Current awareness


E-Learning news

This frequently updated page aims to provide colleagues at Royal Holloway, University of London with up-to-date news of e-learning in the H.E. sector and beyond.  Please contact us at to suggest more topics, and for further information, guidance and inspiration on how to take advantage of current trends in e-learning.


Shorthand for Massive Online Open Courses, MOOCs offer Higher Education on an industrial scale via the Web.  Most MOOCs are similar in structure to traditional online higher education courses; students watch lectures, read assigned material, participate in online discussions and forums, and complete quizzes and tests on the course material.   MOOCs differ in that access and participation is not dependent on pre-qualifications or fees; MOOCs are FREE.

MOOCs are typically provided by higher education institutions, often in partnership with infrastructure providers and content producers such as Coursera, edX, and Udacity, though some MOOCs are being offered directly by a college or university. MOOCs arise from the confluence of several important trends, and they raise important questions and spark essential conversations about curriculum design, accreditation, what constitutes a valid learning experience, and who has access to higher education.

Find out more about MOOCs


Short for Bring Your Own Device, BYOD is the relatively recent trend whereby employers allow (and often encourage) staff to use their own equipment to do their job: this includes smartphones, tablets, and laptops.  In education this extends to students, who may bring their own devices into lecture halls and seminars rooms, often in the face of active discouragement.

BYOD brings a number of educational benefits, while incurring a few challenges.  Recent web traffic data analysis revealed that students are accessing at Royal Holloway services with an average of 2.5 devices each. 

While supporting a diversity of devices and platforms with secure access to compatible materials remains a problem, BYOD can provide opportunities for new lecture and seminar-based activities, such as:

  • 'Backchannelling' - where students use Twitter or Moodle Fora to ask questions, commentate, share and reflect before, during and after face-to-face contact time
  • note-taking
  • voting
  • group work based around online resources

Students as creators (and curators)

Students as creators is where students - alongside or even instead of lecturers - develop and share educational content for students on the same or lower level courses. It can be part of formative or summative assessment - it could even require the producing the assessment itself.  Institutional services such as Moodle can support such activities, as well as 3rd party social media and online curation sites such as Twitter,, Diigo and Pinterest.

Reasons for adopting a Students as Creators approach include:

  • Self-directed learning can increase motivation levels
  • To allow students take ownership of learning
  • To develop employability skills
  • To reuse and adapt materials

Examples include:

History students locating and commenting on resources (Diigo)

Clinical Biochemistry students using with possibility of developing their own sites (

Southampton University held a Tweetchat with Psychologist Bertolt Meyer, students and staff (Twitter)

Find out more:

Reeve, J. (2012). A Self-Determination Theory Perspective on Student Engagement. In S. L Christenson et al (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Student Engagement. New York: Springer. 

Sener, J. (2007). In search of student-generated content in online education. E-mentor, 4, 21

Flipped Lectures

The flipped lecture is a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and independent learning elements of a course are reversed. The notion of a flipped lecture draws on such concepts as active learning, student engagement, hybrid course design, course podcasting, and lecture capture.

The value of a flipped lecture is in the re-purposing of class time into a workshop where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge, and interact with one another in hands-on activities. Although implementing a flipped lecture places different demands on teaching staff and forces students to adjust their expectations, the model has the potential to bring about a distinctive shift in priorities — from merely covering material to working toward mastery of it.

Find out more about flipped classrooms


Short for Open Educational Resources, OERs are electronic resources offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and re-use for teaching, learning and research.  OERs can come in many formats, including text, graphics, multimedia, simulations, and assessment materials.  OERs

The value of adopting the use of OERs in teaching are plentiful and include:

  • Inspiration for teaching methods or pedagogical structures
  • Sourcing material - teachers would find time-consuming to produce or where they may lack the relevant media production skills: e.g. videos
  • Professional benchmarking
  • Giving learners a different perspective on a particular subject
  • Open licensing which allows customisation can lead to innovation in both content and pedagogy
  • Providing non-traditional learners with access to a curriculum which is more flexible, visible, and integrated with real life experience

Find out more about OERs

JORUM - the UK's largest OER repository, funded by JISC

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