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    Archive for the 'General Learning Technology' Category

    Introducing Digital Education – the new name for E-learning Environments.

    By Fiona Strawbridge, on 21 January 2016

    We’ve changed our name! RIP E-Learning Environments; welcome to the world, Digital Education!

    Why have we done this?

    Our remit has broadened in the last year as the IT Training team has joined us, so Digital Education better reflects the scope of the whole team’s work. The

    Your Name here - Image credit Mike Licht,

    Image credit Mike Licht,

    name change also aligns better with our institutional Education strategy. More broadly, ‘digital this’, ‘digital that’ and ‘digital the other’ seem to be replacing IT, ICT and e- in common parlance and our sister teams in ISD have also now renamed for 2016 – Creative Media Services are now Digital Media, and Web & Mobile Services are now Digital Presence.

    What does it mean for your services and support?

    There have been no changes to the teams or the brilliant support from us that you have all be accustomed to. Only the names of the teams have changed:

    • Digital Education Core Services (formerly E-Learning Services)
    • Digital Education Advisory (formerly E-Learning Advisory)
    • Digital Education Futures (formerly E-Learning Developments)
    • IT Training (watch this space – name change coming…)
    • Learning Spaces

    If you need to contact us to get support, our email is now (this replaces
    Our blog is now:
    And we’re still wading through our website editing links, but for now you can still go to to find out more about the team and our services.

    What’s next?

    Of course changes like this take a while to bed in – we still catch ourselves referring to ELE, and we’re having to update lots of links and documentation (ok – there have been quite a few unforeseen consequences!)  But we are very pleased to bring in the new year with our new name.

    For now, we hope the change to Digital Education acts as a reminder that digital technologies are woven into the fabric of the way students learn and teachers teach as well as our institutional strategies. We continue to look forward to working together by blending the digital with education and making UCL excel at delivering world class teaching and learning to its students for many years to come.

    An even better peer feedback experience with the Moodle Workshop activity

    By Mira Vogel, on 21 December 2015

    This is the third and final post in a series about using the Moodle Workshop activity for peer feedback, in which I’ll briefly summarise how we acted on recommendations from the second iteration which in turn built on feedback from the first go. The purpose is to interpret pedagogical considerations as Moodle activity settings.
    To refresh your memories, the setting is the UCL Arena Teaching Association Programme in which postgraduate students, divided into three cognate cohorts, give and receive peer feedback on case studies they are preparing for their Higher Education Academy Associate Fellowship application. Since the activity was peer feedback only, we weren’t exploiting the numeric grades, tutor grades, or grade weighting capabilities of Moodle Workshop on this occasion.
    At the point we last reported on Moodle Workshop there were a number of recommendations. Below I revisit those and summarise the actions we took and their consequences.

    Improve signposting from the Moodle course area front page, and maybe the title of the Workshop itself, so students know what to do and when.

    We changed the title to a friendly imperative: “Write a mini case study, give peer feedback”. That is how the link to it now appears on the Moodle page.

    Instructions: let students know how many reviews they are expected to do; let them know if they should expect variety in how the submissions display.

    Noting that participants may need to click or scroll for important information, we used the instructions fields for submissions and for assessment to set out what they should expect to see and do, and how. In instructions for Submission this included word count, how to submit, and that their names would appear with their submission. Then the instructions for Assessment included how to find the allocation, a rough word count for feedback, and that peer markers’ names would appear with their feedback (see below for more on anonymity). The Conclusion included how to find both the original submission and the feedback on it.
    In the second iteration some submissions had been attachments while others had been typed directly into Moodle. This time we set attachments to zero, instead requiring all participants to paste their case studies directly into Moodle. We hoped that the resulting display of submission and its assessment on the same page would help with finding the submission and with cross-referencing. Later it emerged that there were mixed feelings about this: one participant reported difficulties with footnotes and another said would have preferred a separate document so he could arrange the windows in relation to each other, rather than scrolling. In future we may allow attachments, and include a line in the instructions prompting participants to look for an attachment if they can’t see the submission directly in Moodle.
    Since the participants were entirely new to the activity, we knew we would need to give more frequent prompts and guidance than if they were familiar with it. Over the two weeks we sent out four News Forum posts in total at fixed times in relation to the two deadlines. The first launched the activity, let participants know where to find it, and reminded them about the submission deadline; the second, a couple of days before the submission deadline, explained that the deadline was hard and let them know how and when to find the work they had been allocated to give feedback; the third reminded them of the assessment deadline; the fourth let them know where and when to find the feedback they had been given. When asked whether these emails had been helpful or a nuisance, the resounding response was that they had been useful. Again, if students had been familiar with the process, we would have expected to take a much lighter touch on the encouragement and reminders, but first times are usually more effort.

    Consider including an example case study & feedback for reference.

    We linked to one rather than including it within the activity (which is possible) but some participants missed the link. There is a good case for including it within the activity (with or without the feedback). Since this is a low-stakes, voluntary activity, we would not oblige participants to carry out a practice assessment.

    Address the issue that, due to some non-participation during the Assessment phase, some students gave more feedback than they received.

    In our reminder News Forum emails we explicitly reminded students of their role in making sure every participant received feedback. In one cohort this had a very positive effect with participants who didn’t make the deadline (which is hard for reasons mentioned elsewhere) using email to give feedback on their allocated work. We know that, especially with non-compulsory activities and especially if there is a long time between submitting, giving feedback and receiving feedback, students will need email prompts to remind them what to do and when.

    We originally had a single comments field but will now structure the peer review with some questions aligned to the relevant parts of the criteria.

    Feedback givers had three question prompts to which they responded in free text fields.

    Decide about anonymity – should both submissions and reviews be anonymous, or one or the other, or neither? Also to consider – we could also change Permissions after it’s complete (or even while it’s running) to allow students to access the dashboard and see all the case studies and all the feedback.

    We decided to even things out by making both the submissions and reviews attributable, achieving this by changing the permissions for that Moodle Workshop activity before it ran. We used the instructions for submissions and assessment to flag this to participants.
    A lead tutor for one of the cohorts had been avoiding using Moodle Workshop because she felt it was too private between a participant their few reviewees. We addressed this after the closure of the activity by proposing to participants that we release all case studies and their feedback to all participants in the cohort (again by changing the permissions for that Moodle Workshop activity). We gave them a chance to raise objections in private, but after receiving none we went ahead with the release. We have not yet checked the logs to see whether this access has been exploited.

    Other considerations.

    Previously we evaluated the peer feedback activity with a questionnaire, but this time we didn’t have the opportunity for that. We did however have the opportunity to discuss the experience with one of the groups. This dialogue affirmed the decisions we’d taken. Participants were positive about repeating the activity, so we duly ran it again after the next session. They also said that they preferred to receive feedback from peers in their cognate cohort, so we maintained the existing Moodle Groupings (Moodle Groups would also work if the cohorts had the same deadline date, but ours didn’t, which is why we had three separate Moodle Workshop instances with Groupings applied).
    The staff valued the activity but felt that without support from ELE they would have struggled to make it work. ELE is responding by writing some contextual guidance for that particular activity, including a reassuring checklist.

    Nature: Learning styles are rubbish and bad science. Stop it.

    By Matt Jenner, on 16 December 2015

    Pulped books – only those pimping VAK though!

    Finally – learning styles, the notion that one person learns better from visual materials and another from auditory responses, is rubbished by Nature. So can we finally stop using these? Please. I’m not going to write much except that it’s well featured in an article in Nature called ‘The science myths that will not die’ and is followed with ‘False beliefs and wishful thinking about the human experience are common. They are hurting people — and holding back science.’

    Myth 4: Individuals learn best when taught in their preferred learning style

    “Learning styles has got it all going for it: a seed of fact, emotional biases and wishful thinking,” says Howard-Jones. Yet just like sugar, pornography and television, “what you prefer is not always good for you or right for you,” says Paul Kirschner, an educational psychologist at the Open University of the Netherlands.

    Source – The science myths that will not die

    If that’s not enough, then I guess I protest best using visual materials and SHOUTING. *sigh*, on with the show… :) 

    Innovating pedagogy – 2015 trends report

    By Clive Young, on 9 December 2015


    Innovating Pedagogy 2015 is the latest annual report from the Open University highlighting new forms of teaching, learning and assessment with an aim to “guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation”.

    The scope is similar to the US Horizon reports, but presents a useful UK perspective.  It is of course sometimes difficult to differentiate the meaningful from the merely modish in such futurology (see for example Matt Jenner’s analysis of Horizon’s trend-spotting). However such reports definitely have an impact on the discussion around technology in education, even if initially only at the level of “buzz-word bingo” for those in the know. A fellow learning technologist last week accused me of “incidental learning” when, during a pause in our teaching session, he caught me reading a random handout left over from some previous class.

    The current crop is;

    1. Crossover learning – connecting formal and informal learning
    2. Learning through argumentation – developing skills of scientific argumentation
    3. Incidental learning – harnessing unplanned or unintentional learning
    4. Context-based learning – how context shapes and is shaped by the process of learning
    5. Computational thinking – solving problems using techniques from computing
    6. Learning by doing science with remote labs – guided experiments on authentic scientific equipment
    7. Embodied learning – making mind and body work together to support learning
    8. Adaptive teaching – adapting computer-based teaching to the learner’s knowledge and action
    9. Analytics of emotions – responding to the emotional states of students
    10. Stealth assessment – unobtrusive assessment of learning processes

    A fascinating list with several novel concepts (to me anyway), the report gives a quick overview of why the OU thinks these are or may be important and includes handy links to further reading.

    The authors also identify six overarching pedagogy themes that have emerged from the last four reports: Scale, Connectivity, Reflection, Extension, Embodiment and Personalisation.

    Introducing the My Feedback report

    By Jessica Gramp, on 5 December 2015

    The Moodle My Feedback report is being developed as part of a UCL project to improve access to assessment feedback by both students and staff.

    The My feedback report consolidates information that already exists in Moodle and displays it in a single view, in a format that is easily accessible and digestible, and therefore more meaningful for students and staff than what is currently available to them in disparate parts of Moodle. My feedback shows a view of grades and feedback for assessment activities, such as Moodle Assignments, Turnitin Assignments, Workshops for Peer Assessments and Quizzes from across modules in a single report. The report provides links to submissions and any feedback that has been released to students, including grades.

    The report helps students (supported by their Personal Tutors) to better understand the variety of feedback they receive; draw ties between different assessments and modules; and allow them to reflect on their feedback to see how they can improve in future assessments.

    NOTE: Unless a Personal Tutor has tutor-level access to the course where the assessments are stored, they will be unable to view the feedback directly.

    The My feedback report is currently being piloted by a number of programmes at UCL, to better understand how it can be used by staff and students and to help guide future development work.


    The My feedback report is available as an open source plugin on

    An updated version was released Saturday 5th December 2015.


    Feedback Overview

    The overview page shows all the assessments available for a particular student, with links to viewing the full feedback within Moodle. For someone to view the full feedback they must have access to viewing that activity on the Moodle course it resides in.

    My feedback Overview tab


    Feedback comments

    The Feedback comments page shows general feedback and grades that have been provided via Moodle. Note: feedback provided via Turnitin GradeMark can not be displayed in this report, although the grade will be displayed if entered using the standard Turnitin grading feature. The date the feedback was viewed by that student is also visible. A cross indicates the feedback has not yet been viewed.

    My feedback comments



    There is further information about this tool from the ALT-Conference 2015:



    ABC Curriculum Design 2015 Summary

    By Natasa Perovic, on 2 December 2015

    ABC Curriculum tour dates for 2016 and Summary of 2015

    For questions and workshops contact Clive and Nataša


    Book us early! We start our ABC 2016 tour with a visit to Glasgow!

    The ABC curriculum design method uses an effective and engaging paper card-based approach in a 90 minute hands-on workshop. It is based on research from the JISC and UCL IoE and designed to help module teams design engaging learning activities. It is particularly useful for new programmes or those changing to an online or more blended format. More information below.


    December 2015 – ALT Winter Conference webinar

    The ABCs of rapid blended course design by Clive Young and Nataša Perović. Recording of the session is available to view here:


    December 2015A brief overview of ABC curriculum design method by Clive



    October 2015 – Presentation about the ABC workshops




    September 2015 – Progress with ABC Curriculum design and downloadable ABC workshop resources and participants’ feedback 



    March 2015 – ABC beginnings, by Clive and Natasa


    March 2015 – Blog post about the First ABC Curriculum design workshop