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Dr Helen Webster

Dr Helen Webster is an experienced Learning Developer and Head of Newcastle University’s Writing Development Centre. She helps students in all subjects and levels of study to develop their academic literacies and become successful independent learners. She is passionate about developing values-driven, innovative models of skilled practice in this emerging hybrid profession.
Year
2019
Institution
Newcastle University
Job Title
Head of the Writing Development Centre

At the heart of Helen’s practice is the conviction that students are the experts in their own learning. She acts as a skilled intermediary to create emancipatory, student-centred spaces in which they can explore and negotiate university study. Working at the intersection of academic, digital and information literacies with student wellbeing, she is passionate about developing values-driven, innovative models of practice in this emerging hybrid profession.

This passion has shaped Helen’s transformation of Newcastle University’s Learning Development provision, a shift from a remedial, deficit model of study skills to a more aspirational and empowering ethos. Her approach to enacting her values in every aspect of the team’s work has enabled the University to produce high quality study skills resources which are widely used by students but also adopted by colleagues in other institutions across the UK and internationally. Students have really welcomed this transformation in  ethos, and she has found that non-judgemental, student centred practice gives her a privileged insight into how students engage with and perceive university learning.

Helen has also brought her commitment to skilled professional practice to her role as Professional Development Lead for the Association of Learning Developers in Higher Education. She created the popular online course #10DoT or Ten Days of Twitter, exploring the use of social media in professional practice in bite-size steps. #10DoT has since been run repeatedly at over 20 institutions in the UK, Europe and Canada for academics, students, researchers, librarians and other professionals.

Helen also developed the first ALDinHE training day on One to One practice, exploring a range of approaches for this key area of our work. This has become the start of ALDinHE’s regular programme of training for Learning Developers, drawing together best practice for those new to this highly skilled and diverse role.