E-Learning Environments team blog
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    We support Staff and Students using technology to enhance teaching & learning.

    Here you'll find updates on developments at UCL, links & events as well as case studies and personal experiences. Let us know if you have any ideas you want to share!

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    Turnitin Status and Known Issues Page

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 25 March 2015

    To help keep you up-to-date with the status of the Turnitin service, which is supplied externally by TurnitinUK, we have created the Turnitin Status and known Issues page.

    This page summarises the current known status of the service,  has the official Turnitin Status Twitter feed embedded (to ensure the most up-to-date information) and has a list of current issues that have been reported to TurnitinUK for both V1 and V2 of the plugin. The page will be updated as problems are resolved via upgrades and other fixes.

    https://wiki.ucl.ac.uk/display/MoodleResourceCentre/Turnitin+-+Service+Status+and+Known+Issues

     

    And relax … reflections on UCL Arena Digital Unit 1

    By Eileen Kennedy, on 18 March 2015

    Asleep at the Wheel

    We built it, but would they come?

    Designing an online course in e-learning for UCL staff has its uncertainties, mostly to do with the big question, is anyone actually going to turn up? The pressures on staff at a research intensive University are multiple and intense. Everyone is juggling so many competing priorities, that taking the time to learn about teaching with technology may be an aspiration never fated to turn into a reality.

    We looked to the MOOC phenomenon for inspiration. If there is one thing MOOCs do well it’s publicity. They make the prospect of doing a course so easy and so enticing, that you can’t help but sign up. So we made our promo video and sat back and waited. We said to ourselves, if we get 30 people, that will be good, but of course, really we wanted more.

    It was with some relief, therefore, when the self-enrolments started to trickle through. We passed the 100 mark fairly early, but we weren’t quite at 200 a day or so before the course was due to start. Never fear, however, because the enrolments didn’t stop. Currently UCL Arena Digital has 214 participants, and people continue to sign up.

    Who were they and what were they doing?

    Painstaking analysis reveals that there were 96 different UCL departments represented. The top 5 departments (by numbers of participants) appeared to be:

    1. Dept of Managment Science & Innovation 11
    2. IOE – Culture, Communication & Media 9
    3. Dept of Security and Crime Science 8
    4. Centre for Prep Studies – Astana 8
    5. Centre for Languages & International Education 7

    In addition to these figures, however, there were 15 people who came from different departments but who all had an affiliation with the UCL Institute of Child Health, and 23 people from the UCL Institute of Education. Honourable mentions too, to the Research Department of General Surgery, Institute of Ophthalmology, SELCS and IOE – Lifelong & Comparative Education, all with 5 representatives each. We had one person from UCL Australia.

    During the Unit, we invited participants to watch some video tutorials and explore resources in a Lesson activity and a Book (both ways of presenting content in Moodle). Then we asked people to share some media they use in their teaching on a Padlet (which is a great, easy tool that resembles putting post-it notes on a virtual pin board). There was a glossary for participants to contribute to, and a discussion to take part in, and a final webinar to share experiences on the Thursday of the second week.

    Click that link!

    By Wednesday 18th March, the Using Multimedia: A Moodle Lesson activity had 1246 views (including 242 tutor views). The Going Further with Multimedia: A Moodle Book resource had 1465 (including 71 tutor views). The Wall of Media (the Padlet) had been viewed 64 times, The Language of the Media Glossary had been viewed 327 times, and the discussion forum “When can the use of media enhance teaching and learning” had 544 views.

    We were overjoyed at the enthusiasm of course participants. We have 16 entries in the Glossary now, spanning 5 pages, 34 posts on the Padlet Wall of Media, including some brilliant tutor-crafted screencasts and lots of great examples from participants’ teaching. The shared Practice space has been filling up too. That’s a blank Moodle course for participants to try out what they’ve learnt if they don’t have somewhere else to practice their skills. What is great about it, is that we can all see that learning has taken place, and it is an encouragement to everybody.

    Now take a break …

    Something else we learnt from MOOCs is that participation drops off sharply after the first week, and continues on a downward slope. It seems that everyone’s intention is good, and the enthusiasm can be sustained for so long, but, inevitably, all the other pressures of life get in the way once more. So, we thought, if we split the course into two week Units, with breaks in between, maybe that will keep people with us. And if you haven’t already enrolled, it means that you still can – and you have time to catch up before Unit 2 begins.

    Unit 2 will start on April 13th 2015 and will focus on Communication

    So get ready for wikis, discussion forums, Twitter and more. If you ever thought of ditching the PowerPoint and doing something more interesting instead, then Unit 2 is for you.

    Enrol here and see you all again very soon.

     

    A good peer review experience with Moodle Workshop

    By Mira Vogel, on 18 March 2015

     

    Readers have been begging for news of how it went with the Moodle Workshop activity from this post.

    Workshop is an activity in Moodle which allows staff to set up a peer assessment or (in our case) peer review. Workshop collects student work, automatically allocates reviewers, allows the review to be scaffolded with questions, imposes deadlines on the submission and assessment phase, provides a dashboard so staff can follow progress, and allows staff to assess the reviews/assessments as well as the submissions.

    However, except for some intrepid pioneers, it is almost never seen in the wild.

    The reason for that is partly to do with daunting number and nature of the settings – there are several pitfalls to avoid which aren’t obvious on first pass – but also the fact that because it is a process you can’t easily see a demo and running a test instance is pretty time consuming. If people try once and it doesn’t work well they rarely try again.

    Well look no further – CALT and ELE have it working well now and can support you with your own peer review.

    What happened?

    Students on the UCL Arena Teaching Associate Programme reviewed each others’ case studies. 22 then completed a short evaluation questionnaire in which they rated their experience of giving and receiving feedback on a five-point scale and commented on their responses. The students were from two groups with different tutors running the peer review activity. A third group leader chose to run the peer review on Moodle Forum since it would allow students to easily see each others’ case studies and feedback.

    The students reported that giving feedback went well (21 respondents):

    Pie chart - giving feedback

    Satisfaction with reviewing work – click to enlarge

    This indicates that the measures we took – see previous post - to address disorientation and participation were successful. In particular we were better aware of where the description, instructions for submission, instructions for assessment, and concluding comments would display, and put the relevant information into each.

    Receiving feedback also went well (22 respondents) though with a slightly bigger spread in both directions:

    Pie chart - receiving feedback

    Satisfaction with receiving reviews – click to enlarge

     

    Students appreciated:

    • Feedback on their work.
    • Insights about their own work from considering others’ work.
    • Being able to edit their submission in advance of the deadline.
    • The improved instructions letting them know what to do, when and where.

    Staff appreciated:

    This hasn’t been formally evaluated, but from informal conversations I know that the two group leaders appreciate Moodle taking on the grunt work of allocation. However, this depends on setting a hard deadline with no late submissions (otherwise staff have to keep checking for late submissions and allocating those manually) and one of the leaders was less comfortable with this than the other. Neither found it too onerous to write diary notes to send reminders and alerts to students to move the activity along – in any case this manual messaging will hopefully become unnecessary with the arrival of Moodle Events in the coming upgrade.

    For next time:

    • Improve signposting from the Moodle course area front page, and maybe the title of the Workshop itself, so students know what to do and when.
    • Instructions: let students know how many reviews they are expected to do; let them know if they should expect variety in how the submissions display – in our case some were attachments while others were typed directly into Moodle (we may want to set attachments to zero); include word count guidance in the instructions for submission and assessment.
    • Consider including an example case study & review for reference (Workshop allows this).
    • Address the issue that, due to some non-participation during the Assessment phase, some students gave more feedback than they received.
    • We originally had a single comments field but will now structure the peer review with some questions aligned to the relevant parts of the criteria.
    • Decide about anonymity – should both submissions and reviews be anonymous, or one or the other, or neither? These can be configured via the Permissions for the Workshop’s Permissions.
    • Also to consider – we could also change Permissions after it’s complete (or even while it’s running) to allow students to access the dashboard and see all the case studies and all the feedback.

    Have you had a good experience with Moodle Workshop? What made it work for you?

    MUGSE 3 – London, RVC

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 17 March 2015

    The third meeting of MUGSE (Mahara User Group for Southern England) took place on Friday 6th March, at the Royal Veterinary College in London. Mahara is the software that at UCL we refer to as MyPortfolio, our flexible e-portfolio system.

    The user group meeting had a mix of experiences in Mahara, as well as a mix of learning technology professionals and academics. The group was also lucky enough to have Don Christie from Catalyst in attendance. Catalyst are the company who are responsible for the Mahara project, and they look after the core code and carry out updates.

    The session began with a group round table, with everyone having the chance to contribute problems or question and then the rest of the group offering solutions or answers based on their own experiences. After this there were a series of presentations, including help files and case studies from Roger Emery and Sam Taylor at Southampton Solent University, a look at the April Mahara upgrade from Don Christie and finally Domi Sinclair (me) talking briefly about the importance of getting involved in the Mahara community. If you would like more details about this user group please read the article from Digi Domi and follow MUGSE on Twitter @mugseUK.

     

    This time it’s personal

    By Clive Young, on 16 March 2015

    globe

    There is no doubt that blended and online learning developments, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), are beginning to have an impact on how some universities think about their business model. The Online and Blended Learning Solutions seminar last week was a timely guide through this post-MOOC space.

    Rajay Naik, from the Open University reminded us that the MOOC hype is unlikely to dent the ever-growing demand for on-campus study. What it does though is broaden our horizons and encourage thinking beyond traditional student markets and teaching methods. Some – and one could set the OU is an example – see MOOCs partly as a marketing tool to ‘funnel’ students to fee-paying courses. Others scent a lucrative market in offering targeted MOOC-influenced CPD courses to companies and professionals. A few consider the MOOC format as a way – maybe the only way – of addressing the world’s mass-scale education needs in areas such as health and primary teaching.

    One challenge is to bring the best of the on-campus experience to these remote audiences. He felt this was about how to provide tutor time, as he put it “access to minds”. We should therefore imagine “not distance learning but personal learning”. The OU has one approach to this, the army of Associate Lecturers (of which I am one) providing those academic “touch points”. Another speaker, described how academic contact could work even in a MOOC environment, by weekly feedback videos and forum intervention but it required strong commitment and motivation.

    UCL’s Prof. Diana Laurillard unpacked the implications of these disruptions for university cultures. It was hard for academics just to keep up with rapid developments in their own research areas, not surprisingly time was limited to explore new learning designs. Her message was that we should “treat academics as if they know what they are doing” but they need models, tools and support to help them navigate and contribute to these initiatives. Teachers urgently require environments that will help both skills updating but also sharing and developing ideas in collaboration – indeed not unlike the process of research scholarship!

    An interesting debate then arose from this about how universities should organise themselves to meet these disruptive changes. Should we set up specialist units or attempt mainstream cultural transformation? Neither model was considered ideal, but the feeling was that integration should be the priority; any innovations needed to be diffused into mainstream teaching (maybe via a funded process) “pull-through” from mainstream teaching should also enrich innovation. My own feeling is that while pioneers will always require additional support, developing a two-tier model may delay important mainstream transitions, for example technical upgrading, and risk student (and maybe staff) dissatisfaction by privileging a small group of off-campus participants.

    Prof. Helen O’Suillvan described how online medical programme had been successfully developed at the University of Liverpool with partners Laureate who provide student, marketing and outreach support. Another potentially disruptive aspect in the post-MOOC world therefore is clearly the arrival of new players and potential partners. MOOCs themselves were enabled (and driven) by partnership with external platform providers such as Coursera. For much the same reasons of global impact mentioned above, commercial companies, accrediting bodies, professional organisations, government initiatives, broadcasters, charities, NGOs and publishers are all likely to begin to crowd into this area, either working with or competing against traditional universities.

    The challenge of embodying and replicating (at least partly) the “traditional strengths” of the campus-based student experience was seen as a huge challenge as this very experience – although sometimes hazily defined- was integral to the student, staff and institutional identity.

    However we also discussed how online learning could progress well beyond “replicating” the campus experience and encourage a move from “content-based learning to process-involved learning”. We were reminded that our traditional campus-based students already operated in the electronic world. Online environments can support encourage deeper and reflective “double loop learning”, socially constructed knowledge creation and digital fluency for our campus-based learners, too.

    Image: via www.haikudeck.com

    Need to convert wav files to mp3?

    By Jessica Gramp, on 16 March 2015

    How easy is this? Install LameDrop for Windows and you just drag and drop your wav files onto the LameDrop interface (see that tiny white square in the screenshot below – that’s it!) and it converts them instantly. No settings to worry about and the files appear in the same folder as the originals. Easy peasy! So now I can concentrate on pulling together media for use in my online courses.

    LameDrop

    You can download LameDrop from: http://rarewares.org/mp3-lamedrop.php

     

    apple If you have a Mac you can use iTunes to convert your audio files using these instructions.