Posts by: robhowe

The recent Learntech team awayday provided an opportunity to take a picture of all of those present (we had to digitally add two members of the team who were away during the day.)

Learntech team - Back row: Omar Ahmedmia, Jim Harris, Al Holloway, Richard Byles, Julie Usher, Tim Guyett, Craig Ball, Anne Misselbrook, Rob Howe, Sharon Song, Rob Farmer, Vicky Brown, Iain Griffin, Andy Stenhouse, Kieran McGovern (in spacesuit). Front row (kneeling): Belinda Green and Elizabeth Palmer

There is also a linked posting which provides the current areas of responsibilities for the team. If you are not sure who to contact then please refer to this in the first instance.

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On 18th May, 2017, Simon Sneddon was presented with the Best NILE Site Award as part of the Student Teaching and Representation (STAR) Awards evening.

Simon Sneddon collects STAR award

(left to right) Simon Sneddon collecting his award from Rob Howe (Head of Learning Technology)


NILE is an essential part of the student online experience. This award was to recognise staff members who have made a significant effort with their NILE site setup and use.

Students were asked to nominate against the following criteria:
•    The site design and navigation assists students to easily find the content they are looking for.
•    The content and resources on the site cover all key areas required.
•    Tools for discussion and collaboration are effectively used throughout the site.
•    Assessment and feedback is clear and well managed through the site.
•    The tutor’s Nile Site has an element of innovation which has enhanced engagement

The full list of nominees and the student comments are shown below – congratulations to all of these and to all of the staff that have worked to support them.

Alasdair Gordon-Finlayson
The way Nile is used by Alasdair has been described as “truly innovative” as it is utilising most of the available components of the site. Alasdair uploads slides with voice overs, chapters for reading and videos covering related topics onto NILE which are well appreciated by students. He includes online tests which allow students to receive immediate feedback.
Mark Johnson
Mark provides a huge amount of information onto NILE, but organises it in such a way so that it is not daunting for students. All the content and resources are always uploaded on time so they are easy to find. He talks through all the sites and shows students where to find all the information. Mark utilises message boards to communicate with students and regularly updates these with information on the subject matter and even external job opportunities. All emails are replied to efficiently with the contact information provided on NILE. All feedback and grades are nicely structured so students know where to find all of their grades.
Melanie Cole
Melanie used NILE to create an online resource to prepare students for their practical assessments. She broke each learning stage down by demonstrating it on video, with added sound and commentary. Each element of the practical was explained clearly and then students were tested on it before they moved through the online learning resource. This learning tool was engaging, interesting, clearly explained and easy to follow. Students described it as the best way of learning a complex subject.  The video, audio and online test was a fantastic way to reinforce knowledge.
Simon Sneddon
Simon has proactively designed and prepared the NILE site to be ‘Waterside Ready’, and offers a range of resources including videos, books, journals, and examples of previous assignments for guidance. He has striven to ensure that all students are aware of how to use the site by demonstrating it in sessions, and by clearly signposting each section of the modules and related tasks. On the NILE site, there is an online discussion board where students can discuss the topics and share resources covered. Simon frequently comments and posts updates encouraging students to read each other’s work and have a discussion on the issues raised.  These tools for discussion and collaboration are highly effective throughout the site, not only because it is a different way of learning, but also it helps face to face students to share, and to read the work of distance learners, bridging the gap between both student groups. All module content is available at the start of term and so students can start planning ahead. Assessments and feedback have designated folders, which provide the breakdown of all assignments in a clear and accessible format.
Toby Purser
Toby uploads links to relevant media currently in the news linking to each topic. He uses a mixture of both interactive and teacher lead learning on the website with e-activities, videos and newspaper articles on NILE building upon content discussed during teaching. Each section of the module is separated into its own folder with a relevant picture which makes information easier to find. Toby uses active discussion boards where topics are tackled prior to the session. As well as written feedback which is easy to find, Toby uploads a 3 minute video clip where he personally talks through the strengths and weaknesses of each assignment and explains how students can improve.

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NILE is integrated into the learning and teaching process at The University of Northampton and we need to ensure that it is being used effectively by staff in order to provide a quality student experience.

Building on the guidance which was initially produced in January 2012, the  framework has now been updated to cover the minimum standards which are expected on a NILE site. This was approved at University SEC on 10th May, 2017 and subsequently used as the basis for the new NILE templates which have been developed for the 2017/18 academic year.

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The Learning Technologists have been aligned to specific subject areas within the Faculties. Whilst the general contact for support issues and advice is (x2696), you can contact a Learning Technologist for specific training needs or project planning. For assistance with designing your programme or modules then contact the Learning Design team at

Learning Technologists alignments:

      Education & Humanities
Early Years Belinda Green
Education, Children & Young People Belinda Green
Initial Teacher Training Belinda Green
Special Education Needs & Inclusion Belinda Green
Teacher Continuation Professional Development Belinda Green
English & Creative Writing Al Holloway
English as a Second Language Richard Byles
History Tim Guyett
      Health & Society
 Criminal Justice Studies  Tim Guyett
 Sociology (including Criminology)  Tim Guyett
 Psychology  Tim Guyett
 Midwifery  Andy Stenhouse / Liane Robinson
 Nursing  Andy Stenhouse / Liane Robinson
 Occupational Therapy  Andy Stenhouse / Liane Robinson
 Paramedic Science  Andy Stenhouse / Liane Robinson
 Podiatry  Andy Stenhouse / Liane Robinson
 Sport, Exercise & Life Science  Andy Stenhouse / Liane Robinson
 Social Work  Andy Stenhouse /Liane Robinson
     Arts, Science & Technology (FAST)
 Acting & Drama  Al Holloway
 Computing  Al Holloway
 2D Design  Al Holloway
 3D Design  Al Holloway
 Engineering  Al Holloway
 Environmental Science  Al Holloway
 Foundation Year Programme  Al Holloway
 Fashion  Al Holloway
 Fine Art  Al Holloway
 Leather Technology  Al Holloway
 Media & Journalism  Al Holloway
 Photography  Al Holloway
 Popular Music  Al Holloway
      Business & Law
Accounting & Finance Richard Byles
Economics, International Development Richard Byles
Leisure Management & Languages Richard Byles
Business Richard Byles
Human Resource Management & Organisational Behaviour Richard Byles
International Relations and Politics  Tim Guyett
Law  Tim Guyett



Over the past few months there are a range of blog postings and updates which have been collated below for information and easy access:

NILE and SaGE updates

NILE summer upgrade 2016

Moving away from Panopto

NILE 2016-7 – rolling out and onwards – new templates available for use

NILE guides have been enhanced with a completely revised layout and updated content

Update on NILE quality standards 2016-17

Best NILE Site – Student Teaching and Representation Awards 2016

SaGE – March Update – Dissertation Marking / Exempting Grades / Health and Safety


Pedagogical / developmental discussions

Have you heard about the CAIeRO and wondered what it was? Have a look at this posting on Demystifying the CAIeRO

 Are you still referencing preferred learning styles? – perhaps time to think again

Neuromyths in education


Staff Case Studies

Blended Learning and Physical Volcanology with Professor Nick Petford

Xerte software receives praise from Karen Brasher, Lecturer in the School of Health 

Using Trello to Enhance Teaching and Learning in Fashion

Supporting understanding and engagement through continuous assessment

George Dimmock on How the Academic Librarians can help you. 

Anne Misselbrook on content development with Xerte

Kate Swinton (CfAP) on Effective Feedback

Hannah Rose (Academic Librarian) on Aspire Reading Lists

Ali Ewing on Peer Observation

Emma Rose: Flipped Classroom

James Smith: Blended Learning in Studio Based Modules

Sylvie Lomer (CfAP) on Active and blended learning

Education E-tivity Development: Tanya Richardson & Claire Dugan-Clements

James Underwood (Principal Lecturer in Teachers’ CPD) demonstrating an essay planning technique

‘Blogging for students’ case study video

Assessed Online Debates using discussion boards in NILE

Exploring innovative digital approaches to assessment project 

Science and Technology Research in Pedagogy (STRiPe) blog

Blogs for Assessment in History with alternating ‘classroom’ and ‘online’ fortnightly structure.

Using Pinterest for Aesthetic Development: Elizabeth Palmer

How to be a page-turner for the right reasons!

Watering down Waterside

Designing e-tivities: some lessons learnt by trial and error!

Making an impact in open education

Employability support for Geography students


Staffing updates

 Welcome to new staff in the Learning Technology Team

Grateful student appreciates Learning Technology support


For any questions regarding the above articles then contact your Learning Technologists or email

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NILE is integrated into the learning and teaching process at The University of Northampton and we need to ensure that it is being used effectively by staff in order to provide a quality student experience.

Building on the guidance which was initially produced in January 2012, the  framework has now been updated to cover the minimum standards which are expected on a NILE site. This was approved at University SEC on 20th April, 2016 and subsequently used as the basis for the new NILE templates which were developed for the 2016/17 academic year.

As noted at SEC on the 24th February,  it was proposed to enhance the provision of NILE sites for students in four key areas during 2016/17:

  • To respond to on-going staff and student feedback to enhance sites to reduce queries. Colour schemes and other features to enhance accessibility will be addressed where possible.
  • To use external data where available to reduce manual setup / checking. Staff will be automatically added to sites where possible based on data from the previous year. Prompts to set up assignments in the “Submit your work” area will provide information sourced from the Curriculum system.
  • To provide clean sites and work in central teams to work in partnership with tutors to only copy over required information. This will reduce storage needs and also reduce chance of displaying old information on sites. Specific days will be provided for academic teams to work with Learntech to copy content from the previous year and look at ways to enhance existing and new materials.
  • Use of Learntech, CfAP, Academic Librarians, Curriculum and Records teams to work with tutors to ensure sites are ready for 16/17 delivery. Sites will be merged where feasible to reduce the total number of sites viewed by tutors and ensure that students are not left on sites which are not being used for delivery.
When working with NILE sites tutors are guided to review some of the comments made by students as part of the STAR awards. This demonstrates some of the key items which students are looking for when working within NILE.
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On 17th March, 2016, Roy Wallace (Senior Lecturer in Media Production – School of the Arts) was presented with the Best NILE Site Award as part of the Student Teaching and Representation (STAR) Awards evening.

Roy Wallace collects STAR award

(left to right) Roy Wallace collecting his award from Rob Howe (Head of Learning Technology)


The full report on the event produced by Student Union President, Victor Agboola noted that NILE is now an ‘essential part of the student online experience’. he went on to note that ‘…a prominent theme found in the nominations was that students recognised the value in a regularly updating NILE sites. Students praised the lecturers who upload the lecture content before the lecture even takes place, and having the sites well-organised throughout the year. It was found that students then had the opportunity to do some wider research which then allows them to contribute more in both lecturers and seminars.’ Some of the student comments on each of the nominees is also available

The other tutors who were highly commended within this category were:

  • Anoop Bhogal Nair – Northampton Business School
  • Tony Smith Howell – School of Education
  • Claire Allen – School of the Arts
  • Greg Spellman – School of Science & Technology
  • Simon Sneddon – School of Social Science
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Final year student Hannah McTaggart showed her appreciation for the technology support which had been provided by Learning Technologist (Education), Belinda Green and presented her with a box of chocolates. Belinda looked forward to sharing them with the rest of her team!

Belinda Green and Hannah McTaggart

(left to right) Belinda Green and Hannah McTaggart

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During 2016, we have welcomed three new staff to the Learning Technology Team and saw one change.
Vicky Brown – Learning Technology Manager
Craig Ball – Project Development Officer (NBS)
Tim Guyett – Learning Technologist (Social Sciences) – Tim was previously the Learning Support Analyst.
Sharon Song – Learning Support Analyst

LearnTech Team - New Staff

(left to right) Vicky Brown, Craig Ball and Tim Guyett

Sharon Song

Sharon Song

Vicky, Sharon and Tim are based in the Learning Technology Office within Park Library. Craig is based in Cottesbrooke.

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Your Health and Safety when marking online
The Safety, Health and Environment Team in Infrastructure Services have provided updated guidance for all staff using a computer, laptop or mobile device for on-line marking.

Dissertation Marking
The guidance provided for dissertation marking in 2015 assumed a single submission point which students would submit assignments to. Tutors then had to copy assignments to a second submission point in order to complete the independent / blind double marking process. Whilst this worked for very small cohorts, it has been found that a more straightforward process for tutors is to get the students to just submit the same file twice to two different submission points. The guidance and documentation has now been updated to reflect this suggested modification.

Exempting Grades
When a member of staff suspects academic misconduct then the University policy is that the student’s grade is exempted (or suspended) pending the outcome of the investigation. During this time the student should not be able to access their provisional grade. Guidance on how to exempt a grade has been updated for NILE sites in the 15/16 academic year since it is not yet possible to add the ‘ZZ’ grade for these.
NILE sites in the 16/17 academic year will be updated to allow for the ‘ZZ’ grade to be added and procedures will be updated at that point.