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Advertising and Digital Marketing students got a glimpse of their professional futures this week when they got to work with a robot, a brain scanner, and a 3D virtual reality paint brush.

Click here to view video – Robots & Brain Scanners, UoN Digital Marketing Students with JISC Digilab

The group of second years got to try out all this hi-tech kit as part of a competition prize won by one of their lecturers.

Back in November, Senior Lecturer in Marketing Kardi Somerfield was named in the top 10 higher education social media superstars by JISC, an organisation that provides digital services to UK education.

As a reward, Kardi won the visit from their Digi Lab team.

“I was delighted to make the top ten, particularly because my students could benefit from this prize. It’s been great to have JISC and Digi Lab here, along with all this cool tech to experience.”

Over the course of a morning, the students had a chance to programme the robot for themselves – and for marketing students that meant imagining it working in places like a restaurant, hotel, or shopping mall.

Kardi said: “It was helpful to see some of the technology first hand, and with the robot it was far easier to imagine it in a service or marketing environment when you could see first-hand how people interacted with it.”

The 30 strong group also got to try out the Emotiv brain scanner – a wireless EEG headset that records brainwaves and overlays the pattern of electrical activity onto an image of a brain.

Emotive Insight display screen
Image: Emotive brain activity data

“It detects responses such as interest, focus, and stress, so it’s perfect for testing how effective an advertising campaign might perform, or what consumers really feel about a product,” said Kardi.

Verity Nalley, from JISC Digi Lab team said: “The marketing students came up with a load of amazing ideas for how it could be used in promotional campaigns.”

Digital Marketing Student Karima Iredale had the idea of creating an app that would connect with wearable tech like the Apple Watch or the Fitbit that would give the user information on how focused or stressed they were.

“So it wasn’t just about the body activity but the brain fitness as well,” she said.

Her classmate Raluca Sandu agreed it was a great experience.

“It is much easier for us to now consider it as an option when we are in the position to develop a campaign or talk about viral marketing for a real job.”

The final bit of kit in the prize was a Google Tilt brush – which is conjunction with a VR headset, allows users to ‘paint’ both large and in 3D.

Summing up the benefit of the day, Kardi said the most important thing was to create an environment where students can share.

“We can train them in one particular technique today, but in a year’s time, or two years’ time, it will be something else – so it’s more important to build the capacity to embrace the new technology and keep learning, and acquiring, and deciding which things work for you. I think that’s where things like today can help as it might just be that sometimes you need to have things put in front of you to give you that opportunity to explore.”

Article: Published in Unify 18 Jan 2018   | Video: Learning Technology 2017

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As an advocate for using technology enhanced learning Senior Lecturer in Cross Cultural Management Diepiriye Kuku-Siemons discusses his motivations, process, and reflections for integrating mobile technologies into the classroom.

In this first video, he provides some guidance on how he facilitates the use of mobile technologies when students are working in groups and describes his role as a facilitator in learning sessions. The purpose of this video was to share his own thoughts about the use of mobile technologies in teaching and learning with the wider academic community via the UN Staff Facebook group.

Click to view video – Diepiriye Kuku-Siemons – Thoughts on using mobile technologies in the classroom

His second video describes how using mobile devices allows students to interact with research in a more immediate and accessible way and advises that activities should be structured in a way that ensures students are mindful of the purpose of the learning activities and are not distracted by existing social media channels.

To give a full picture of the activity, students from the group volunteered to provide feedback of their experiences using mobile devices in the classroom.

The film was produced with Learning Technologist, Richard Byles, during two sessions; in the first session students used mobile technology for research and brought them back to the group for discussion. In the second Diepiriye facilitated a classroom activity in which students discussed how mobile technology provides both opportunities and challenges for business.

Click to view video – Using mobile technology in class with Diepiriye Kuku-Siemons

If you would like to see Richard Byles and Deipiriye Kuku-Siemons speaking about their ongoing work please register for the forthcoming LLS Conference on the 4th of May where they will be giving a presentation on ‘Facilitating mobile technologies in the classroom’.

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By Nick Cartwright, Senior Lecturer in Law, FBL

I was at a meeting of people involved in various ways in staff development of lecturers and as we as an institution had adopted Active Blended Learning (ABL) as the ‘new normal’ I found myself asking in our break-out group: “ABL WTF?” The response was roughly along the lines of “it’s what you do Nick” and several conversations later I was invited to write this blog post about what I do in the classroom and why.

Firstly, one of the most important answers to the why I teach the way I do is because I enjoy doing it this way and it works well for me and what I teach. I certainly don’t think it’s better than other approaches and I don’t know if it would work for every tutor or every subject.

So, I know what works for me now but it was a long journey. I started teaching the way I was taught within the straight-jacket of institutional policy where I then worked, we had a lecture then a seminar every week for ever every module. The lecture was recorded on VHS tapes and stored in the library, the technology meant I had to use PowerPoint and stand stock still behind the lectern. The hour-long seminars I inherited required that in week 1 we asked the students to read chapter 1 of the assigned text, week 2 was chapter 2 and so on. Students were instructed to answer roughly 10 questions and bring hard copies of their answers. I ran a tight ship, students who turned up unprepared were told to leave – my classroom was an exclusive space for the students that were the easiest to teach. We had roughly 5 minutes on each question then left, job done.

Later in my career, at a different institution, I sat in a staff meeting listening to colleagues report that the foundation students had “gone feral” – a chair had been thrown, a lecturer threatened and they simply would not sit down in two straight rows, shut up and listen as wisdom was dispensed. Of course they wouldn’t, despite being bright and capable and having gone through 13 years of formal education they were in the foundation year because they hadn’t achieved the two D’s necessary to enter straight onto the degree programme. Bored with PowerPoint I found myself eagerly volunteering with a colleague to take on these students who we were to later find out were some of the brightest, most enthusiastic students we’d ever had the pleasure of teaching.

One student in feedback tagged our efforts ‘sneaky teaching’ because without realising it they were learning, we tagged it ‘learning by doing’ and at validation the external panel members commended it. In one module the students formed political parties and competed to be elected, in another they witnessed a train wreck and were the lawyers trying to support the victims, at the end arguing before the European Court of Human Rights that one client had the right to die. We didn’t tell them anything, clients sent letters, senior partners sent emails and we patiently waited for them to ask us to direct them to a source or take through a topic area. That we learn best by doing is nothing new, the Ancient Greek philosophers key principle was that dialogue generates ideas from the learner: “Education is not a cramming in, but a drawing out”1. I came to Northampton burning with a passion to get my students learning by doing because it works and because it engages many students who have been excluded by traditional schooling.

I had started out teaching some more practical topic areas so the ‘doing’ was quite easy to work out but last week I found myself in a first-year workshop dealing with the issues of the nature of law and specifically feminist and queer theory approaches. It was when discussing how that had gone that I was asked to write down how I had done it.

The session needed to get the students to grasp that there are different critical voices within (and outside of) feminism and to get to grips with the skill of applying different perspectives to the law – what they applied the law to was less important. The workshop was two hours long and there were three questions to discuss, we ran out of time in every session and every session was completely different. I could have worried about equality of learner experience, ensuring every student in every session got an identical set of correct notes, and in my younger days I would have done, but my students did get equality of learner experience. They got to choose the lenses through which we discussed the issues, for example one group focused on issues of consent and sexual touching in a social setting, another on the lack of diversity in the judiciary and another on whether the dominant narratives around immigration were racist. It was relevant to all of them rather than just those who related to the lens I would have chosen which would likely be white, male and straight.

The biggest challenge is letting go and empowering students to find their own way through the issues, generating authentic knowledge which may be different from or even challenge my knowledge. Practically it also involves what I dubbed in chats ‘double thinking’, keeping two chains of thought going at once. One half of my brain is following the students journey, sometimes disappearing down the rabbit hole, whilst the other is focused on what we need to cover and trying to keep an overview of the topic all the time working out what questions I need to throw out to keep the two tracks running in the same direction – if I lose the latter the session suddenly loses any sense of direction and this disengages my students. It’s more challenging and more tiring than how I used to teach, but I believe it is a better, more inclusive experience for my students. I wonder what I’ll be doing 10 years from now and how critical I’ll be of what I do today?


1Clark, D., ‘Socrates: Method Man’ Plan B [online] [accessed 4 October 2013 @ 14:37]


This post is one in a series of ABL Practitioner Stories, published in the countdown to Waterside. If you’d like us to feature your work, get in touch:

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By Samantha Read, Lecturer in Marketing, FBL

Taking an active blended learning approach to the delivery of my Advertising module for the BA Marketing Management Top-Up programme has enabled me to enhance traditional ways of teaching the subject material for students to make constructive links between areas of learning and engage with theory in a fun and collective way.

Traditionally, I presented the students with a lecture-style presentation of the history of advertising, drawing on examples from the past and present to illustrate how advertising practices have changed over time. The subject material by its very nature is fascinating, from uncovering secrets behind Egyptian hieroglyphics to discussing implications of the printing press and debating the impact of the digital environment on advertising. Yet, without the ability to transport students back in time, it felt as if they were not fully able to appreciate the momentous changes that have taken place within advertising over the years.

Example posters on the History of Advertising

Example posters on the History of Advertising

To support the students in learning about the history of advertising this academic year, taking an active blended learning approach, I used a jigsaw classroom technique to facilitate a whole class timeline activity. Before the session, all students were asked to bring in their own device. Following an initial introduction in to the importance of reflecting on the development of advertising over time, I divided the class into seven groups of three or four students. Each group was then given just one piece of the timeline and had 30 minutes to research the implications of that section of history on advertising practice. This included ‘Advertising and Ancient Egypt’, ‘Advertising and the Roman Empire’, ‘The Printing Press was invented’, ‘The development of Billboards’, ‘Radio was invented’, ‘Television was invented’ and ‘The internet was invented’. Students were then given some suggestions of reliable sources where they could go online to research their given time frame and the importance of using these sources and referencing them was stressed.

History of Advertising in the classroom

History of Advertising in the classroom

Whilst the students worked together in their groups to research and construct a one-page A3 poster on flipchart paper outlining their key findings, I circulated the room to check understanding of the research process and the content. This was particularly important as the majority of the students in the class are international students and unfamiliar with UK advertising practices or some terms that they were coming across. I was also able to check the students’ enjoyment of the task and to ensure that everyone in the group was happy to get involved. In contrast to a large lecture style format, the ABL workshop centred on each individual and their specific progression throughout the workshop session.

History of Advertising Timeline

History of Advertising Timeline

Upon completion of their A3 poster, each group was instructed to peg their work to the washing line timeline I had attached to the back wall by fitting their time frame within the correct historical period. This ‘active’ jigsaw part of the session not only served a purpose to physically place each time period within its context, but also kept the students engaged in a whole class activity; the success of the timeline ultimately rested with all groups contributing. Once all of the assigned time slots were attached to the washing line, each group selected a member of their group to come to the back of the class to explain their key research findings in relation to the significance of their given time period to the development of advertising throughout history. Having a physical timeline to work with helped sustain the students’ interest in the task and the students themselves were able to make links between each other’s posters, adding to their own and others’ knowledge and understanding.

To ‘blend’ this session to the online environment and subsequently in to the next week’s workshop focusing on the nature of advertising in society, students were asked to complete a survey on NILE which compared print and TV toothpaste advertisements over time. They were also asked to reflect in their online journal on any similarities and differences between the UK based ads included in the survey and those from their home countries. Tutor support and feedback was given on this exercise to ensure that knowledge was accurately embedded and contextualised. Students were also asked to collect three examples of advertisements that they came across over the course of the week as a starting point for a semiotic exercise at the beginning of the next workshop.

Overall, I found the jigsaw classroom technique worked extremely well as part of an ABL approach to teaching the history of advertising. Rather than passively taking in knowledge as I had previously witnessed when delivering this session in the past, there was a real buzz in the classroom. The students were all invested in working together to complete their part of the timeline and were even taking photographs of their completed work. One important aspect of facilitating learning for me is providing opportunities for creativity both in the classroom and online, and taking an ABL approach certainly allows for that.

This post is the first in a new series of ABL Practitioner Stories, published in the countdown to Waterside. If you’d like us to feature your work, get in touch:

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Discussion boards aren’t the latest NILE tool on the block, however FBL lecturer Samantha Read proves it can be an effective tool for extending learning beyond the classroom.


Conversations about discussion boards often reveal how these require ongoing commitment and thoughtful planning. For this post I spoke to marketing lecturer, Samantha Read, and learning designer, Elizabeth Palmer. These are their top tips for successful discussion boards:

  1. Link your discussion board with classroom activities and teach the tool

As a lecturer who uses discussion boards extensively with large cohorts in FBL, Samantha Read explained the way she combines discussion boards with classroom teaching in these simple points:

  • As part of an e-tivity before the workshop session, I encourage students to share their initial ideas and research, with each other and myself, before we discuss them in more detail and apply the theory in the classroom
  • During the classroom session as part of group-work students record what their group has covered during the face-to-face time and use this as feed-forward to the next group session
  • After the classroom session, students are asked to reflect on what they have learnt during our workshop and receive tutor feedback on their understanding of the classroom content

Of her students’ digital literacy she says, “It is easy to assume that our ‘tech-savvy’ students will be able to use the discussion boards but I have found that many find them difficult. I would therefore suggest that time is taken during a face-to-face session to go over the purpose for using discussion boards as well as demonstrating the basics – what is the difference between a forum and a thread, how to add a post, how to reply to a post, how to embed an image or a video, and how posts can be deleted.”

2. How do I set a task that is sufficiently interesting for discussion?

One of the biggest challenges of discussion boards is motivating students to engage with topics. Learning designer Elizabeth Palmer gives some clear advice on how to maximise online discussions:

“Make sure you set the parameters of the discussion to include guidance on both ‘how’ students should complete the task and ‘why’ it is important. Students that are unable to see the purpose of the task (in both the short and the long term) will be unlikely to engage. Actually this is true of any task in whatever format, class or on-line, not just discussion boards. Equally, if they do not have clear instructions for the task this impacts motivation and likely engagement. Instead of ‘respond to at least two of your peers’ try something like ‘select one answer you disagree with and justify your opposing view with evidence’.

Generally, I advise staff to avoid setting a task that only has one or a limited set of answers because whoever gets there first completes the task. So either encourage personal responses or select an area for discussion that has sufficiently contentious issues for debate to make discussion lively, worthwhile and complex.”

3. Set your students’ expectations for feedback and provide rewards

Imagine a motivated student’s reaction when after spending hours writing a post they find no one has taken the time to read it. Flip this and think about the less motivated student’s feelings if they know their efforts are not being monitored or checked. In both cases students will quickly lose interest in online discussion.

Samantha Read’s structured approach to discussion boards involves placing a deadline date for all posts to be posted, with a given date that the tutor will go into the discussion board and provide feedback.

On modelling best practice she says, “Discussion boards need to be seen as a ‘safe space’ in order for students to feel comfortable posting to them. I always begin each thread with an example post so that the students know the kind of information to include, as well as the suggested length. It is also vital that the discussion boards are monitored and responded to.”

For maximum effect careful planning and maintenance is required. However, if you are aware from the outset that you have limited time to invest outside of the classroom, then you may wish to consider thinking creatively about how the students will interact with the task.

Approaches such as splitting the discussion into groups and allocating group leaders to report back at the beginning of the next lesson will ensure that the students’ efforts are rewarded with feedback.

Gilly Salmon (2017) promotes online socialisation as the bedrock of successful online engagement, identifying the ‘e-moderator’ as ‘a host through which students learn the framework of an e-activities, ‘providing bridges between cultural, social and learning environments’.

Samantha Read reflects on how active participation in discussion boards is an easier path to better grades within her face to face time in the classroom, “I usually make a point at the beginning of the session where discussion board feedback was necessary as part of the learning experience, that those who did participate now have less work to do in the session than those who did not and highlight how these students have shown analytical thinking that will earn them good grades once this is applied to their assignment.

I sometimes even ask the students who did not participate across the course of the week, to make their contribution during class so that we can all benefit from their opinion. This only really works however if a great deal of research was not required for the discussion board task. I also reward students through positive feedback to their posts, making suggestions for how their opinion or research could be used in relation to an upcoming assessment or workshop activity.”

In her final thoughts, Samantha says that “It is worth trying discussion boards as part of your blended learning module to try out virtual ways of increasing engagement. I have found some of my groups have really enjoyed interacting on discussion boards, whilst other groups have found them daunting and needed more support. Each student is going to have a different response  but as long as support is available to them, it is definitely worth introducing and seeing that happens.”

What are your experiences?

If you have used discussion boards, what are your thoughts? Be sure to post below and share your experiences and thoughts.

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Denise Creisson a Project Management Lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Law recently produced a Xerte poster for the FBL Christmas Showcase held on 2 December 2016.

Denise attended Xerte training on 11 August 2016 with Anne Misselbrook the Content Developer at the University, and has been using Xerte e-learning software to produce interactive content for some of the online delivery of BUS2017 Information Technology for Business.

Take a look at the poster created by Denise below.  You can download the PDF version of the Xerte Poster

Xerte Poster created by Denise Creisson, Faculty of Business and Law

Xerte Poster created by Denise Creisson, Faculty of Business and Law




Emma Rose briefly outlines her experiments with Flipped Classroom techniques and what the benefits have been.


Students take individual readiness assurance tests, then take the same test as a group. The group use the trademarked Instant Feedback Assessment Technique, essentially scratchcards, so they immediately know if they got the right answer. By assessing the students’ readiness to move on to application exercises we should be able to address gaps in learning early on.

‘Getting Started with TBL’ by Larry K. Michaelson is available here:

For more information about this assessment, please contact Nick Cartwright, Senior Lecturer in International Commercial Law (

This case study is taken from the Institute of Learning and Teaching’s 2015 publication ‘Outside the Box Assessment and Feedback Practices’, available from the University’s Assessment and Feedback portal.

In LAW3019 (European and International Human Rights Law) assessment is by coursework. The first essay (40%) is a set question analysing technical aspects of treaty law. The remainder of the assessment is a research project split into an individual presentation (20%) and an essay (40%).

Students are free to choose their topic, as long as it broadly relates to a current human rights issue. This year, students covered a diverse range of topics including Australian asylum policy and law, extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects, forced marriage, and discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.

The feedback from the students has been positive as this allows them to research a topic of particular interest to them, sometimes linking into other modules studied, sometimes to outside interests and future career plans. The external examiner has commented at last year’s exam board and in her report on the creative and topical nature of the assessment. In terms of key skills, the assessment facilitates the development of higher level skills in relation to research, analysis, and written and oral communication.

For more information about this assessment, please contact Kirstie Best, Subject Leader in Law (

This case study is taken from the Institute of Learning and Teaching’s 2015 publication ‘Outside the Box Assessment and Feedback Practices’, available from the University’s Assessment and Feedback portal.

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“First year BA Advertising are given a live brief to deliver. Last year it was wrapping a taxi – see article here

This year they are working on developing a Mascot for the University and using it in a number of promotional situations, such as a Saints game or an awards ceremony. Next year, it will be something different. The main point is that it is real and they have to deliver everything from pitching for funding, through to execution.

I refer to the assessment as ‘Reportage’. A group report documents the steps in the process, with an emphasis on the role their team played. Also, this piece of work includes an individual reflection. I’m not sure that it is earth-shattering in terms of process, but it is authentic, very organic (full of challenge and uncertainty) and the student feedback has been very good”.

For more information about this assessment, please contact Kardi Somerfield, Senior Lecturer in Marketing (

This case study is taken from the Institute of Learning and Teaching’s 2015 publication ‘Outside the Box Assessment and Feedback Practices’, available from the University’s Assessment and Feedback portal.

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