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All claim events

The selected items in the portfolio on which the thesis is based.

[P1] Researcher in the Computers in the Curriculum Project at Chelsea College London

I was employed by Bob Lewis, Director in 1980, at first to translate paper tape software simulations to cassette and floppy disk. I continued under Margaret Cox's direction, developing over ten years as a team adviser, lecturer, educational researcher and author.
When Sep 01, 1980 to
Aug 31, 1990
Where London
Aim: To establish design leadership for teams of programmers developing computer assisted learning for secondary age students.

I was the first employee at the Computers in the Curriculum project to be hired as a programmer, their earlier programs having been developed by teachers, lecturers and helpers.

I took this post after applying for two others in the field for which I was shortlisted, firstly for the ITMA Research Fellow,  and secondly to have been research asssistant at the Polytechnic of the South Bank working with Morfydd Edwards. I didn't get the first and declined the second in favour of the job in the Computers in the Curriculum Project, which offered greater scope and prestige as well as a longer contract!

Reflection: The design challenge of taking a finished piece of software and make it work in a quite different interactive graphical environment was a real foundation for understanding the interoperability issues and design questions for educational software.

My first challenge was to acclimatise to the more laid-back HE sector as a researcher after working as a teacher in school. My work was to take programs developed for minicomputers to output onto teletype which were distributed on paper tape, and make them suitable for use on microcomputers with 'glass-teletype' screens. As graphics capabilities became more widely available, we began to develop more interesting and visually clear outputs, often graphs, but increasingly diagrams and visualisations.

Reflection: The design of simulations that invited students to make decisions and evaluate consequences was based on innovative and learner-centred pedagogy.

In 1981, the establishment of the Microelectronics Education Programme (MEP) (Fothergill, 1981) by the government led to a large investment in the development of software by our project. This meant the expansion of our software team and our whole enterprise.

I was attached to several groups of teachers to develop simulations, notably the Economics 14-16 group (based in Stoke-on-Trent) and the History 13-16 group (based in Leeds). My activity was to develop software that responded to the teachers' ideas and specifications and that was suitable for the range of microcomputers becoming available to schools. I became responsible for the 'Subroutine Library' designed to offer an interoperable framework for development amongst a team of a dozen programmers.

Reflection: Teaching programming to adults in the context of their development as computer studies teachers caused me to consider the pedagogy of computing afresh with considerably more articulate and educationally aware students. Together with discussions with colleagues I developed a lifelong interest in the role of computing as a subject for learners. My widening role as a higher education lecturer at Masters level gave a broader view of the educational computing scene beyond the merely technical and towards a social, cultural and systemic understanding. As a lecturer in Mathematics Education, I was regularly visiting schools and engage in debate with practitioners so that I could keep my feet on the ground.

In the middle of this decade I was invited to teach programming as part of a new Diploma course to re-train a range of subject specialist teachers to take responsibility for  Computer Studies. In turn this led to greater involvement in the Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) programmes, and finally I took on the rôle of Mathematics Education lecturer for part of my time and also designed and delivered a Masters module on the Social Context of Educational Computing.

Reflection: The role of MESU fellow made me take a nationwide perspective across private and public developments in educational computing.

Meanwhile my development work evolved into a Micro-electronics Education Support Unit (MESU) fellowship in Software Tools, for which I was expected to investigate and evaluate tools for authoring educational software. As part of this work I pioneered the use of the Compulink Information Exchange (CIX) online community to connect educational software developers around the country and to continue professional discussion beyond our face-to-face meetings.

Reflection: Team leadership for development of interactive multimedia gave me real responsibility for design and development guidelines for others in our large nationwide team, giving me a first taste of leadership in educational computing.

Towards the end of this period, I became involved in developing using HyperCard and with colleagues wrote books to guide others on how to design in this environment. We also began to create interactive multimedia and CD-ROM software.

Contribution: I designed and developed many educational programs, guidance documents, course materials and developed analytical models for evaluation of user-interfaces. I exercised nationwide team leadership and national leadership in educational software interoperability. My part: 100%
Originality, impact and importance: The Computers in the Curriculum project, first established in 1973, was one of only a very few world-leading curriculum development projects in its time to create brand new computer assisted learning materials based on a 'revelatory' approach using simulations (Millwood, 1987, 8). There were very few predecessors in the schools sector. It was funded for the first half of the eighties by the UK government funded Micro-electronics Education Programme, absorbing a large proportion of its budget. The materials were widely published internationally through Longman, BBC and others. The work covered a wide range of subjects in the secondary curriculum. (Watson, 1987)
Evidence: The project impact on the UK and internationally is evidenced in the Computers in the Curriculum Newsletter No. 6 (Donoghue 1984) Which shows the breadth of engagement, size of the enterprise and the impact being made at conferences worldwide.

(Words: 990 )

[P2] London Mental Models Group

This multidisciplinary research group was led by the late Joan Bliss of King's College London and involved staff in science, mathematics and history education, but also in language, cognitive psychology, educational computing, expert systems and artificial intelligence.
When Sep 01, 1986 to
Aug 31, 1990
Where London
Aim: To discover new perspectives on the mental models of learners with regard to their use of technology as a tool for developing such models.
Reflection: The group provided me with a regular and powerful discourse to engage with in relation to the role of computers in learning and in particular analysing the nature of modelling and simulation software and its potential for learning.
Contribution: I participated and contributed ideas to seminars considering models of learning with technology. My part: 5% (Project led by the late Professor Joan Bliss)
Orginality, impact and importance: The work to integrate an educational approach to technology, learning, artificial intelligence and mental models was unique, recognised by an Economics and Social Research Council grant for the 'Tools for exploratory learning' project (Bliss & Ogborn 1989) and peer-reviewed publications. It had impact on the design of new modelling software and importance in raising the level of debate at an early stage in the maturation of technology in education amongst the educational research community in London.
Evidence: Joan Bliss' obituary (Ogborn 2011) contains testimony to the significance of this group.

The group's members were from King's College London, the Institute of Education, Imperial College London and Kingston Polytechnic and met monthly.

The common ground was Education, with specific focus on modelling cognition to inform more generally issues of learning and teaching in an information technology setting.

(Words: 290 )

[P3] Procedure Library

This was a library of procedures in Pascal and BBC Basic written on a range of computers to provide an interoperable set of functions for educational software. It was the successor to the Subroutine Library. The package was complemented by a technical guide and a design guide.
When Jan 01, 1987
Where London
Aim: To improve standards of interoperability in the design of educational computer programmes.
Reflection: This work followed earlier attempts in the Computers in the Curriculum project to standardise software development and user interface in order to provide users with confidence, but this was not agreed by all. Others were keen to innovate and felt that standards would inhibit innovation. The needs of users won out in the end as the industry more widely created graphical user interfaces with consistent controls and software developers reaped the benefits, particularly pioneered in the Apple Macintosh operating system. I learnt that a learner-centred approach helped design decisions in this contested area of development.
Contribution: I designed the set of procedures and functions, wrote the BBC BASIC and Pascal code and technical guide and co-authored the design guide which included the creation of the diagram and analytical explanations. My part: 50% (with David Riley)

In the late eighties, BASIC as a programming language was beginning to show its age. It had originally been chosen for its ubiquity on small computers that schools and colleges could afford, but towards the end of the decade, computing power had increased to the point were a much wider range of powerful programming languages were readily available.

This situation inspired the development of the Procedure Library, focussing on BBC BASIC's extended capabilities and the language Pascal on other systems. It was intended to continue the principle of interoperable development established in the earlier Subroutine Library. As well as the program code for the Procedure Library, two guides were written in October 1988 'The Procedure Library Technical Guide' and 'The Procedure Library Design Guide'.

I worked on the latter with David Riley to produce the diagram Analysis of a Single Interaction (Millwood and Riley 1988) after reading Donald Norman's work (Norman 1983b) breaking down the steps of interaction with a user interface, which we expanded on to analyse the user's perspective when engaging with educational software.

Single interaction

Originality, impact and importance: The design, code and analysis were new, based on lessons learnt over seven years of using a BASIC subroutine library and the best of graphics routine library literature (Newman and Sproull 1989). The impact and importance was on the development and design of educational software by the Computers in the Curriculum team.
Evidence: My leadership is documented in the Computers in the Curriculum project publications, including Newsletter 6 Computers in the Curriculum Newsletter No. 6 (Donoghue 1984).

(Words: 481 )

[P4] Senior Lecturer in Ultralab at Anglia Polytechnic University

I was employed by Stephen Heppell to build Ultralab as a developer, technical expert and mentor in the design of interactive multimedia software. I also had a role as lecturer in ICT in Education.
When Sep 01, 1990 to
Aug 31, 1998
Where Brentwood, Essex
Aim: To develop a collaborative team approach to the design & development of new technology in learning.

I was employed primarily to carry out project duties to develop multimedia CD-ROM materials in the first instance, and over the next eight years the work developed into designing and developing software for primary children, for language learners and increasingly, young people developing multimedia for themselves.

Reflection: The real value of this job for my development was an increasing level of responsibility and a powerful combination of design, development, team leadership and teaching at a high level.

In addition to my software development and project duties, I was employed in the School of Education to teach Primary and Secondary B.Ed. student teachers about computers in education and some part-time Diploma work which grew into a set of Masters modules developed and delivered with Stephen Heppell in the evenings.

As our project scope and team expanded, I found myself more and more in a mentoring / leadership role with both internal colleagues and with external collaborators, and the internet and online community became central to our work.

Contribution: I was a designer, developer and technical producer of many projects, a lecturer in ICT in Education and a designer and developer of a Masters level course. My part: 25% (with Stephen Heppell and others)
Originality, impact and importance: The Ultralab team was distinctive in its structure, ethos and practice, developed on values and principles of inclusion and participation. Its ethos was to directly change the world of education with its action-research innovations and thought leadership. Its work influenced national policy in the UK through Ultralab director Stephen Heppell's leadership in the Stevenson inquiry and beyond through membership of governmental advisory bodies and a regular diet of high-level keynote presentations at conferences.
Evidence: The Stevenson Report (1997) and my membership of the UK government's Learning Software Task Force.

Further evidence from the full portfolio online: .

(Words: 447 )

[P5] Translating software: what it means and what it costs for small cultures and large cultures

This paper discussing the case for making software translateable was written with Dai Griffiths, Stephen Heppell and Greta Mladenova and was selected for publication in the journal Computers & Education after presentation at the CAL '93 conference
When Jan 01, 1994
Where Brentwood, Essex
Aim: To clarify the importance of designing in  opportunity for self-localisation to educational software to allow regional and international appropriation.


In this paper the authors report as a case study their experience of adapting a set of software for other languages and cultures, drawing attention to the potential pitfalls and sharing what was learnt. This experience was based on a project to translate the 'Work Rooms' software for young learners into Bulgarian and Catalan. It is also hoped to broaden the debate on CAL, stimulating consideration of multicultural and international issues.

While the questions raised by this particular adaptation of software are relevant to all those working with CAL, they have particular importance for software authors, publishers, and teachers of linguistic minorities.

Reflection: The discussion and research arising from the developments we made to create programs in the 'Work Rooms' suite as user-translateable software, had a far-reaching influence on my awareness of the importance of seeing the world from the position of the learner within the culture they inhabit and the language they use, not simply what their interests or processes in learning might be. It made clear how profound the concept of learner-centredness needed to be.
Contribution: I helped design the software methodology for translation and the implementation of it in the 'Work Rooms' software as well as co-authoring the paper.My part: 20% (with Dai Griffiths, Stephen Heppell, Sam Deane and Greta Mladenova)
Originality, impact and importance: The practice and paper was novel in education at that time and the conceptual thinking was only just making impact in the software operating systems world. Its importance is seen in the way modern software is now developed and content management systems such as Plone have been developed to manage translation as a matter of course.

Download the full paper as a PDF file.

(Words: 378 )

[P6] Étui

This EU-funded project developed an educational toy to support children's learning as part of the Experimental Schools section of the i3 network (Intelligent Information Interfaces). The device stimulated meta-level learning awareness, problem solving, creativity and collaboration through the activities it was designed to enable.
When Sep 01, 1998 to
Jul 28, 2000
Where Europe

éTui logo

Aim: To research & develop a toy for use by early learners to encourage learning about learning.
Reflection: In the éTui project, I proposed the ideas of meta-level learning that the toy would foster based on more general ideas of identity, reflective activity and exploratory learning.
Reflection: The guided experiments I carried out in the primary classroom helped me understand the profound effect of participant research and the depth of thinking that an exploration of the unknown can promote.
Contribution: I acted as co-developer of the project's ideas about meta-level learning, mentor to the project leader and other personnel, researcher in classrooms and disseminator of the progress and outcomes. My part: 20% (with Andy Simpson, Dai Griffiths, Stephen Heppell and Kris Popat)
Originality, impact and importance: The project was unique for its design of a mysterious toy which did not represent existing creatures in order stimulate wonder, inquiry and imagination. As part of the i3 research network, it was shared widely to the European research community and generated much debate about early years learning with technology.
Evidence: Étui was disseminated at the conferences in 2000 and 2001 of the EU-funded Future and Emerging Technologies i3 network and at an invited workshop titled Children as Participant Designers at FutureLab's inaugural conference Contagious Creativity in June 2002.

This project summary is taken from the original bid:

Project Summary


The éTui will be a prototype electronic device for young learners. The learning activities which the device should stimulate are: problem solving, collaboration, creativity and meta level learning awareness. The design objectives of the device to support these are: programming through direct manipulation and iconic program representation; real-time synchronisation between one éTui and another; multi-sensory capacity ( perhaps including motion, sound and vision ) and response based artificial learning.


The project will result in the following:

  • A prototype electronic learning toy - the éTui.
  • Information from the design stages and field trials.
  • A set of specifications linked to learning outcomes.
  • Software resources designed for the project including operational, visual, programming and interactive elements.
  • A specification for further development based on an evaluation of the project.


The project will include: four testing stages, software development, hardware development and dissemination. The testing stages will have two distinct research populations: the four main field research sites and an online community of research reference sites. The four stages of testing will be for the conceptual visual designs, the conceptual physical designs, the conceptual software design and the final prototype. Ultralab will coordinate the project, create the research infrastructure and undertake work in conceptual software design and conceptual hardware design, the last two in conjunction with Apple. Conceptual visual and physical designs will be managed by Pompeu Fabra.

Outcomes and Impact

We expect the éTui to engender a new philosophy for creating toys for young learners, one which will make the process of fully exploring such a device intuitive and flexible. The information gathered from the field testing stages should create further debate in this area and also inform design goals for further prototypes. This information linked with the specifications and the software resource should make a firm foundation for further work in iteratively testing and designing the éTui.


Information about the project and project results will be communicated through a variety of channels. These channels will include the world wide web, popular television or printed media and publication. There will be a site dedicated to the project on the world wide web which will describe results and show the current stage of the project. Specific outcomes may be prepared for television broadcast and/or publication.

Kids with éTui

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[P7] Input CBBC

A collaboration between Children's BBC Television and Ultralab to explore the future of kids TV. Computers and digital video cameras were placed in schools, community and learning centres across the North of England to find out what television could be like if children were to make it themselves.
When Oct 01, 2002 to
Feb 28, 2003
Where United Kingdom

Input CBBC logo

Aim: To design the support web site to explore the potential for students' creativity with video to be broadcast.
Reflection: Although Ultralab had shown that young people were capable of this kind of creativity, we were challenged to demonstrate this when working with other adults and young children from a range of backgrounds and the BBC's senses of propriety, quality, health & safety and risk analysis.
Contribution: I took the role of co-leader at Ultralab developing the key values, participant action research approach and philosophy, working with the CBBC Future TV section at the BBC.  I took on the visual and information design challenge of presenting help, templates and guidance in a child friendly web-site whilst maintaining a connection to the CBBC's visual style. My part: 25% (with Matthew Eaves and others)
Originality, impact and importance: The project was quite new for a national broadcaster to take a serious view of children's digital creativity. Its impact was on the BBC itself in informing its future policies and confirming the research outcomes from earlier Ultralab projects.
Evidence: The final report (Derrick 2003) was edited  by Cathy Derrick, a senior director within the BBC and was circulated to her colleagues to inform them in making sense of user-generated content by young children.

From the final report of the project:


Input CBBC was a research pilot project which ran from October 2002 to February 2003, developed by CBBC, in collaboration with Ultralab, a research centre of Anglia Polytechnic University. It encouraged a group of children who’d never made a film before to produce their own output. It attempted to give children control at every stage of the process - from idea through editing to screen. It aimed to investigate the best ways to encourage such output, thinking ahead to a future where these methods could potentially be used on projects with bigger scale. Further pilots could also test the viability of children constructing whole magazines for themselves on broadband, with some content produced by them, other content being professional items.

It was known from the start that Input CBBC would be a tall order - the aim was to test its ideas harshly - to see if any child, with no special ability or ambition, could succeed at filmmaking with little guidance.

Forty children in Sheffield and twenty four in Hull, aged ten to fourteen, took part, working in groups of around four. The pilot was conducted “at arm’s length”, through established institutions, such as schools, community groups and City Learning Centres, with each group of children supervised by an approved responsible adult. The adult’s role was to organise film-making sessions, keep children safe, provide limited technological help if the children got stuck - but not to interfere in the creative process.

The children were introduced to digital cameras and to the editing package called iMovie by CBBC and Ultralab, then encouraged to learn through play and experimentation. They were made aware of important aspects about making a film, such as safety, copyright and editorial considerations. Amongst other methods of support available, Ultralab developed a prototype website, which also acted as a base for information and contact.

Final Conclusions

So, to conclude

  • this was an experiment - and it was tested really harshly - but still came up with results. It has proved that when children get their hands on equipment they are clearly producing media that is of value to them, for the first time.
  • the children and adults were co-researchers, keeping logbooks, doing interviews, being filmed. The research and their films are proving fascinating.
  • Input CBBC encouraged some more voices and empowered a group of children to make films
  • the other stated aims, of investigating and learning from how best to encourage this material, were met.
  • the project established ways of handling health and safety issues and rights management for user-generated CBBC projects at arms length
  • Input CBBC helped some children see television with new eyes:

First child: “We know how hard it is to make the films and stuff.”

Second child: “You just watch TV and like you don’t like see all the work that has been put into it.”

First child (of a different group): “I take a bit of sympathy with people who have the worst parts.”

Second child: “Yeh like soaps that have to make four half hour ones every week and it took us three months to do one minute, but they probably have millions of people.”

  • Input CBBC has proved children can be creators of content - and these are not children with special abilities or a burning ambition to make films - and they come from many different communities.
  • but it is not easy for children to produce films, because of the factors described earlier in this report
  • The jury is still out about the true extent that children may in the future be able to contribute en masse to programmes, much as they send letters and pictures in now.

CBBC, as the country’s foremost broadcaster to and for children, remains the best place to give children a voice on television. It is a stated aim that “your input is our output” and this project has fed that aim.

Finally, it is not just broadcasters who have learnt from this experience. Input CBBC has proved that filmmaking is a journey of growing self-discovery, self-expression, self-discovery and confidence building for the children concerned:

“Working as a team gets you a lot further than working by yourself.”

“I’ve learnt how to work as a group. I’ve never done that before. I’ve always wanted to be on my own which is my fault. I’ve learnt to be as a group, to be a good team-member.”

“I’ve learnt not to get frustrated when I want to use the computer and someone else is using it.”

“I can be hard to work with sometimes, very stubborn.”

“I’ve learnt not to get in a moody as such but to join in with the fun.”

“I kinda liked doing everything but I don’t think I would have been able to do it on my own - we needed each other.”

(Words: 1140 )

[P8] QCA - An Investigation Into Pupils' Creativity Across The Curriculum

I contributed to this UK Qualifications and Curriculum Authority consultation as a member of a panel contracted to synthesise clearer ideas about ICT and creativity towards the end of a wider effort to consider creativity across the curriculum from 2000-2003
When Nov 01, 2002 to
Mar 31, 2003
Where London
Aim: To clarify criteria that explain why technology enhances creativity in learning.
Reflection: The summary table at the end of this article was developed by the QCA project to characterise creativity and the rôle of ICT. The development of all of these ideas, in the company of several colleagues who I highly rated for their thinking, gave me confidence in the usefulness of my analysis of the potential contribution of ICT, as my work provided a major part of the 'Features of ICT' column in the table.
ContributionI joined meetings to discuss and then write a contribution to the committee's report, the 'Features of ICT' section outlining how technology can enhance creativity. This contribution later became the basis for my analysis How technology can enhance learning [A2]. My part: 20%
Originality, impact and importanceThis was a synthesis of my original thinking and other sources including my experience as a designer in discussion with many others. This was newly articulated in print by me for this consultation and adopted by this national advisory body as part of a taxonomy for advice on future curriculum thinking nationally.
EvidenceThe brief, my report and the taxonomy are included in the portfolio.

This is the original brief for the work:


An Investigation Into Pupils' Creativity Across The Curriculum 2000 – 2003

Contractor: Richard Millwood (Ultralab) - Budget Code: Fee: £2000 - Deadline: 24 January 2003


In March 2003 QCA will be providing advice to Creativity Advisory Group (CAG), and then ultimately Ministers, on the potential of ICT for promoting creativity across the National Curriculum.  We want your work to inform that advice.


To clarify how and why pupils’ creativity is promoted through their use of ICT to develop ideas and judge value and originality.


Write a paper which:

  • Explains how and why this use of ICT promotes creativity, making reference to:
    • the effect of the relevant features of ICT;
    • the effect on pupils’ creative thinking and behaviour;
    • the types of ICT applications used;
    • evidence of the effects of this use of ICT in practice.
  • Highlights the potential for this use of ICT to promote pupils’ creativity.
  • Makes recommendations and raises key issues.

Critical Success factors

The paper:

  • is written in plain English.
  • covers the requirements above.
  • can be used to inform advice to the CAG and Ministers on how and why ICT promotes creativity.
  • is received by the deadline date.


Send back the completed paper back to QCA by Monday the 24th of January.

Project Management

Seb Ross, QCA Subject Manager, will oversee the work of the contractor.  Please also send the paper via e-mail to


QCA owns all relevant data and material produced under this project.  A note confirming that the contractor understands these terms and agrees to comply with them will be included in the contract.


My contribution:

An Investigation Into Pupils' Creativity Across The Curriculum 2000 – 2003

Contractor: Richard Millwood (Ultralab)

DRAFT 2 February 14th 2003


It is commonly held that the basis for an innovative and financially healthy nation is the creativity of its adult population in the workplace.

"Our success depends upon mobilising even more effectively the imagination, creativity, skills and talents of all our people. And it depends on using that knowledge and understanding to build economic strength and social harmony,"
Charles Clarke, UK Secretary of State for Education
in the government's white paper 'The Future of Higher Education' January 2003

I argue that creativity is more important than that, and that it underpins all learning in the development of ideas and concepts and furthermore fulfilment in people’s lives. As a natural part of everyday activity learners are creative in thought (as they listen, read or watch), natural expression (as they speak, play, perform or make) and more formal recorded expressions (as they write, diagram, prove or program a computer). Information & Communications Technology (ICT) can promote such expressive creativity in a number of ways to be described in this paper.

But expressive creativity has to be matched with evaluative power in order to develop ideas and to judge them for value and originality.  ICT also has role to play in enhancing evaluative power. Normally expressive creativity and evaluative power will happen in a cycle of improvement which ICT can enhance and maintain.

To summarise these concepts, the following diagram shows the factors in ICT which might enhance creativity both in expression and evaluation, and which are expanded and developed in this document:

ICT factors for creativity.png

Creativity in the wider context of classroom, school, community, nation or globe demands increasingly higher levels of originality as measured against these wider contexts and the contributions of increasing numbers.

Creativity at each of these levels of society, from individual to global is natural and instinctive, but is inhibited or enhanced by a number of interacting factors, some of which relate to competition and originality (winning or being unique), others to interpersonal and emotional relationships (valuation of oneself in relation to others) and yet more to skills and competence (ability to articulate creativity). Some of these factors are influenced by ICT, some are reduced in their effect as inhibitors and others enhanced by new opportunities.

It’s important to note that ICT cannot act in this way without the complicity of teachers – they are also creative, but need that to be recognised. ICT is often introduced as a support mechanism for the delivery of knowledge, but in this analysis it has to be the tool for developing pupil’s knowledge. Similarly teachers should be encouraged to see this perspective, of a tool culture rather than information culture. Thus teachers will not inhibit such use and indeed can join in the debate about the tool of ICT and how it is best used.

How ICT enhances expressive creativity


In a typical learning environment, students often have a stereotypical interpersonal relationship with those around them including peers and teachers. [Hargreaves 1975] This relationship often includes a judgemental factor, which both the student and the peer or teacher feel and which drives a particular negative behaviour: that of avoiding risks with intellectual ideas. This judgemental factor acts to prevent free expression, either because the student fears approbation or because they wish to please others, particularly the teacher, by seeking their answer already known to them but unknown to the student.  This in turn inhibits development of new ideas – good teachers (and friends) know how to turn this judgemental factor off explicitly when appropriate.

With ICT equipment, as with other tools and vehicles, there is an imaginary interpersonal relationship (consider the way in which ships are often called ‘she’ and imagined to have a life of their own). After some acquaintance with computers over a period of time, young people see through any pretence of intelligence or life in a computer and thus begin to see it as a neutral tool which although it may offer canned feedback, is clearly incapable of judgement.  Computers allow students to ‘say things out loud’, but without judging those things in an interpersonal manner. The computer is a silent helper in this sense and can be trusted with half-formed ideas and ideas which follow the students creative impulse.


A powerful spur to more complex expressions of ideas is the ability to re-express cheaply and repetitively.  The potato print transforms a simple shape into a rich pattern, the ‘automation’ provided by this simple tool allows a variety of re-arrangements of the shape to be explored at low cost and with reliable quality.

Computers provide this kind of automation and much more, through copy and paste in almost every program, through formulae and ‘Fill down’ in a spreadsheet and, most important of all, through programming languages.

Arguably, programming has lead to the current information age, since all technologies related to ICT rely on computer programs to automate functions to a level where qualitative changes in education, the workplace and society as a whole have taken place and are still developing.  This explosion in creativity ought to be more widely available to all learners in educational contexts, but suffers from a disregard for tools which is an endemic problem in our society [Owers 2001].


The capacity for learners to use multiple media through ICT increases the opportunity to work in alternate modalities to the predominant reading and writing. ICT simplifies the production of visual and aural media as well as making viewing and listening a more delightful engagement with material. Of even greater consequence is the potential for reconstruction in film, hypermedia (the establishment of networks of knowledge) and linear presentations.  These are integrations of multiple media and are perhaps the most demanding of communications, not only anticipating audience viewing but also audience choice of sequence.


ICT media are unique in that little imprint of the creator’s weakness in production are seen – perfect fonts, geometric accuracy and colour faithfulness permit the weakest of learners to produce material which compares, on the level of media quality, with that of the most experienced professional. This means that learners’ self-esteem, which is so heavily knocked by poor handwriting, inaccurate drawing or inadequate oral skills, can be raised. This in turn encourages risk-taking and attention to the content of ideas – continuing engagement which can lead to judgements about higher-order issues on a level playing field.


ICT tools can promote the development of ideas, paradoxically, by constraining the universe of possible expressions. In many of the arts, the choice of constraint can lead to greater fertility by focussing on specific aspects of ideas – this kind of limit can offer similar gains in ICT. In graphic programs, limits on the position of the cursor to a grid can lead to the rapid development of diagrams. In geometry programs in Maths, constraints can help learners see important connections and propose new interpretations of figures.


The computer frequently pleases, aesthetically and affectively, in a way that delights the learner. This positive mood is clearly valuable to creativity, as a means of sustaining motivation at the very least.


In order to embark on any piece of work of substance, a start has to be made – for many learners, making this start is difficult because making mistakes has such a disastrous effect on continuation. Many young people in schools use correction fluid to eradicate ‘errors’ as they perceive them, or resort to ripping pages out of books in order to achieve a ‘perfect’ copy. Provisionality is that certain knowledge that with a computer, one can begin developing ideas and, at little labour cost, perfect and re-draft those ideas with no evidence of the process. This means that for creativity, one can start recording ideas out of order, in draft form and incomplete. For many, this knowledge unlocks their ideas, which would otherwise not be worth expressing.

How ICT enhances evaluative power


Computers offer a powerful tool for certain ideas, which are developed in symbolic, formal languages. These include spreadsheet formulae, programming languages and database design. If these formal systems are used to develop ideas, then it is possible for the computer to ‘execute’ them and display their consequences. Often, in order to judge the success of an idea, this output can be compared to that anticipated and evaluation independent of a peer or teacher can take place. The programming language Logo has provided a powerful example of this effect, in some cases leading learners into extraordinary intellectual and creative endeavour. [Papert 1980]


Most work on a computer can be saved for later perusal or saved at intervals to record drafts.  In the development of ideas this can help learners see how their ideas have developed, or peers and teachers to understand and judge their value and originality. In the long term, work that has been saved in this way and compiled provides a portfolio of work.  This portfolio can be used to represent the learner’s capability, but also may be mined for new starting points by that learner in a much more accessible and labour saving way than with a traditional portfolio. New connections can be made between past work and present concerns – often surprising insights can be obtained, because ICT has recorded the work and allowed searching and indexing to take place.


ICT offers a number of ways to allow communication of ideas to take place, both deliberately and serendipitously.  By using presentation tools, learners can show and defend their ideas to audiences in the whole classroom, potentially with access to to the whole body of their work (see Record above).

This kind of ICT use, using projectors or large screens in a classroom context, enhances another kind of creativity which may be teacher-led. This is described  as ‘interthinking’ [Mercer 2002], where learners sharing a knowledge context and background, debate together, seeking each other’s views and respecting diversity but also working towards consensus. The projected computer screen is a focus for representing the current state of the ideas being developed by the class. Some software has been specifically designed to benefit from this shared working knowledge [Millwood & Mladenova 1994], but all software can be used in this mode. It has many of the advantages described above for the individual, but now for the group e.g. quality, multimedia and provisionality. Each of these promote creativity to a far greater degree than a more traditional whiteboard.

By joining online communities through the Internet, a wider, but identified audience can be found for ideas and dialogue with others following the same interest can be informative in order to judge work.  Publishing material on web pages permits the globe to take part in the evaluation of ideas and work. This is clearly potential audience not real audience, not all viewers will see or comment on such work. Nevertheless the power of potential audience to support both expression and evaluation is very real in the mind of the learner and can provide powerful motivational force and raise ambition.


The analysis of the development of ideas as a cycle of expressive creativity and evaluative power helps us identify key factors which ICT offers to promote such development, but also the judgement of both value and originality.


  1. Hargreaves, D.H., (1975), Interpersonal Relations and Education, Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  2. Owers, S.C. (2001), The Place And Perception Of Technology In The Curriculum, PhD thesis available at
  3. Papert, S. (1981) Mindstorms, Harvester Press.
  4. Mercer, N. (2002)
  5. Millwood R., Mladenova G., Modelling with ordinal data to support debate of subjective issues, proceedings of East-West conference Computer Technologies in Education part 2  p166, Crimea, Ukraine,  1994




QCA's Creativity Framework Taxonomy

Definition of Creativity

Pupils Creative thinking and Behaviour

Use of ICT

Features of ICT

ICT Applications

  • Using imagination
  • A fashioning Process
  • Pursuing purpose
  • Being Original
  • Judging Value
  • Questioning and Challenging
  • Making connections and Seeing relationships
  • Envisaging what might be
  • Playing with Ideas
  • Representing Ideas
  • Evaluating the effects of Ideas
  • Making Connections
  • Creating and Making meaning
  • Publishing
  • Developing Ideas
  • Collaborating
  • Communicating
  • Creating a learning environment
  • Assessing


  • Provisonality
  • Interactivity
  • Capacity
  • Range
  • Speed
  • Accuracy
  • Quality
  • Automation
  • Multi-modality
  • Neutrality
  • Social Credibility
  • Information resources
  • Publishing and presenting software
  • Creative Software Tools
  • Simulations and Modelling
  • Programming and Control applications
  • Datalogging
  • Databases, Spreadsheets, graph plotters and graphical calculators
  • Programs that support learning in a specific context.

NACCCE: All our futures:

Creativity, Culture and Education, 1999.

Taken from Creativity Pack information sheet 3

(September 2002)


Developed from:

Draft Literature Review in

New Technologies and Learning

– A report for Nesta FutureLab (A.M. Loveless October 2002)

Developed from ICT features

defined by DFEE 1998

and R Millwood (Ultralab) presentation

(October 2002)

Taken from:

Key Stage 3 National Strategy

– Framework for teaching ICT

capability: Years 7, 8, 9

(DFES 2002)

(Words: 2910 )

[P9] Ultraversity Project

Ultraversity was the degree course for those who university did not fit. The design allowed students to focus on their own work, negotiate learning, submit work created as part of their job in the form of assessment 'patches' using the genre and media which suited them, stitch a patchwork of such pieces to make a final submission, celebrate their dissertation through an exhibition and all supported by an online community of inquiry. The design also included the new university infrastructure needed to market, recruit, admit, deliver and manage the course.
When Jan 01, 2003 to
Dec 31, 2006
Where Chelmsford, Essex
Aim: To design and develop a new work-focussed online university experience to suit 'those for whom traditional university did not fit'.
Reflection:  Through this project I consolidated my knowledge and developed new ideas for course design, modular frameworks, online community of practice, action inquiry as a pedagogic model and assessment through patchwork media and exhibition. I also helped developed concepts of business model & operational thinking, and as such it was the closest to the design of a new higher education institution that I had engaged in. I consider it to be the most significant project of all my experience, in that it successfully empowered many hundreds of students in meaningful and effective ways, delivering on the promise of technology enhanced learning.
Contribution: Initially, as part of a small team, I developed the documents for validation and designed strategy and materials for recruitment in 2003. I then had oversight of the direction of the Ultraversity Project in my role as Head of Ultralab from 2005 to 2007. I frequently took a practical developmental role, creating and designing resources, infrastructure, marketing, research and team collaboration as well as a refining a theoretical stance to champion the values and philosophy of the project. My part: 20% (with Stephen Heppell, Stephen Powell and many others)
Originality, impact and importanceThis project combined unique elements into a completely new fully online undergraduate opportunity. Its impact was felt deeply on the student's lives and on the researchers who made it possible. It influenced a wider academic community that drew inspiration from its success, and continues to be the subject of much interest today as well as a current course at Anglia Ruskin University. Its importance was recognised by newspapers and government ministers at the time. The project helped me enhance the analysis of The Learner at the Centre[A3] in this profoundly learner-centred design.
EvidenceThe video and transcripts of the student's own words included in the portfolio evidence the impact on their lives. An account of the project was published in the journal Interactive Learning Environments (Powell , Tindal and Millwood 2008) The Centre for Recording Achievement recognised the contribution and invited me to keynote at their seminar to celebrate 10 years of the patchwork text in which I presented an early version of my analysis of How can technology enhance learning [A2]. A letter from Chris Smith MP outlines the recognition from government. (Smith, 2002).

Ultraversity was a new fully online work- focussed degree employing multiple innovations, with a curriculum and pedagogy created by a small team and further developed and delivered by a 20 strong team for which I had oversight as line-manager to the project director. 144 students graduated in 2006, almost half with first-class honours degrees.

As well as developing a new experience for students, the project developed managerial, operational and team-teaching methods with a geographically distributed group of lecturers using its own online community of practice.

It was the subject of many conference presentations and publications and led to the invitation to create the Inter-Disciplinary Inquiry-Based Learning project at the University of Bolton in 2007.

But a real feel for its impact and unique features may be gained by listening to the students themselves - this video was filmed by Andrew Wood and Robin Cusick at the first major graduation event in November 2006. Together with Greta Mladenova, I transcribed and added text tracks for a transcript and for chapters for navigation:

The complete transcript of the movie is below:

Eve Thirkle & Sharon Sweeney

Hi Eve, I'm Sharon, at last we get to meet.

Yes I've seen your name many times, but, not met.

I can't believe we're here, it's been, well getting to this stage, a total of three and a half years

Yes, it has been, hasn't it.

That first year doing our first assignment, I never thought I'd be here.

The first Christmas was dreadful, because I was up to all hours thinking 'oooh' why have I chosen to do this?

But it's been fantastic.

Well the opportunities I think it's now actually given me I've not realised until now,

how much it has actually changed things,

how when I look at my old job and things, and different things, then everything is so different.

You're ICT aren't you?

I do ICT and I'm now doing High Level TA

and doing other, I seem to be being pulled to doing other support things this time

it's opened quite a few doors, that I would never have had opened without it

and doing other distance learning, this has been so much more supportive in comparison

The community has been fantastic, hasn't it.

I wouldn't have survived without people like yourself

Oh, thank you!

and staff here, especially in the first year I found it really tough on different things and stuff

but people like yourself kept us going and stuff and it became a team

and although we never met, I think we're actually stronger as a team.

We know each other, but we've never met and it's weird.

And you could mention about fun things, and we did have some fun online with different things and stuff

The celebration on the last night was quite funny as well

That was good wasn't it

We had like a party online.

Well for me it hasn't done so much in job, though, obviously because I'm a parent

But it's made a difference in the way I look at what I do as a parent

and it's always there in the back of my mind, sort of, "ah I'm doing that"

and then I start to think "ah yes", and it's putting that reflection into practice is amazing

and makes quite a difference.

You get a sense of achievement, and when I looked at my first work, and how it was put together

and look in comparison at the end

I know

You realise that you can still learn more, you can take on more roles

I think the way it works gradually, you weren't given more than you could handle at the start

although it seemed like it sometimes

and then to the work that you produce in year three, it's amazing growth

When we went through today and got the gowns and I was getting the gown on

this gentleman Les who put the gown on me, as he was putting it on I was flooding with tears

I knew not to wear make up, because it just meant so much

the idea was, you know, I would love to have had a degree in earlier life, and never got the chance

Same here

and then to do this has just been amazing

and to see the other people and now we're all going round looking at names and different stuff

but I'm finding that its actually making contact, because I've met up with a few other people through other things in education now

Yeah, Well I came straight up the stairs here from reception, saw Glenda and went 'haaa'!

Because it's so great to sort of see the faces, see them in person, it's great

I think sometimes as well, we some of us did put our pictures up, but then we get to here, em

You forget, yeah

I was thinking about my group, that we actually worked in a small group, and I knew their names off by heart

and I've got here today, and I can't think of them, its awful

so I'm sort of looking, but I know the names will trigger

Yeah, yeah once you see them

It's just unbelievable to be here.

And we've got that walk across to get our certificates

I know, I've got, I've had to get new glasses since doing this

because I've actually found my eyesight's sort of being going with age a bit

but I'm not wearing my varifocals today because I'll be tripping up the stairs and different stuff

the actual meeting people and stuff has given me the confidence to now go and do more

and why can't I? and why, you know, it has to be a really good reason why I can't do something now

I found school and things are asking me for things about autism and things, because obviously that's what I've gone into

and the head the other week asked me something about that she didn't actually know

and I could inform her on it, which was brilliant

And when I did my exhibition it was quite interesting when I had some of the like parents coming in

and some who were graduates and stuff

and they'd done a small part about reflection in their degree, and the research a small part

they said "You've done your whole degree through that, how did you manage it?"

I said well, we did!

It's a fantastic tool to actually have

For me, it has had an effect on the school through my research, through the project I did

We have changed some of the things we're doing now

and you think, "I did that!"

I'm going to actually see if I can follow it through a bit more

I don't know what I'm going to do next

but look just to see how that has affected the learning

Next step masters?

Well I think no at first and my husband said no

My husband said no as well

I wondered how I fitted in the time, but everyone says I would find that time again

I think I would, because the rewards I have personally got out of it, it's worth it for me, if nothing else.

It would repay our family if I went on and did work on autism as well, so...

OK, thank you very much.

Manisa Atool Saujani & Carole Bateman

I have been a teaching assistant for about 12 years

Yes, the same as me.

12 years is a long time to be a teaching assistant.

When you see that you do a lot better job than some supply teachers that the school bring in

So, that is what I started off with.

Having said that, now that I've done the degree, I do not want to go into teaching.

Too much hard work, too much paperwork


But, I'd say it's had an impact on my workplace.

What school do you go to?

I was a senior teaching asistant in an autistic school for autistic children when I finished my degree.

and as a result of it, I was given an unqualified teachers' post

so I was employed to teach, even though I wasn't a qualified teacher.

And plan activities: take the pupils out and do things.

But now, since I've qualified, I've been accepted onto the graduate teacher programme

and I'm training as a primary school teacher

I work in a primary. With Key Stage 1, 2?

I'm with Key Stage 2 at the moment but after Christmas, I'll be with Key Stage 1.

Prefer Key Stage 1? Teaching primary? Or Key Stage 2?

I like them both actually. Because they are slightly different, aren't they.

But I think I like the older ones more.

Well I did, as part of the degree we did the exhibition, the final exhibition

senior management team saw me as an organiser, somebody who can work ICT

so what they've decided to put me into is Learning Resource Centre at the Primary School.

so I'm now looking after the Library and the learning resources for the school, which is quite a big impact.

I'm sure if I'd just done teaching assistant, I will still be a teaching assistant.

But it's done. Gone that far.

Through the degree then you've been able to show them that you're more than just a teaching assistant,

You've got more skills, than just

and you can go around and say "Now I am a graduate." Got the piece of paper that says I am a graduate,

which was what was stopping me from being a, becoming a teacher in the first place.

The thing is, with becoming a teacher now, it's becoming more challenging

because you now you need literacy, numeracy and science at GCSE level,

which I'm OK with literacy and numeracy, science is not my subject

so, maybe

maybe in the future

in the future, maybe. I might go to take GCSE in Biology or something and then do it

we could do it before now

yes but now they have changed...

but the Age Discrimination Act came from 1st October, so everybody has to have a GCSE in Science now.

Sally Houghton & Helen Smith

OK. Several of my research projects were obviously based at work,

but my last one was about introducing new strategies to reduce barriers to enable in life style interventions groups

and as a result of that, there's lots of changes that were made to the sessions

and I learnt a huge amount about running focus groups

and I think it was good because it involved genuine consultation with the patients and they felt they'd been listened to as well

and the actual changes every single suggestion that they made and intervention was based on what they'd had to say about it.

So then they were able to see, so I think it just restores a bit of faith really in that proper patient-public involvement

yeah, it was really good, though that it was work-based, wasn't it and you could do

because I managed to tie mine into a big project I was doing at work anyway,

so the fact that I could tie it in, meant it was easier for me to do and I could justify doing some of it in work time as well.

But I did a piece about NVQs and quality assurance and trying to tie in the impact that training has on service.

so I mean, it kind, there are some long term effects, I think

around the fact that everybody became a lot more aware about evaluating training

rather than just saying whether it was good or bad or indifferent.

and about actually what the difference is to patients, which I know is something that you tried to tie in as well, wasn't it?

But the NVQ funding has run out, so that's kind of been a bit of a negative side to it but that's outside of control anyway, so you know...

but it was a really good thing to be involved in and my confidence at work is much more increased

because I am dealing with lots of different people now, whereas before it was always training people.

What about you?

As a result of the exhibition that we did in the final year, the team of people I part coordinate with

to give life style intervention advice increased, 'cause people, we needed new members but

that opportunity to exhibit to them gave them an insight more into what the programme's about

so in the end they volunteered to be be involved which is nice because I think they realised that they were doing something worthwhile

It's really hard to get other people involved otherwise, isn't it?

definitely, definitely...

and I think like you say about evaluation it is actually giving me more confidence in evaluating other people's work

in courses that I have been to, I have been confident to be critical really, so hopefully

give them some useful suggestions.

yeah... I mean, a bit of a spin-off for me was because I'd done so much around like reflection and learning styles,

is that I now run all of the team development sessions for our teams,

so that was something quite unexpected but I am really enjoying that and that's what I want to do next.

I want to do something around organisational development

But actually, I recently applied for a job in a college and I played on that the study that we've done into learning styles

and I think that is probably one of the reasons I ended up getting the job,

and they did say, you know: "What's the most memorable thing you've achieved in the last 12 months?"

and it was really nice to say: "Well, I've got a degree."

Not many people able to say that, so

No, no... I mean that's significant when you talk to people

and you say "Oh yeah I did it in three years - and I worked".

Sarah Brown & someone

So, how did you find the degree?

For work it's been really, really useful, especially the third year. The organisation is going through merger

and so I concentrated my final action research on a communication tool for staff

and that's proved really, really popular. We decided to do something that was web based

so that if you are at work or if you are at home you can actually access information about the merger

and especially now we've got all the jobs coming out, I've been able to sit at home,

look at jobs and apply for jobs. So that's been really good.

I think thats been the best bit for me about the degree as well, is that I have been able to use all my work that I was doing at work

and actually sort of go deeper into it than perhaps I would have been able to have done on a general day-to-day basis.

So, and it's helped, you know all the staff I was doing it around the knowledge and skills framework

and I produced a leaflet which they've now found very useful now that they're having to use it,

so that's been good. And I think other people have realised about the degree

and I had lots of congratulations and that, so it's been good.

Yeah, and I think as well, it's the fact that with the sort of action research every time I think of something now,

I was watching Robots, the video, and it was going about find a need, fill a need

and that's how I think now: what's the problem and how can we actually get over it

and I am doing some work with the Department of Health at the moment,

and whereas before I would have just gone: right, OK, let's do it,

I'm going: hang on a minute, is this the right thing to do? what do we need to do? how do we need to accomplish it?

is this the right way of doing it? and asking a lot more questions, which I don't think before I may have actually done

I might have just gone: vro-oom, let's get in there.

Do you think the degree has got you into that work with the Department of Health?

Would you have felt that confident to have done it before?

Probably... I would have worked with them, but I don't think I would have been so, I say, critical

positively critical about about what's been asked of us. I think beforehand, I would have just accepted things,

whereas now I question absolutely everything, which I don't know, it sometimes gets me into a bit of trouble.

but I think, you know that's what it's about, isn't it? So, yeah, on that count it's been really good.

Is it helping you with the merger, 'cause I know with us we are going through major changes

everyone's applying for jobs and that, to suddenly show that you've got a degree is making quite a difference

Yes, it has. Yeah, definitely. Because once I, even at my band you need a degree, so that's fantastic

The sort of the downside is: anything higher, I need a Masters

That's what I have noticed the other day: it said, you know,  you had to have a degree, desirable is a Masters or studying towards it.

Exactly, yeah. So really to be at the band I am, I need a BA which I've now got, which is really, really good.

And it's made me think about what I want to do in the future a lot more, because my job isn't about teaching

but there's lots of things I can do with teaching people how to do things.

And I sort of did, for the second year, I did a training guide and I am doing a lot more training just even internally,

and that's the sort of way I think I want to go.

Do you think you will carry on your education now?

Well, I've thought about teaching for two seconds, until I realised it will be little children

But yeah no, I'm seriously thinking about that now, so will see what happens.

And what about you?

It's helped, yes.

Pauline Eustace-Day & someone

How are you feeling, Pauline?

Well, I am more excited than I thought I was going be actually. I was quite calm this morning.

And now I am here, it's lovely, it's absolutely lovely. I feel, we have really done it today coming here, yeah.

Do you know, the people look so different.

I know, I know. I have been looking at everybody's name tags and trying to put the faces to the names.

And it has been quite strange, really. But everyone's so friendly, even though we've never met in person,

it's really lovely

Will we do it again?

No, I don't think I ever want to do it again. It was very stressful, but now it's all over with I'm just so proud of myself, yeah.

What about you?

I do, I'm excited, I like the hat after all, I think I'll take it home with me.


And the community, it's just so strange thinking we finally all got together and everyone actually,  everyone is

Everyone's real.

Everyone's real and most people are our age. I was expecting, I don't know what I was expecting.

A lot people to be younger perhaps, but they're all our age which I think is great.

So the old birds can do it.

Yeah. Well, I don't know really what else to say, except that I'm so excited.

I'm so excited today. It is lovely.

Well I'll take lots of photos.

Yeah. That's it. Sorry.

Phillip McCann & Colin Shaw

So what did you study online?

What did I study online?


Why... I actually studied online simply because one, I have essential skills problems and also dyslexsia

and found Ultraversity was a very good way to study using technology

and therefore could use my weakness as a strength to study

Yeah, I found that. I've done it because I just felt that I could go in whenever I wanted to

I can put the time in when I wanted to and I wasn't in that set routine

when you have to go to a college or university for those set lectures, so that is why I studied online.

And that is actually a very good benefit, because like yourself, I mean, as I said I had the essential skills issue

but again I was able to come in, cope and do the work at times that suited me and family

because I was there to care for one of the family members and I find that studying online at times was a godsend.

And I think for the workplace there is a benefit because they don't have to release you during work time,

because do you find you've got any time at work?

I actually got no time off of work at all, so any work I've done was done at home or in my own time

and obviously that was an advantage to use Ultraversity to do so.

Yeah, I found that as well, very beneficial.

Barbara James & Shirley Murison


Yeah, I think the last year did help us go on when we were online

I definitely think that the interaction between all the members in our learning set was beneficial

it was useful to bounce different ideas off people,

it was useful to have some feedback from other students about the work we were doing,

and I don't think, I think without that interaction we would have found it very difficult to continue

through to the end and to succeed as we have.

I think the online community, it helped you, you didn't feel so isolated

because when people, other researchers had problems they posted it

and you could, you could connect to their problems.

I agree with you and I think there were many people online who were very supportive

and were always there to give advice and to give critical feedback when it was needed

I think I would have found it very difficult, especially the last year

if I hadn't had people in my learning set questioning what I'd written

and giving me the opportunity to answer their sort of criticisms with my own thoughts and feelings

and in that way I think my overall performance improved because of it.

Yes, I also think as well where sometimes I used to think that you had a small little silly problem

somebody would post the same problem and I'd think, ahh, you could relate, really relate to it.

and definitely the criticism that you had, the constructive criticism helped you in especially in the last year

Yes, I agree.

with your reflection

It was very difficult to take sometimes

you know, it was, you would feel quite sort of hurt sometimes by it, but you overcame it and you moved on

and you were definitely improved because of it.

What surprised me was the friendliness that developed on the online community

and though you've never met a lot of the people

you felt that with the postings, that you did really get to know them.

Yes, they became your friends

And for us in the management community we actually met several times over the period of the three years.

and I made life-long friends through being on the online community and I think that's wonderful, you know.

One of the benefits I also found was when you're insular in your own school, you also read the problems that are in other schools

and you could, you could identify with them and it made you realise well you're not alone.

No but in many schools, all school communities are quite similar

and that the degree and actually talking to people about the degree you realise that

you were sort of a valued member of the community in which you work.

Enough, is that enough?

Jill Felton

You have a different journey, so would you like to tell us about it?

Yes, well I was an LSA in my local primary school where my children went for about 10 years

and they always encouraged me to be, to go into teaching because I used to teach groups as an LSA,

I wasn't actually a classroom based LSA

then I found out from my staffroom for this degree

and in the third year of my degree, I managed to get a place on the Registered Teacher Programme

and with the wisdom of my school, at the same time they actually gave me a class to teach at the same time,

so I was teaching a Year 5 class doing the third year of this degree

and as I say, I started a Registered Teacher Programme, so I was doing sort of three things at the same time,

which was quite hard but I managed to get through the year, and I am also a mum of four children as well.

It was very hard, but the support of the people on my learning set was fantastic

They were all saying "Are you mad? Can you fit anything else into your life?"

But after the degree finished, they then fast-tracked me on to the GTP which is the Graduate Teacher Programme,

and I am due to qualify as a teacher after Christmas.

So I literally finished my degree in July and I will be qualified as a class teacher,

although I have been teaching as an unqualified teacher for virtually two years now.

So it is a really special achievment today, then?

Yes, I was really pleased actually to get a first as well, I was amazed.

I mean, it did take a lot of hard work, and tears sometimes and the support of my family was fantastic.

But, yeah I am really pleased to have made the journey and got there in the end, so yeah, it is fantastic.

Thank you.

Denise Binks

Hello, I am Denise Binks. Hello, I am Denise Binks. I've... I really don't know what to say, we really have to start thinking what to say really.

To begin, when did you first found out about this degree?

Shall I start off by when I was a child?

Because when I was a child, I really wanted to do a degree

but I had to leave school and start work, that was the culture of my family

and so I then went into working for a travel agent, I was a travel agent for quite some time

and I did my exams for travel agencies. But then I had a career break to have the children

and at that point when I wanted to go back to work, I had no qualifications to show exactly what I could do.

So it was then that I found a leaflet on my desk about the Ultraversity

and it seemed the obvious answer for me, because it meant that I could still continue to work but at the same time do the degree.

So I took the first steps into doing the degree.

I found it very good, because it was using my skills in workplace and therefore it was workplace orientated

and we could structure the degree around what we were doing in the work. So it didn't feel as though I was doing two things

and I also found the online community was very good because it meant that we could find we were all there together

there are other people like myself who had children, who were out at work and they pushed me on,

so when I said "I can't do this because I've got the children",

I found that I was doing it because other people were in the same boat as I was.

Can you tell us about your role?

I started off as ICT technician, LSA, and at first I was simply looking after the computers

my rôle has changed through doing the course I'm now an ICT teacher

and I'm looking forward to trying to qualify as a fully qualified teacher.

Thank you

OK then, sorry.

start telling me about the major gain doing the degree for you, OK?

Dean Ibbotson

The degree helped me to gain my teacher status at my employment, George Dixon.

I'd been going as a teaching assistant helping in mainly ICT and science.

As I progressed through the degree, how can I put it, I gained some certain skills that I was using at work

it helped me to gain confidence, and it just boosted me in my work, really.

So I was put forward to possibly teach as an instructor

I started teaching just one or two lessons on my own and now, this year, I was put forward to doing a full time teaching

teaching, full time teaching science and ICT. So this is basically it.

Any other questions? 23

So when you left school, what kind of qualifications did you have?

I left school with 11 GCSEs. I went to a college and studied PE and Geography at A-level.

So I finished ending up with two A-levels coming from college and I was working on building sites initially!

And then a friend of mine got me a job at the school where I work right now.

After a year I have been at the school, I got on to the Ultraversity course and then it's just taken off from there to be fair.

Maureen Slack

Tell me about your contribution then to the community.

I personally got a lot out of it. I mean, I like speaking to people in an online community

and I liked being able to help people. I chatted a lot online to people and emailed people

and I felt that I was able to support other people who were perhaps less confident in online communities

and I think, that they appreciated that. I got a lot of positive feedback from that.

We all learnt from each other, and by opening up discussions in FirstClass, we got to know one another on a personal level

which we then took a stage further by meeting up at various locations and that built up a really good relationship with other students.

So, I felt that helped our learning experience because we trusted each other

because we had met on the online community and then in person,

we could share our work and our experiences perhaps at a deeper level.

You also got humour into it.

Oh yes, yeah, we had lots of laughs, I mean, we shared sort of funny emails and we talked about what we did at work

and the silly things that the staff did at school to annoy us. We brought our own personal experiences in to it

and all of that helped us to develop this sort of deeper relationship which I felt, personally helped my learning experience

but I think also helped other people who were perhaps less confident.

I mean, I could see over the three years how people's confidence grew, because we were such a friendly bunch of people

and we got on so well together and we trusted each other.

someone & someone

What do feel that you, that's been your major gain working with Ultraversity? What do you think you gained?

Initially, the gain was being able to do a course while I've got two children and managing

and also being able to work as well

How did you manage the fitting in the course as well as working?

Well I think that it makes you really good at time management because you have to juggle, haven't you?

You've got to juggle your children and your workplace,

but the great thing is, is learning from experience and taking that experience into …

From everybody else's views, when you go online and you gain experience from everybody else's views

… and work experience as well. You know, going in to work and sharing your experience with colleagues as well.

Did you find that, that helped you?

To be able to compare my experiences with their's and researcher's online

it really helped me to re-learn what I already know, if you like, to confirm what I already know

and then cascade that information back down to other work colleagues as well, to help them in their role

I just could never envisage myself here, with a degree, because I always thought that I wasn't an academic

because the books didn't mean much to me, but actually reading and then putting everything into work experience

it came alive to me. Is that what happened to you?

It did to me. And I think the main, that one of the things that really helped me when I was working with Ultraversity

was the learning journal, logging everything down and every experience

I still do that, do you? Do you still do that? Yes, I do.

It's very hard to get out of that habit and I think it is a good learning curve

to have that and to be able to refer back, whether it's written or whether it's tapes or whatever. You got it there and that helps.

And it's great evidence as well, isn't it for everything you do: in the workplace, home learning, its great.

Michelle Townsend

My name's Michelle Townsend and I've just recently achieved my degree in Learning Technology and Research through Ultraversity

It was a difficult journey really, but manageable due, thanks to the support really of my family and also my work colleagues.

I work in Grimsby, North East Linconshire at a childrens' centre

which is a Sure Start initiative run by the government.

I was very well supported by the head of the centre throughout my degree, she actually paid for the training completely

and was very supportive in any research that I needed to carry out during the degree.

As a result of achieving this degree, I am now acting family services manager at the children's centre.

A brief history of what of my life at the children's centre is:

I went there in the year 2000 as a nursery nurse, working in kind of outreach work.

I then became the training coordinator three years later,

where I worked with parents and families to try and help them achieve their potential basically,

helping them achieve literacy, numeracy skills, also helping them get back into the workplace.

So it was a real rewarding but difficult task, as I work in one of the most deprived areas in the country.

but you know, I am just really grateful that this route was available to me because

it was a long-term aim of mine to achieve a degree,

but there was no way I could afford to give up my job and go and study for three years full time.

So when the flyer fell on the staffroom table, it was really you know the answer for me, it was the right route.

And that is me, really.


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[P10] Inter-Disciplinary Inquiry-Based Learning (IDIBL)

Development of a framework model for undergraduate and postgraduate work-focussed learning based on the Ultraversity work, but intended to support curriculum innovation throughout the University of Bolton.
When Aug 01, 2007 to
Jul 31, 2013
Where Bolton
Aim: To design and develop a whole university framework for work focussed learning.

IDIBL logo

Reflection: Developing the IDIBL project meant taking a successful project, Ultraversity, and attempting to make it a whole university development – a huge challenge. Explaining the various aspects of this challenge meant exploring new theoretical perspectives and articulating the rationale for the model we designed for peer-review. This included learning about cybernetic theory, patchwork media, organisational analysis, change processes and disruptive innovation and analysing the findings of the project in this light. The approach was of participant action research and methods of survey, interview and interpretive phenomenological analysis were applied to the evaluation phases of the cyclical inquiry.
Contribution: My role was of co-developer, working closely to establish aims & values, design the curriculum, seek validation, organise, teach & mark work, operate quality mechanisms. I also designed the web site and fliers for marketing, sought meetings with stakeholders to market the course directly, worked with staff to disseminate ideas within the university, undertook research to establish evidence and co-wrote academic papers and made presentations at conferences. My part: 25% (with Stephen Powell and others)
Originality, impact and importance: The project was based on the experience of Ultraversity, but broke new ground by taking a whole university framework approach. It led to wholehearted adoption by some colleagues, whilst others appropriated parts of it for other courses. Its importance was in recognising the conditions under which work-focussed learning could prosper.
EvidenceThe impact of cybernetic theory (Beer 1985) on finding explanations for design success and failure in systems of education was published in the journal Campus-Wide Information Systems (Millwood and Powell 2011).

The rationale offered for validation of the framework in 2008

The inter-disciplinary inquiry-based learning framework (IDIBL) provides a pedagogic, organisational and assessment structure which can be used as a basis for course approval through modification of appropriate sections in this document by departments who identify an opportunity for an inquiry-based, work-focussed programme.

This should provide an agile procedure for introducing new courses, which intend using the innovative approaches developed for IDIBL. It remains for each course validation to identify a rationale for professional engagement, viability and delivery.

The framework is designed to offer a combination of pedagogical approaches, which together provide a different route for academic study and appeal to people who are committed to their.  The course will widen participation by satisfying learners' whose need is for flexibility with time, place and pedagogy.  More specifically this could be because:

  1. They need to continue in full-time paid employment whilst they study;
  2. They wish to make their study directly relevant to their work;
  3. Family commitments prevent their on-campus attendance;
  4. Geographical location or poor transport links makes campus attendance difficult;
  5. They seek to develop further their communicative creativity and technological understanding as a complete professional;
  6. Traditional examinations and academic essay writing are either intimidating or uninviting;
  7. They seek the company, support and intellectual challenge of fellow students rather than studying alone;
  8. They seek the advantage offered by technology to enjoy the possibility of work on joint ventures and studying collaboratively.

The modules contained within the framework focus on process, and generic concepts and outcomes rather than subject content.  Through a process of negotiation between the individual learner and the course staff, a personalised inquiry will be developed to include learning activities and assessment products that meet the module requirements and informed by the learners’ professional practice. All learners in a cohort will be carrying out their inquiries and develop assessment products to the same set of milestones. Thus they are expected to provide support and challenge to each other and travel a common path in spite of the personalisation of their study. The design encourages different perspectives from diverse professional and academic disciplines to be exchanged.

Learners will align and defend their attainment against module learning outcomes and with reference to competencies or national standards relevant to their work context.  Learners are expected to look critically at their work setting as a source of knowledge and experience from their own experience, colleagues’ experience and reference documents. This approach puts responsibility on the learner to maximise their effectiveness and efficiency through reflection on their work practice scaffolded by module requirements that are intentionally directed to enhance the quality and outcomes of work.

The framework is designed to enable progression by learners from a Foundation Certificate of CPD at level 3 through to level 7 Masters course.  Common throughout the framework is an inquiry-led, work-based approach to learning that meets students’ progression and continuity needs throughout.

There is a growing realisation that practitioner knowledge can inform academic knowledge.  This proposal recognises and supports a realignment of knowledge acquisition and sharing and a re-alignment of roles for staff in higher education and the practitioner in society.

As a backdrop, the 2006 Leitch report examines the UK's long-term skills needs and identifies increasing employer investment in higher level qualifications to meet the target of more than 40% of adults skilled to graduate level up from 29% in 2005. The approach outlined in this document is one route that should be attractive to employers and employees alike in that it offers a cost effective approach for students as they can gain their qualification at a full-time rate of study.  It is attractive to employers as the focus of student study is directly related to improving their work performance.

Module framework

IDIBL framework

The development and outcomes of this work are more fully reported on the Work Focussed Learning web site.

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[P11] Report on good practice of innovative applications of learning theories in TEL

A report on learning theories and how the design of innovations in technology enhanced learning may be reviewed through a multi-levelled stakeholder analysis.
When Apr 30, 2013
Where Brentwood
Aim: To clarify the accepted learning theories and explain their connection to theorists, disciplines and paradigms.
Reflection: Creating this document was a challenge for me in making sense of the diverse theoretical and conceptual positions and disciplinary backgrounds of learning theorists and to propose the application my own stakeholder analysis to innovations in technology enhanced learning - but it helped to bring all these things together for a real audience and with peer review.

Learning Theory.png


Contribution: I exercised analytical and visual design skills in the construction of the conceptual diagram and contributed the statements about the complex, contested and dynamic nature of learning theory. I also tidied up and commented on the stakeholder analysis for innovation designers. My part: 80% (with members of the HOTEL project team).
Originality, impact and importanceThis work includes a new synthesis of key theorists and their ideas, highlighting disciplinary background. It has been widely reported as part of the Hotel EU project and achieved widespread dissemination and impact. It is intended to address an EU identified problem of educational technology innovators who are actively developing without a full understanding of the scope of learning theory and its problems in relation to technology.
Evidence: The report is a deliverable of the EU funded HoTEL project (Millwood, 2013a). Widespread dissemination and impact is evidenced by the commentary on my blog (Millwood 2013c) and a number of adaptations and translations into other languages.

The HoTEL Support Action aims to contribute to more effective, holistic and faster innovation cycles in European Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), focusing on the design, testing and validation of a new innovation working method.

This document sets out the learning theories which influence innovators, identifies the new learning practices supported by TEL in higher education, professional learning and informal learning, and offers a multiple stakeholder analysis for TEL innovations in learning & education.

Educational innovators should benefit from this document as a guide to effective analysis, decision-making and implementation.

(Words: 389 )

Lewis Carroll describes a fictional map that had:

"the scale of a mile to the mile."

A character notes some practical difficulties with such a map and states that:

"we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well."
— Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, Lewis Carroll, 1893