Posts by: rjhowe

Staff are currently being allocated emergency virtual rooms to use during March 2021. They will be updating a central document [opens in a new tab] once they have been allocated a room.

Students may follow the links to these rooms during normal timetabled sessions with these staff. All of these links use Blackboard Collaborate – further guidance is available [opens in a new tab] if needed. There is also a list of frequently asked questions. [opens in a new tab].

Once on the sheet – press CTRL+F (or click onto Edit – Find and Replace) to search for the tutor’s name. Column B will show the tutor name; Column C will show the Subject area; Column D will show the address of the Collaborate room that the tutor is using for their session.

Example Room listing

Students may follow the links during normal timetabled sessions or as directed by the tutors.

  1. Background

With the current network problems, some staff and students may find it difficult to access NILE to engage in Collaborate sessions.

As a temporary measure during this time it is possible to setup an open Collaborate room which does not require any usernames or passwords to access. All those who click on the link will have presenter status (meaning they can share slides / audio and video). Normally the tutor will be the only presenter and students will be participants.

Naturally there may be problem distributing the links to students once generated and this may depend on the tutor being able to email students either within NILE or though links outside. The temporary links will not allow recordings or breakout rooms. These temporary rooms will expire at the end of the day on Friday 2nd April.

2. Guidance for those able to access NILE

If tutors still have access to NILE using the lower link to login:

Then they can follow the guidance on the Collaborate guide:

Create a new Collaborate session by clicking “Create Session” – give this session a name.

Click on Guest access and then give the Guest role – Presenter

Click on “No end (open session)”

Click on Create and then click on the copy option to the right of the “Guest link”

The link that has been copied can now be used by everyone to access the session without any username / password or need to access NILE. They will just need to follow this link in their browser.

This temporary Collaborate room should be deleted once the network problems have been resolved.

3. Guidance for those unable to access NILE

For those unable to access NILE then please add your name to the shared document (link sent separately) to reserve a room. If all current rooms have been taken then please add your name to the bottom of the table and an open link will be generated for you. You can then use this link as an open classroom until the network problems have been resolved. Please follow the link sent separately to reserve / request an open room.

Note: The temporary links will not allow recordings or breakout rooms. These temporary rooms will expire at the end of the day on Friday 2nd April.

4. Informing students of the room you are using

Once you have obtained the address of a room then please follow the 2nd link which is included in your email to the form where you should enter your name, subject area and the room address that students should follow to gain access.

5. Further help

Staff needing further help should contact their Learning Technologist –

Pasted below for those unable to access Libguides:

Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology (FAST)

Subject CodeFieldLearning Technologist
2DD2D DesignCleo Cameron
3DD3D DesignCleo Cameron
ACTDramaCleo Cameron
ARTFine ArtCleo Cameron
CSYComputer SystemsTim Guyett
DRADramaCleo Cameron
ENGEngineeringTim Guyett
ENVEnvironmental ScienceTim Guyett
FSHFashionCleo Cameron
GEOGeographyTim Guyett
HISHistoryBelinda Green
JOUFilm Media and CommunicationsCleo Cameron
LEALeather TechnologyTim Guyett
LIFLift EngineeringTim Guyett
LITEnglishBelinda Green
MEDFilm Media and CommunicationsCleo Cameron
MUSMusicCleo Cameron
PHOFine ArtCleo Cameron
SLSSport, Exercise and Life ScienceLiane Robinson
SPMSport, Exercise and Life ScienceLiane Robinson
SPOSport and ExerciseLiane Robinson

Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)

Subject CodeFieldLearning Technologist
ACCAccounting and FinanceAl Holloway
BSOBusiness Systems and OperationsAndy Stenhouse
BUSInternational Strategy and BusinessAl Holloway
CJSCriminal Justice ServicesTim Guyett
CRISocial SciencesTim Guyett
DEVEconomics, International Relations and DevelopmentAndy Stenhouse
ECOEconomics, International Relations and DevelopmentAndy Stenhouse
FINAccounting and FinanceAl Holloway
HRMHuman Resource Management and Organisational BehaviourAndy Stenhouse
IRDEconomics, International Relations and DevelopmentAndy Stenhouse
LAWLawAl Holloway
LEIEvents, Tourism and HospitalityAndy Stenhouse
MKTMarketingAndy Stenhouse
STRInternational Strategy and BusinessAl Holloway

Faculty of Health, Education and Society (FHES)

Subject CodeFieldLearning Technologist
EDUEducation StudiesBelinda Green
EYSEarly YearsBelinda Green
ITTInitial Teacher TrainingBelinda Green
MIDMidwiferyLiane Robinson
NPRNursingRichard Byles
NURNursingRichard Byles
OTHOccupational TherapyRichard Byles
PDTProfessional Development and TrainingBelinda Green
PHYPhysiotherapyRichard Byles
PODPodiatryCleo Cameron
PSCParamedic ScienceCleo Cameron
PSYPsychologyTim Guyett
SENSEN and InclusionBelinda Green
SOCSocial SciencesTim Guyett
SWKSocial WorkLiane Robinson

Foundation Study Framework (FSF)

Subject CodeFieldLearning Technologist
FDNFoundation Study FrameworkBelinda Green

Other Academic & Professional Services Departments

DepartmentLearning Technologist
Academic LibrariansTim Guyett
Academic Partnerships OfficeAl Holloway
ApprenticeshipsRichard Byles 
Additional Student Support and Inclusion Services Team (ASSIST)Al Holloway
Changemaker HubAndy Stenhouse
Educational LinguisticsLiane Robinson
Graduate SchoolCleo Cameron
International OfficeLiane Robinson
Placements OfficeLiane Robinson
Research SupportCleo Cameron
Staff DevelopmentTim Guyett
Student Information DeskLiane Robinson
Student ServicesAndy Stenhouse
Students’ UnionRichard Byles

The Learntech Team note that staff who are exploring new tools with their students should undertake a number of considerations when these are being reviewed:

Always start with the reason for the tool and have a chat with your Learning Technologist in the first instance. There may already be licensed and/or supported tools which will satisfy your needs.

Ensure that the tools are accessible for all students – complete an Equality Impact Analysis to obtain guidance with this.

Ensure that use of the tool is inline with data protection regulations complete a Privacy Impact Assessment to obtain prompt questions. Please also review this useful GDPR blog post

Review the guidance on the use of third party tools

Ensure that use of the tool is sustainable (i.e. is tool support only localised with one person?) What will happen if the tool is withdrawn in the future or the cost becomes prohibitive?

Students should be fully aware who is providing support for the tool to ensure they address the correct support desk.

Any tool which is used for summative assessment should comply with University regulations on retention of content / student engagement.

The University Digital Steering Group makes decisions on the tools which are fully supported by the University; which are recognised but not fully supported; and which are not to be used.

If in doubt then please contact for further guidance.

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Helen Caldwell kindly collated a list of the tools used across the Education courses with their students. This shows a wide range and diversity which are useful for students who will be working in a Schools environment in the future. The team have shown a real enthusiasm to enhance student engagement and enhance the interactivity within sessions. The range of activities reflect a growing confidence and expertise with Active Distance Learning and Active Blended Learning.

Helen notes that “…the collection of tools and strategies is a testament to the drive within the education team to make their online sessions active and engaging, and to find imaginative ways to facilitate sensemaking through digital making. “

An example of use of Bitmoji classroom

The Education Teams who are using the tools provide localised support with their students. The range of tools covered within the Education courses included:

  • Blackboard Collaborate
  • Book Creator
  • Jamboard
  • Padlet
  • Adobe Spark
  • Powtoon
  • Wakelet
  • Tweetbeam
  • Bitmoji
  • Thinglink
  • Kahoot
  • Mentimeter
  • AnswerGarden
  • OneNote
  • Miro
  • Canva

The use of these tools within the Education Teams are driven by pedagogical requirements and they are carefully piloted within the team in conjunction with their Learning Technologist in the first instance to ensure they are fit for purpose and do not duplicate any existing licensed product. The tools support the teams flexible approach to ensure their students are prepared for school environments and enhances their employability. Staff in other teams should review the recommendations for the use of third party tools and speak to their Learning Technologist in the first instance prior to introducing any new systems.

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One of our course advocate students on Events Management has kindly collated some reflections on the student’s experiences of online learning.

“I know you are all trying to make our learning experience the best you possibly can in this situation and we are very thankful for that. So to support this, I am reaching out to communicate feedback that I received from my course mates. We will all be stuck with online lectures, probably until we graduate, so I think it is in all our interest to make this the best we possibly can, rather sooner than later.”

Group work

The questions asked were: where are the problems? what would you like to be changed? & are you happy with everything?

There were two different opinions about group work and break out rooms:

  1. Students feel a lot more confident and comfortable contributing when they know the other person, or at least recognise the name of people in the group.
    This leads to group work where no one is speaking with each other at all and work isn’t being done so it’s ultimately a waste of time.
    —> so the goal here would be to be able to choose your partners yourself, as you would in F2F lectures.
  2. On the other hand there are students raising their concerns about this as it can be super isolating for new and anxious students, who may not know anyone personally, and don’t want to be “pushed away”.

One of the suggestions around group work is to set up groups being named as “Camera & Mic”, “Mic”, & “Chat”, so that students can choose the way of group work they feel most comfortable with. Another idea would be to integrate more verbal engagements.

Some of the above suggestions echo those covered in in other guidance on groupwork from Inside Higher Education

Interactive sessions

“Students have more than one lecture where they are physically just spoken to for two hours straight and are watching a PowerPoint. Often not even referenced, this feels pointless.”

Lectures could do with being more interactive, if possible. Many students have mentioned the way other tutors incorporates polls in their lectures to find out about our opinions, then afterwards he asks about the reasons for the answers. This engages students! They are then able to have verbal and written discussions on the chat.


There is currently a discussion underway about whether cameras should be left on or turned off in online sessions. Some students and tutors are valuing the social interaction which is encouraged when they are able to see other participants in the room. Others emphasise with articles such as “Reasons Why You Should Reconsider Requiring Students to Turn on Their Zoom Cameras During Class” and suggest that this should be optional.

For more information on strategies see previous blog postings from Learntech, Mark Allenby’s suggestions on group work and suggestions from Kaltura

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During 2020 Mark decided to make a radical change in his teaching through removal of PowerPoint in his synchronous teaching. He still use some pre-recorded presentations, but his ‘live’ teaching, both face-to-face and online, have now used NILE(Blackboard Learn), not PowerPoint.

In this guest Learntech posting, Mark shares some of his hints and tips on ‘life without PowerPoint’.

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One of our students in FHES (Faculty of Health Education and Society) has reflected on the first few weeks of term and their opinion on pre-lecture coffee and Hyflex:

“For me the first two weeks have gone well, I have quite quickly adjusted to the way things are working. Did have a minor hissing fit last week when I arrived on campus at 8h30 for a 9 am lecture to find no coffee would be available till 9 when I had to be in class. Pleased to say that by this week the matter was resolved, and pre-lecture coffee was available.

I have decided that under the present conditions I prefer the synchronous online lectures to in class as despite the limitations around having discussions I can at least breath and focus.  In class, I have found wearing a mask very distracting and I spend more time suppressing my claustrophobia then concentrating on the lecture, also I find the lecturers talking from behind a visor is quite muffling and I can’t always make out what is being said. That said clearly some lecturers are way better at delivering online than others but I have been very impressed with how Collaborates breakout function works. This has been my tech revelation of the year so far.”

The University is continuing to refine hyflex models and share experiences on when this works well, how it can be refined and when other methods of delivery may be more appropriate.

For more information on socially distanced delivery then please see the Learntech blog

If you have other experiences to share then please email

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Picture of Christine Collymore
Christine Collymore – FHES

“The situation was that the room was not big enough to accommodate all the students, so they chose to sit nearby, whilst there were others who could not  come to the face to face session and were online.

I am a bit of a wanderer when I am teaching and so I do not know if the students could always hear me when I move around. There is also the issue of not being able to hear the student’s contribution because of the masks and so I needed to ask on a couple of occasions for them to repeat themselves.

…there is a need to multi-task in terms of ensuring there is participation and accessibility of resources and activities for this delivery method.

On reflection, I will ensure that I have a hard copy of the presentation, in case IT issues occur and to keep checking in with the students who are online or sitting nearby more often. The 2 hours flew by.”

The University is continuing to refine hyflex models and share experiences on when this works well, how it can be refined and when other methods of delivery may be more appropriate.

For more information on socially distanced delivery then please see the Learntech blog

If you have other experiences to share then please email

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Picture of Sally Sun
Sally Sun – FBL

Sally Sun from Faculty of Business and Law has kindly reflected on her experiences of Hybrid / Flexible Learning on the module BUS1004 (Introduction to Management).

She notes ‘…this is a case study about my practices of teaching students online and F2F at the same time during March 2020. I feel that I have adopted some teaching practices which are very similar to what is suggested in the HyFlex teaching approach, so this is my reflection about my experiences of what went well and what can be improved. This reflection is designed around Gibb’s reflection cycle to help me focus on my experiences.’

4 key points were noted by Sally regarding her experiences:

  1. The new delivery format has satisfied the needs of a certain kind of students
  2. Students got excited when they interact with students online
  3. She felt extremely exhausted after the session
  4. She felt the teaching quality was not her best level for F2F students in the class

The University is continuing to refine hyflex models and share experiences on when this works well, how it can be refined and when other methods of delivery may be more appropriate.

For more information on socially distanced delivery then please see the Learntech blog

If you have other experiences to share then please email

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This blog is a home for some of the links which provide useful ideas for icebreakers for online classes. If you have particular favourites/collections then please email them to

Equity Unbound / OneHE

Hyper Island Toolbox

Adding Some TEC-VARIETY: 100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online.

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