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Talis Elevate

University of the West of England, Bristol build Talis Elevate into their core digital toolkit in the Education Faculty

Matt East
case study

The University of West England, Bristol (UWE) has adopted Talis Elevate in the Department of Education and Childhood. In this blog post, we discuss with Susan Hughes (Associate Head of Department of Education (Education Engagement)), and Tim Sanderson (Senior Learning Technologist) about their approach to adoption and rollout of Talis Elevate.

Why did you decide to adopt Talis Elevate?  

At the time we became aware of Talis Elevate we were looking for a digital tool that could enable online collaborative engagement with academic texts. In the Department of Education and Childhood, we have developed a programmatic approach to learning, teaching and assessment design and digital tools are integral to this development. We have developed the idea of a core toolset for each programme – a small, but perfectly formed set of tools that will be introduced to and used progressively by staff and students to enhance and enable learning throughout the programme. Digital tools and environments enable us to think more flexibly about how we use contact time with students – if we want to transform their understanding of key concepts and get insights into how they are engaging with key texts then we needed a tool that offered these facilities. 

What excited you about the opportunities Talis Elevate brings?  

Having introduced Talis Elevate to a number of academic staff we have been delighted to see the ways in which they are planning to use it with their students, and their interest in using the analytics to understand better how students are engaging with learning resources. Our students have to engage with many complex texts and with large teaching groups, so it can be difficult to know how each student is developing with that challenge and to teach them at the point of reading. Colleagues often comment on the challenge of engaging all students in reading key texts and for us Talis Elevate has the potential to provide some strategies to overcome this challenge.  

How are you approaching the implementation of Elevate?  

The first stage was to gain support from within the university to ensure we had the best possible chance of a successful trial. This involved working with the library team to develop procedures and workflows that allowed for a consistent and simple approach for staff to follow.

The department approach to digital tools is to help choose the right ones for each module and offer the appropriate level of support to staff. We scheduled learning design workshops which focused on the 6 learning types set out by Diana Laurillard. This enabled us to identify the appropriate learning styles Talis Elevate would complement.

Hands-on staff training followed, which introduced the concept of Talis Elevate and enabled a more detailed approach to the needs of the lecturer and how best to implement the software into their module. The sessions allowed the teams an open platform to discuss ideas that were then developed into activities within Talis Elevate.

Matt East from Talis has provided ongoing support which has proved invaluable. We have clear communication with Matt and engage on a regular basis in useful discussions.

We have created user guides for students and staff as well as more detailed documents highlighting examples activities and the benefits of using Talis elevate. Students will be introduced to the software in a structured and consistent manner with regular open drop-in sessions offering a wide range of practical support and advice. 

How are you planning to make use of this in your teaching? 

As this is a pilot year, each programme team is determining its own level and types of use. Our ITE colleagues are considering how the tool can be used for engaging with teaching plans, materials and schemes of work as well as videos of teaching practice. Postgraduate programme teams are already using Talis Elevate to connect part-time students research literature discussions. All our new first-year undergraduates will be introduced to Elevate and using it as a core tool in each of their modules. The design of each programme means that teams have identified when students will be introduced to Talis Elevate and know how it will be used across modules. 

Do you see this working in other disciplines?  

Talis Elevate has the potential to enhance learning across disciplines. Individual staff can use it with minimal support and its versatility means that it can be used to engage with all sorts of texts: academic and professional. For me, learning design is critical to ensuring that Talis Elevate, and all other digital tools, optimise learning rather than adding to staff and student workload. We will be reviewing Talis Elevate with staff and students after semester one to consider how its use will impact on future learning and teaching. 

Matt East, Learning Technologies Lead at Talis added “The approach colleagues at UWE are taking to implement Talis Elevate should certainly be seen as good practice. Not only following sound, pedagogic principles within the structure and learning design approach but importantly, seeing a tool that can help facilitate new types of activity being embedded from the start of the course is critical, rather than just bolting a tool in halfway through a degree. Incorporating this as a core tool in the digital toolset available to academics is a great approach, and really helps remove the technological bloat many experiences from having a myriad of tools available.  

During workshops with colleagues in the Education department, it’s been fantastic to see all the examples of the practical application of Talis Elevate, spanning varying subject matter. UWE is already being hugely proactive in feeding into product discussions and helping us shape new features and functions within the tool. 

By phasing the practical application of Talis Elevate and other tools, UWE is truly putting students at the heart of the learning journey; giving them opportunities to get used to systems being used, then actively feed into the curriculum design and activity facilitation throughout their studies; a great example of student partnership in education.”


Want to find out how Talis Elevate could become a part of the Teaching & Learning strategy at your university? Get in touch with us at, or visit for more information.

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