Teaching & learning






This section includes:

Ketso has been used in a range of teaching and learning settings in Universities across the UK. The use of Ketso in teaching spatial planning was awarded an international Excellence in Teaching Prize. The AESOP jury stated:"The interactive approach is developed by a specific and original technique [Ketso], which appears well tested and which shows its efficacy in supporting "student oriented teaching".

You may wish to watch this brief video, or download this article about Ketso in teaching in the University of Manchester's Teaching and Learning News.

To find out more about how Ketso supports students with learning disabilities, click here.

For more on Ketso in schools and work with young people, click here.

For more on Ketso in training and skills development, click here.

Overview of Ketso in University Teaching

In evaluation carried out for the Directorate of Student Experience at The University of Manchester, data collected from 143 students showed that 71% found Ketso to be 'very' or 'extremely useful', whilst only 2% found it 'not' or 'not very useful'. Read the full report here.



Ketso provides a great way to start a course, getting students to talk to each other through exploring what they already know and how they understand the key terms. It is also a useful tool for revision. It can help students to discuss what they have learned and identify areas for further study. The gaps around the key themes can be as telling and useful for learning as where there are lots of ideas.

Ketso can be used to help students learn to structure an argument and to see how to structure an essay or report. The leaves can be moved and developed into themes. Ketso can also be used to help students draw out key ideas from case studies. Each student can write their ideas from the case studies on leaves, then share them on a felt, helping to see similarities and differences and learning to build themes. 

It can be used in tiered lecture halls and encourages interactive learning and debate, even in large groups. Comments from students at the University of Manchester (2007) have been positive: One third of those taught using Ketso (2nd year Development Process course; up to 80 students) noted, in end-of-year feedback, that it was what had most helped them with their learning throughout the course.

Ketso has been used in workshops inducting first year students into undergraduate life in the School of Education. The kit was used to explore perceptions of the course, processes of studying and learning.

At the University of Bolton, one senior lecturer says:

"I have used the Ketso for about 4 years running now with my second year students to help them decide on and plan a group project.  It is a good way of getting all the students to contribute to the discussion, particularly the ones who tend to stay in the background.  The outcomes are typed up and given back to students as a spreadsheet so that they have a record of them.  This can then be referred back to further down the line with the project, serving as a useful reminder of the initial discussions.  The students seem to like the experience of using it."

A student using Ketso in group work in a Planning for Environmental Change course at Manchester commented:

"One area of the workshop I found extremely beneficial, was moving around to view the other groups’ emerging Ketso maps. I felt that I got the most out of this part of the workshop as it provided independent observations with regard to our Ketso maps, providing comments and approval where appropriate. By viewing the development of others’ ideas, enabled me to change my perceptions and think ‘outside the box’. I now understand how appreciative enquiry such as, ‘table sharing’, opens up creativity and opportunity; a valuable lesson learned and one, which I am sure I will use in the future. This workshop gave us the idea to take Ketso with us to our initial client meeting.”

At the University of Manchester, the Department of Archaeology has used Ketso workshops to help 3rd year UGs in the process of designing an informative radio programme. MA students were prepared for final assessment by encouraging small groups to comment on the display of human remains in museums using the toolkit.  Ketso has enriched staff away days, allowing them to think creatively about their own teaching and learning methods and to redesign the curriculum.

Dr. Melanie Giles (UG Programme Director and Lecturer in Archaeology) said that “Ketso helped us organise these coherently and whittle down suggestions into a coherent level 1 programme, which enabled us (at a glance) to evaluate the experience of our level one students. Arguably, this has helped us massively improve the student experience (resulting in some very good NSS results this year!)”.

Ketso was used by students for project planning in groups in the cross-Faculty Manchester Sustainable City Projects. Click here for a case study.

At the University of Newcastle, the careers service makes Ketso kits availalble across the University, and they have been used in variety of ways: in the curriculum, with research groups, in researcher development, in recruitment, and with staff in Schools/departments "to plan strategy and activities that will allow them to meet their objectives most efficiently where budgets are tight". Read more here.


Ketso has been used in several  postgraduate courses at the University of Manchester, including: ‘Planning Theory & Values’, ‘Community Planning’ and 'Participatory Learning and Action', In each instance, the kit was used to explore approaches to tackling complex challenges, involving many different issues and viewpoints.

In addition to project planning and dialogues, Ketso has been used to help students review what they have learned in lectures, encouraging discussion and deeper learning from the taught material.

“During the group work, we used the learning tool ‘Ketso’, and I found that my ability to develop ideas and see other points of view improved. The Ketso provided the use of visual aid to generate ideas, and allow people to engage with each other where they might not have without it. I felt as though I was mentally stimulated when using it, and the quality of my ideas and work that was produced from it was far higher than prior to using it. In the future, I would use this experience and the use of visual aid to enhance the quality and efficiency of group work.”  Comment in student's reflective learning journal, Planning for Environmental Change

 Ketsos, Cultures and disasters….

Thea Soltau, May 2017

‘Cultures and Disasters’ is a core module for students studying Manchester University’s MSc in Disaster Management.  As the name suggests, this course helps students to become aware of how culture, values, beliefs and identity influence behaviour and subsequently perceptions of how disasters and the risks of disaster are managed.

Crucially, the course provides students with a platform to explore cultures of humanitarian responses and the difference, for example, between ‘expert led’ or ‘top-down’ responses, and participatory approaches to disaster risk management in more local contexts.  The Ketso kit has proved to be an ideal model to introduce students to participatory approaches.  

A key component of the students’ learning in the Cultures and Disasters module are ‘table top’ simulation exercises which give students the opportunity to test the efficacy of disaster management plans ahead of actual events.  Introducing the Ketso kit has provided an opportunity to extend the role-play element of these simulation exercises, giving students the chance to explore the role of actors outside the more familiar role of the ‘expert’ in planning incident responses.  Students are then able to explore their own positionality, in addition to competing narratives and agendas between those providing humanitarian support (local or international) and the different groups in communities which are affected by disaster.

Within this context, we used Ketsos as a consultation tool to explore its use in a post-disaster reconstruction phase, employing the recent 2013 typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines as the exercise scenario.  Setting the simulation 6-8 weeks post-disaster, the scenario brief for the group was to bring both local and international representatives of an international humanitarian organisation together with local partners and agencies to plan for reconstruction. Local stakeholder groups (portrayed by members of the class) included medical, civic and economic representatives of the community.

Whilst every lecture, seminar and tutorial in the university is planned around a set of intended learning outcomes, it is always exciting when new outcomes are discovered in a class.  The Ketso kit not only supported the exploration of participatory techniques of consultation, it also revealed some thought-provoking discoveries.

Firstly, the ‘appreciative inquiry’ aspect of the Ketso approach helped students to appreciate the more emotional or ‘human aspects’ of recovery and reconstruction within community resilience.  Starting the consultation from this perspective and appraising existing assets and future possibilities moved the group towards a more realistic exploration of the ‘human aspects’ of recovery. The visual aspect of the Ketso consultation allowed this emotional aspect to be revealed, as the students used the metaphorical leaves to map the journey forward.

A small number of the students who took part in the exercise came to the MSc with previous experience of disaster management.  These students discussed using Ketso in weekly evaluation sessions when they return to the field.  They also felt that Ketso has the potential to have a positive impact on the response teams themselves, since the kit can also support communication and relationships between the different teams and agencies (which in their experience had been a problem).  In particular, they saw the potential value of a strong visual aid to map order out of post-disaster chaos, visualising the allocation of resources and mapping map journeys of recovery.  

Above all, Ketso has proved to be a valuable training tool for those who are not used to facilitating, managing or designing consultations.  Importantly, it has provided a safe training environment for participant approaches to explore the possible outcomes and impact of different stakeholder and actor decisions within this environment.

Developing a bi-cultural curriculum in Aotearoa New Zealand

Piki Diamond, Learning & Teaching Consultant, Centre for Teaching and Learning (CfLAT), Auckland University of Technology

I started using Ketso when my university purchased a kit after a demonstration from Prof. Alison Phipps. Though I was not present at her demonstration, she is one of my supervisors (and friend), and I am not one for giving up a chance to play with something visual and tactile. As an artist it was a nice relief from all the technology that can overwhelm the educational space. From the use of the Ketso I have developed a workshop that looks at how we can develop more fully a bi-cultural curriculum within our university.

The focus of the workshop looks at how our staff can better practice and honour Aotearoa New Zealand's founding document, Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi). The life of this document has been predominantly political and is therefore the lens in which many of our staff view Te Tiriti. However, I see Te Tiriti more like a wedding license, where two world views have taken vows to work together as one for prosperity for all of the citizens who reside in Aotearoa.

The purpose of the workshop is to present another perception of Te Tiriti, a Maori worldview, one that aims to bring a closer understanding of why Maori fight to maintain their values, beliefs and knowledge. The name of the workshop is "Down 'n' dirty with the Treaty". Participation levels range from 15 to 20 staff, who consist of both academic and allied/administration staff. I am finding that I prefer to work with teams within the programme so that all aspects of the students’ experience is considered and the team work together to find solutions.

The branches on the Ketso to structure the discussion are six Maori concepts drawn from Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The questions I ask are:

  • Brown leaves- What do you know about these terms? I then present these terms from a Maori worldview and ask participants to reconsider the terms from a Maori worldview, drawing on their own experiences.
  • Green leaves- How do your students experience these in your teaching/ your classes? What do students hear, feel and see?
  • Grey leaves- What hinders or act as barriers to your engagement with these concepts?
  • Yellow leaves - How could barriers be turned into opportunities? This can be a wish list.

As the facilitator, what I appreciate most about the Ketso is that it facilitates the discussion, allowing me the time and energy to attend to caring for the wellbeing of the participants, caring for them and making them feel safe to share. Because of that I find the workshops have been successful, with a great deal of openness being shared amongst the teams. With a topic they were once apprehensive to engage in, they are more willing and open, and in some cases excited, to learn more and to create. So my next stage of learning with the Ketso is going through the Action Plan process.

Though I do not collect any formal written feedback, the success of the Ketso and my workshop is reflected in 'word-of-mouth' and more requests for this workshop and 'down and dirtier' workshops that will help Schools/Faculties to weave Te Tiriti and the Maori worldview in the curriculum. Another indicator of success is the interest in purchasing more Ketsos. Our department, Centre for Learning and Teaching, loans our kits, a Ketso 24 and a Ketso 30 (with 10 mini Ketso felts), to lecturers who have seen the potential in the Ketso as a teaching and research tool. The Ketso kit enables the teams to actually talk to each other and share their knowledge. They enjoy the collaboration that occurs whilst in the workshop, and at each workshop I get enquiries to how to purchase a set. This, I guess, is the downfall on being on the antipodes as I feel Ketso would be more widely used if the postage didn't double the cost of the kit ... maybe an expansion opportunity ;).

Other workshop topics that I have used Ketso with include: 'Identifying the wellbeing' with Maori staff,  'Cultural richness' with equity (Maori and Pacific mentors), and the latest workshop is with 36 Teaching Assistants around how Ketso 30 and the mini Ketsos can help them mentor students.

Na reira, nga mihinui, nga mihi aroha Joanne ratou te iwi Lesotho.
Mauri ora, Piki Diamond

Ketso in project based learning and field work reviews

Andrew Clark, Lecturer in Environmental Assessment & Management, Environment & Life Sciences, University of Salford

For 4-5 years  I been used a make shift version Ketso by copying coloured leaves onto paper and using large pieces of paper. I have recently purchased two Ketso24 kits, which I will be using from now. Initially I used Ketso in my teaching on an MSc module in Environmental Sustainability, which adopted a problem-based learning approach with some elements of the flipped classroom. Ketso was used to demonstrate one of a number of community consultation techniques utilising a scenario of formulating a development plan for Peel Park. The technique served the purpose of a demonstration of how a consultation might be undertaken and also a vehicle for exploring environmental, economic and social aspects of formalised green urban development.

I have subsequently used the technique in other areas of teaching to consolidate learning and to explore conflicts and compatibilities of sustainability objectives. Other scenarios that have been used with students include: examining sustainability issues associated with the development of Liverpool docks (a major case study used on an Energy, Resources & Sustainability MSc module), the development of a sustainability strategy for the University (with second year undergraduate students) and examining planning and sustainable development in one of four locations in Scandinavia (as part of an international field course with year 2 undergraduate students.

Similarly I’ve used the method for group feedback on field work conducted with MSc students on a residential course to the Lake District, where students collect data on sustainable development in Ambleside and Windermere. This method of feedback greatly enhanced the feedback session for the field work,  as in the first year of running the exercise we just used the ‘tell us what you found out’ method – Ketso gave the students a much more structured but creative way of thinking about the data and information that had collected in the field.

In addition to using the method in teaching I have promoted this as a method for MSc students for certain dissertations. Last year one of my MSc students used Ketso to undertake focus group consultation with groups interested in services and green/blue space quality in water parks in Manchester in conjunction with the RSPB.

I currently have an MSc student undertaking work on social prescribing in Bolton on behalf of a steering group of which I am a member (the asset based community development steering group) and the intention is to undertake some focus groups with the help pf Ketso. I’ve also been asked by a colleague to run a workshop involving community members in Pendleton looking at sustainable food choices using Ketso.

When using the method with students I’ve had some interesting reactions – some think that the Ketso  exercises are the most exciting thing they’ve done with me, while one said ‘this is stupid’ (or similar), some seemed bemused while others are enthusiastic. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. A fair proportion of students are initially bemused, but that bemusement fades once they get into the exercise.

I am really pleased with the new kits and the quality of the materials, so I’ll continue to use Ketso.

Course development with international alumni

Cora van Oosten,  Project manager/Programme coordinator, Ecosystems & Landscape Governance, Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen UR

A meeting was held in Nairobi to develop the Wageningen alumni network, attended by roughly twenty-five Wageningen alumni, with an additional seven experts in the field of landscapes and landscape economics. Besides the Kenya based alumni, a number of Ethiopian and Rwandan Alumni and experts took part, as they were already participating in a Landscapes for People, Food and Nature conference, where the meeting took place.

The objectives of the meeting were three-fold:
1. Bringing together the Kenya based alumni of CDI’s landscape related courses;
2. Create a Kenyan Wageningen Landscape Alumni network;
2. Make an initial design of an additional landscape course with an economic focus

We used Ketso to explore current strengths and gaps, and to develop ideas for a new course.

The Ketso kit helped us get rid of our pre-defined ideas on landscape economics, and openly brainstorm about the potential elements of the curriculum. And it worked! We all got excited while playing with the felt and icons, and we came up with totally new ideas on landscape entrepreneurship, and the major characteristics of a landscape entrepreneur. Based on this brainstorm, we managed to draft an initial curriculum for a new course on economically viable and entrepreneurial landscapes.

Learning about learning theories in the context of Academic Development using Ketso

Chrissi Nerantzi, Principal Lecturer in Academic CPD, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Manchester Metropolitan University, 

Ketso was used to explore Learning Theories, with academics and other professionals teachin  in Higher Education, who were on the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) at the University of Salford. The full range of activities and the learning process can be read in this case study (pdf). Key features of Ketso’s use are summarised here.

Students were asked to participate in a mind mapping activity using Ketso to visualise, connect individual and team knowledge, co-create new knowledge and tease out the key features of Learning Theories. This worked really well, as all students participated actively and contributed their ideas to the task.

The development of the mind- and concept maps were lead by the students themselves. The tutor facilitated some of the discussions when needed and used Socratic questioning techniques to challenge and stretch students further. Ketso was new to all. However, this did not hinder active participation. Learning about the tool happened intuitively and did not demand extensive guidance by the tutor nor instruction.

The visual maps created using Ketso were useful during the presentation stage to reflect on the process and articulate and communicate specific ideas, thinking and discoveries to others. Doing this in a visual way enabled others to see the connections between concepts clearer and quicker but also identify valuable links and overlaps among different theories investigated and own practices, benefits and potential challenges.
Students enjoyed using Ketso and found that it was indeed a creative tool for group collaboration, knowledge exchange and co- construction through making a joint model or visualization of their thoughts. As a result of this session, some students mentioned that they now better understand the concept of mind mapping and are considering using it in their practice, with their own students.

Ketso used in teaching, student-led learning and community development in Ohio State University

Students from the College of Education and Human Ecology, Ohio State University, have made a YouTube video about using Ketso in their class 'Adolescent and Emerging Adult Development'. The activity was to work in groups to develop an action plan to promote healthy adolescent development, with the purpose of synthesising knowledge gained throughout the semester. The outcomes were:100% engagement of all students and 20 priorities identified for action.

The course tutor, Dr. Deanna Wilkinson, commented: “As a community action researcher and educator striving to spread knowledge through engagement, I am so excited to have Ketso as a tool in my toolbox.  It works great with my undergraduate students and will be extremely helpful in my community violence prevention work as well. The down-loadable workshop plans, which are provided open-source to be adapted by the user as part of the Ketso package, are very useful. This guidance has enabled me to train other facilitators in ways managing effective group work in teaching and community development work. In addition, the software and digital analysis process provided by Ketso helps to turn the ideas into useful information for community development, as well as for research. Thank you, Dr. Joanne Tippett for this great innovation.”

Feedback from students included:
“I thought the Ketso activity was the perfect way to end the semester.  Using Ketso really helped me bring together and summarize what I’ve learned this semester.  It also helped me gain an understanding of what the rest of the class got out of the class and make connections that way.  I once heard that the best way to learn something is to categorize your information.  Ketso is a great way to implement that idea.”

“I think it’s a good way to get students up and moving as wall as being thoroughly engaged.  It’s also good to see how peers are thinking and interacting to the same content and comparing and contrasting ideas.”

“…Looking at everyone’s ideas was fun for me… I think in any situation that we are faced with, it is beneficial for everyone to look at the views of others.  I feel like this is something that we don’t see very often anymore in today’s society.  I also love how it shows the voices of the people who do not speak up as often.  It is fun to see the wide variety of ideas that are presented!  All in all I think the Ketso is such a good idea!”

Feedback on the use of Ketso in teaching at the University of Manchester

The following is from feedback collected over five years in Joanne Tippett's teaching. In particular, the following graph shows a summary of responses to questions about the use of Ketso in teaching in first and second year classes (each of around 70 students).

In this annonymous one student commented:

“…as a group we were bouncing ideas off each other taking one member’s idea and developing it. This made me very optimistic about the future of the module and strengthened my positive attitude, which has continued throughout the module.”

An international student commented: “usually, in a discussion, some people tend to kept silent because they do not wish to be involved or they are not good at oral expression, while some others dominate the whole discussion. With Ketso, everyone has independent time to think about the topic and equal opportunity to share the idea written on the leaves”.  

Evidence of impact on personalised learning and greater student interaction (the purpose of using Ketso) is indicated by feedback from students on PLAN40562 and 30562 - Community Planning and Development, P&L 15/20credits, PG core course, UG option (45-50 students): Lecturer was engaging and well-informed and brought in up-to-date case studies with graphical stimuli; I enjoyed this class, lecturer was one of the best!;  Lectures were interesting every week, making me want to learn and read around the subject .

Twelve out of 37 of these respondents said using the hands-on 'Mind Mapping' tools was the element they found most useful in their learning. Comments in 2007-8 included: This is the best course I've ever had! The concepts are explained very clearly to me; Multiple ways of learning are used; The Mind Map ideas will hopefully help with learning; the teaching method was very effective at learning the concepts; The course helped me to see from different perspectives – including a community member’s perspective; The open discussions were interesting and engaging. This feedback from students about seeing ideas from different perspectives was particularly encouraging, as it shows that the teaching methods help take students outside of their normal viewpoints. A further comment, This was the most like a seminar course we have had, suggests that using Ketso to stimulate discussion is effective at promoting meaningful group discussions, with interaction from the tutor, despite the relatively large size of the group.

In the first year of developing a new approach to teaching Settlement Project (Plan20272, UG Level 2, core course, 70 students), the feedback was very positive. Qualitative feedback from the course suggested a reassuring degree of student satisfaction: The course was interactive, enthusiastic and informative (with each group); Useful skills learnt for the future career as a professional planner; Constant feedback was very beneficial; Joanne constantly checked to ensure that everyone understood the whole. One comment in particular is telling – It was the first time I felt like a proper student (not just a number). This demonstrates that with careful attention to group process and the use of interactive tools to stimulate discussion, it is possible to encourage personalised learning even in large classes.

In the second year, the comments were similar. In response to the question, 'what helped you learn?', comments included: very hands-on about doing and learning by doing; the feedback gained from Joanne for the presentations benefited everyone; interesting group work; using alternate versions and methods of looking at and understanding a subject; feedback on our work anytime we needed it so we could change it if something was wrong; always adapted different ways of learning.

Group dissertation supervision

Group dissertation supervision has many advantages, including the opportunity for students to learn from each other and benchmark their progress against their peers. It can be hard, however, to encourage meaningful dialogue in a short period of time. Ketso can be used in the early stages of developing research ideas and questions. The Ketso Grid can then be used to plot out the actions required to answer the research questions and finish a dissertation.

Ketso has been used in both undergraduate and postgraduate group supervisions for dissertations. Students have reported the workshops helpful in finding clarity around their areas of interest, how to go about doing the research, and often, the feasibility of their research plans (which has led to revisions to the plans!). In particular, they have reported that it was useful to see how other students were thinking and to hear the feedback from the tutor on other students' ideas, as it made them see their own work from a different perspective.

The picture on the right shows MA students creating a project plan to for their dissertations from Easter to submission in September.  After this workhop, one student commented:

"It was really helpful to lay out the research questions and tasks needed to complete the dissertation along a time line. It helped me see how much I need to do during term time to be able to complete on time!"

You can see a workshop plan for developing research ideas here.

Supporting Graduate Teaching Assistants in Teaching

Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) are often thrown in at the deep end with teaching, and can find the prospect rather daunting. Ketso provides a focus for the students and enables to the GTAs to scaffold the student's knowledge with their own knowledge. It takes the pressure of the GTAs and enables them to stimulate productive dialogue with the students.

GTAs have used Ketso in seminars to stimulate discussion, an example being being for an undergraduate statistics module (where the students were bemused at first thinking they had come to an arts class), where students were asked to explore their skills and how they related to statistics, as a precursor to discussing the course itself and how it would help them develop their skills.

The fact that there is a physical artefact helps graduate teaching assistants interact with the students. They can look at the ideas students are sharing and use common sense questions to draw out their thinking, which helps the students to make connections. The following quote describes the experience of one graduate teaching assistant, where Ketso was being used in a large group workshop:

"Using Ketso in the Settlement Project course unit facilitated my work as a GTA. I was not very familiar with the site for which the Master Plan was being developed, or the UK planning context. Also as a new GTA, I was uncertain which aspects students at this level would find challenging. Seeing information related to all of these elements laid out and organised within the Ketso framework allowed me to quickly grasp the overall picture and the students' needs. As a result I was able to assist them much more effectively than if I had had to start by asking, "How are you getting on?"   Ketso itself is very easy to use; with minimal instruction, I was able to assist the students with any questions they had about how to proceed."
Janice Astbury, PhD Candidate at the University of Manchester

Ketso in widening participation

Ketso has been proven useful in supporting students from non-traditional backgrounds. For example, as part of its commitment to enhancing the student experience and supporting students from non-traditional backgrounds to attend university, the Directorate of Student Experience at The University of Manchester funded a two-semester long project to develop, trial and assess the use of Ketso to enhance engagement with Widening Participation (WP) students.

A total of 291 students attended 12 workshops using Ketso as part of this project, with one workshop run by a Graduate Teaching Assistant (IDPM), one by an academic (Law), and one by a researcher working with the Learning Commons. In addition, 107 staff and researchers attended training in using Ketso offered as part of the project. Comments from school students from WP backgrounds attending a Ketso workshop at The University included:

  • It made it easier for us to revise everything that happened in the workshops
  • There was no stress
  • It was easy to use and I learned a lot

Read the full report here.

The Widening Participation team at the University of Manchester has used Ketso in the following activities:

  • Team feedback – identifying strengths and challenges
  • Project planning with staff
  • Primary schools activity
  • Careers workshop for year 10 pupils
  • Focus group on sustainability with students

A workshop for careers planning, which could be used in widening participation workshops with students, has been tested and developed in a workshop with the Widening Participation team at the University of Manchester and with the West Yorkshire Dyslexia Tutor Forum. Tutors were able to experience being 18 again, through playing roles as first year undergraduate students exploring their careers options. In the process they were able to explore alternative career paths and discuss the relative merits and disadvantages of different career options, as well as what they would need to do to achieve their chosen careers. Several agreed that they wished they had had an exercise like this when they were 18!

You can download the results of two workshops with Higher Education Liaison officers, looking at attracting students to Universities, here.

in a workshop at Leeds Metropolitan University with the West Yorkshire Dyslexia Tutor Forum. Tutors were able to experience being 18 again, through playing roles as first year undergraduate students exploring their careers options. In the process they were able to explore alternative career paths and discuss the relative merits and disadvantages of different career options, as well as what they would need to do to achieve their chosen careers. Several agreed that they wished they had had an exercise like this when they were 18!

Award winning example course- Settlement project – group based teaching with 70 students

Dr. Joanne Tippett (Lecturer in Spatial Planning, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester)

In this second year undergraduate course, students spend a semester developing a master plan for a challenging site at the neighbourhood level. Working in groups, they learn to assess the site and develop an integrated plan for its future, considering ecological and social sustainability, design quality and the historical and wider context of the site within the urban fabric.

This course has traditionally been taught as a studio-based course for around 25 students. This re-development of the course was a successful transformation to a much larger than normal cohort of 70 plus students, whilst maintaining effective feedback and developing peer-supported learning. Engagement of all students during class time was  facilitated through the use of Ketso.

Students are encouraged to develop their reflective capacities through the group processes and discussion during classes, and through the inclusion of an individual reflective journal. In the first year of running this course to the revised programme, there was positive feedback from course participants, and recognition from management of the wider potential of the achievements in facilitating personalised learning and effective group based enquiry in challenging circumstances.

Click here for the full report about this case study.

Read an article about this prize-winning work in the Journal for Education in the Built Environment. 

Enhancing the student experience

Ketso has run four workshops using Ketso to explore ways to improve the student experience.

The first was hosted by the Association of University Administrators and held at the University of Manchester, the second hosted by London South Bank University, the third by the Beacon for Public Engagement for Wales, and held at the University of Cardiff and the fourth was hosted by the Researchers’ Society of the MRC-HPA Centre for Environment & Health and was at Imperial College London.

All of these events attracted professional support staff and academics from Universities across the UK.

As of March 2013, a total of 133 participants have developed 1947 ideas for enhancing the student experience.

Download the full set of results here:

London March 6, 2013

Cardiff Oct. 17, 2011

London May 9, 2011

Manchester Feb. 21, 2011

We aim to run at least one more such workshop in 2013, and will be synthesising all of the results after that. The graph on the right shows the break down of types of ideas from the latest workshop at Imperial College London.

Feedback from the events included:

  • Found the whole session really interesting and exciting. Great way to get ideas out and meet people.
  • Relevant topic for me in HE at moment; good opportunity to discuss ideas and network with contacts at other HEIs.  Toolkit and process a good way of generating ideas and facilitating communication.
  • Time passed very quickly! 
  • Very interactive and hands-on – gave everyone the opportunity to have their say
  • Opportunity to try out a group work methodology. Interesting to work with people in similar roles in other universities
  • I enjoyed the way it was structured in the sequential manner the workshop was run. I also found hearing others' input very helpful. It gave me lots of ideas.
  • I thought the process was interesting. It was useful to meet with others interested in developing the student experience at the event
  • Equality in discussion
  • Inclusive from the start
  • Opportunity to network
  • Easy to move ideas around, making it interactive
  • Able to share ideas/thoughts with like-minded people
  • I like the interactive nature of it
  • New way of considering project management
  • Learn from different perspectives
  • The visual - seeing the ideas/thoughts/solutions in one place and structuring actions accordingly
  • Ketso is a great idea and the workshop was a really good way of engaging with the tool

Ways participants felt they could use Ketso included:

  • Student consultation
  • Outreach programme with schools
  • Brainstorming for senior management
  • Groups with part-time students
  • Students and staff together for ideas and strategy planning
  • Assist creative degree students with ideas/planning
  • Inductions
  • Feedback/expectations from students
  • End of term evaluations
  • Subwarden and hall committee inductions
  • Problem-solving planning meetings
  • To review my organisation's operations

At the two-hour event in Manchester, colleagues from a range of Higher Education institutions across the North of England debated ways to enhance student experience, a total of 450 ideas were developed, nearly 100 of which were opportunities. Ideas that were highlighted as priorities were:


  • Business links and internships
  • Marketing alumni networking careers
  • Work-related learning and more employer involvement
  • Community engagement as part of course structure
  • Comms training for staff
  • Employer engagement
  • Culture change
  • Adobe Connect and Skype lectures available internationally
  • Delivering what we say we will
  • Public info - manage expectations

Future possibilities:

  • Helping staff be experts, upskilling for better student experience
  • Staff development, embrace change
  • Early planning
  • Involving as many people as possible in key decisions
  • Personal role evaluation: Should I do x rather than could I do x?
  • Joined up systems so we have good information
  • Systems to promote, not stifle, change
  • Effective communication - ask why not how
  • Communications and training
  • Change of government
  • State key areas to be delivered
  • Widening participation - ensuring teaching is accessible
  • Raise awareness - networks/resources/but also get staff to see benefits
  • Managing expectations of employers, students, staff and parents
  • iPads, e-publications - give to each student


  • Time and money are 'precious'
  • Decrease in time and opportunity to develop new ways of thinking
  • Student and staff engagement (or lack of!)
  • Two way street: students need to engage as well!
  • Students assuming university is just like school
  • Decrease in funding
  • Unclear government strategy on fees
  • We need cultural change in HEIs' attitudes to students and students' attitudes to their own education
  • Changing embedded culture
  • Challenging vested interests
  • Staff lack of knowledge
  • Diversity of expectations
  • Con-Dem-Nation
  • Plans based on guess work, uncertainty
  • Staff morale, especially given the current climate
  • [lack of ] Involvement in decision-making
  • Achieving our objective and still making students happy!

The first hour was spent looking at ways to do more with less, an important topic in this time of budget cuts. Future possibilities that were highlighted in this part of the workshop included:

  • Greater faith in individuals
  • Motivation
  • Using up leftovers; collaboration with other colleagues and institutions
  • Regular review
  • Better Performance Development Reviews with better outcomes/more action
  • Stop and think - why do we do this anyway?
  • Clearer value for money - 2012 fees
  • More distance learning
  • Training in technology

Ideas about what is already working well included ‘increasing student involvement’, which was a key theme to emerge from the topic of discussion in the second part of the workshop.

Developing a student charter

The Ketso team was asked by a University to work with staff and students to develop a student charter. A workshop using Ketso was held to develop the key concepts in dialogue. Key ideas and principles were discussed in 1 hour and 15 minutes with 50 members of staff and 50 students, using two different colours of leaves to show which ideas came from which group. Feedback from the event was positive and the ideas have informed the creation of a new student charter.

Engaging students in problem based learning

The Higher Education Academy sponsored a workshop entitled ‘HEA STEM: Ketso Showcase – a Hands-On Teaching Innovation’. This workshop formed part of the Higher Education Academy Discipline Workshop and Seminar Series 2011-12 (Built Environment) and was held at the University of Manchester. Fourteen delegates learned about the use of Ketso in teaching, including the way it is used to stimulate dialogue in large group teaching in the built environment, for which Joanne was awarded a Teaching Excellence Prize from the Association of European Schools of Planners.

As a sample workshop, participants used Ketso to explore how to engage students in ‘problem based learning’. The results from this workshop can be downloaded here (excel spreadsheet). The value of Ketso for problem based learning is shown in this comment from a student's reflective learning journal, on a course that involved working with external clients:
“We used Ketso in our meetings with the client and found it extremely useful and beneficial as a communication tool. Ketso enabled us to retrieve information from the client, which we then got them to group into ‘themes’. We then had a permanent visual representation of the client’s thoughts surrounding the project, which we could use to inform our own ideas. The skills I learnt when using Ketso will also prove useful for the future if ever I find myself in a consultation situation, or need to find an innovative way of getting people to share their ideas.”