Currently viewing the tag: "distance learning"

I want to change my programme structure…

I want to include a placement / work-based learning / a Changemaker challenge…

I want to use a particular assessment or technology…

I want to ensure an equivalent experience for students at other sites…

What do I need to do?

The Learning Design team have collated a document listing the most frequently asked questions from CAIeROs and consultations over the past two years, along with answers provided by the appropriate support teams. Hopefully the guidance here can help you identify the processes and teams that are in place to support you with a range of course design issues including quality assurance, assessment, distance learning and technology issues.

The list has been added to the Sharing Higher Education Design (S.H.E.D.) site on NILE. You can access the site at, but you will need to be enrolled to view the document.

We’ll keep this document updated as new questions and answers come up. Want to submit a question that we haven’t covered? Just email it to the Learning Design team at

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Dr Terry Tudor, Senior Lecturer in Waste Management, introduced structured online learning activities (e-tivities) into his Masters modules after attending a CAIeRO for individuals course development workshop. Read the case study to see how these activities have helped to link his distance learning students with his learners on campus – and also helped them to improve their writing skills.

View the full case study here (PDF, 620KB)

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Karl Flowers, Senior Lecturer, Institute for Creative Leather Technology assesses his students through presentations and has often found that it is difficult to schedule face-to-face time slots where all the required parties can make it. Allowing his students to independently record their presentations and submit them through NILE’s video streaming tool, Kaltura, overcomes scheduling issues, enables more use of technology for the students and enables sharing good practice between year groups.

View the full case study here (PDF, 419KB)

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calendarGreat learning design and quality assurance are two sides of the same coin. When you make changes to a module or programme, there are a range of QA procedures that might apply, and it helps to understand how these processes interlink – particularly when planning ahead.

New programmes or modules

When writing a new module or programme, a CAIeRO workshop can help you with everything from writing the learning outcomes, to choosing the assessment and creating the learning activities. The first day of the workshop will help you set the foundations, and the second day helps ensure these are workable in practice.
New programmes and modules are subject to validation, and as part of this process you will be required to write a rationale for the new offering. The planning work you do in the CAIeRO can help you complete this, as it includes consideration of strategic goals, the student experience, and resource and training requirements. The CAIeRO process can also help you firm up your curriculum documentation (also required for validation), and make decisions about the allocation of teaching and learning hours, assessment strategy and more. In addition to documentation, the CAIeRO can help you get started creating sample teaching materials, which are required for validation of distance learning programmes.
At the University, many validations can be completed online, but some (particularly those involving PSRBs) require a validation event. For these programmes, validations usually take place in the Spring term. For a new programme starting in September, you should aim for validation early in the term to allow the maximum possible time for development of the course materials (if you want the course to start the following January, you might aim for validation later, in March or April). This means you should be scheduling your CAIeRO in the previous Autumn term.
For more on the validation process, see the validation page of the website, which has information and links to the handbook..

Periodic subject reviews

Stepping Stones 2PSRs are a chance to reflect on what has worked well in your teaching over the previous five years. It is also a great opportunity to use those reflections to define the future direction of the programmes involved. The CAIeRO process can be used to support this process in a number of ways: as a ‘health check’ or review of a programme; to target specific issues you may have identified; and/or to plan how to implement changes you’d like to make.
For PSR you will be required to submit a Self-Evaluation Document (SED). This document will ask you to reflect on things like alignment with frameworks and standards, the currency of the curriculum and student achievement and feedback. All of these elements can be considered within the CAIeRO process, to help you complete the SED form and prepare for any questions during the PSR event.
At the University, PSRs usually take place in the Autumn term, and the documentation is submitted in advance. CAIeROs for PSR can be scheduled at any point in the year (although you may want to note the Change of Approval guidance below when considering timing).
For more on the PSR process, see the PSR page on the website, which has information and links to the handbooks.

Ongoing review of delivery

170/366 - bright ideasOf course, adjusting and adapting your teaching and assessment practice happens all year round, and is not dependent on big events like those listed above. You might have taken over a module or programme, or be considering a more blended approach, or just want to try a new idea you’ve heard about. You can book a CAIeRO for issues like this at any time in the year, but you should be conscious of timing the implementation of these changes, and the possible impact on the student experience.
Wherever possible, you should avoid making big changes that will affect current delivery of a module or programme part way through. In addition to this, for level 5 and 6 modules, be aware that students need to know what to expect when they make their module choices. Any changes made after students have chosen the module should be made in consultation with those students.
Changes to existing modules and programmes are achieved through the Change of Approval process, which recognises three levels of change (based on degree of impact). Type B and C changes (more substantial than Type A) must be submitted well in advance of the proposed delivery, and for levels 5 and 6, in advance of the publication of module information to students. For 2015/16 delivery, the deadline for change of approvals for these modules is 13 January (for levels 4 and 7, the deadline is May).
For more on this process, see the Change of Approval page on the website, which has information and links to the handbooks.

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A number of staff are designing e-tivities (online learning activities) that require students to undertake some independent research and then share a link to the online resource with peers who can then click on the link and view the article for themselves.

If the article has been found and accessed through NELSON and the link shared with students who are not already authenticated through the University systems then they will be faced with either a dead link or an ‘Access Denied’ message.

In this situation the solution is as follows:

  • Ask students to include the full reference for the journal so that potential viewers can access the article themselves via the Library ‘Find My Reference’ tool. By using this route, students will be prompted to login with their University login in order to get access to the article.

If this applies to you, please change your e-tivity instructions to ask for articles to be shared using the University of Northampton Harvard referencing style. Include this link to a Skills Hub video that shows quickly how to use the ‘Find My Reference’ tool. You might also want to include an example of how to reference a journal using the Harvard journal – guidance is available from the Help Tab in NILE.

The added bonus for the students, of course, is practice in Harvard referencing!

With thanks to Hannah Rose, Academic Librarian for helping us with the solution

You might already know that the University has plans to extend our portfolio of high quality blended and online courses. These plans aim to help us meet market demand for flexible, scalable study options, as well as allowing us to bring the campus experience into the 21st century, helping students and staff make the most of valuable contact time. The plans are outlined in more detail in this paper on The University of Northampton’s future online and blended offering, which was approved earlier this year.
In the past few weeks, a key element of this has been put in place with the appointment of Learning Designers, a new role with a remit to help programme teams design effective courses for online and blended learning. The new team is based in Library and Learning Services, working closely with Learning Technologists and CfAP as well as the Institute of Learning and Teaching. Watch this short video to find out more about their role:

(or access the transcript here)

There are three Learning Designers in the new team: Rob Farmer, Rachel Maxwell and Julie Usher. The team will offer a range of design support services, including team CAIeROs and one-to-one support.

Each of the six Schools have nominated priority courses for (re)development, and the team will focus primarily on these in the first instance. If you’d like to find out how the team could support your programme or module, or you have some good practice or learning designs to share, please send initial enquiries to Rob Howe, Head of Learning Technology (

Library and Learning Services (LLS) have produced a document detailing LLS on-campus, off-campus UK and off-campus overseas service provision. This document provides information on the alternative but equivalent services to students who are not on site.
It is expected that the contents will be of use in any planning, development or curriculum review meeting to enhance student experience.

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Business School lecturer Maggie Anderson is a recent convert to the benefits of using Discussion Boards in NILE to increase her efficiency by vastly reducing the amount of email traffic she receives from students about module related issues, particularly where there is a large student cohort.  During a CAIeRO session Maggie commented on the difficulties of repeat email traffic.  Her case study reflects on the successes of introducing a Frequently Asked Questions forum and how she has adopted this approach more widely in other modules.  She also reflects on the wider pedagogical benefits she observed as a result.  Read her case study to find out more!

Have you ever wondered if students bother to read the feedback that you so carefully provide them with?  Have you ever been overloaded with providing formative feedback that students can use without necessarily engaging more deeply with your advice?

In this case study, Maggie Anderson, Senior Lecturer in Human Resources Management in NBS, reflects on how addressing this issue through the CAIeRO process changed her pedagogical approach to the provision of formative feedback/feedforward and how the Journal tool can be used to encourage earlier student engagement and increase individual learner responsibility.

Catherine Fritz demonstrated the concept of flipped teaching – moving assignments into the classroom and delivering lectures as self-paced and scheduled events.

Lectures can be paused by the student to enable research to take place, and give students struggling with vocabulary the chance to look up a word. The lecture is also a much more powerful revision tool. Class work can be more active and collaborative as a result.

The University provides a number of applications to host flipped lectures – Panopto is probably the most suitable, but Kaltura video or NILE based tools like Xerte  are also possible delivery mechanisms. In this case Catherine described how Powerpoint can be used to create slides supported with audio. Her presentation contained a step-by-step guide in how  to do so.

Powerpoint proved an effective alternative, particularly when access to Panopto is not available. In some respects it is simpler to use than Panopto – amending text on a slide is very easy to do. However, long presentations can result in quite large files which are a problem for some distance learners. Dividing these lectures into sections may well be necessary.  As with all asynchronous delivery, support for questions and discussion needs to be available for students at the same time. This will require monitoring, and often moderation, from the tutor.

Overall, this presentation is an excellent example of innovative teaching making used of simple technology and is well worth consideration as an approach.  Many thanks to Catherine for producing what is effectively a multimedia instruction manual!

Since the Expo, a new version of Panopto for the iPad has been launched which offers offers a much better recording experience for tutors and an attractive and useful viewing platform for students. It is free to download from the App Store. Ensure you connect to and login using NILE.


Original pptx file in ZIP folder, with audio (large file: 33MB)

Flipped Teaching presentation 15th May 2013 – Panopto recording

Flipped Teaching presentation 15th May 2013 – slide summary PDF

Panopto 4.4 release announcement

Further ‘flipped class’ information:

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