Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Author: Julian Ingle

Guest Bloggers: Julian Ingles & Stuart Sims – RISE Online Student Journal

We’re pleased to announce the launch of RISE, a new online journal to showcase students’ work. RISE has been developed as a platform for publishing and sharing the exciting work of our students, from all disciplines, with a wider audience. 

Across the University, our students are engaged in exciting and innovative work, which ranges from disciplinary research as part of their course to their own artistic and creative endeavours. Our editorial team is keen to showcase these efforts (their work?). Particularly during the pandemic, when opportunities for students to feel as if they belong to a learning community might be few and far between, RISE provides a platform for sharing and engaging with others.

There are many benefits for students in getting their work published. Not least of which is to have your achievements celebrated in a public forum. RISE is designed to showcase what our students are doing so that it goes beyond the world of assessment and is appreciated by everyone at the University. 

While we’re open to a range of different media and formats for publication, in terms of research, there is an imperative to disseminate original work: 

“Every university graduate should understand that no idea is fully formed until it can be communicated and that the organisation required for writing and speaking is part of the thought process that enables one to understand material fully. Dissemination of results is an essential and integral part of the research process.” (Boyer Commission, 1998:24 in Walkington, 2015)

Most students’ research at the taught level ends in assessment; students are therefore missing out on a key aspect of developing as a researcher. This is an opportunity for students to experience disseminating their work, exposing them to the processes of academic publication as well as the wider attention and scrutiny that this brings. At the very least, it is an interesting line on the CV for anyone to say they were published in the University journal!

Four boxes setting out the ways taking part in the RISE Journal offers opportunities. The under them a paragraph showing how it meets the Portsmouth Hallmarks

Our website gives further guidance on how and what students can submit. If you teach undergraduate or taught postgraduate students, please share this with them. If you are aware of particular students who have done an interesting piece of original work, please recommend they publish with us or contact the RISE team to discuss – we’d love to hear about it. We are very open to creative, interactive and original pieces as well as written articles.

The current deadline for submissions is May 14th, 2021 at 5 pm. Please send any queries to

Guest Blogger: Julian Ingle – Writing Retreats Take Off

“What do you do, sit around writing poetry and novels?” When I say I’m running a writing retreat, most people assume it’s a kind of self-expression fest, paid for by the University. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m in my sixth month here as Deputy Head of ASK, enjoying the new role. In my previous job at Queen Mary, UoL, I’d run writing retreats for staff and PhD students on a regular basis. This was something I wanted to initiate here at Portsmouth. I’m pleased to say that I’ve just finished running my fourth writing retreat at the University. Hopefully this marks the beginning of regular retreats at Portsmouth and they’ll become part of the fabric.

These retreats are urban rather than residential – in other words we don’t head off and stay in a boutique hotel in the South Downs, but work in a large room on campus and then go home. The plan is to run off-campus one- and two-day retreats for staff and PhD students once I’ve found a good venue. (Being elsewhere does make a difference. As does having a decent lunch that you don’t have to prepare.)

The format of the retreats draws on Rowena Murray’s work, which over the years I’ve developed and refined. Highly structured, intense and very productive, we sit around a large boardroom-style table; we then set a goal or task for the first hour-long writing session, discuss it briefly with a colleague and then begin writing. When the hour is up we talk to our colleague about how it went, set another goal and carry on. To help re-focus, we also do short generative writing activities, such as freewriting. After lunch we spend half an hour peer reviewing someone else’s work, and then carry on writing in one-hour blocks. Sometimes the format varies, depending on time and location. Typically, there are between 12–15 participants from across the faculties – although the boundaries between staff and PhD students are sometimes blurred.

Having run retreats for the last eight years, I know they work. There are lots of reasons why, but key is that they get writing done. Staff workloads, multiple demands, and the general culture in many universities, mean that despite increasing pressure to publish, there is little time allocated or energy left to make time to write. So staff write in their holidays or at weekends. Providing a dedicated time and place, away from everyday demands, email or internet distractions, creates a shared ethos and valued space to do something that is in theory an essential dimension of who we are as teachers, practitioners, researchers, academics…

Building research writing cultures takes time. Writing retreats provide a powerful way to connect staff and PhD students with each other, their research, their thinking and practices, and help build a community of writers. The conversations that take place throughout the day are full of insights (there’s no such thing as a finished writer), so sharing the frustrations, trying something new or learning from others can give direction, confidence and motivation.

Or at least that’s what participants say about writing retreats. Above all they are productive: a frequent comment is that they’ve written more in the day than they’ve written in the last two months. On occasions, the freewriting activities can result in light bulb moments and help move thinking on. At the end of the day we’re tired but most people would like more.

I’m determined that writing retreats will continue at the University and, if we get a good location and good food, they will get better.

If you’d like to take part in a writing retreat, be added to the mailing list, or would like to discuss how they could be tailored to your faculty or students, then please get in touch: Julian Ingle, Deputy Head of ASK, (

Here’s a photo of us hard at work at the first retreat.

People sitting around a table

Image credits: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Guest Blogger: Julian Ingle – The Green Zone Rabbit

In the Green Zone, a safe area where politicians live, Hajjar and his friend are hiding in a villa preparing for an attack. To pass the time, Hajjar is looking after a rabbit. When he goes to clean the hutch one morning the rabbit appears to have laid an egg. Absurd events like these run alongside moments of horror and violence in Hassan Blasim’s collection of short stories about Iraq called The Corpse Exhibition.

These stories of the everyday devastation of people’s lives caught in war zones became reality at a recent talk about the work of The Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) by its director, Stephen Wordsworth. The talk was part of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Learning and Teaching day and was, without doubt, the most moving event I’ve been to at this kind of conference. I’ve just joined the University of Portsmouth and have been fortunate that it’s the conference season. I’ve seen interesting work, met lots of people, who’ve been welcoming and friendly and been to some excellent talks.

What stands out were the accounts of their recent lives by three academics who were supported by CARA ( Each of them talked about how their academic careers were closed down by the war in Syria. CARA helped them to escape, got them visas and has found them work at the University of Portsmouth so that they could continue their careers as academics until such time as they can return to their country. Their families and friends remain in Syria.

There has been more debate recently about academic freedom in UK HE, often raising concerns about the introduction of the ’Prevent duty’ in 2015. Under threat was academics’ right ‘to question and test received wisdom and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or the privileges they may have’ (1988 Education Reform Act). Hearing the stories of these three people, their struggle to survive and to pursue their careers in higher education, put some of these debates – and our privileged position – into perspective.

Julian Ingle has just joined the University of Portsmouth as the new Deputy Head of ASK. Prior to this he worked at Queen Mary University of London as part of the Thinking Writing initiative, and as an educational developer and lecturer at several London universities.

Image credits: Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

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