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Digital education

GW4 TEL Away Day

17 July 2017
GW4 map image

by Dewi Parry

On the 21st June, we were invited to the University of Bristol to take part in the GW4 TEL away day. The GW4 is an alliance between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter, building research communities to deliver globally competitive research.

Learn more about the GW4 Alliance:

As well as main research element, the universities run additional groups to share knowledge and best practice. The GW4 TEL away day (the first for a couple of years) saw representatives from each university present on their institutional developments, their priorities, and also the challenges.

The main morning activity was set around mapping the current landscapes within the institutions, which included discussing and recording areas of practice that the institutions are/will be working on. The groups then had the chance to rotate through the institutions to pick up on similarities, overlaps and areas for further exploration. We used the digital classroom – a first for a few of us, which was impressive. Excellent for group work, project work and collaborative working.

Cardiff University Mind map

Our Cardiff map included both CEI and Learning Technology Systems projects and priorities. And it was very interesting to learn that Bath, Bristol, and Exeter were all working on very similar lines, which we would explore later in the day.

The main common areas that most institutions were looking to develop were:

Lecture capture – the introduction and roll out of capturing software, policy, integration with other systems – timetabling and student information management systems etc. Also, much valued discussion around moving practice on from lecture capture – screencasting, creating digital learning resources, assessment etc.

eAssessment – a lot of discussion in this area, including digital exams, BYOD exams and electronic management of assessment. Several institutions were carrying out initial research into what other institutions were doing, and current good practice and standards.

Online content creation and MOOCs – All the institutions had developed MOOC programmes, and had delivered via the Futurelearn platform. All institutions  were considering the next steps with developing open online courses. Also, there was discussion around developing high quality digital resources, and what that does/would look like.

VR/AR – All institutions looking at VR/AR as a massive growth area in the future. Some movement on this already in a couple of institutions, and scoping uses, particularly for medicine, dental, healthcare, but also engineering, architecture and sciences.

Student response systems – A lot of interest at the moment in looking at ways to add interaction to lectures, particularly looking at “moving on from clickers” and looking at response systems for mobile devices.

VLEs – Discussion around the look and feel of institutional VLEs, with institutions looking at baseline standards as ways of increasing the student experience, and tackling inconsistency. Institutions looking at governance, and mechanisms for reviewing, prioritising and approving improvement requests A note here – all VLEs have problems, no matter which one you use!

GW4 meeting image

Other discussions during the day covered: institutional use of collaborative tools (Office 365 / Google apps generally); grade transfers from VLEs to student information management systems; creating and using study skills resources; student data lifecycle.

The day was very positive, with a few positive ideas shared for the future:

  • Sharing examples of our baseline documents across institutions.
  • Sharing resources – particularly around Xerte.
  • Consider shadowing across institutions and mentoring.
  • Sharing a virtual space / Online forum for discussion and collaboration outside of these meetings (Yammer).
  • Consider creating sub interest groups.
  • Consider small group meetings on particular interest topics.
  • Collaboration on purchasing and evaluation of equipment or shared equipment register.
  • Let’s build something!

For those of you who are interested, the hashtag #GW4TL was set up, so feel free to contribute to the conversation on Twitter.

A big thank you to Bristol for hosting, and particularly to Roger Gardner for running the day and facilitating the discussion. Next time, to Cardiff and a visit to our new CEI Innovation Space!


  1. Martin Nutbeem

    It was really lovely to meet you all and great to get a finger on our collective tech pulses.

  2. Dewi Parry

    Same here Martin, great to learn about all the work going on in the institutions, looking forward to the next meeting…

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