E-Learning Environments team blog
  • ELE Group
    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!

  • Subscribe to the ELE blog

  • Meta

  • Tags

  • A A A

    Turnitin service disruption 16 Sept 2014

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 16 September 2014

    Some users may have experienced problems with Turnitin between 01:55 and 02:55  on 16th September 2014. These issues have now successfully been resolved. We apologise for the inconvenience caused by these issues.

    Some users may have experienced some problems with Turnitin between 5:55PM and 6:55PM PST. System is normal now.

    — Turnitin Status (@TurnitinStatus) September 16, 2014

    Hype vs hope in e-learning

    By Clive Young, on 5 September 2014

    Across higher education there is a genuine feeling we are at some kind of tipping point in the use of e- learning. On the other hand practitioners are wary of the risk of over-hyping and point to the recent feverish marketing of MOOCs.

    At the Association for Learning Technology Conference earlier this week, for me one of the most thought-provoking sessions was the opening keynote from Jeff Haywood, University of Edinburgh. Jeff is both Professor of Education & Technology and VP Knowledge Management and has among many other things led Edinburgh’s pioneering initiative with MOOCs.

    The talk put the hype in perspective and looked forward to where higher education might be in the next decade, but Jeff was conscious of Terry Mayes’ notion of e-learning’s Groundhog Day phenomenon “the cycle of raised expectation followed by disappointment” (e.g. Groundhog Day again?, 2007)

    Looking back he concluded that although change was inevitably slow in universities, it was definitely occurring.  As an example he suggested much of students learning was nowadays facilitated by devices and applications not provided by the institution. General attitudes to online teaching and learning were also becoming more positive as students and staff were getting more familiar with them, the “socialisation of technology”, and many universities were seeing online delivery as a ‘worthwhile’ business supplement to existing residential provision.

    He suggested however universities had been using technology to improve the quality of what we currently do, rather than increase the efficiency of the underlying economics. One thing MOOCs had shown was that a reasonably effective learning experience can be delivered economically at a scale hitherto unimagined.  This raises  – though so far in my view doesn’t yet answer – the question of whether we can increase productivity while maintaining quality.

    Jeff asked if we use purposefully use technology to help students break out from the timetabled pacing of learning or enable staff to teach some parts of the programme to many more students.

    So what could higher education look like in ten years? Jeff’s person list was; on demand, self-paced, location-flexible, relevant to life/career now and in the future, global and local, personalised, affordable, high value added and covering a wide range of subjects.

    This vision is not about technology per se, but is unachievable without technology. Some kind of vision is necessary but we know universities as big complex organisations transform slowly so the vision must be combined with patience and persistence. To keep momentum and direction over a decade we therefore need a road map made up of systematically planned ‘modest, purposeful’ steps. These steps must be at the same time ‘agile’ and be adaptable to emergent change or evidence.

    An interesting and ambitious vision for the increasingly ‘off-campus’ University of Edinburgh was laid out. He suggested their 50 fully online Masters degrees and the well-subscribed continuing education programmes may be a better indicator of future core business direction than the 15 MOOCs currently running. He saw ‘on-campus’ and ‘off-campus’  provision becoming more integrated and balanced, “nobody would graduate from the university in any degree who had not taken one core fully online course” and that “all our teaching staff would have some experience of teaching online”. At Masters level he foresaw a 50:50 split of on/off campus students, with a steady blurring of the distinction at programme level. Continuing education would be enriched by technology and Edinburgh would continue to develop its ‘open’ components to increase the reach of and global/local engagement with the university – open will therefore become a “core part of the business’.

    To get there Edinburgh suggested a series of systematic ‘serious experiments’ in key areas (e.g as derived for example from the Horizon reports) which not just for local use but always with a view from the beginning of how to scale to an institutional level. This will introduce the key technical and digital literacy elements needed to achieve the University’s vision.

    Turnitin Unplanned Outage 27 August.

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 28 August 2014

    Some users may have experienced problems with Turnitin between 19:23 and 20:45  on 27th August 2014. These issues have now successfully been resolved. We apologise for the inconvenience caused by these issues, and thank you for your patience as we worked with Turnitin to correct them.

    All times are for the UK (GMT or BST), for other locations please convert: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html

    Turnitin upgrade on 2nd September 2014

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 20 August 2014

    Turnitin will be unavailable on 2nd September 2014 from 0800 to 1000 whilst we carry out a routine upgrade.

    On 2nd September we will upgrade Turnitin to version 2. There are many benefits to this upgrade, including submit anything, choose your defaults and more option in the settings.

    Submit anything – You will be able to allow any file type in Turnitin.

    Choose your default – In the settings you’ll be able to set your own defaults that will be used each time you set up an assignment.

    More option in the settings – including attaching a rubric and setting the start, due and post dates.

    Additionally the tabs long to top for a submission are changing. When you click the link on the Moodle course the new version takes you straight into the submission inbox.

    Please note that version 2 of Turnitin will run alongside version 1 for a period and this upgrade will not affect existing assignments. More details on the transition between plugins will follow soon.

    If you have any questions about the upgrade please email ele@ucl.ac.uk and we would be happy to answer your questions or address your concerns.

    All times are for the UK (GMT or BST), for other locations please convert: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html

    Humans need not apply — video

    By Matt Jenner, on 18 August 2014

    Humans need not apply is a video on robots, automation and how they will inevitably take over the workforce. If it’s happening, I hope we get to enjoy the show? Or maybe humans and robots can work together as a team. It’s a tricky subject but this video, while slightly contrversial in some of its exclamations is a succinct review of where we’ve come from, where we’re heading and lazy horses. Brilliant.

    We have been through economic revolutions before, but the robot revolution is different. And it’s here. Robots are in the same place where computers were in the 80s and they will get smarter and cheap.

    “Horses aren’t unemployed now because they got lazy as a species, they’re unemployable. There’s little work a horse can do that do that pays for its housing and hay.”

    This video isn’t about how automation is bad — rather that automation is inevitable. It’s a tool to produce abundance for little effort.

    News for Lecturecast users: Direct booking is introduced and the Lecturecast Resource Centre gets a make-over.

    By Rod Digges, on 18 August 2014

    neon video sign


    A new booking form, linked into the Lecturecast system allows UCL staff members to schedule recordings for portico registered modules directly.

    Staff wishing to book non-portico module recordings should email ele@ucl.ac.uk

    The Lecturecast resource centre  has been substantially updated, giving more detailed information about a number of existing and new topics. We very much hope that the UCL Lecturecast community find the resources both interesting and useful – included is new information about:

    • Live webcasting and an invitation to join with ELE in a preliminary study of its potential for teaching at UCL.
    • The new personal capture client – the PC version is even more user-friendly with a completely new look and feel. The lastest Mac version is more reliable. (PC users should download the latest personal capture software from Lecturecast the old version will no longer automatically update).
    • A new embed facility allowing Lecturecast recordings (voice and display only) to be embedded in Moodle and other web pages – much like embeding a YouTube video.
    • How Lecturecast course instructors can use EchoCenter pages to access viewing figures.