Meet the QEI team

The Jennie Lee Building

The QEI team is comprised of research-active academics and professional services staff in the Institute of Educational Technology (IET) at The Open University. Together they provide leadership in detecting, advocating and piloting future opportunities for educational technology in online and distance learning and supporting the university in responding effectively to current challenges.

Christothea Herodotou

Dr Christothea Herodotou is a Professor of Learning Technologies and Social Justice in IET, and is the Director of QEI. She has expertise in the design and evaluation of learning technologies that promote education opportunity and social justice, including learning analytics dashboards, online citizen science websites, and mobile game applications. She has led projects funded by major funding bodies such as Horizon Europe, NSF, and UKRI, as well as several pan-university projects including the application of predictive indicators to support student performance (resulting in the award winning Early Alert Indicators Dashboard), an evaluation of the virtual microscope by students and tutors, and the use of citizen science tools (the nQuire platform) to support development of students’ research skills. Recent work is focusing on developing a student-facing dashboard for university students.

Simon Cross

Dr Simon Cross is a Senior Lecturer in IET with expertise in the pedagogy, design and embedding of innovative online learning and assessment, and in leading the trial and evaluation of emerging educational technologies and quality enhancement. He leads the university’s Student Experience of Feedback, Assessment and Revision (SEFAR) survey programme, is chair of the Foundation Evaluation Advisory Group and leading a PVC-S sponsored student consultation about how new university students are supported. Simon was Associate Director (QE) between 2019-2023 and since joining IET led units over two dozen strategic projects working with PVC offices, faculties, and central business units including: the early embedding of Learning Design; investigations into Learning Gain, student dissatisfaction, optionality and differentiation; and providing insight for assessment strategy.

Tim Coughlan

Dr Tim Coughlan is a Senior Lecturer in IET and has extensive experience of research and teaching on accessibility, online learning, open education, and educational innovations. He has led research projects funded by Microsoft, Jisc and British Council, and several pan-university initiatives and groups focused on enhancing accessibility and support for disabled students. Recent work within QEI includes a project to understand how the university can be more Accessible by Design and institution-wide surveys for staff and students to understand perceptions and experiences around accessibility.

Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Educational Technology. He had developed the Student Pathways Model to enable QEI to support schools and faculties in better understanding the student experience of study pathways, and understanding the performance of modules and qualifications. Chris has extensive experience in developing curriculum and teaching, which has been invaluable in leading the IET PVC-RI Challenge on using generative AI for curriculum development within the OU. Chris's experience on research projects includes leading on the Erasmus + Complex Trajectories project and co-investigating an EU-funded project on generative AI in higher education.

Thomas Ulmann

Dr Thomas Ullmann is a Lecturer in Educational Technology in IET, and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA). He joined the Data Wrangler Initiative in 2015 and the Quality Enhancement and Innovation Initiative in 2019. Thomas has an in-depth knowledge of the evaluation of teaching and learning and especially educational technologies using both quantitative and qualitative methods. He is specialising in advanced technique including text analytics and machine learning. For QEI, he recently investigated the use of big data to understand ethnic minority students, analysed educational learning gains, aided the preparation of the TEF submission, ran two Test and Learn project using text analytics, supported the development of the new internal student experience survey, and supported both STEM and pan-university scholarship. 

Mark Gaved

Dr Mark Gaved is a Lecturer in Educational Technology in IET, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). He became an IET Data Wrangler in 2014 and continued as this role evolved into the Quality Enhancement and Innovation (QEI) team in 2019. As part of QEI, Mark works in partnership with faculties at the OU and independently to provide pan-university pedagogic insights and ongoing QE process support. He uses a range of qualitative methods and is particularly interested in participatory approaches. Recently, Mark’s QEI work has focussed on evaluation, and horizon scans of edtech innovations.

Dr Maria Aristeidou

Maria is a Senior Lecturer in Technology Enhanced Learning in IET and joined the QEI in June 2020. Since then, she has led pan-university and cross-faculty projects to investigate students' and tutors' distance learning experiences and to support student success. She is currently leading the evaluation of the pan-Welsh National Enrichment Programme and a PVC-S tutors' consultation on how to support students' early learning journey. In the past, she explored the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the learning activities of OU undergraduate students, the experiences of OU's younger students (18-19-year-olds), and OU students' views and preferences regarding online remote exams.

Duygu Bektik

Dr Duygu Bektik is a Lecturer at IET, and joined the OU in 20148. She is academic lead for the Research Career Development (RCD) programme, which brings together professional development activities for the OU's research staff at all stages of their careers. She is also the co-founder and the academic lead of the openAIED (Open University’s AI in Education) special interest group since 2019. She has co-chaired the HZFM882: Online Teaching: Evaluating and Improving Courses micro credential on FutureLearn. Dr Bektik is also the executive committee member and the Celebration Chair for the ACM-W Europe. Dr Bektik’s research interests currently lie primarily in the fields of learning analytics, e-assessment, ethical AI in education and achieving gender equity in academia and empowering women in academia/STEM. Within QEI she is currently involved in the University’s PVC-RI Challenge AI project working the ways in which large language models can be used to aid academics in curriculum development.

Ben Tidman

Ben Tidman is a Senior Manager for Learning and Teaching Enhancement in IET, having joined the OU following a fifteen year career in secondary and further education.  In this he developed significant experience of education as a leading teacher of politics and sociology, head of multiple departments and provider of teacher training and professional development in multiple schools. In his role in IET Ben leads and manages the professional services staff in QEI. He has been involved in supporting a wide range of the projects the team has worked on and also provides professional coaching across the unit.

Andrew Brasher

Andrew Brasher is a Learning and Teaching Development Manager in IET, focusing on supporting research and development projects concerning educational technology. He has worked for IET for over 20 years since joining as a research fellow. Current and recent projects include studies of student experience of assessment, students expectations and use of module maps, and work on factors influencing retention.

Felipe Tessarolo

Felipe is a Learning and Teaching Enhancement Manager in IET, with a background in higher education, covering areas such as advertising, design, and journalism. He also brings experience as a learning designer. He joined IET in July 2021 and since then has collaborated on projects at QEI, focusing on accessibility, younger students, augmented reality, and educational technologies. He is currently working on projects related to AI, Accessibility and Inclusion, Educational Technologies, and Universal Design for Learning. Additionally, he has been instrumental in promoting inclusive curricula and contributing to strategic projects. His research expertise encompasses both qualitative and quantitative methods in educational technology.

Emily Coughlan

Emily is a Learning and Teaching Enhancement Manager in IET.  She is passionate about developing excellence in learning, teaching and academic quality with a particular interest in accessibility and student voice. Emily has worked on a number of projects within QEI including: emerging opportunities for digital badges in teacher professional development in India, student voice and young students. Emily has a PGCHE and holds an associate membership for Advance HE, previously the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

Impact of QEI initiatives

The QEI team has extensive expertise in the fields of learning design, innovating analytics, accessibility and learning, and assessment and feedback.

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