A magic minute? Reflections on a year of 1minuteCPD

1 min CPD

2016, for me and a handful of colleagues, has been a year of micro-learning. At the end of 2015, myself and Cath Wasiuk were considering how we could engage academic colleagues with technology enhanced learning. At the time, we were both employed as Technology Enhanced Learning Advisors at Manchester Met (Cath has since moved up the road to take on a post at The University of Manchester). We were both undertaking a masters in Academic Practice, and as part of this had been researching barriers to staff engagement with CPD. I had also had a strong interest in “just in time” learning for a number of years and was interested in exploring how this approach could be utilised with our academics.

Time and time again

In the research papers we read, “time” was frequently cited as one of the major barriers to staff engagement with training (Singh and Hardaker, 2014; Kopcha, 2012).  Time is needed to learn new software, it is needed to attend training sessions and it is needed to experiment with new approaches to teaching. This, coupled with the fact that teaching is often seen as the poor relation to research, means that TEL training rarely gets top billing with academic staff….there are other demands on academic time that are shouting much more loudly.  Both Cath and I were not newbies to staff development, so this boded with our own conceptions of why staff were reluctant to engage with us…and also why we had spent the year running lunch-time workshops, recorded lunchtime webinars and trying to schedule longer sessions for the summer months where time seemed to be more flexible. However, these approaches still were not attracting staff in the numbers we had hoped for.

During a conversation over coffee we explored the rise in short and snappy approaches to self-improvement becoming crazes on the internet – for example, lean in 15 made famous by Joe Wicks or Go Highbrow, daily emails that follow short courses looking at bite sized tip-bits of knowledge.

What if we did something similar with our academics? How far could we take it?  Without conducting one jot of research we decided that 5 minutes would be too long and that we should try a minute. A minute seemed like a ideal length of time to fight back against the “no time” excuse, everyone can spare a minute right?

1 minute a day. Every day. For one whole year.

Timing is everything. This conversation happened on a cold and wet afternoon in mid-December. We were both readying ourselves for our Christmas break, however, we also recognised that January 1st would be the ideal time to launch our new initiative and encourage academic colleagues  to engage in a one year journey with us; 366 minutes (it’s a leap year) of technology enhanced learning training.

We had to get a wiggle on. We quickly agreed that this project would be open access, we knew that academics worldwide were time-poor, and as we were going to be investing the time into this project, why not share it?

We decided that we would try to focus the post on technology that was freely available or already on licence at Manchester Met. Each video would be kept to a minute long and accompanied by a short and snappy intro presenting the problem to which this video was the solution, and an open-source image to try and capture the essence of the post (a lack of budget has encouraged some creative interpretations of the posts into images).

We aimed to utilise freely available software to help us to host, organise and promote our project.  The blog is hosted on WordPress, which is super easy to use and has a very handy scheduling feature for projects like this one. We linked the blog up to twitter so that each time a post was released it would be tweeted automatically, and we set up a google drive to store spreadsheets and surveys to help us be more organised.

Our first ever post was published on 1st January 2016:

#1 Snip it!

We used twitter to help promote the blog and when we returned to work we included the week’s posts into our weekly faculty newsletters.  The initial interest in the project surprised us, and as it has grown, it has been a really remarkable journey for us all (see Meet the authors, to view the whole team)

As of Decemeber 2016, our 1minuteCPD blog has  over:

  • 12,507 visitors
  • 2066 followers through Twitter, WordPress and by email

The posts have been viewed from across the world (111 different countries), with our major views coming from the UK, the US and Australia:


Reflecting on the year

We started to gather feedback on 1minute CPD fairly early on in the journey.  We started off with a Google survey, which we followed up with some semi-structured interviews with staff. Finally, we recently took part in a Teaching and Learning Conversation webinar, where we received a huge amount of useful feedback (a recording of the session can be accessed here: 1MinuteCPD TLC  ).

In a very brief (executive!) summary, this is what we have learnt from our 1minuteCPD journey:

  1.  1minuteCPD is not the answer to everything, but it is the answer to something: There is something in a minute. the length of the posts is certainly the most popular feedback we received, people like that they are short, snappy and can be quickly digested. However, the majority will still need additional support and guidance to feel confident introducing a new tech to a class, but it does provide a good overview of what is available.
  2. Creating 1 minute of content everyday is possible, but does require a management, admin and organisation: Spreadsheets are your friend, agree a commitment and schedule with the team and consider a house style.
  3. The title of the blog post is an important hook to get people reading the posts: position technology as solutions to a problem, what are you trying to fix.
  4. 1 minute is not enough for some people and still too much for others…we had feedback that people still did not have time to engage, and feedback that people wanted more of the pedagogy behind the technology (difficult in a minute). A possible solution to this is providing links to other resources showing the pedagogical value in the solution, however, this would significantly increase the amount of time it took to produce a post.

Cath and I are currently writing a research paper where we will cover our findings in much more depth…so watch this space.

And what next for 1minuteCPD….?

As we approach the end of the 2016 and the end of our experiment, we have been considering where we go from here for 1minuteCPD. The team is immensely proud of the project and feel it is a real achievement to have met our commitment to one post a day. As for 2017, we’re not entirely sure yet and would be happy to hear any suggestions that you may have! Please feel free to comment below, or email k.soper@mmu.ac.uk

In the meantime I hope you have enjoyed our 1minuteCPD journey, thank you for coming along with us and watch this space for the future!



Kopcha, T. J. (2012) ‘Teachers’ perceptions of the barriers to technology integration and practices with technology under situated professional development.’ Computers & Education, 59(4) pp. 1109-1121.

Singh, G. and Hardaker, G. (2014) ‘Barriers and enablers to adoption and diffusion of eLearning: A systematic review of the literature–a need for an integrative approach.’ Education + Training, 56(2/3) pp. 105-121.


#LTHEChat 58: Distance Learning with Simon Horrocks (@horrocks_simon)

This week’s #LTHEChat will be exploring Distance Learning with our guest, Simon Horrocks. Twitter is an interesting sphere to explore this in, being a (relatively) new mode of communication and space for learning. When I was studying with the Open University a few years ago, the course I completed was delivered entirely online, and was in fact studying distance and online education (an approach I found delightfully post modern and at times couldn’t work out if exercises had been left deliberately obtuse to allow us to experience some of the down falls of distance learning).

The course was delivered primarily through moodle, with forums and the occasional webinar. It was in this space however that I was introduced to Twitter for the first time. Twitter quickly became our student “hangout”, and fulfilled some of the missing coffee chats and post lecture conversations (and moans) that felt stifled in the “official” communications channels of this course. It was through Twitter that I felt we developed as a community of learners…so it is interesting to me now, six years on, to once again be discussing distance learning on Twitter, with my now extended community of peers. See you tomorrow!


Simon Horrocks (@horrocks_simon)

Simon Horrocks is Assistant Director (Development, Learning and Teaching) at the Open University in Wales.  He is responsible for the support provided to the OU students in Wales and also the University’s postgraduate education students who are distributed around the world.  

Simon is @OUCymru’s lead for engagement on student experience matters with the Welsh Government, HEFCW and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

In a past life, Simon was an academic in Film and Media Studies, specialising in South-East Asian cinema and popular music culture.

Distance Learning

Distance learning is not a new phenomenon but it has developed rapidly in the age of the Internet. More and more universities are exploring the opportunities that distance learning presents for reaching a wider range of students in the UK and internationally but this poses a number of questions, not least how pedagogy needs to be adapted to support a distributed…

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#LTHEChat 57: Open CPD with Chris Rowell @chri5rowell

This week I am facilitating the #LTHEchat with Chris Rowell. On Wednesday between 8-9pm we will be discussing Open CPD. This is a topic I am particularly interested in. Some of you may be aware that myself, along with three colleagues, are currently engaged in an experiment in microlearning. We have created an open access CPD resource called 1MinuteCPD.

We decided to explore microlearning to see if it could help encourage time-poor staff to engage in regular CPD activities, with a focus on improving digital capabilities and exposing staff to different ways technology can be used to enhance teaching and learning. We have been thrilled with the response and take-up of the resource, and it has been a fantastic experience to be involved in.

I think that this chat will be a really great way to hear about other experiences people have had with creating and using open CPD resources and I encourage you to join in! If you’ve not taken part in a tweetchat before, simply follow the #LTHEchat hashtag and feel free to lurk until you feel ready to join in. It’s a really friendly bunch and a fun way to learn…..


cdkZXs9S Chris Rowell @Chri5rowell

Hi my name is Chris Rowell and I am a Deputy Learning Technology Manager at Regent’s University in London. Previously I was a Lecturer in Economics (1990- 2005) and a Lecturer in Education (2005-2010) at the University Centre Croydon.

My first degree (BA Hons) is in Economics. I have a PGCE  and I also have two MA’s in Development Studies and Education (eLearning). More recently I have completed Prince2 training for project management.Currently I am doing a Doctorate in Education at the Institute of Education, UCL.

My research interests are all things to do with Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). More specifically the evaluation of TEL by both staff and students in Higher Education.

I am an assistant editor of the Association for Learning Technology’s (ALT)  newsletter. Previously I have been a  member of the Staff and Educational Development Association’s (SEDA) National Executive (2015-10)  and Conference Committee…

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#LTHEChat 56: Innovative Pedagogy in Higher Education, with Prof. Ale Armellini (@alejandroa)

This week’s #LTHEchat is focusing on innovative pedagogy in higher education. A challenging topic and one that encourages us to think more deeply about our roles and responsibilities to students and the impact that our choices has upon them.

This weekend I listened to an interesting podcast by Hybrid Pod, which included an interview with Janine DeBaise. During this interview Janine suggests that we should engage more critically with pedagogies and question where they have come from.  Why is this approach now popular? Who is pushing this? Janine encourages us to think more about the unintended side effects of different types of teaching approaches.

With this in mind, I am looking forward to facilitating this week’s chat and reading everyone’s perspective on this topic…


Armellini Ale headshot Armellini Ale @alejandroa

Professor Alejandro Armellini is the Director of the Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at the University of Northampton. The mission of the Institute is to enable transformational learning experiences through inspirational teaching. Ale’s key role is to provide leadership in the area of learning and teaching across all schools and services.

Ale has extensive international teaching and programme development experience across different education sectors. Over the years, he has used, researched and refined the structured CAIeRO process (elsewhere known as Carpe Diem) and other evidence-based design-for-learning interventions to promote positive change in HE provision across modes of study. Teams under his leadership have researched the application of learning technologies in diverse academic settings. His PhD tutees research specific areas in the field of educational technology, pedagogy, openness and innovation. He is active in consultancy work globally.

During this week’s chat, Ale will be exploring…

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#LTHEChat 55 : Bilingual German/English May 18th – Opening-up HE for non-traditional students, Martina Emke

This week’s #LTHEChat will be a bilingual exploration (German and English) of opening up HE to non-traditional students. I strongly recommend having a read of Martina Emke’s thought provoking blog post, which introduces the topic. How can we enable students to draw on their experiences outside of university to keep their studying relevant and personal? What techniques do you use to balance the needs of traditional and non-traditional students? There are lots of things to consider in this, perhaps even, to play devils advocate, if any distinction should be made between traditional and non-traditional students at all? Have a read and don’t forget to join us on Wednesday 18th 8-9pm BST for this fascinating and bilingual #LTHEchat!


#LTHEChat 55: Die Öffnung der Hochschulen für nicht-traditionelle Studierende

OFFENE_HOCHSCHULE_portraits_00986 Martina Emke @martinaemke

Who are non-traditional students? According toa 2015 report by theNational Center for Education Statistics (NCSC) there is no clear definition. However, there seem to be some characteristics that many non-traditional students (NTS) share: NTS often study part-time, work full-time and have dependents. Another common factor seems to be that for many NTS the support of university staff and the institution, to help increase their confidence in learning and address practical and personal issues, is crucial for their success at university study (Field, Merrill & West, 2012).

NTS already possess professional knowledge and work experience which influence their attitude towards studying. Research suggests that they are interested in applying knowledge and that they are determined and committed to learning and studying because they have clear goals, which are often connected to pursuing a professional career (Johnson…

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#LTHEchat 52: Managing negative use of social media and cyberbullying, Dr Bex Lewis

Join us for this week’s LTHEChat on Managing negative use of social media and cyberbullying (Wed 20th 8-9pm BST). I met up with Dr Bex Lewis this week to help her draft up her questions (always helps to have someone to bounce ideas off!). The topic is an  interesting and emotive one, and one that most people can relate to. I enjoyed my chat with Bex, it was fascinating to discuss some of the nuances of the topic.  Bex has come up with some really thought provoking questions, and it should be a great LTHEChat. I can’t wait to see your responses.

I’m Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, with a particular interest in digital culture, especially within faith and values-focused organisations. Previous rol…

Source: #LTHEchat 52: Managing negative use of social media and cyberbullying, Dr Bex Lewis

What the flip? Exploring technologies to support a flipped classroom

Fly by Hani Amir shared via CC licence

Fly by Hani Amir shared via CC licence

What is a flipped classroom?

A flipped classroom is one where the lectures become the homework and the traditional homework tasks take place in the lesson time. This enables students to attend sessions with an understanding of the subject and to conceptualise and build upon it through doing exercises in class, with you, as the tutor, on hand to answer questions and explore the topic in more detail. This moves the tutor from the “sage on the stage, to the guide on the side” (King, 1993).

Why should I flip?

Flipping your classroom does involve a bit of planning and preparation, however when it is implemented well it has a  positive impact on the student experience and their attainment (Nwosisi et al, 2016, Bishop & Verleger, 2013, ).

Don’t forget, you don’t have to flip ALL your lessons all the time to have an impact (Nwosisi et al, 2016). Why not plan in a couple of sessions in the next academic year that gives you (and the students) a chance to explore a flipped classroom approach?

What tech do I need?

You definitely don’t need much tech to flip your classroom, if you have access to the internet then you’ll have most of the tools to hand already!

Creating your own content:

  • Voice over PowerPoint – This is really easy to do and turns your PowerPoints into a video for your students to watch. Check out this #1miniuteCPD guide to see how to use it: #2 Podcast your PowerPoints!
  • Screen recording tools – there’s a host of different tools available to capture a screen recording (i.e. record what you can see on your PC). You can use this to demonstrate to students how to use a piece of software or provide an audio commentary on some online content amongst some of the uses. There are many different screen capture softwares available, with lots of them being free. Have a look at these #1minuteCPD guides to screen capture recording: #1minuteCPD guides to screen recording

Exploring existing content:

It is also worth exploring some of the excellent (and free) materials that are available on-line already.

  • TED Talks – if you’re not familiar with TED Talks I strongly recommend having a look. They cover a range of different topics in interesting and engaging ways.
  • Khan Academy :  A large collection of free lectures on a large range of topics. Khan Academy has a teacher function that enables you to manage your class.
  • YouTube: There is so much free online content on YouTube. This is a great place to have a look for content that you could use to enhance your flipped classroom.

*MMU staff…If you’re not sure how to add video content to your Moodle area, check out these #1minuteCPD videos:

#87 Adding a web link in Moodle
#57 Embed ANY Web 2.0 content into Moodle!
#44 How to upload video files to Moodle
#16 Embedding YouTube videos in Moodle

Making video content more active

OK – so even in a flipped classroom model, you’ll want to encourage your students to reflect and engage with the content. There are some great, free tools available that allow you to add in questions, audio-clips and reflection points onto video content. You don’t even have to have made the video yourself.

Ed Puzzle is a good example of such a tool, as is Ed Ted (a companion to TED Talks).

#1minuteCPD have done an introduction video to Ed Puzzle, which provides a good indication of how it works: #170 An introduction to Ed Puzzle [1/2]: Make video learning active! 

Prepare your students!

One of the most important parts of flipping your classroom is to talk to your students first. Having a conversation about why you are using this approach, what your commitment will be, what their commitment will be, etc. will help to ensure that they engage with the process.  Be ready to listen to their concerns and be prepared to be flexible in your responses.  As I have explored in a previous blog post, ( Can we change how we think about teaching and learning?), many students will have a preconceived idea about what “good teaching” and “good learning” looks like. Be prepared to explore and challenge these conceptions before you introduce a flipped classroom model.

What if it flops?

Of course it won’t! However, in the spirit of over, rather than under, preparing, before you flip take a look at this great blog post by Carolyn Fruin,  What to do when your flipped classroom flops? 


Bishop, J.L. and Verleger, M.A., 2013, June. The flipped classroom: A survey of the research. In ASEE National Conference Proceedings, Atlanta, GA.

King, A., 1993. From sage on the stage to guide on the side. College teaching41(1), pp.30-35

Nwosisi, C., Ferreira, A., Rosenberg, W. and Walsh, K., 2016. A Study of the Flipped Classroom and Its Effectiveness in Flipping Thirty Percent of the Course Content. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 6(5), p.348.

#LTHEchat 51: Networks of distributed creativity with Laura Gogia, Frances Bell and Catherine Cronin

I have recently joined the facilitating team for the #LTHEChat (Learning & Teaching in Higher Education), which takes place every Wednesday on Twitter between 8pm and 9pm BST. It’s a great online community, the chats are always fascinating and a fantastic opportunity to learn from others in the Higher Education community.

Check out tonight’s chat, it’s going to be a good one!

We – Laura Gogia, Frances Bell and Catherine Cronin – have worked for the last year on preparing an interactive symposium for Networked Learning 2016 that looks at the Networked Learnin…

Source: #LTHEchat 51: Networks of distributed creativity with Laura Gogia, Frances Bell and Catherine Cronin

Challenging conceptions: Can we change how we think about teaching and learning?

Challenging Conceptions

As part of my MA I have been reading a fair amount of research into how our conceptions of what teaching and learning is, can impact not only on our approaches to teaching and learning but also what we intrinsically value in the same. Anyone who has been (kindly) reading my blog for a while, may be familiar with my reflective ramblings that don’t often offer up answers – I’m sorry to say that this post will be another along that thread.

The more I have read, the more this issue seems to be fundamentally important to any progress we make within Higher Education, with or without technology. This might be painfully obvious to some of you, however please bear with me on this as this is my own journey of discovery, which also involves a small amount of reminiscing.

What is learning?

This is the question that was posed to me back in 2010 whilst I was studying on the OU’s PGCert in Online and Distance Education. “That’s easy!” I thought,”learning is the transference of knowledge”.  My tutor listened patiently whilst we listed various descriptors of learning all along a similar theme. “So”, my tutor prodded, “knowledge is something that is neutral and can be passed directly from my head to yours, unadulterated?”. That definitely didn’t seem right to me, but that is how I had just described learning, and so had many of my peers.

That moment was a true “light bulb moment” for me. We spent the next hour debating what learning was, how it occurred, what circumstances need to happen for learning to take place and I really believe it was a transformative moment in my life. I had never, during the previous sixteen years of education , ever, stopped to think about what learning is. Interestingly, and entirely anecdotally, it transformed how I approached learning and viewed the role of Alex, our tutor. No longer was Alex a steely gatekeeper of facts, but a prompting facilitator, helping us make our bumbling way to conclusions that were all the more meaningful, and memorable, for the winding route taken to get there.

How often do we ask learners to examine what learning is? To question the language that they use to describe learning? To consider why they are learning? To what end?

During my entire under-graduate experience, I had not been asked this question once. Could that transformative moment have happened years earlier?

Why do conceptions matter anyway?

Now this is where a lot of my research has been focused. Most of this research is interested in examining the language that people use to describe either teaching or learning and broadly speaking, both can be whittled down to two main groups (made up of sub categories within it).

For brevity, the two main groups for concepts of teaching are made up of people who conceptualise content as the main focus of learning (transmissive) or those that conceptualise the learner as the focus of learning (faciliative). These should be seen as points on a scale, where people can fall anywhere in between the two (Kember & Kwan, 2000).

Interestingly, learners can also be split into two main camps in terms of their conceptions of learning (Säljö, 1979). Again, for brevity, these can be broadly described as those that perceive learning to be passive and those that perceive learning to be active.

And this is where it starts to become important, passive learners who are being taught by faciliative tutors can find the process to be unfamiliar and distressing. This method of teaching does not sit with their expectations of what ‘good teaching’ looks like, or their expectations of higher education as a place to be ‘lectured at’ by experts.

A relationship has also been demonstrated between teachers approaches to teaching in Higher Education and how learners approach learning –  so, content focused teaching results in students who are also focused on the content and recall, and not upon developing a conceptual change in their knowledge or understanding (Lindblom-Ylänne et al, 2006).

What has this got to do with technology enhanced learning?

For higher education to be successful, I believe, that we are aiming for students to take a transformative approach to learning. We don’t want them to simply memorise facts or learn by rote, but to challenge and engage with content, the tutor and one another. This cannot be done through lecturing alone, by only prioritising the delivery of content or facts.

If we are trying to achieve technology enhanced learning and not technology replicated learning (or teaching for that matter), we are looking to innovate how teaching and learning happens in higher education.

Typically, and sometimes unfairly, staff are held up as barriers to this change, but i think it is also worth exploring student expectations and understandings of what learning is and what it means to learn. We need to invite them to explore their existing frameworks of what it means to be a university student and examine the role they play in their learning  – is it active or passive?

Research has also explored how our HE institutions, despite vocalising support for a learner-centric approach to teaching, undermine the good intentions by providing an environment that makes innovation and change impossible to achieve (Gibbs & Coffey, 2004).  Our teaching spaces are still geared up to support a “sage on the stage” approach, the class sizes are increasing, academic workload is growing and timetables are by necessity rigid and unyielding to changes in approach. Where do we expect innovation to happen? Where are the safe places for experimentation?

Is it really any surprise that lecturing is still the dominant teaching method in higher education? Without encouraging teachers, learners and those responsible for policy and strategies, to explicitly examine what they believe good teaching and good learning looks like, and to engage in debates around this, we cannot ever assume that we are all working towards the same goals.



Gibbs, G., & Coffey, M. (2004). The impact of training of university teachers on their teaching skills, their approach to teaching and the approach to learning of their students. Active learning in higher education, 5(1), 87-100.

Kember, D., & Kwan, K. P. (2002). Lecturers’ approaches to teaching and their relationship to conceptions of good teaching. In Teacher thinking, beliefs and knowledge in higher education (pp. 219-239). Springer Netherlands.

Lindblom‐Ylänne, S., Trigwell, K., Nevgi, A., & Ashwin, P. (2006). How approaches to teaching are affected by discipline and teaching context. Studies in Higher education, 31(03), 285-298

Säljö, R. (1979). Learning about learning. Higher Education, 8(4), 443-451.



Let’s get physical! Ways to introduce active learning into your lectures

What is Active Learning?

Active learning is about engaging students in more activities than just listening. It places an emphasis of responsibility onto the learners as they must actively engage with the process for it to be a success, they are no longer sitting and waiting for us to fill their heads with knowledge.

Within higher education the emphasis of active learning has been on transforming the lecture model. It is a movement away from ‘sage on the stage’ and puts the lecturer into the role of expert guide and facilitator. We are there to help students to synthesize, construct and develop their own knowledge and understanding, rather than to try and transmit knowledge, unadulterated, from our heads into theirs.

The traditional lecture model is still the dominant teaching approach in UK HEIs and has changed very little in 600 years (See: Twilight of the lecture). Active learning aims to challenge that.

Why should I make my lectures more active?

Consider how you best learn. What have been your most positive memories? What do you remember after an hour or two hour lecture?

There has been an awful lot of research that points to lecturing as a fairly ineffective way of teaching. Students remember 70% of the first 10 minutes and 20% of the last 10 minutes of a lecture (Hartley and Davies, 1978).  By reducing the amount of time you spend lecturing, you are greatly improving the students’ chances of understanding and retaining that information.

Research has also shown that how much new information students can retain from a lecture is also limited (Russell, Hendrieson and Herbert, 1984).  Students who attended a “low density” lecture (containing 50% new information), retained more than those who had attended a “high density” lecture (containing 90% new information).  When new information wasn’t being presented, the lecturers spent time reinforcing old information, contextualising and providing examples.  This research implies that trying to give students too much new information in a lecture is actually counter-productive and that the time would be better spent in activities designed to reinforce selected key new concepts and giving students space to explore these thoroughly.

OK I’m sold! What can I do to make my lectures more active?

One of the most important aspects of active learning is to carefully design your activities around your learning outcomes and to encourage the students to think about what it is they are learning (Prince, 2004).

Studies have shown that introducing 1-3 minute pauses throughout the lecture dramatically increases recall and performance. This is also known as the pause procedure . This pause can be used to ask the students to discuss a key concept in pairs, to reflect on and answer a question, to explain their notes to a peer. A research project  by Ruhl et al used the pause procedure to break up a 45 minute lecture into three sections.  After each section he introduced a two minute break where the students were asked to work in pairs to consolidate their notes. This produced a marked improvement in student grades (see: Ruhl, et al, 1987).

Another popular method is the flipped classroom. When you flip the classroom the “lecture” element is given to students as homework and then the time in the lecture is used to discuss and explore the key concepts and work on activities that assist students in developing their own understanding.

For example, you could provide a key reading or video that you want them to read or watch in advance of your session in your Moodle area – check out BoB , which contains a huge video archive, TEDTalks, which has some  excellent lectures on a variety of topics or MIT Open Courseware, which is the open area of the University of Massachusetts and also contains lectures on a wide variety of topics that are freely shared with other educators.

If you like you could also try recording your lectures, or part of your lectures, in advance.  Tools like BB flashback (on standard build on all MMU machines), Voice over powerpoint, Audacity or even using a SWIVL, are all easy ways to record your lecture to provide to students in advance.

If you’d like some more advice on flipped classrooms, check out this excellent (and honest!) blog by Carolyn Fruin: What to do when your flipped classroom flops

Ready to give it a go? These tools might help!

Tools for quizzes:

Use in lecture quizzes to create refresher points or spark discussions. An simple Yes/No or multiple choice question can be used to gauge the mood of group. If there is not a consensus then ask the students to buddy up with someone with a different opinion to them, and to discuss. Ask the question again and see how the opinions have changed (See: http://harvardmagazine.com/2012/03/twilight-of-the-lecture).

Below is a list of different software that can be used in lectures to ask questions to the group. Students can use their mobiles, tablets or laptops to post an answer. Each of these systems has a ‘free to use’ element, although most also have a paid option with more features.

Tools for free-text responses:

Encourage students to confer and reflect in pairs, why not ask them to submit their reflections online so you can check their understanding and share with the group?

Tools for pre-recording:

If you’d like to have a go at providing your lectures in advance, have a look at these tools to help get you started.

Tools for providing pre-session resources in Moodle

If you have clips for them to watch or a reading for them to complete, putting it into your Moodle area lets the students complete this in advance of the class.


Prince, Michael. “Does active learning work? A review of the research.”JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION-WASHINGTON- 93 (2004): 223-232.

Ruhl, K., C. Hughes, and P. Schloss, “Using the Pause Procedure to Enhance Lecture Recall,” Teacher Education and Special Education, Vol. 10, Winter 1987, pp. 14–18

Russell, I. Jon, William D. Hendricson, and Robert J. Herbert. “Effects of lecture information density on medical student achievement.” Academic Medicine 59.11 (1984): 881-9.