The Propeller Event – connecting projects across campus.

If you missed out on last week’s Propeller Event for Incubator Fellows, don’t fret. Here’s a summary of the occasion and 3 ways you can still engage with it. We’d love to hear your opinion on the event or ideas for future events, so contribute to the discussion forum below or email us your feedback.


What? On 10th October the first Propeller Event was hosted by the Education Incubator. Thirty-one attendees networked over a buffet lunch held at the Old Library Balcony at Exeter University’s Streatham campus.

Who? Amongst the crowd were new Incubator project fellows from the Exeter and  Penryn campuses.  It was fantastic to have a handful of last year’s superstar fellows (Alison Hill, Sue Prince, Matt Finn, the InVenTA team) put in an appearance to provide their advice and encouragement for the new projects. Notable was the presence of several professional services staff team members including Ben Goulding (Ed Tech Exeter) who connected with several incubator fellows over student engagement strategies, Jackie Penny (Service Delivery Unit), Gillian Auld (Director of Academic Development) and Anke Djordjevic (Grand Challenges Project Manager). It was particularly exciting that Professor Wendy Robinson (Academic Dean for Students and Success for All theme lead) paid a brief visit to show support for the Education Incubator initiative.

Why? The purpose of the Propeller event was to build camaraderie and project momentum, and to catalyse strategic connections between the Incubator projects across colleges. In her welcome speech Director of the Incubator, Sarah Dyer, invited all attendees to take on three challenges over the course of the lunch:

  1. Converse with a fellow from a different research stream
  2. Contribute to the ‘Thought Wall’ set up at the end of the balcony
  3. Meet new Project Officers Estelle and Katie and take part in their social media survey

We hope you all felt galvanised in your projects as a result of this first Incubator-led  networking lunch.  We’ve had some very positive feedback already. 


‘It was a fantastic opportunity to connect with other incubator fellows, and think about how we might collaborate and feed into one another’s projects to make them ‘go further’.’ (Dr Beverly Hawkins)

 ‘The chance to connect with other incubator fellows, project managers and theme leads was an invaluable experience. It allowed me to appreciate the current breadth of projects being undertaken within the incubator and utilise the ‘hive mind’ to further ideas for my own project.’ (Joe Francis, UEMS)

‘Being given the ability to suggest future training and workshops made me feel like a true co-designer within the incubator scheme!’ 

 ‘Such a fantastic occasion to hear more about the innovative research that is being undertaken across the Education Incubator. From gamification to exploring methods of module delivery across campus, it is clear that the Incubator programmes are exploring exciting new ways of supporting education delivery across the University.’ (Ben Goulding, SDU)

‘It was great hear more about the next group of Education Incubator projects from colleagues across the university. The potential of these to make a significant difference to students and their learning is really exciting.’ (Matt Finn, 2017-18 Incubator Fellow)


If you didn’t get a chance to engage with and contribute to the ‘thought-wall’ experiment then we’d really like you to think through these questions:

  1. Audiences – who are your project’s key audiences? (THINK BIG / WIDE / SPECIFIC)
  2. Communications – how are you planning to share your project progress and results? (SOCIAL MEDIA / CONFERENCES / ARTICLES)
  3. Events / Workshops – what future events would you like the Incubator to run that would support your project? (ANY SKILLS YOU’D LIKE TO HONE?)

Do email us your ideas, answers or suggestions. We’d love to hear your reflections on these questions. our ideas will enhance our understanding of your project’s development, show us how we can best support you, and enable us co-design an Education Incubator programme that truly meets the needs of its Research Fellows.


Finally, if you have any budding project ideas that support innovation in higher education at the University of Exeter, why not consider applying for the next round of Education Incubator project funding (2019-20)? Get in touch if you’d like more information about this opportunity and continue to look out for our funding updates on the Staff News e-bulletin.

Again, sincere thanks to all who attended the Propeller Event and contributed on the day to make it such a success, it really was a fruitful and fun occasion.



Hello from Project Officer, Estelle Caine

IMG_20181002_171220On the 1st of October I became a Higher Education Project Officer within the Exeter University Education Incubator team. I recently graduated from Nottingham Trent University where I studied Microbiology. During my studies I spent a year in Akdeniz University Hospital in Turkey working in the laboratory. It was an amazing experience and really helped me focus on where I wanted to direct my energy. I became interested in project management and was able to run two of my own projects on antibiotic resistance and laboratory efficiency.

We have 14 new projects starting this year that fall under four categories: Curriculum 2021 projects, Success for All, MOOCification of Grand Challenges and Learning Re-imagined. Each project differs vastly from the last and I’m really looking forward to getting involved. I’m interested to learn more about MOOCs and how the MOOC is beginning to be used more in Universities. Some of the topics we will be covering whilst learning about MOOCs are: the issues involved in integrating MOOCs as accredited courses within university, use of MOOC worldwide and what makes a good MOOC? As someone who used a wide variety of visual, audio and physical learning platforms at university, I’m fascinated to discover the impact a well taught MOOC can have on its audience.

This morning we had a meeting with Alison Hill, a fellow from one of last year’s project groups. Alison was investigating the correlation between students who obtained maths Alevel and the consequent performance in biosciences. As a previous Microbiology student I found this project very relevant to me due to the vast amount of statistics involved in my university course and my lack of mathematical background. Alison had clear findings that maths Alevel and extra maths tuition dramatically improved student’s grades. I’m passionate about platforms that provide extra support for struggling students and new, innovative teaching methods.

After reading about these projects I really believe they have the potential to make a big difference within the education sector. I’m excited about getting involved in projects relevant to my degree as well learning about disciplines I am unfamiliar with. I look forward to meeting the project fellows and working the my new colleagues Sarah, Karen and Katie!


Farewell from Project Officer, Cameron Winton

CameronWintonProfileThe last nine months have been a very exciting time for me, both personally and professionally. I moved to a new city, I passed my driving test and got my license, made a lot of new friends in Exeter and on top of that I’ve had nine months in a brand new position as Higher Education project Officer at the University of Exeter’s Education Incubator.

As a Higher Education project Officer I’ve had the opportunity to dip my toes in a lot of different fields which has been very exciting for me and this has also meant that I’ve had to be very flexible in my responsibilities and I’ve had to hit the ground running in a lot of areas. Through this position I’ve had a hand in communications, project management, events planning, bug testing of all things, administration, filming and even copyright law.

Some of my favourite moments through this role have been when everyone comes together as a team to accomplish a task, especially when this pertains to events that have been planned for months come together on the day.

My favourite of the events we’ve planned and run this year was the Learning Spaces Walk part of the Learning Reimagined stream. A tour across the University Campus’s Learning Spaces conducted by Prof Sue Prince and the Head of Space and Design Helen Wallace to discuss how built pedagogy affects learning.

The tour was a fascinating dive into how students and staff interact with the built pedagogy around them and how that has changed over the last few years, a subject that isn’t discussed nearly enough in University I feel and it fed into a wider discussion of the place that lecturers and lecture theatres have within Higher Education now.

Another incubator project I’m quite excited to see where it will go next is the InVEnTA project, an interactive virtual environment creation toolkit for lecturers so they can quickly and simply create large interactive 3D landscapes by utilising Geospatial data gathered via GIS. I’ve had a hand at bug testing InVEnTA as well as helping the InVEnTA team conduct a workshop in the new Digital Humanities Seminar room where we and number of guests got hands on experience with the toolkit on a large 4K screen.

What I’ve enjoyed the most about working at the Education Incubator however has been the opportunity to work alongside academics and professional services staff to see the work and research that goes into the field of pedagogy and seeing first-hand how this work goes on to mould the teaching at the University of Exeter.

Overall it’s been a very positive and educational nine months for me and I’m very excited to take everything I’ve learned while I’ve been in this vocation to my next role.

Education, Higher Education, Incubator, Project, Uncategorized

InVEnTA discussions at the International Glaciology British Branch Meeting



The InVEnTA project uses advances in geospatial and visualisation technology to develop free-roaming interactive virtual environments. The project is run by SteveAnne, and myself who are all Geographers with expertise in spatial data and Glaciology. Before the start of term we hosted the International Glaciology Society British Branch meeting and so as part of the programme included a poster about the InVEnTA tool. The poster is shown below and this blog is a summary of potential collaborations and initial reactions of the project:

 Many of the talks (see the programme and abstract map) that were researching ice margins required high resolution elevation models. There were various techniques explained on how these were created including Tom Chudley’s UAV work and Joe Mallalieau using automated time lapse arrays. Both of these outputs could import into the InVEnTA tool and their research could be showcased in an immersive environment.

Probably the most novel of datasets that we discussed for collaboration was Rob Bingham’s Pine Island Glacier bed elevation datasets. Rob’s response to my inquiry was,

“this would be great! How do we start?”

Discussion in the poster session and throughout the conference was very positive and has provided motivation for the next steps of the project. The consensus was that research projects in Geography which create high resolution topographic data-sets lend themselves for use in InVEnTA. There was particular enthusiasm of its use to increase research impact and engagement. The InVEnTA team are now working on developing the tool  to be able to ingest models of varying data types to increase uptake and ease of compatibility further. Over the summer we have identified a way of exporting elevation models for anywhere on the earth using Esri’s City Engine tool. We have a clear way of creating immersive environments in Physical Geography. We need to widen our collaborations to include colleagues who are interested in using the tool in other disciplines. Many taught concepts relate to phenomena or ideas that occur at spatial and temporal scales that present a challenge for visualisation – from the inner workings of human body cells (or DNA, or anatomy) to the dynamics of colliding galaxies, and from timescales of subatomic particle interactions to multiple ice-age cycles. If you would like to know more or want to explore how you may collaborate with the team then get in touch on twitter @UoE_Inventa or send me an email



Higher Education, Incubator

Incubating our Incubator project

Innovation in Education

Our Education Incubator project kicked off this week with the very first face to face meeting, as evidenced by the photo below 🙂 The team of Educators drawn from both Exeter and Penryn will be developing a new module that is open to students from all campuses. It will cover the changing nature of work in an increasingly digital and global economy, and focus on building the skills needed for success in this environment.

From left to right are Beverley Hawkins, Stephen Hickman, Alison Truelove and Lisa Harris

The future of work is an important topic for all of us because it offers significantly different challenges and opportunities, shaped by digital innovations and trends towards global organising. For example, 3D printing, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence and crypto-currencies will restructure entire industries and economies, transforming the nature and location of employment.

As the module is taught online, it will…

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e-resources for new ways of teaching and assessing in the laboratory – project blog

Written by Dr Nicky King

Our project kicked off in earnest at the start of August as the race was on to get materials ready for the start of term next week for the new 1st year Natural Sciences and Biosciences students. We’re working with Learning Science to build bespoke Smart Worksheets for assessing practicals. Learning Science have done a great job taking our existing practicals and assessments and turning them into online assessments which not only streamline marking but also provide greatly enhanced feedback to our students. For me however it’s been a fantastic opportunity to think about what we assess, how we assess it, and why we do it in a certain way. So often the answer is ‘because that’s how we’ve always done it’ but this has been a real incentive to think again about learning outcomes and what exactly it is that we want students to take away from a lab class. Just because we’ve always assessed in a certain way is not a good reason to keep doing it.

What do I want my students to get out of their laboratory classes? An enhanced understanding of the science, inquiry and research skills, numerical and data analysis skills, but also, significantly enthusiasm for experimentation and a love of practical science. Getting the students to write a traditional, fairly prescriptive, formal lab report is an important skill for them to develop but do we have to do this every time?


For one of my chemistry experiments, investigating the oxidation states of Vanadium, I’ve now dropped the formal lab report and developed a Smart Worksheet which the students can complete in the lab, in real time, as they do the experiment. Performing calculations and checking their data quality as they go, consolidating their understanding of the underpinning science, and getting immediate feedback online in an environment where they can also speak to me if there are still things they are unclear about. Surely this is better than sitting down 10 days later to write a lab report when they’ve already forgotten some of the finer details because their lab book records aren’t perfect, and then getting feedback another 3 weeks later when their minds have long since moved on to other things. I’m looking forward to hearing what the students think.


Josh reflects on his time as a Project Officer in the Exeter Education Incubator

My time at the incubator has been my first “real job” since finishing University last year. I’ve interJoshRedmondOfficerned, temped, and worked part time – but my first real foray into the bonafide adult full time working world has been here at the incubator.

Whilst I’d spent three years in the academic environment, I had never seen behind the scenes, and none of the offices I’d worked in before had anything to do with education – so I wasn’t sure what working here was going to be like.

It’s been an interesting nine months, we’ve all had to wear lots of hats, and throw ourselves in at the deep end many a time to support our academics in carrying out their projects. The different roles and responsibilities we have all had to take on have been challenging, but at the same time a fantastic learning opportunity for myself and my fellow interns – all of whom were more or less in the same boat.

Amongst the new experiences and responsibilities I’ve had have been video production, qualitative survey design, project management, and graphic design. It’s not just what I was doing which has been varied, but also the projects I’ve been working on. This has been even more true as members of staff have left the incubator, two of my fellow project officers left us mid year, and another has left recently leaving just two of us to take on a variety of different projects and tasks. This wide distribution of tasks meant that each of us have had different experiences on the same projects, and we’ve needed to hand over tasks to one another regularly to share the workload.

The big challenge here has been ensuring that enough of the accrued informal knowledge each member of staff builds up over time is shared and communicated along with the tasks themselves. You have a lot of knowledge about the job in your head that you might not even have ready access to – until something jogs your memory or reminds you – let alone your colleagues. Whilst you can do your best to mitigate the risks, by writing down processes and knowledge, keeping notes in a shared accessible place, and regularly updating everyone else on the progress you’re making at meetings; it is challenging in the extreme to share a half remembered memory of a conversation you had three weeks ago which you suddenly realise is critical to the project. Ultimately, it’s about recording everything important with as much detail as possible, and storing everything somewhere in a way that makes sense even without contextual knowledge. Things will still slip through the cracks, especially when everyone on the team is working across many different projects and roles, but with any luck the net will be fine enough to catch anything important.

As I’m about to move on to my next role, I hope to be able to use all the knowledge and skills I have built up over the last nine months, both the concrete skills I need to do my job, and the softer skills and experience I’ve gained in how to work in a large organisation, and be an effective member of a wider team.

Josh Redmond – Project Officer – Exeter Education Incubator