Author Archive

Coaching- a new vehicle for education?

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Kathryn Waddington from the School of Health Sciences has been using coaching as a pedagogical technique in the delivery of her masters level module in leadership.

Kathryn’s approach to coaching is influenced by her experience of helping professionals gain insights from systems and psychodynamic theory in order to better understand their own experiences in the workplace. She also uses other coaching perspectives in an integrative way and believes that coaching embodies an enabling relationship between coach and client which is outcome/task focussed in which learning takes place with, from and about each other. She can offer clients support in areas relating to their academic and professional development, change management and transitions.

Kathryn is currently undertaking a Certificate in Coaching Practice course with the i-coach academy in London. The course holds the European Quality Award and is professionally accredited by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). Kathryn’s professional practice as a coach is regulated by the high standards set by the EMCC Code of Ethics.

Listen to Kathryn talking about using coaching in the classroom here:

Kathryn also talks about theory and practice and her new book  “Gossips and organisations” (available from Routeledge 2012) here:

Categories: Case Studies

Shareville: An alternative to second life?

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Birmingham City University have created their own virtual enivronment called SHAREVILLE.

“The acronym SHAREVILLE required almost as much thought as the concept itself – Shareable Holistic Assets and Resources Existing in a Virtual Interactive Lifelong Learning Environment! This virtual town is an online immersive environment comprising of 360 degree panoramas and 3D resources that students can navigate their way through to engage in very realistic scenarios and solve problems that would be very difficult to represent in class. The uniqueness about Shareville is that the scenarios are role-played, filmed against a ‘green screen’ and then placed in context within the town. No silly avatars here! It might be virtual, but the emphasis is on reality – and it’s great preparation for students entering the world of work ”

                                                                                                                                     Alan Staley, Professor of Educational Technology BCU

I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon with the creators of Shareville and have to say was very impressed with its potential particularly in teaching challenging subjects such as communication skills or management of aggression and violence. The area I was most interested in was ELMWOOD HOUSE. This had been created as a virtual placement for students working in learning disabilities. Students can watch a particular scenario unfold and are given options for their responses. The scenario then plays out according to their selection. This creates a safe environment for students to get things wrong and creates a very realistic representation of  the types of service users they may come across in places like Elmwood House. The students can explore case notes and watch relevant videos related to the care management.

The other real beauty of Shareville is the amount of collaboration it encourages between different schools. For example there is a lady living  in a high rise flat who has mental health problems. This scenario is applicable for both nursing and construction students, if this character is followed she goes to her sons school where she has an altercation with the head teacher, this scenario was used by the primary education students. Following the altercation the case is picked up by the law students in the towns’ solicitors office.

The team behind the project are developing more ideas, for example they are working with the fire brigade around decision making. In these scenario’s if the decision isn’t made quickly enough then choices are removed which may lead to only incorrect options being left.

I do have a few critiques. The use of green screen does create a rather unreal effect, however they say this is being worked on. Some of the areas are stronger than others, for example there is an area in the hospital supposedly demonstrating communication skills, which is little more than a series of somewhat cringeworthy photographs. However unlike second life the students can’t interact directly and essentially it is a quiz linked to some video embedded in a website. But is has been done very effectively.

Overall I think Shareville is something that could be replicated by City (although BCU do accept commissions). The great advantage to my particular discipline is that it is extremely difficult to simulate mental health care effectively in a classroom. Its not like other branches of nursing where essential physical skills can easily be replicated.So to create a safe interactive environment would be a useful adjunct for our students.

STARS conference 16th November 2011

November 21, 2011 2 comments

Stars conference 16-11-11


This conference was organised to give training to the programme reps and give an opportunity for feedback.

The day was introduced by Amish Patel student union vice president,  which was followed by a short speech by the VC Professor Paul Curran. He emphasised the importance of the programme rep role in feedback to ensure a quality student experience.

Layla Gadid an ex student from Teach First gave a motivational speech talking about the importance of self-belief and the need to focus on making small changes in order to achieve the big ones. She emphasised to the students a need for a sense of collectivism and that their contribution may not have an immediate impact but affects students coming after her. She gave the students advice based on the 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey.

  • Be a person of principle and character
  • Beginning with the end in mind
  • First things first

Rae Karimjee ran a workshop on recognition and development. In it she encouraged students to view themselves as change agents
Encouraged the students to view their role as programme reps as an opportunity to gain experience and transferrable skills for the job market. Rae undertook a nice exercise to get students to think about what they need to do to undertake their role as programme reps.

Chris Leonard  the internal communications officer ran a communication and collaboration workshop to discuss working on improving communication with staff and students. He is currently working on an internal communication strategy that will look at building a sense of University identity but also needs to consider challenges in communicating with students without overloading them.

Dr Andrew Oliver’s workshop focussed on approaches to learning to teaching and was probably the most illuminating of the day in terms of students views on teaching styles. This was the first point in the day when a student asked “do the lecturers have any training in teaching?”.Sadly it wasn’t to be the last.
Students reported how much they value group work as it has an impact upon their employability due to the development of transferable skills. Students would like more lectures recorded. Issues about lecturers not controlling students and bad behaviour affecting the learning of other students. Tutorials could be better utilised and they really enhance the learning experience, although there is a risk of them becoming a bit of a chat.

Panel discussion rounded off the day. VC Paul Curran, Usman Ali NUS President , Rob Sully CULSU President, Dominic Passfield QAA student engagement officer. The topic of the discussion was what makes a quality education Usman Ali emphasised that HE enables students to reach their potential. However many students nationally don’t feel prepared for the world of work, HE should be fit for purpose especially for the non traditional students. Students should feel connected with their courses. Again the issue of lecturers being inadequately prepared to teach was raised. Professor Paul Curran countered this with an emphasis on quality and standards. There is a need to achieve a balance between research and education in order to produce quality.
Rob Sully took more personal approach and the  quality of education influences the transitional process from  who you are when you arrive and who you are when you leave. HE is about being a partnership between the student and the University. Domininc Passfield feels that continual comparison with other universities,is unhelpful as universities are very diverse. Students union is the key factor in a quality student experience.

Just to round off the day another student asked the question about whether lecturers should have a teaching qualification as it wasn’t always in evidence in their experience.

Overall this was a really useful day to attend as a lecturer as it was entirely student focussed and I gained a unique perspective on the student experience. It was really professionally organised and the students in attendance seemed Just wish I had come away feeling that the students  thought we were at least qualified to do the job!

Lorna Saunder


Using Adobe Presenter to support CPD

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment

E-learning: An alternative delivery method for clinical  risk training in addictions services.


In 2010 East London NHS Foundation Trust commissionedCityUniversityto deliver a project focussing upon assessing risk assessment within Addiction services.  The addictions directorate  felt there was an identified need within the service to build upon the  already significant  training offered by the Trust as this was primarily focussed around risk assessment within mainstream mental health services.  Initial meetings revealed that traditional classroom based methods were impractical in terms of the release of staff from the service. It was proposed by the project lead at City to consider the development of an e-learning resource.   

The budget for the project was quite limited which resulted in a limited number of options in terms of developing the E-resource. It was felt that the resource needed to incorporate more than just a web-based PowerPoint presentation in order to engage staff and encourage retention of information. It was decided to utilise Adobe Presenter as this was a readily accessible resource that enabled an audio stream to be recorded, interactive quizzes to be used and video role plays to be incorporated. This combination of mediums avoids the learner simply being presented with a resource which requires little more of them than to read from the screen. Ross and Tuovinen (2001) highlighted that by adding questions or using tasks which require synthesis or analysis deeper learning can be achieved. Adobe presenter easily enables this with its facility to input questions and quizzes related to the material. A key aim of the project was also to produce videos of staff undertaking role play to demonstrate the skills required and the type of questioning needed to assess the varied risk presented by substance using service users. In a study by Chau (2001) it was demonstrated that knowledge could be enhanced through the use of video taped vignettes that were allied to a task to engage the learner in critical thinking. For the project, staff from the addictions service put together their own role play scenarios. These were based around the three key areas that the addictions directorate had identified as of key importance. These were overdose risk, safeguarding children and suicide risk. Time for preparing the scenarios and recording the role play was quite limited and as a result the vignettes may not be absolutely perfect examples of practice. However this is not necessarily a negative aspect of the resource.   It gives other learners the opportunity to compare themselves against their colleagues, and critically analyse how they may behave in such a situation enabling critical analysis of their own practice. One of the findings for Chau’s (2001) study was that students reported that they liked the deliberate mistakes incorporated into their video vignettes as it raised awareness of how practice could be improved. McConville and Lane (2006) also used video clips demonstrating the use of skills in difficult situations. Their study demonstrated that such resources are effective in enhancing the students sense of self-efficacy, that is their confidence in dealing with a particular situation. The videos used as a part of this e-learning resource are limited again by the resources available. Both in terms of time, available equipment and technical expertise.

The editing of the e-learning resource took some time. The content of the slides and audio were reviewed and final changes made. The videos were edited as far as possible to contain the pertinent points and these were linked to slides highlighting the key risk factors  and management plan in such situations.

After discussion of a number of different options in terms of access to the resource it was decided to situate the resource on CityUniversity’s Website. This allowed for. ease of access to the resource by staff at their convenience. This generosity on behalf of the Trust has enabled the resource to be free access to any interested parties.  Consideration of computer access and the learning environment by employers were deemed to be key considerations in a study by Atack (2003) in promoting the uptake of computer based learning.  Although making the e-learning resource open access has been of benefit in many ways it made evaluation of the tool problematic. Initially a link was put into an on-line survey tool. This had to be reconsidered as the resource was available to anyone and it may have led to an unmanageable number of responses or responses being submitted that were non-genuine. To address this, a link was put into the resource where an evaluation form could be printed off and collated by the project lead. This also allowed for evidence that the training had been completed and used as part of supervision.


  The overall feedback has been very good .The respondents all agreed that the resource was easy to use, appropriate to their role, was an appropriate length and was an appropriate method of delivering education within the workplace. There was a more mixed response to the question asking them if they preferred it to class-room teaching with the majority disagreeing or having no preference. One respondent preferred the e-learning to the class-room. The written feedback covered a number of different issues from the practicalities of using the resource, to reflection on it as a learning method. There were also some critiques which can be taken on board should such a project run again.


  • Facilitates reflective learning
  • Videos were helpful
  • Good  support to existing Trust risk training
  • Enjoyed the role play
  • Would like a link person/training day to discuss and debate
  • Provides a balance between class-room and practice
  • Relevant to work environment
  • Appropriate content



  • Time saving
  • Convenient
  • Time should be allocated to the training not just squeezed into the working day
  • Effective method of delivering training
  • Easy to use
  • Relevant to work environment



  • Narration was distracting
  • More information about safer injecting
  • Errors in videos
  • Glitches in the technology


 This was very much a pilot project both in terms of developing new skills and considering the viability of e-learning as a tool within the addictions directorate of East London NHS Foundation Trust. The key issues that have been learned are that to produce a perfect glossy e-learning tool requires significant investment and technological skill but a usable tool can be developed with limited resources and specialist knowledge. The feedback for learners has been generally positive and this project has demonstrated that within small niche services where educational requirements are more specialised in nature, this may be a delivery method that overcomes the difficulties in releasing staff  from the clinical area en masse. This particular tool could also be used within a class-room setting allowing students to discuss the video role- plays and consider alternative strategies in a more blended style of learning.

 The e-learning resource can be viewed at:


Atack.  L. (2003)  Becoming a web-based learner: registered nurses’experiences.  Journal of advanced learning.  44(3) 289-297

Chau.J. Chang.A. Lee.I.  Lee.D.  Wooton. Y.  (2001) Effects of using videotaped vignettes on enhancing students’ critical thinking ability in a baccalaureate nursing programme. Journal of Advanced Nursing.  36 (1)  112-119

McConville. S  Lane.A. (2006)  Using on-line video clips to enhance self-efficacy toward dealing with difficult situations among nursing students.  Nurse Education Today.  26.  200-208

Ross. G.  Tuovinen.J.  (2001)  Deep versus surface learning with multimedia in nursing education.  Computers in Nursing.  19 (5) 213- 223

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