Having a lot of tools to use can be a mixed blessing. On one hand it is great to have such a selection to choose from, whereas on the other it can be confusing and overwhelming. In E-Learning Environments (ELE) we aim to help you navigate the myriad of tools and find the one that’s right for you. In this post we will be looking at MyPortfolio, Campus Pack and Moodle. If you haven’t heard of some of these tools before, then don’t worry I will start by introducing them so you can get a better idea. You will see that although they have some similar functionality they can serve different purposes.
MyPortfolio is our online portfolio platform at UCL, it is based off of Mahara open-source software. Originally this was billed as an employability tool, due to it’s CV builder function, however it has evolved and can do a lot more than just online CVs. At it’s core MyPortfolio is an individually owned space, that gives students a place to work and control their own content. This can be done privately and then shared at various different levels, from public, to groups or just a single user. MyPortfolio is available to everyone with a UCL username and password, and can be used independently or as part of studies and assessment.
Some of the key functionality it contains are journals, ability to upload files and embed external content.
MyPortfolio is great for allowing students to create their own portfolio of content, whilst working with the flexible layout and using images to create their own design. Within MyPortfolio it is possible to create a ‘Collection’ which forms a mini website, with tab or side bar based navigation. In the past students have relished the opportunity to let their creativity flow and created impressive pages which really utilise the flexibility MyPortfolio affords.
Groups are another popular feature, allowing students to collaborate on pages and communicate using a forum. If there is any nervousness about creating shared work, then it is possible to create pages in a personal portfolio space and then share a copy with the group – ensuring the student retains an original as evidence of work.
Most pages and collections in MyPortfolio can be exported as either HTML or LEAP2A (which is a specialised portfolio format), so that they can be stored or transferred to other hosting locations. It is also possible for students to maintain access to MyPortfolio if they ensure after graduation that they continue to update their password as required.
You can access MyPortfolio directly through the web address https://myportfolio.ucl.ac.uk
Most people will be familiar with Moodle, this is UCL’s virtual learning environment (or VLE) it is our core online learning tool. If you are still unfamiliar with Moodle then you can learn more, and get to grips with the basics by taking our Getting Started with Moodle online course.
Although Moodle does have the ability to run blogs, it is not as good as the MyPortfolio journals, or the Campus Pack blogs (which we will talk about in the next section). Another feature you can find in both Campus Pack and Moodle is the wiki. This offers a collaborative space for students to work together to create a document or shared resource. It offers some tracking capabilities, so that you can track changes and see what each students has contributed. The UCL Moodle Resource Centre has more information about the Moodle blogs and wiki.
As well as the above, it is possible for external services to be embedded or linked into Moodle via LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) using the External tools feature. You can read more about this in the UCL Moodle Resource Centre wiki.
Campus Pack is a set of tools that work through Moodle. This makes them useful as they can be used from within a Moodle course, rather than having to go to a separate website. You can find all of the Campus Pack tools under the ‘add a resource or activity’ menu in Moodle.
There are a series of tools available through the Campus Pack integration with Moodle and these include; wiki, blog, journal, podcast and LTI. The wiki tool is a nice collaborative space where students can work together as a class or in groups to create content. It has nice tracking features so that you can see who has done what work and when, which may be useful when grading group work. Unlike MyPortfolio, where blogs and journals are basically the same tool (the journal) in Campus Pack there is a distinction. Blogs are designed to be more open and shared, they can be set up on a course, individual or group basis. Journals within Campus Pack are intended as private reflective spaces, where only tutors can see what students have written.
The podcast tool is the most unique within Campus Pack as it’s functionality is not replicated elsewhere. The podcast tool will allow you to record audio directly in to Moodle, rather than having to record on an external device/ program and upload it. This makes it very quick and easy to create and share sound files with a course.
Finally the LTI tools allows you to embed external content that is LTI compliant. As mentioned above this functionality is also available in Moodle via the External tools function, and is probably easier to use this.
You can find out more about Campus Pack on the UCL Moodle Resource Centre wiki.
Additionally you can learn more about Campus Pack through Unit 3 of UCL Arena Digital titled, “How can we involve students with Campus Pack blogs, wikis and podcasts?” This unit has just finished but remains open for access. Participants can watch video tutorials, see (and still take part in) a Campus Pack wiki activity, read (and contribute to) a Campus Pack blog, and see a recording of a webinar where Tim Neumann (Campus Pack expert) discusses ways of using the tools for collaboration and assessment with UCL colleagues.
As well as the tools mentioned above, which as looked after by the E-Learning Environments team UCL also offer a number of other spaces such as the UCL wiki and UCL Personal Web Service.
If you are interested in any of the above services and think that you could utilise them in your teaching and learning please contact the ISD Service Desk for more information.