Our projects

Current and previous projects worked on by the Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE).

Our projects are financed through a variety of sources including internal funds,  sponsorship by other UoL directorates, UoL Member Institutions and external bodies.

Student group working in different ways

Our projects

Current and previous projects worked on by the Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE).

Our projects are financed through a variety of sources including internal funds,  sponsorship by other UoL directorates, UoL Member Institutions and external bodies.

Recent CODE projects

Evaluation of Online Examinations

About the project

In each of the summers of 2020 and 2021, more than 30,000 University of London students undertook over 110,000 online timed assessments, in place of conventional examinations in exam halls, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which precluded such events. 

The University of London commissioned the then Centre for Distance Education to undertake a detailed evaluation of the move to online assessment in 2020 and the evaluation was repeated in 2021. The project team was led by Linda Amrane-Cooper, with CDE Fellows Stylianos Hatzipanagos and Alan Tait and University of London colleagues James Berry, Huw Morgan-Jones, Amardeep Sanghera, Mike Sawyer. Plus in 2020 only Gwyneth Hughes (CDE) and Elsie Lauchlan (from data analysis company Shift Insight). Two CDE Student Research Fellows also formed part of the evaluation team. 

The project aimed to collect data about, and generate understanding of this transition to online assessment, primarily from the perspective of the experience of the students who have been affected, also including from the perspective of other key stakeholders (examiners, technical staff and programme directors). 

A key objective of the evaluation was that the output would help to support planning assessments for summers 2021 and 2022, both at the University and within the Member Institutions (MIs) and inform planning and preparation for 2023 and beyond. 

The project has since been converted to a longitudinal study

Funding

This project was funded through the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE). 

Project team

Dr Linda Amrane-Cooper (Director of the CDE)
James Berry (Associate Director: Student Affairs)
Professor Stylianos Hatzipanagos (CDE Fellow)
Ellen Hauff (CDE Student Fellow)
Huw Morgan-Jones (Head of Surveys and Student Voice)
Amardeep Sanghera (Student Affairs) 
Michael Sawyer (Student Services)
Hannah Dorothy Mary Shekhawat (CDE Student Fellow)
Professor Alan Tait (CDE)

Time frame

May 2020 – April 2022

Outputs and resources

The report provides an overview of the evaluation of the online examinations in summers of 2020 and 2021. 
It was important to ensure that appropriate oversight of the findings and recommendations from the evaluation have informed planning and development in online timed assessments. In this respect, reports and summaries of the findings were presented at a significant number of UoL Governance committees, the Student Voice Group and Programme leader Forums throughout 2020 – 2022. 

Presentation at 'Supporting Student Success' workshop 2021

Report 

Next steps

The University of London requested a similar review of the online timed assessments taking place in summer 2022. 

Conference presentations and webinars

Amrane-Cooper, L., Hatzipanagos, S. Tait, A. (2021) Moving Assessment Online at Scale. RIDE 2021 conference, June 18, 2022, Centre for Distance Education.

Amrane-Cooper, L., Sanghera, A. (2021) Inclusive Practice: learning from our students. RIDE 2021 conference, June 18, 2022, Centre for Distance Education.

Amrane-Cooper, L., Hatzipanagos, S., Tait, A. (2021) Developing Student Behaviours that Support Academic Integrity in Distance Learning. ICDE, Virtual Global Conference Week, October 2021.

Hatzipanagos, S., Tait, A., Amrane-Cooper, L. (2020) Towards A Post Covid-19 Digital Authentic Assessment Practice: When Radical Changes Enhance the Student Experience. In Enhancing the Human Experience of Learning with Technology: New challenges for research into digital, open, distance & networked education, Proceedings 2020 Research Workshop. European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN). 

Hatzipanagos, S. (2020) Covid-19 Silver Linings: Transition to Digital Assessment Practice to Enhance the Student Experience. Webinar, Computers and Learning Research Group – November 26, 2020. The Open University.

Hatzipanagos, S. and Tait, A, (2022) Designing plagiarism out of assessment. Supporting Student Success online workshop January 28, 2022. Centre for Distance Education.

Hughes, G. Amrane-Cooper, L., Hatzipanagos, S. , Tait, A. (2021) Using the disruption of the pandemic to enhance assessment design in distance learning programmes. Academic Practice And Technology (APT) 2021 Conference, July 2021, UCL.

Tait, A., Hatzipanagos, S. (2021) What Will Assessment Look Like in 2021. Webinar in series of Experiences in Digital learning monthly webinars from CDE, Goldsmiths and the University of London Institute in Paris. February 4, 2021.

Integrating Information Literacy (IL) skills

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]

    The Student Voices - Feedback

    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

    Online learning tools and student retention

    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.

     

    Track C - Student experience with online tools

    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.

      Student Learning Hours and Student Learning Strategies

      About the project

      As the title 'Student Learning Hours and Learning Strategies' suggests, the aim is to investigate how students engage with different types of UoLW content and learning activities, both solo and collaborative, with the overarching goal of enhancing programme design and operation to maximise opportunities for student success. Specifically it addresses three research questions:

      RQ1. How do student study hours and study patterns compare with programme team expectations?
      RQ2. How and why do students engage with different types of content and learning activity?
      RQ3. What role does peer interaction play in student learning?

      Data collection methods were:

      1. Online survey across a range of programmes and subject types
      2. Learning Diaries completed by volunteer students
      3. Remote interviews of volunteer students (via videoconference)

      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)

      Janet Wong (Student Research Fellow)

      Naraesa Francis (Student Research Fellow)

      Time frame

      October 2019 - September 2020. This project is now completed.

      Outputs and resources

      The study generated a number of interim reports covering all four programmes in the study:
      1.Student study hours
      2.Student responses to study guidance
      3.Student responses to learning activities and resources
      4.Student study strategies and learning behaviour
       

      The findings from the interim reports are drawn together and discussed in the final report.

      Additionally there is a journal publication:

      Brown, S. and Baume, D. 2022. ‘Not another group activity!’: Student attitudes to individual and collaborative learning activities, and some implications for distance learning course design and operation. Innovations in Education and Teaching International. https://doi.org/10.1080/14703297.2022.2062424

      Download an ePrint version

      Summary of findings:

      1. Students often find the amount of material to be studied is more than they expected. For many, the amount of time it takes to work through the material is a significant challenge in the face of other demands on their time. 
      2. Study behaviours revealed by the learning diaries vary considerably from quite weak to very strong. Weaker study patterns focus in not very organised ways on reading and memorising content.  Stronger patterns display greater awareness of requirements, personal progress, planning, strategic allocation of resources and personal knowledge construction. 
      3. Overall, we see here a strong preference for learning content over learning activities, particularly collaborative activities.
      4. The four programmes covered by this study are satisfactory, or more than satisfactory, for students who are experienced, sophisticated, learners. 
      5. Less mature learners may need more help to engage them more actively and strategically in the process of learning and in a learning community. 

      The report suggests a number of issues for consideration by programme teams.

       

      MOOCs: The Consequences for Learning and Teaching in Credit Bearing Programmes

      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

        •  

        Supporting Progression and Completion

        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

        •  

        The Digital Educator

        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

        Contract Cheating

        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. The Contract Cheating project progressed quite well until the new circumstances arising from the Covid-19 demands. Thornton’s methodology for legislative drafting consists of 5 stages, namely understanding the proposal, analysing the proposal, designing the draft, composing the draft, and verifying the draft. To that effect, the project team, with the invaluable support of an excellent research assistant, has discussed the proposed regulation with the UoLW client team, has identified the mischief of current regulations, has undertaken extensive research on the definition of contract cheating and on comparative regulatory solutions worldwide, and has designed the proposed new regulation. The work of the student researcher is now complete. What remains is the formulation of the policy document and the drafting of the proposed new regulation, and their scrutiny (verification) by the actors in the investigative and application processes.

        Active learning in an online learning environment

        About the project

        The aim of the project is to enhance students’ active, empowered, reflective and critical engagement with their online studies through the use of a wide range of appropriate online learning activities. This will be achieved through the production of illustrated information and guidance for module authors.

        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)

        Tinashe Mushayamunda (Student Research Fellow)

        Time frame

        October 2019 - September 2020

        Outputs and resources

        None yet. The project is analysing University of London online courses to identify learning activities in use, and relate these to  learning outcomes and to what is known about what supports learning. The work will be informed by the Student Learning Hours and Student Learning Strategies Project.The later stages of talking with programme leaders and getting feedback on a draft of the Guide has been deferred to the autumn term, due to Covid-19 impact on colleagues' priorities.    

        An interactive study guide on postgraduate dissertation research and writing

        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. This project is completed.

        Outputs and resources

        Read the final report, with links to the online training modules.

         

        Digital Educator part 2

        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. We have completed phase 1 of the project, which involved a workshop with module authors on the BSc Computer Science. The second phase, interviewing online and teaching centre tutors has been delayed. This was initially because the programme only launched in teaching centres in April, and so we considered that we would get better data from teaching centres in the summer. However, travel to teaching centres is no longer possible because of the COVID crisis, we are considering whether to continue with remote interviews.

        Steps towards embedding equality and diversity in programme design and development 

        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. The project is paused due to the effects of Covid-19.

        The impact of having access to multiple examination sessions on student performance 

        About the project

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

        Research questions

        • Does having to wait for a year to resit have a negative effect on student retention and success? Does the gap between the exams matter – e.g. if the second exam opportunity comes too quickly does it mean student’s don’t get proper time to prepare?
        • How does current UoL practice compare with best practice in the rest of the distance-learning sector?

         

        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. We have completed a literature research.  As we anticipated this is a very under researched area of practice in both campus based and distance learning modes of assessment.  We have also looked at practice in a small number of other distance learning institutions.  We have not yet been able to access data on resit performance  for University of London distance programmes. 

        Exploring applied uses of AI and Natural Language Processing within UoLW

        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. We have done initial research to scope out the various AI technologies that are available commercially at the moment. The next steps would be to identify how they could be used in an educational context. We proposed doing this via a workshop involving educators and UoL staff. The COVID crisis has delayed this, but it would still likely be possible to do via a video link, so we should be able to continue this year.

        Impact of PG Certificate Learning and Teaching in Higher Education on teaching practice

        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

        Considerable progress with the phase 2 PGC LTHE project was made prior to Covid-19, which included a detailed analysis of evidence for impact of the programme on practitioner’s concepts, planning and practice in relation to learning, teaching and assessment. A presentation of the work was made to RIDE 2020 and we have submitted a proposal for a conference paper to the Academic Practice and Technology Conference (APT2020). 

        A pause of activity resulted from the pandemic and re-engagement with the project will commence in June. Further analysis of participant assignments is required and a refinement of the framework for analysis is being considered. 

        In the sample reviewed, all participants shifted their conceptions of teaching and learning away from a teacher focus to an active learner focus – even one participant who did not pass. Some showed that they were starting to view learning as self-directed. Some were beginning to change their practice. Clear links between the online module readings and peer review activities and the changes indicate that the module has a positive impact on conceptions of teaching in the short term. Further studies will explore if the programme triggers changes in teachers’ practice in the longer term.

        The Careers Group e-Learning Developments

        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.

          Information Literacy part 2

          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? This builds on the 2018-19 Integrating Information Literacy project. That project concluded, among things, that high levels of  critical information skills are increasingly necessary for work and further study; that current courses do not always develop these information capabilities; that there is a tension between providing students with the information they need for their current studies and developing their high-level information capabilities; and that there is a need to develop policy and good practice guidelines. 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. A possible policy is in draft, and a guide to practice is being developed. The later stages of implementation into seeking feedback on draft guidance is being put back to the autumn term, given the COVID-19 pandemic and staff’s more urgent concerns.

          Literacies in UoL

          About the project

          The aim of this small project (five days in total) was to identify any common features across various literacies in higher education, and to see what scope there may be for learning from and with each other in support for the definition and implementation of literacies. Participants provided input on information literacy, research literacy, and careers literacy.

          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

          A presentation was made to the CDE event, Supporting Student Success, in October 2019. Participants met to share and develop ideas in December 2019. Production of the promised synthesis is proving academically challenging, but a short paper will be produced.

          Evaluating reforms in assessment practices in University of London international programmes

          About the project

          The project originally aimed to:

          • Review guidance on assessment for learning available to UoL programme teams
          • Identify recent (past 3 years) assessment innovation in 5 -10 UoL online programmes that move towards assessment for learning and not only assessment as judgement of achievement
          • Evaluate the potential of the innovation to improve student learning, achievement and retention
          • Disseminate assessment innovation to other programme teams at UoL and make recommendations for assessment enhancement strategies.

          When the pivot to online teaching took place in 2020 in response to the pandemic, we adapted the study to explore programme teams’ responses to the shift to online exams and any evidence for  shifts in views on assessment. The findings indicated that there were some changes in thinking about the purposes of assessment and changes such as use of open book exams and removing recall questions from the exam and more consideration of coursework. While some programme directors wished to return to in-person exams when possible, others were interested in continuing with online exams and innovation. The project raises questions about the investment in distance learning assessment and the need to design out plagiarism.

          Funding

          This project is funded through a  2019/2020 Teaching and Research Award from the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE).

          Project team

          Alan Tait and Gwyneth Hughes

          Time frame

          February 2020 - February 2021. This project is completed.

          Outputs and Resources

          Read the project blog

          Download the project final report.

          On-boarding 2019 project

          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

            Open and Distance Learning in Nigeria

            About the project

            The aim of this project is to provide guidance and support for the development of Open and Distance Learning (ODL) in Nigeria in collaboration with the National Universities Commission, Nigeria. The ongoing programme of activity comprises a series of bespoke workshops and annual symposia for senior university management and staff in Nigeria and London. This project supports a joint memorandum of understanding established between the University of London and the Nigerian National Universities Commission.

            Funding

            This project is funded by the University of London and the National Universities Commission, Nigeria.

            Project team

            Dr Linda Amrane-Cooper (Director of CDE)
            Dr David Baume (CDE Fellow)
            Professor Stephen Brown  (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Ibrahim ElMayet (Regional Business Development Manager, University of London Worldwide)
            Dr Akanimo Odon (Africa adviser)
            Peter O’Hara, Business Development Manager Africa and Middle East
            Mike Winter OBE (Director International Affairs, University of London) 

            Time frame

            2017 – to date

            Outputs and resources

            Abuja 2017 Symposium 
            Abuja 2018 Workshop

            London 2018 workshop 
            Abuja 2019 symposium 
            London workshop 2019 
            London workshop 2020
            RIDE 2020 conference

            Online symposium 2021 
            RIDE 2021 conference

            The Open University of China

            About the project

            The aim of this project is to build a strategic partnership with The Open University of China. With over 4.8 million students, OUC is the largest single provider of higher education in China, employing a blend of face-to-face and online/distance learning. 

            Funding

            This project is funded through the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE), The Open University of China and the Sino-British Fellowship Trust.

            Project team

            Dr Linda Amrane-Cooper (Director of CDE)
            Dr David Baume (CDE Fellow)
            Professor Stephen Brown (CDE Fellow)
            Professor Stylianos Hatzipanagos (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Gwyneth Hughes (CDE Fellow)
            Professor Alan Parkinson (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Matthew Phillpott (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Christina Howell-Richardson (CDE Fellow)
            Professor Alan Tait (CDE Fellow)


            Time frame

            2018 - to date

            Outputs and resources

            Staff development 

            ‘Designing for learning in online and distance education’ was a bespoke short course run by the Centre for Distance Education between September 2021 and January 2022 for 250 new and experienced tutors at the Open University of China. It was delivered and supported entirely online, in partnership with local tutors in China. Some materials were specially written by CDE for the course; others were adapted from the University of London Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education. CDE staff ran bi-weekly webinars for course participants, and weekly webinars for lead tutors from the Open University of China. Each OU China lead tutor worked with a group of about 20 OU China tutors.

            The course topics were: Contexts, and the student week; programme and module design; using what we know about students learning and theories of learning; structuring learning; designing learning activities for individual students; designing collaborative activities and assessments; tutor feedback, and midcourse review; locating resources to support learning, and student information capabilities; Technology to enhance learning; assessment; tutor roles, tutor development, and developing as a tutor; and program monitoring, evaluation and improvement. Digital badges were awarded for the successful completion of defined parts of the course. Participants who successfully complete the course, and write a reflective commentary on what they have learned and how they will apply this to their practice, can apply to be granted accreditation of prior learning into the second and final module of the University of London PGCertHE.

            Scholarly collaboration

            CDE Fellow Alan Tait has contributed a chapter to ‘Beyond Distance Education, cutting edge perspectives on the future of open universities’ published by The Open University of China. The book is made up of 16 chapters from open university leaders around the world, including Asia, North America, Africa, the Arab Region, Australia and Europe, with in addition a Foreword and Summary by the President of OUC Dr Jing Degang. A number of the chapters deal with the impact of the COVID pandemic on the practice of the open university and on higher education more widely in the country, and in addition reflect on the achievements and challenges of the open university model now more than 50 years old. Professor Alan Tait has contributed a chapter on the Open University U.K., which includes an account of the contribution the University of London external programme made to the original institutional model. 

            Visiting Scholars

            The Sino-British Fellowship Trust generously contributed to the costs of two visiting China Scholars at the University of London Centre for Distance Education, in partnership with the China Scholarship Council. Luo Xiabao (Carol), and Fengwei Cai, were from Gansu and Ningbo Radio and TV Universities respectively, both Branches of OU China. Carol’s project concerned the use of social media by students in selected University of London programmes, while Fengwei focused on strategies that support independent learning. For four months Carol and Fengwei were supported by a team of CDE Fellows, led by the Head of the CDE, Dr Linda Amrane-Cooper, CDE Fellows Simon Rofe and Alan Tait and supported by our the wider CDE Fellows. Carol and Fengwei have gone on to be two of the tutors supporting to short course. 

            UoL hosted an event for all of the OU China visiting scholars from across the UK in January 2020. Visiting scholars from Open University UK, and University of Leeds joined the UoL Visiting Scholars at a reception and presented their projects to an audience including the sponsors, Sino-British Fellowship Trust.
             

            Supporting staff development in online and blended learning in Palestine

            About the project

            The aim of this project was to assist colleagues in Palestinian universities to enhance their capacity and capability for developing, delivering and supporting effective online teaching, learning and assessment.  An intensive online programme of  synchronous and asynchronous learning activities and seminars was delivered to around 30 participants over 4 weeks. Participants were expected to spend about seven hours a week, across the four weeks. Key features of the approach were: 

            1. Early and continuing consultation with stakeholder/client groups and universities to clarify the details of the content and the educational and technical approach, building on the expertise of CDE colleagues in undertaking such work in many parts of the world.
            2. The training and development processes explicitly built on the current capabilities and expertise of participants in the programme and encouraged participants to make maximum appropriate use of current, including locally produced, educational materials, resources and processes, including high-quality open educational resources.
            3. Elements of current University of London courses, including the Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and a variety of other subjects to reflect client needs, were used to illustrate educational approaches and methods.
            4. In enhancing faculty and administrator’s confidence in online teaching pedagogy the emphasis was on supporting the development of a common pedagogy, which can be deployed online, in-person and in combinations of these two. 

            The majority of the training was undertaken with course teams who were working together to lead, develop and implement. This was ‘on-the-job’ practice-based training and development. The training and development process used was to exemplify/demonstrate the training and development methods being taught, including theory-informed pedagogy; outcomes-based course design, learning and assessment; resource-based learning; active learning and collaborative learning. Participating Universities were encouraged to include staff and educational development colleagues in the programme teams, to maximize the scope for cascade training and development, and hence to boost the overall efficiency and longer-term impact of the process. The materials and methods used to provide the training were provided under a Creative Commons license, to encourage local adaptation and further use. 

            A University of London certificate of completion was available for participants in our CPD. 

            Funding

            This project was funded jointly by the University of London Centre for Distance Education (CDE) and the Friends of Birzeit University (FoBZU) organisation, Palestine.
            Project team
            Dr Linda Amrane-Cooper (Director of CDE)
            Dr David Baume (CDE Fellow)
            Professor Stephen Brown  (CDE Fellow)
            Professor Stylianos Hatzipanagos (CDE Fellow)
            Dr Matt Philpott (CDE Fellow)
            Professor Alan Tait (CDE Fellow)
            Omar Shweiki, Director, Friends of Birzeit University


            Time frame

            8-23 March 2021

            Outcomes

            Birzeit  University: Cascade to 15-20 junior lecturers based across the faculties. One workshop held during the second week of September 2021 covering key lessons learnt from the CDE training.  
             
            An-Najah University: Cascade to 80-100 junior staff and teachers. Summer training running June-August 2021 consisting of 4 modules to be implemented over a 3-month period using the hands-on approach. Part of a university-wide curriculum review initiated by project participants. 
             
            Bethlehem University: Cascade to minimum of 20 lecturers from the Faculty of Arts and Education during the summer semester before the start of the new academic year. Aim to establish a regular programme at the Instructional Technology Unit (ITU) to commence during the upcoming Fall semester. 
             
            Al-Azhar University: One workshop held in April 2021 attended by 23 members of the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences. A further session planned in August 2021 for deans of faculties and heads of departments, followed by a workshop for each of faculty at the university.