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    Archive for the 'Virtual classroom' Category

    Accessibility of e-learning – 10 key points from the free OU course

    By Jessica Gramp, on 13 June 2017

    The UK Open University (2006) provide a useful introductory course, called Accessibility of eLearning, that will help you understand how to create accessible e-learning experiences that provide access for all. The course can be completed online, or downloaded in a number of common file formats, including for e-readers and as a PDF.

    I would strongly suggest either completing the course, or reading the course materials, but if you don’t have time I’m going to summarise the key points in this post:

    1. In 2006, disability affected 10-20% of every country’s population, and this number is growing.
    2. In 2006, 15% of the UK population, over 16 years old, self-declared a disability.
    3. A disabled person is one who has a mental or physical disability that has a substantial, long term (12 months or more), adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
    4. Around 1 in 10 men and 1 in 200 women have red-green colour blindness.
    5. UK Universities are legally obligated to make reasonable, anticipatory adjustments to ensure those with disabilities are not discriminated against.
    6. There are two views of disability. The medical model describes the problem of disability as stemming from the person’s physical or mental limitation. The social model sees disability as society restricting those with impairments in the form of prejudice, inaccessible design, policies of exclusion, etc.
    7. Accessibility is about both technical and usable access for people with disabilities. For example, although a table of data may be technically accessible by a blind person using a screen reader, they may not be able to relate the data in each cell to its column or row heading, so the meaning of the data is lost in the process, rendering the table unusable for that person.
    8. Computers enable even severely disabled people to communicate unaided, giving them independence and privacy that is not possible when they need to rely on human assistants.
    9. When communicating online, a disability may not be visible, removing barriers caused by people’s reactions to the disability.
    10. Creating accessible learning environments helps everyone, not just those with disabilities. For example, products that can be used by blind people are also useful for people whose eyes are busy*.

    *This last point reflects my own preference for listening to academic papers while running or walking to work, when I would be otherwise unable to “read” the paper. As a student and full-time employee, being able to use this time to study enables me to manage my time effectively and merge my fitness routine, with study time. This is only possible because my lecturers, and many journals these days too, provide accessible documents that can be read out loud using my mobile smartphone.

    This list brifly summarises the key points I drew from the OU’s Accessibility of eLearning course and demonstrates some of the ways we, as developers of online courses, can make better online learning experiences for all our students, including those with disabilities.

    References

    Open University (2016) Accessibility of E-Learning. [Online]. Available from: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/education/professional-development-education/accessibility-elearning/content-section-0 [Accessed: 13 June 2017].

    Introducing the new E-Learning Baseline

    By Jessica Gramp, on 7 June 2016

    UCL E-Learning Baseline 2016The UCL E-Learning Baseline is now available as a printable colour booklet. This can be downloaded from the UCL E-Learning Baseline wiki page: http://bit.ly/UCLELearningBaseline

    The 2016 version is a product of merging the UCL Moodle Baseline with the Student Minimum Entitlement to On-Line Support from the Institute of Education.

    The Digital Education Advisory team will be distributing printed copies to E-Learning Champions and Teaching Administrators for use in departments.

    Please could you also distribute this to your own networks to help us communicate the new guidelines to all staff.

    Support is available to help staff apply this to their Moodle course templates via digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

    We are also working on a number of ideas to help people understand the baseline (via a myth busting quiz) and a way for people to show their courses are Baseline (or Baseline+) compliant by way with a colleague endorsed badge.

    See ‘What’s new?’, to quickly see what has changed since the last 2013 Baseline.

     

    Spotlight on Engineering’s Learning Technologists in 2015: STEAPP

    By Jessica Gramp, on 9 January 2016

    Learning Technologies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP)

    In Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) learning technology support is provided by the department’s Learning Techologist (Alan Seatwo).  Part of this work involves assisting colleagues to explore the use of emerging teaching themes prior to the start of the MPA Programme. These sessions focus on implementing the UCL E-learning baseline, exploring classroom learning technology and using video for students’ presentation assessment and as a self reflection tool. Prevalent learning technologies in the department include the UCL Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), rapid eLearning development tools, video editing & production, cloud storage, webinars, screencasts, online surveys and classroom learning technologies, such as electronic voting handsets. In this post Alan explains how his department used learning technologies in 2015.

     

    The department was already equipped with a collection of good quality video recorders and in August the department further invested in new hardware and software for video recording & editing, such as a range of camera/ mobile phone mounts, a tripod, wireless microphone and a copy of Adobe Creative Suite. In addition, streaming video and webinar platforms were explored during the organisation and delivery of a seminar by Professor Daniel Kammen and a written report was presented to the department for possible use in the future.

    Doctoral student virtual presentation

    Doctoral student virtual presentation

    There have been no reports of teaching staff and students experiencing major issues using Moodle. Although there have been some maintenance down time from UCL networks, overall access to Moodle is excellent. Colleagues are supportive of the idea of using classroom-learning technology. Specifically, Word-Cloud was used in How to Change the World 2015; Kahoot! and Socrative were used in Policy Making and Policy Analysis; Communication and Project Management Skills; and the Vodafone – UCL Public Policy Intensive Programme. Feedback about the use of such software from colleagues and students was very positive.

    UCLeXtend is a separate Moodle platform for external use. The Vodafone – UCL Public Policy Intensive Programme was granted the use of the platform to deliver the online learning elements. This enabled the department to experiment with organising and delivering online learning programmes to non-UCL users that might be useful for future use.

    Vodafone UCL Public Policy Intensive Programme UCL eXtend course

    Vodafone UCL Public Policy Intensive Programme UCL eXtend course

    Students’ presentations were recorded, stored and made available for course assessment and self-reflection. The experience of exploring video streaming in Professor Kammen’s event enabled the process of screencasting, video recording and webinars to be refined. The average turn around time to deliver edited student presentation videos is around 24 hours after recording takes place.

    Two Virtual Open Day sessions were conducted in Blackboard Collaborate (webinar software). A series of online interviews using BB Collaborate, Skype and Google Hangouts were also held with potential students.

    Other learning technologies being used in the department include:

    • Opinio to support research activities in STEaPP Grant Research Funding Proposal Form, City Health Diplomacy and Science Diplomacy;
    • Articulate Storyline 2 to create two online self assessments in the undergraduate programme: ENGS102P: Design and Professional Skills 2015/16.

    There have been no major issues reported by staff using Moodle to organise and disseminate learning content and facilitating discussion via the forums. The level of usage from students is also good. Data from Moodle shows that students responded to staff instructions to access learning content and submit their assignments electronically. One of the areas that can be further enhanced is the use of learning analytics, which can assist staff to identify usage trends of their designed activities and content.

    Looking ahead: We are in the planning stage for How to Change the World 2016 and have two areas of focus at the moment: Online Attendance Recording and Reporting; and a Peer Reviewed Video Assignment. We are also making good progress on designing and developing an open-source learning object as part of a project funded by a grant from the UCL Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching (CALT).

    Games, gamification and games-based learning SIG

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 18 June 2015

    Do you have an interest in games, gamification and games-based learning?

    If so we would be really interested in hearing from you, we are looking to put together a special interest group at UCL around these areas. The aim of the SIG will be to encourage interaction and discussion on these topics and others, ranging from research on games and play to their implementation within teaching practice (plus hopefully have a bit of fun along the way).

    Please join via our Moodle page if you are interested in taking part along and we will arrange an initial meeting of the group soon.

    Helping us to help you

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 16 December 2014

    When you have a problem or question E-Learning Environments (ELE) are always more than happy to hear from you, and will do all we can to help you as quickly as we can. However, this process can be slowed down if we don’t have all the information we need to investigate your problem, or answer your question. So here are some top tips for what to include in an email/ ticket to ELE, so you can help us to help you.

    1. Course name (and link)

    UCL is a large university with hundreds of courses, and even more modules. Therefore it is very difficult for us to investigate a problem without knowing the name of a course/ module, so that we can look at the problem and try to replicate it. A lot of problem solving is reverse engineered, so we will try to replicate the problem for ourselves and then figure out what is wrong, by using our familiarity with the components of the technology. It is also helpful to include a link to the course/ module in question, as sometimes these are not obvious when searching in Moodle/ Lecturecast. Asking for the course name is always our first step, and so by including this in your original email then you will save time and help us resolve the problem faster.

    2. Activity/ resource name (and link)

    As well as there being a lot of courses at UCL, individual courses may have more than one of a particular activity, such as a Turnitin assignment or forum. It will take ELE extra time if we have to search through all of them to find the problem, and it also means that sometimes we are not always sure if we have found the problem. By including the name and location of the activity in the original email ELE can go straight to it, and get to work determining the problem.

    3. Screenshots

    When we look at a course, it might not always be possible for ELE to replicate a problem. This might be because the issue is related to a particular browser you are using, or due to permissions on your account. As these parameters might not apply to ELE we may not be able to see the problem, which makes it much harder for us to help with the answer. If you can take a screenshot (using the PrtScn key) and then paste that into a document and send it as an attachment, it will help us see the problem and any error messages you are receiving. It can even mean that we can answer the question or give a solution straight away upon seeing the screenshot.

    4. Error messages

    Screenshots of error messages are good, but if you can’t take one then including what an error message says will help ELE to diagnose and resolve the problem. It also helps us if we have to deal with any third party suppliers (such as Turnitin).

    4. Specifics

    A summary of the problem is best as ELE might not have a lot of time to read a long email, and it may be possible to determine and resolve an issue with only a few key details, listed above. However it can also help to be specific. If you are reporting a problem then list what steps you are taking that are causing the problem, which buttons are you clicking and in what order? Details are also helpful if you are asking a question about a new activity you’d like to start, but you’re not sure which tool to use. If you include specific details about what you want to do then ELE can suggest the tool that fits your needs best.

    By following these tips you will have an easier and quicker experience with ELE, and we will be able to get through more problems or questions in less time.

    Please feel free to send your queries to ELE via our email address, ele@ucl.ac.uk

    Lynda.com is now available at UCL

    By Jessica Gramp, on 7 October 2014

    Want to learn how to edit video on your iPhone or iPad, use excel to analyse your research data, or find a job online?

    UCL is currently trialling Lynda.com for 12 months and depending on the uptake this may be extended.

    Lynda.com contains online resources to help you improve your software, technology, business and creative skills. It can be used for staff development, or to help students learn new skills that are useful for university and the workplace.

    UCL has a premium subscription, which means you can download content to watch offline on your mobile device and you can also download any files required to complete the exercises.

    To access Lynda go to Lynda.com and in the top right hand corner click “log in“, then go to the “Log in through your organisation or school” box on the right hand side and enter “www.ucl.ac.uk” This takes you to the UCL Single sign on page where you have to enter your UCL credentials, once successful you are returned to Lynda.com.

    The direct link to the UCL login is here bit.ly/ucl_lynda

    ISD will be developing web pages and information for users over the next week. Please note that there may be some brief technical outages initially while the system is configured specifically for UCL, however, we do not expect this to stop people using the service overall.

    Take a look at the following ‘Moodle Essential Training’ to get an idea of what Lynda.com offers:

    Lynda.com