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Digital education

#CEIOS: Active Learning – What does it mean for Cardiff University

9 January 2018

#CEIOS Events are organised and run by the CEI Team

The second event in the #CEIOS series, explored the theme of active learning, and what this means at Cardiff University. Some of the questions the event sought to answer were; What does active learning mean? What are the benefits and possible drawbacks for staff and students? What is design for digital learning? Are we encouraging students to take an active part in lectures and seminars?

My ‘active learning’ journey started with finding guest speakers and good-practice examples happening here at the university. I contacted Elizabeth Ellis from the Open University whom I’d seen presenting at the JISC’s Digifest conference (watch her debate here or read a blog post here).  Liz has vast experience in engaging students in design for digital learning, and she was very happy to contribute to our event. You can read more about her perspective on partnering with students in learning /curriculum development here.

My next step was to find an academic who has been actively involved with students to create valuable resources that have made a real difference. Some Schools have more experience of adopting active learning approaches than others and there are some excellent case studies, students’ remarks and resources on the Learning Hub of practices here at Cardiff University.  I came across Dr Kate Gilliver’s approach and I didn’t hesitate to contact her. I also invited one of Dr Gilliver’s students, Georgie, to share her experiences from a student’s perspective.

On the day we heard about two active learning approaches – blended and flipped learning.

Liz started her presentation with a provoking question – are we optimists or pessimists about co-design and co-creation with students? She talked us through the process of getting students directly involved with curriculum design, working with them in partnership. She also highlighted some of the challenges of active engagement, one of which was time.

Dr Gilliver’s main points and insight was the upfront time investment needed to create recordings as part of a flipped learning approach and the benefits of adopting this approach. She found the whole process of getting the students actively involved very rewarding and stimulating.

Georgie’s reflections on flipped learning highlighted how it improved interaction with her peers, resulted in increased contact hours, and helped her to identify the right questions to ask.

All three presentations have been captured and you can access the recording here.


I hope that after this session many of my colleagues will feel like they want to explore active learning approaches in their own teaching. The CEI Team is the frontline central support for all staff at the university who wish to embark on the journey of active learning.

In my opinion, with the new strategy to come into force this year, now is a perfect time to focus our efforts on providing outstanding and high-quality teaching, to enhance learning and to inspire students wanting to learn.



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