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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”.


Melanie Cole, Lecturer in Practice (midwifery) and Alison Power, Senior Lecturer (Midwifery) wrote an article for the British Journal of Midwifery (BJM).

The article entitled ‘Active Blended Learning for clinical skills acquisition:  innovation to meet professional expectations’, explains how ABL can satisfy the standards for pre-registration midwifery education.

The article is published in the BJM in October 2017, Vol 25, No 10.  Please read this interesting article found by clicking on the link below, and find out how innovative approaches to teaching and learning strategies within the curriculum can foster decision-making skills.

Active Blended Learning for clinical skills acquisition, Power and Cole (2017)


This video from Dr Rachel Maunder, Associate Professor in Psychology, provides some examples of active, blended learning approaches that Rachel has tried in her modules so far. Rachel shares two different models, one which focuses on linking classroom activity to independent study tasks online, and one which includes some teaching in the online environment in addition to face to face sessions. Rachel also shares useful lessons she has learned from her experiences so far.

If you have questions about either of these approaches, Rachel is happy to take these via email.


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:

Melanie Cole achieves tremendous praise from her students who undertook their study using the Xerte e-learning package.

Melanie Cole

Melanie Cole-learning package.

Newborn airway skills teaching and learning
Second year student midwives are required to demonstrate knowledge and manual dexterity skills in key elements of newborn resuscitation while undertaking the undergraduate module ‘The Compromised Newborn’.  All those responsible for the care of the newborn infant should be able to provide basic assistance including essential airway management to a baby that does not make a normal transition to extra- uterine life.

The ‘4 stage approach’ is a recognised tool to facilitate acquisition of skills in resuscitation of the newborn infant and is advocated by the UK Resuscitation Council (2015).

Stage 1 – a silent demonstration of the skill by the tutor, allows the learner to observe the skill to real time.

Stage 2 – a demonstration with the addition of tutor dialogue, allows deconstruction of the skill and provides rationale for techniques and the structured approach.

Stage 3 – another tutor led demonstration which encourages the learner to verbally predict the next step and provide commentary for the tutor.

Stage 4 allows the learner to perform the skill independently with tutor and peer support.

Planning an online teaching and learning package
With our future learning environment at Waterside and a shift towards blended learning in mind, I explored the prospect of combining video assisted technology with face to face teaching and learning. My aim was to provide Stage 1, 2 and 3 online and bring the students to the university to consolidate learning and practice new skills during scheduled tutor facilitated contact sessions in small groups. While Kaltura enables the students to engage with stages 1 and 2 in viewing pre-recorded demonstrations of the skill, the challenge was related to Stage 3 and in providing an opportunity for students to be able to engage and contribute online. I contacted Anne Misselbrook from the Learning Technology Team and during a meeting we discussed my requirements and vision for the online resource. Anne quickly identified the Xerte learning package as an e-learning tool that would support my needs and enable Stage 1, 2 and 3 to be delivered online.

Selecting the correct mask

Selecting the correct mask

Creating an online package

Andy Stenhouse helped me to create the video of the skill being performed in real time (Stage 1) and the video of the skill being performed with tutor dialogue (Stage 2). The video of the skill in real time was then spilt into 10 smaller clips to enable Stage 3 to be created. The students would then be able to view a small clip and choose an answer from a multiple choice question to predict what should happen next.   A correct answer takes the student to the next clip while an incorrect answer takes them back to the beginning of Stage 3. The student has to answer each question correctly to get to the end of the sequence and they can have as many attempts as they wish, accommodating individual needs and learning styles.

Stage 1 Video

Stage 1 Video

Six months after I contacted the learntech team the final xerte was embedded into NILE within a series of timetabled learning units and was accessed by the pre-registration midwifery students in October 2016.


Stage 2

These are some quotes from the students who engaged in an online survey following uptake of the xerte learning tool:

Positive Comments

“I found this learning tool extremely helpful and it had the perfect mix of written information and pictures/videos. I feel this will really help me in my practical assessment, if you got a question wrong you had to go back to the beginning which I thought was a really good idea as it enabled you to revisit information that you may not have completely took in and allowed you to keep going over it until this information has stuck”.

“I think the xerte learning tool is of great benefit as it enabled me to go through the learning stages at my own pace and I am able to revisit the information as often as I want in preparation for my assessment.  I especially found the videos useful and with these found the content easier to understand”.

“I thought it was extremely useful. The videos were excellent. A good variety of media used too which encouraged learning. I found it very helpful”.

“Overall this tool was brilliant to aid our learning and being able to go back to the videos and quizzes will be very helpful before the assessment”.

“I thought the learning tool was excellent and a great help to my understanding of the topic.  So much better than reading a book about it”.

“I believe this to be an excellent method of learning, as you can view the correct way to manage the airway and view it as many times as you wish”.

“A really good learning tool. Easy to follow and in order, making it easy to revise and understand”.

“The videos were really good, easy to understand and clear”.

“I felt the videos very useful especially as I believe I am a visual learner”.

Stage 3

Stage 3

Suggestions for modification

“Instead of going back to the beginning when getting an answer wrong, perhaps just show it is the wrong answer and give another opportunity to select correct answer”.

“Having to go right back to the beginning if you had got a question wrong was slightly frustrating although it did make me remember information so there were definite pros and cons to that process”.

Concluding reflection

Anne provided customised training and valuable support throughout the design and implementation phases. Time for early engagement and collaboration between myself and the Learning Technology Team proved to be vital in the planning, configuring and embedding of Xerte into the module. Inputting theory (text and images) is relatively straightforward on Xerte, creating the activity in Stage 3 and embedding the videos was more complex.

I imagine this approach might be suitable for other practical skills based teaching and learning within the university and I would encourage academic colleagues to give it a try with the support of the Learning Technology Team.


Dr Paul Beeson BSc, MSc, PhD, CSci, FCPM, FFPM RCPS(Glasg), FHEA, a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Health and Society attended two Xerte training sessions with Anne Misselbrook the Content Developer on 19 April 2016 and again on 11 August 2016.

After attending the August session, Paul started to build his Xerte e-learning packages.  Paul took a sensible approach to the Xerte development and contacted Anne for support and they met on 16 August to discuss the plan for Xerte.  Paul acknowledges the importance of storyboarding with instructional design.  Paul was able to put the content in order in a plan before using Xerte software.  Anne helped Paul with designing the structure of the Xerte package with instructional design, provide recommendations about page types to use, and show Paul how he could ‘duplicate’ his Xerte for re-use with different content, thus saving time.

Metatarsalgia due to nerve entrapment

Anne emphasised that the Xertes need to be interactive and future proof.

Andy Stenhouse and Rob Farmer from the Learning Technology team got involved with supporting Paul with video clip recordings.

Video clip describing cheilectomy surgery

Video clip describing cheilectomy surgery

Paul needed video clips to complement his content and has since embedded quizzes to some of these using Kaltura CaptureSpace.

Paul has developed an impressive 21 Xerte e-learning packages (11 Xerte packages for the 2nd years and 10 Xerte packages for the third years).

At the end of September Paul added the survey questionnaire to his NILE sites.

Sample questions asked include:

  • Overall do you think that the Xerte’s are of benefit to learning and why?
  • What are your feelings to this approach to teaching?


Paul made the survey a mandatory part of the course and got the 2nd and 3rd year students to complete the survey at the end of term once they had used the different topic Xertes.

Anonymous feedback comments referring to the first question above include:

“Yes, the visual learning of video clips is especially beneficial”.

“I really enjoy the pre learning xerte, it sets me up with some base knowledge and understanding – giving me the foundations to build on within the lecture but also allowing me to bring something to the lecture”.

“It has been very helpful with pre-lecture learning”.

Anonymous feedback comments referring to the second question above include:

“I found it very useful”.

“It’s really good! It has everything we need to know about the topic”.

“Very satisfied, uses a different approach”.

However there does seem to be a misunderstanding about the delivery of teaching.  See the feedback comments below:

“It is a good extra to the lecture but nothing can be better than good time spent with the lecturer.  The face to face style is needed for this course”.

“I enjoy this style of learning when used in conjunction with the lecture”.

“Teaching is favoured fills the gaps of the Xerte’s”. 

The Flipped Classroom is the teaching style being promoted and this is a mix of online and face to face learning.  Some students are indicating that they think online is replacing face to face, but this is not the case.

Neurological Causes of Forefoot Pain

Neurological Causes of Forefoot Pain

Paul states:

“Lessons learnt include making sure the e-learning package is varied and not too long.  Also, the importance of making a plan prior to construction of the Xerte.  This can’t be emphasised enough”.

What Paul liked:

It was useful to have the opportunity to attend a Xerte training session more than once as this helps reinforce learning.

Paul liked the direct phone support provided by Anne Misselbrook and the opportunity of being able to share his Xerte examples with Anne for her feedback.

In addition, Paul looked at websites to find examples of good practice.


Students need to have a shift of attitude from the thought that “they (Lecturers) are making us do this” to accepting the message (from Lecturers) “we’ve done this for you and we are helping you by giving a structure and a piece of work useful for your learning and for revision” says Paul.

Paul states that we are giving the e-learning to students to enable their learning and to help facilitate learning in a different way.

Paul feels that using Xerte e-learning packages makes his course cutting edge and interesting for students.  E-learning gives another option for how students learn.


In this video, Anne Segalini – Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, talks through her module team’s approach to Team-Based Learning within Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Northampton.

The session is run within a standard 40 seater capacity room, where students use their own devices to login and access the Blackboard tests. With the readiness assurance tests completed, the students undertake application activities such as assembling a skeleton, or analysing joint and muscle activity through a series of body motions (e.g. putting on a jumper).

This leads to a break for lunch, with students returning to focus on a service user story, with either a guest speaker sharing their conditions and experiences of a particular service as part of their recovery, or a open access resources (such as and apply “killer questions” related to the stories where students discuss and debate their group decisions over responses.

Click on the image below to watch the video

Image of Anne Segalini - Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy

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Liz Sear, Senior Lecturer, Foundation Degree in Health and Social Care

Liz Sear

Liz Sear

My journey with ‘Fred’ stemmed from a re-design of the first year foundation degree module in Health and Social Care which explores inter-professional and multi-agency working and person-centered care. I wanted to devise a way to make what could be a dry topic interesting and relevant for the students. A particular challenge with this was how to help the students create meaning for themselves of these concepts when the majority of them were at the beginning of their working lives and therefore had little or no relevant experience to draw upon.

One of my colleagues Karen Brasher had an idea of using a case study based upon a fictitious character with complex health and social care needs to show the students the types of professionals and agencies who might be involved in their care. I decided to use this idea to develop this concept as it could be offered as an online learning resource, adapted easily and released to the students in stages throughout the module.

Accordingly, Karen and I wrote a script based upon a 45 year old Afro-Caribbean male called Fred who had become unemployed and as a result of this had experienced financial difficulties, a relationship breakdown, substance misuse and eventually became street homeless.

To bring the script ‘alive’ I considered the use of animation but although I discovered that this was possible, the estimated cost proved to be prohibitive.

As an alternative Anne Misselbrook the Content Developer and myself developed Fred into an online format using Xerte as this software lent itself well to the storyboard design, it was readily available and meant that Fred could be modified and edited easily during production by Anne and myself.

Adopting a flipped learning approach, the students were divided into small student groups and worked on the module’s online activities synchronously and asynchronously in their own time and in the time allocated to the module followed by seminars in which they discussed the online activities and shared their learning and understanding.

Overall, the students’ feedback has been positive, their comments have indicated that Fred as a case study has been successful in transforming an abstract concept into a concrete idea from which they can negotiate a personal understanding of inter-professional and multi-agency working. Students have also commented that Fred has helped them to recognize the ways in which different health and social care professionals and agencies can work together for the benefit of service users.

One of the assessments for the module required the students to reflect upon their experiences of Fred and of working within their groups and participating in the seminars. Overall I have been very pleased with the level of insight that the students have shown in their reflections and the links that they have been able to make between Fred’s narrative and inter-professional and multi-agency working and the role that this plays in person-centered care. Moreover students have demonstrated the connections that they have made between the challenges and benefits of working within their own groups and how this might reflect the challenges and rewards of multi-agency working in practice and the implications that this can have for the provision of health and social care services that are safe, effective and place the needs and preferences of service users first.



In this video Ali talks about experiences with online peer observation as part of a teaching qualification for University of Northampton staff.


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The following presentation by Dr. Rachel Maunder entitled “Watering down Waterside” provides a summary of a similar presentation delivered at the School of Social Sciences Learning and Teaching event in February 2016.

Incorporating the Institute of Learning and Teaching’s (ILT) Direction of Travel video, the presentation provides advice and strategies for programme teams when thinking about the design of their modules and programmes for delivery now, and in preparation for Waterside, linking the use of NILE and the NILE benchmarks, describing blended learning and flipped learning approaches (with examples such as the module PSY1006 – Becoming a Psychologist), and introducing elements of the CAIeRO process.

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[Posted on behalf of Anne Misselbrook - Content Developer]

Dr Michael Curran PhD, MBA, MPhil is an Associate Professor (Podiatry) and module leader for research methods in Podiatry at the University of Northampton.

One of the research methods modules taught over three years of the BSc Hons Podiatry course is inferential statistics.  Mike was keen to increase the blend of this material between face to face delivery and online activity, and this resulted in the Statistics Knowledge Check.  He has completed the cycle of transferring content online and students provided feedback using a survey included in the Statistics Knowledge Check.

Podiatry Statistics Knowledge Check


One of the Podiatry students noted:

“I found tackling the Knowledge Check in 4 separate stages hugely useful and much more manageable than being exposed to a larger test.  I found the separate stages less intimidating”.

Dr Curran reflected on the experience:

“It is interesting to me how to blend the concept of e packages with actual face to face teaching. I guess it is the future.

On reflection I think we have hit the middle ground of evaluation with no very favourable student comment, but equally no very unfavourable comment. Considering this is teaching statistics that is probably pretty good!!

My reason for doing this is to try and look at alternative ways of delivering a potentially dry subject, with ability for the students to reflect on the statistics at a future date.

I would consider repeating this approach for other areas of my teaching”.

To read the full blog article please click here.  Using an online Gamification approach to teaching inferential statistics

To find out how to use the Adaptive Release feature in NILE please click on the link here

Learn more from Blackboard Help click here


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