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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    Blended Learning Essentials: Getting Started

    By Clive Young, on 9 October 2015


    ‘Blended Learning Essentials: Getting Started’ is a free course, run by a partnership between UCL Institute of Education and University of Leeds, along with a range of colleges and organisations, on the FutureLearn platform.

    The lead educator is Professor Diana Laurillard from UCL, and, while the course is focused on vocational education, you will find much to connect with your own work. We are looking for interested staff to form a UCL cohort to take the course together.

    The course will be in two parts, run over 8 weeks in total. The first part of the course ‘Getting Started’ will ‪start on November 2nd 2015.

    We will be putting together a programme of events to support the UCL cohort and make links with teaching at UCL.

    If you are interested in joining the UCL cohort add your name here and join the course at FutureLearn.

    Introducing the ‘UCL Student Blog’

    By Moira Wright, on 6 October 2015

    bloggingE-Learning Environments (ELE)  is launching a pilot that gives students the opportunity to write short review blog posts and get them published on a UCL blog page. We’d like to hear from any students and staff interested in taking part.

    The idea is that students review clips or programmes of online resources that are relevant to their studies. These might be TV or radio programmes from BoB (Box of Broadcasts), Lynda.com courses, TED Talks, Khan Academy resources, YouTube videos or any other online resource that may be of interest to others at UCL.

    Staff might even use these resources in class and link to them from their Moodle courses. Staff can also help to tag the posts with keywords relevant to the topics they are teaching.

    Don’t worry if you have never written a blog before. ELE will provide you technical support and training on how to write for the web will be provided via Lynda.com and the ‘Writing for the Web’ course.

    We’d also like to include student reviews of apps to form the ‘My Favourite Apps’ pages.  We think with so many apps around it would be really good to share what people at UCL are using, and why and how they are being used.

    By answering some simple questions, you can write a (really) short review of an app you are using and tell us why you are using it – maybe it has improved your life, helped your learning or saved you money. People can vote and winners of ‘My Favourite App’ will have their review posted on a digital postcard on the front page of UCL Moodle.

    Students can be recognised for this work with HEAR (Higher Education Academic Report) for your blogging (you’ll need to meet the criteria). The HEAR is an electronic transcript of verified academic and non-degree related achievements attached to students record. See the UCL HEAR Information for Students.

    Students could also use this work to form a project for gaining a Jisc ‘Institutional Change Leader’ (ICL) award, accredited by the Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA).

    If you are interested in being involved, please complete the form at the bottom of this page.

    Examples of similar programmes being run at other universities and colleges are available in Jess Gramp’s blog posts ‘On the Box‘ and ‘GC Student innovators‘.

    The first post is up and was written by 3rd year UCL Department of English student Ellie Pearce. In the blog called ‘Bentham Returns’ Ellie imagines Jeremy Bentham waking up in the middle of the festival ‘to celebrate all things digital’ UCL digifest which took place in Nov 2014. She has really captured the spirit of JB and we’re sure you’ll be inspired to get working on your own first review and hunting down clips, programmes and library resources. We’re aiming to build a rich archive of film, programme and clip resources in which can be accessed used and added to, over time.


    On the box

    By Jessica Gramp, on 6 October 2015

    At the University of Leicester students are helping to find TV and radio clips that help students learn.
    Those involved in this programme review clips or entire episodes available via Box of Broadcasts.
    Box of Broadcasts TVThe Box of Broadcasts (BoB) service is available to UCL staff and students and allows them to view shows recorded from  free to air channels, including everything broadcast on the BBC (TV and radio) since 2007 (800,000+ programmes). Programmes aired in the last 30 days can be recorded by an user and then remain available to anyone else who wants to access them.
    At the University of Leicester students are helping integrate these resources into their modules, by blogging reviews for others to read and comment on. There are also plans to develop viewing lists of useful programmes for particular subjects. Each blog post is tagged with relevant keywords to make it easier for others to find relevant resources. Staff involved in the pilot also link to the blog from their online course pages.
    Students at Leicester received training and support in writing for the web and were also paid for their contributions once they blogged a minimum of 5 posts.
    One limitation these students encountered with Box of Broadcasts is that the search is difficult to use. University of Leicester students have begun using a service called TRILT to search and set alerts for deeper/future searches: http://bufvc.ac.uk/tvandradio/trilt/
    You can see some examples of these blogs here:

    The first example above (Biology on the Box) was run with tutors amending the tags on the 50 posts to fit with their teaching. Subsequently, these are better tagged than the posts in the English on the Box, where students led the entire process, including tagging. For ‘English on the Box’, 4 students contributed 35 posts and half of these were radio programmes. These students explained that they found it difficult to tag the posts with accurate keywords that were relevant to their modules, therefore it is important to involve the module tutors in this process. 

    There were may positive outcomes for this project, including:
    • Students who participated improved their written communication skills and developed their digital footprint, which will help them to demonstrate their skills to future employers.
    • Students used knowledge obtained from these media clips within their exam answers, so it had a positive impact on their learning.
    • Academic staff could easily incorporate rich media into their modules.
    This project was presented at the recent ALT-C conference in Manchester, UK.

    UCL is developing a similar, student-led project and is calling for both staff and students to take part.
    • We need students to volunteer to become bloggers and approach their tutors to incorporate their blog posts into their Moodle courses – E-Learning Environments can help with the technicalities.
    • We need tutors to volunteer to promote this to their student;  incorporate the ‘viewing lists’ into their Moodle courses and help with tagging.

    Find out more and sign up here…

    GC Student innovators blog

    By Jessica Gramp, on 6 October 2015

    GC Student Innovator BadgeGloucestershire College are crowd sourcing students to lead on important change projects across the college.
    One of these projects is the student innovators blog, where students review apps. The aim of this project is to get more people at the college using and talking about technology to support learning and to build the technical skills of the students involved.
    “The Student Innovators is a group of students passionate about using technology to help learning. They will be trying out apps and web tools alongside their studies and give feedback on the Student Innovator blog. They work together as a team to share their experiences so you know before you download which app is best. You are welcome to read their reviews and leave comments.” (gcstudentinnovators1415.blogspot.co.uk)
    Students at the college received training and support in how to write for the web. They followed a pro forma in order to review each app. This contained the following sections:
    • Name of App:
    • Cost:
    • Device/s used:
    • What was good about this tool?
    • What was bad about this tool?

    Note: I would probably also add to this, which platforms the app is available on. E.g. Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux etc.

    Once the posts are published on the blog, people can ask questions and post comments. The commenting feature logs people in using their Google account by default. However, people can select from a number of other online services to log in as, including WordPress, OpenID or AIM. This provides some protection from spam and other misuse, since it only allows registered users to post comments to the blog.
    During term time, the college selects an ‘ App of the week’ by seeing which post has had the most views, and is therefore the most popular with students.
    As part of the blogging process, students design a ‘card’ promoting the app, which is then used to advertise the ‘App of the week’ on the homepage of the college Virtual Learning Environment.
    Read student posts from last year:
    Although they didn’t know in advance, students who participated received the following benefits:
    • vouchers;
    • open badge;
    • end of year party.

    However, students mentioned they would have participated regardless of these, since the learnt a lot in the process.

    Positive outcomes of this project include:
    • Participants gained confidence in writing and practice writing for the web.
    • Participants built their digital footprint, which can help them demonstrate their skills to potential employers.
    • College students could see what apps other students recommended and why.
    • Anyone could post questions and comments, hence starting conversations around using technology to support learning.
    This project was presented at the recent ALT-C conference in Manchester, UK.

    UCL is developing a similar, student-led project and is calling for both staff and students to take part.
    • We need students to volunteer to become app reviewers and bloggers.
    • We need tutors to volunteer to promote this to their student;  link to relevant app reviews into their Moodle courses and help with tagging.

    Find out more and sign up here…

    UCL Arena Digital Unit 3: How can we involve students with Campus Pack blogs, wikis and podcasts?

    By Clive Young, on 5 October 2015

    A new unit of UCL Arena Digital is coming!


    There will be some new additions to UCL Moodle from September 2015. Campus Pack will provide a suite of tools comprising blogs, journals, wikis and podcasts that can be used to support students’ reflective, social learning and collaboration, as well as enabling tutors and students to record audio directly into Moodle.

    This unit will guide you through these new Moodle tools, and discuss ways of using them in your teaching.

    The unit will last two weeks, taking 1-2 hours of your time, culminating in an interactive webinar which will allow you to explore advanced features and take a look at what colleagues are already doing with the tools.

    UCL Arena Digital Unit 3 will run October 19th – 30th 2015.

    Live webinar Wednesday 28st October 2015 2 – 3 pm.

    Go to the course.


    ABC Curriculum Design Workshops

    By Natasa Perovic, on 30 September 2015

    Arena Blended Connected Curriculum Design


    • A 90 minute hands-on workshop to help module teams design engaging learning activities.
    • Teams work together to create a visual ‘storyboard’ showing the type and sequence learning activities required to meet the module’s learning outcomes and how these will be assessed.
    • ABC is particularly useful for new programmes or those changing to an online or more blended format.

    ABC CD workshop resources:

    • ABC CD leaflet (PDF)
    • ABC CD Workshop presentation (PPT)
    • ABC CD graph blend (PDF)
    • ABC learning types cards (PDF)
    • ABC additional online activities (PDF)
    • ABC CC and learning types (PDF)
    • ABC CD worksheet  lansdcape A1 (PDF) (PPT)
    • ABC CD workshop facilitation plan (Word)
    • ABC Action plan (Word)
    • resources checklist

    The resources are also adapted for ABC CPD and Life learning courses.

    Between March and September we had 11 workshops with 37 teams from SLMS and BEAMS.

    The feedback from participants:

    • “This process was really useful. It helps us think about the modules in their entirety. It is really good how everything maps out in a clear framework like this.“
    •  “We haven’t had such level of detailed discussion as a team. I think the structure and the materials are facilitated well. “
      “It is a good way of focusing on creating the balance within a course.“
    • “It makes you think about: OK , we are going to use this technique, but where, how, for what and how does it fit with everything else? And this is the way into that, I think.“
    • “It helped us formulate in our own mind the course structure. Yes, very useful.“
    • “Made me more conscious of a formative assessment, which really did not occur to me before. “
    • “This has been extremely useful. Not only that we start to think about individual modules and how we can use electronic resources, but it makes us think about the degree together, rather than as separate modules. “
    • “It reminds you of all different formats that you can use, rather than sticking to the same old same old.“
    • “I think it was good to take a step back from the content and look at the varied type of activity. “
    • “We are not trying to be very innovative, but it is a question of being open to new ideas“








    *Viewpoints project JISC

    **UCL IoE: Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning and Technology. New York and London: Routledge.