Developing and Promoting Learning and Employability Through Blogging

Marco Bohr and Alexandre Christoyannopoulos, recipients of a 2016 Teaching Innovation Award (TIA), explain what they hope to achieve with their project.

What did you want to achieve?

What potential roles can blogging have in Higher Education? How can it enhance learning and the broader student experience? What legal and reputational issues need bearing in mind? How can blogging enhance research dissemination? The aim of this project is to consider such questions and thereby explore the potential for blogging in and beyond the university.

The project aims to consider five key areas:

  1. blogs in relation to student learning, academic teaching and assessment;
  2. legal, ethical, copyright and intellectual property issues in relation to such blogs;
  3. student blogs for self-promotion;
  4. the impact of blogs on student employability;
  5. how academics can use blogs for research dissemination and/or public engagement.

How will you gather this information?

The project involves gathering information on current examples of the use of blogs to enhance student employability across HE. Later in the process, we will organise focus groups with Loughborough students to reflect on when best to introduce blogs in teaching. The project will also involve expanding the content of Socratic Hive, a blog related to two Loughborough modules on ‘politics and religion’ and ‘state, violence and terrorism’. By the end of the project (spring-summer 2018), we aim to disseminate lessons learnt through a one-day event and a research paper.

TIA Winner Lee Campbell’s article, ‘TECHNOPARTICIPATION: Intermeshing performative pedagogy and interruption’, appears in BST Journal

technoparticipationAn article written by Lee Campbell (School of the Arts), entitled ‘Technoparticipation: Intermeshing pedagogy and interruption’ has been published in the latest edition of  Body, Space, Technology.

The article looks at various aspects of e-learning and focuses on Skype as a virtual technological platform, with the scope of ‘generating innovation in terms of subverting the bog standard presentation format of a lecture’. Skype as interruption is examined in order to promote the positive aspects of interruptive elements within performative pedagogy.

Research was enabled by a Teaching Innovation Award which Lee Campbell received; the Award granted him a funded period of research to explore Skype’s potential as a technological social media tool with pedagogic value.

To read the article, click here.

E-learning Champion Showcase


Five members of academic staff from the School of Business and Economics (SBE) have been working over the last year on individual E-learning projects.

These E-learning champions chose a particular area linked to one of their taught modules, for which they wanted to develop the appropriate technology to engage further with their students.

The projects this year were:

Maxine Clarke – To provide an online facility for students to upload information (articles/newspaper articles/videos/etc.) on a weekly basis and to provide a written summary of their submission. To enable online ‘marking’ of this submission as this will constitute the students’ coursework element for this module.

Kai-Hong Tee – To improve students’ effectiveness in their learning via a self-assessed practice questions made available on LEARN

Simona Rasciute – To introduce an interactive problem/exercise solving feature into Learn.

Dan Sage – To encourage students to read beyond lecture notes and the textbook in order for them to develop their critical thinking around concepts and key debates related to the lecture content. The project involved the use of an electronic ‘pinboard’ (Lino) to facilitate collaborative discussions and presentations around journal article readings on the Sociology of Work module.

Baibing Li – The aim of the project is to provide a better and interactive way for the students to participate the teaching/learning process during my lectures.

The E-learning Champions felt that the benefits included having time to explore the potential of their chosen area of E-learning and to be fully supported by the CAP and SBE E-learning Team.

The project was led by Mr. Philip Wilkinson-Blake from the SBE.

The project concluded with an E-learning Champions Showcase Event, which was supported by IT Services, CAP and the SBE E-learning Team. Over 40 staff attended the event, at which E-learning champions shared their experiences and findings.

Video and lecture capture technology was used to share the best practice with other colleagues across the University.

The data findings are now being analysed by the SBE E-learning Team and will be shared with other Schools in the future.


Lecture capture research literature review

LSE lecture capture reportI’m frequently asked by colleagues whether there is any evidence that lecture capture ie effective, and this question is often accompanied by the assertion that the introduction of lecture capture must have a negative effect on attendance.

There is now a significant amount of research into different aspects of the use of lecture capture in HE, and here at Loughborough we have an increasing amount of data, such as the results of the recent survey conducted by Facilities Management into student experiences of teaching spaces on campus, which included questions on the ReVIEW lecture capture system. (I’ll pick up on this in a future post.)

Arun Karnad at the LSE has very helpfully compiled a report summarising the findings of recent lecture capture research relating to the following questions:

1. How do students use recorded lectures?

2. When do students access recorded lectures?

3. What effect do recorded lectures have on student attainment?

4. What effect do recorded lectures have on student attendance?

View the report.

Karnad, Arun (2013)Student use of recorded lectures: a report reviewing recent research into the use of lecture capture technology in higher education, and its impact on teaching methods and attendance. London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

Why don't students contribute to my forums on Learn?

Learn Forum Screenshot

This is a question I often hear from academic colleagues. It’s very easy to set up a forum on your module page on Learn, and to post a question to your students, but these actions in themselves will not usually be enough to promote discussion.

There has been plenty of academic research into this area, with factors at play identified (inter alia) as fear, confidence, motivation, technical skills, understanding of what the tutor expects, connection with the ILOs of the module, and choice of discussion topics (Skinner 2009).

For a practical guide to promoting participation, see Chad Shorter’s guidelines for effective online discussions.

The best single piece of advice is probably: give them a reason to contribute!

And, of course, you can always ask the students themselves. It may turn out that they are discussing the topic, but via a different channel such as Facebook.

Skinner, E. 2009. Using community development theory to improve student engagement in online discussion: a case study. ALT-J Research in Learning Technology 17, no. 2: 89–100.

E-Learning reflections on where we are and where were going…

I recently arrived from the US where I spent 10+ yrs teaching and conducting research in math e-learning. A couple of my first conversations in the UK have afforded me a chance to reflect more on e-learning. One conversation was about the influence of instructional tech-enthusiasts on educational practice. Artistic image of keyboard doctored to say e-learningIn another later conversation, I was simply asked if I was a “web proponent”.

I think both of these conversations reflect some of the under currents in the present state of e-learning. Here are a few:

1. While research typically drives practice, with e-learning, we presently live in a state where practice is driving research (paraphrased from a study).

2. When technology should be adapting to pedagogy, instructors, in many cases, are adapting pedagogy (very awkwardly at times) to technological systems (Gibbs & Gosper, 2006).

3. As researchers have concluded, research in this area is generally quite poor, often trying to measure the effect of some technology acting as a blunt instrument (Clark, 1994) -Richard Clark’s famous paper, “Media Will Never Influence Learning”, cited over 1000 times, addresses this important issue.

Is the news all bad? No… This is how I answered the question about whether I was a “web proponent”: “Yes, but only in a measured fashion”. The “measuring”, in many cases, is only just beginning as new instructional technologies are continuously being rolled out. However, when used in a measured fashion, some of what we are discovering may be summed up as follows:

1. Efficiency gains over human agent/tutors in instructional time.
2. Improved instruction through efficient use of feedback mechanisms.
3. Improved instruction through adaptive systems that individualize the instructional approach.
4. Increased access to “quality instruction by disadvantaged or rural groups of students”. (Clark & Feldon, 2005; Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia, & Jones, 2009)

Sven Trenholm

Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29.
Clark, R. E., & Feldon, D. F. (2005). Five common but questionable principles of multimedia learning. Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, , 97-115.
Gibbs, D., & Gosper, M. (2006). The upside-down-world of e-learning. Journal of Learning Design, 1(2), 46-54.
Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2009). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies U.S. Department of Education.

"I wonder if you have time for a quick survey?"

Yeah, I know, not the words we like to hear when we’re in the middle of a Saturday shop.

Still, what if you find yourself needing to set up a survey as part of your own research? One option is to go online, and at Loughborough we have an account with Bristol Online Surveys (BOS) based at the University of Bristol.

Surveys have Loughborough branding, are SSL encrypted, and come with a Loughborough-looking URL (

BOS is a web-based application, there’s nothing to download to your computer, and works equally well on a Mac or PC. The online help is comprehensive and usable

There are six question types:

  1. selection lists
  2. multiple choice
  3. multiple answer
  4. single line free text
  5. multiple line free text
  6. date

and it’s possible to create Likert Scales, grids, branched questions and more, so it’s a well-specified system. There are internationalisation options, although there are limitations with non-European character sets.

Screengrab of typical BOS survey

Sections and questions in BOS surveys are colour-coded to aid visual navigation.

If you wish to set up an account, need help/advice setting up a survey or just want try the BOS demo, please contact and they’ll help you on your way.