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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    TechQual+ Survey at UCL

    By Moira Wright, on 13 October 2017

    In early 2016, ISD (Information Services Division) carried out the first Staff and Student IT Survey using TechQual+. Over 1,000 of you completed the survey, and over the past 16 months we have been working hard to improve our services in response to your comments.

    Below are just a few examples of changes that have been made as a result of the feedback received from the TechQual+ survey run in 2016:

    Wi-Fi                        Three speech bubbles

    A substantial investment in replacing and upgrading our Wi-Fi technology infrastructure

    Service Desk

    We’ve invested in staffing, tools and training to speed up response times and improve quality.

    We’ve partnered with an external organisation and altered shift patterns to provide additional out of hours’ support.

    Printing                 

    We’ve rolled out 170+ additional printers over the past 18 months, targeting the busiest areas. This takes the current total to 660 printers. In areas of high usage, we’ve introduced new high capacity printers.

    Infrastructure

    We have invested in storage and now all staff and students can store 100GB for free.

    Computers

    We are continuing to invest in additional cluster PCs, and loan laptops where there isn’t space for desktops. We added a further 550 desktops and 60 laptops by September 2017.
    We operate one of the largest laptop loan services across UK universities – 266 laptops across 12 locations – and this year a further 60 laptops were added.

    Training

    We delivered 221 courses last academic year, that’s nearly 1000 hours of training with about 3000 people attending.  We are working hard to publicise the courses we offer.

    Audio Visual

    In 2016 ISD invested £2.5m into improving the technology in teaching facilities. Approximately 70 centrally bookable spaces had their facilities updated; this included bringing 43 spaces in 20 Bedford Way up to the standard spec including installation of Lecturecast in approx. 30 spaces.  Lecturecast was also installed at 22 Gordon Street and Canary Wharf (3 spaces each).  We also refreshed the Lecturecast hardware in 12 rooms.


    Drawing of a tablet with 5 stars

    Based on the findings of focus groups at participating institutions, the TechQual+ project has articulated a set of generalised IT service outcomes that are expected of IT organizations by faculty, students, and staff within higher education. The TechQual+ core survey contains 13 items designed to measure the performance of the following three core commitments: 1) Connectivity and Access, 2)Technology and Collaboration Services, and 3) Support and Training.

    The TechQual+ survey will be run again at UCL in December 2017 and we’ll be asking for your help to advertise it to your students, encouraging them (and you!) to complete it. All respondents will be entered into a prize draw with a chance to win some great prizes!

    We’ll be providing more information and communications about the survey closer to the opening date.

     

    The E-Learning Baseline becomes Policy

    By Karen Shackleford-Cesare, on 10 October 2017

    E-Learning Baseline and BaselinePlus logoMost of you will be familiar with the UCL E-Learning Baseline. The Baseline sets out the minimum expectations for e-learning provision for all taught programmes and modules at UCL, with a focus on Moodle. Since 2011 the Baseline has been recommended ‘good practice’ and is already widely used. In July, however, the Education Committee upgraded its status by approving the following policy:E-Learning Baseline and BaselinePlus logo image

    “The e-learning presence for every taught module will be reviewed against the UCL E‑Learning Baseline as an institution-wide activity [as of] 2017/18. The review will be repeated every three years, with the exception of, those modules which fail to meet the Baseline, or are new or substantially revised modules, which will need to be re-evaluated the following year”.

    The ‘e-learning presence’ applies mainly to the use of Moodle, but includes other tools where used.

    The new policy includes within it the requirement that lecture materials are made available 48 hours ahead of class (not part of the printed 2016 Baseline).

    What happens next?

    Starting this academic year, module leads are required to ensure their modules are reviewed against the Baseline. We anticipate most module teams will already have met the Baseline voluntarily, for example by using compatible departmental templates, and this will be a quick check. For others it will be an opportunity to reconsider and refresh the online content. Read detailed information about the E-Learning Baseline and advice on how to use it to enhance your e-learning provision.

    Why has the Baseline Become Policy now?

    We know UCL students value online provision and any complaints nowadays usually relate to how the use of Moodle is still too variable in their courses. The Baseline was highlighted for positive comment in the 2016 QAA Higher Education Review (HER) report. However, students continue to comment on poor information presentation and design in Moodle. In the 2016 IT survey, students called for more standardisation and use of templates, commenting on the need for more staff to use Moodle properly and effectively. Some representative quotes were:

    • “I would just encourage information to be presented visually in an organised manner that emphasises important information.”
    • “The usual problem: everyone is beavering away doing their bit and what is presented is a large number of silos of impenetrable information which makes anything useful absolutely impossible to find.  Ask some students to hang around at the end of studies and write an online handbook for you.”
    • “Moodle can be designed much more effectively and can be organised better.”
    • “Sometimes it is difficult finding the course material we need on Moodle though that would probably be lecturers’ faults – tell them to be clear or lay out instructions.”

    Where can I get help?

    Digital Education is leading in the implementation of this policy and can support individuals and departments to help them meet the requirements of the baseline. Please contact digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk for assistance. More about the implementation framework and processes across UCL will be disseminated in due course. We are also developing a set of easy-to-use support materials including an online tool to check your modules.

    Remind me what is in the Baseline

    The UCL E-Learning Baseline key covers ten areas and represents ‘good practice’ by UCL departments, collected over many years :

    1. Structure – lay out a course clearly to enable navigation and ease of use.
    2. Orientation – ensure that students understand what is expected of them.
    3. Communication – ensure effective and consistent online communication.
    4. Assessment – present assessment requirements and provide guidance on avoiding plagiarism.
    5. Resources – present, label and manage supporting resources; lecture materials to be made available 48 hours ahead of classes.
    6. Cross-platform compatibility – ensure files and resources are accessible on a range of platforms and devices.
    7. Accessibility – ensure that resources are fully accessible to all including students with disabilities.
    8. Legal – model good copyright practices and comply with data protection legislation.
    9. Student active participation – (for students studying wholly online) encourage students to share resources, interact and participate online.
    10. Quality assurance – evaluate online provision to enhance quality.

    E-Learning Baseline checklist

    More Information

    You can also request hard copies of the baseline booklet to be delivered to your department.

     

    Sneak a peak at the new (more accessible) UCL Moodle theme

    By Jessica Gramp, on 9 October 2017

    As part of a wider Accessible Moodle project, a new UCL Moodle theme is being designed to make it more accessible for those with disabilities. The new theme will be rolled out to all staff and students in the next major upgrade of UCL Moodle in summer 2018. However, we plan to pilot the new theme with students and staff beforehand and once we are confident it works as intended, we will give everyone the option of switching to the new theme in advance of it becoming the default theme for UCL Moodle.

    The theme will change the look and feel of all Moodle pages and provide additional navigation aids in the form of menus, blocks that can be hidden and potentially also docked blocks, which sit to the left of the page for easy access. The Moodle theme is applied to a user account, which means during the pilot period, there will be a mix of some using the new and some using the existing UCL Moodle theme. In Summer 2018 everyone will be switched to the new theme automatically as part of the UCL Moodle Summer Upgrade. The theme is not to be confused with Moodle course formats, which allow you to change the way a Moodle course is laid out.

    I wrote earlier on how the new theme will address accessibility issues. A number of staff across UCL provided feedback on the proposed theme and after a number if iterations, we have now agreed on a design that foremost meets the needs of staff with particular disabilities, as well as being more usable for everyone. As well as working with individuals who participated in the project’s initial focus groups, the E-Learning Champions were also given the opportunity to feed in their comments on the proposed theme and forward this to interested colleagues.

    The proposed new UCL Moodle theme showing collapsed topics format

    The proposed new UCL Moodle theme showing collapsed topics format. Click to enlarge.

    We had contemplated a pink theme, however, blue proved to be a better option for a number of staff with particular disabilities. The blue version was also more popular with those staff without disabilities. The below design shows how the tabbed course format will look, but with blue, instead of pink tabs, menus and links.

    Tabbed course format but the pink tabs, text and menus will be blue

    Tabbed course format but the pink tabs, menus and links will be blue. Click to enlarge.

    The UCL Moodle homepage will be simplified and will provide more space for news relating to teaching and learning at UCL. The menus will be blue instead of the pink shown in the design below.

    New more accessible UCL Moodle homepage, but with blue instead of pink menus

    UCL Moodle homepage, but with blue instead of pink menus. Click to enlarge.

    The Accessible Moodle project team at UCL worked closely with designer Ralph Bartholomew from St Albans Web Design and developer Pat Lockley from Pgogy Webstuff to implement the new theme.

    If you have any questions or comments about the new theme, or would like to be involved in the pilot, please contact Jessica Gramp.

    A new academic year, an upgraded Lecturecast Service (students)

    By Janice Kiugu, on 5 October 2017

    Lecturecast is UCL’s automated lecture recording system with over 115 rooms across the University enabled with more being added through the year.

    The system is designed for course tutors/administrators to electively choose to record their lectures as supplemental resources and share them with their students via the respective Moodle course.Lecturecast is not a replacement for lecture attendance and is provided to complement lectures and provide an additional resource to support student learning.

    There are multiple benefits of Lecturecasting content, including the ability for you to revisit complex material and to engage in discussions outside of the classroom.

    Over the summer, the UCL Lecturecast system was upgraded to a more user-friendly and interactive interface, providing students with more tools to support their learning. When viewing a recording, you can now:

    • Make notes and download them for reference
    • Post questions
    • Bookmark content- this allows students to revisit a particular slide or scene and any notes that have been made
    • Flag content that may be confusing – flagged content is highlighted to the Tutor(s) associated with the course
    • Engage in discussions relating to the lecture with other students on the course

    Further changes have been made to enhance learning and teaching and to make learning more interactive and engaging for students. Staff can now:

    • Use the Lecturecast system to upload supplementary resources created elsewhere in various file formats
    • Create interactive slides that contain question slides
    • View analytics –   to better understand what students find most useful or to help improve future lecture delivery
    • Respond to questions students have posed as well as posting questions to students

    More information about using Lecturecast can be found here:  Lecturecast – Student Guide

    A step-by-step guide to viewing Lecturecast recordings and making use of the additional functionality is available here – Lecturecast Student Guide Learning the Basics

    For information on UCL Data Protection Policy, UCL Computer Regulations (Acceptable use Policy) and  how your data is being used, please refer to our  Lecturecast Information student wiki page.

    Support

    For information on how Lecturecast is being used on your course, please contact the relevant Tutor.

    For technical support on using the system,  please contact the ISD Service Desk: Tel: 020 7676 5000, 25000 (internal) Email: servicedesk@ucl.ac.uk

    Develop your digital skills this academic year

    By Caroline Norris, on 29 September 2017

    cappucinoISD Digital Skills Development has released new dates for the autumn term.  As usual, we are offering a wide range of courses covering Excel, Matlab, LaTeX, Photoshop and more.

    As well as the popular Introduction to R we also have courses in data visualisation and manipulation in R.  Please note that you should bring your own laptop for all of our R sessions.

    This term we have some new workshops in Excel for students.  These take a new approach to learning by presenting you with a problem to be solved and encouraging you to use your prior experience, web searches, in-application help and fellow participants to find a solution to the task.

    By the end of the session you will have improved problem-solving skills, an increased knowledge of the topic, a ‘suggested solution’ to the problem you worked on and some resources and guidance for further learning. Our introductory series of Excel Essential Skills workshops cover creating calculated worksheets, data management and using in-built Excel functions.

    For a full list of courses visit the student course catalogue or the staff course catalogue.  Visit the student booking system or staff booking system to book.

    Please note that the staff booking system is currently not sending out course confirmations.  However, your bookings are still being made.  You can visit My Bookings to check your bookings while we resolve this issue.

    If you can’t attend any of the dates we are currently offering or there is no date available for the course you want, enrol on our Moodle course to be the first to be notified about any new sessions.

    Don’t forget….

    IT for IOE offer training in a wide range of digital tools including screencasting, blogging and Twitter, mind mapping and presentation tools, with some sessions specifically aimed at Mac users. You can also learn about text-to-speech software, how to make audio files from text and much more.  The summer schedule is already published and sessions will be available to book from 24 April.  Visit IT for IOE IT Course Booking for details.

    We have a vast range of high-quality video-based courses available at Lynda.com. These cover technical skills but also business, personal and creative skills as well.  Visit the UCL Lynda.com page to find out more.

    Not sure what you need or have a more specific issue you would like help with?  Come along to one of the Digital Skills Development drop ins if you want more individual support.

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    UCL’s new Lecturecast system is live

    By Janice Kiugu, on 28 September 2017

    This summer the Lecturecast service received a significant upgrade when we moved from our previous lecture capture solution to the latest offering from our supplier Echo360.

    For those who have used Lecturecast in the past, you will be pleased to know that the new system offers a more streamlined and user-friendly service that allows you to schedule recordings for your lectures, link your recordings to a Moodle course and manage and edit recordings through the Lecturecast Active Learning Platform (ALP) interface. In addition to upgrading the system, we also have more rooms that are Lecturecast Enabled. Currently, over 110 rooms are online with more being added within the next few weeks.

    We believe that the new system will make it much easier for you to schedule recordings and share them with students. There are benefits to be had for both staff and students in ‘Lecturecasting’ events. In a recent survey of UCL students and their use of technology, the most frequent request was for Lecturecast to be more widely available.

    The new Lecturecast system comprises three elements:

    • The Lecturecast Scheduler: this allows you to schedule recordings for confirmed CMIS (i.e. UCL’s online timetabling and room booking system) booked events.
    • The Lecturecast Connector block – available on every Moodle course when you ‘Turn editing on’. This allows you to link your Moodle Course to a section in Lecturecast that contains the recordings for your course.
    • Lecturecast Active Learning Platform (ALP) – This is where recordings are hosted. The ALP interface provides functionality that goes beyond just hosting recordings and allows you to create and add resources that include interactive slides and view learner analytics. For students, it allows them to flag and bookmark content as well as take notes, participate in discussions and respond to interactive slides.

    We have developed new training resources including video and step-by-step guides to get you started using the new system, and are currently developing more advanced guides which will be available soon. These are available via the Lecturecast Resource Centre

    Training and guidance on using the additional functionality will be phased in over the next 12 months.

    If you are looking for inspiration and on how you might incorporate the use of Lecturecast into your teaching, have a look at some of the case studies from institutions around the world using Echo360 (the developers) behind Lecturecast.

    Below are a host of links to get you started in using the new Lecturecast system at UCL.

    If you have any queries or need support, please email lecturecast@ucl.ac.uk