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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    Archive for the 'General Learning Technology' Category

    Managing virtual or face to face office hours in Moodle

    By Jessica Gramp, on 14 April 2015

    clock

    UCL Moodle contains a useful tool for helping you to arrange your office hours with your students. The meeting might be virtual (e.g. using Skype or telephone) or face to face.

    The scheduler activity allows you to specify time slots for meetings, which students then choose on Moodle. Tutors in turn can record that the student attended, make notes about the meeting – and optionally assign a grade – within the scheduler. The scheduler sends reminders to both students and staff and allows either to cancel the appointment and book another time. The scheduler also supports group meetings, where multiple students can sign up at one time. It also allows staff to assign students to attend a meeting at a particular time.

    ABC (Arena Blended Connected) curriculum design

    By Natasa Perovic, on 9 April 2015

    The ABC curriculum design method is a ninety-minute hands-on workshop for module (and programme) teams. This rapid-design method starts with your normal module (programme) documentation and will help you create a visual ‘storyboard’. A storyboard lays out 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 a more blended format.

    The method uses an effective and engaging paper card-based approach based on research from the JISC* and UCL IoE**. Six common types of learning activities are represented by six cards. These types are acquisition, inquiry, practice, production, discussion and collaboration.

    learning_types_all_cards

    The team starts by writing a very short ‘catalogue’ description of the module to highlight its unique aspects. The rough proportion of each type is agreed (e.g. how much practice, or collaboration) and the envisaged blend of face-to-face and online.

    curriculum_cards_m

    Next the team plan the distribution of each learning type by arranging the postcard-sized cards along the timeline of the module. With this outline agreed participants turn over the cards. Each card lists online and conventional activities associated with each learning types and the team can pick from this list and add their own.

    workshop team selecting activities

    The type and range of learner activities soon becomes clear and the cards often suggest new approaches. The aim of this process is not to advocate any ‘ideal’ mix but to stimulate a structured conversation among the team.

    Participants then look for opportunities for formative and summative assessment linked to the activities, and ensure these are aligned to the module’s learning outcomes.

    assessment

     

    The final stage is a review to see if the balance of activities and the blend have changed, agree and photograph the new storyboard. graph_s

    The storyboard can then be used to develop detailed student documentation or outline a Moodle course (a module in Mooodle).

     

    curriculum_final

    The ABC team is developing a program-level version based on the Connected Curriculum principles.

    Participants’ thoughts about ABC curriculum design workshop:

    Refererences:

    *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.

    Arena Digital Unit 2 starts Monday April 13!

    By Jessica Gramp, on 8 April 2015

    Over 200 UCL colleagues have already joined UCL Arena Digital, UCL’s free online course to help you improve your Moodle skills and enhance your online/blended learning provision.

    Unit 2 starts Monday April 13 and focuses on communication. It runs for two weeks.

    Discover ways to use communication tools both inside and outside of Moodle.

    In week one, we’ll investigate benefits of online communication and what to watch out for! We’ll focus on using discussion forums effectively with your students, and take a look at some collaboration tools, including blogs and wikis. You’ll find out what UCL systems are available and also why you might choose to use publicly available tools as well or instead. We’ll suggest some popular systems to help you get started and you’ll have the opportunity to share your findings with others. We’ll also leave PowerPoint behind and look at some fun alternatives.

    You’ll get a chance to learn about lecture flipping, tools to help manage virtual and face to face office hours, social bookmarking and web curation.

    In week two you’ll get a chance to use Twitter and learn what all those references to hashtags, favourites, mentions, lists and DMs actually mean.

    So join up to Arena Digital today!

    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.

    UCL Arena Digital – you can still join us for Week 2!

    By Clive Young, on 9 March 2015

     

    Over 200 UCL colleagues have already joined UCL Arena Digital, our free online course to help improve Moodle skills and enhance your online/blended learning.

    We are in Week 2 but you are still welcome to join.

    The course is fully online and will take only 2-3 hours of your week. The course is made up of three Units. Each unit will last 2 weeks and there will be breaks in between Units. Each fortnight will end with a live online webinar where you can share your experiences with your colleagues on the course.

    The course is designed so you can take all three Units, or simply pop in for the Units that especially interest you.

    • Unit 1: multimedia – the current one – find out how to create and embed media and interactive tools in Moodle to enliven the online environment for your students.
    • Unit 2: communication – discover ways of using tools inside and outside of Moodle you can use to communicate with students and support their collaboration with each other.
    • Unit 3: assessment and feedback – explore ways of using the online environment to create new kinds of assessment and give feedback to students.

    Unit 1 started last week and will continue to Thursday 12 March, when we will conclude with a webinar.

    Even if you missed last week there is still time to get involved and all the materials will also be available afterwards.

    You can enrol at https://moodle.ucl.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=29477

    Log on using your UCL username and password

    Unit 2 will launch in early April 2015 – look out for further announcements.