X Close

Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'Connected Curriculum' Category

ABC has reached 21

By Natasa Perovic, on 24 March 2016

(For latest news about ABC LD, visit ABC LD blog)

Digital Education has now run 21 of our popular rapid learning design workshops. ABC uses an effective and engaging paper card-based method in a 90 minute hands-on workshop. It is based on research from the JISC and UCL IoE and over the last year has helped 70 module and course teams design and sequence engaging learning activities. It has proved particularly useful for new programmes or those changing to an online or more blended format.

To find out if ABC is for you this short video captured one of our workshops earlier this year.

Participants feedback remains encouragingly  positive 

“I thought the ABC session was really helpful.  I had been a little unsure ahead of the session what it would achieve – but I genuinely got a lot from it.  Going back to the basics of methods etc really helped focus on the structure and balance of the module.  I thought the output was very useful.”

“Thank you for convening the abc workshop today, i  found it thought provoking and challenged the way we think about our teaching. It is too easy to stick to what we have done previously and I found today gave me different ways to think about how to evaluate our current teaching and to bring in different approaches. It will definitely improve my thinking and I will continue with the approach to incorporate some of the ideas into the modules.”

“Thank you for the workshop today- it was an eye opener. I found it really useful to think about categorising how the learning objectives will be delivered and assessed, and examining the variety of ways that these can be achieved. It made me think more deeply about what skills the students can develop by making them responsible for their learning journey and not simply the content that needs to be delivered to them. We will let you know how it goes!”

“It was great and many initiatives have emerged from it.”

abc workshop group work

For questions and workshops contact Clive and Nataša





For more information see :

ABC Curriculum Design 2015 Summary

ABC workshop resources and participants’ feedback https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/digital-education/2015/09/30/9169/

ABC beginnings https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/digital-education/2015/04/09/abc-arena-blended-connected-curriculum-design/


ABC News:

We are currently developing an online toolkit to support the workshop, have been working closely with CALT to embed the Connected Curriculum in designs and we are developing collaboration projects with The University of Glasgow, Aarhus University (Denmark), University of Leiden (Netherland) and Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez (Chile) in order to look at the learning impact of this method. Our colleagues in Chile are even translating the workshop into Spanish.

ABC also featured on UCL Teaching and Learning portal as a case study: Designing programmes and modules with ABC curriculum design http://www.ucl.ac.uk/teaching-learning/case-studies-news/e-learning/designing-abc-curriculum-design

UCL Event: Open Data as Open Educational Resources

By Clive Young, on 12 February 2016


Open Data can be understood as “universally participatory data”, which is openly shared by government agencies, NGOs, academic institutions or international organisations.

Open Data is already being used in Higher Education using real life scenarios, bringing together students, academics and researchers working towards overcoming local and global real problems.

In this way students can develop transversal, research and citizenship skills, by working with the same raw materials researchers and policy makers use, contributing with the society in new and yet-unimagined ways.

There are clear links in this research-based educational approach to UCL’s Connected Curriculum.

In many disciplines, anecdotal evidence from teachers shows that students don’t often see research datasets or the research/lab logs, but these are fundamental tools to comprehend research work, workflow and processes, however, we believe students should be given the opportunity to work analysing datasets to conduct discoveries of their own and/or to attempt the replication of research findings, enabling students to understand good practices in data management and data analysis skills. 
UCL is proud to host this event on Friday, 4 March 2016 from 14:00 to 17:00.

Speakers include

  • Santiago Martín: University College London
  • Mor Rubistein: Open Knowledge Fundation
  • Leo Havemann: Birkbeck, University of London
  • Dr Carla Bonina: University of Surrey  
  • William Hammonds: Universites UK
  • Dr Fabrizio Scrollini: Latin American Open Data Initiative 
  • Dr Tim Coughlan: Open University  

Please book your place at


ABC Curriculum Design 2015 Summary

By Natasa Perovic, on 2 December 2015

(For latest news about ABC LD, visit ABC LD blog)

ABC Curriculum tour dates for 2016 and Summary of 2015

For questions and workshops contact Clive and Nataša


Book us early! We start our ABC 2016 tour with a visit to Glasgow!

The ABC curriculum design method uses an effective and engaging paper card-based approach in a 90 minute hands-on workshop. It is based on research from the JISC and UCL IoE and designed to help module teams design engaging learning activities. It is particularly useful for new programmes or those changing to an online or more blended format. More information below.


December 2015 – ALT Winter Conference webinar

The ABCs of rapid blended course design by Clive Young and Nataša Perović. Recording of the session is available to view here: http://go.alt.ac.uk/1NIpziZ


December 2015A brief overview of ABC curriculum design method by Clive



October 2015 – Presentation about the ABC workshops




September 2015 – Progress with ABC Curriculum design and downloadable ABC workshop resources and participants’ feedback 



March 2015 – ABC beginnings, by Clive and Natasa


March 2015 – Blog post about the First ABC Curriculum design workshop


ABC Curriculum Design Workshops

By Natasa Perovic, on 30 September 2015

(For latest news about ABC LD, visit ABC LD blog)

Arena Blended Connected Curriculum Design – Workshop resources and participants’ feedback


  • A 90 minute hands-on workshop to help module teams design engaging learning activities.
  • Teams work together to create a visual ‘storyboard’ showing the type and sequence learning activities required to meet the module’s learning outcomes and how these will be assessed.
  • ABC is particularly useful for new programmes or those changing to an online or more blended format.

Between March and September we had 11 workshops with 37 teams from SLMS and BEAMS.

The feedback from participants:

  • “This process was really useful. It helps us think about the modules in their entirety. It is really good how everything maps out in a clear framework like this.“
  •  “We haven’t had such level of detailed discussion as a team. I think the structure and the materials are facilitated well. “
    “It is a good way of focusing on creating the balance within a course.“
  • “It makes you think about: OK , we are going to use this technique, but where, how, for what and how does it fit with everything else? And this is the way into that, I think.“
  • “It helped us formulate in our own mind the course structure. Yes, very useful.“
  • “Made me more conscious of a formative assessment, which really did not occur to me before. “
  • “This has been extremely useful. Not only that we start to think about individual modules and how we can use electronic resources, but it makes us think about the degree together, rather than as separate modules. “
  • “It reminds you of all different formats that you can use, rather than sticking to the same old same old.“
  • “I think it was good to take a step back from the content and look at the varied type of activity. “
  • “We are not trying to be very innovative, but it is a question of being open to new ideas“

To organise ABC workshop for your programme contact Clive Young and Nataša Perović.

ABC Curriculum Design workshop resources:

The resources are also adapted for ABC CPD and Life learning courses.


To organise ABC workshop for your programme contact Clive Young and Nataša Perović.







*Viewpoints project JISC

**UCL IoE: Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. New York and London: Routledge.

Connected Curriculum

A Creative Challenge

By Janina Dewitz, on 22 June 2015


This post is several weeks (months?) overdue. Motto: Good things come to those who wait. Maybe. It’s been a laborious project. Some things just take a while to compile.

Back in April, UCL had its annual Teaching and Learning conference. My colleague Mira and I had proposed a session on Domain of One’s Own. Our session had been accepted, however, we had been allocated a mysterious new conference format: Fair.

From the FAQ:

The fairs are being tried out because we could not accommodate all the submissions that the reviewers wanted to accept. Instead of a room where a single presentation is going on, there will be three or four (or five, in one case) parallel ‘fair’ sessions of half an hour each. The rooms are quite large so this should be perfectly viable.

Each fair presenter will be allocated a table area which seats 8 people maximum (but there is no reason not to expand that group within practical constraints on the day if needs be). In other words, it is a tutorial-size arrangement.

Um. Ok. I have to be honest: I was disappointed. I had hoped to have a bigger audience. And also: how was this supposed to work? Would we have screens? Projectors? Wifi? No idea. Would it be a laptop or simply a tablet in the middle of the table and eight people craning their necks in order to see? The fair just didn’t seem fair at all. Meh.

When life serves up such annoying little hurdles, I grumble a lot at first¹, then eventually reach for my favourite Tom Stoppard quote:

We keep to our usual stuff, more or less, only inside out. We do on stage the things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else.

[Player, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead]

But how do you turn a big traditional conference slideshow inside out? Well, of course, you make it small and on paper, but keep to the usual stuff, the slideshow, more or less. – No, not A4 handouts. That would be lame.

The only format that seemed truly suitable for this type of conference session was ………..


Only one small hiccup: I had never made a pop-up book before. How does one make a pop-up book?! One turns to YouTube, of course. Isn’t that what everyone does these days when the need to learn anything arises … ?

And so over the course of a day or two  I watched probably every video tutorial there is on pop-up cards and books, from the simple

to the impressively complex (but downright scary):

Ok, so it was clear that Peter Dahmen’s creations were way beyond what I would be able to accomplish. Yet I still added his tutorials to my watch list because he provided ideas and insights into the different techniques I could consider using for my much more modest project.

I started with a rough draft of a storyline and possible pop-ups for each of the main slides in the slideshow Mira and I had presented at previous events.


Next, I cut paper. Lots of paper. Occasionally the paper cut back. Ouch².


Towards the end of a long weekend of snipping and gluing, my living room looked like it had been attacked with a confetti bomb.

under construction

The resulting pop-up book was interactive: full of little hidden surprises, it could be passed round for the audience to take active part in the session. It was a resounding success.

“You should make a video of it””, my audience demanded.

Oh noes! Another creative challenge. *grumble*

Luckily, the list of video tutorials I had watched during prep included this gem:

I tried the photography method suggested in the TED video, but found it so difficult to get any kind of stable continuity. There are too many little interactive bits and my A5 book is much smaller than the one in the TED video: it lacks the weight to stay firmly put in one spot. Also, there’s not much scope for hiding any kind of stabilisation props, such as paper clips and bulldog grips. The whole thing was very frustrating. In the end I found it easier to just set my phone camera on time-lapse and edit out any duff frames afterwards.

photo setup

Editing was another painfully fiddly process. It took several days to do. Many re-edits later the result is still far from perfect, but I give up now trying to improve it further. Life’s too short. So much to do, so little time and all that.

Looking back on it, in spite of the niggles and frustrations this has been a very rewarding project to do. I learned so much about paper folding and video editing in the process. Most of all, it’s been a fantastic project for practising patience!

It was absolutely the right thing to do for the round-the-table session format: tangible and much more memorable than just another slideshow.


¹  It’s part of my creative process – a bit like a problem identification and assessment system. Or something.

²  I truly suffer for my art. 😉

Students’ intellectual property, open nitty gritty

By Mira Vogel, on 19 May 2015

Brass tacks by MicroAssist on FlickrWhat happened when staff on one module encouraged students to openly license the online products of their assessed group work?

Object Lessons is a module on Bachelor of Arts and Sciences at UCL. In keeping with its object-based nature and emphasis on inquiry and collaboration, part of the assessment is a group research project to produce a media-rich online exhibition. Because the exhibitions are lovely and shine a light on multimodal assessment, the teaching team are frequently approached by colleagues across UCL with requests to view them. In considering how to get students’ permission for this, Leonie Hannan (now at QUB), Helen Chatterjee and I quickly realised a few things. One, highlighted by an exchange with UCL’s Copyright specialist Chris Holland, was that the nature of the permission was hard to define and therefore hard to get consent for, so we needed to shift the emphasis away from staff and the nuances of their possible use scenarios, and onto the status of the work itself. Another was that since the work was the product of a group and could not be decomposed into individual contributions without breaking the whole, consent would need to be unanimous. Then there was the question of administrative overhead related to obtaining consent and actually implementing what students had consented to – potentially quite onerous. And finally the matter presented us with some opportunities we shouldn’t miss, namely to model taking intellectual property seriously and to engage students in key questions about contemporary practices.

We came up with four alternative ways for students to license their work ranging incrementally from open to private. We called these:

1. Open;
2. Publish;
3. Show;
4. Private.

You can read definitions of each alternative in the document ‘Your groupwork project – requesting consent for future use scenarios’ which we produced to introduce them to students. As part of their work students were required to discuss these, reach a unanimous consensus on one, and implement it by publishing (or selectively, or not at all) the exhibition and providing an intellectual property notice on its front page. That way staff would not have to collect consent forms nor gate-keep access.

Before we released it to students I circulated the guidance to two Jiscmail discussion groups (Open Educational Resources and Association for Learning Technology) and worked in some of their suggestions. A requirement that students include a statement within the work itself reduces the administrative overhead and, we hoped, would be more future-proof than staff collecting, checking off and filing paper records. While making it clear that students would not be at any deficit if they chose not to open their work, we also took a clear position in favour of Creative Commons licensing – the most open of our alternatives, since as well as flexibility and convenience it would potentially lend the work more discoverability and exposure.

What did the students choose? In the first iteration, out of ten groups:

  • Five opted for Open. Between them they used 3 different varieties of Creative Commons licence, and one submitted their work to Jorum;
  • Two opted for Publish;
  • None opted for Show;
  • Three opted for Private (including one which didn’t make a statement; since the group kept the work hidden this defaults to Private).

We haven’t yet approached the students to ask about their decision-making processes, but from informal conversations and reading some of the intellectual property statements we know that there are different reasons why half the students decided not to make their work open. One was the presence of elements which were not themselves open, and therefore could not be opened in turn. From evaluations of a number of other modules, we know that the students were not generally all that enthusiastic about the platform they were asked to use for their exhibition (Mahara, which is serviceable but vanishingly rare outside educational settings). This may have contributed to another factor, which was that not all group members felt the work reflected well on them individually.

Then there’s the matter of deciding to revoke consent, which is something individual students can do at any time. In the context of group work we decided that what this would mean is that if any group member decides at a later date that they want to reduce openness, then this effectively overrides other group members’ preferences. That doesn’t work in reverse though – a student can’t increase openness without the consent of all other group members. So here we are privileging individuals who want to close work, although we do encourage them to consider instead simply ending their association with it. We have yet to find out how this state of affairs works out, and it may take quite a while to find out. But so far it seems stable and viable.

We would be very interested in your views, suggestions and any experiences you have had with this kind of thing – please do comment below.

Particular thanks to Pat Lockley and Javiera Atenas for their input.

Image source: MicroAssist, 2012. Brass tacks. Work found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/microassist/7136725313/. Licensed as CC BY-SA.