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Talis Elevate

Using Talis Elevate to support active learning with a large cohort

Matt East

We spoke with Dr Wendy Garnham, Director Of Student Experience (Foundation Year: Arts And Humanities, Social Sciences), at the University of Sussex about her use of Talis Elevate with a large cohort of students. Wendy implemented Talis Elevate into her Foundation module ‘Foundations in Psychology: Applied Psychology’ with a cohort of nearly 200 students to form a collaborative weekly reading task, being used to shape the weekly seminar activity. To date across 5 weekly readings, Wendy’s cohort have made nearly 400 public responses and taken over 1400 personal notes.

Read the interview below:

Tell us about the module you’re using Talis Elevate on?

It is a Foundation Year Module on Applied Psychology. Students explore topical controversies within a range of different applied psychology areas.

What interested you in using Talis Elevate on this module?

Getting students to engage in readings is always difficult to begin with. Some students struggle with some of the terminology or even where to start. Before Talis Elevate, students would have to work through the readings independently and then come to the seminar with their questions. Quieter students would not want to speak up and so the struggles continued. With Talis, it gives students their own forum for discussing the reading, and any associated questions before they arrive at the seminar. They can post anonymously which means that for all students it offers them an additional learning tool to help them manage their readings.

Tell us about the activities you’re undertaking with Talis Elevate and how this fits in with your course design.

I am using Talis at the moment to initiate discussion amongst students. I want the students to take ownership of this- posting their questions and comments as they go and helping each other. The students are told that this is their opportunity to work through the paper in collaboration with over 200 other students taking this module before they come to the seminar.

What have you observed so far?

Some incredible discussions! The students are using it to ask questions and clarify their understanding but they are also demonstrating an ability to think outside of the box in relation to the topics and controversies covered.

How is this different from other tools you’ve used in the past to foster collaboration?

We have used forums on VLEs but students don’t use them. It has previously ended up being me and the other tutors on the module using it! Talis Elevate gets students to comment directly on the reading and together to work to resolve any issues.

How is the cohort finding this? Have you had any student feedback?

They LOVE it. I have been asked if they can use it with their other modules and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

Has your teaching approach changed at all because of how Elevate is being used by your students?

Yes. It means we have more time to work on extending students’ understanding in the seminars rather than going over the exact nature of the reading and any difficulties with it. Students are engaging much more in the seminars and I don’t want to tempt fate, but at the moment, attendance is GREAT.

Any other comments?

Talis Elevate is transforming my student interaction in and out of the seminars so I am a very happy customer!


Matt East, Learning Technologies lead at Talis added “What has really struck me about the activity here, is that students have taken ownership over this. Initially, Wendy incorporated questions within the readings to ‘nudge’ students towards engaging, but we quickly observed students getting involved themselves, helping each other out, and getting involved in some really powerful discussion. The quality of the discussion from students is very impressive, and it’s really encouraging to see that over 40% of the cohort are engaging in this activity. Seeing over 400 class comments being made is astonishing, and is providing the students with a really rich and organic resource that they have input into. Alongside this, over 1400 personal notes have been taken by the cohort, showing students are finding this a really valuable tool for their independent study too as well as for collaborative activity.”

Want to find out more about how Talis Elevate could make an impact on your teaching? Contact for a demo and more information.

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