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CDE Projects

Current and previous projects worked on by the Centre of Distance Education.

Student group working in different ways
Information about eLearning, digital education and the student on-boarding report for under graduate and post graduate distance learning programmes.

Read about CDE projects below.

Projects CDE

The On-Boarding project aimed to create a template for student on-boarding in under graduate and post graduate distance learning programmes administered by University of London Worldwide (UoLW). More precisely, its aims were to:

  1. investigate what mechanisms are available to Distance Learning (DL) providers to entice and nurture continuing student participation in DL programmes
  2. identify best practices and lessons learnt from their application so far
  3. prioritise the most appropriate mechanisms of on-boarding for UoLW, short and longer term
  4. create and user test a template for the application of these mechanisms within UoL Worldwide.

The template was tested within the UoLW Core Study Skills course. This course provides all students at the UoL Worldwide with an overview to study skills and acts as a more generic study guide.

Student feedback indicated that they found the core study skills course useful and engaging, they thought the template was easy to navigate and were satisfied with the quality of the content.

Students' feedback and recommendations about future improvements highlight their need for more course-specific content and support elements.

The survey findings also highlighted the need for constant monitoring and updating of the core study skills guide in order to ensure that all links and resources are accessible.

Funding

The project was funded by the CDE.

Project team

  • Professor Helen Xanthaki (Principal applicant) UCL, Fellow, CDE
  • Dr Anastasia Gouseti, Lecturer in Digital Education, UoHull
  • Dr Alan Parkinson, Deputy Director (Education) and Principal Teaching Fellow, UCL School of Management, CDE Fellow
  • Lynsie Chew, Senior Teaching Fellow and Programme Director, MSc in Professional Accountancy, UCL School of Management, CDE Fellow.

Timeframe

The project was completed on time, at the end of December 2018.

    Outputs and Resources

    The Digital Educator project sets out to identify significant developments in Educational Technology which can influence the HE Distance Learning Sector in the next two to five years.

    Focussing on selected educational technologies, the project explores the possible impact of these innovations on the role of the educator.

    This project covers pedagogic, cultural and financial dimensions. It assesses the readiness of academics to adapt to and make use of the innovations.

    The project is designed to have significant engagement with stakeholders and final outputs will include a potential skills development roadmap. This will ensure that the academic community (focused on the University of London) are prepared to be the digital educators of the future.

    Funding

    This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

    Project team

    • Marco Gillies, Goldsmiths College (CDE Fellow)
    • Jon Gregson, SOAS, Centre for Development Environment and Policy (Project Lead) (CDE Fellow)
    • Jonathan San Diego,King’s College London (CDE Fellow)
    • Tony Sheehan (formerly London Business School) (CDE Fellow)
    • Christine Thuranira-McKeever, RVC (CDE Fellow).

    Time frame

    May 2018 - December 2019

    This project is now completed.

    Outputs and resources

    Project sponsors

    • Professor Mary Stiasny, PVC (International), University of London
    • Dr Sandra Tury, Associate Director-Online Library Services, University of London.

    Project goals

    Successfully integrate information literacy (IL) skills into a wide range of University programmes.

    In a little more detail, the project aims to provide programme teams with support on IL that is practical, evidence- and practice-based and scholarship-informed. This support should lead to enhancements in students’ critical and informed use of a range of appropriate information sources.

    Issues to explore include:

    • accounts of IL
    • responsibility for IL in course design, teaching, and library and information services
    • IL demands on students and support for student IL development
    • teaching institutions and IL
    • student approaches to IL
    • professional requirements for IL
    • relations with Digital Literacy; critical IL.

    Working definition of information Literacy (IL)

    “Knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner” ( From CILIP, 2004).

    Project objectives

    1. To identify current policy and good practice in the development of information literacy across the curriculum in University of London Programmes.
    2. To support the integration of IL skills into curricula at both postgraduate and undergraduate levels, through working with Programme Teams and delivering writing workshop(s) for Programme Teams to facilitate the integration of IL skills.
    3. To establish evaluation processes and measures of the effectiveness / impact of IL skills instruction in University of London Programmes.

    Project team

    Time frame

    March 2018 – January 2019.

    This project is now completed.

      Outputs and resources

      • Notes towards possible policy and strategy on Information Literacy – D2 [PDF]
      • Implementing and integrating Information Literacy in UoLW programmes - D3 [PDF]
      • Information Literacy and beyond: some issues in policy and practice [PDF]
      • Preparing University of London students for living and working in the world: The development of Information Literacy / Critical Information Fluency. Final Report [PDF]

      About the project

      This project aimed:

      1. To ascertain the potential for e-learning to enhance careers services provided by The Careers Group (TCG).
      2. To develop a plan to enable the Careers Group to develop effective e-learning for students.
      3. To explore the possibility of sharing student e-learning resources among members of the TCG.

      The Careers Group is a department of the University of London which operates as a mutually-beneficial membership organisation for 16 institutionally-based careers services, with a small central support team. The majority of member services are within the University of London federation.

      This study was carried out employing a combination of interviews, focus groups, desktop research and Delphi-style co-development of the findings in partnership with TCG colleagues.

      Principal findings:

      • More careers and employability guidance needs to be available on demand at any time and accessible by students, careers staff and faculty academics online and via mobile platforms
      • e-learning is the only viable option
      • e-learning activities need to go beyond information delivery to include practical skills development
      • activities need measurable learning outcomes and built-in assessments that enable learners to measure their own learning gains
      • most TCG staff lack sufficient technical and pedagogical skill to develop and deliver e-learning.

      Recommendations

      1. Develop or acquire e-learning packages on core careers topics that all sites can share.
      2. Design new packages collaboratively.
      3. Store new designs in platform agnostic formats.
      4. Localise designs in collaboration with local Ed Tech development units to exploit local platforms.
      5. Train TCG staff in e-learning design.
      6. Use workshops to design new e-learning courses and build new cross-College teams as well as for skill development.

      Funding

      The project was funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE) on behalf the University of London Careers Group.

      Project team

      • Prof Stephen Brown - Emeritus Professor De Montfort University (CDE Fellow)
      • Dr Endrit Kromidha - Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Royal Holloway University of London (CDE Fellow)
      • Julie Voce - Head of Educational Technology, City, University of London (CDE Fellow)

      Time frame

      January 2018 – April 2018

      This project is now completed.

        Outputs and resources

        A series of e-learning training workshops was subsequently developed and delivered to TCG staff covering learning outcomes, assessment, learning activity design, media selection and learner support.

        Feedback from disabled students on the University of London Worldwide Programmes

        About the Project

        This project aimed to explore three areas of the disabled student experience in the International Programmes:

        1. Students’ experience of International Programmes study and their consequent retention.
        2. The challenges, benefits and disadvantages of their studies compared with conventional students.
        3. What factors they take into account when choosing to study - are they different from conventional students?

        Principal findings

        1. Disabled student experience in the International Programmes is reassuringly positive, although further research should be undertaken with dormant or dropped/withdrawn students. Further analysis should also be made of the retention of disabled students in the Programmes, especially as evidence from other institutions suggests their dropout rates may be markedly higher than for non-disabled students.
        2. The challenges of students’ studies are very varied and depend on the very different disabilities experienced by students.  A number of students experience more than one disability which increases their challenge even more.  The benefits of distance education are the flexibility and ability to study from home without needing to travel.  The disadvantages are their isolation from other students and their teachers and the institution itself.  It would be helpful if UoLIP could find ways of diminishing that isolation.
        3. Around 20% of disabled students state that their disability was the main factor in choosing the International Programmes.  But even for them the brand of London University and the choice of appropriate courses were still very important.

        Recommendations

        1. Recognition of disability by students and staff
        1.1 Proactive contact.  It is important to ‘recognise’ disabled students and the problems they face more clearly, through more regular proactive contact.

        1.2 Awareness raising for staff. There may be a need to raise the profile of disability in the University and help staff ‘buy into’ the needs of students, especially around the topic of exams.

        2. Promotion and recruitment
        There is very little reference to disability at the front end of the UoLIP website.  There should be encouragement to increase the numbers of disabled students which appear to be considerably lower in the Programmes than at the UK Open University (UKOU) and in UK higher education nationally.

        3. Ongoing support
        3.1 Materials - there should be disability support materials on the UoLIP website for the most common disabilities, particularly dyslexia.

        3.2 Teaching support - there should be more video and audio recordings of lectures with subtitles.

        3.3 Support from other students - UoLIP should look at ways of delivering more personal support to disabled students via mentors.

        3.4 Support from Teaching Institutions – Disabled students have concerns about lack of support from their institutions.  There may be a case for investigating whether teaching institutions could give better support to disabled students.

        3.5 Exam support – arrangements work reasonably well but there may be a case for making the criteria and procedures clearer.

        3.6 Exam centres - work well on the whole but the links between UoLIP, teaching institutions and exam centres need speeding up in some cases.

        3.7 The VLE - this appeared to be well-designed for most disabled students although there may be ways in which its use could be encouraged more.

        3.8 Families and Friends - it might be useful to explore ways in which families and friends of students could be involved in the support of ‘their’ students.

        3.9 Other forms of support - students suggested an out-of-hours phone line, lists of tutors available for private support and a specialised learning advisor for the most common learning disability, dyslexia.

        Funding

        This report was commissioned by the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE) on behalf the Inclusive Practice Panel of the University of London Worldwide.

        Project team

        Ormond Simpson - Former CDE Fellow. Author of 'Supporting Students for Success in Online and Distance Education’ (Routledge). www.ormondsimpson.com

        Time frame

        January - March 2018

        This project is now completed

        Outputs and resources

        Confidential

        About the project

        It has long been agreed that retention in online courses requires online interaction. The UoL PgCert. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education was designed to maximise student engagement online to support retention and to model good practice to these participants many of whom will be online tutors and/or designers of distance learning. The initial module Supporting, Learning, Teaching and Assessment, was designed to support both peer engagement and reflection on learning. In the module, learners are prompted to write about their current teaching practice and ways in which they can develop their practice in a reflective journal which they complete throughout the module. The final summative assessment – a portfolio of development and achievement in teaching theory and practice - explicitly rewards awareness of personal learning gain by including the ipsative (learning gain) marking criterion. This research project aimed to answer two questions about this module:

        1.What is the relationship between the quality of engagement with online learning tools throughout the module and a) final overall attainment, b) attainment in relation to personal learning gain?
        2.How far does giving feedback to and receiving feedback from peers influence attainment in the two assessments?

        Principal findings:

        1. Engagement with the discussion forum on learning content is not a very good predictor of completion and success, except that unsurprisingly no engagement or at all predicts non-completion.
        2. Engagement in peer review, and especially giving feedback to peers, is a good predictor of success. Students who engaged moderately or well in the peer review were successful despite low discussion forum posting. However, early drop out from peer review led to incomplete submission of assessments.
        3. Different learners might use different tools for success, for example, either posting in the discussion forum or engagement in peer review. Spending time on task in either the forum or the peer review (or both) was linked to high or moderate performance.

        This study suggests a number of avenues for tutor development in online learning to encourage retention of professional learners that might also apply to other distance learning programmes.

        • Include a variety of online tools especially peer review activities that are time bound and well organised. This will encourage different learners to spend time on task.
        • Reflection is cumulative and builds. Look for sustained engagement/disengagement beyond the first few sessions to predict success and warn for non-completion/failure.
        • Design assessment that includes criteria for developmental progress as well as outcomes criteria. Such assessment needs to be supported by peer review and early tutor feedback to develop student self-regulation.

        Funding

        The project was funded by the CDE alongside other projects on progression and completion in distance learning.

        Project team

        • Gwyneth Hughes, UCL, Institute of Education, UCL

        In consultation with members of the learning support team from University of London Worldwide.

        Time frame

        The project ran from April to October 2018.

        This project is now completed.

        Outputs and resources

        The findings were presented at the Supporting Student Success conference run by the CDE in October 2018 and at a seminar for the University College of Estate Management, Reading in January 2019.

        See the Final Report for full details of the project rationale, approach and results.

         

        Impact of Track C on the student experience-Engagement with online tools

        About the Project

        This project aimed to investigate the impact of the teaching, learning and assessment framework (Track C) applied to the MSc in Professional Accountancy (MPACC course), to establish early signals of impact on student retention and inform potential further developments.

        A study focusing specifically on students’ engagement with online tools was undertaken, with data collected via a questionnaire survey to MPACC students and individual semi-structured interviews to a subset of the respondents.

        The second part of the study looked at user data, as a means of investigating how the students used the online tools and the extent to which these tools enhance or support their learning and performance.

        Principal findings:

        • Most users have prior knowledge of using a VLE, and therefore a certain level of expectation of usability.
        • There is variability in the way students use the online tools and this is influenced by factors such as time available, prior experience in using online tools and the extent to which they understand and value the tools.
        • Users have clear ideas on what would improve their experience of using online tools; for example, tools with features that allow some form of feedback.
        • Data systems need to be designed to allow for links between different data sources, so that a coherent digital picture of users can be captured.
        • Some direct correlation is evident between user and performance data.

        Funding

        The project was funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

        Project team

        • Jon Gregson, SOAS, Centre for Development Environment and Policy (CDE Fellow)
        • Christine Thuranira-McKeever, RVC (Project Lead, CDE Fellow)

        Time frame

        July 2017 to February 2018.

        This project is now completed.

          Outputs and resources

          Key words

          Student experience, online tools, student retention, student performance, learning analytics.

          About the project

          This project aimed to examine the impact on campus-based teaching for those who had been involved in MOOC production and presentation.

          We interviewed nine academics from six universities and organisations who were involved either in the production or delivery of MOOCs (as MOOC directors of production or academic leads or in learner support) through the University of London supported partnership with Coursera.

          Principal findings

          Involvement with MOOCs has indeed had indirect and unintended outcomes on mainstream teaching practice:

          • By accelerating innovation with digital practices in both distance and campus-based programmes.
          • Transferring good practice gained from participation in MOOCs to other aspects of participants’ practice, career or professional role.

          Evidence of impact included:

          • Supporting engagement with a wider range of learners.
          • Stimulating reflection on learning, teaching and assessment practice.
          • Reviewing professional priorities in learning and teaching.

          Funding

          The project was funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

          Project team

          • Stylianos Hatzipanagos
          • Alan Tait

          Time frame

          Spring 2017 – Autumn 2018

          This project is now completed.

            Outputs and resources

            About the project

            This project set out to identify, and assess the feasibility, of approaches to mitigate against student drop out from the University of London International Programmes.  It looked at three undergraduate programmes offered to students in the UK: Laws, EMFS (LSE) and English (Goldsmiths).

             

            Principal findings

            Student retention is highly contextual and contingent on institutional and student aims, expectations and conceptions of how ‘success’ is defined.  Interventions at key annual transition points might have significant impact on retention rates and the first year of study is where potentially the biggest impact can be made on student retention.

            The full project report (below) suggests a set of questions to help course teams to reflect on retention in the first year of study.

            Funding

            This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

            Project team

            Alan Tait (CDE Fellow, Emeritus Professor of Distance Education and Development at the Open University UK)

            Daksha Patel (CDE Fellow, SLHTM)

            Pete Cannell (CDE Fellow, Consultant)

            Time frame

            March 2018 - February 2019 

            This project is now completed.

            Project Outputs

            About the project

            An exploration into the ways in which students study in our online programmes and the time they spend. The more we understand about student learning behaviour the more we can improve our provision.

            Funding

            This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

            Project team

            Professor Stephen Brown (CDE Fellow)

            Dr David Baume (CDE Fellow)

            Time frame

            October 2019 - September 2020

            Outputs and resources

            None yet.

             

            About the project

            All universities face the challenge of ensuring that our policies and procedures fairly and robustly address the issue of students asking others to write their essays. And we need to be sure that students understand the requirements for written work to be wholly their own.

            Funding

            This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

            Project team

            Professor Helen Xanthaki (CDE Fellow)

            Time frame

            October 2019 - September 2020

            Outputs and resources

            None yet.

            About the project

            We will provide ideas, suggestions and examples of ways in which active learning can be provided in an online environment. This will help those designing online learning to develop their approaches.

            Funding

            This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

            Project team

            Dr David Baume (CDE Fellow)

            Dr Patricia McKellar (CDE Fellow)

            Time frame

            October 2019 - September 2020

            Outputs and resources

            None yet.

            About the project

            This project will explore the needs of students who are writing dissertations in their studies, and will develop an interactive study guide to support students.

            Funding

            This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

            Project team

            Dr Matt Phillpott (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Clare Sansom (CDE Fellow)
            Dr David Baume (CDE Fellow)
            Professor Stephen Brown (CDE Fellow)

            Time frame

            October 2019 - September 2020

            Outputs and resources

            None yet.

             

            About the project

            This project explores the needs for teaching staff and students to develop skills and expertise in digital education. 

            Funding

            This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

            Project team

            Dr Jon Gregson (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Marco Gillies (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Christine Thuranira-Mckeever (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Jonathan San Diego (CDE Fellow)

            Time frame

            October 2019 - September 2020

            Outputs and resources

            None yet.

            About the project

            We will prepare leading edge guidance for teams developing or upgrading programmes to ensure issues such as decolonisation of the curriculum, appropriate assessment for all and access sit at the heart of our work.

            Funding

            This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

            Project team

            Dr Lynsie Chew (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Alan Parkinson (CDE Fellow)

            Time frame

            October 2019 - September 2020

            Outputs and resources

            None yet.

            About the project

            We explore the impact on student outcomes of various examination schedules.

            Funding

            This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

            Project team

            Professor Alan Tait (CDE Fellow)
            Professor Stylianos Hatzipanagos (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Pete Cannell (CDE Fellow)

            Time frame

            October 2019 - September 2020

            Outputs and resources

            None yet.

            About the project

            We wish to understand how AI and Natural Language processing can help us to support students more efficiently and effectively.

            Funding

            This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

            Project team

            Dr Christine Thuranira-Mckeever (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Jon Gregson (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Marco Gillies (CDE Fellow) 
            Dr Daksha Patel (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Sam Brenton

            Time frame

            October 2019 - September 2020

            Outputs and resources

            None yet.

            About the project

            This programme, run by the CDE, trains university teaching staff across the Globe. We are exploring the ways in which the programme is helping teaching staff to improve their teaching practice and positively impact their students.

            Funding

            This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

            Project team

            Dr Gwyneth Hughes (CDE Fellow)
            Professor Ayona Silva-Fletcher (CDE Fellow)
            Dr David Baume (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Simon Rofe (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Linda Amrane-Cooper (CDE Director)

            Time frame

            October 2019 - September 2020

            Outputs and resources

            None yet.

            About the project

            We are looking at the ways in which we can enhance the delivery of key information skills in our programmes. These skills help to ensure students understand how to accessing, process and evaluate information. If you Google and find an article saying the World is Flat do you have to believe it? The report from Part 1 of this project can be found here.

            Funding

            This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

            Time frame

            Autumn 2019 - September 2020

            Project team

            Dr David Baume (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Sandra Tury

            Outputs and resources

            None yet.

            About the project

            This project is an investigation into the wide range of skills (careers, group work, presentation etc) students require and approaches to developing those through online and distance education.

            Funding

            This project is funded through a grant from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

            Project team

            Dr David Baume (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Julie Voce (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Matt Phillpott (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Liz Wilkinson
            Dr Sandra Tury

            Time frame

            October 2019 - September 2020

            Outputs and resources

            None yet.