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Research Profile

  • Dr Helen Caldwell is an Associate Professor at the University of Northampton (UON), where she specialises in educational technology, teacher education and online learning. Her role at UON involves leading postgraduate teacher education courses, including the Online MA Education, the PGCE Top Up and the PG Cert in Digital Leadership. Helen has considerable experience of international project work and has been the research lead on nine funded projects, the most recent of which are two 3-year Erasmus+ projects on the theme of Digital Learning across Boundaries. Helen’s research interests include technology-enabled social online learning in teacher education, developing changemakers and social innovation education, and the use of immersive technologies for teaching and learning.

    Helen has over 15 years teaching experience and held an ICT Co-ordinator role for nine years, working across a group of local schools to develop their capability with ICT. She was an assistive technology advisor for Milton Keynes Council and a regional and web portal manager for the Open University Vital CPD programme. Prior to this she spent two years at Brigham Young University, Utah, undertaking an MA in Education and working as a research assistant.

    Helen was an invited member of the Primary National Curriculum for Computing in ITT Expert Group supporting tutors and trainees in ITT in preparing for the new curriculum. She is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and an Apple Distinguished Educator.

    In 2021 Helen led an application for a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE)

    from Advance HE for the work of a team of colleagues who have worked together for several years on the theme of Technology for Active Distance Learning (Tech4ADL). This award recognises collaborative work that has had a demonstrable impact on teaching and learning, and the team has been chosen to be nominated by the University. Helen has also been recently involved in founding and leading a Special Interest Group (SIG) on Digital Technologies in Education for the Centre for Education and Research at UON.

    Professional roles and membership

    • Committee member for the Information Technology in Teacher Education Association (ITTE)
    • Committee member for the Information Technology, Pedagogy and Education Association (TPEA)
    • Reviewer for the TPEA journal
    • MirandaNet Senior Research Fellow
    • ITTE Research Fellow
    • External examiner at the University of Chichester
    • Member of UON STEM steering group and STEAM steering group (previous)
    • Computing At School (CAS): Network of Excellence in Computer Science Partner representing the University of Northampton and running CPD in partnership with the OU (previous)
    • Barefoot Computing: Regional Partner representing the University of Northampton (previous)
    • Member of the Publications and Promotions Committee for the International Conference on Information Communication Technologies in Education (ICICTE) (previous)

    Twitter: @helencaldwel

  • Programme lead:

    • Postgraduate Certificate in Primary Computing (previous)
    • Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Leadership
    • PGCE Top Up

    Pathway lead:

    • Online Masters in Education
    • Current modules led or teaching on:
    • EDUM144 Curriculum and Pedagogy in Context
    • EDUM143 Practice Based Project
    • EDUM140 Digital Literacy
    • EDUM141 Digital Leadership
    • EDUM074 International Perspectives on Education
    • EDUM116 School and Classroom Cultures
    • EDUM100 Research methods and thesis

    PhD Supervision:

    Michelle Bugby: The extent and nature of practitioners’ adoption of mobile technologies supporting children’s development of early literacies

    Devon Rossetti: The application of immersive technology within the digital learning environment

    Patrick Jolomba: Exploring effective blended learning approaches in medical device training for patients and clinical staff

  • At UON since 2013 Helen has been the research lead and lead bid writer on ten funded projects and a member of the project team for a further ten funded projects. Many of these projects were aligned with the University’s strategic plan through digital innovation, developing others and social impact. They include:

    • 2019-2022: Digital Learning Across Boundaries (DLAB) 2: Developing Changemakers. This is a three-year Erasmus+ European partnership project aimed at combining changemaking with digital making to develop changemaker attributes and impact, and intercultural awareness among school pupils, university students, teachers and lecturers across five European countries. The research strand of this project has demonstrated that the use of virtual and augmented reality tools in combination with other technologies can enable participants to develop empathy and have an impact on an identified social challenge. Emerging findings were presented at the Merged Futures conference, June, 2020 and at the Institute of Teaching and Learning conference, June 2020.
    • 2016-19: Digital Learning Across Boundaries (DLAB) 1: A three-year Erasmus+ European partnership project aimed at using technology in innovative ways to cross physical, curricular and cultural boundaries through the themes of technology outdoors, STEM to STEAM and CLIL across four European countries. Project intellectual outputs included three MOOCs and online communities for educators.
    • 2018-19: Cyber-Safe Generation (CyGEN) Erasmus+ funded project: developing a collaborative educational package aimed at enhancing the digital citizenship and well-being of children across four European countries.
    • 2018-19: Future Focused Teachers course: development of a free online course supporting UoN third year trainee teachers’ and NQTs’ personal and professional development.
    • 2017-18: Hong Kong Summer Camp and Changemaker project: develop student skills and enhance employability through linking the Changemaker award to the 6-week HKSC experiences for students from the ITT and BASENI programmes.
    • 2017: Learning without borders: Mobile Technologies in fieldwork in Northern Thailand: using mobile and pervasive technologies in remote, outdoor, non-formal settings to improve outcomes for local schools, the environment, tourism and heritage.

    Recent research publications:

    Caldwell, H., Whewell, E., and Heaton, R. (2020). The impact of visual posts on creative thinking and knowledge building in an online community of educators. Thinking Skills and Creativity. Elsevier, 36(4).

    This research investigates how creative visual content in online community posts supports relational idea exchange in interconnected cognitive, physical and digital domains. It presents an original conceptual framework that combines three facets of visual arts learning to analyse visual data and an analysis of the process of collective knowledge building in online communities.

    Caldwell, H., Whewell, E., Bracey, P., Shelley, C., Crawford, H. and Heaton, R. (2020). Teaching on insecure foundations? Pre-service teachers in England’s perceptions of the wider curriculum subjects in primary schools. Cambridge Journal of Education. Taylor & Francis (accepted for publication)

    This is a timely case study with primary initial teacher education (ITE) students that investigates learner perceptions of their training in under-represented foundation subjects. It proposes that if ITE students explore and take on the dispositions of changemakers, they will become equipped with the self-efficacy and adaptability needed to develop secure bases for teaching foundation subjects as they begin their careers. 

  • For publications, projects, datasets, research interests and activities, view Helen Caldwell’s research profile on Pure, the University of Northampton’s Research Explorer.