Ms Gabi Witthaus PGCM, MA, MT&D, SFHEA

Ms 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

Part-time, generally in the office on Wednesdays, Thursdays and alternate Tuesdays.


  • BA with Honours in Applied Linguistics (1987,University of the Witwatersrand)
  • PG Certificate in Mediation (2014, Robert Gordon University - online)
  • Master of Arts in English Language Education (1990, University of the Witwatersrand)
  • Master’s in Training and Development (2009, University of Southern Queensland - online)


I joined the University of Birmingham in February 2018. Previous roles included:

  • Learning and teaching facilitator at Loughborough University (2015-2017)
  • Research associate and Carpe Diem learning design workshop facilitator for the Beyond Distance Research Alliance and Institute of Learning Innovation, University of Leicester (2009 to 2014)
  • Teaching fellow, online tutor and e-moderator on the University of Leicester’s Online MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL (2009-2014)
  • Distance learning manager for Bradford University’s MBA (2012-2013).
  • Curriculum development lead for multimedia English Foreign Language course materials for the energy industry in Qatar (2002-2007)
  • EFL teacher in Spain & the UK (1990-1991)
  • Adult education curriculum developer and trainer in South Africa (1987-2001)
  • Adult literacy volunteer in South Africa (1984-2001)


My two main areas of research interest are learning design and open online education.
My PhD thesis is investigating the factors that enable and constrain the engagement of refugees and asylum seekers in online higher education.

Other activities

Outside of UoB, I am working on my PhD in Higher Education, Evaluation and Enhancement through Lancaster University, focusing on refugees and online higher education.

 I also take on occasional consultancy projects through my company, Art of E-learning. I am currently involved in an EU-funded project called STACQ (Stacking Credits and the Future of Qualifications), which is investigating microcredentials and the changing nature of qualifications. I blog at


Journal articles and book chapters


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: 


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: [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:

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:

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:]


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).


Witthaus, G. (2018) Talking across the Chasm: Opening up Higher Education against the Policy Backdrop of the Knowledge Economy [Preprint]. Available at:

Witthaus, G. (2018) ‘Findings from a Case Study on Refugees Using MOOCs to (Re)enter Higher Education’, OpenPraxis, 10(4). Available at:

Witthaus, G. (ed.) (2018) Refugees’ Educational Resources ( RefER ) Project Final Report. Milton Keynes: The Open University. Available at

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


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:

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:


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:

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:


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.


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.

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.


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.


Hawkridge, D. and Witthaus, G. (2009). Rethinking e-learning research, by Norm Friesen (2009). Book review in British Journal of Educational Technology 40(6). 

Witthaus, G. (2009). The Implications of SCORM-Conformance for Workplace Learning. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 7 (2), 183-190.



Witthaus, G. & Ryan, G. Foraging for "good hybridity" in Third Spaces. A Twitter Conversation at #OER20, 2 April 2020. (See Guest post: A meta-conversation of our collective experience of OER20 as a hybrid space)


Enabling equity and inclusion for asylum seekers and refugees through open education. Convenor of panel presentation at OER19. Galway, 10 April 2019. [Video recordingblog]

An exploration of the strengths and limitations of the Community of Inquiry Framework for evaluating refugees’ experiences of learning in MOOCs. Invited speaker at the Learning Design Cross-Institutional Network’s annual conference. Dublin, 8 April 2019. [Slides]

Recognition of open, online learning: the story so far. Keynote for nuffic e-Valuate project’s work meeting in Den Haag, 28 March 2019. [Slidesblog]

Towards a Thirdspace: designing an inclusive, open online learning ecosystem. Dialogue with Marwa Belghazi at a MOONLITE workshop, Reaching Out – Open Digital Learning for Disadvantaged Communities, at the University of Wolverhampton, UK, 27 March 2019. [Slidesblog]


Recognition, validation and accreditation of open, online learning for professional development. Invited speaker at European Schoolnet EMINENT conference in Lisbon, 14 December 2018. [Slides | video summary of conference, including a short clip from me | blog]

Online Higher Education opportunities for refugees. A talk for the Leicester Human Rights Arts & Film Festival to commemorate Human Rights Day. 10 December 2018. [Slidesblog]

Facilitated MOOC support – closed bubbles in a sea of openness. Presentation with Alastair Creelman (Linnaeus University, Sweden) for OpenUp webinar, European Association of Distance Teaching Universities, May 2018


Opening up Higher Education against the policy backdrop of the ‘knowledge economy’ – navigating the conflicting discourses. Presentation at #ALTC Conference, Liverpool, 5 September 2017.

Evaluating the effects of a Community of Practice on Teaching. Presentation at Higher Education Academy Conference, Manchester, July 2017.

Recognition of open learning and the unbundling of higher education. Presentation at EMOOCs 2017, Madrid, 22 May 2017.

From disciplinary teaching to scholarly teaching: action research in a community of practice – with Keith Pond, Alex Wilson and Chris Wilson. Chartered ABS Conference, Bristol. 25 April, 2017.

Recognition of open learning: the big picture. Presentation for Kiron Higher Education Organisation Partner Workshop, Berlin, 10 April 2017.

Recognition of open, online learning: are we there yet? With Airina Volungevičienė and Marius Sadauskas. Presentation at #OER17, London, 5 April 2017.


Lecture capture: What can business schools learn from the recent literature? Presentation at Chartered Association of Business Schools Learning, Teaching and Student Experience 2016 conference, 26-27 April 2016.

Future of University Teaching: Update and a Roadmap for Advancement (FUTURA)Presentation at Open University of Catalonia’s Research Week 2016 (The Final Frontier in eLearning: Three Approaches to Define Tomorrow’s Education), 20 April 2016.

FUTURA infographic: Big IDEAS for Next-Generation Pedagogy

OpenCred: Exploring issues around the recognition of non-formal learning via MOOCs in Europe – Presentation at E-MOOCs 2016: Proceedings of the European stakeholder summit on experiences and best practices around MOOCs, pp.491-499, 22-24 Feb 2016 – with Andreia Inamorato dos Santos and Yves Punie


Learning from current trends in online and blended degree education to prepare for the future (EADTU Conference Proceedings 2015, p.204) – with Lourdes Guàrdia, Christine Appel, Cris Girona and Brenda Padilla Rodriguez.

A Typology of Institutional Practices for the Recognition of Open Learning in Europe. (OER15, 14 April 2015. Abstract) – with Andreia Inamorato dos Santos.


Converting Face-to-Face Courses to Interactive Online Courses – a  Pre-Conference Workshop at Online Educa Berlin 2014 (OEB 14) – with Jeff Stanford.

The 7Cs of Learning Design – a new approach to rethinking design practice, in Networked Learning Conference Proceedings, April 2014 – with Grainne Conole

OpenCred Study – Recognition of open learning in Europe: some issues for institutions to consider. Webinar presentation for European University Association (EUA) and EFQUEL. Recording at

It’s a Jungle Out There! Staff Development for Online Tutors. Presentation for Unisa, 24 Feb 2014.


POERUP Elevator Pitch: 26 Countries in 26 Minutes‘, OER13, Nottingham, 27 March 2013 – with Paul Bacsich, Ming Nie, Nick Jeans, Rob Schuwer and Terence Karran

Openness in Education, (Contribution to a workshop by Gilly Salmon). Online Educa Berlin, 30 Nov 2013.


iTunes U and the OERu – Two Different Ways to Reach the World (at SCORE Showcase Event, Open University, 11 July 2012) – with Terese Bird

Optimising the Research Possibilities in Online Teaching and Learning (at Unisa, Pretoria, 11 June 2012) – with Ming Nie

The 7Cs: a learning design intervention at Leicester. ALT-C annual conference, Manchester, UK (11-13 Sept). Programme available from – With Ming Nie, Grainne Conole and Ale Armellini.

End of SCORE Fellowship Presentation (at the Open University, 31 May 2012)

What do People in UK HEIs think of the OER university Concept? (6 Sept 2012, EFQUEL Innovation Forum, Granada)

The OER university from the Inside out and the Outside in (A seminar at the South African Institute for Distance Education, Johannesburg, 15 June, 2012).

UK Higher Education Institutions and the OER University: Snog, Marry, Avoid?. Higher Education Academy Annual Conference, 3-4 July, Manchester, UK – with Ale Armellini

EmpOERing Students and Academics through Large-Scale Open Content Initiatives (EDEN Research Workshop, Leuven, 22 Oct 2012) – with Grainne Conole

OER-Based Design for Learning and its Impact on Research (at Unisa, Pretoria, 12 June 2012) – with Ming Nie

Learning Design in the Open: Rethinking our Courses for Tomorrow’s Learners (pre-conference workshop at Online Educa Berlin, 28 Nov 2012) – with Ming Nie


Developing workflow models for the creation of sustainable Open Educational Resources. OER11 Annual Conference, Manchester, UK. With Ale Armellini, Julian Prior and and Sam O’Neill.

Keynote: Open to Sharing in Higher Education. 11th Annual E-learning Festival of the Durban University of Technology. Durban and online (23-25 Nov 2011).

Introduction to OERs: A Workshop for Kabul University, Afghanistan

Introduction to Open Educational Resources – at the University of Kabul, Afghanistan, 21 Feb 2011


CORRE: A framework for transforming teaching materials into OERs. ALT-C 2010: Into something rich and strange – making sense of the sea-change, Nottingham, UK. Association for Learning Technology. pp.16-17 – With Ale Armellini, Emma Davies, Richard Mobbs, Samuel Nikoi and Tania Rowlett.

Does the e-book reader make distance learners’ lives easier? ALT-C 2010: Into something rich and strange – making sense of the sea-change, Nottingham, UK. Association for Learning Technology. p.18. With Ming Nie, Kelly Barklamb and Ale Armellini.

A Second Life pilot in two online M-level programmes ALT-C 2010: Into something rich and strange – making sense of the sea-change, Nottingham, UK. Association for Learning Technology. p.123. With Ale Armellini and Kelly Barklamb.