All Wrapped up!

Christo and Jeanne Claude, Wrapped Trees, Fondation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98
‘Wrapped’ by Bruno Casonato CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Earlier this year, I ran an HEA workshop with Karen Fraser on how you can squeeze the most out of MOOCs in your learning and teaching. I came across the idea of ‘wrapping’ where you integrate a MOOC into a traditional university face-to-face module.


Here is a really good case study by colleagues at Vanderbuilt University.  What I find exciting is that it combines the philosophy of the flipped classroom with pedagogies underpinning blended learning and communities of practice. It may not be an easy approach to take – the case study highlights many of the barriers – but I can see the potential for using open courses in my own teaching. Definitely one to watch!

This post was one of our advent learning and teaching treats. To explore all the other treats click here.

A little more conversation

Thinking Writing
Image kindly provided by Sally Mitchell (QMUL)

This resource comes from the ‘Thinking Writing’ project at QMUL, which explores the relationship between thinking and writing in higher education. It contains some excellent tools for helping students to write better, but I have also found it useful when reflecting on my own writing skills/habits.

It has made me think differently about the importance of conversation in the writing process. Conversations about a piece of writing – either with yourself, your peers or your wider discipline community – can be transformative learning experiences.

However, when we assess, we often deny students the opportunity to have conversations about their writing to develop it. We instruct them not to collude, that their work must be their own. They don’t have the opportunity to consider our feedback and change what they have written, to re-submit and show us what they have actually learned.

If you think about it, the assessment shouldn’t be the end of the learning process. It should be part of an on-going conversation. Some good suggestions for diversifying assessment are provided.

This post was one of our advent learning and teaching treats. To explore all the other treats click here.

Lost at sea!

CC-BY-NC 2.0
Ninja Wolf Lost at Sea by Krysthopher Woods


A super activity to use on those occasions when you are welcoming a new cohort of participants to a programme, and you want an ice-breaker-come-teambuilding exercise that people won’t scoff at.

Put your participants on a yacht in the mid-Atlantic and set the thing alight! Give them 15 potentially life saving items and ask them to decide which they want to keep. What possible use could the chocolate and rum be?

You get the idea. It works so well because it neatly fuses together individual and group decision making processes. And it’s fun. I like to add an additional step to the end which asks the groups to reflect on the group dynamic and team roles and discuss how they perceived their own input, and that of other team members.

This post was one of our advent learning and teaching treats. To explore all the other treats click here.

Yikety Yak! Let’s talk back!


Whoo-oo-oo! I am the Ghost of Christmas Present, come to alarm all you teaching folk with a vision of horror!  Your students – all of them – have a new app, Yik Yak. It’s like Twitter, but it is anonymous. They can write whatever they like and no one will know. They can moan, swear, bully, use bad grammar…SHUDDER.

It’s not open to the whole world. Worse!  It is geographically bound, so you can only pick up ‘Yaks’ (messages) from with a  1.5 mile radius. That’s your campus, your lecture theatre. That means everything is about you. Intense, huh?  You can feel the wave of panic in the Executive suites. It must be stamped out!

Hang on a minute!  I am the Ghost of Christmas Future and I say DON’T PANIC!  Surely we can find a use for this? How might it help us with Learning and Teaching? It could give us insights into how our students learn, and alert us to NSS issues early? We could use up-voting and down-voting to develop critical analysis. We could even join them and be part of the community. Want to know more, well I bring you this lovely piece by Eric Stoller:

I think he just saved Christmas!

This post was one of our advent learning and teaching treats. To explore all the other treats click here.

Sell your bargains


‘Grand Bazaar’ by John Blathwayt CC (BY) 2.0

I recently took part in an open course called Creativity for Learning in Higher Education, hosted by the CELT team at MMU.  One of the activities is a game designed to help teachers come up with innovative ideas to enhance a teaching and learning situation – it is called The Sell Your Bargains Game. It would be an excellent activity to use to support new or early career teachers.

What I like about it is that it is a game which takes places in virtual and physical spaces, bringing teams of players together to collaborate at different points. The ‘main event’ takes place once you have identified and diagnosed a ‘teaching problem’; your challenge then is to buy (yes, spend real money!) something to help you solve that problem. The aim is to spend as little money as possible, and you only have an hour to shop. You have to record this ‘one hour discovery journey’ using a mobile device, creating a set of digital artefacts which you later use to visualise and reflect on your thought processes. After the hour is up, you come together with the rest of the group and try to sell your bargains.

It’s pound shop pedagogy meets Bargain Hunt meets the Apprentice. And in case you were wondering if there is a serious side to all this, you’ll find some proper theoretical underpinnings embedded in the instructions.

Full details via this link:

The sell your bargains game (created in 2010) by Chrissi Nerantzi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This post was one of our advent learning and teaching treats. To explore all the other treats click here.