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Tweetchats #DLTEchat 


Monday 26 Feb 12.30-1pm

Tweetchat on Student Belonging: What does it mean? And what (really) makes a difference?

Guest Tweeters: Martha Caddell, Avril Gray and the Napier Big Read team 

Underpinning much current discussion about student retention and success is a focus on the importance of belonging in the university space. This is both a sense of academic belonging and wider social engagement.  


Considerable emphasis is placed on building and supporting cultures of belonging and exploring the impact of different interventions on students’ sense of engagement with their academic programme and the wider university. The prominence of questions on ‘belonging’ in the National Student Survey have only served to sharpen this focus.


One size certainly does not fit all in this space. What ‘belonging’ and engagement is meaningful and supportive to one student may not resonate with another. How do institutions foster appropriate and meaningful opportunities for students to feel part of academic and wider university communities? And – perhaps just as importantly – where else do students look to for support and a sense of belonging? 


The Tweetchat takes place in the week that the 2018 Napier Big Read is launched. The Napier Big Read is a shared reading scheme that aims to help students connect with university life and a community of peers also reading the same book. All new students and staff members will receive a copy of the same book to encourage everyone to share their thoughts and experiences with each other. 

Full details are available here: www.napierbigread.com  

This Tweetchat opens up the discussion about what we mean by ‘belonging’ to a university, explores efforts made to foster a sense of community / communities, and challenges us to think critically about what belonging to ‘the university’ really means for individuals and what concurrent ‘communities’ and engagement may also provide support and foster success.  Students and staff are encouraged to participate and share their views.

Missed the live event...

See our Tweetchat in our Twitter Moment here.


Monday 15 January, 12.30pm – 1pm

Tweetchat on Active Learning 

Lead Tweeter Julia Fotheringham

In this month’s #DLTEchat we will be discussing active learning, how to get started, ideas for activities and what to expect along the way.
What do we mean by active learning?
Active learning is social and collaborative having its roots in Vygotskian thought about the formation of the mind and the human intellect. Social constructivism, the dominant pedagogy in higher education, provides the theoretical basis for understanding active learning, but are definitions really helpful, or do they reify active learning in a way which misses the point for practice? One straightforward way to think of designing for active learning is that it is about creating opportunities for students to think deeply for themselves rather than to listen passively to the authoritative voice of the lecturer or any other knowledgeable expert.
Why are we interested in this pedagogical approach?
As the DLTE team are out and about on campus we see a wide range of teaching approaches which promote deep thinking, which encourage students to be critical and which open up opportunities for problem solving and creativity.  So Edinburgh Napier is not new to active learning and we have plenty of good practice to share, but across most of the disciplines and particularly when it comes to large group teaching, traditional lectures still predominate. While there are obvious advantages associated with a carefully timed, polished PowerPoint presentation, there is also room to think afresh about how we can make the best advantage of this regular meeting with our students. Given the diversity of our student population and the wealth of educational, work and personal experiences that our students bring with them, we risk wasting that astonishing resource if the lecturer’s voice and perspectives is the only one that our students hear. At its most simple, active learning is about creating opportunities for students to get involved with the subject matter, to share ideas, to oppose and agree with one another and to find out what they do not yet sufficiently understand. 
Getting started
Most academics have some very positive impressions about active learning, but there are also some misconceptions out there – for example that you need a high level of pedagogical expertise and experience to get started, that you must be competent with particular technology, or that you need a certain room layout and group size before you can engage your students in active learning. But that is really not the case and during the #DLTEchat we will hear from colleagues and from the wider Twitter community who can dispel these myths by sharing their practice with active learning, and making plans for promoting active learning in the year ahead.

Missed the live event...

See our Tweetchat in our Twitter Moment here.

Monday 4 December, 1pm – 1.30pm

Tweetchats for CPD: What works for you?  

Guest Tweeter Dr. Chrissi Nerantzi

Social media, really? Don’t rush to dismiss them! Research (Weller, 2014 for example) has shown that open practices, often enabled through social media present valuable opportunities for distributed participation. Participation also in alternative professional development for academics and other professionals who teach or support learning in higher education. These help us share our ideas more widely, discuss and debate learning and teaching approaches and most importantly connect with diverse practitioners, in our own and other institutions. It is, of course, up to us what we take from it, but also what we put into it.

We all carry around with us powerful little smart devices and we use them regularly. They have become part of the fabric of our everyday life. But we don’t often know how these machines could help us for our professional development and if and how we could use them for learning and teaching and supporting students.

The 5C Framework for social learning (Connecting, Communicating, Curating, Collaborating and Creating) by Nerantzi & Beckingham (2015) might help us explore  some of the possibilities and scaffold our responsible engagement in open professional development activities through social media. Remember, you are in full control to engage as much or as little as you wish, when you wish and how you wish. Remember, however, that there is life outside social media. A regular digital detox is recommended for our wellbeing (Beetham, 2015).

Let’s take for example Twitter. You might have seen how individuals share resources, comment on each other’s work, have everyday conversations and share snippets from their life. The personal is often interwoven with the professional. However, tweetchats, short synchronous conversations via Twitter (usually about an hour) and a dedicated hashtag, provide an opportunity for a focused open discussion and debate about a specific learning and teaching topic. Some of them attract over 100 participants at a time. See for example the @LTHEchat. It is really fascinating how so many join and feel part of an open community of practitioners. It is wonderful that colleagues at Edinburgh Napier University have decided to create their own lunchtime learning and teaching tweetchat for their staff and I am really looking forward to the topics that will be explored and the conversations and thoughts these will trigger.  

My little boy who is not so little anymore, used to say when I gave him something to eat that he hadn’t eaten before… “What is it? I don’t like it!”

Don’t rush to dismiss open practices and social media. Give it a go! I am sure you will start reflecting on your practice and identify ways to use such approaches with your own students to create stimulating and engaging learning experiences that cross boundaries and stretch beyond the classroom walls.



Beetham, H. (2015). Thriving in the connected age: digital capability and digital wellbeing, Jisc blog, 25 June 2015, available from https://www.jisc.ac.uk/blog/thriving-in-a-connected-age-digital-capability-and-digital-wellbeing-25-jun-2015

Nerantzi, C., & Beckingham, S. (2015). BYOD4L: Learning to use own smart devices for learning and teaching through the 5C framework. In A. Middleton (Ed.), Smart learning: teaching and learning with smartphones and tablets in post-compulsory education, pp. 108-126, Sheffield: MELSIG publication. Available from http://melsig.shu.ac.uk/?page_id=503

Weller, M. (2014). The battle for open. How openness won and why it doesn’t feel like victory. London: Ubiquity Press, available from https://www.ubiquitypress.com/site/books/10.5334/bam/

Missed the live event...


Read the Tweetchat on our Twitter Moment here.