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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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    Archive for the 'Digital literacies' Category

    Meet Jess, Jack, Stuart & Heather – realistic voices for free* download

    By Jessica Gramp, on 3 March 2015

    I have recently started listening to my books and papers, rather than reading them. This frees me up to do other things while I listen, such as cook, take a bath or do some tidying up. It also gives my eyes a well needed break from staring at a computer screen or paper.

    As part of an online e-learning course I am helping to develop, I am using the TechDis Jess voice to provide audio files of the commentary, as an alternative to reading. I have had to tweak some of the text – for example, UCL needs to be written with spaces between each letter in order for Jess to pronounce each letter individually and I needed to add a hyphen to CMALT (C-MALT) for it to be pronounced correctly. But for the most part I can leave the text much as it is typed. I then run it through a free, open source software called Balabolka to produce an audio file that participants on the course can download and listen to.

    TechDis Jess and other UK voices (including Scottish and Welsh options) are available from www.jisctechdis.ac.uk/techdis/technologymatters/voices.

    Balabolka is available from: www.cross-plus-a.com/balabolka.htm.

     
    Listen to a sample:

    Listen on SoundCloud…

    *Staff and learners studying at England’s UK and FE institutions can download the voices free of charge and those at Scottish and Welsh institutions can download local voices.

    Augmenting our realities and working together

    By Rod Digges, on 24 February 2015

    Last year I had the opportunity to contribute to BASC2001 an interdisciplinary course looking at the world of objects, the stories they hold and how they are researched and represented.
    Updating the materials for my contribution this year, part of which involves the different ways objects can be represented digitally, I came across a number of online tools that I thought it would be worth writting about, they demonstrate how much easier it’s becoming for those with no great technical expertise to create 3D models, Augmented Reality scenarios and also to collaborate in website design.

     The model above, a small maquette, made by a student at the Slade in the 1950’s was captured by simply taking a series of 25 photos and uploading these to http://apps.123dapp.com/catch/ a free cloud service that converts pictures into 3D models. The service provides an embed code that allows models to be placed in a web page but doesn’t allow annotation, https://sketchfab.com/ does, so the model files were re-uploaded there to provide the model shown above.

    The creation of models like this is now a fairly simple task and once created newer online tools provide even more opportunities for the ways in which they can be represented; http://www.metaio.com/ has a downloadable Augmented Reality (AR) application (free for basic use) that allows models to be animated and viewed using ‘real world’ triggers like QR codes, images, or even locations.
    By downloading an AR browser (from http://www.junaio.com/) to an Android or Apple mobile device these augmented realities can be viewed. If you’re interested in seeing for yourself, load the junaio browser onto your smartphone or tablet, scan the QR code below and then point it at the picture of the model below.

    junaio_channel_378275_qrCode     Boy's head

     

    As well as looking at ways of representing objects, students of BASC2001 have, in groups, to create a virtual exhibition of their allocated objects. While researching services that might help students with this task I came across https://cacoo.com – an online tool that allows users to simultaneously edit things like wireframe outlines for web sites – wireframing is a way laying out the essential structure of a website prior to ‘meat being put on the bones’, it’s an important step allowing teams to layout and discuss design decisions prior to committing to the work involved in realising a particular site.
    One of the great features of the cacoo service is multiple editors can work simultaneously on the same page and view in realtime all the change that are being suggested. Another feature is that collaborators don’t need high level web design skills in order to contribute – an important consideration for students coming from a range of disciplines and having very different levels of digital literacy.
    The ability to edit can be controlled by invitation only but, for the brave, layouts can set to be world editable like this one – https://cacoo.com/diagrams/Ubzjolw5T8HBAtTw

     

    2015 Horizon Report – what are the six key trends in E-Learning?

    By Clive Young, on 17 February 2015

    nmc_itunesu.HR2015-170x170Every year the NMC Horizon Report examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and ‘creative inquiry’ within the environment of higher education. The report, downloadable in PDF, is compiled by an international body of experts and provides a useful checklist trends, challenges and technologies in the field and provides a useful benchmark of what is most talked about at the moment.

    The key trends identified in the in the short term are

    • Increasing use of blended learning
    • Redesigning learning spaces

    Longer term trends are: growing focus on measuring learning, proliferation of open learning resources, advancing cultures of change and innovation and increasing cross-institution collaboration.

    Key ‘solvable’ challenges are

    • Blending formal and informal learning
    • Improving digital literacy

    More difficult challenges are; personalising learning, teaching complex thinking and the ‘wicked’ ones are competing models of education and the old chestnut, rewarding teaching.

    The important developments in educational technology they identify are in the short term are

    • Bring your own device (BYOD)
    • Flipped classroom – same as last year

    Longer-term innovations are; makerspaces, wearable technology, adaptive learning technologies and the ‘Internet of Things’.

    As usual there are useful commentaries and links throughout. Encouraging that many of these ideas are already being implemented, trialed and discussed here at UCL.

     

    Video competition showcasing students’ research

    By Natasa Perovic, on 9 January 2015

     

    All UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences Masters students were invited to submit a two-minute video that summarised their research. The aim of the competition was to showcase the high quality research being conducted by Masters students and to provide an opportunity for students to develop the necessary skills to make their research accessible to the public.

    Students were instructed to answer the following:

    What is your research question?
    What have you found in relation to your question?
    Why is it important?

    The entries were of a  high standard and demonstrated the excellent work taking place across the faculty. Four students particularly impressed the panel of judges with their ability to communicate their message in a clear and engaging manner.

    The winners of our first Masters Video Competition are:

    1st place:

    Tara Brah (MSc Biology of Vision, supervised by Prof Shin-ichi Ohnuma). How do we make the third eye?

     

    2nd place:

    Giulia Borghini (MSc Cognitive Neuroscience, supervised by Prof Vince Walsh and Dr Marinella Cappaletti). Alpha stimulation effects on working memory and inhibitory abilities in elderly

     

    Highly Commended:

    Nathan Hayes (MSc Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology, supervised by Dr Helena Rutherford). The Impact of Maternal Substance Use on Neural Processing of Social and Non-social Feedback

     

    Highly Commended:

    Seray Ibrahim (MRes Speech, Language and Cognition, supervised by Dr Michael Clarke and Dr Duncan Brumby).   Involving child communication aid users in the development of communication aids

    More information:  Poster about the competition http://www.ucl.ac.uk/slms/education/education-domain/documents/posters/video_competition_showcasing_research.pdf by Dr Jennifer Rodd and Dr Alex Standen

    Little Thought, Big Consequences

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 7 January 2015

    It can take very little time to write an online post, but such a post could have very big implications. Those implication can be either very good or very bad so it is always recommend that however little time it takes to type, you should always think before you tweet.

    There is a story in the news today about a Bristol stockbroker who tweeted an apparent poor-taste joke that he had hit a cyclist with his car on the way to work. Later that same day he was fired from work. He has also been contacted by the local police who are now investigating whether he negated his duty to stop and if there are any witnesses. This man’s life has been turned upside down all for a ‘joke’ that might have gained a groan or chuckle from his friends but was never appropriate for a public platform. This is why I post by the mantra, if you would have to look around before you said it out loud, or would say it in a whispered voice don’t post it online. Everything else, think about it, type it, read it out loud, think about it again and then if you’re sure, post it.

    As the article details there is also some scrutiny on the company who fired the man in question, and whether they acted too swiftly. If there was no hit-and-run and this was, as claimed by the man, a poor taste joke then his only offense is not thinking, is that really a sack-able behavior?

    You can find out more about improving your own digital skills and read some social media success stories on the UCL ELE wiki pages. If you have any questions about social media use in education then please contact ELE, alternatively if you have any thoughts about this post you can leave a comment, we always love to hear from you.

     

     

    Teaching translation through editing Wikipedia

    By Mira Vogel, on 15 December 2014


    UCL Centre for Translation Studies
    CenTraS Wikipedia Translatathon, Nov 2014 (CenTraS) recently held an event to learn how to contribute to Wikipedia, the encyclopedia anyone can edit. These kinds of events are known as ‘editathons’ – we called ours a ‘translatathon’ because it involved 36 postgraduate translation studies students, all new to editing Wikipedia, translating English women’s health articles into several different target languages. The event was jointly organised by CenTraS’ Rocío Baños Piñero, Wikimedia Gender Gap Project Worker Roberta Wedge, and me. In this account I’ll focus on practicalities, which I hope will help anybody thinking of running one themselves.

    Preparation

    For a translatathon the choice of subject needs to be something that is both underrepresented and that participants can relate to. Given that the people in this case were almost all women and enrolled on a programme with a technical and medical focus, women’s health was a good choice.

    To arrange refreshments and estimate the number of Wikimedian volunteers needed, we invited students from across CenTraS to sign up in advance on EventBrite (our event was restricted to CenTraS students, but for open events Wikimedia has Event Pages which can handle sign-ups, reminders, &c). Eventbrite also allowed us to ask students a few extra questions, allowing us to plan for their target languages. The invitation included the schedule so that students would know what to expect.

    Other preparation entailed booking a suitable computer room, arranging tea, coffee and biscuits (Wikimedia funded these), and organising logins for the Wikimedia volunteers. To learn the concepts, the editing basics, think through some edits and actually make them in the article, Wikimedia recommend a minimum of 4 hours. Our translatathon was organised around the students’ timetables between 2-7pm (5 hours went incredibly fast) divided between the basics of Wikipedia editing, choosing an article, a presentation on why translating Wikipedia matters, and a final round-up.

    Students were asked to complete an hour’s self-paced training from Wikipedia on the basics of editing, but were reassured that if they couldn’t, that wouldn’t be a problem.

    Learning to edit

    After a discussion about encyclopedias, Roberta introduced the basics of Wikipedia editing. She contrasted Wikipedia’s article pages with their respective Talk Pages (where editors discuss the content of the article), and each user’s own User Page (personal, no need for neutrality or referencing). The first words students wrote on Wikipedia were “I am learning to edit Wikipedia” on their own User Pages. This isn’t just a random sentence – it signals to other Wikipedians who may be watching out for disruptive acts or unusual practices that the author is inexperienced and should be treated hospitably. Another helpful thing for new Wikipedians to do on their User Page is to add the text {{new user bar}} and then save – this template then presents a list of links to help and general orientation which the user can remove once they know the ropes.

    There are some particular practices for translating Wikipedia. For example any Wiki user should include a brief edit summary before they save, but for translation this is the place to cite the original article. “Translated from [[:en:title of article]]” is the customary way of referencing. The Talk Page (something every article has, used by editors to inform each other about plans and discuss dilemmas) is useful for noting sources, too. By the end of that session, students knew how to get into edit mode, how to make a link, how to reference, and some Wikipedia etiquette.

    Translating Wikipedia

    Next students identified articles to work on from the English Women’s Health category. They checked whether the article existed in their target language Wikipedia, and whether it could helpfully be developed through translation. Then, to avoid working on the mainspace (live article), they copied  one section of the English article into their Sandbox (a sub page of a user’s personal page which can be used for for drafting and testing). It soon became clear that you need to work in the Sandbox of your target language Wikipedia so that when you make internal links in the usual way (surrounding that page’s title in double brackets) it will refer to that Wikipedia, rather than the English one (not all Wikipedias have a sandbox but it’s easy to create a bespoke one from your User Page by appending a forward slash (/) and the word Sandbox). Then, to avoid students inadvertently overwriting each others’ edits, the 30 or so students working in Chinese used a shared document to note which article and section they were working on (again, if we’d had a Wikimedia event page we’d have used that – but instead we used a Google Doc).

    It’s usual for Wikimedia editathons to include a presentation from a subject expert about the topic of the day. Ours was from Fabian Tompsett who introduced the 288  Wikipedias with reference to the article on ebola. Thanks to the work of Wikiproject Medicine, the ebola article emerged as a trusted source during the 2014 outbreak, with translation continuing to play a vital role.

    Discussing translating WikipediaThen we returned to editing. A number of translation-related queries were discussed, such as which were the best resources to find reliable medical terminology or how to deal with the translation of bibliographical references in across languages. There was marked trepidation when the time came to move the work from the Sandbox to the mainspace, because students were worried that their work wasn’t perfect. The Wikimedia volunteers reassured them that it’s in the nature of a wiki is for articles to start small and be refined over time, often by several different authors. Again, explaining works in progress is where the Talk Page and Edit Summary come in. Finally, Wikipedia articles each have a sidebar listing its counterparts in other languages, so the last thing we did was to make sure this included links to and from the new translated material.

    What students said

    I chatted with some of the students to find out what they made of the translatathon. One told me that she uses Wikipedia a lot when translating – particularly comparing the English version with the version in her target language – and that she wanted to “give something back”. She also mentioned that it was exciting to be able to publish something on such a prominent site. Being familiar with HTML, she found editing very straightforward. But as one of the students who had completed the self-paced training in advance she had found herself at a loose end during the first part of the session, and suggested providing more advanced training for people in her position.

    Another student who used Wikipedia very frequently was conscious that many of the articles in her language were inadequate and was interested in making improvements. Even as a self-described non-technical user she found Wikipedia editing straightforward. The one thing she said she’d like to change about the translatathon was more clarity about exactly what students would achieve at the end (for example “at least one paragraph translated”).

    A third student told me she felt very motivated to practice translation on Wikipedia in the future. As well as the realisation that some of the women’s health articles are underdeveloped on Chinese Wikipedia, she was excited about writing on such a visible site and inspired that people in China would be be able to read her work.

    Thanks, Wikimedia

    The Wikimedian volunteers were great. Contributing on the day with suggestions, one-to-one assistance and the occasional bit of troubleshooting were Jonathan Cardy (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums Organiser), Fabian Tompsett (Volunteer Support Organiser) from the Wikimedia UK Office, and the generous volunteer Wikimedians James Heald, Nicolas Webb, Zoe Millington and Raya Sharbain (UCL student and founder UK Wikimedia Campus Ambassador). Wikimedia evaluated the event with a feedback questionnaire – I’ll update here when I hear more.

    Wikimedia are supporting a working group on teaching translation through Wikipedia editing.