A selection of current and past projects in areas including education, learning, technology, inclusion, academic development and pedagogic scholarship are outlined below. Click on the images to visit the project blogs or websites to get a little more detail. Some of the projects also provide access to resources for potential reuse.

eTextbook Institutional Publishing Service (eTIPS)

Logo for eTIPS project

The eTIPS project is a collaboration between the University of the Highlands and Islands and Edinburgh Napier University, and is one of four three-year projects funded by JISC as part of their Institution as e-Textbook Publisher programme. The key question that JISC is asking the projects to address is “Will the institution as e-textbook creator help students by providing a more affordable higher education, and promote a better, more sustainable information environment for libraries, students and faculty?” (See JISC project programme page)

Our focus within the eTIPS project, beyond the general aim, is to produce two research focused e-textbooks for students (one a practical guide on undertaking a research dissertation, the other on research methods) and a companion website featuring tutorials, interactivities, and expert advice from academics across a range of disciplines. The eTIPS project is due to conclude in 2017.

Government funded technology-enhanced learning research project

Image of 3E Framework labelled confidential

Multi-partner project led by Edinburgh Napier University over 2013-2014, focused on researching the evidence of ‘e-learning effectiveness’ for a large government funded agency and producing a number of guidelines and tools that would enable them to harness blended and online approaches in their own educational contexts. One of the main deliverables was a customised version of the 3E Framework.

Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice

Logo for Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice

Less of a project, more of an initiative. The Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice is an open online journal with a particular (though not exclusive) remit to support academic colleagues in the disciplines, or those working in other aspects of learning and teaching, who are new or early career scholars in terms of publishing their learning and teaching or educational research work.

Initially co-founded by Dr Karen Strickland (Robert Gordon University), Dr Panos Vlachopoulos (Macquarie University), Dr David Walker (University of Sussex) and myself, JPAAP has a developmental ethos that involves non-blind peer review, peer support for new authors, a range of paper formats, opportunities for those new to reviewing, and opportunities for guest editing and editorial internships.

Our first special issue addressed Higher Education teaching in Further Education colleges, and our second forthcoming special issue (due in May 2015) is on the theme of Learning and Teaching in the Distributed University.

Global Dimensions in Higher Education


JISC/HEA funded collaboration originally between Aston University, Edinburgh Napier University, and the University of Dundee, now being taken forward by the core project team in their new roles at Macquarie University, University of Sussex, and University of the Highlands and Islands. The GD in HE project has two key aims: (i) developing (through action research and public inquiry) an open online course for use on Pg Certs Learning and Teaching and for staff development purposes that will engage educators in collaboratively exploring key global issues in higher education, and (ii) researching the challenges and opportunities of cross-institutional open online course development.

The GD in HE course is due to be piloted in 2015 before being made available as a suite of Open Educational Resources (OER).

The following paper about the project, which addresses the ethos of the development and progress made in the initial stages, won the Ascilite 2013 Best Paper Award in the category of ‘Imagining Future Possibilities’.

Smyth, K., Vlachopoulos, P., Walker, D. and Wheeler, A. (2014) Cross-institutional development of an online open course for educators: confronting current challenges and imagining future possibilities. In M. Gosper, J. Hedberg, and H. Carter (Eds.) Electric Dreams. Proceedings of ascilite Sydney 2013, pp.826-829. Available online,%20Keith.php

Choose Life @ Simpson House


A Simpson House (@SimpsonH2020) and Edinburgh Napier University collaboration, funded under the NHS Choose Life national strategy for suicide prevention. The focus of this project was on improving outreach and support for recovery service users and those at potential risk of suicide, with an important part of the project focused on the role digital tools and resources can play in extending access to services and peer support opportunities. Through the project the Choose Life @ Simpson House group is thriving.

Thinking Digitally


Working with Emma Whitelock (@ewhitelock) at Lead (Linking Education and Disability) Scotland, we developed, piloted and successfully credit rated (at SCQF Level 6) the Thinking Digitally short course. This is focused around negotiated online learning opportunities that involve the development of digital skills and literacies through creating digital artefacts on any chosen topic, with learning assessed against learning outcomes that relate to the digital literacies developed on the course. The idea is that learners can evidence their learning in relation to a chosen topic, the wider digital skills they have developed as a result, and then use the credits gained to access further learning opportunities should they wish. Emma is now rolling out Thinking Digitally within and beyond Lead Scotland, working in partnership with other agencies and projects

Write-TEL (and Write-TEL 2)


Write-TEL (Writing for Publication in Technology-Enhanced Learning) was developed out of Edinburgh Napier’s MSc Blended and Online Education, as a staff development initiative to provide educators with a fully online, supported opportunity to author their first paper for publication relating to their TEL work. Write-TEL was piloted in 2011 with Nicola Whitton (@nicwhitton) from Manchester Metropolitan University and Julia Fotheringham at Edinburgh Napier (@juliafoth), and run again on a larger scale in 2012 with additional facilitator input from colleagues at Aston, Edinburgh Napier and Salford universities. Funding for both iterations was received through an Edinburgh Napier Teaching Fellows Grant.

There’s a case study evaluation of the initial run of Write-TEL in the UCISA (2011) Best practice guide ‘Engaging hearts and minds: engaging with academics in the use of technology-enhanced Learning’, pp.52-58. Write-TEL 3 is currently being mooted, although with the scope broadened out to other aspects of academic practice.

Evaluating an online community for professional development


Colin Gray (@elearningcolin), formerly Edinburgh Napier University now University of Abertay Dundee, led the development of the Edinburgh Napier Education Exchange as an online networking resource to support collaboration amongst academic staff and to provide online professional development opportunities. Both the Write-TEL project described above and Edinburgh Napier’s MSc Blended and Online Education then used the Exchange for various activities. We sourced some funding to evaluate staff use of the platform, implement improvements and disseminate our findings. You can find one the papers we produced in Vol 10 Issue 3 of EJEL.

Taking forward change in technology-enhanced education


Mark Johnson (@mwjtweet) at University of Bolton and myself ran this initiative across 2010 and 2011. It involved a series of regional workshops around the UK for participating institutional teams of stakeholders to come together to discuss institutional strategy in technology-enhanced education, and provided a space to explore different stakeholder perspectives with input from a nationally renowned guest expert at each of the regional workshops. Some of the participating teams returned for a wrap-up conference, and the series of events led to the publication in 2011 of a Special Issue of the Journal Campus Wide Information Systems on the theme of Learning technology and institutional strategy (Vol 28, No 4).

At the site above you can access more about the workshops, copies of guest expert presentations, and copies of workshop activities and materials if your are interested in tailoring them to run similar kinds of events in your own institution.

TESEP (Transforming and Enhancing the Student Experience through Pedagogy)


TESEP was a JISC managed, Scottish Funding Council (SFC) funded project which was part of the SFC’s e-learning and institutional transformation programme. It was essentially a staff development project, within which educators from across the three partner institutions were supported in redesigning one of their courses to harness current and (at the time) emerging read/write technologies in ways that promoted learner choice and control, collaborative learning, and learners as co-creators of knowledge and resources. The project outputs, including video case studies, re-usable staff development resources, a comprehensive evaluation matrix tool, and reports detailing how we cascaded the work of the project across the partner institutions are all captured in the Transform website shown above.

The Transform website is really now a document of the project’s activities and outputs across 2005-2008, but there’s a lot there that continues to be used within and outside the partner institutions. This includes the proceedings of the 2008 Learners in the Co-creation of Knowledge Symposium that officially wrapped TESEP up and which featured a range of thought-provoking papers by educators from across the UK.

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