xerte, learning to incorporate pictures, links and the ability for students to download their work to upload onto PebblePad.
Xerte is a fantastic way of supporting blended learning and/or distance learning.
We used Xerte for our year 3 skills development package in line with our move to Waterside and our students feedback was extremely positive”.

Xerte E-Learning Package - Skills Week

Xerte E-Learning Package - Skills Week


The journey and the reflections

Liz SearSara Simons
Anne Misselbrook

I was privileged to be invited to co-present with Liz Sear, Senior Lecturer, Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care, at the service user and carers forum on January 10th 2017 by Sara Simons, Senior Lecturer/Disability Co-ordinator Faculty of Health and Society.

Liz and I had previously developed an e-learning package following the story of ‘Fred’, a fictitious character.  ‘Fred’ is a homeless man whose journey to hopeful recovery exposed service provider and healthcare involvement.  This online case study supported students’ understanding of inter-professional and multi-agency working.

Satisfying the need to present complex information in a clear and understandable way to Health and Social Care students, we demonstrated how effective this online learning had been.

There is nothing better than a ‘real-life’ story for students to learn from, and with this in mind, we invited service users to get involved by sharing their story with us and give us their permission for their story to be told in online e-learning packages for students to access for their studies here at the University.

A service user put herself forward as a willing contributor and subsequent plans were put in place to audio record the service user telling her story.  Liz and Anne worked together on storyboarding and building the two e-learning packages using Xerte software.

Visual Quiz

Sara Simons

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)  is the name for a group of lung conditions that cause breathing difficulties including chronic bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive airways disease.  People with COPD have trouble breathing in and out, due to long-term damage to the lungs, usually because of smoking.  COPD (bronchitis and emphysema), affects an estimated 3 million people in the U.K. (NHS, 2015)

We were interested to learn about the physical and psychological implications upon an individual’s day to day life and levels of activity in living with a long term condition.  As co-production is key to developing quality the Health and Social Care (Care Act, 2014), as supported by NUSU 4Pi National Standards, Nothing about Us without Us (2015), involving the service user in all aspects of the production was fundamental to the project.

Jenny was happy to be involved, and following a thorough briefing of what this would entail, Jenny used prepared guidelines of questions to structure her answer.  Full written consent was provided by Jenny to record and use her story for student learning purposes. Using a structured interview format, audio recording took place and key props used by Jenny were photographed to support her narrative.

Once the recording was adapted into the story board format Sara acted as a critical friend to the layout, format and directed learning tasks.  Once recommendations were adopted, Jenny was asked for her views and opinions and further editing took place.  User testing was undertaken by a number of students who piloted the packages.

Liz Sear

In terms of my experience of working on this project I feel that it has left me with an enormous sense of admiration for the service user Jenny in terms of the challenges that she has had to face and overcome in her life, I think that she is very courageous person.  It has also been a timely reminder that alongside the theory about the health and social care topics that we teach our students there is always a person whose story is unique and which reminds us that people do not experience ill health in the same way.  As practitioners we need reminding of this so that we can strive to see things through the eyes of another person while not making assumptions about who people are, what they need from us and the reasons why they may behave in the way that they do.  I feel that to do this successfully we must be prepared to be humble, as practitioners we can never ‘know it all’ and service users will often present us with insights about their experiences that can challenge our beliefs and prompt us to reflect upon our practice on a much deeper level.

Further information

Upon reflection, this has been an effective learning opportunity for all the contributors and we look forward to developing further packages this year.

Special thanks go to Jenny, who commented upon the fact, that this had been a really positive and rewarding experience.

Anne Misselbrook, Liz Sear and Sara Simons

Student Feedback

“I found this package very engaging and informative”.

“Found the package very interesting and emotional to find out how much Jenny had been through in her life”.


This summer, we’re moving away from using the Panopto system to expand and extend the use of our Kaltura MediaSpace platform.

We have enjoyed an excellent service from Panopto, but based on a number of factors, including lots of feedback from staff, we’ve decided to move away from Panopto and instead use our MediaSpace platform to support all our video capture, storage and streaming needs going forward to Waterside. This means we’re going to migrate your content out of Panopto and onto MediaSpace over this summer. So, if you use currently Panopto, can we ask that you do not create any new materials from now on, and instead start using MediaSpace instead.

If you’re new to MediaSpace then there are some useful Help videos at, like this video and we are happy to run training sessions and 1:1’s on request, or you can email if you have specific questions.

Please note, you will not be able to access Panopto beyond 8th July 2016. The videos in NILE will still be viewable by students, but staff will not be able to record any new videos.

There will be more communication from us, to ensure your content is transferred smoothly and that you are confident using the MediaSpace platform but if you have any questions, then please get in touch.

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The report for this year’s mobile survey has now been published where we look at the way that mobile devices, apps and interactions are used and carried out at Northampton. There were 322 respondents who took the opportunity to let us know their thoughts on the University’s mobile provision and any developments that they would like to see.

The report provides a brief summary of the main findings of the survey, including an overview of technology ownership among staff and students, trends in mobile use, facilities on campus (WiFi etc), and feedback on the iNorthampton app (which you can find in the App Store, Play Store and on the web).

You can read the report here: Mobile Survey report 2014/15 (PDF, 1024KB)

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We are pleased to announce the release of the new version of iNorthampton, currently available in the App and Play Stores.

This release has addressed some of the feedback that we received about the app from staff and students, as well as it being built on a new development platform behind the scenes.

For those that have noticed that the old version hasn’t been updated for a while, this is the reason why – we’ve had to build it from scratch and re-visit the ways in which the data is pulled in from various institutional systems, which took much longer than anticipated.

So, the functionality remains similar to the previous version but with lots of new content. There are new Videos and Photos and updated locations and details in Maps like opening times and descriptions of shops and eateries on campus. As well as a new map of Northampton which contains points of local amenities like pharmacies and nightlife. Don’t forget that you can still use Augmented Reality on iPhone within the campus Maps.

We have added the Tours feature, which will take you around both campuses allowing you to move around areas and buildings.

We are still working on the dedicated iPad version, which will make more use of the larger screen size of the iPad to give users a more scaled experience of the app and its features. We hope to go live with this over the next few months. In the meantime if you want to get iNorthampton on your iPad you can download the iPhone version by searching the App Store and choosing to search for iPhone rather than iPad apps.

We now plan to move forward with developing more features and functionality within the app. The library tool was the most requested feature for improvements, and the Library and Learning Services department are currently reviewing the Library Management System. The ability to renew books and check their account on mobile will be included in the new system and we will hopefully be able to make that available through iNorthampton.

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As part of building on previous NILE quality discussions, the schematic below represents the current proposal for quality standards. Rather than gold, silver and bronze, there are two main levels – foundation at the most basic level and then collaboration / participation above this.
All campus-based programmes should be at the foundation level, based on the standard NILE templates.
Each programme designed for blended learning must reach the ‘participation’ threshold. Each programme designed for pure online learning must reach the ‘collaboration’ standards.

Please note that further guidance is currently being developed to support each of the standard levels. This information is being presented to provide extra context to the current LearnTech training sessions.

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The summary of the 2014 mobile survey has now been published and we are really grateful to the 444 respondents who took their time to complete this. As part of the survey, we gave staff and students the opportunity to add comments and make suggestions about the University’s mobile provision and specifically about developments that need to be made.

Device support

For the first time Android has slightly overtaken Apple in device ownership. This is inline with Gartner’s predictions and findings. Blackberry ownership is still in decline, whilst Windows phone ownership has increased to 6.6% of respondents. The web based versions of iNorthampton complement the app for those that are unable to download it onto their device. A dedicated Windows app is being requested by the user community, however there is no timescale for approval or release, yet.

iPad users have requested a dedicated version of iNorthampton which complements the NILE (Blackboard Learn) download. In last year’s report we stated that this would be available in 2013, however it is still in development and will hopefully be released before the end of the 13/14 academic year.



IT Services are responsible for the site wide implementation and maintenance of the campus wireless provision and they have now successfully implemented the educational wireless service Eduroam. Eduroam (education roaming) is the secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community. Just connect to Eduroam wireless from your mobile device and enter your Northampton username (in the format and password (which is normally used to log in to Northampton machines). Choosing to connect to Eduroam when on campus will give you a dedicated connection to the Wifi and you will no longer need to authenticate through a browser.


Use of the iNorthampton app has increased with NILE, Library and Timetables being the top three tools within it for staff and students.

When asked about functionality that participants thought would be useful to include in the app the most common answer referred to the Library tool. Users would like to be able to renew books and check their account details. Other comments included requests for more detailed maps (e.g. room finder, opening times), access to email and other University services and more use of texting.

We are working on the new version of the app which will incorporate some of the functionality being requested. Unfortunately innovative development of the app has been slowed significantly by the changes made to the web site, and the compatibility between that platform and the mobile development platform. This has resulted in the app remaining stagnant for a much longer period than we are happy with.

Other comments 

“Links to bus timetables, email, and other University services”

Northamptonshire County Council have their own app (called NCC) for Android and iPhone, which was developed by staff here at the University. This already has live bus timetables, so we’d recommend you use this if you can. They also supply a text service to send bus times to your mobile.

We took the decision not to include email, as smartphones already include a tool to integrate this. We will be providing more guidance on how to setup email on devices in the next release.

Where possible we will include links to University Services, but we will be maintaining a balance between iNorthampton just being full of links to the main University site and actually displaying data within the app itself. For example, we are working closely with Student Services to ensure that information pertinent to living in halls and navigating around campus is included in current, or bespoke functionality.

“More use of texting for institutional messages?”

The Learning Technology team are currently investigating text messages through NILE. This will be phased in during the 2013/2014 academic year.

If you would have any other comments on iNorthampton then please mail


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Providing Mobile Access to Learning and Teaching

The Learning Technology team are pleased to announce a new monthly lunchtime event for all staff at the University of Northampton.

With more and more people accessing the internet via mobile devices, The App Cafe provides an opportunity to look at the implications of mobile devices and apps in HE and how we can better use them in learning and teaching. This first App Cafe will look at the top five essentials for going mobile and consider some different apps that you can start to use easily in a learning and teaching context.

We want to hear from you. This is a participative ‘by you, for you’ event with an opportunity each month to share the apps you already use in the classroom with fellow staff across all disciplines.

With take-aways like ‘Your 5-a-month’ (top apps for learning and teaching), coffee and even cake, this is one lunchtime event in LLS you shouldn’t miss.

First Monday of the month, starting 4th November 2013 | 1-2pm | in the TPod, Park Library

Book your place by signing up today:

We hope to see you there!

The University of Northampton will become only the fourth UK university to host a Hydra Immersive Learning Suite in the very near future. A control room, three syndicate rooms and plenary room in the Naseby building at Park Campus will allow agencies in Northamptonshire to engage in a range of scenario-based training activities.

The Hydra foundation is a community of users from all around the world who share resources across a range of subjects – from counter-terrorism to child protection (see the Hydra Foundation site for examples). The system is ideal for developing and evaluating multi-agency procedures in a realistic but safe environment.

Teams are presented with a range of audio and video based material during a session and are required to record their decisions as the exercise progresses. The control room can monitor the activity of each team and vary the material they receive accordingly. At appropriate points, a subject expert can review decisions with the participants in a plenary session.

There is a licencing requirement which restricts the use of the suite to exercises which involve at least one emergency service, but this should not be seen as an onerous restriction. The development of innovative multi-disciplinary training at the University is an exciting prospect.


Hydra presentation 15th May 2013 – Panopto recording
Hydra Foundation:



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The JISC 2012 paper on Extending the learning environment provides information which assists in informing the review process of VLEs.

Earlier in 2012, Northampton went through a VLE review process and the notes and links below may be of interest to institutions which are going through a similar process. I have sub-titled this post ‘Caviar or Red Herring’ as the process may be seen as either a quality opportunity to ensure that you have the best product (the Caviar) or an opportunity to spend significant time comparing products with very similar functionality (the Red Herring) – you may not be sure which you have until you get to the end of the process…..and could end up with a mix of the two !

** Please note that the review below was conducted early in 2012 – all products mentioned were reviewed at that time and have changed significantly since in terms of functionality and version. **

We started the review process with a number of key principles:

  • The institution is committed to reviewing its virtual learning environment to ensure suitability for purpose and cost effectiveness.
  • Any change must enhance the student experience. Staff and students should evaluate the options and be involved in the change decision. Dedicated and nominated staff within the Schools should be allowed time to review the options with the support of their Dean.
  • The change process can be disruptive for staff and students due to the migration needed. This can be mitigated though recruitment of dedicated staff to support the process.
  • Whether we maintain the current platform under the current VLE or move to an alternative platform, the review is an opportunity for staff to fully engage with all students and University stakeholders.
  • Material and structure should be reviewed and improved where possible. Templates and support will be provided and staff will engage with these. Additional long term support will need to be considered.
  • All platforms under the VLE should be externally hosted at present to provide maximum uptime.

[The decision to go hosted with the current VLE (Blackboard] was made in 2007 based on the need for high level system availability which could not be guaranteed with internal hosting. This decision was based on Northampton’s internal culture and infrastructure. It was decided at the time of the VLE review that the system should be maintained as a hosted operation]

As part of the process we were aware that several other institutions had conducted VLE reviews in the past year and contacted these to obtain a copy of their findings – some were more open than others (for obvious reasons).

This brief report is a summary of the six VLE reviews which we were able to obtain.

Reviews were instigated by either / and:

  • Issues caused with current internal hosting
  • An impending significant upgrade to the current system
  • A perception that a move will save money

Four of the six will continue to use Blackboard; one is moving to Moodle on cost grounds; ** are considering moving to Moodle.

Uptime is considered a key issue for all reviews and most are considering, or have already moved to hosted option regardless of the product chosen.

Functionality reviews have tried to compare the latest features of each system and there is an inevitable cross over between them. Analysis of the reviews seems to indicate that Blackboard currently has a more intuitive structure ‘out of the box’. Flexible designs may be achieved in Moodle.

All reviews have noted that there is a ‘transition cost’ which pushes up the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Moodle options necessitate the need for a developer (or team) in house to make best use of the system and customise the interface.

The majority of academic staff within the reviews noted no pedagogical advantage in moving from Blackboard to Moodle and felt that any such a change would present a significant risk to the current status of the University’s core business and its likely future development. Retraining would be needed in any transition.

** noted that staff development and training needs were often overlooked, or severely underestimated in transitions. They had migrated to Moodle as a perceived cost saving.


  • The TCO of any migration is fully costed
  • Staff and students need to be fully consulted in current and future needs
  • Regardless of the option chosen – staff need to be fully supported and encouraged to make best use of it. Some current poor student reviews within the current VLE were prompted by poor academic engagement with the system rather than any lack of functionality.
  • The review process must review the latest available version of each VLE.
  • Considering the current IT infrastructure, we need to maintain a hosted solution regardless of the option selected.

The final report which was presented to the University Executive Group summarised the 4 month review process. Please note that some confidential details have been removed for obvious reasons.

The decision to remain with Blackboard for a further three years was based on a wide range of factors and not just the basic cost. The TCO which included price, cultural issues and migration meant that the decision was the best for Northampton at that time. I’m fully aware that other institutions will conduct reviews which will be conducted within a completely culture and with different needs which will lead them down a different path. We will be looking for a formal review again in 2014/15 – let’s hope that this is a ‘Caviar’ experience.

For further details on the review process please contact Rob Howe



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