ESCalate Bulletin No. 8 (1 May 2002)


  1. Change in ESCalate team
  2. Contacts Conference
  3. Future seminars and conferences
  4. Teaching Research Methods on 7th June
  6. Small Grants Scheme Awards April 2002
  7. Book reviews
  8. Invitation to Contribute to the Bulletin

Change in ESCalate team

Professor Sonia Blandford, who has been Associate Director and who has been with ESCalate since its inception, has moved from Oxford Brookes University to Christ Church College Canterbury where she took up the post of Dean of Education on 1st May 2002.

Sonia has made a valuable contribution to ESCalate over the last two and a half years. She will continue to contribute her expertise in a new role of member of the Advisory Committee in which she will represent church colleges.

The Director of the Westminster Institute of Education at Oxford Brookes, Dr David Langford, is currently discussing with the Management Team details of Sonia's successor in the ESCalate team. Oxford Brookes is one of the three institutional partners in ESCalate.

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Contacts Conference

We had a very good day, with interesting talks given by Andrew Pollard, Director of the ESRC Teaching and Learning Research programme, Marion Philips, Director of the Student Support service at the OU, and a panel of experts from the four countries of the UK

The event was opened by Richard Townend, Manager of the LTSN, who outlined the function of the LTSN and the place of Subject Centre activity within the wider framework of teaching and learning enhancement in HE.

Andrew Pollard gave a very encouraging talk about the relationships between research and teaching in Education in HE.

A panel consisting of Professor Bart McGettrick (Scotland), Dr Si Gordon (Northern Ireland), David Turner (Wales) and Michael Convey (England) debated their views of who the power elites are in their respective countries in the UK.

Marion Philips gave a fascinating discussion on how to support student learning using IT. She gave a complex and very interesting account of this, and I want to pick out a few key facts which impressed me greatly. The first is that in order to make IT work as a support mechanism for student learning there has to be two-way communication. Secondly, she stressed at each point that not everyone will find the use of IT mediation acceptable. Third, she discussed some of the issues in presenting materials on websites, and the need to consider the difference between books and websites. Websites, in spite of our naming sections of them 'pages' are quite unlike books, and simply using the web to upload documents as though they were to be read as we read books is a mistake. The web has the potential to enable reader to selct the aspects of topics they wish to pursue themselves (through hotlinks etc) and therefore texts need to be short and linked to different routes through the materials.

In the afternoon colleagues split into groups to discuss the role of Escalate contacts and ways in which the ESCalate communities can work together to take forward the LTSN mission of brokering good practice among HE teachers.

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Future seminars and conferences

As part of the feedback from the conference we asked colleagues what topics they would like future seminars to focus on. If you would like to get in touch with your views on possible future events which ESCalate could host (perhaps co-host, with your group or institution presenting and managing the content) please let me know at

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Teaching Research Methods on 7th June

This conference will be held on Friday 7th June at Nunn Hall, London University, Institute of Education, Bedford Way, London

There will be two plenary sessions in the morning. Professor Martyn Hammersley, Open University, will talk on 'Where is Research Methodology in Education going? The challenges of working and teaching methods in the context of evidence-based policy and practice'. Dr Maria Birbili (author of commissioned review of teaching research methods for ESCalate) 'Key debates in the teaching of research methods' will review key issues in teaching research methods in Education. In the afternoon there will be a choice of workshops:

a) 'The challenges of ESRC 1+3 in Education departments' Rosemary Deem, University of Bristol, Chair 2001 ESRC Education Subject Area Panel for Research Training Recognition

b) 'On-line learning and research methods' Gordon Joyes, Lecturer in E-learning and ESCalate small grant holder, University of Nottingham

c) 'Teaching statistical methods' Sally Barnes, University of Bristol

  1. 'Teaching methods to part time students' (Leader of this workshop to be announced.)

To register for this conference please contact An application form can be found at

Also forthcoming:

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Guidelines for programme Directors.

We have had two volunteers to take part in a project to develop some guidelines for programme directors. If anyone else is interested could they let us know at

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Small Grants Scheme Awards April 2002

There were 17 strong proposals for awards this time, and the panel found it a challenging task to select the number we can afford to fund in this round (6). We have decided to bring forward the next round to a June deadline (June 30th 2002) so that colleagues can get their work planned well ahead of the start of the academic year (this follows a useful suggestion from a number of colleagues at the conference and via e-mail). We also plan to offer a special seminar award of £500 which will allow colleagues to propose a seminar to debate an issue in teaching and learning. The June awards are 2002-3 awards, and during this year we plan to offer three awards of £6000 each to groups of new lecturers in Education to enable them to work on an aspect of teaching and learning during their first three years of service in HE. We shall also offer one award specifically focussed on HE in FE in which colleagues from HE and FE can work together on an issue.

Details of the six awards from the latest small grants round will be announced in the June bulletin.

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Book reviews

Once again, many thanks to all who have offered to do reviews, many of which are now on the website.

Book reviews should be fairly brief. They should describe the content of the book, perhaps link it to others available in the field, assess its usefulness, and state what kind of course it might be useful for, as either a supplementary reader or a more central text.

We have a large selection of new books to be reviewed. If you would like the list, please contact and she will send you a list of all the titles we have on offer. You keep the book, and colleagues get a useful synopsis.

We received fifteen proposals for small grants in March. The deadline was 29th March, which happened to be Good Friday. I am afraid that was a blunder, as the panel members are all away at conferences etc until 17th April. We shall adjudicate the applications after the contacts conference and inform you of the result by early May. Many thanks to all who applied. There will be a further opportunity to submit a proposal in 2002-3.

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Invitation to Contribute to the Bulletin

Once again I would like to invite all colleagues to submit copy for the bulletin. This may take the form of a reference to a development that you feel we need to air; it may be to advertise a book you have written or contributed to; it may be to publicise your event; it may be to ask colleagues for their views on a problem you face. Whatever it is, send it along. If you prefer to have your contribution anonymous that is fine. It would be great to hear from you.

(Any colleagues who wish to advertise events both on our website and through the bulletin should contact the Centre Manager

Expertise Database

Please keep on sending in suggestions for our expertise database. There will be opportunities for consultancy work through it. We collected some useful information for this database at the contacts conference, but do keep the information coming in. If you know of a person with special expertise in a teaching and learning , send us their name and we shall ask them if they wish to be added to the database.

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