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Mr Andrew Brasher

Mr Andrew Brasher

Learning & Teaching Development Officer

The Open University Institute of Educational Technology Learning & Teaching Development Team

Andrew's Blog


I work in the Learning and Teaching Development team in the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University. The purpose of the team is to help the Institute deliver on key University learning and teaching strategies, which means that we get involved in a wide variety of research and development projects. I have been in the team since January 2005, having previously worked in the Userlab.

My current projects include:

  • Metis (Meeting teachers' co-design needs by means of Integrated Learning Environments)
    In this project I'm working with the Metis partners to produce and run a series of workshops on designing elearning activities. The first workshop on designing collaborative activities was held at the OU on October 24th 2013, and several follow up  workshops were held in the  summer  of 2014 (including one for two social science modules).
  • Maseltov  "Mobile Assistance for Social Inclusion and Empowerment of Immigrants with Persuasive Learning Technologies and Social Network Services". An EU funded project in which my work has included developing an initial version of  'Incidental learning framework' in collaboration with others here at the OU and partners from Spain and the Serious Games Institute here in the UK. I edited and co-wrote Deliverable D7.1.1 "Incidental Learning Framework" which is available from the project's web site.

 Recent work includes

  • The Transistion Pathways project, in which I am working with Anne Adams to develop ways of facilitatiing the transfer of Technology Enhanced Learning research findings into teaching and learning practices here at the Open University.
  • Work on the OU learning design initiative the aim of which is "to develop and implement a methodology for learning design composed of tools, practice and other innovation that both builds upon, and contributes to, existing academic and practioner research". Most of my work within this initiative has focused on the development of CompendiumLD a software tool for designing learning activities using a flexible visual interface..
  • Pelagios "Pelagios: Enable Linked Ancient Geodata In Open Systems'"
    A JISC funded project to help introduce Linked Open Data into online resources that refer to places in the Ancient World. Applying linked open data in this way will make lots of things possible, including new modes of discovery and visualization for scholars and the general public. Working with Liz  Fitzgerald and Juliette Culver I organised requirements gathering surveys and usability testing events to help develop some visualisation widgets, and reported on this in a series of blog posts. (Liz focused on the research aspects, and Juliette did all the tecchnical development work).
  • Bridge to Success
    I wrote a review of literature related to teaching maths online, focusing on best practice, mechanisms to engender peer support, and mechanisms to deal with the anxiety that affects some people when they encounter maths in school or elsewhere.

Previous work

Structuring of content, description of content

I am interested in how content (e.g. web pages, Word™ or text files, images, movies, or any multimedia combination of these) may be structured so that it provides some form of added value for its users. Related to this is how content can be described in ways which add value for users. In particular, I am interested in the human factors affecting the design, creation, and exploitation of structures within educational resources and descriptions of educational resources. My recent work in this area has concerned semi-automatic generation of audio versions of learning content (and there's a journal paper about this that is in press). This work has built on  issues concerning metadata, for example the paper "A Model For The Creation Of Human-Generated Metadata Within Communities", but it covers a variety of topics including schema design and vocabulary selection.

Relevant projects: GUARDIANS, Mobilearn, Subtle.


In general the aim of a technology roadmap is to provide a consensus view or vision of the future landscape available to decision makers. I have worked on several roadmap studies aiming to define future research activities related to educational technology. The first of these aimed at creating a roadmap for research into e-learning relevant to Higher Education in Europe and is described in the paper "Determining Research Questions in e-learning" (McAndrew, Brasher, Hardy, 2004). In the Mobilearn project I led the development of the Mobilearn roadmap which considered ways that the lessons from MOBIlearn can inform future research and activity on mobile learning.

In 2005-2006 I worked on a roadmap for e-assessment (funded by the JISC e-Learning programme). This work has attempted to combine inputs such as governmental and organisational policies with the views and research outputs of domain experts into a coherent vision of the future of e-Assessment in the UK HE and FE sectors. My colleagues Denise Whhitelock and Simnon Cross have just started a studyu of the current state-of-art in e-assessment: it'll be interesting to see how (in)accurate our roadmap is even after such a short time has passed.

Relevant projects: eLearnTN, Mobilearn, JISC e-assessment roadmap

Before joining the OU

From 1989 until joining the Open University UserLab in 2001, I worked for Pira International the UK research and consultancy company for the packaging, paper, printing and publishing industries worldwide. There is more information about this work (on e.g. object-oriented and knowledge-based approaches to information management and publishing) here.


Research Interests

Research interests

Ambient technology

Since 2004 I have been very interested in the idea of using ambient (or ubiquitous or pervasive) technology to gain a detailed view of peoples learning experiences. I have written and presented a couple of papers about this, one of which (co-authored by Josie Taylor) won the best paper award at the MLearn conference in 2004. I have been looking at applying these ideas to longitudinal studies of informal learning, because these are the studies for which the practical limitations of current methods (which usually involve participants or researchers as observers) are most acute. There is a presentation showing the direction I am going in with this work: "A look at ubiquitous technology for testing theories of informal learning longitudinally" (this was presented at the CALRG conference, 2006).

Relevant projects: Mobilearn.


Book Chapter
Whitelock, Denise M. and Brasher, Andrew (2006). Developing a Roadmap for e-Assessment: Which Way Now? In: Danson, Myles ed. Proceedings of the 10th CAA International Computer Assisted Assessment Conference. Loughborough, UK: Professional Development, Loughborough University, pp. 487–501.
Brasher, Andrew and Taylor, Josie (2005). Development of a research plan for use of ambient technology to test mobile learning theories. In: Attewell, Jill and Savill-Smith, Carol eds. Mobile Learning Anytime Everywhere: a book of Papers from MLEARN 2004. Learning and Skills Development Agency, pp. 33–37.
Brasher, Andrew and Taylor, Josie (2005). Development of a research plan for use of ambient technology to test mobile learning theories. In: Attewell, Jill and Savill-Smith, Carol eds. Mobile learning anytime everywhere. London: Learning and Skills Development Agency, pp. 33–37.
Brasher, Andrew and McAndrew, Patrick (2004). Human-Generated Learning Object Metadata. In: Meersman, R; Zahir, Tari and Corsaro, A eds. On the Move to Meaningful Internet Systems 2004: OTM 2004 Workshops. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 3292. Berlin: Springer, pp. 723–730.
Conference Item
Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes ; Gaved, Mark ; Brasher, Andrew ; Jones, Ann ; Scanlon, Eileen and Paletta, Lucas (2012). Designing for inclusion through incidental language learning. In: ICT for Language Learning (5th Edition), 15-16 November 2012, Florence, Italy.
Conole, Grainne ; Wilson, Tina ; McAndrew, Patrick ; Culver, Juliette ; Brasher, Andrew and Cross, Simon (2009). New methods and approaches to the design and evaluation of open educational resources. In: EDEN Annual Conference 2009, 10-13 June 2009, Gdansk, Poland.
Cross, Simon ; Clark, Paul and Brasher, Andrew (2009). Preliminary findings from a series of staff surveys on perceptions, attitudes and practices of learning design. In: ALT-C 2009 “In Dreams Begins Responsibility”: Choice, Evidence and Change, 8-10 September 2009, Manchester, UK.
Conole, Grainne ; Culver, Juliette ; Williams, Perry; Cross, Simon ; Clark, Paul and Brasher, Andrew (2008). Cloudworks: social networking for learning design. In: ASCILITE 2008 conference: Hello! Where are you in the landscape of educational technology?, 30 Nov-3 Dec 2008, Melbourne, Australia.
Conole, Grainne ; Brasher, Andrew ; Cross, Simon ; Weller, Martin ; Nixon, Stewart ; Clark, Paul and Petit, John (2008). A new methodology for learning design. In: Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications (EDMEDIA), 30 June - 4 July 2008, Vienna.
Cross, Simon ; Conole, Grainne ; Clark, Paul ; Brasher, Andrew and Weller, Martin (2008). Mapping a landscape of learning design: Identifying key trends in current practice at the Open University. In: 2008 European LAMS Conference, 25-27 June 2008, Cadiz, Spain.
Brasher, Andrew ; Conole, Gráinne ; Cross, Simon ; Weller, Martin ; Clark, Paul and White, Juliette (2008). CompendiumLD – a tool for effective, efficient and creative learning design. In: Proceedings of the 2008 European LAMS Conference: Practical Benefits of Learning Design, 25-27 June 2008, Cadiz, Spain.
Taylor, Josie ; Minocha, Shailey ; McAndrew, Patrick ; Brasher, Andrew and Joinson, Adam (2006). Smart labs and social practice: social tools for pervasive laboratory workspaces: a position paper. In: Designing for e-Science: Interrogating New Scientific Practice for Usability, in the Lab and Beyond, 26-27 January 2006, e-Science Institute, Edinburgh, UK.
McAndrew, Patrick ; Brasher, Andrew and Hardy, Pascale (2004). Determining Research Questions in e-learning. In: Networked Learning Conference 2004, April 5-7 2004, Lancaster University, UK.
Journal Article
Brasher, Andrew and McAndrew, Patrick (2009). Automatic generation of audio content for open learning resources. Journal of Interactive Media in Education(5),
Conole, Grainne ; Brasher, Andrew ; Cross, Simon ; Weller, Martin ; Clark, Paul and Culver, Juliette (2008). Visualising learning design to foster and support good practice and creativity. Educational Media International, 45(3), pp. 177–194.
Brasher, Andrew and McAndrew, Patrick (2005). A model for the creation of human-generated metadata within communities. Learning, Media and Technology, 30(2), pp. 219–240.
Brasher, Andrew and McAndrew, Patrick (2003). Metadata vocabularies for describing learning objects: implementation and exploitation issues. Learning Technology, 5(1),
Pearson, Charlie; Gaved, Mark ; Brasher, Andrew ; Jones, Ann ; Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes ; Scanlon, Eileen ; Jones, Janet ; Neumann, Lukas and Busta, Michal (2014). Mobile Situated Language Learning. MASELTOV Consortium, Graz, Austria.
Brasher, Andrew ; Dunwell, Ian; Akiki, Oula and Gaved, Mark (2012). MASELTOV Deliverable D7.1.1: Incidental Learning Framework. MASELTOV Consortium, Graz, Austria.
Cross, Simon ; Galley, Rebecca ; Brasher, Andrew and Weller, Martin (2012). OULDI-JISC Project Evaluation Report: the impact of new curriulum design tools and approaches on institutional process and design cultures. OULDI Project (Open University).

Blog posts


Cloud storage options for sharing SVG (and other ) files

I’ve been looking at a few cloud storage providers, with a view to seeing which one(s) might be best (in terrms of usablity of client interface , and openess of access to files and data ) for sharing SVG files … Continue reading


Temporary embed test

Another embedding test. Please noteYour browser can not display SVG so you will not see the interactive CompendiumLD map that should be shown here. To see the interactive map, please use a browser which displays SVG, e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Opera, … Continue reading


Test of embedding SVG

Test of ways of embedding to keep whole image visible in embedded window across different browsers (following on from previous post). New way using div to specify height and width (as suggested by Christoph Henkelmann and Erik Dahlström): Your browser … Continue reading


Saving and sharing design maps in a browser friendly format

This is an update on work towards exporting learning designs in the SVG format (W3C SVG Working Group, 2011b), and sharing them via e-mail, or by uploading the SVG file to a web site. It builds on earlier posts, and … Continue reading


Capturing events on group elements in SVG

I’ve had some trouble with the SVG versions of CompendiumLD maps I’m (still) developing this week. The problem was occurring when I tried extracting data from a mouse click event, for mouse clicks on a CompendiumLD icon. It seems that … Continue reading


Learning outcomes, concepts and media

Some quick notes about mapping relationshops between learning activitites, the media through which activities can be delivered, the concepts that  the activities are intended to teach, and the learning outcomes that are presented to students. 1 A picture showing the … Continue reading


Open Learning: Bridge to Success – reflections after meeting with Gary and Guy

The module Y162 “Starting with Maths” ‘ requires use of a scientific calculator. The course material includes a guide to the TI-30XA calculator which explains how to use it in the context of the module. Here is a picture of … Continue reading


Open Learning: Bridge to Success – notes from first meeting

I’m starting to work on  the “Open Learning: Bridge to Success” (B2S) project, and had my first meeting with Gary (project manager) and Patrick (OU lead) today. These  are my notes. (Thanks to bignoseduglyguy for this picture entitled “Da VInci … Continue reading


Coding Compendium / CompendiumLD links and transclusions in SVG

This post follows on from my last one, adding some thoughts about the way Compendium links can be encoded in SVG, a way that permits the links to be straight lines or any sor of arc or curve. There’s also … Continue reading


Design visualisation and mapping for the web using SVG

This post is about a way to share the visual representations of learning activities in particular, and visual representations of linked ideas in general (go straight to an example). This general category of ‘visual representation of linked ideas’ includes any … Continue reading

last updated 01-Dec-2014