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Positive Digital Practices: Student-led audio discussion about learning sensitive topics

posted on 2023-12-07, 10:05 authored by Leigh DownesLeigh Downes

Student and Associate Lecturer members of the emotional resilience team recorded a discussion of their experiences of teaching and learning emotionally challenging content. This has been edited into four audios.

Impacts (07:38 mins)
​​In this audio the group discusses the question 'How can learning (and/or teaching) about a topic that is sensitive and/or emotive for them impact someone?'

Strategies & Skills (19:55 mins)
​​​In this audio the group discusses the question 'What kinds of strategies and skills can help to navigate sensitive and emotive topics on a course?'​​​​​​​

Benefits (14:37 mins)
​​In this audio the group discusses the question 'What kinds of benefits are there in engaging with sensitive and emotive topics?'

Duty of care (10:43 mins)
In this audio the group discusses the question 'What would a higher education that puts its duty of care at the centre look like?'

​​​​​​The discussion was facilitated by Ruth Tudor (Associate Lecturer and Postgraduate student at The Open University) with Arabella Cox (undergraduate student at The Open University), Alison Kingan (undergraduate student at The Open University and Vice President Student Support, Open University Student Association 2020-22) and Cinnomen McGuigen (undergraduate student at The Open University and Vice President Education, Open University Student Association 2020-22).

This audio discussion was produced by the emotional resilience work package as part of the Positive Learner Identities strand of the Positive Digital Practices project (2021-2023).

The Positive Digital Practices project adopted a participatory knowledge-exchange approach to scale up, embed and sustain positive practices that support mental wellbeing for part-time, commuter and distance learning students.

Taking a holistic approach to wellbeing, and drawing on student lived experience and effective knowledge-exchange partnerships between The Open University, University of Warwick and Bradford University and sector bodies Student Minds, Jisc and University Mental Health Advisory Network (UMHAN), this project worked with students as partners to co-create resources and initiatives that scaled up positive practices, embedding them across the all three HEIs, and pilot them more broadly in higher education via the sector-body partners.

  • The Open University led on Positive learner identities, focusing on emotional awareness, encouraging help seeking behaviour, recognising achievements and valuing learning opportunities.
  • University of Bradford led on Positive digital communities, supporting students’ sense of belonging and purpose, informal peer support and meaningful connections that do not rely on a campus environment.
  • University of Warwick led on Positive pedagogies, establishing inclusive, compassionate practices in technology-enhanced learning that support mental wellbeing.
  • Student Minds led on student engagement in the project, facilitating a student panel to steer and guide the project.
  • Jisc led on sector-wide engagement, drawing on their established cross-disciplinary networks in technology-enhanced learning.
  • UMHAN led on engagement of mental health professionals, bringing expertise from 400 mental health advisors and mentors from 130 institutions.

Further information about the project is available here: Project - Positive Digital Practices (


Office for Students (mental health funding competition, using innovation and intersectional approaches)


Collaborated with

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
  • Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)


  • Public document

Authorship group

  • Students
  • Associate Lecturers

Institutional priority category

  • Achieving Study Goals
  • Employability and Career Progression
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Students’ Learning Experiences


  • Mental Health
  • Reducing Inequalities
  • Student Co-creation
  • Student Experience

Subject discipline

  • Social Sciences and Global Studies
  • Health and Wellbeing


  • England
  • Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales

Project ID

AMS 1648474

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