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    Archive for the 'Technology blogs' Category

    Lecturecast is Changing this Summer 2017

    By Jason Norton, on 17 February 2017

    This is our first communication to our Lecturecast community to let you know that this summer we will be upgrading the Lecturecast service.

    The current platform provided by Echo360 under the UCL brand name of Lecturecast has been in service for 6 years. During this time, Lecturecast has provided students with over 2 million views and recorded over 17 thousand events.

    That platform is now entering its end of life cycle and in order for UCL to provide the best experience to all our users – from our academics and administrators who create and manage content, to our students who use the material to support their learning – we need to replace the system. It is essential that we provide a system that will be fit for purpose and fit for use to meet the requirements and expectations of our Educational Strategy and UCL 2034.

    This summer we will be moving to the latest version of the Echo360 product, which the vendor refers to as ALP (Active Learning Platform), however we will still continue to refer to the platform with the name Lecturecast, but if you hear someone mention the ALP platform we hope you will make the connection.

    The new platform will provide all the existing functionality and benefits of the old lecture capture platform, but with an improved user interface and a greatly improved underlying technical infrastructure. The system also optionally offers expanded functionality in the areas of engagement tools and analytics that will integrate with the Lecturecast capture system and with Moodle, our virtual learning environment.

    On top of upgrading the platform we will also be taking the opportunity to rewrite and enhance the online booking application, which we recognise can be a point of difficulty and confusion.

    More details on the advanced features of the platform will be released over the next few months as our internal project and operational support teams continue to refine them. The project will also be actively engaging with you, our users, through various existing forums, focus groups and other events – as well as providing new online resources and training to support the changes.

    We hope you’ll be excited to see the improvements to this popular service and included below are a few screen shots from the new product to give you a flavour what the new Lecturecast will look like.

    A screen shot of the new Lecturecast player interface

    A screen shot of the new Lecturecast player interface

    A screenshot of the Lecturecast new course homepage

    A screenshot of the Lecturecast new course homepage

    A screenshot of the personal media libray

    A screenshot of the personal media libray

    LinkedIn Masterclass – who do you want to become?

    By Moira Wright, on 14 February 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!

    Book review: ‘Digital Video – A manual for Language Teachers

    By , on 13 January 2017

    This review has been contributed by Paul Sweeney, Instructional Designer, UCL Institute of Opthalmology.

    Digital-Video-coverDigital Video – A manual for Language Teachers

    Nik Peachey

    Cost: £4.99

    Format: iBook or PDF from http://peacheypublications.com/

    Who is this book aimed at?

    All teachers of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) also known as ELT and related disciplines of ESL and ESOL.

    Anyone teaching languages to teens and adults

    Questions any language teacher might ask before buying a resource book:

    Will I learn something? Will it save me time? Will it become a useful addition to the (digital) bookshelf?

    Answers: Yes, yes and yes

    Questions for any language teacher might ask about buying an educational technology themed resource book:

    Do I need a certain amount of experience in order to be able to make use of this? Or – for more advanced practitioners –  Is this only for beginners? Will I still learn something?

    Answers: No, No, Yes

    Why should I buy a book about exploiting digital video?

    Because online video is an increasingly important part of everyday experience. Everyone is viewing and sharing more video than ever before. So what? There is also an ocean of text and images washing over us. The relevance to education is? The point is that most of us are already sufficiently empowered to deal with text and audio. Those of us who are so inclined can tweet, blog, Facebook, Instagram etc. to our heart’s content and many educators are taking advantage of a plethora tools to explore associated educational benefits. Video is different. Where to find resources (apart from YouTube)? What tools to use? What approaches to take? That is what this book offers help with.  Lots of resources, tools and techniques even the savvy may not have known about. Very practical suggestions, all linked to pedagogy and learning outcomes. There is no “tech for tech’s sake” here.

    Is this only for English as a Foreign Language (EFL / ELT) teachers?

    The resource reviews are more focussed on the core audience but the majority is of use to language teachers anywhere and quite a few sections of general interest to teachers of any subject where bringing video into the classroom and student creation of video offers potential.

    I am less experienced with video or learning technologies. What does this book offer me?

    • Video tutorials (hosting a video online/ downloading videos / embedding videos in a webpage / muting audio / adding subtitles / creating QR codes / creating a video slideshow)NB you need to be online to access these.
    • Technical help in selecting editing tools and hosting sites
    • A clickable glossary throughout which picks up lots of the key digital terms – examples of words glossed – apps / applications / synchronous / asynchronous / target language / URL / QR code / LMS interlocutor / paradigm.
    • A good range of comprehension and creation activities to try out with step by step instructions.
    • A list of resource sites to explore.

    How does this support more experienced teachers?

    All of the above is useful for most audiences but experienced users can benefit from is a helpful overview to jump around easily. There are also sections on ‘cool tools’ and application reviews.

    So far so positive. Any negatives?

    • For a higher education audience, the Approaches to Learning chapter (Chapter 4) may come across as simplistic although this does not detract from many of the sound points therein. The real value of the book is the tutorials, tools, sample tasks and resources.
    • The tutorial videos don’t work offline.
    • In this fast-moving environment, some of the tools and resources listed are no longer available. Three out of approximately twenty resources fall into this category.
    • Two out of the academic resources fall into this category at time of writing (November 2016) http://www.mobento.com and videosci.com. Also one of the kids resources www.videos.esl-for-kids.com

    Anything else about this book?

    In keeping with his frontier-gazing, guru status in some circles, the author adopted what he termed a Publishing 3.0 approach https://nikpeachey.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/publishing-30-new-model-for-independent.html. Firstly he used crowd-funding to sign up a number of guaranteed readers in advance – which also explains why there is a discreet sponsor stamp on each page.  Secondly he self-published which inevitably led to a few rough edges but for £4.99 who is arguing?

    And finally

    Coincidentally, this is the second excellent book on the subject produced for the EFL / ELT sector recently.  Language Learning with Digital Video (Cambridge University Press) is an excellent addition to this new field and, like the Nik Peachey book, has won an award or two.

    Social Media in Higher Education 2016 (#SocMedHE16)

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 23 December 2016

    Last week was the Social Media in Higher Education 2016 conference, which I was fortunate enough to attend. This was the second year of the conference which took place at Sheffield Hallam University, as it did last year also. The first thing that struck me about this conference was both the variety of different skills and usage levels that the various attendees and presenters had with social media.  Some people where slightly more advanced in their usage of social media, whereas others were just beginning.

    During the conference itself there were 3 key themes that struck me, which I will talk about in more detail in this post. The things that struck me most where;

    1. The importance of students as co-creators
    2. An interesting debate about ‘lurkers’
    3. Discussions about Professionalism

    Let’s start by looking at the first key theme, students as co-creators in more detail.

    1.The importance of students as co-creators

    One of the benefits of social media is that it’s interactive and so anyone can be a content creator. This makes it a powerful tool when used with learners, as they can learn by doing, creating content and even sharing it with the wider world and external subject experts. By engaging in this way student are raising their personal professional profile in their chosen industry and gaining experience. There is also another interesting side-effect of this, especially in relation to projects that are co-run with students, and that is the equalising of staff and students.

    Although there may still be a slight hierarchy on social media, it does tend to place all those using it on a more even platform. Connecting celebrities with fans, and experts with learners whilst enabling them to ask questions or engage in conversation they could not normally have. This idea of students as ‘co’-creators can be really empowering for learners and help develop a confidence and passion for enhancing their learning. Social media as a platform for learning has been seen to encourage heutagogy as it put the learner in a more powerful position of control over their connections and output.

    2. An interesting debate about ‘lurkers’

    One of the discussions I found more interesting was a discussion about ‘lurkers’ on social media platforms, that is learners/ participants who do not actively participate in discussion or other activities but instead only view content. There were three main talking points around this topic; terminology, definition and impact.

    The first discussion is one of terminology, should we use the term lurkers or does this have pejorative connotations? Is a better term, ‘silent participants’ or ‘passive learners’? Does it really matter what we call them? Personally, although I don’t mind the term ‘lurkers’ I do see why some would see it in a negative light and I think maybe ‘silent participant’ is a better term. Although the words we use do have significance, it is also important not to become too distracted by talking semantics at the determent of promoting good pedagogy.

    The next point to consider is what counts as lurking? This seemed obvious to me, but as we moved into a group discussion on the topic it seemed that there are varying opinions on this. Some consider complete inactivity to be lurking, as in someone who reads conversations and consumes other content but does not themselves produce anything to share. This was more my view of what silent participation was before the session, and remains so after. However, I was slightly surprised to hear some proposing that those who ‘like’ content but do not offer content are lurkers. The level of engagement that is required to be shown for someone to be considered active, seemed to be something that everyone did not agree on, but it is a valuable conversation to continue having.

    Finally, it is important to reflect on whether lurking is a bad thing. Do we need to consider ways to ‘lure’ those who lurk into the conversation and encourage them to actively engage? Would this enhance their learning, or are there some people who are happier and just as effective when they are consuming content, rather than producing it. If everyone where producing content, then is there a limit on how many people can be in a class? Surely at a certain class size not everyone can talk at once without diluting the conversation. How do we strike a balance in this case? Personally, I think that all participants should feel they have the opportunity to contribute and engage. For those who are hesitant or resistant we should investigate more closely what is holding them back.

    3.Discussions about Professionalism

    The final thing I want to talk about is the many discussions and presentations that focused on professionalism in the use of social media. This is a very natural topic to be considering in this sort of setting as social media puts learners in the public eye, and what they post could have effects long past their degree.

    The main takeaway here was to avoid simply scaremongering. There are potential risks, and plenty of horror stories but if these are focused on too much in guidelines or workshops it puts social media in a very negative light and can understandably make students resistant or hesitant about using online tools.

    Instead of focusing on the risk, it is good to present students with a realistic balance between the potential risk, so they are aware, and the positive impact social media can have. There are many success stories of students getting job offers and securing careers through their use of social media to share examples of work and connect with employers.

    Overall it was an interesting conference, although it did not add a great deal to my personal understanding of social media, it did prompt me to reconsider some topics that I had not been as actively thinking about (such as the ‘lurker’ debate). If anyone is interested in exploring the use of social media in education then I would recommend looking one of the many excellent books produced on the subject, or contacting the Digital Education team who may be able to offer some advice.

    Bug in duplicated Moodle assignments

    By Rod Digges, on 8 December 2016

    We’ve recently come across a bug in Moodle (not Turnitin) assignments. The bug shows up when a blind marking/anonymous Moodle assignment that has been used and student identities revealed is then copied for re-use. The copy of the assignment will look from its settings like a blind marking/anonymous assignment but it will behave as if the ‘Reveal student identities’ link had been clicked and student names will be visible in both the grading interface and the course gradebook. The quickest way to check if a ‘blind marking/anonymous’ assignment is truly in an anonymous state is to click on its link and look for the presence of the ‘Reveal student identities’ link in the assignment’s settings block, if the link is there the assignment is anonymous.

    For the moment we advise that Moodle assignments are not created by duplication of old assignments but are created as completely new assignments.

    screenshot - assignment settings block

    6 top tips to help you build your Twitter following

    By Jessica Gramp, on 14 November 2016

    Last week as part of the UCL Doctoral Schools’ Digital Identity and Scholarship course, Jessica Gramp from the Digital Education team ran a Tweet for a Week activity to help staff learn to use Twitter (see #ucldias). One of the questions asked by the participants was how to build a strong Twitter following.

    Here are 6 top tips to help you build your Twitter following:

    1. TweetUpload a picture and fill in your Twitter bio with a bit about yourself – a mix of professional and personal interests is usual. You might link these to hashtags.
    2. Follow those with interests similar to your own.
    3. Use hashtags to attract more followers.
    4. Link to your Twitter from your other networks. E.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, email signature, business cards, websites.
    5. Tweet media, such as video and images.
    6. Track your most popular tweets using Twitter Analytics.

    See 10 ways to build a large, quality Twitter following…

     

    Have you got questions, ideas or experience here?

    If so, please do share them, either via the Twitter hashtag #elearningUCL or (for UCL staff and students) via the UCL Moodle Users forum.