Seeing how it all fits together – a timeline for Art History

Last year Professor Liz James (Art History) received a Digital Practice Award. The purpose of the funding was to give staff the opportunity to develop or experiment with new tools, resources or teaching approaches with the potential to inform practice in their School or disciplinary area.

Recently I interviewed Liz to find out how her project went.

What was the learning or teaching issue that prompted this innovation?

The project was a response to an issue raised by a student on the Art and the City module which covers the whole history of Rome. Lectures are chronological, but as Liz points out, ‘something like the Forum might have significance across different periods’ so keeping the different elements from the lectures ‘in order’ and understanding how it all fitted together can be difficult. The student asked: ‘Could we have a timeline?’

The Forum (image by Liz James)

The Forum (image by Liz James)

Liz was keen:

‘It made an enormous amount of sense to have a timeline but it seemed stupid to do a paper timeline and it seemed stupid to do a timeline as a word document or anything like that. It seemed to make more sense to see if it was possible to do this electronically and create a timeline that could then sit on the Study Direct site and could be added to on a year-by-year basis.’

What did you do?

Along with the funding, came focused support from members of the Technology Enhanced Learning team who investigated commercially available timeline tools. After some discussion with students Sutori (formerly HSTRY) was selected for the project because:

‘It was something that seemed very simple and straightforward that could be rolled-over year-on-year and could be added to very straightforwardly by the students.’

extract from the Rome timeline

extract from the Rome timeline

You can read more about Sutori in our post ‘Tell a story with Sutori’.

How did the project go?

The innovation went pretty well. There was a technical issue with Sutori when trying to register all the students to use the timeline, but it seems that may now have been resolved. This year we will try signing up all the students in a workshop to enable any issues to be quickly identified. Once they got started, though:

‘the idea of an electronic timeline was successful and the students liked it and the additions that they made to it were very good and very helpful …. Feedback from students was that it was useful.’

Class visit to Rome 2017

What next?

We wondered where Liz and her students would like to take their timeline for the future.

‘In terms of what it delivers the Sutori timeline is pretty decent, but what we would ideally like to do is to generate linked timelines. What we’ve got is a timeline of the history of Rome from Romulus and Remus (or not) to the present. What might also be interesting to do is generate a timeline that is the history of The Forum running through, or a particular artist and how that intersects.’

This is not something that can be done with Sutori in quite the way that Liz envisages it, but it is possible to add all sorts of web links to a Sutori story, so a ‘Forum’ timeline could be included in the ‘Rome’ timeline offering a point at which the story could branch out.

Meanwhile, Liz will be using Sutori timelines with other courses she teaches, and colleagues in Art History are interested in using it themselves.

This was a very simple and straightforward project, but ‘it’s one of those simple ideas that actually can make a great difference to the student learning experience’.

Throughout, the emphasis was on students using the timeline, ‘putting things on the timeline that they think are important or are worth noting … not about the lecturers and tutors putting all the things on the timeline that they think should be there.’

The timeline will grow over the next few years, and will then become ‘a record of student interests and places that students go to – and that’s not always the same year on year’ so Liz is expecting its development to be fun.

If you are teaching at the University of Sussex and would like help with using technology in your teaching you can get help from the Technology Enhanced Learning team by emailing 

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Posted in Learning Design, Learning Spaces, Mobile learning, Technology Enhanced Learning

Professional Development Opportunities for the Start-of-Term

TEL Professional Development

We’re pleased to announce a new programme of professional development opportunities for the beginning of the new term, which are open to all academic and professional staff. These seven workshops, running at various times over the next three weeks, provide a mix of our tried-and-tested introductions to University systems, software and equipment, with new workshops to inspire your teaching and learning practices. They are open for booking by University of Sussex staff via:

All the workshops are delivered by our specialist team of Learning Technologists and are free to attend. We will be adding a range of additional sessions with a mix of new topics throughout the term. Read more ›

Posted in digital skills, Marking and assessment, Study Direct, Technology Enhanced Learning

Nearpod – engaging, interactive and new to @SussexUni

Over the coming academic year Technology Enhanced Learning will be working with colleagues from across the academic schools to evaluate Nearpod, an interactive presentation tool new to the University of Sussex.

So, what is Nearpod?

Nearpod is a tool which allows you to create engaging presentations. You can make your presentations more interactive and enhance student engagement by adding various different  activities including open ended questions, polls, quizzes, ‘Draw it’ slides – a whiteboard feature for annotating images or gathering ideas during discussions, and Collaborate slides – a space for students to pool and share ideas, images and resources in real time. In addition to this you can include text, images, audio and video as well as embedded web pages and PDFs. Read more ›

Posted in Active learning, Mobile learning

First impressions on Turnitin Feedback Studio from Sussex staff

This week, we provide a summary of first impressions from members of staff at the University of Sussex on Turnitin Feedback Studio.

Between July and September, Technology Enhanced Learning have been busy running a series of workshops at the University of Sussex to introduce staff to the latest changes to Turnitin. The changes have been introduced due to the recent update and rebrand of the Turnitin software to ‘Feedback Studio’. See A first look at Turnitin Feedback Studio for further details.

During this period, we have run a total of 6 workshops and trained over 100 members of staff in using the new look Feedback Studio. The workshops were open to all members of staff and were attended by everyone from course coordinators, curriculum and assessment officers through to associate tutors, teaching fellows, senior lecturers and professors. Our current programme of Feedback Studio workshops has now come to an end, however, due to popular demand, we will be announcing more soon.

As part of the workshop, we included an activity to give participants the opportunity evaluate and share their thoughts on the updates to the new software. After spending 20 minutes using and testing the new software, we asked staff to consider the following questions:

  • How will Feedback Studio be of benefit to you?
  • How will Feedback Studio be of benefit to your students?
  • Can you foresee any issues or challenges?

Over the duration of the workshop programme, staff entered a combined total of 115 comments in response to these questions onto a Padlet wall (an online space for sharing comments). I have summarised the comments below:

How will Feedback Studio be of benefit to you?

  • Improved user experience: the update includes lots of small changes which on the whole add up to make it a more efficient, intuitive and user-friendly for markers using the software.
  • Single interface to combine grading and similarity: the ability to view both the similarity report and feedback comments at the same time provides the marker with a more useful overview of the students work.
  • Commenting tools: for formatting text and adding active web links will allow markers to provide richer feedback and help students to learn independently.

How will Feedback Studio be of benefit to your students?

  • Simplified layout: will help students to access, digest and reflect on their feedback more effectively as it is now more clearly visible and presented.
  • Mobile responsive design: means that students are more likely to engage with their feedback now that Turnitin is available across all smartphones and tablets.
  • Viewing rubric forms: students are much more likely to be able to view and find their rubrics due to the new design.

Can you foresee any issues or challenges?

  • Quality assurance processes: there is still nothing in place to support workflows for blind and double marking, or view useful data e.g. the spread of marks across an assessment.
  • Using rubric forms: a number of members of staff commented that rubrics are still too clunky for markers to use, they are difficult to create and edit once they have been set up.
  • Editorial software: the software has a feel of editorial software rather than something which actively encourages good practice in providing feedback which promotes deeper learning.

In summary, the changes to Turnitin have so far been very positively received by staff during our training sessions. The general feeling seems to be that Turnitin has made a lot of small changes to modernise and improve their software which should provide small efficiencies to improve the workflow for marking and make it easier for students to access and navigate their feedback. Please stay tuned to our website for details of further workshops.

Posted in feedback, Study Direct

The campus is dead, long live the campus.

Take a moment to think about all spaces in which you learn. Whilst certainly not an exhaustive list, here are a few I could think of:


Formal (on campus) Informal (on campus) Public spaces Home Online
Lecture theatre Cafe Library Office Virtual learning environment (VLE)
Library Bar Bar Living room Massive open online course (MOOC)
Seminar room Park Cafe Kitchen Social Networks
Laboratory Foyers Park Dining table Blogs
Office Corridors Bedroom

Do you have a favourite space? What have I missed?

We must also consider learning spaces from the point of view of our own minds. Are we, at all times in the right ‘headspace’ for learning. What if we are in debt, struggling to pay the bills, have a newborn at home, or have a hangover from the night before? Maslow tells us that in these situations, it would be futile to attempt any of the 4 C’s of modern education; creating, critical thinking, collaborating and communicating. Read more ›

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Posted in Learning Spaces

AI and the future of Higher Education.

One of the most talked about advances occurring around the world at the moment is the rapid rise of AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning. Some are calling it the biggest technological shift since the industrial revolution. It seems very likely to touch and change every part of our world and society, Stephen Hawking has called AI ‘either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity’. This post looks at some ways it is currently being used in education and where it might go next.

To get one of the biggest fears out of the way, it seems very unlikely that AI will replace human educators. A 2017 report predicts only 8.5% of educational jobs in the UK are considered at high risk of automation over the coming years. Rather, AI will enable the role of the educator to evolve into new forms, potentially as guide and facilitator of knowledge. AI could free up educators’ time and resources to pursue more interesting learning outcomes and focus more on deeper learning. Read more ›

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Posted in Technology Enhanced Learning

Creating an Online Induction – Podcast Episode 12

In this episode, Tab Betts talks to Dr. Catherine Pope and Helen Hampson about how they created an online induction for doctoral research students. Our discussion touches on WordPress blogs, consulting learners about their individual needs and microlearning via short videos.

‘New Doctoral Researchers at Sussex’ Online Induction
Dr Catherine Pope (and her blog: The Digital Researcher)
Helen Hampson
Researcher Development Programme

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Posted in Accessibility

Padlet for collaborative learning.

Over the last couple of years we have often mentioned Padlet in our blog posts* and workshops but never devoted a whole blog post to this versatile tool. As there have been some useful updates recently this seems like a good time to have a closer look at Padlet and how it can be used in teaching and learning.

What is Padlet?

Padlet provides a free virtual wall where users can post content and comments. Most types of digital content can be added to a Padlet (directly or as a web link) and the options for layout, access and permissions make it useful in a wide range of settings.

An example of a Padlet showing some of the content that can be posted.

An example of a Padlet showing some of the content that can be posted. Click on the image to see it on Padlet.

How are people using Padlet?

Many staff at the University of Sussex are using Padlet for collaborative work and learning. Two of the first projects using Padlet at the University were outlined in this post on the #altc blog by Professor Lucy Robinson (History) and Dr Rebecca Webb (Education) which show how versatile it can be. Where Lucy and her students were using Padlet to create learning resources, Rebecca’s students used it as a social and reflective space.  

More recently, Dr Wendy Garnham’s Foundation Year Psychology students have been creating a rich mix of digital artefacts during seminars and sharing them to group Padlet walls for others to comment on. Wendy and some of the students presented their use of Padlet at the Sussex Teaching and Learning Conference 2017 and you can hear Wendy talk about Transforming Seminars with Padlet for the Teaching with Tech Podcast. Read more ›

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Posted in App review, Mobile learning

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We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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