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?
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.
During the autumn term a group of 20 UCL UG, PG, PGR, PGT and PhD students attended a LinkedIn masterclass workshop series designed and delivered by Miguel Garcia, Global Instruct Manager from LinkedIn. The course consisted of six 2 hour workshops designed to develop the right mindset and enhance skills to enable students to use LinkedIn according to their own needs and interests.
The benefit of having Miguel Garcia delivering the sessions was apparent from the start – his knowledge of LinkedIn and how it can work for an individual or an organisation – is second to none!
Watch the video below to hear more from Miguel and some comments and feedback from students here:
He took his experience of helping customers grow their businesses using LinkedIn and applied this to helping students find and prepare for careers aligned to their personalities, interests, ambitions, skills, and values.
The first session asked the question Why Should I use LinkedIn? The students were shown how to begin to establish a professional brand, how to find the right people, how to engage with people, and how to initiate and build relationships as well as how they can see and measure immediately the effectiveness of their actions on LinkedIn. The session ended with recommendations on what to focus on and some actions to take in the next seven days.
Session two was called How do I build my personal brand? and was based on the premise that just because you are a student it doesn’t mean you don’t have experience or a personal brand. This session focused in learning how to showcase the skills and experience gained from student roles, volunteering or part time work in a compelling way to attract recruiters and powerful industry influencers. The students learnt about how to curate content from past experiences for their profile to enhance and improve the way this is shown by using the rich media options available to you on LinkedIn. This curated content along with a professional profile photograph provides a complete profile that is attractive to both recruiters as well as prospective employers.
The third session How can I communicate effectively? is probably something that most people have struggled with at one time or another – finding the right way to say things and then share them with a global audience can be daunting so this session concentrated on effective social sharing and publishing on LinkedIn. During the session students were sending messages, InMails, introduction and connection requests to begin to build their networks. One key aspect covered in this session was the difference between academic writing and business writing in respect of written posts for LinkedIn and the importance of finding ‘your voice’ to do so.
The fourth session How should I connect with others? was focused on connecting with the right people in the right way – basically networking effectively. The opportunity for students to connect with professionals, academics and influencers gives them access to unique career opportunities and informs them about the job market and how it works. The most effective students will be able draw on the expertise of their network before applications and interviews giving them unique and valuable insights and information or advice.
The fifth session How do I use LinkedIn to find a job or internship? is probably why most students signed up. The challenge is not just to find a job but the right career opportunity and something that you will enjoy doing. There are many examples of how others have managed to do this – even when it did not seem very likely. This session showed how by conducting research on LinkedIn you can access career and company pages to get an understanding of an organisation’s culture, benefits and opportunities to make sure they line up with what you are looking for. The session also included how to create a plan to stay in contact with employers so that when opportunities become available your chances are enhanced.
The final session How can I use LinkedIn to develop the ultimate career plan? was about how to put together a strategy and flexible plan to raise your chances of success in a changing world. The importance of having a long term plan and strategy for how you will use everything learned on the course and use it over the next 6 months in actionable steps. Students will set their own milestones, agree what further learning they may need or where they need to improve. Every student will make a 6 month commitment with regular check-ins to ensure progress.
The course was totally oversubscribed and I experienced something I never have before at UCL – an increase in participation for the first few weeks – a definite first for me. In fact the course has been so successful we are running it again this term – this time with 40 places available and have moved every other session online to Blackboard Collaborate.
Miguel has brought with him a set of unique skills and experiences that have greatly benefited UCL students –there really can’t be many who have experience of the full recruitment cycle from both an employers and employee perspective along with such a deep understanding of how a platform like LinkedIn works. Having completed the course students are now confidently and happily making connections, reaching out to prospective employers and building networks of contacts on their own.
There is usually a distinct lack of control for a graduate who is job searching – they are often limited to contact with a HR department or a recruiter and with most job applications being made online – they seldom get feedback or guidance on why things may not have worked out as the volumes of applicants are far too high to do so. This is one of the many benefits of using LinkedIn – you are much more in control of things and generally the communication is direct and also in real time.
Nowadays it is increasingly important for students to understand how online recruiting and job searching works – what the pluses can be and also any pitfalls. What has worked so well with this course is how Miguel has perfectly balanced the blend of coaching, activities and presentations – yet still managing to address each and every person’s needs in the group. There have been some quite remarkable transformations during the course and some of the first cohort are now working on a 1 minute video to add to their LinkedIn profile – watch this space!
I write a semi-regular blog (updated between weekly and monthly) which covers both interesting papers in my research area, and the teaching that I do to fourth year undergraduates and starting graduates (www.atomisticsimulations.org). My research is in atomistic simulations, where we model the properties of materials at the nanoscale by taking into account their atomic structure; I apply and develop electronic structure methods, using quantum mechanics to understand the interactions between atoms. I started blogging to support a book I wrote (Atomistic Computer Simulations, with Dr Veronika Brazdova, also at UCL) but it has developed. The book is aimed at those starting to use atomistic simulations, and is, so far as we know, unique: it is the only book that contains practical advice on how to perform the calculations and analyse the output
Last term (first term 2015-2016) I started to post blogs that summarised the discussions of background theory I had with my fourth year students. I’m supervising four students, and wanted to explore whether posting the content of the sessions would help them, and the wider community. The experiment has worked well, attracting interest both from my students and from further afield, with 50-100 views per month.
I recently moved the blog from a local server in the department running WordPress, which I maintained, to GitHub, which provides simple, markdown formatted blogging with LaTex/MathJax for equations and symbols. This was largely pragmatic (free, low maintenance hosting) but is also tied to the electronic structure code that I develop, CONQUEST (www.order-n.org). We moved the source code for CONQUEST to GitHub, and having a single site and interface for all my teaching and research activity has been very helpful.
Blogging and my associated Twitter account (@MillionAtomMan) has introduced me to new people in my research field, and educators across a wide area. It helps me to keep track of the research literature, and to focus my thoughts within the very broad area that is relevant. It should also help me with future teaching, focussing the sessions that we cover, and helping my students to know what is coming up. I would like to explore having my students blog about their research, and the difficulties and interests of doing research, as a form of outreach, as well as giving them a forum for reflection.
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.
The MyFeedback dashboard is now available to all UCL students and staff.
MyFeedback is a new tool in UCL Moodle allowing students to view grades and feedback for any assessed work across all their Moodle courses, in one place. Personal Tutors can view the dashboard for each student to allow them to track progress and to help to inform discussions in personal tutorials.
Watch the video on how students can use the MyFeedback report:
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. It also allows module tutors and assessors and departmental administrators to see how their students are progressing within the modules they teach and support.
MyFeedback is available to students, personal tutors, course tutors and departmental administrators.
Studentscan view feedback and grades from their assessments across all their UCL Moodle course. They can also add self-reflective notes and copy & paste feedback from Turnitin into their report.
Personal tutors can see their tutees’ full MyFeedback reports across all the modules their students are studying. Note: personal tutors will not be able to link through to assessments on courses they do not have tutor access to.
Module tutors can see MyFeedback reports for their students containing assessment information for any modules they teach. They will not see any assessments for modules they do not teach (unless they have been granted tutor access to those Moodle courses).
Departmental administrators can see MyFeedback reports for all the Moodle courses within categories where they have been assigned departmental administrator access in Moodle. Categories in Moodle will either be for the entire department, or might be broken down further into undergraduate and postgraduate modules. Staff requiring this access will need to ask their department’s current category level course administrator to assign them this role.
Those who use Lynda.com may have noticed already that there have been some changes to the user interface and some exciting new features have been added. The next time you log on you will be asked ‘What do you want to accomplish on Lynda.com?’ and guided through a range of options.
Once you have chosen some goals, these will be included in the Recommended section of your personalised profile. You can go back to My Goals (on the drop-down menu under your name) to change your choices at any time.
Your Lynda.com home page has now been re-organised to make it more streamlined with courses you are currently watching (Continue Watching) and Your Playlist on the left and Popular Learning Paths and other highlighted courses on the right. The courses section is now tabbed with New, Popular and Recommended sections.
If you aren’t familiar yet with Learning Paths, these are sets of courses written by industry experts designed to teach you the knowledge and skills to pursue a particular career or work towards a particular certification.
Finally, something to look forward to: there will soon be a ‘Popular at UCL‘ tab added so you will be able to see what other users here are enjoying!