Digital Education team blog
  • We support Staff and Students using technology to enhance education at UCL.

    Here you'll find updates on institutional developments, projects we're involved in, updates on educational technology, events, case studies and personal experiences (or views!).

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    You said, we did

    By Jessica Gramp, on 22 March 2017

    A number of recommendations emerged from the E-Learning Reports developed in 2013 across the Bartlett, Engineering and Maths and Physical Sciences (BEAMS) departments. Here’s what you asked for and what the Digital Education Advisor for the faculty arranged in response, in collaboration with staff from across the Information Services Division.

     

    quoteYou wanted to import module timetable information from the Common Timetable into Moodle.
    We developed a Common Timetable iCal feed to import module timetables for displaying in the Moodle calendar.

     

    quoteYou wanted a simplified quiz creation process with guidelines and checklists for importing questions.
    We purchased the Moodle Word Table format plugin to help staff quickly develop quizzes with simple question types (not calculated or drag and drop) in Word, including those with images and LaTeX.

     

    quoteYou wanted us to run staff workshops and demos to increase knowledge of e-learning tools & their potential use.
    We ran workshops across the faculties and in individual departments catered to the needs of the departments.

     

    quoteYou wanted to simplify the process for exporting grades out of Moodle and into Portico.
    We imported the UCL student number into Moodle and added this column to the Moodle Gradebook export, simplifying the uploading of grades from Moodle into Portico. A video explaining how to move grades from Moodle to Portico is now available on the UCL E-Learning Wiki – a space for staff to share their e-learning practice:

     

    Creating a Moodle Template based on the UCL E-Learning Baseline 2016

    By Jessica Gramp, on 14 March 2017

    The Digital Education Advisor for BEAMS, Jess Gramp, worked with the E-Learning Champion for Science and Technology Studies (STS), Christina Ogunwumiju, to develop a Moodle course template that meets the UCL E-Learning Baseline 2016.

    Christina then applied this baseline to every Moodle course in the department using the Moodle import feature. This means students now have a more consistent experience across modules. They can now easily find their learning resources and activities because they appear in common sections across their Moodle courses.

    Jess developed a guidance document for staff, to show them how to meet the baseline when using the template. You can view and download this below.

    Download (PDF, 298KB)

     

    If you would like to develop a Moodle template to improve consistency in your own department, please contact Digital Education at digi-ed@ucl.a.uk.

    Engaging the E-Learning Champions in the Bartlett

    By Jessica Gramp, on 13 March 2017

    At this term’s E-Learning Champions in the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment I suggested a new approach where members were asked to answer a few questions on slides about their use of e-learning in their department. This really helped engage the staff, however the questions were a bit repetitive, so I’ve since streamlined the slides.

    The student experience officer who arranges and minutes these meetings agreed that:

    “…they seemed much more engaged, and I think this presentation format works well. It felt as though some real breakthroughs were made for people, which was great.”

    I’m hoping to try this approach in the other faculties within BEAMS: Engineering and Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

    Download (PPTX, 40KB)

    Have you discovered Microsoft Imagine Academy yet?

    By Caroline Norris, on 13 March 2017

    MIAYou may know it as ‘Microsoft IT Academy’ (it’s former name) or you may not know it all but either way, it’s worth a look.  This Microsoft learning platform offers a vast range of technology-related courses covering all levels from complete beginners through to specialist technical courses for IT professionals.

    Course delivery is via slideshows, ‘talking head’ video or MIA videoscreencasts.  Most modules include ‘Knowledge check’ quizzes and there is also a final assessment when you reach the end of the course.   You can print transcripts to show your progress and generate course completion certificates. Other features include closed captions and the ability to increase the speed or change the quality of the video.

    There are nearly 1500 courses so how do you narrow it down?  Click on the Catalog drop down at the top of the home page and then select See All Courses.  This gives you a set of filters to narrow down your options to something more manageable.  My first tip would be to filter by Language.  If you tick English and English (United Kingdom) for example you will immediately halve the number of courses.

    The next thing to do is to select a Product or Topic you are interested MIA screencastin.  If you know you want to learn a particular application the Product filter is probably the most relevant.  However, the Topic filter is probably more useful for exploring by theme.

    The Digital Literacy topic is great for real beginners and covers the basics of using digital tools.  Educator Resources – Teach and Educator Resources – Learn have some interesting courses aimed predominantly at school teachers including various courses on using Minecraft for Education, teaching coding and using ICT in the classroom.

    The Office and Office 365 topics have some task-focused offerings such as ‘Run more effective meetings’ (using Skype for Business) ‘Collaborate Using PowerPoint Online’ or ‘Create accessible documents’.

    Another way to find courses is to use the search box at the top of the screen.  Searching for Office Hours brings up some short videos aimed at teachers and administrators such as ‘Create a Survey in Excel Online’ and ‘Deliver Curriculum with OneNote’.  Searching for coding brings up the ‘Introduction to Programming with Python’ course and ‘Creative Coding Through Games and Apps’ amongst others.

    Whether you just want to improve your own productivity and effectiveness or you want new ideas on using technology in the classroom, Microsoft Imagine Academy might just provide you with some helpful inspiration.

     

     

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    Student digital experience tracker

    By Moira Wright, on 10 March 2017

    How should institutions respond to students’ changing expectations of their digital environment? What experiences at university prepare students to flourish in a digital world? What are institutions doing to engage students in dialogue about their learning environment and to gather intelligence about their changing needs?

    Following a successful pilot with 24 institutions in 2016 a student digital tracker tool, built on resources such as the Jisc/ NUS student digital experience benchmarking tool  and the Jisc guide to enhancing the digital student experience: a strategic approach. The questions cover issue important to learners and/or to staff with a focus on the learning experience.

    The student digital experience tracker will allow universities, colleges and skills providers to:

    • Gather evidence from learners about their digital experience, and track changes over time
    • Make better informed decisions about the digital environment
    • Target resources for improving digital provision
    • Plan other research, data gathering and student engagement around digital issues
    • Demonstrate quality enhancement and student engagement to external bodies and to students themselves

    The tracker is delivered in BOS – an online survey service specially developed for the UK education sector. Institutions using the tracker will receive guidance on implementation in BOS, real-time access to their own data, are able to benchmark their data against their sector data, and access further guidance on how to understand and respond to the findings.

    UCL students are invited to participate in the survey and a link has been added to students Moodle landing page on the right side. Alternatively you can access the survey using this link: http://tinyurl.com/ble-student-survey-2017 – please advertise to UCL  students. The survey is open until March 31st 2017.

     

    Fake news and Wikidata

    By Mira Vogel, on 20 February 2017

    James Martin Charlton, Head of the Media Department at Middlesex University and co-host of today’s Wikimedia Education Summit, framed Wikimedia as a defence against the fake news currently spread and popularised by dominant search engine algorithms. Fake news undermines knowledge as power and renders societies easily manipulable. This is one reason several programme leaders I work with – one of whom was at the event – have expressed interest in incorporating Wikimedia into their curricula. (Wikimedia is the collection of projects of which Wikipedia is the best known, but which also includes Wikivoyage, Wikisource and Wikimedia Commons).

    Broadly there are two aspects to Wikimedia in education. One is the content – for example, the articles in Wikipedia, the media in Wikimedia Commons, the textbooks in Wikisource. All of this content is in the public domain, available to use freely in our projects and subject to correction and improvement by that public. The other aspect is process. Contributing to Wikimedia can qualify as higher education when students are tasked with, say, digesting complex or technical information for a non-expert Wikipedia readership, or negotiating changes to an article which has an existing community of editors, or contributing an audio-recording which they later use in a project they publish under an open licence. More recently, Wikidata has emerged as a major presence on the linked and open data scene. I want to focus on Wikidata because it seems very promising as an approach to engaging students in the structured data which is increasingly shaping our world.

    Wikidata is conceived as the central data storage for the aforementioned Wikimedia projects. Unlike Wikipedia, Wikidata can be read by machines as well as humans, which means it can be queried. So if you – as we did today – wish to see at a glance the notable alumni from a given university, you can. Today we gave a little back to our hosts by contributing an ‘Educated at’ value to a number of alumni which lacked it on Wikidata. This enabled those people to be picked up by a Wikidata query and visualised. But institutions tend to merge or change their names, so I added a ‘Followed by’ attribute to the Wikidata entry for Hornsey College of Art (which merged into Middlesex Polytechnic), allowing the query to be refine to include Hornsey alumni too. I also visualised UCL’s notable alumni as a timeline (crowded – zoom out!) and a map. The timeline platform is called Histropedia and is the work of Navino Evans. It is available to all and – thinking public engagement – is reputedly a very good way to visualise research data without needing to hire somebody in.

    So far so good. But is it correct? I dare say it’s at least slightly incorrect, and more than slightly incomplete. Yes, I’d have to mend it, or get it mended, at source. But that state of affairs is pretty normal, as anyone involved in learning analytics understands. And can’t Wikidata be sabotaged? Yes – and because the data is linked, any sabotage would have potentially far reaching effects – so there will need to be defences such as limiting the ability to make mass edits, or edit entries which are both disputed and ‘hot’. But the point is, if I can grasp the SPARQL query language (which is said to be pretty straightforward and, being related to SQL, a transferable skill) then – without an intermediary – I can generate information which I can check, and triangulate against other information to reach a judgement. How does this play out in practice? Here’s Oxford University Wikimedian in Residence Martin Poulter with an account of how he queried Wikidata’s biographical data about UK MPs and US Senators to find out – and, importantly, visualise – where they were educated, and what occupation they’ve had (153 cricketers!?).

    So, say I want to master the SPARQL query language? Thanks to Ewan McAndrew, Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh, there’s a SPARQL query video featuring Navino Evans on Edinburgh’s Wikimedia in Residence media channel.

    Which brings me to the beginning, when Melissa Highton set out the benefits Wikimedians have brought to Edinburgh University, where she is Assistant Principal. These benefits include building digital capabilities, public engagement for researchers, and addressing the gender gap in Wikimedia representation, demonstrating to Athena Swann assessors that the institution is addressing structural barriers to women contributing in science and technology. Here’s Melissa’s talk in full. Bodleian Library Web and Digital Media Manager Liz McCarthy made a similarly strong case – they have had to stop advertising their Wikimedian in Residence’s services since so many Oxford University researchers have woken up to Wikimedia’s public engagement potential.

    We also heard from Wikimedians with educational ideas, tutor Stefan Lutschinger on designing Wikimedia assignments, and the students who presented on their work in his Publishing Cultures module – and there were parallel sessions. You can follow the Wikimedia Education Summit tweets at .