Professor Rhona Sharpe

  • Head of OCSLD and Deputy Director of HR
    Oxford Brookes University

    Visiting Professor, Edge Hill University

    As Head of the Centre, Rhona leads a team of 12 staff and educational developers to provide timely, tailored development opportunities to staff at Oxford Brookes and throughout the HE sector.  She has led a number of university wide projects including embedding graduate attributes in the curriculum, evaluating student support and the consultation process on revising the Strategy for Enhancing the Student Experience. She and her team also run workshops, online courses, and offer consultancy for higher education institutions across the UK and internationally.

    Rhona has been working as an educational developer in higher education for 20 years. She began her career as a psychology lecturer at the University of Plymouth where she first encountered teaching and learning specialists. After that she moved to the Open University where she worked a Staff Tutor in the Institute of Educational Technology, recruiting and supporting online tutors on the MA in Open and Distance Education. Rhona moved to the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development in 2003 where she held positions as a Senior Lecturer and Principal Lecturer before becoming Head of the Centre in 2011 and Professor in 2013.

    Rhona’s interests are around developing online courses and uses of technology and encouraging pedagogic research. From 2005-2010 she directed a number of learner experience projects which have received great interest and national recognition across both the further and higher education sector, in pioneering innovative research methods and techniques for eliciting students’ expectations and experiences of using technology in their learning. The culmination of these projects was the creation of ELESIG; a special interest group for those interested in evaluations of learners' experiences of e-learning. 

  • Rhona is interested in the processes by which we design online learning spaces and the digital literacies and attributes that learners need in order to learn well in them. Her work explores the habits and strategies that effective online learners adopt and the challenges that they face.  Rhona has been Project Director for the following learner experience projects:

    Rhona encourages the scholarship of teaching and the development of pedagogic researchers, such as through

    Rhona undertakes a range of consultancy activities and is available to deliver workshops or keynote presentations. She also develops and delivers online courses for other institutions. Examples of recent consultancies include:

    • International version editor for Epigeum’s online course: Teaching Online (2014)
    • Developing digital literacies, leading a team to develop and deliver a series of national workshops for Jisc
    • Keynote speaker for Robert Gordon University’s inaugural annual teaching and learning conference.
    • Workshops on becoming a digital scholar (University of Bedfordshire), getting published (University of Northampton)

    Rhona regularly examines PhD and Education Doctorate theses. Rhona would be keen to supervise research students in her research areas.

    Sharpe, R., Deepwell, F. & Clarke, P.  (2013) A developmental evaluation of the role of faculty based ‘student support coordinator’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Issue 5, Available at

    Sharpe, R. & Benfield, G. (2012) Institutional strategies for supporting learners in a digital age. Enhancing Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences.4 (2), Available at

    Sharpe, R. & Mackness, J. (2010) Evaluating the development of a community of e-learning researchers: from short term funding to sustainability. International Journal of Web Based Communities, 6 (2), 148–163.

    Benfield, G., Ramanau, R. & Sharpe, R. (2009) Student learning technology use: preferences for study and contact, Brookes e-Journal of Learning and Teaching, 2 (4). Available from

    Sharpe, R., Benfield, B. & Francis, R. (2006) Implementing a university e-learning strategy: levers for change within academic schools. ALT-J, Research in Learning Technology, 14 (2), 135–151.

    Sharpe, R. & Benfield, G. (2005) The student experience of e-learning in higher education: a review of the literature. Brookes e-Journal of Learning and Teaching, 1 (3). Available at

    Sharpe, R.  (2000) Developing a framework for the training of graduate teaching assistants. Teacher Development, 4 (1), 131–143.

    Sharpe, R. & Bailey, P. (1999) Evaluation and design of technologies to meet learning outcomes. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 15 (3), 179–188.

    Rhona’s interests in designing for learning and learner experience are well represented in two books co-edited with Helen Beetham: Rethinking pedagogy for the digital age (2007, 2nd Ed 2013) and Rethinking learning for the digital age (2010).

    Selected recent publications:

    Sharpe R., O’Donovan, B. & Pavlakou, M. (2014) Using the framework of engagement surveys to evaluate institutional student enhancement initiatives, Surveys for Enhancement Conference, Birmingham, 4 June 2014.

    Sharpe, R. (2014) Connected and confident: characterising effective learners for a digital age, Distance Education Association of New Zealand Conference: ‘Open Flexible and Distance Learning: Where is the “E” in Engagement?’, Christchurch, New Zealand, 30 April – 2 May 2014.

    Sharpe, R. (2014) What does it take to learn in next generation learning spaces? In Fraser, K. (ed) The future of teaching and learning in technology enabled, collaborative spaces, pp. 123 – 145, Emerald.

    Sharpe, R., Benfield, G., Corrywright, D. & Green, L. (2013). Evaluation of the Brookes Graduate Attributes: Year 1 Final Report, available from

    Sharpe, R. & Benfield, G. (2012) Internet based methods, in J. Arthur, R. Coe, M. Waring and L. Hedges (eds) Research methods and methodologies in education, pp 193 – 201. Sage.

    Sharpe, R. (2010) The impact of learner experience research on transforming institutional practices, in T. Mayes, D. Morrison, H. Mellar, P. Bullen and M. Oliver (Eds.) Transforming Higher Education through Technology-Enhanced Learning, pp 178 -190. Higher Education Academy, York.