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Epigeum 'University and College Teaching'
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Epigeum 'University and College Teaching'
by Wendy Harbottle

Higher education is going through unprecedented change. Those working in and around higher education are keenly aware of drastic changes in funding, increases in the fees being demanded of students, the impact of technology, the entry of private corporations into the marketplace and the continuing internationalisation of the sector.

One inevitable outcome of these drivers for change is that the higher education marketplace will become even more competitive. Universities will compete for decreasing levels of government funds.  Existing institutions will compete for students against new entrants into the UK marketplace and also against ambitious international institutions. In addition, the increases in student fees will be accompanied by an increase in student expectations. Students will demand value for money and high quality courses.

Universities face significant challenges. How can they meet future students’ increasing demands in the face of funding cuts? How can universities increase the quality of their teaching provision with less money?

A critical component of any strategy will be to increase and maintain high levels of knowledge and expertise amongst all those involved in delivering teaching, particularly given recent trends to use increasing numbers of part-time staff and adjunct faculty:

“An ever-increasing proportion of all teaching in higher education is being undertaken by teachers other than permanent full- time academics. In many universities and colleges this has posed a challenge to maintaining educational quality.”
Professor Graham Gibbs, retired Director of the Oxford Learning Institute, University of Oxford

A professional training programme will continue to be essential. However, such programmes face further challenges. For example: how to address the needs of PhD students and graduate teaching assistants? How to address the ever changing modes of delivery afforded by learning technologies? And, most of all, how to address all these issues when faced with decreasing training budgets?  In other words, how to do much more for much less.

At this point, ALT members will be waiting for learning technologies to enter this narrative. For any training programme, learning technology can make a significant contribution to solving such dilemmas. In simple terms, technology can be used to increase the quality of a training programme and to teach more people at less cost. Online courses can cost just 10% of running equivalent workshops if implemented correctly. Freed of physical constraints, online courses are also scalable, enabling thousands of participants to be trained simultaneously.

Universities now have a fantastic opportunity to gain an edge on their competitors through the quality of their online training. Yet, building courses in-house is expensive, time-consuming and difficult. A new training programme from Epigeum, “University and College Teaching” is designed to make it easy for institutions to reap the benefits of a high quality online training programme.

“University and College Teaching” is a set of nine high quality, multimedia courses which cover all aspects of teaching from lecturing, to marking and giving feedback to course design. The courses also contain a wealth of case studies demonstrating good practice from around the world. ALT members should be assured that the use of technology in teaching is embedded throughout the programme. The courses are designed to be delivered through an institution’s VLE and are accompanied with a guide to additional activities that exploit the technology fully.

The courses are designed to complement existing workshops but also act as a stand alone course. The courses can also be delivered on demand so that when a PhD student is required to deliver a tutorial at short notice they can access good quality training before doing so. The courses empower training units currently delivering face-to-face training to move to a blended learning model quickly and easily.

A unique aspect to this training programme is that the production involved collaboration on a large scale. As Graham Gibbs states:

“These courses pool the experience and knowledge of leading educationalists with decades of experience of training college teachers, from both the US and the UK, and make that expertise available to all.”

A stellar cast of expert practitioners from the UK and around the World have collaborated to build “University and College Teaching”. The lead advisor for the course programme is Professor Graham Gibbs. Professor Marilla Svinicki from the University of Texas at Austin, USA is one of the course authors along with Professor Vicky Lewis form the Open University, Dr Rhona Sharpe from Oxford Brookes University and Professor Ed Peile from the University of Warwick.  During development the courses were peer reviewed and piloted by 176 university partners including the University of Birmingham, Durham University, UCL and the Institute of Education.

Professor Gibbs has spent 30 years running renowned training courses for new university and college teachers, and his expertise along with authors and reviews from 17 universities worldwide makes these courses a ground- breaking in offering online training to new lecturers. He states:

“Training of new teachers in higher education has been shown to increase student ratings and to make teachers more competent and sophisticated. The Epigeum courses offer a convenient way of providing such training on the topics new teachers seek help with, and on demand.”

In an ever changing and increasingly competitive environment, universities need to be prepared to embrace change. Learning technologies will be offer solutions across the operations of an institution and online training should be a key component to any learning technology strategy.

University and College teaching – Key facts 

The course programme comprises nine courses which provide full and part-time lecturers with the key skills they need to plan and deliver engaging and innovative courses for their students (Figure 1). They will equip all levels of lecturer including new staff, graduate teaching assistants and full and part-time lecturers with the skills they need to effectively plan and deliver compelling courses to ensure student success.

UCT 001 Lecturing 1

  • Author: Professor Graham Gibbs, formerly of the Open University, Oxford Brookes University and University of Oxford
  • Expert Reviewer: Professor John Cowan, Institute for Interactive Media and Learning, Edinburgh Napier University

UCT 002 Lecturing 2

  • Author: Professor Graham Gibbs, formerly of the Open University, Oxford Brookes University and University of Oxford
  • Expert Reviewer: Professor John Cowan, Institute for Interactive Media and Learning, Edinburgh Napier University

UCT 003 Providing Access to Learning Resources

  • Author: Professor Sally Kuhlenschmidt, Western Kentucky University, USA
  • Expert Reviewer: Professor Jo McKenzie, Centre for Research in Learning and Change, UTS, Australia

UCT 004 Making the Most of Discussion

  • Author: Dr Barbara Gross Davis, University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • Expert reviewer: David Jacques, formerly of Oxford Brookes University

UCT 005 Supervising Projects and Dissertations

  • Author: Professor Vicky Lewis, The Open University
  • Expert Reviewer: Professor David Boud, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

UCT 006 Marking and Giving Feedback

  • Author: Professor Marilla Svinicki, University of Texas at Austin, USA
  • Expert Reviewer: Professor Serge Piccinin, formerly of the Centre for Learning and Teaching, University of Ottawa, Canada

UCT 007 Designing a course

  • Author: Professor Chris Rust, Oxford Brookes University
  • Expert Reviewer: Karron Lewis, University of Texas at Austin, USA

UCT 008 Developing your Teaching

  • Authors: Professor Nancy von Note Chism, Indiana University and Purdue University, Indianapolis,  Professor Michael Theall, Youngstown State University, USA
  • Expert Reviewer: Emeritus Professor Christopher Knapper, Queens University, Ontario, Canada

UCD 009 Teaching with Patients

  • Author: Professor Ed Peile, Warwick University
  • Expert Reviewer: Professor LuAnn Wilkerson, UCLA, USA

‘University and College Teaching’ has over 20 hours of online content, and 180 hours of associated post-course activity that can contribute towards a teaching portfolio and potentially accreditation. For any university who is faced with training funding cuts, combined with increased pressures on staff and  postgraduate students to teach with insufficient training, then  ‘University and College Teaching’  is the answer.

These courses are currently in development and are due for final release in summer 2011.

Beta versions of the courses will be available in Spring 2011.  Be one of the first to look at these exciting new courses and register for a special early booking discount. Please email or telephone Wendy Harbottle at Epigeum to register your interest: Email:, Mobile: 07970 546524.

Wendy Hardbottle

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