Presentation at: Teaching and supporting a digital future: UoN Showcase 4th February 2022

Helen Caldwell introduces the newly formed Centre for Active Digital Education (CADE)

The recording of the event is available to view

Some key points (subject to be updated) regarding the Centre:

Vision: The Active Digital Education Centre will be a catalyst for the development of digital skills which will position the University of Northampton as a hub for innovation benefiting staff, students, and the wider sector including local businesses.  

Proposed Centre Membership: The centre will recruit members across all three Faculties and from relevant Professional Services teams within the University of Northampton. Initial membership will be from the existing Digital Technologies SIG but this will grow to include other relevant SIGs (e.g.Gamification, AI and eXtended Reality XR) and external members by specific invitation related to the strategic direction of the Centre. 

Summary Description of the Centre:

Active Digital Education (ADE) is a pedagogical approach to designing and teaching using digital tools. This concept has been developed at the University of Northampton to complement their pedagogical approach of Active Blended Learning (ABL). The ADE approach recognises that digital tools can be harnessed to facilitate the co-construction of knowledge through technology-enabled exchanges of ideas. Such active co-creation has the potential for students to build employability skills consistent with the transformative ambitions of SDG4 and with changemaker values.  It engages students in knowledge construction, reflection and critique, the development of learner autonomy and the achievement of learning outcomes using digital tools. 

The Centre will bring together expertise throughout the University and beyond to become a beacon of excellence for development and dissemination in ADE and develop knowledge exchange opportunities with external companies (such as placements, projects and joint funding). It will build on the work and networks already developed through the existing Digital Technologies SIG. It will act as a unifying structure for relevant SIGs focusing on innovative digital technology themes such as chatbots, AI, inclusive technology, gamification, immersive technologies and eXtended Reality (XR), simulation and digital competencies. 

As such, the umbrella of ADE and the Centre will act as a focal point and a vehicle for the creative deployment of technologies across disciplines. 

Rationale and goals for the Centre:

The ADE Centre recognises that the use of digital technologies in higher education is poised to move into a new era and that the University of Northampton has the capacity to lead in the field. Innovative digital technologies can pave the way for new pedagogical approaches that emphasise active participation, social inclusion and collaborative innovation. The ADE Centre seeks to provide a multidisciplinary environment supporting and sharing research and innovation. 

The ADE Centre intends to: 

  • raise the profile of scholarly debate about ADE. 
  • define ADE across educational sectors and stakeholder groups. 
  • become a hub for the development and exchange of ADE knowledge through a collection of SIGs that form partnerships between academics across disciplines and external stakeholders. 
  • nurture the production of a range of research related tangible outputs that contribute to PURE and feed into the REF. 
  • share, reflect and discuss all matters related to research and its practical application to ADE.  
  • support innovation across a broad spectrum of digital technologies in research, and research-led teaching and learning. 
  • foster an inclusive, interdisciplinary community that develops expertise and supports researcher development and wellbeing. 
  • encourage collaboration in scholarship and evidence-based practice in ADE to discover and share research informed solutions. 
  • sustain a bidding programme in the field of ADE for research and enterprise income that results in a shared repertoire of outputs. 
  • act as point of advice on relation to TEF and NSS developments which can be underpinned and supported by ADE activities. 
  • raise the reputation and visibility of the University of Northampton to students, local businesses, recruitment markets etc. as the modern university of choice. 
  • address local digital skills shortages and business growth challenges by working closely with external organisations. This will help businesses identify future opportunities and increase the employability of our students.  
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