• ResearchGate

As founder and convenor of an interdisciplinary, international research group, the London Mobile Learning Group, Norbert led on the development of a coherent theory of mobile learning around a socio-cultural ecology including a framework for planning and analysing examples of mobile learning projects and practice across all phases of formal education as well as informal contexts.

 The theory is:

  • a response to important ongoing social, cultural, economic, technological and educational developments in a world in flux and focuses in particular on the normalisation of functionally convergent mobile devices and services and their impact on the cultural practices, the learning habitus and the life-worlds of device and service users;

  • views learning as a process of meaning-making and mediation of the world around us through acts of communication, which take place within rapidly changing socio-cultural, mass communication and technological structures;

  • addresses important questions such as the turn towards user-generated cultural resources and the paradigm shift for formal education in which learning is viewed in categories of context, not content. It also addresses important issues relating to 'text' production in terms of modes of representation, (re)contextualisation and the conceptualisation of literacy; and

  • provides an explanatory model of (a) socio-cultural and technological structures, (b) learners’ agency and learning habitus and (c) the practices of media use in everyday life as well as the practices of learning in formal and informal contexts.


One important outcome of this work are the various analytical tools it provides directly to researchers and practitioners and indirectly to policy makers and funders to enable the systematic analysis of mobile device and service based interventions in education and users life-worlds as well as the pedagogical principles it sets out for practitioners to guide their professional appropriation of related tools.

Norbert has a strong track record of income generation and grant capture through research and consultancy projects from the UK and international governments, quasi non-governmental organisations and (pan-European) research bodies, including the Higher Education Funding Council as well as the European Commission often as principal investigator. He has been involved in a number of complex, multi-national, multi-year, EU-funded research projects and has been PI on and participated in a number of research and consultancy projects for UK and international governments, quasi non-governmental organisations and (pan-European) research bodies. The projects include:

  • system-level reviews and analyses of provision to support policy making and funding decisions;

  • monitoring and evaluation of educational interventions based on specifically devised impact criteria to be able to judge efficacy, for example with the OECD of pan-European technology-based innovations;

  • inquiries into professional online and mixed-mode interventions at university level with a view to enhancing pedagogical design and the student experience and learning journey;

  • pan-European knowledge-exchange activities; as well as

  • theory and pedagogical scenario building linked to empirical validation.


Norbert is regularly invited to contribute as international expert to review panels (e.g. German Council of Science and Humanities, Tertiary Education Commission of Mauritius) and (professorial) interview panels as well as to review research proposals for and provide advice to research councils (e.g. Austrian Research Promotion Agency, British Academy, Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, ESRC Review College, Hong Kong Research Grants Council, Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science, Leverhulme Trust, Netherlands Initiative for Education Research, Norwegian Centre for International Co-operation, Russian Science Foundation, South African National Research Foundation, The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland) and universities as well as other sector organisations around the world.

Norbert has made a strong personal contribution to institutional RAE and REF submissions over the years and he has been very active as editor of, and reviewer for a range of important international academic peer-reviewed journals in my fields of inquiry (e.g. Applied Linguistics, British Educational Research Journal, British Journal of Educational Technology, Compare, Computers & Education, Journal of Vocational Education & Training, Language Learning & Technology, Oxford Review of Education, System, Teaching and Teacher Education etc), in particular The Language Learning Journal (Routledge). Norbert is a member of the ESRC Peer Review College as well as of the BERA College of Reviewers.

He took over The Language Learning Journal as an in-house publication of the UK Association for Language Learning in 1999 and have turned it into one of the most important journals in the field internationally and one of the most successful journals in Routledge’s journal catalogue.

His academic achievements have been widely recognized by both national academic and policy-related organisations: for example, in 2012 I had the title of Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences conferred. I was awarded Principal Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2019 and selected by the Office for Students as Panel member for the 2018-19 Subject-level TEF Pilot for Education & Social Care.

Norbert's ResearchGate profile can be found at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Norbert_Pachler

Current role

As Pro-Vice-Provost (Teaching, Learning, Digital Education), Norbert makes an active contribution across all aspects of the Office of the Vice-Provost Education and Student Experience on UCL-wide initiatives, with a particular focus on academic oversight of digital education across the university.

Norbert chairs the Academic Regulations and Quality Assurance Sub-Committee of Education Committee as well as the university's Student Recruitment, Admissions and Funding Committee, the Access and Participation Steering Group and the Admissions Requirements Panel.

Norbert’s supervises research students in his areas of research interest:

  • digital and online education,

  • language pedagogy; and

  • teacher education and development.

Previous roles

As Pro-Director: Teaching, Quality and Learning Innovation at the UCL Institute of Education from 2013-2020, Norbert had overall strategic responsibility for the UCL Institute of Education’s teaching and learning portfolio comprising a large teacher education, undergraduate and postgraduate taught portfolio, leading change, managing quality and supporting curriculum and pedagogical innovation. From January 2019 this included line management of UCL's Centre for Languages and International Education (CLIE).


For the entire duration of his tenure as Pro-director from 2014 onwards, the UCL Institute of Education has been the world’s leading centre for excellence in education and social sciences in the QS World University Rankings.

Between 2018-2020 Norbert also served as Vice-Dean: Enterprise for UCL IOE across consultancy, knowledge exchange, entrepreneurship and other third stream activities and he leads and contributed to a number of large-scale international teacher education and development projects.

Between March 2005 until July 2010 as Co-director for the HEFCE funded Centre for Excellence in Work-based Learning for Education Professionals (the WLE Centre) Norbert led on developing new approaches in work-based learning through facilitating innovations in

  • learning at work and through professional practice;

  • teaching and assessment modes for work-related and work-located learning; and

  • uses of e-learning and digital technologies as well as in developing new conceptual and theoretical   approaches to work-based learning.

The work of the Centre focused on research-informed practice at an institutional level and fed into sector-level initiatives. It supported an active network of scholarly activity and Norbert was centrally involved in consolidating and developing innovative practice in teaching and learning pan-institutionally. Under his leadership, the Centre

  • supported some 95 institutional research and development projects in total,

  • produced some 60 peer reviewed outputs relating to WLE work as well as numerous accessible reports, guidelines, templates, policy recommendations for change in practices in teaching, learning and assessment at the IOE and across the sector;

  • published an international professional online journal, Reflecting Education, which I edited, providing opportunities for education practitioners to disseminate findings from research and practice-based enquiry on any issue of learning

  • built communities of practice around work-based learning at the interface of different professions (education, children’s workforce, medicine etc); and develop international networks.