ESCalate Bulletin No. 12 (1 January 2003)


  1. New Small Grants projects
  2. All work and no play
  3. Observatory on Borderless Higher Education: subscription website for international perspectives on HE
  4. Forthcoming Web Changes
  5. Student Essay prizes
  6. Book reviews
  7. Forthcoming seminars and conferences

New Small Grants projects

A message from Frances Hammond, our new Projects Officer. Frances comes to us from the Arts and Humanities Research Board, and will be responsible for monitoring and managing the small grants projects funded by ESCalate.

We are pleased to announce the results of the latest round of ESCalate Small Grants (closing date November 2002). We received 10 applications to the round, and 4 awards have been offered to applicants from Dundee, Liverpool, Northern Ireland and London:
· Ian McCormick
East Down Institute of Further & Higher Education
Reusable Learning Object: effective Internet searching for ICT teacher training
· Anita Pincas
Institute of Education, University of London
Effective use of CHAT in online learning
· Alison Swanson
University of Dundee
Promoting good practice and innovations in learning and teaching: developing multi-institutional learning and teaching forum
· Ian Taylor
University of Liverpool
Can argument mapping improve essay-writing skills?

All successful applicants (along with 2 other people from their teams) have been invited to a one-day seminar even to be held at 35 Berkeley Square on 10 February. The event is to act as a both an induction and networking opportunity for those working on projects facilitated by ESCalate.

We would be more than happy if anyone interested in the above topics would also like to join us to meet the teams and discuss the projects. Please contact Arlene or myself for any further information.

We are also planning to hold a one-day away day during the summer term for all our current award holders to facilitate and encourage the exchange of good practices and ideas. We will keep you informed as and when we have further information regarding this event. Professor Colin Harrison, one of our Associate Directors, is hoping to lead an Escalate symposium at BERA again this year, in which small grant holders will be presenting their work.

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All work and no play

Thought for a late January day following the plethora of white papers, funding letters and all that: a colleague within the wider ESCalate constituency asked me the following question when I had sent him something with the quip, 'have fun' at the end of my message.
' Fun? Not much fun at all these days. Why is this? It should be so much easier to have fun.'
What does make work fun, and what stops it being so? Some ideas he and I exchanged:
Working with people who are dead against any changes
All routine and no space to innovate
No shared jokes
A sense of injustice: feeling of being put upon
Seeing the students doing well
Doing new things & feeling valued
Working with people you like and can have arguments with about things that matter to teaching without them flouncing off in a huff
We originally had 'too much work' in the downers, but actually the question of too much work is relative: of course there is a point at which too much work and NO TIME become a reality for everyone but very often the feeling of having too much work can be a result of some of the other things)
Here are a couple of questions for you: what would your list of downers and uppers contain, and how can we minimise the downers and maximise the uppers? There'll be 5 prizes of £20 book tokens for the best five replies.

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Observatory on Borderless Higher Education: subscription website for international perspectives on HE

This website offers reports and news on "borderless education"; activities and developments which cross-geographic, conceptual or sectoral borders. It looks like a very useful website for anyone whose work has an international dimension. January's contents includes articles on how India is expanding its work in IT based HE in Indonesia; the purchase by an Australian IT company of a private university in China; details and discussion of 'our white paper'; discussion of New Zealand's levy ion international students; a paper on the changing markets for international students; and a scrutiny of what went wrong with the recently closed e-learning venture at Columbia University. This is a subscription only website, so your institution will have to subscribe to it. Perhaps they already do. It looks like a very useful digest for keeping easily au fait with the rapidly changing international scene. Cost: £1000.00 plus VAT for institutional membership. NB This is not a puff for them, merely indication of a useful service for those whose department has a lot of international contacts.

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Forthcoming Web Changes

During this year we have reorganized our work force into teams who are leading the production of resources for the website. We have also engaged a new web designer to provide a dynamic resources site on our web pages. (An outline of this was included in the October 2002 Bulletin).
More recently we have joined a joint project with the Social Sciences RDN hub (SOSIG) which will look to how the RDN and the LTSN can work together more effectively in providing teaching and learning resources for lecturers in HE. At a recent workshop organized by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) for members of both RDNs and LTSN Centres, it was suggested that one way that the Subject Centres could contribute to web based resources is by taking information links from the RDN hub, and saying how these could be used to enhance teaching.
If any course or programme teams out there have adapted any web-based materials for their teaching they may like to contribute these to the new ESCalate website. The easiest way to contact us is through our web administrator,

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Student Essay prizes

This year we are offering two sets of prizes of £150, and £75 for a student essay competition. One set will be awarded to competitors studying on a first degree or initial teacher education programme, the other for those studying on a continuing professional development or advanced programme.

First degree or initial teacher education title (up to 1500 words):

Education courses stress the need to be able to think carefully about the conditions that facilitate positive learning. From your experience in Higher Education, what kinds of support (activity in class/tutor help of various kinds/written guidance/working with peer groups etc etc) have been most useful in helping you to make the most of your course? What kinds of things impede your learning?

Professional development or advanced courses students title (up to 2,500 words)

What course structures, support structures, and teaching approaches have you found effective in promoting your own learning in Higher Education, and why, in your view, have they been effective?

The closing date for entries is 30th April, and the prizes will be announced in the June bulletin. Please publicize this among your staff and student groups, using the poster available on the website at

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Book reviews

We have a good selection of new book reviews for you to browse through at
We have still got some back copies (see last month's Bulletin) and there are a range of new books to review. If you are interested in reviewing, please contact Guidelines are on the website.

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Forthcoming seminars and conferences

Heads of Department Forum: 18th February
The one-day Heads of Department Forum at the Institute of Education in London on 18th February, 2003 already has 65 delegates registered.

Initial Teacher Education event: March
A reminder that ESCalate will be holding a conference on 26th March 2003 at the University of Glasgow. The programme will include 'Where should teacher education be going, and how should that direction be informed by moral imperatives, by research, and by governments?' and 'What should be the relationship between research and teacher education?' All costs of the conference will be carried by ESCalate, except for travel. All colleagues who work on ITE provision, from all four countries in the UK, are most welcome to attend. Speakers include Professor Richard Pring, and Dr Ruth Deakin-Crick. More information is available from

Other events
The ILTHE will be holding their national conference from 2nd to 4th July in the University of Warwick. The theme is 'What works? Reviewing good practice for learning and teaching in HE'. In particular they are interested in what works to improve student retention, in widening participation, in supporting diverse students, in involving students in self-assessment, in making student learning more interactive, and in using IT to deliver and support the curriculum. The deadline for paper proposals is 28th February. I am sure that educationists have much to offer in all of the sub-themes listed here.

Write to us
There is always space in the Bulletin for you to air your views on issues related to teaching and learning. Please send any copy to me at where it will be most gratefully received.

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