Skip to content
Talis Elevate

Building engagement on a practical course with Talis Elevate

Natalie Naik
Academic perspective

Tsai Lovett is the Deputy Dean for Teaching, Learning and Digital, for the School of Business, Tourism and Creative Industries at University College Birmingham (UCB). Tsai has recently adopted a Talis Elevate for the Specialist Hair and Media Makeup course, and we wanted to find out more about why she felt Talis Elevate would be a good fit, and how they plan to use it.

“The SHMM Programme is one of the largest undergraduate programmes at UCB, with over 500 students in the cohort. We are looking forward to monitoring the impact that Talis Elevate will have amongst this creative group of learners”.

Like most of the European universities we work with, a new academic year has just started at UCB. With the COVID-19 related restrictions facing universities, we asked Tsai how they were planning to deliver the course and how it would be different this year.

“We will be using a Blended Learning model, whereby students will study remotely through synchronous delivery and with face-to-face sessions on campus for intense practical training. Lecturers will set work, use a flipped-classroom approach and provide a range of asynchronous activities via the VLE to further support learning.“

When asked about how Talis Elevate fits into their new blended approach, Tsai told us: “I am confident that Talis Elevate will enhance the blended learning processes, particularly with asynchronous preparations, engaging students with the topics before their remote or practical lecturers. Talis Elevate will be used from the start of this academic year, engaging students in their studies and critical debate. It may also help them to stay on track, due to the collaborative nature of the system”.

On the benefits of a collaboration tool, Tsai said: “When we turned to remote delivery in March 2020, due to Covid-19, we realised many students didn’t feel confident in speaking out. We want to introduce Talis Elevate from the start of the course so students gain confidence in the early stages of the learning process”.

Talis Elevate suits a wide range of courses and is being used across the UK and in the United States on courses such as Sports Science, Humanities, Music and Languages. This course is particularly practical and creative in its delivery, and Tsai felt Talis Elevate was well placed for this. “The programme itself is artistic and involves a high level of technical ability. Alongside this, students will explore historical studies, fashion, media, special effects for tv/film and business for their future freelance careers. In general, the students are visual learners on this course. Of course, there’s a really varied style across the cohort, but the nature of the course means they tend to have a keen eye for detail and design. For this reason, we are looking forward to using the highlighting tools and annotation tools in Talis Elevate”.

Tsai told us about specific examples of how they plan to use Talis Elevate:

  • “We are planning to use discussion and conversation starters, which are especially important at the start of the semester to get learners into the habit of engaging”
  • “We will be uploading articles enabling learners to dissect and analyse, supporting their academic writing tasks”
  • “Coursework is creative and varied, so assignment instructions can be complex. We want to make sure students have a really thorough understanding. Uploading these assignment instructions into Talis Elevate will encourage discussion and aid understanding”

Finally, we asked Tsai what success will look like with Talis Elevate on this course. She talked about three different areas:

  1. Standardisation. The discussions around assessments will help students to stay on track and aid their understanding of the remit.  
  2. Building connections. There are fears that relationships between staff and students may suffer during the shift to digital learning, on what was previously a very ‘face-to-face’ course. Tsai hopes that Talis Elevate will help foster relationships and a community within the course.
  3. Adapting and tailoring the course. Tsai plans to use the analytics in Talis Elevate to help guide how they deliver the course, allowing them to react quickly and make changes. “We want to engage students and keep them active, but also stretch learners”.


Thanks to Tsai for contributing to this post.

If you’d like to read more stories from Talis Elevate users, click here.

More from the blog