Save the date for CAN 2020

We are delighted to announce that Birmingham City University will be hosting the 8th annual Change agents’ network conference on the 15-16th April 2020.

We will be working with Luke Millard, Director of the Education Development Service at BCU and a long standing advocate for CAN and student partnerships on this event. More information will follow including the call for papers.

We look forward to another exciting event where we can celebrate the impact of student-staff partnerships!

Call for papers for Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change

The Evolving Landscape of Staff-Student Partnership – Vol 6. No.1

The Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change (JEIPC) is practice-led with deep roots in developing student-staff co-authorship. It supports the dissemination of innovative practice through educational partnership between staff and students to promote local- and larger-scale change, and impact on institutional narratives for change.

Why make a submission to JEIPC?
The topics in the journal focus on innovating pedagogy and the student experience, ranging from teaching and learning, inclusivity, assessment and feedback, the digital, sustainability, and retention. This open-access, peer-reviewed journal publishes articles, case studies, opinion pieces and reviews, within the context of students and staff as change agents. Its aim is to:

– Promote specific projects
– share experiences of innovative and effective teaching or student experience
– support, disseminate related knowledge and good practice,
– raise awareness of a particular methodology
– support students’ (co-) authorship

For Volume 6, no 1, we are looking to attract a range of submissions that develop ideas on the evolving landscape of staff-student partnership. We especially welcome co-authored submissions between staff and students. It is the intention of this issue of the journal to accept a wide range of papers and support contributions from the annual Change Agents’ Network Conference held at The Open University in May 2019.

How to submit
Stage 1. We invite you to submit Stage 1 by providing a brief outline of your idea (500 words max), giving details of the work, methodology, results (unless an opinion piece or review) and literature base. The closing date for proposals is 11 October 2019. Proposals should be sent by email to

Stage 2. Following feedback from Stage 1, you will be invited to submit your article to the journal using the journal submission process. You will need to create an account; full details of how to do this are given on the submissions page. If you have any questions about your submission or experience difficulties submitting, please email in the first instance.

To find out more information on submission to this edition see

CAN conference 2019: Reflections from a student speaker

A guest posting from Elliott Lancaster

  • Education Officer/Trustee – Keele University Student’s Union
  • Trustee/Director – Staffordshire Wildlife Trust
  • Managing Director – Utter Rubbish Ltd
  • Accounting and Finance (First Class Hons)


Presenting at the Open University was a fantastic experience. It was truly insightful to gain an understanding of the approaches used by other institutions. It was fantastic to see the breadth of student involvement in all forms of education collaboration and programme co-design. I was truly blown away by the range of activities taking place, which even included a hackathon focusing on the health and wellbeing agenda. One of the key highlights for me was watching Ruby Granger, the opening keynote for day one. It was truly inspiring to understand her student journey at the University of Exeter, where she spends a significant amount of time supporting other students with her inspirational study tips and ‘study-with-me’ sessions on YouTube.

I thoroughly enjoyed the event and would strongly encourage other students to take part in the future. Personally, I gathered a considerable amount of substantive feedback as part of the discussion on my presentation about Keele’s Elective Pathways. I am really looking forward to attending the next CAN conference at Birmingham City University in 2020. I know that this will be a great event with a series of thought-provoking debates and discussions.

Keele University has a steep history in embedding student opportunities throughout all that we do. This year we are celebrating our 70th anniversary and I believe that our Students as Partners initiative shows that this commitment is stronger than ever.

Therefore, it is my pleasure to announce that Keele will be hosting the 2021 Change Agents’ Network Conference in partnership with Jisc. Organising this conference will be extremely rewarding, ensuring that students are a fundamental part of the decision-making process. I can’t wait to tell you more about this soon…

Message from Sarah Knight, Head of change: Student experience, Jisc

“Jisc is delighted to be working with Keele University on hosting and organising the Change agents’ network (CAN) 9th annual conference in 2021. The CAN network is now self sustaining and shows the continued commitment to student partnerships across further and higher education. Student partners are driving forward curriculum change within their institution and having a real impact on students’ experiences.  We look forward to working with Keele University in planning the 2021 CAN conference.”

An inspirational two days at CAN 2019 (29-30 May)

Hosted by the Open University in their 50th anniversary year and with the theme of the evolving landscapes of student-staff partnerships – CAN 2019 had much to celebrate:

  • It was the 7th annual event – building on the initial project and network conferences hosted by Jisc, the universities of Lincoln, Exeter and Winchester
  • 250 delegates – both days were sold out!
  • A high percentage of student presenters – a ratio of approximately 60:40 staff and students gave the event energy and purpose and really exemplified the value of working together

We were welcomed and supported throughout the two days by the OU student association’s team of enthusiastic conference makers.

“CAN – a network of people, who aren’t just working together but who are constantly sharing their practice and being really practical about that. What I really love about the CAN community is that you are not afraid to talk about what goes wrong – because we know lots of stuff goes wrong. But we also have things going right all the time and it is a good idea to share that as much as possible.”

Liz Ellis, conference organiser for CAN 2019, The Open University

Inspiring keynotes

  • ‘StudyTuber’ Ruby Granger gave us a thoughtful opening presentation. Her honesty in sharing her concerns about going to university and her commitment to sharing study tips and in offering social support and reassurance is impressive. Watch a recording of Ruby’s presentation at CAN 2019 (opens in new window).
  • Julian Stodd’s (opens in new window) closing keynote on Adapting for the social age: the evolution of education and the challenges of change provided great food for thought at the end of day 1 and challenged us to think about the eco systems of organisations, trust, why change is so hard and how engagement is more social than contractual.

“Technology in and of itself is great, but it is what technology enables which is of much more interest. Where does technology take us? I think it takes us into evolved modes of being, evolved ways of being in the world. It lets us be together in different ways.”

Julian Stodd, Sea Salt Learning
  • Scott Hayden from Basingstoke College of Technology talked about co-designing and innovating with students. He shared the digital journey that he has led at the college and outlined the many ways that students contribute, giving numerous practical examples of digital pedagogy that empower and engage students and help them to learn. Collaboration and sharing are key tenants of Scott’s practice – watch the recording (opens in new window) of his presentation.

“Whether you are a child care teacher, whether you are teaching engineering or travel and tourism, it is my job to help you to use digital technology in a meaningful and relevant way. It has to be relevant, it has to be tied to students’ future careers and the skills set they are going to have to have to be employable in the future.”

Scott Hayden, Basingstoke College of Technology
  • The traditional student panel session preceded the closing keynote from Liz Marr, pro vice chancellor for students at the OU. Her reflections on ‘Just trying to keep the customer satisfied: student experience and student voice in a marketised higher education environment’ challenged us to question some of the terms we use, rethink perceptions and really think about what we mean and what is important. The recording of the student panel and Liz’s presentation are available here (opens in new window).

Workshops, presentations and posters

There was a wealth and great variety in the workshops, presentations and posters available to participants – something for everyone as you can see from the themes highlighted in the graphic recorder’s impression of conference activity.

The graphic recorder captured the themes that were explored throughout the two days.

All presentations are available to download from GoogleDrive (opens in new window).


Jisc’s summer hackathon took place at the conference this year. Seven teams participated in the hackathon developing ideas around supporting health and well being, using AI for learning and implementing the intelligent campus. Congratulations to the winning teams from UCL and the University of Hull – find out more from the edtech launchpad blog (opens in new window).

Jisc are already planning the next hackathion event, so keep an eye on the Get Involved page  for future events. and you still have until 31 July to enter ideas to the edtech challenge competitions.

Journal of education, innovation, partnership and change

Volume 5, of the journal of education, innovation, partnership and change entitled ‘Championing student-staff partnership in a time of change’ was launched at the conference dinner – the online version will be available soon. Presenters from this year are invited to contribute to the next edition.

Join us for CAN 2020

We hope to see you for CAN 2020 which will be hosted by Birmingham City University. Join the mailing list (opens in new window) to receive announcements and updates.

See you next week!

alt=""The Open University will be hosting the Change Agents’ Network (CAN) Conference on Wednesday and Thursday, 29-30 May at its Walton Hall Campus in Milton Keynes.

The 2-day conference has sold out for its first day and 200 delegates will be arriving at Walton Hall campus to enjoy a full programme of keynote speakers, parallel sessions and more.

The university is delighted to be hosting the conference in its 50th anniversary year at the Berrill Theatre, Betty Boothroyd Library and the Hub Theatre. Those registered can view the programme and travel details on the website:


The keynote sessions and Student Panel will all be livestreamed via Stadium:

While tickets are required for the main conference, we are pleased to be hosting posters and demonstrations in the Library Atrium and we would like to invite you to come along and visit the exhibition space to see the work from colleagues across the FE and HE sector.

Guided tours will happen at 1:30pm on Wednesday 29 May and at 11:45am Thursday 30 May.

There will also be a Hackathon Showcase at 1:30pm on Thursday, where students taking part in the Jisc Summer Hackathon, part of the edtech launchpad programme will be making their pitches to win prizes.

For more information, visit the conference website:
If you have any questions, please do contact us:


Be part of the CAN Conference student panel!

Photo of Liz EllisA guest blog post from Elizabeth Ellis, senior product development manager at The Open University, hosts of the 2019 CAN conference


Are you already registered for the 2019 CAN Conference, or thinking of registering?

One of the most interesting parts of the conference programme is the Student Panel, which will be on Thursday 30th May, from 2:45pm to 3:30pm. The Student Panel discussion is a highlight at the CAN conference, giving delegates a chance to listen to students from a variety of institutions answer a variety of questions and offer their experiences. There are still a few spaces on the panel available for students who may want to take part.

This year the panel has been organised by Fanni Zombor, Vice President Media and Campaigns at the Open University Students Association, and a member of the OU’s CAN organising team. She will also be facilitating the panel. The discussion will focus on how the relationship between students and staff is changing.

‘We would like to have conversations with students to find out from them about their ideal relationship, what has and hasn’t worked for them and how they see the future of student staff relationships,’ says Fanni.

She asks: ‘If you are a student, or know a student attending the conference who you think might be interested, please encourage them to volunteer to take part in the panel. We welcome all students, and we are especially keen to hear from students who study with alternative providers and students from underrepresented groups (BAME, those with disabilities, LGBT+).’

Students should reply to to express their interest by 10 May 2019. They should include a short introduction, and a few reasons why they believe they would be ideal to include in the discussion. We will confirm with panellists by 15 May.

Buy your tickets for CAN 2019 now, 29-30 May, hosted by The Open University at our campus in Milton Keynes.  Just follow the link to Eventbrite (opens in new window).

For the full programme and information on accommodation and travel visit (opens in new window).

Come and join us at CAN 2019 – conference programme now available

The full conference programme for the 2019 Change Agents’ Network conference is now available online. The conference title, ‘The evolving landscape of staff-student partnership’, covers six key areas or themes:

1. Informed Innovation: Working with Students
2. Partnerships in Curriculum Innovation/Design
3. Engaging Students in Change
4. Landscape of Student Voice
5. Positioning Ourselves for Future Success
6. Engaging a Diverse Student Body

The submissions this year were excellent, and the mix of presentations, posters, workshops and demonstrations will give delegates some great insight into and experience of the staff-student partnership work being engaged in across the HE and FE sectors.

Highlights include:

  • Four keynote sessions
  • Parallel sessions featuring presentations and workshops
  • Parallel sessions featuring posters and demonstrations in the exhibition space
  • A student-led and student-facilitated panel discussion
  • Sessions celebrating the launch of the 2018 Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change, which features the proceedings of last year’s CAN Conference in Winchester, as well as sessions to help delegates write for the journal
  • A session featuring the ideas from Jisc’s Summer Hackathon, which will be happening at the conference. There’s up to £1,000 in prizes up for grabs (encourage your students to enter here)
  • A gala dinner, to celebrate the event and its delegates, and give you all a chance to rub elbows and network

There are a variety of ticket types available, for one or two days, at staff and student rates. This includes lunch and refreshments. If you would like to attend the gala dinner on 29 May, please add this to your ticket purchase. Accommodation can be booked separately with The Open University’s preferred partner using a discount code. All the details and tickets are available from the conference website.

If you have any questions about CAN 2019, you can drop us a line using our details below:
You can contact us by email at
Or find us on Twitter @CANagogy #CAN19 #jisccan

Keynote speaker line-up for CAN 2019

Guest blog post from Liz Ellis, Senior Product Development Manager at The Open University and organiser of Change Agents’ Network Conference 2019

The Open University CAN Conference team are excited to share with you our keynote speaker line up. We were determined to deliver our delegates a fresh, interesting perspective that will hopefully spark some great conversations about how we engage with each other as staff and students, and the successful future of partnerships.

Ruby Granger, our opening keynote for Day 1, is a prolific vlogger and active member of the ‘studytuber’ community. Ruby is a first-year student at the University of Exeter, and describes herself a bookworm with a passion for productivity. Using social media in an engaging way, Ruby encourages a generation of students to become the best they can be. Her YouTube channel documents her enviable study habits, including a host of study tips and ‘study-with-mes’, and how her love of learning goes beyond the classroom. Ruby is a vocal anti-bullying advocate, speaking openly about her experience with it and how others can overcome it, and has taken part in several digital wellness campaigns.
Social media links: YouTube Instagram

Julian Stodd, our closing keynote for Day 1, is a writer and consultant on the Social Age. He specialises in exploring learning design, the role of communities, social collaborative technology and social leadership. Author of 10 books and over 1700 articles and blog posts, Julian works on strategy and delivery with many global organisations. You can find his latest writing at
Social media links: Twitter LinkedIn

Scott Hayden, our opening keynote for Day 2, is based at Basingstoke College of Technology where he is a lecturer and manager of a team that supports and trains staff and students in using digital, creative, innovative approaches to learning.

In 2014 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for Innovative use of Social Media and EdTech after receiving praise and recognition for work developing new approaches to teaching and learning. He was shortlisted for the 2015 TES FE Teacher of the Year Award and then created and led a team to win the ‘Outstanding use of Technology for Improving Teaching, Learning and Assessment 2018’ award, being named in the EdTech50, and becoming a Google Certified Innovator. You can find him at
Social media links: Twitter

Closing the conference on Day 2 will be Dr Liz Marr, the Interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Students) at The Open University. She has responsibility for all student facing development and enhancement, including student retention, progression, achievement and satisfaction, widening access and success, employability, quality monitoring and enhancement and the Teaching Excellence Framework.

Liz has over twenty years’ experience in UK higher education and is co-author of ‘Identity Crisis: Working in Higher Education in the 21st Century’. She is managing editor of the journal ‘Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning’, an editorial board member of Learning and Teaching in the International Social Sciences (LATTISS) and a regular reviewer for Open Learning and EURODL. Liz is President of The European Association of Distance Teaching Universities and an executive member of the Universities Association of Lifelong Learning.

The keynote speakers promise to set a great tone for the jam-packed programme of presentations, workshops, posters and demonstrations. The draft programme for the conference is due to be published imminently.

Buy your tickets for CAN 2019 now, 29-30 May, hosted by The Open University at our campus in Milton Keynes.  Just follow the link to Eventbrite.

For more information on accommodation and travel visit

If you have any questions about CAN 2019, you can drop us a line using our details below:
You can contact us by email at
Or find us on Twitter @CANagogy #CAN19

2019 change agents’ network conference – early bird registration now open

Early Bird registration is now open for the 2019 change agents’ network (CAN) conference, being hosted by the Open University in collaboration with Jisc at Walton Hall on 29-30 May, on the theme of ‘The Evolving Landscape of Staff-Student Partnership’.

A limited number of reduced-rate tickets are available (different rates for students and staff) until 15 March. Book now!

Several keynote speakers have been confirmed, including Liz Marr (interim Pro-Vice Chancellor Students, OU), Scott Hayden (Digital Innovation Specialist/Lecturer, Basingstoke College of Technology) and Julian Stodd (writer/consultant, Sea Salt Learning). Find out more about them at the conference website.

We are excited to showcase the work of staff and students from across the higher and further education sectors, and have received an overwhelming number of excellent submissions. A programme will be released closer to the conference date.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the early bird discount, and register now.

If you have any questions, email

What you’ll gain from coming to CAN 2019

A guest blog post from Elizabeth Ellis, senior product development manager at The Open University, hosts of the 2019 CAN conference.

My first brush with the Change Agents’ Network (CAN) came at the perfect time. I attended the CAN Meet Up hosted by the University of Lincoln in June 2016 and was swamped with relief. Here was a huge network of people learning, reflecting and strategising about the same issues that concerned me:

  • How can we as staff engage with students as partners in good faith?
  • What does genuine co-creation of the future look like across our sectors?
    How do we prevent ‘consultation fatigue’?
  • How do we make the best possible decisions to ensure that change is effective for everyone involved?
  • And how many different ways are there to deploy post-its and Lego in the quest for a perfect workshop?

Actionable ideas
I came away from that Meet Up galvanised by the ideas that I had heard about; the presentations, workshops, demonstrations and posters where I had the chance to learn directly from Higher Education and Further Education students from across the UK.

Rather than come away from the day navel-gazing, I was able to come back to my role at the OU and immediately apply the ideas I had been exposed to. We changed our tack on technology research and development, completely redefining our team’s approach to assessing the needs of students. We built a panel of students who are dedicated to the co-design of curriculum, which continues to have direct impact on the development of modules, and – crucially for OU staff involved in curriculum development – meet and talk to our students. When you’re a far-flung distance education outfit, meeting students face-to-face or having direct conversations with them, is never anything but a privilege.

Direct relevance of emerging practices to student-staff partnerships
The thing that makes a CAN conference different from other events is not just this amazing opportunity for witnessing genuine partnership between institutions and their students, but the direct relevance that the emerging practices, tools, approaches and – I’ll say it – mistakes made along the way have for our evolving landscape of staff-student partnership. You can attend a day, or both days, and feel that you can return to your team or department, and immediately begin to try out some of what you’ve learned.

CAN at the OU
Since attending the Lincoln Meet Up in 2016, I’ve been working on bringing CAN to the OU’s campus in Milton Keynes. There’s always a bit of a surprised, ‘Oh, I had no idea you had a campus!’ reaction when I say that. But we do, and we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary this year. This has very naturally left us feeling quite reflective on how far we’ve come, how things have changed, and what the future has in store for us.

Key themes for CAN 2019
So with that in mind, and this being the 7th annual CAN event, we knew we wanted our six key themes to offer participants the opportunity to critically reflect on our collective progress to date, and to begin to envision the future of staff-student partnership in a rapidly changing education sector.

The six themes are:

  1. Informed innovation: working with students
  2. Partnerships in curriculum innovation/design
  3. Engaging students in change
  4. Landscape of student voice
  5. Positioning ourselves for future success
  6. Engaging a diverse student body

Plenty to get our collective teeth into!

Call for submissions
You can review the call for submissions in more depth here.

To make your submission, please complete the linked proposal form by 21 January 2019: CAN Conference 2019 Proposal Form

Once your submission has been confirmed, you will need to secure your ticket for the event. Early Bird registration will open in February 2019.

If you have any queries please email The Open University CAN Conference team (