Our final report has been created and is ready to read here: Final Report Archive Blended Learning 2016-17-2ah3y7t

It has been a fantastic experience undertaking this project with the Institute of Learning and Teaching at the University. It has certainly challenged some of our assumptions, and helped us improve how we integrate and use material, as well as given staff a way to easily prepare modules for Waterside and the blended learning model in a way that has student experience at its heart.

From all of the team, a huge thank you to ILT and to our pilot modules for their support.

Dan Jones & Dr Paul Jackson

Coming Along Nicely

So, we are now in the final few parts of the project. We have done videos now for introducing all the subjects for the NILE site, our digitisation support officer has finished his work, and everything is coming together for our cracker barrel tomorrow at the Learning and Teaching conference.

It is amazing to think this started over half a year ago. Certainly a lot of lessons learnt for the future – including that everything takes longer than you think! Hopefully at the Cracker Barrel people can see the value that the students report in the project, and will make use of things going forward.

The home stretch!

Our digitisation support officer has been busy the last couple of weeks, not only because we’ve had to move days around, but also because now he is listing all the box contents we have created. This is the final step before the online parts are created that will use this going forward.

We’ve managed to make savings in the budget to get another week out of the assistant, which is a huge help to the project, and learnt a lot in the process. Now once the final feedback is put in, we can focus on the report.

A week off – and promising feedback

We had a week off last week due to a Faculty Forum event so our digitisation staff member was eager to get back to things this week, and he has been working hard through the material, digging through the archive to find the groups needed. It is certainly an intensive bit of work, but I think will be really interesting.

We’ve also got the feedback from our final undergrad module, and it is promising. All positive – and interestingly our first preferences for digital material from those who have experienced both. Will be interesting to draw this into the rest of the data and see what it does overall.

More dissemination – and almost the end of projects

We’ve got close to the end of our pilot projects now, so we are starting to wrap things up and make the final arrangements for our theme packs. We had another dissemination event last week, via the UCU’s learning and teaching showcase. It was fantastic to share our project with colleagues across the University and got a few bits of interest that we will be exploring in the coming weeks.

We’ve also been doing the budgeting, and it is looking like we may have the spare budget to get another week or two out of our digitisation officer, which will be good given the pilot modules took more time than we had anticipated.


Speaking of our digitisation officer we have three weeks of blogs from him to catch up on!

6th March

Today, I finished our remaining undergraduate module’s theme packs for the American and Pre-war British Fascist groups. This included printing out copies of items when duplicates were not available. I also liaised with the module tutor to make sure we met the needs of the module brief.

13th March

Today I got half way through putting together the theme packs for our masters module. This included the first two blocs, which drew on a broad variety of fascist and anti-fascist material from post war Britain.

20th March

Today I finished the majority of the masters module. I started by finishing the anti-Fascism folders for bloc 1 and 2. Then, I gathered the necessary documents for the fascist folders of bloc 3 and 4, before started on the anti-Fascism folders. The anti-Fascist material included publications and posters from the anti-nazi league, the Board of Jewish deputies, Anti-Fascist action, Searchlight, Hope not Hate as well as several other less political organisations such as Show Racism the Red Card. This concludes the taught portion of the project, so now we can get the material sorted with LearnTech.


It has been a monster few weeks of dissemination and engagement!

First of all I presented to the Institute of Historical Research on the 22nd of February, telling them about the challenges we’d faced with the collection, but also how we were now using it for direct education and showing them some of our results in an effort not just to encourage interest in our collection and our work here, but share the model.

The 24th of February we shared our project brief with History lecturers across the region via the East Midlands Centre for History Teaching and Learning, where Northampton was bidding to host the centre for the next two years. Though we were not able to secure the hosting, and congratulations to Derby, EMC have offered to pay for us to host a blended learning workshop here at the University to share our work.

Finally Dr Paul Jackson shared our work in London at the annual CST dinner, where guests included the Home Secretary and political leaders as well as educators and practitioners, last week – and we are looking forward to hearing how that went.

We will post an update later with the work for today, but we are entering the home stretch – and working our digitisation support officer hard to get things in under the wire!

Week 14

The exciting launch event week is here! Guests are arranged, recording team are booked, presentations are written (just about!) and catering has been booked. An interesting experience, it has been a little time since the archive hosted an event, and the first under the new faculty structure so we have had to find our feet. Thankfully our new faculty are lovely and friendly and have been a huge help.

We’ve sorted out a poster with marketing, and an events page, and a bit of a press blitz – as we have a guest speaker up who is of interest these days as someone who fought against leading fascist figures and people like David Irving. We have contacted all the subject leads with relevant courses, and seem to be getting a good response – hopefully it will be a really interesting evening.

The latest blog from our digitisation support officer is below:

Today I continued gathering material for our postgraduate pilot module. This was British material from around the 1960’s, including groups such as the National Socialist Movement, the Racial Preservation Society and material written by Arnold Leese, previously leader of the Imperial Fascist League. Though I was not able to find material from all the groups we would like, there is still plenty to choose from for most groups. We also met with Dr Jackson to discuss the talk to be given this Wednesday for the projects launch event, where I will talk about the project for a few minutes.

Week 13

A lot of effort is now gearing up to the launch event next week – we have lined up our speakers and started the blitz of inviting people along to it and getting the publicity going. We are really excited to show people what we have managed to do, and hopefully we can get a few more modules interested in taking this forward more immediately. We’ve been surprised at the range of subjects who have stated they might find a use for the material – from Journalism, Law, Education and Sports Science. All of the feedback so far really is showing students value in – in a way that has surprised even us, as we expected a bit more hesitation especially from the pilot modules where students had less exposure to primary source material work previously.

Our digitisation support officer has been continuing his work, and his blog for this week is below:

Today, I finished putting together the final additions to the British post war theme pack, going to be used by the third year pilot module on fascism. I also started and finished putting together the American theme pack. When this was complete, I started seeking out documents relating to a variety of groups relevant to our pilot MA course on British Fascism and anti-Fascism. The relevant documents that have duplicates will be placed in a theme pack of their own for the MA students specifically.

Week 12

An exciting week! We had our first successful dissemination event last week, some good interest both from those at the University but also from members of the community, eager to find out what was going on. We have also had a good response continuing from our e-mail out, some good possible partnerships developing. This week we’ve been planning for the final stretch of the project, ensuring we have the scanning plans finalised and make the most of our digitisation assistant while we have him.

Speaking of, here is Billy’s update for this week:

‘Today, I scanned a number of interesting articles from a compilation of documents from National Vanguard. Then, I went back through the archive finding documents I have scanned so they could be placed in the theme pack for post war British fascism. This included Spearhead, National Front News, Bulldog and Flag, all from the National Front, as well as the National European and Action from the Union Movement and Oswald Mosley. Finally, I scanned Voice of Freedom and British Nationalist from the BNP. Next week, I shall put together the American theme pack.’

Weeks 10+11

A bumper couple of weeks for the project, as we prepare our first data for dissemination!

Billy has been finishing off and now assembling the boxes for the 3rd of our 4 pilot courses, and this is the last ‘large’ pilot. In preparation for the theme boxes we have consulted subject leads from relevant areas via e-mail on possible themes, and got a positive response from several subject areas, including some suggestions of possible future themes and ideas for how they might be used that we had not considered.

Our first dissemination event is at Holocaust Memorial Day this week – in showing what ‘Never Again’ means to the University of Northampton, and showing how in reinforcing students critical skills we can also engage them more fully with the subject and enhance their learning experience. It is an angle we had not considered when we started the project, but the team have found it really interesting – and rewarding – to see how these issues are taught so widely across the university and in different sides.

One of our pilot module teachers left the University for a new teaching opportunity last week, but before she elft she made sure to get the data on the project to us – and it is looking really positive. Overall over 94% of students surveyed felt it enhanced their learning, made them more engaged and all but one wanted to see material used more widely across their modules. We had worried whether students would necessarily see the value in these primary sources, but students have taught us a lesson there – we should never underestimate them!