"This award has inspired me to experiment with activities outside the normal lecture format."

Dominic Furniss, UCL Interaction Centre


E-Learning Development Grants: themes and inspiration

Man working at laptop

E-learning Development Grants (ELDG): themes and inspiration

Set out below are some themes for this year's E-Learning Development Grant applications and suggestions for the kinds of projects that might be included. This is not an exhaustive list; it represents just a few of the many possibilities for combining the e-learning tools available at UCL. As always, proposals will be judged on merit.

Theme 1: Enhanced use of Moodle

Innovative uses of Moodle at UCL, offering new functionality. Most departments are now achieving 'baseline' use but Moodle also offers a range of learning activities in which students are invited to participate. Our first theme for the 2013/14 ELDG awards invites proposals that take Moodle use beyond the baseline.  


  • Students identify and upload images with a commentary on their relevance or insight into the subject
  • Forums are used to prepare the ground for a face-to-face debate
  • Chat rooms are used to provide online office hours for distance learning students
  • An RSS feed provides news stories from an external source, and students are asked to review or comment on them
  • Use of new functionality within Moodle 2 e.g. conditional release of materials in the design of distance learning materials

Theme 2: Livening up lectures

Contact time with staff is highly valued by our students, and much of it occurs in the lecture theatre. E-learning tools can be used to enhance lecture-based learning for large groups, turning the emphasis from writing to thinking.


  • Electronic voting handsets can be used in class to check understanding, pose provocative questions, and promote debate and discussion
  • 'Heavy' content can be pre-recorded and watched before the lecture, to allow more time for interaction during the face-to-face session
  • Lecture recording with Lecturecast allows students to review 'muddy spots' after the lecture to enhance their understanding of difficult topics
  • Tablet PCs or electronic pens allow handwritten notes (such as mathematical equations or chemical formulae) to be projected on-screen and captured for replay
  • For an inspiring but also practical take on use of lecture time see Confessions of a Converted Lecturer: Eric Mazur. Another interesting and more hard-hitting take on the place of the lecture in teaching comes from Donald Clark: "Don't lecture me"

Theme 3: Developing personal and professional skills

A recent workshop with UCL staff highlighted the development of personal and key skills for students as a key objective for future teaching. This enables students to prepare for the world of work.


  • Students use e-portfolio tools to build, reflect and share examples of their work
  • Video conferencing tools link in industry experts and guest speakers to discuss the world of work/volunteering/research etc
  • Students use Etherpad (a live collaborative writing tool) to prepare group documents and reports

Theme 4: Assessment and feedback

The provision of feedback is a key area regularly highlighted in the National Student Survey. This theme invites proposals on how we can make feedback to students more effective, rich and/or efficient.


  • Online marking with Turnitin within Moodle, using libraries of comments which can be quickly inserted into student papers
  • Provision of Moodle quizzes to act as reinforcement to lectures
  • Using electronic voting in lectures to provide rapid formative feedback
  • Using audio recording to provide verbal feedback on student assignments

Theme 5: Departmental approaches to teaching and learning

There are many champions within departments making excellent use of e-learning, but others who are yet to engage, creating a sometimes fragmented student experience. Proposals are invited for projects which encourage a departmental approach to aspects of teaching and learning. Here, the emphasis of funding might be on networking, coordination and dissemination rather than the building of resources.


  • Implementing plagiarism prevention with Turnitin and online marking across a programme or department
  • A departmental push to bring all online learning to an enhanced level
  • Encouraging reflection and portfolio building in student project work

Theme 6: Open content - taking and giving

The academic community provides a wide range of existing resources that can be reused for free, and there are advocates within UCL of contributing back to the community. We invite proposals that explore how useful and practical these options are.


  • Evaluating available content from resources such as Jorum and Merlot for use within a discipline
  • Exploring issues of copyright, licensing and re-purposing in order to make UCL content publicly available
  • Making use of RSS news feeds from publishers and news gatherers as a source of inspiration and a focus for debate in your courses

Theme 7: Game-based learning and simulations

The 2013 ISD E-Learning Survey revealed that students would like to see more use of games and simulations to augment their learning. We welcome ELDG proposals that aim to explore game mechanics as part of a unit, course module or specific topic area. Possible technologies to consider might include:

  • Augmented reality applications
  • Virtual worlds, such as Open Sim or Minecraft
  • Badge systems, such as Mozilla Open Badges
  • Game level editors for commercial off-the-shelf games, such as the Valve Level Editor for the popular game Portal 2

Theme 8: Social, peer and collaborative learning

“If Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest country in the world.” (http://is.gd/kMJSKk) Social media applications offer immense opportunities for learning and collaboration. Networks provide a powerful means of peer support that MOOC communities already harness. Tasks such as collaborative writing, group presentations, brainstorming and peer review fit well into this category. Technologies to consider might include:

However, please do not see these themes as exhaustive; we welcome all projects that have a contribution to make to our teaching and learning activities at UCL.

Help and advice

E-Learning Environments (ELE) and the Centre for Advancement in Learning and Teaching (CALT) can provide both technical and pedagogical advice for applying for a grant, and can provide further advice if an award is made.

Page last modified on 25 mar 13 10:45

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