Digital Education team blog
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    Here you'll find updates on institutional developments, projects we're involved in, updates on educational technology, events, case studies and personal experiences (or views!).

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    TechQual+ Survey at UCL

    By Moira Wright, on 13 October 2017

    In early 2016, ISD (Information Services Division) carried out the first Staff and Student IT Survey using TechQual+. Over 1,000 of you completed the survey, and over the past 16 months we have been working hard to improve our services in response to your comments.

    Below are just a few examples of changes that have been made as a result of the feedback received from the TechQual+ survey run in 2016:

    Wi-Fi                        Three speech bubbles

    A substantial investment in replacing and upgrading our Wi-Fi technology infrastructure

    Service Desk

    We’ve invested in staffing, tools and training to speed up response times and improve quality.

    We’ve partnered with an external organisation and altered shift patterns to provide additional out of hours’ support.

    Printing                 

    We’ve rolled out 170+ additional printers over the past 18 months, targeting the busiest areas. This takes the current total to 660 printers. In areas of high usage, we’ve introduced new high capacity printers.

    Infrastructure

    We have invested in storage and now all staff and students can store 100GB for free.

    Computers

    We are continuing to invest in additional cluster PCs, and loan laptops where there isn’t space for desktops. We added a further 550 desktops and 60 laptops by September 2017.
    We operate one of the largest laptop loan services across UK universities – 266 laptops across 12 locations – and this year a further 60 laptops were added.

    Training

    We delivered 221 courses last academic year, that’s nearly 1000 hours of training with about 3000 people attending.  We are working hard to publicise the courses we offer.

    Audio Visual

    In 2016 ISD invested £2.5m into improving the technology in teaching facilities. Approximately 70 centrally bookable spaces had their facilities updated; this included bringing 43 spaces in 20 Bedford Way up to the standard spec including installation of Lecturecast in approx. 30 spaces.  Lecturecast was also installed at 22 Gordon Street and Canary Wharf (3 spaces each).  We also refreshed the Lecturecast hardware in 12 rooms.


    Drawing of a tablet with 5 stars

    Based on the findings of focus groups at participating institutions, the TechQual+ project has articulated a set of generalised IT service outcomes that are expected of IT organizations by faculty, students, and staff within higher education. The TechQual+ core survey contains 13 items designed to measure the performance of the following three core commitments: 1) Connectivity and Access, 2)Technology and Collaboration Services, and 3) Support and Training.

    The TechQual+ survey will be run again at UCL in December 2017 and we’ll be asking for your help to advertise it to your students, encouraging them (and you!) to complete it. All respondents will be entered into a prize draw with a chance to win some great prizes!

    We’ll be providing more information and communications about the survey closer to the opening date.

     

    A new academic year, an upgraded Lecturecast Service (students)

    By Janice Kiugu, on 5 October 2017

    Lecturecast is UCL’s automated lecture recording system with over 115 rooms across the University enabled with more being added through the year.

    The system is designed for course tutors/administrators to electively choose to record their lectures as supplemental resources and share them with their students via the respective Moodle course.Lecturecast is not a replacement for lecture attendance and is provided to complement lectures and provide an additional resource to support student learning.

    There are multiple benefits of Lecturecasting content, including the ability for you to revisit complex material and to engage in discussions outside of the classroom.

    Over the summer, the UCL Lecturecast system was upgraded to a more user-friendly and interactive interface, providing students with more tools to support their learning. When viewing a recording, you can now:

    • Make notes and download them for reference
    • Post questions
    • Bookmark content- this allows students to revisit a particular slide or scene and any notes that have been made
    • Flag content that may be confusing – flagged content is highlighted to the Tutor(s) associated with the course
    • Engage in discussions relating to the lecture with other students on the course

    Further changes have been made to enhance learning and teaching and to make learning more interactive and engaging for students. Staff can now:

    • Use the Lecturecast system to upload supplementary resources created elsewhere in various file formats
    • Create interactive slides that contain question slides
    • View analytics –   to better understand what students find most useful or to help improve future lecture delivery
    • Respond to questions students have posed as well as posting questions to students

    More information about using Lecturecast can be found here:  Lecturecast – Student Guide

    A step-by-step guide to viewing Lecturecast recordings and making use of the additional functionality is available here – Lecturecast Student Guide Learning the Basics

    For information on UCL Data Protection Policy, UCL Computer Regulations (Acceptable use Policy) and  how your data is being used, please refer to our  Lecturecast Information student wiki page.

    Support

    For information on how Lecturecast is being used on your course, please contact the relevant Tutor.

    For technical support on using the system,  please contact the ISD Service Desk: Tel: 020 7676 5000, 25000 (internal) Email: servicedesk@ucl.ac.uk

    UCL’s new Lecturecast system is live

    By Janice Kiugu, on 28 September 2017

    This summer the Lecturecast service received a significant upgrade when we moved from our previous lecture capture solution to the latest offering from our supplier Echo360.

    For those who have used Lecturecast in the past, you will be pleased to know that the new system offers a more streamlined and user-friendly service that allows you to schedule recordings for your lectures, link your recordings to a Moodle course and manage and edit recordings through the Lecturecast Active Learning Platform (ALP) interface. In addition to upgrading the system, we also have more rooms that are Lecturecast Enabled. Currently, over 110 rooms are online with more being added within the next few weeks.

    We believe that the new system will make it much easier for you to schedule recordings and share them with students. There are benefits to be had for both staff and students in ‘Lecturecasting’ events. In a recent survey of UCL students and their use of technology, the most frequent request was for Lecturecast to be more widely available.

    The new Lecturecast system comprises three elements:

    • The Lecturecast Scheduler: this allows you to schedule recordings for confirmed CMIS (i.e. UCL’s online timetabling and room booking system) booked events.
    • The Lecturecast Connector block – available on every Moodle course when you ‘Turn editing on’. This allows you to link your Moodle Course to a section in Lecturecast that contains the recordings for your course.
    • Lecturecast Active Learning Platform (ALP) – This is where recordings are hosted. The ALP interface provides functionality that goes beyond just hosting recordings and allows you to create and add resources that include interactive slides and view learner analytics. For students, it allows them to flag and bookmark content as well as take notes, participate in discussions and respond to interactive slides.

    We have developed new training resources including video and step-by-step guides to get you started using the new system, and are currently developing more advanced guides which will be available soon. These are available via the Lecturecast Resource Centre

    Training and guidance on using the additional functionality will be phased in over the next 12 months.

    If you are looking for inspiration and on how you might incorporate the use of Lecturecast into your teaching, have a look at some of the case studies from institutions around the world using Echo360 (the developers) behind Lecturecast.

    Below are a host of links to get you started in using the new Lecturecast system at UCL.

    If you have any queries or need support, please email lecturecast@ucl.ac.uk

    Preparing your Moodle Courses for 2017/18

    By Janice Kiugu, on 14 September 2017

    STAFF – Preparing your Moodle Courses for 2017/18

    Many staff have already started preparing their modules on Moodle to try to give students the best possible environment for learning and getting to grips with new material. With the start of term one fast approaching, we wanted to remind all staff of some of the key steps to follow during set-up and review of Moodle modules.  Guidance is provided below for Moodle courses where student activity was completed before the Snapshot was taken on 21st July 2017 as well as for Moodle courses where student activity may have continued beyond this point.

    Modules where student activity finished by 21st July 2017 (mainly UG)

    • Student data and assessment from the past year should have been captured in the Moodle 2016/17 Snapshot: https://moodle-snapshot.ucl.ac.uk/16-17/ . You may want to check your modules to confirm that content that should be hidden has been, and any assessment data you may need is available to you.
    • Reset your course in live Moodle to ensure no data or students from the last cohort remains before new students are enrolled – Find out how to reset your course.
    • Make sure to update your content, in particular any assignment submission dates for this year, and that any links are not broken. Find out how to update Moodle Assignments: and Turnitin Assignments.

    **If your Turnitin submission inbox does not display the column headings, you may want to clear your web browsers cache and cookies.

    • If required, activate Portico enrolments in your module so that students are automatically enrolled – Find out how to activate Portico enrolments here.
    • Once your course is updated, make sure it is visible by going to the Settings for the course.

    Modules where Student activity continues/continued beyond 21st July 2017 (mainly PG)

    • Do not reset your course! – as students have been active after the date of the snapshot and this data will not have been captured elsewhere. Check the Moodle 2016/17 Snapshot version of your course to confirm: https://moodle-snapshot.ucl.ac.uk/16-17 . If you are still unsure get in contact with us using the email below.
    • Request a new course to use for this year’s teaching – include the url of the original course if you require content to be duplicated.

    MoodleMoot 2017: Jo’s reflections

    By Joanna Stroud, on 8 May 2017

    My first two days as Digital Education’s new Distance Learning Facilitator (hi!) were spent at the UK and Ireland edition of MoodleMoot 2017 taking place in London. Presentations ranged from the more technical aspects of Moodle implementation to reports into its more pedagogically-driven uses and impacts. My note-taking over the course of a packed conference schedule was frenzied and now, upon writing this post, occasionally unintelligible, so rather than provide a full overview I’ll reflect upon two presentations in greater detail.

    A Head Start for Online Study: Reflections on a MOOC for New Learners. Presented by Prof. Mark Brown (Dublin City University)
    This project was described by Mark as a means of supporting flexible or distance learners’ transitions into higher education. Despite an established distance learning provision, DCU’s programmes had, like many institutions, experienced higher levels of attrition than those seen with more traditional face-to-face courses. Mark reported that this is largely attributable to the diverse motivations of flexible learners and lack of support at key stages of the study life cycle. DCU thus applied for and gained funding to produce resources that would attempt to bridge these gaps and improve outcomes for flexible learners.

    DCU’s subsequent Student Success Toolbox, containing eight ‘digital readiness’ tools, and the Head Start Online course, piloted on the new Moodle MOOC platform Academy, aim to help potential flexible learners ascertain whether online higher education is right for them, how much time they have and need for study, their sources of support, and the skills they will need to be a successful online learner.

    Mark focused on the outcomes of the Head Start Online pilot course. Of the 151 users registered as part of the pilot, 37 were active after the first week and a total of 24 completed the entire course. However, Mark was keen to stress that learners were not expected to progress through the course in any strict or linear fashion, and completion/non-completion can thus be an unhelpful binary. Feedback from learners proved very positive, with the vast majority believing that they were more ready to become flexible learners, better equipped to manage their time, and more aware of the skills needed for online study after taking the course.

    More information:
    Head Start Online via Moodle Academy
    Student Success Toolbox
    Mark’s presentation from MoodleMoot

    Towards a Community of Inquiry through Moodle Discussion Forums. Presented by Sanna Parikka (University of Helsinki)
    Sanna’s presentation described her use of Moodle discussion forums to facilitate meaningful and constructive online conversations that adhere to the principles of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework theory. Use of the CoI framework defines three vital elements of any educational experience as:

    • Social presence: the ability of learners to communicate and engage in social interactions within the learning environment
    • Cognitive presence: the means by which learners can build meaning through reflection and discourse
    • Teaching presence: how we design, facilitate, and guide learners through experiences to achieve the desired learning outcomes.

    Sanna reported upon a range of approaches designed around the CoI framework, suggesting that it is possible to build social presence and give learners the chance to project their personalities online through simple ice breaker activities. Cognitive presence, meanwhile, can be developed through jigsaw learning activities. Cohorts are split into smaller groups of students who discuss and specialise in one specific topic before being redistributed evenly to new forums with specialists from each area and tasked with teaching their new group about their specialism. Teaching presence is built and threaded through each task by providing direct instruction, scaffolding understanding, facilitating discourse, and sharing personal interpretations of meaning.

    Discussion forums are often unfairly criticised, most frequently for lack of student engagement. However, Sanna’s position was that basic interaction is not enough to develop engagement and create new meaning. Her framing and examples of practice underscored the forum as a versatile, flexible means of delivering not just discussion-based tasks but collaborative exercises too.

    More information:
    The Community of Inquiry (Athabasca University)
    M08 Add new learning forums

    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