Dr Gabi Witthaus PGCM, MA, MT&D, PhD, SFHEA

Dr Gabi Witthaus

Senior Digital Education Developer (College of Arts & Law)

Contact details

I support academics in the College of Arts and Law in designing programmes and modules for online learning, with a focus on designing for student engagement and inclusivity.

Feedback and office hours

I work part-time, generally on Tuesday afternoons, Wednesdays and Thursdays.


  • PhD in Higher Education: Research, Evaluation and Enhancement (2023, Lancaster University)
  • Master’s in Training and Development (2009, University of Southern Queensland – online
  • Master of Arts in English Language Education (1990, University of the Witwatersrand)
  • PG Certificate in Mediation (2014, Robert Gordon University – online)
  • BA with Honours in Applied Linguistics (1987,University of the Witwatersrand)


I joined the University of Birmingham in February 2018 as a part-time member of the HEFi team. Alongside this role I work at University College London (UCL) as a Research Fellow – Education in Contexts of Mass Displacement. Previous roles included:

  • · Learning and teaching facilitator at Loughborough University (2015-2017)
  • · Research associate and learning design advisor, University of Leicester (2009 to 2014)
  • · Teaching fellow, online tutor and e-moderator, Online MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL, University of Leicester (2009-2014)
  • · Distance learning manager for Bradford University’s MBA (2012-2013).
  • · TESOL curriculum development for various international clients (2002-2008)
  • · EFL teacher in Spain and the UK (1990-1991)
  • · Adult education curriculum developer and trainer in South Africa (1987-2001)
  • · Adult literacy volunteer in South Africa (1984-2001)


My research interests lie in the intersection of learning design, (open) online education and widening participation in higher education. My PhD thesis investigated the engagement of refugees and other underrepresented students in online higher education and considered possible institutional strategies to better include and engage these learners.

Other activities

Outside of UoB, I work as a Research Fellow at UCL. I also take on occasional consultancy projects through my company, Art of E-learning. I blog at Art of E-learning.



Witthaus, G. (2023). Refugees’ Online Learning Engagement in Higher Education: A Capabilitarian Analysis. [PhD Thesis, Lancaster University]. Available at:  https://doi.org/10.17635/lancaster/thesis/2010

Witthaus, G. (2023). Refugees and Online Engagement in Higher Education: A Capabilitarian Model. Online Learning, 27(2). Available at: https://doi.org/10.24059/olj.v27i2.3762

Palanac, A., Hunt, S., Rogerson-Revell, P., Cajkler, W., & Witthaus, G. (2023). Beyond resilience: Facilitating learning and wellbeing in the refugee language classroom. British Council. Available at: doi.org/10.57884/6SN8-AF69


Goria, C., Witthaus, G., Turner, M., Hanford, S., Bhend, M., Wray, A., Wahyudi, M., & Gibson, A. (2022). Hybrid teaching—A futurist model or a realist model for the future (pp. 1–50). Gloucester: Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education [QAA]. Available at: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/membership/collaborative-enhancement-projects/learning-and-teaching/hybrid-teaching-a-futurist-model-or-a-realist-model-for-the-future#

Witthaus, G. (2022). Exploring the Capability Approach as a Social Justice Framework for Researching Higher Education in 12 blog posts. Zenodo. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6463267


Conrad, D. & Witthaus, G. (2021). ‘Reimagining and reexamining assessment in online learning’, Distance Education, 42:2, 179-183. Available at: 10.1080/01587919.2021.1915117

Farrow, R., Iniesto, F., Weller, M., Pitt., R., Algers, A., Baas, M., Bozkurt, A., Cox, G., Czerwonogora, A., Elias, T., Essmiller, K., Funk, J., Lambert, S., Mittelmeier, J., Nagashima, T., Rabin, E., Rets, I., Spica, E., Vladimirschi, V. & Witthaus, G. (2021). GO-GN Guide to Conceptual Frameworks. Open Education Research Hub. The Open University, UK. CC-BY 4.0. Available at: https://go-gn.net/gogn_outputs/conceptual-frameworks

Witthaus, G. & Ryan, G. (2021). ‘Supported mobile learning in the “Third Spaces” between formal and non-formal education for displaced people’, in J. Traxler & H. Crompton (Eds). Critical Mobile Pedagogy: Cases of Inclusion, Development, and Empowerment (pp. 76-88). New York: Routledge. Available at: https://www.routledge.com/Critical-Mobile-Pedagogy-Cases-of-Digital-Technologies-and-Learners-at/Traxler-Crompton/p/book/9780367204570


Witthaus, G. & Ryan, G. (2020). Supported mobile learning in the “Third Spaces” between non-formal and formal education for displaced people. Zenodo [Preprint]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4293565. [CC-BY-SA]

Wilson, A., Wilson, C. & Witthaus, G. (2020). Using a Community of Practice in Higher Education: Understanding the Demographics of Participation and Impact on Teaching. International Journal of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education. 32(1), pp. 39-48. Available at: http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/past2.cfm?v=32&i=1.

Charitonos, K., Albuerne Rodriguez, C., Witthaus, G. and Bossu, C. (2020). Advancing Social Justice for Asylum Seekers and Refugees in the UK: An Open Education Approach to Strengthening Capacity through Refugee Action’s Frontline Immigration Advice Project. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2020(1), p.11. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/jime.563

Witthaus, G. (2020). Talking across the Chasm: Opening up Higher Education in the Knowledge Economy. Book chapter in Conrad, D. and Prinsloo, P. (Eds.) Open(ing) EducationTheory and Practice (pp. 72-100). Leiden/Boston: Brill. [Open access preprint available at: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3670623]


Pond, K., Lambert, S., & Witthaus, G. (2019). ‘Making a difference with Lecture Capture? Providing evidence for research-informed policy’, The International Journal of Management Education, 17(3). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijme.2019.100323


Witthaus, G. (2018) Talking across the Chasm: Opening up Higher Education against the Policy Backdrop of the Knowledge Economy [Preprint]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3670623

Witthaus, G. (2018) ‘Findings from a Case Study on Refugees Using MOOCs to (Re)enter Higher Education’, OpenPraxis, 10(4). Available at: https://openpraxis.org/index.php/OpenPraxis/issue/view/33/showToc

Witthaus, G. (ed.) (2018) Refugees’ Educational Resources ( RefER ) Project Final Report. Milton Keynes: The Open University. Available at http://www.open.ac.uk/research/sites/www.open.ac.uk.research/files/files/Documents/RefER%20Project%20Final%20Report.pdf

Creelman, A. and Witthaus, G. (2018) ‘Facilitated MOOC support – closed bubbles in an open sea’, in EADTU, Jansen, D., and Konings, L. (eds) The 2018 OpenupEd Trend Report on MOOCs. Maastricht: European Association of Distance Teaching Universities, pp. 31–34. Available at http://www.openuped.eu/15-english-content/news/263-the-2018-openuped-trend-report-on-moocs


Witthaus, G., Padilla, B., Guàrdia, L. and Campillo, C. (2016) Next Generation Pedagogy: IDEAS for Online and Blended Higher Education. Final report of the FUTURA (Future of University Teaching: Update and a Roadmap for Advancement) project. Barcelona: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. Available at: http://openaccess.uoc.edu/webapps/o2/handle/10609/51441

Witthaus, G., Inamorato dos Santos. A., Childs, M., Tannhäuser, A., Conole, G., Nkuyubwatsi, B., Punie, Y. (2016) Validation of Non-formal MOOC-based Learning: An Analysis of Assessment and Recognition Practices in Europe (OpenCred). EUR 27660 EN; doi:10.2791/809371. Available at: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC96968/lfna27660enn.pdf


Witthaus, G., Childs, M., Nkuyubwatsi, B., Conole, G., Inamorato Dos Santos, A. and Punie, Y. (2015). An Assessment-Recognition Matrix for Analysing Institutional Practices in the Recognition of Open Learning. eLearning Papers, January(40), pp.32–42. Available at: http://www.openeducationeuropa.eu/en/article/Assessment-certification-and-quality-assurance-in-open-learning_From-field_40_1?paper=164347.

Witthaus, G. and Robinson, C. (2015). Lecture Capture Literature Review: A review of the literature from 2012-2015, 27 October 2015. Centre for Academic Practice, Loughborough University. Available at: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/cap/tel/tools/.


McGreal, R., Conrad, D., Murphy, A., Witthaus, G. and Mackintosh, W. (2014). ‘Formalising informal learning: Assessment and accreditation challenges within disaggregated systems’ in Open Praxis Vol. 6, No. 2. http://openpraxis.org/index.php/OpenPraxis/article/view/114

Schreurs, B., Van den Beemt, A., Prinsen, F., De Laat, M., Witthaus, G. and Conole, G. (2014).  ‘Investigating the social configuration of a community to understand how networked learning activities take place: The OERu case study’, in Networked Learning Conference Proceedings, April 2014. http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fss/organisations/netlc/past/nlc2014/abstracts/schreurs.htm


Murphy, A. and Witthaus, G. (2013). ‘Findings from a survey of openness in assessment and accreditation practices in post-secondary institutions’. Working paper commissioned by Athabasca University. http://auspace.athabascau.ca/handle/2149/3336


Bird, T. and Witthaus, G. (2012). ‘iTunes U and the OERu: Two Different Ways to Reach the World’. Unpublished paper for Higher Education Academy and JISC. http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/beyond-distance-research-alliance/projects/toucans/Case%20Study%20-%20mass%20models%20for%20OERs_final.pdf/view

Hawkridge, D.,  Armellini, A., Nie, M., Witthaus, G. & Padilla Rodriguez, B. C. (2012). Digital audio for asynchronous interactive learning in curriculum design at an English university. Book chapter in Jia, J. (Ed.) Educational stages and interactive learningfrom kindergarten to workplace training (pp. 468-484). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Nie, M., Witthaus,. G., Conole, G. and Armellini, A. (2012). ‘Learning Design Workshops at the University of Leicester: OULDI Carpe Diem 7Cs Pilot Workshops’ – Final Report for JISC. http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/OULDI/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Leicester-Pilots_FINAL.pdf

Witthaus, G. (2012) The OER university: from vision to reality. In Okada, A. (ed) (2012) Book chapter in Open Educational Resources and Social Networks: Co-learning and Professional Development. Scholio Educational Research & Publishing. Milton Keynes. Creative Commons License 3.0. http://oer.kmi.open.ac.uk/?page_id=2343.


Nie, M., Armellini, A., Witthaus, G. & Barklamb, K. (2011). How do e-book readers enhance learning opportunities for distance work-based learners?  ALT-J, Research in Learning Technology19(1), 19-38. http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/17104

Nikoi, S., Rowlett, T., Armellini, A. & Witthaus, G. (2011). CORRE: A framework for evaluating and transforming teaching materials into Open Educational Resources. Open Learning26(3), 191-207. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02680513.2011.611681#.VKvuoGSsX0p


Hawkridge, D., Armellini, A., Nikoi, S., Rowlett, T. & Witthaus, G. (2010). Curriculum, intellectual property rights and open educational resources in British universities and beyond. Journal of Computing in Higher Education22(3), 162-176. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12528-010-9036-1


Hawkridge, D. and Witthaus, G. (2009). Rethinking e-learning research, by Norm Friesen (2009). Book review in British Journal of Educational Technology 40(6). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.01026_3.x/abstract 

Witthaus, G. (2009). The Implications of SCORM-Conformance for Workplace Learning. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 7 (2), 183-190. https://lra.le.ac.uk/handle/2381/4604