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Our Work: Learning Hubs

What's Behind the Project?

The Learning Hubs have been developed at the University of Suffolk as spaces of blended learning opportunities for development of academic, transferable and employability skills and support with university life and wellbeing. Co-created by students, academics and professional services staff, the Learning Hubs offer interactive online tools for skill development and support the learning pathways for students with varying levels of transversal skills, equalising opportunities in retention and attainment at university for students from diverse backgrounds. The Learning Hubs present an ongoing project that keeps evolving and growing, building in evidence generated from various research studies.

Welcome to Learning Hubs



Resource Pool of Online Activities

The Suffolk Learning Hub is a resource pool of online, interactive, activities centred around the learning dimensions of University Life and Wellbeing, Academic, Transferable and Employability skills aligned to the Skills Builder Framework and the Graduate Attributes. Themed learning activities maximise the use of the interactive components of the blended learning environment and encourage progressive and active learning towards becoming independent learners. The activity pool is available to students and lecturers providing an accessible, flexible and sustainable learning and teaching resource.  

The nature of the Suffolk Learning Hub environment provides students with opportunities to select activities that support their individual learning needs. Clearly explained rationales for online activities and the use of specific tools increase students’ intrinsic motivations (Chen and Jang, 2010), where autonomy and choice in selecting learning activities supporting diverse learning preferences has been identified as one the principles of effective online learning (Tanis, 2020). Along with further key elements of online engagement such as cognitive, emotional, behavioural, social and collaborative aspects (Redmond et al., 2018), the Suffolk Learning Hub enables all students to feel successful in the development of their academic and professional skills supporting their self-efficacy (Alt, 2015). 

The Learning Hubs are tied to University of Suffolk values, specifically being

  • inclusive
  • creative and
  • transformative.

What does it look like?

Learning Hubs use a range of active learning components utilising the available H5P tools.

The following video showcases various types of H5Ps used in Learning Hubs activities (Note: This video has no sound):

  1. It starts with an introductory page
  2. Then you can see an activity using flip cards
  3. Followed by a drag and drop exercise, again providing immediate feedback to the students
  4. There a couple of examples of videos - prepared by the lecturer and readily available on YouTube. Notice the little quiz question below the video that allows for immediate checking of understanding.
  5. An example of a quiz
  6. Multiple choice for checking reasons and motivations for engaging with the Learning Hubs
  7. Examples of certificates that students can earn for completing Learning Hub activities

Co-creating Learning Hubs 

Experiencing a community of practice


If possible, involve your students and colleagues from the professional services in creating your online learning activities.

Blended Pedagogies: Digital Affordances, Inclusivity & Empowered Learning

To design good activities, it is worth knowing:

  •  what the online tools can do (familiarise yourself with the H5P options and examples) 
  • make sure you are not excluding students with disabilities (follow universal design)
  • think about students' motivations for completing the activities

Digital and Pedagogical Tips:

It is useful for learners to know why a lecturer/facilitator wants them to watch a video and what their focus should be. Students in our co-creation group did not mind if a video was from YouTube or recorded by the lecturer. They wanted, however, to know that it was selected by the lecturer for a specific purpose. Descriptions, tasks, invitations in the text before and after the embedded videos help achieve that and make the video feel relevant because it has been curated and facilitated by the trusted lecturer.

Where do these principles come from?

In the Learning Hubs project, we have conducted several consecutive studies including these methods of data collection and data generation:

Study 1 Learning Hubs: Development and Evaluation (2021/2022)


    • Undergraduate students of Childhood route courses


    • Online questionnaire for students evaluating the content, format and use of the Learning Hubs (n=3)
    • Workshop for students about the Learning Hubs connected with a focus group discussion (n=2)

Main findings: 

    • Students "do not have time" for Learning Hubs, but they like the idea and they find the activities "useful" and like the content.
    • To improve the Learning Hubs they need to be directly linked to assessments.
    • Mixed responses about collecting badges and certificates.

Study 2 Co-Creating Learning Hubs (2022/2023)


    • Co-creating community of practice consisting of undergraduate History students, postgraduate Childhood Studies international students, lecturers from both areas, educational researchers, learning designers, academic skills advisors, informed by knowledge from the librarians and the careers team.


    • Reflective log  entries (n=50)
    • Written notes from SWOT analysis
    • Written notes from collaborative conversations on Figma
    • Written notes from workshops in shared documents
    • Impact questionnaire (n=9)
    • Focus groups (n= 4) with academic and professional staff (n=13)
    • Online questionnaire for undergraduate and postgraduate students distributed across the School of Social Sciences and Humanities (n=43)

Main findings:

    • Engagement of students depends on engagement of lecturers
    • Online content needs to be facilitated in person
    • Skill development should not be deficit-driven
    • Content matters - it needs to be relevant, therefore co-creating and sharing of expertise between students, support services and lecturers (and other stakeholders) is key

Designing Activities

We will now look at how to design the content of your Learning Hub activities. We start with some conceptual thinking. You can do this on your own following this guidance, or you can book into one of our CPD sessions on 'Co-Creating Learning Hubs'. 

How to Start

This session will cover how to plan your activity.



Start by identifying a skill that your think your students need to develop (you can brainstorm ideas with them in class).

Skills that you would like your students to improve in, to develop. For example, something you keep explaining, or something that takes time and repetition.

It can be related to academic, transferrable, employability skills area or general university life and wellbeing.

What is the aim of the activity?

Only focus on one skill per activity



Think about the motivations they might have for engaging with this activity - make a list of different possible reasons.

Examples may include fear of failure, inner drive, do better in assessments, etc.



Pedagogical Approach

How do you normally teach this skill? (E.g., in session workshop, signposting to services)

Explore what existing resources the university already has on offer. You can check for example the 'Academic Skills Hub' on the Library website.

What existing resources do you already have? (E.g., slides, worksheets) - please collect these in an electronic format and bring them to Session B

Consider ‘what will students do?’ instead what you want to teach them

How can students learn this skill by ‘doing’ something?

How could the students do something where they will practice/apply the skill immediately?

Online Tools

  • Become familiar with types of H5Ps such as multiple choice quizzes, checklists, drag and drop, fill in the blanks, highlight in text, flip cards, image hotspots, etc. 
    • What can they do? What do they let you do? (Affordances) 
    • What they are useful for? (Pedagogical reasoning) Which of these tools will be most useful in actively developing a specific skill? Will this tool do its job?
  • This guidance on 'Creating Interactive Content with H5Ps' developed by our Learning Designers will help you.

Activity Content Structure

This staff guidance about the Learning Hubs tried to model the principles on its pages.

Activity Template

Each activity follows a series of pages that include a variety of activities - reading, videos, H5Ps, quizzes. 

Opening page

  • Explains the purpose of the activity, the aim
  • Provides an overview of the content 


  • Previous experience with the topic and/or emotional connection
  • Why/When is should activity relevant to the student 
  • Checklists can be useful here with identifying different motivations 

Content page 1 

  • Explain the skills – use text, video, audio 
  • Provide examples – use text, video, audio 
  • Check understanding with small embedded quizzes (H5P multiple choice) 

Content page 2 

  • Encourage problem solving – focus on applying the skill 
  • Suggest ways of applying it in modules, assignments, other situations 

Content page 3 (Optional) 

  • Do not make the content too long, split it in several pages if needed 
  • Link to existing Library or other university resources 
  • Signpost to Academic Skills Advisors, Librarians or the Wellbeing Team with specific things that students can discuss with them that they discovered by completing the Learning Hub Activity 

Quiz or survey at the end 

  • Provides instant feedback 
  • Checks understanding 
  • You may want to consider guiding students to the quiz first and depending on how well they do, they can then decide if they want to complete the activity from the beginning


  • Set-up release conditions for certificates: Viewed all content pages and completed the quiz/survey 

Tips, Tricks and Best Practice

By incorporating these tips and practices, you can create events and co-create Learning Hub activities that are not only interactive and engaging but also effective in facilitating learning.

The Co-Creating Events

The involvement of students as well as staff in co-creating learning education activities encourages a student-centred, dynamic, and enriching educational experience.

Here are some guidelines for you to consider while planning your own co-creating events. 

Involve Students at the Start 

This allows everyone's co-creating journey to start together. Set up a transparent timetable / session planner, so that the expectations and time commitment is clear from the beginning.

Identify your Objectives 

Yes, we are all very familiar with Learning Outcomes and Objectives, but be sure to also apply them to your sessions to keep everyone on track... and yes, these could be co-created too. Being focused on your aims keeps sessions meaningful and shows respect to people's time, like the 'Commission' in the TAME (Trowsdale and Davies, 2022) or the 'Task' in Adair's (2003) Task-Individual-Team leadership model.

The TAME model (Trowsdale and Davies, 2022)

Participant Inclusivity 

Try your best to include a representation from across your diverse student and staff population. When it comes to staff, you could also consider including those from professional services, as well as academics. These different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives will help to bring a rich diversity to your sessions. It also makes everyone feel more equal - it is not just 'pulling students in' - it is about genuine partnership between various stakeholders.

Choose an Appropriate Format

Choose a format that encourages collaboration, such as workshops, roundtable discussions, or brainstorming sessions. You also want to incorporate interactive elements to engage participants actively. These can be 'pen-and-paper'-based or online. As time goes on and if you can keep the same group of people, the community of trust will grow and ideas and productivity will flow with ease. We also found that providing, tea, coffee, water and snacks helped. Signal nurturing and caring aspects of belonging to the group.

Clear Communication Channels

Establish clear communication channels for participants to share ideas before, during and after the event, such as MS Teams. Model communication, tag people and encourage each other to share progress and new developments. Be transparent for the whole group, even if the tasks then get assigned to one person only. It enhances a sense of ownership.

Capture and Synthesize Ideas

Use visual aids, such as whiteboards, post-its or collaborative online tools to capture and organise ideas. As you go through your session make sure to summarise key points throughout the event to maintain focus. There may be a great many ideas and suggestions, and it's sometimes quite easy to go off on a tangent, due to the nature of your co-creating group. Make sure that you note down all the points, as some of these could be followed up at a later date.


Having just said that you need to maintain focus, you also need to be flexible in adapting the agenda based on the dynamics and needs of the group. It might be appropriate to allow for spontaneous discussions and exploration of emerging topics.

Inclusivity and an Open Dialogue

Ideally you want to encourage open dialogue. You need to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing their thoughts. Use facilitation techniques to encourage active listening and respectful communication.

Continuous Improvement 

Just like regular teaching, this is an opportunity to use feedback, and some reflective thinking to improve future co-creating events. 



  • Adair, J. (2003) The Inspirational Leader. London: Kogan Page.
  • Trowsdale, J. and Davies, R. (2022) 'A new approach in the making: reinvigorating engineering education in UK schools', in 8th International Symposium for Engineering Education, The University of Strathclyde, September 1-2nd 2022, UK.


To allow for easier searchability and consistency between the learning hub H5P activities, here are a few guidelines.

Title Your File Appropriately 

It's useful  to be able to quickly and easily find the resources you have created for Learning Hub activities.  At the start of your file name please use one of the following:

LH AS: Title (for Academic Skills)
LH TS: Title (for Transferable Skills)
LH ES: Title (for Employability Skills)
LH ULW: Title (for University Life and Wellbeing)

We do appreciate that there will be some overlap, and some activities may fall within multiple categories, so please use the most appropriate designation.

This will be a consistent part of the file name that can be used to identify Learning Hub files and the sub-categories.

For example, LH AS: Why Paraphrasing Matters


Keep accessibility in mind, remember to assign alternative text (“alt-text”) when prompted so that screen-readers can optimally read your content.

Use readable fonts, and consider colour contrast for text and backgrounds.

User-Friendly Navigation

Include clearly explained and intuitive guidance for the students in exactly what they need to do, in order to complete the activity. This could be from what needs to be clicked through to the number of slides or cards there might be. Full instructions will help the student the student, as they will mainly be interacting with these asynchronously. 

Reusing and Editing H5P Activities 

Please remember that if you want to adapt or repurpose an existing H5P activity that is already sitting in the Learning Hub, into something slightly different, you will need to go into and make a clone of the activity and then make your changes. If you change the original activity in either Brightspace or it will effect that change across all the places that it is shared. 

University-Wide Shared Resource Pool 

Besides this guidance, we are sharing the existing Learning Hub activities with you. 

You have several options for using the Learning Hub activities:

A) Import them from 'Staff Guidance Learning Hubs Sandbox' into your modules as they are and then adapt them as you wish. Remember the point above about H5Ps - you can either use them as they are, or make a clone before you start changing them.

B) Direct students to the student facing learning hubs module - you cannot edit this, but we are happy to upload further activities here. Coming soon.

We are also hoping that as you create some new Learning Hub activities, you will share them with us - upload them into the staff brightspace. This will make the Learning Hubs resource pool grow and keep it sustainable.

Ongoing Research Study

Co-Creating Learning Hubs

As part of this online asynchronous CPD on the Learning Hubs and/or as part of the synchronous staff CPD workshops, we are continuously generating (co-creating) new understanding of best practice in blended pedagogies for skill development and supporting learning and wellbeing. 

To collect this collaboratively generated data, we are asking you to post your thoughts anonymously on this Padlet.

More information about the study

For more detailed information about the study please refer to this Participant Information Sheet.

View the quiz in the Quizzing tool by following the QR code or clicking here