Friday 26 April 2024

Teaching Innovation of the Year, Student Nursing Times Awards 2024

This afternoon I and some colleagues, Lucian Milasan, Andy Farr and Isabel Turnbull, arrived in London at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House, to celebrate and reflect at the Student Nursing Times Awards 2024.  900+ people were in attendance.  We were shortlisted for our team project on 'Behind the creative canvas: An innovative trauma-informed art-based educational approach using an immersive learning pedagogy'  Developing innovative excellence and cross-disciplinary work that extends the original purpose of our virtual reality wall rooms.  As well as providing other creative ways of using the space.  I/we found this such a privilege to be shortlisted and attend such prestigious event.  I was certainly ready to be inspired and empowered by the sector.  Hopefully a win too, but we're against very strong competition.  But I feel being shortlisted is an achievement in itself.

Anne Felton, Head of Department - "It is an incredible achievement to be shortlisted.  Some institutions invest in priming projects and students for this national award each year.  And you guys did it simply by a connection, commitment and passionate to develop a creative and powerful learning experience.  I’m in awe 😊.  Have a wonderful time!"

We didn't win unfortunately.  However, out of 722 submissions entered, 200+ whittled down and to be selected into one of the 24 categories, we were honoured to be shortlisted.  A proud moment to represent our department and be nationally recognised as a finalist, where we were all worthy of being winners.  Throughout the day we certainly reflected on how we could progress and evaluate the scalability of this project even further, as well as new ones.  We will emphasise this success when we present this project at Nottingham Trent University's Annual Learning and Learning Conference (ALTC) 2024 on 18 June.


Andy Farr - "It is a great honour and to be working with these guys at NTU to use Art and lived experience narratives to inform MH Nurse training.

Colette Fuller - "Excellent, well done Dan! 👏"

Roy Scott - "Well done Son & Team great achievement"

Lucian update to the department:

"Dear All,

We thought we would share with you a taster of our experience at the Student Nursing Times Awards in London last Friday, before we reveal the full story in our next IHAP newsletter.

It was an amazing celebration and the atmosphere was simply exquisite. We were very proud (as you can tell from the pictures!) to represent NTU at this prestigious event. There were 200+ finalist shortlisted from 700+ nominations across the UK, which was a recognition of the high quality of the project we submitted for the “Teaching Innovation of the Year” category (“Behind the creative canvas: An innovative trauma-informed art-based educational approach using an immersive learning pedagogy”). We were indeed gutted not to win the award this year, but we all agreed that it was an invaluable experience on which we reflected constructively and already started baking some new ideas for next year – watch that space! Until then, you will find us at the TILT conference on 18th June where we plan to celebrate one more time the success of our project!

A huge thank you to our colleagues who nominated us for this award (and to those of you who kept their fingers crossed for us), and also to Anne Felton for supporting us throughout this journey!

Best wishes,

Lucian, Dan, Izzy & Andy"

Whilst it is great to be recognised nationally, the following pointers are also important to me:

  • Collaborating with academics and making a positive difference with technology.  Cross-discipline working that derives from openness and willingness to innovate.
  • Getting the department on the map internally and externally; the efforts being made in our context.
  • Developing excellence – I see that excellence is achieved through good practice. And good practice is achieved through piloting and iterating. And to do that it requires low and high stakes projects.

Inspired and empowered from attending the event, I am now seeking learning technology-type groups specifically for and relevant to healthcare?  As I’m looking to get more connected in those communities and spaces.

In my role and context, I see that excellence is achieved through good practice.  And to me good practice is achieved through piloting and iterating - you have to start somewhere!  And to do that it requires low and high stakes projects.  Low stakes include the use of 360° imagery and videos for virtual tour type activities.  High stakes include intensive time and resource planning to create meaningful multimedia, pre-record situations and simulations unfold.  The latter is relevant to the work we did here and has paid off.

Thursday 25 April 2024

IHAP Digital Learning Strategy

Following on from my early 'digital strategy/operational plan' that I first mentioned in my blog post 'Learning technology manager - a celebration'.  Which led to a successful promotion and formation of a small team.  I have now been able to complete writing my digital learning strategy and five-year operational plan for our institute.  Providing a clear vision and direction, to enable and progress our staff and students' digital literacies, practices and learning experience outcomes, and pedagogically sound application of curriculum-specific learning technologies.  According to my Head of Department, at the time of publishing this, I have produced the first strategy in the department!  A side benefit of this strategy is that I also plan to use it to incrementally develop my role, such as the academic and scholarship aspects, and refine my leadership and management abilities.

As my Head once said; I am good had holding my long-term visions of what is to be achieved and how I can bring people with me to get there.  I'm really glad and proud that I stuck with my gut on taking the initiative and leadership to make this come to fruition and have the staff resource to begin to deliver it.  It was a big challenge starting off writing this from nothing and building it up over time.  There was no use of Artificial Intelligence, just me and my own ambitions an insights.  It is a good balance of my ambitions, growth, current ideas/needs and informed by data collected from students; addressing issues and priorities as identified in the Digital Curriculum Questionnaire.  It includes other ideas that I had to park due to timeliness' and resource; there was only me at the time.  Technology is often the easiest bit, now the big challenges will be around establishing the relationships, partnerships and infrastructures to support and fulfil the strategy - communicating, supporting and developing change and culture.

Revisiting my original attention when I first started in our institute in 2021, I seem to be well on my way to achieving this overall goal.

Below are the first five pages of my strategy to show that it is real and to outline it's purpose.  I'm not sharing the full thing here in the effort to protect the integrity of its contents.  I'm thrilled and excited to start progressing towards the objectives in this and taking our institute further.

I sent the strategy for review to my team colleague, my Head and Deputy Head before discussing it further in a March Senior Leadership Team meeting.  Besides the following feedback from my Head, I received minor textual changes and mentions, meaning that I am on the right track.

Dr Anne Felton, Head of Department – “Thank you for the significant work that has gone into this document.   It sets out an ambitious strategy for the department that really drives forward our digital focus.  I like the key areas that are reflected in the focus of the strategy signified by the diagram and can see how it scaffolds each year. 

There is opportunity to emphasise upskilling staff at an earlier point as Nikki [Deputy Head of Department] has identified.  I think this would be achieved through a goal in the strategic objectives as it comes across well in the operational plan.

I’d also suggest that these strategic objectives include the achievement of all of our NOW rooms meeting NTU minimum standards – ambitious in a different way. 

The operational plan for 2023/24 is quite ambitious and I wonder whether some of the timelines might need extending to keep this achievable? 

Finally it needs to be approached as to what will be achievable within current resources...(which may also need some consideration as to whether anything needs scaling back if its focused on existing resources)...With this in mind I’d also consider whether there are any commercial or income generation opportunities that would fund the VR simulation headsets?

Thank you for the time and effort that’s gone into this.  It’s an ambitious and exciting vision that will help you/us communicate the focus for digital and give us a path to follow moving forwards.

On 28th March, on the last day before Easter break, I presented my strategy to the Senior Leadership Team.  Organised well in advance last year with a 30-minute slot for us to discuss the draft.  Ahead of this and to prepare for the discussion, I asked SLT to review the strategy and answer the questions on a Padlet, that will provide us with a discussion base on the morning.  I was a bit nervous. But it went as well as I thought it would in terms of conversation and SLT being happy with it.  There was discussion around staff buy-in which I confirmed would be a result of working collaboratively with Principal Lecturers to understand needs and opportunities.  Where and when the ongoing reviewing of the strategy will take place, and the visibility and promotion of it to the wider department.  It was recommended by SLT to review frequently if any problems and issues are foreseen, we can adapt and pivot.  I asked about wider consultation with staff and students, but my Head is satisfied with it being formally agreed here.  I guess this depends how big we want it to be and what more information we require - which is not a lot at this stage.  I also asked if is it realistic in terms of staffing resource and where IHAP department growth is?  E.g. not going big too soon.  However, prior to this I already planned on pacing out some of objectives from years 2 and 3 to years 4 and 5.  On reflection, I designated years 4 and 5 as contingency capacity for naturally unfolding objectives and depending on staff resource and unforeseen issues.  Overall, this now formally starts the process of conversations on what changes SLT will need to put in place to accommodate my strategy.

A reason I think it has been so well received is that it is ambitions, realistic, accessible and speaks to issues as much as it does innovation.  It is workable and doable is reflective of my pragmatic nature.  The Padlet responses below further indicate this.

On 22nd April, I communicated this publicly across the department.



I have the pleasure of sharing with you the IHAP Digital Learning Strategy. This was agreed by the Senior Leadership Team on 28th March following their review and discussion of it.  It is now available for you to view the vision and direction of travel we are taking in this space.  The strategy is a working document and will therefore be subject to minor changes as we progress through it.  If you would like to be a key collaborator on any objectives, please get in touch. You can expect possible updates on progress via the department and relevant course team meetings.  I welcome any anonymous feedback you have via this Padlet.  As always, any queries please don’t hesitate to reach out to me."

Claire Wilson, Senior Lecturer, Adult Nursing – "Brilliant news Dan!  Happy to help where I can."

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Assessing the current position of the IHAP VR walls

Following on from my previous work in VR and immersive learning:

To start progress on one of my self-designed 2023/2024 appraisal objectives.  Which is to scale up the pedagogical and technical use of our, Institute of Health and Allied Professions (IHAP) VR suites through colleague collaboration by July 2024.  Two outputs of which are:

  • Develop a process and guidance to enable academics and clinical skills technicians to engage and work with me on co-designing, ideating and prototyping on immersive learning design
  • Exploit intermediate and advanced functionality of our VR walls, and promote and train academics and clinical skills technicians using them, producing appropriate guidance and resources

Following my previous efforts to integrate and scale up the VR suites during 2022-2023, wider department uptake has not been that successful.  Paramedicine lecturers and students remain the most frequent users.  This was mainly due to my own staff resource and time to work with nursing and other early adopter paramedicine lecturers, to explore and exploit further potential of the technology.  But now that I have a colleague and operate as a small team, I am now able to spend some quality time on this piece.  In order to assess the current position and usage, I designed a survey by way of building my capacity to support lecturers and clinical skills technicians to use our VR immersive rooms more effectively.  With the view of offering meaningful support and collaborative approaches.  The survey questions aim to gather insights into lecturers and technicians technical and practice abilities in using the technology, including wider information on attitudes and blockers helping to identify specific knowledge gaps and areas for improvement.  22 responses were received by 31 January 2024.  Below is the Microsoft Forms summary providing an overview of the collective response - no formal report required, this is to obtain the information I need to progress my developments with.  As I suspected, it is evident that the following is lacking, in no particular order; curriculum alignment, protected development time, room size, immersive pedagogy and technical know-how (revisit basics, continue in-person and hands-on, time to cover basic troubleshooting, finding and selecting appropriate media, continue to conclude with pedagogical conversation).  I'm particularly interested in the gap of immersive learning design knowledge and skills in utilising our immersive rooms and facilities.  A deeper dive on the outcomes is now required to embed in the planning of my approaches.  Some relevant response extracts:

  • Farai Pfende, Senior Lecturer in Learning Disabilities Nursing – “Look forward to any CPD to help build confidence, understanding. I am not sure I can ever create this stuff independently but willing to have a go.  Protected time is the biggest challenge at the moment but working on it.
  • Gruia Dimcea, Lecturer in Paramedicine Science - “Ongoing best-practice sharing; step-by-step video set-up guides with common FAQ's included and troubleshooting.
  • Anna Price, Clinical Skills Technician – “If the system worked as it should, it would perhaps encourage others to use the VR suite and therefore increase knowledge and confidence.
  • Adam Chillman, Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing – “Thank you for you help using the rooms!

To weave into my response to this, I am going to explore the use of storytelling and the connected use of physical props and digital objects to enhance immersive learning experiences.  The IHAP digital learning strategy that I have produced also responds to this has a number of objectives is to develop scholarly initiatives to increase knowledge and practice, and scope out opportunities to develop low level immersive experience to build upon.  As well as utilising knowledge acquired from the TILT VR and Immersive Learning Practice and Scholarship group.