"Teaching is more than just filling students with knowledge: it's about sparking their interest and inspiring them."

Dr Gregor Campbell, Department of Cell & Developmental Biology


E-Learning Development Grants: themes and inspiration

Man working at laptop

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 and approaches available at UCL. As always, proposals will be judged on merit.

Theme 1: Enhancing your department’s Digital Literacy

Digital Literacy has become an educational buzzword over the past couple of years. What does the term mean to you? We are inviting proposals that explore the use of collaborative online tools and/or mobile devices, such as tablets, laptops and smartphones in a way that will improve your - and your students’ - digital literacies.


  • Trying a new online tool not previously used in the department, such as blogs and wikis
  • Experimenting with 'bring your own device' (BYOD), such as tablets or smartphones
  • Enabling students to create course content 
  • Designing opportunities for peer learning using tools or methods not previously explored by the department
  • Facilitating collaborative learning through social tools, such as Yammer or Twitter.

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. Cloud-based alternatives such as LectureTools allow students to vote using their own mobile devices
  • 'Heavy' content can be pre-recorded and watched before the lecture, to allow more time for interaction during the face-to-face session (known as ‘flipped learning’)
  • 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: 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 4: 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 5: 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

But remember...

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

Page last modified on 10 jun 14 17:16

Tell us about the inspiring teaching and learning taking place in your department: email teaching.learning@ucl.ac.uk