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Durham University

Durham University News


University launches new department to lead on excellence and innovation in education

(1 August 2018)

The newly-formed Durham Centre for Academic Development (DCAD) will deliver sector-leading programmes in learning and teaching, enhancing Durham’s educational provision for both students and staff.

DCAD brings together the English Language Centre, the Foundation Centre, the Learning Technologies Team, the Academic Skills co-ordinator and part of the Centre for Academic, Researcher and Organisation Development.

To celebrate the launch, the newly-formed DCAD team was invited to attend the official opening event which took place within the construction site of the Teaching and Learning Centre on Wednesday, 1 August.

Commitment to life-long learning

Creating a united centre under DCAD will further stream-line the University’s approach to life-long learning, from pre-sessional students through to professorship.

Professor Alan Houston, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), said: “DCAD is a significant step for the University and will provide an important focus for developing learning and teaching skills, which are integral to all degree programmes.

“Everyone has different challenges, whether they are studying for an undergraduate degree, or trying to reach the top echelons of academia. DCAD will provide a central point to address those challenges, and to support students and staff in reaching their full potential.

“We are confident that in bringing together a number of highly skilled colleagues within one unit, DCAD will become far more than the sum of its parts; through skill-sharing, investment in learning technologies and through the drive to experiment and innovate. This is what we mean by Education by Design.”

New Director of DCAD Appointed 

Professor Nicola Whitton has recently been appointed as the Director of the Durham Centre for Academic Development. When starting her role in October, she will also join the School of Education as a Professor in Education, where she will be part of the teaching stream.

Nicola will come to Durham from Manchester Metropolitan University where she held the position of Professor of Professional Learning at the Education and Social Research Institute. Her research focuses on play in adulthood, in particular games and learning in the context of Higher Education, and the potential of play in teaching, research, and academic practice. She is chair of the Association for Learning Technology Special Interest Group on Playful Learning, and co-chair of the Playful Learning conference.

Professor Nicola Whitton commented: “I am passionate about enhancing and rethinking learning in the context of higher education. To work at Durham – a University which aspires to be a world leader in teaching and learning practice, and with an ambitious strategy to achieve this – is an incredibly exciting opportunity for me.”

Professor Alan Houston, said: “Nicola will bring the perfect mix of experience, enthusiasm and creativity to Durham University. Nicola’s own research interests are at the forefront of pedagogical developments, and perfectly complement the ethos of DCAD. We cannot wait to see where DCAD can go with Nicola at its helm.”

The Teaching and Learning Centre

DCAD will sit within the new Teaching and Learning Centre when it opens in October 2019. The new building will house state-of-the-art facilities including an Education Laboratory which will serve as an experimentation space for teaching and learning practices.

Useful links:


The Teaching and Learning Centre

TEF Gold Award