Melissa Highton (DBA, PFHEA, SCMALT, FCLIP, FRSA, Chartered FCIPD)

Director of Learning, Teaching and Web Services and Assistant Principal Online Learning

Responsibilities & affiliations


Dr Highton leads services and projects in support of the University’s strategic priorities for digital and distance learning on global platforms, blended learning, virtual learning environments, technology enhanced learning spaces, the digital student experience and use of the web for outreach and engagement. She has particular interests in digital skills, 21st century curricula, open educational resources, research led teaching and online media. She leads the continuing expansion and diversification of the University website and provision of digital AV technology services in over 400 teaching rooms across the campus.

Melissa is strategic lead in the University for a wide range of technologies and support for innovative learning and teaching, including blended learning tools, bespoke  web development, online video, lecture recording, VLEs, open education resources,  partnerships with platforms such as Coursera, Edx, FutureLearn and Wikimedia. Her teams support a range of online provision including taught online Masters programmes, Micromasters programmes, CPD and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

The Learning, Teaching and Web Directorate is one of the most successful and comprehensive learning technology groups in the UK, with diverse teams of muti-professional staff, student interns and expert consultants.  

Melissa is an invited speaker at conferences about learning technology leadership, distance learning strategies, library and learning technology futures, learning innovation, equality,  diversity and inclusion( EDI) and digital skills. She is a member of the  Advance HE strategic advisory group for learning and teaching.


She blogs at and you can follow her on Twitter @honeybhighton

Research summary

Leadership in learning technology, digital skills, adult learning, wikimedia in the curriculum, open educational practice, equality, diversity and inclusion in IT.

Digital leadership is an area of leadership studies which is gaining popularity as organisations seek to ensure that their businesses are best positioned to thrive in an increasingly digital world. The experiences and attitudes of leaders to issues of equality, diversity and inclusion is key to institutions’ organizational culture and the context in which institutional vision, policy and strategy for digital education is developed and delivered.

Digital leaders in higher education are a group of professional staff who lead specifically in areas of the organisation where the use of technology is key to the strategic delivery of higher education such as IT, AV, learning technology, student systems, business systems data and IT infrastructure. With increased professionalisation amongst these staff, more now occupy senior level positions within universities such as vice principals, pro-vice chancellors etc; roles that were previously held only by senior academics. In the light of a huge shift to home working and online delivery as a result of the recent and ongoing pandemic, the importance of digital leadership in higher education has never been more vital.

Read more about Diversity and Digital Leadership:


Highton, M. (2023). Biases and power: Understanding of the experiences and perceptions of workplace EDI amongst digital leaders in higher education. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 11(1).

Contributing expert (2023) [ORA] The Practitioners’ Field Guide for Implementing Educational Technology Full Guide (

Expert panel member (2022) Blended learning review panel report (

Highton, M. Wikipedia’s Women Problem’ in Dangerous Women Edited by Jo Shaw, Ben Fletcher-Watson and Abrisham Ahmadzadeh (2021). Unbound Publishing

Highton, M. ‘The Importance of Diversity and Digital Leadership in Education’ in Handbook for Digital Higher Education (2021), Edward Elgar Publishing.

Butcher, C., Davies, C., & Highton, M. (2019). Designing learning: from module outline to effective teaching ( 2nd edition). Routledge.

Littlejohn, A., Hood, N., Rehm, M., McGill, L., Rienties, B., & Highton, M. (2019). Learning to become an online editor: the editathon as a learning environment. Interactive Learning Environments, 1-14.

Highton, M. (2018). Gender balancing Wikipedia entries. In EqualBITE (pp. 43-45). Brill Sense.

Hepworth et al (2014)  JISC i-skills Exemplification An investigation of the staff development issues relating to i-skills development of Higher Education non-academic staff

Highton, M., Fresen, J., & Wild, J. (2011). Making academic OER easy: Reflections on technology and openness at Oxford University. Journal of Open, Flexible, and Distance Learning, 15(2), 28-40.

Highton, M., & Robinson, P. (2010). OpenSpires: Opening up Oxford like never before.

Bradbury, H., Highton, M., & O’Rourke, R. (2010). Learning from Each Other?: Using Technology to Develop Collaborative Learning in Clinical Education. In Interprofessional E-Learning and Collaborative Work: Practices and Technologies (pp. 117-128). IGI Global.

Lee, S., Masterman, E., Lee, K., Highton, M., Enstone, Z., & Sattar, N. A. (2013). Student Digital Experience Workstream Final Report.

Butcher, C., Davies, C., & Highton, M. (2006). Designing learning: from module outline to effective teaching. Routledge.

Cole, L., & Highton, M. (2004). Copyright: preparing teaching materials.

  • Knowledge Strategy Committee
  • IT Committee
  • Senate Education Committee
  • Equality Committee