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    Archive for the 'Innovation' Category

    Upgrade to UCL Electronic Voting System (EVS)

    By Janice Kiugu, on 18 September 2017

    Electronic Voting Systems allow staff to make classroom teaching sessions more interactive and engaging. The currently supported system for this at UCL is TurningPoint – with software directly installed on managed teaching computers across central campus and handsets/receivers available for loan from central services. More information about potential benefits, and how the system works, can be found here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/learning-teaching/elearning-staff/core-tools/electronic-voting-systems/#do and here: https://www.turningtechnologies.com/library/

    Over the summer, managed teaching room computers were upgraded to Windows 10 and Office 2016. To ensure compatibility, the TurningPoint software on these teaching machines has also been upgraded to a new version (v.8). While the new version of TurningPoint is very similar to previous versions, there are some changes, and a new licensed receiver will need to be used.

    What does this mean for staff? 

    • Presentations created in the OLD version (TPv5) will run in the new version (TPv8) however, there is no backwards compatibility so once they have been run/used in TPv8 you will not be able to edit or run them in the old version.
    • The old receivers/dongles will NOT work with the new version of TurningPoint. The Digital Education team have issued central services with a set of new licensed receivers. These will be issued when a loan is taken out for the handsets. Note that the new receivers will accept a maximum of 500 responses.
    • Teaching Rooms with built in handsets (Harrie Massey LT, Christopher Ingold Auditorium, Cruciform LT1) have the new receivers installed on the managed PC. If you choose to use your laptop and have updated the version of TP on it, ensure you loan the appropriate dongle from the Central loans desk. If using Cruciform LT1, you can plug in the labelled cable emerging from the teaching podium into your laptop.

    Action required

    • If you use a laptop to run TP, please install the latest version from the software database. You can download TurningPoint version 8 from the ISD Software database: http://swdb.ucl.ac.uk/package/view/id/410 (UCL staff login required), or directly from the TurningPoint website: https://www.turningtechnologies.com/downloads (form to fill out).
    • If you are using equipment loaned by Departmental teams, check to ensure that you have been provided with a new receiver, if you intend to use the managed PC in the Teaching space. (Note: old receivers will continue to work with the old version of the software but you may experience some issues if moving between different campuses and teaching setups.
    • We recommend that you ‘test’ your  presentation before running a ‘live’ session using the latest version of TP and contact Digital Education Services – digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk  if you experience any problems.

    For more information regarding TurningPoint and to access training guides, click here

    Questions or experiencing issues with the new software? Please email digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

    UCL 2034: Improving the ‘Student Experience’ with Digital Exams

    By Karen Shackleford-Cesare, on 6 April 2017

    Rationale

    One may argue that UCL students are over-assessed. But, regardless of your take on this, it stands to reason that where examinations are used to assess learning, it is worth investing in delivery systems that give students the best possible experience and outcomes. These systems could conceivably have the following aims, to:

    1. Improve the functionality, usability and accessibility of the questions on the exam
    2. Offer greater flexibility in terms of the time, place and resources needed to host an exam
    3. Improve the support given to both students sitting exams and the staff facilitating and/or grading them
    4. Potentially reduce the time between sitting some exams and obtaining results/feedback
    5. Potentially increase transparency in marking and confidence in the grades awarded
    6. Reduce potential for errors in marking and from transcribing/transferring marks
    7. Reduce the workloads of both academic and administrative staff
    8. Reduce costs around printing, transporting, securing and storing paper

    Acknowledging that assessment and feedback are ongoing areas of student concern, and that the Education Strategy commits us to addressing and resolving persistent challenges in this area (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/teaching-learning/education-strategy), Brunel University’s approach to digitising some examinations is interesting.

    E-Assessment Management at Brunel

    Whereas UCL uses the quiz tool in Moodle for online exams, Brunel University has subscribed to a cloud-based digital exam platform called WISEflow for theirs. Like Turnitin this subscribed service can be linked to various VLEs including Moodle. In the case of Brunel, this happens to be Blackboard. Tutors create their quizzes/exams, which can be accessed indirectly via a link on a course page in their VLE or directly by logging into the secure WISEflow website.

    WISEflow-Select Login

    WISEflow provides tutors with 50 varied question types with quite sophisticated features allowing for different media to be embedded and for example, virtual tools, such as a ruler and a protractor to be used to measure the lines and angles of diagrams in questions. It also supports essay questions that allow a student to respond with a 1,000 to 3,000 word essay. This advantageous for exams in subjects such as law, history and literature, etc. WISEflow also has a number of features to ensure that student’s responses aren’t lost whilst being written.

    According to Niels Berg Conradsen of UNIwise,

    “WISEflow features a very robust lockdown browser module. It carries a text editor in the lockdown browser that also serves as a word processor. The students can structure their essay with headlines and even embed pictures from their webcam. Moreover, the student has a revision tool at their disposal, so they can revert the essay to former editions if they so desire”.

    This platform is sufficiently secure to support bring-your-own-device (BYOD) examinations. At a 1-day event at Brunel on March 17, 2017 attendees, (myself included), had an opportunity to hear positive feedback from Brunel’s staff and students about their experience using WISEflow, and to use it ourselves on our own devices.

    WISEflow enables tutors to create and manage digital exams, which they can assign to specific students. They can then mark the materials that the students submit in WISEflow. The marking tools are similar to those in the Moodle and Turnitin assignments. WISEflow can also be used for the submission of coursework.

    Benefits of digital exams generally for various stakeholders are listed below and may be also achieved with Moodle quizzes, (although in Moodle’s case additional software would be needed to lock the browser).

    Advantages for students:

    • It’s feasible for students to take exams remotely
    • No need to write long hand for hours (increasingly students may have little sustained handwriting practice)
    • It’s much easier to correct mistakes and make changes to responses on online exam scripts than on paper
    • It’s feasible for students to get feedback beyond just a grade on exams taken
    • Students may be able to get their results faster
    • It’s feasible to take the exam on a familiar device, their own laptop
    • Accessibility features easier to incorporate

    Advantages for tutors, administrators, invigilators:

    • Exam papers don’t have to be printed, packaged, secured and distributed to exam centres
    • No challenging handwriting to decipher
    • No paper scripts to collect, secure or transport
    • No scripts to store for the short to long term
    • Scripts can be printed as required
    • Tools exist for invigilators to monitor students’ progress through a paper they’re sitting
    • Tools exist for tutors to analyse students’ responses to each question
    • Easy to facilitate access to scripts by moderators, second markers and external examiners
    • The cost of a streamlined infrastructure for online exams may not exceed that of the current paper based examination system in place.

    Importantly, Brunel also benefited from the involvement and support of their Registry and Examinations Office in the launch of this project.

    What WISEflow can do for you…

    There are other Providers of Digital Examination Systems that may also be considered.

    Some Cons of Acquiring Another App

    This piece has highlighted many of the pros of acquiring specialist, purpose-built kit. However, some of the problems that would need to be addressed include:

    • Providing students with a “one-stop shop” for accessing their results and feedback. UCL has part sponsored the development of the MyFeedback tool in Moodle for this purpose but could it retrieve this data from a third party product?
    • Additional training and support needed
    • The integration of a new app with Moodle
    • Identifying and equipping enough rooms with adequate WiFi and power points to support BYOD
    • Adequate provision of suitable computer suites
    • Cost

    Cost Differentials

    It would be informative to compare the estimated cost of running paper-based exams with that of online exams. Instinctively, one may focus on the costs associated with the actually staging of an exam. By so doing, the paper option may seem much cheaper, if only because computing paraphernalia isn’t required. However, costs may start to even out when preparatory printing, storing and distribution expenses, (not to mention the man-hours needed), are taken into account. Plus, cost associated with moving, securing and storing hard-copy exam scripts.

    Where the computing infrastructure is exists for other purposes and would be present even if no online exams to use it, then one could argue in favour of discounting the cost it may otherwise present.

    Observations by Attendees

    See what others had to say:


    Innovating Pedagogy 2016 report

    By Clive Young, on 2 December 2016

    ip2016Innovating Pedagogy 2016 is the fifth annual report from the Open University (this year in collaboration with the Learning Sciences Lab at the National Institute of Education, Singapore) highlighting new forms of teaching, learning and assessment with an aim to “guide educators and policy makers”.

    The report proposes ten innovations that are “already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education”. In other words they are at an early phase of the Gartner Hype Cycle. Whether any will become, in the current idiom, ‘normalised’ remains to be seen and some scepticism would be advised. However, as I noted when the 2015 version was published, such reports often frame the discussion around technology in education, even if initially only at the level of “buzz-word bingo” for enthusiasts.

    The current list “in an approximate order of immediacy and timescale to widespread implementation” is;

    • Learning through social media – Using social media to offer long-term learning opportunities
    • Productive failure – Drawing on experience to gain deeper understanding
    • Teachback – Learning by explaining what we have been taught
    • Design thinking – Applying design methods in order to solve problems
    • Learning from the crowd – Using the public as a source of knowledge and opinion
    • Learning through video games – Making learning fun, interactive and stimulating
    • Formative analytics – Developing analytics that help learners to reflect and improve
    • Learning for the future – Preparing students for work and life in an unpredictable future
    • Translanguaging – Enriching learning through the use of multiple languages
    • Blockchain for learning – Storing, validating and trading educational reputation

    The usual fascinating mix of familiar ideas with novel concepts, the report gives a quick overview of why these may be important and includes handy links to further reading if you are interested

    A next generation digital learning environment for UCL

    By Stephen Rowett, on 7 November 2016

    At UCL we’ve been pondering what a future learning environment might look like now for about two years. And we are starting to reach some conclusions.

    Our analysis of our VLE – and pretty much all of them out there – is that it suffers from two fundamental limitations.

    Silos – staff and students see the courses they are enrolled for, and generally can’t look over the fence to see something else. In real life, if a student asked to attend lectures for a course they weren’t registered for, we’d welcome their interest, their breadth, their love of learning. In the VLE we tell them that this is impossible. The VLE limits a student’s education to just what they have paid for, just what they deserve, and just what they need to know. All curiosity is lost.

    Control – the teacher sets things up and students do them. No questions asked or even allowed. Forums lay devoid of posts for fear of asking ‘dumb’ questions, or fear of making mistakes. Assignments are submitted with perfunctory duty with the best that a student can hope for getting a green pass on Turnitin and some feedback some weeks later which is ignored anyway as the triumph or the disappointment of the grade awarded is processed. All love of learning is lost.

    So we’re looking for something different.

    And our inspiration came from an interest place – Brockenhurst College in Hampshire. Now they have a very rural catchment area – some students travel over from the Isle of Wight to attend classes. So of course, they don’t travel if they don’t have classes and therefore feel disconnected from the university.

    We realised that part of the challenge at UCL is the same. The distances may be much smaller, but when you are travelling from home or commuting on the Central Line means that the disconnection is just as real.

    So we need an environment that promotes connections. It just so happens we also have the Connected Curriculum initiative which will encourage interdisciplinary research-based education, where students do real, authentic work, not just essays for a teacher to mark. Where group work is the norm, not the exception. Where students are not passive recipients, but actively engaged in enquiry.

    So it’s all coming together. What we want for UCL is an Academic Social Network.

    What do I mean by that? Let’s take each word at a time.

    First, it’s Academic. That means it is designed for education. There are plenty of social networks around – Facebook, LinkedIn and Yammer spring to mind – but they are designed for different things, typically business. Whether it means allowing people to ask questions anonymously, embedding LaTex in messages so mathematicians can speak in their own language, or structuring data to be able to find final-year projects, the platform needs to speak to teachers and students as being something for them. It’s about work, but also all of the other things that happen at university; social clubs, sports, societies, volunteering. It’s a safe and trusted place to be because the user trusts the university and knows they are not the product to be sold and re-sold to the highest bidder.

    It’s Social. Because learning is social. I don’t just mean group work, but the full gamut of human social interaction. If you talk to students in our learning spaces, they are often working ‘alone, together’; that is they are doing individual tasks but just looking after each other. A student who is tired will be offered a coffee; someone will look after your laptop while you go to the toilet. Students are friends with each other on Facebook, but having staff friends is just ‘weird’. We want a space without complex meanings or difficult relationships but where everyone can connect with each other as part of the university community.

    Finally it’s a Network. Universities are big places, and UCL is bigger than most. Networks are a place where you can meet like-minded folk, but also get exposure and understanding of those who study different things, think in different ways, have different approaches to the same challenge. That network extends beyond current staff and students to pre-entry students, alumni, industry and charity partners – all of those that have a stake in the vibrancy and excitement of what a university can be.

    So what are we going to do?

    We’re going to get one.

    That’s quite a lot of work, as we have to do a lot of procurement activities to get what we want.

    But for now, we have students and teachers on the ground talking to peers, understanding needs, working our what it means to be part of the UCL community.

    We’ve done a lot of thinking, some talking and even more listening. It’s an experiment. We don’t know if it will work. Even if it does, it will probably take many years.

    We characterise what we want as follows:

    Characteristics of our platform

     

    It’s our shot at what a Next Generation Digital Learning Environment will look like.

    Many thanks to Eileen Kennedy for her work in developing and evaluating these ideas within UCL Digital Education.

    Moodle in the classroom

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 4 November 2016

    Words by Rebecca Yerworth:

    We all know that it is good to make lectures interactive and that there are many tools out there to help us. Various departments have invested in hardware and software to enable students to ‘vote’ or submit other responses during lectures… but how many of us use these tools? I am technically savvy and keen to apply best practice in my teaching, yet I cannot face using them! I want to, I love the concept, but have been put off by the need to install software and setup session specific activations, quite apart from the need to train myself and the students in how to use the systems. There had to be a better way I thought, how about Moodle? I’m used to putting lecture notes on it, and students are used to navigating to the right course page to find them … are there any Moodle activates which could be used within a lecture?

    So I applied for an E-learning development grant, which funded a student (Bindia) to work with me on exploring this.

    We found that “Hot Question” was the simplest and most versatile tool, but also successfully tried out “Choice” and quiz questions where you drag and drop labels on to an image (this worked really well the second time … once we had shrunk the image and shortened the labels so that they fitted on to smartphone screens!).

    I love using the ‘hot question’ activity as a virtual flip chart, and it came into its own during the revision sessions.  I displayed an exam style question on the board, and instructed students to answer part 1 via Moodle. A couple of minutes later there was a bunch of answers simultaneously displayed on the board and the students devices. “Between them these two would get full marks” I commented before going on to describe the strengths and weaknesses of the answers.  One mouse click created a new page in the activity and we moved on to another part of the question, with the previous page save for students to review later.  Students reported how helpful they found this session – and the saved answers that they could look back on later.

    Another activity which received positive feedback from the students was when we used ‘choice’ in conjunction with an on-line multi-choice medical ethics activity. The class worked through the case study together, anonymously entering their guess/answer to each question in Moodle. I then selected the most popular option on the website… “oups, most of us would have acted outside of General Medical Council Guidelines… well done the 10% of you that selected option c.” Having to enter their own choice forced the students to think through these tricky issues, and seeing what the rest of the class choose helped provide reassurance and an understanding of what other students thought.

    We made some user guides, which will be available via the UCL-Moodle help wiki, in the hope that others will be inspired to try out Moodle-In-lectures. If you do, it would be interesting to hear how you got on.

    I will defiantly be using more Moodle in lectures this year. As well as setting up specific activates, I will make sure I have a generically labelled ‘Hot questions’ and ‘Choice’ on every page that I can use and reuse for impromptu activities – like when a student ask a good question and you want to find out what the rest of the class think before providing the answer.

    UCL students win Jisc Summer of Student Innovation Prize

    By Janina Dewitz, on 9 September 2016

    Know It Wall has been announced as a Summer of Student Innovation winner, bagging £10,000 in funds to further develop their idea in collaboration with Jisc.

    On 23 August, seven of the 15 Summer of Student Innovation ‘Student Ideas’ first round winners beat the competition to secure further funding and support from Jisc to develop their ideas into real products ready for market. Following a four day Jisc run ‘design sprint’ in Birmingham, the student teams went head to head to persuade the judges in a Dragon’s Den style pitch, and we are proud to announce that Know It Wall came out on top!

    Know It Wall aims to make current academic research accessible to the intellectually curious public through the use of text and high quality audio-visual content. So far the team have produced 18 episodes on topics ranging from human memory to the discovery of the Higgs Boson. Team Know It Wall is planning to spend the prize money on producing video content and the development of additional features to the website.

    Feeling curious? Dip right in at http://knowitwall.com !

    Find out more about the project…

     


    The Summer of Student Innovation is in its fourth year and is managed by Jisc. More information is available at https://www.jisc.ac.uk/student-innovation.

    “The competition really does show that students are best placed to address education sector issues, and their innovative ideas are perfect for supporting learning, teaching or research”
    – Andy McGregor, Deputy Chief Innovations Officer, Jisc

    Have you got students with an innovative edtech idea? Digital Education Futures can provide support and mentorship.

    Contact Janina Dewitz, Innovations Officer, j.dewitz@ucl.ac.uk