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!

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  • Archive for the 'General Learning Technology' Category

    ELE Service Desk Changes

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 18 December 2014

    We would like to inform you of changes that are being made to the E-learning Environments (ELE) first line support service.

    In line with wider changes within ISD to move towards the ITIL model of single service desk provision, ELE are moving to a second line support/resolution team role.

    As from Friday the 19th of December, all phone queries for E-learning Environments are to be made via the UCL ISD Service Desk on 25000. The current ELE direct service number #65678 will also direct users to the ISD service desk.

    The ISD service desk staff will record your issue/request and where appropriate resolve specific tasks for which they have been trained. Items outside of this area will be passed via the ISD support ticketing system directly to the ELE Core Services team for resolution.

    If you have a query that can be emailed, please continue to use the ele@ucl.ac.uk address. This email address goes directly to the E-learning Environments Core Services team ticketing system, where it will be prioritised and resolved by a member of the E-learning team.

    Helping us to help you

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 16 December 2014

    When you have a problem or question E-Learning Environments (ELE) are always more than happy to hear from you, and will do all we can to help you as quickly as we can. However, this process can be slowed down if we don’t have all the information we need to investigate your problem, or answer your question. So here are some top tips for what to include in an email/ ticket to ELE, so you can help us to help you.

    1. Course name (and link)

    UCL is a large university with hundreds of courses, and even more modules. Therefore it is very difficult for us to investigate a problem without knowing the name of a course/ module, so that we can look at the problem and try to replicate it. A lot of problem solving is reverse engineered, so we will try to replicate the problem for ourselves and then figure out what is wrong, by using our familiarity with the components of the technology. It is also helpful to include a link to the course/ module in question, as sometimes these are not obvious when searching in Moodle/ Lecturecast. Asking for the course name is always our first step, and so by including this in your original email then you will save time and help us resolve the problem faster.

    2. Activity/ resource name (and link)

    As well as there being a lot of courses at UCL, individual courses may have more than one of a particular activity, such as a Turnitin assignment or forum. It will take ELE extra time if we have to search through all of them to find the problem, and it also means that sometimes we are not always sure if we have found the problem. By including the name and location of the activity in the original email ELE can go straight to it, and get to work determining the problem.

    3. Screenshots

    When we look at a course, it might not always be possible for ELE to replicate a problem. This might be because the issue is related to a particular browser you are using, or due to permissions on your account. As these parameters might not apply to ELE we may not be able to see the problem, which makes it much harder for us to help with the answer. If you can take a screenshot (using the PrtScn key) and then paste that into a document and send it as an attachment, it will help us see the problem and any error messages you are receiving. It can even mean that we can answer the question or give a solution straight away upon seeing the screenshot.

    4. Error messages

    Screenshots of error messages are good, but if you can’t take one then including what an error message says will help ELE to diagnose and resolve the problem. It also helps us if we have to deal with any third party suppliers (such as Turnitin).

    4. Specifics

    A summary of the problem is best as ELE might not have a lot of time to read a long email, and it may be possible to determine and resolve an issue with only a few key details, listed above. However it can also help to be specific. If you are reporting a problem then list what steps you are taking that are causing the problem, which buttons are you clicking and in what order? Details are also helpful if you are asking a question about a new activity you’d like to start, but you’re not sure which tool to use. If you include specific details about what you want to do then ELE can suggest the tool that fits your needs best.

    By following these tips you will have an easier and quicker experience with ELE, and we will be able to get through more problems or questions in less time.

    Please feel free to send your queries to ELE via our email address, ele@ucl.ac.uk

    Teaching innovation and technology enhanced learning at UCL School of Pharmacy

    By Natasa Perovic, on 15 December 2014

    technology enhanced learning UCL pharmacy
    UCL School of Pharmacy is actively involved in the development of a number of innovative approaches to develop teaching and learning and to further embed technology-enhanced learning within the MPharm and MSc programmes. A recent example of such an initiative is our highly-successful wiki-based integrated therapeutics project, which continues to help students to integrate their knowledge across traditional discipline boundaries. The launch of a newly-designed and updated MPharm programme in 2013-14 and access to new technologies has encouraged further innovation, three examples of which will be described.

    iPad-supported Workshops – Small group-based practical and PBL exercises in which students have access to iPads have become one of the primary modes of workshop-based teaching in the new MPharm programme. Students use web-based resources and information retrieval techniques to solve problems and discuss their approaches in their groups, fostering peer-supported learning. Sessions are supported by faculty and TAs as facilitators. iPads are also pre-loaded with suitable apps appropriate to the session and students can download workshop resources from Moodle then record and submit their results electronically during the session.

    Research Project Assessment – Starting in 2013-14, the mode of research project assessment was fully revised to incorporate: (a) a project portfolio, in which students record their day-to-day activity with an emphasis on data management, reflection and critical review (of results and key literature); (b) a succinct research paper formatted in the style of a journal specific to the field of research; and (c) presentation of a poster at a mini-conference held at the School, at which staff and students ask questions to presenters based upon their projects. There was a tangible air of excitement and excellent engagement at the poster conference, demonstrating the success of this approach.

    Green Light Pharmacy Clinical Experience – The provision of clinical pharmacy experience from the start of the First Year is a key priority for the MPharm programme. Students regularly visit our partners at Green Light Pharmacy where they can observe real-time patient-pharmacist interaction through a live video feed to a purpose-built teaching facility on-site and have the opportunity to interact with real patients under the supervision of a pharmacist. The clinical experience offered by these visits has received extremely positive feedback from students in annual module review questionnaires.

    Stephen Hilton, Mine Orlu Gul, Adam Phillips, Oksana Pyzik, Arnaud Ruiz, Michelle Wake, David West, Andrew Wilderspin and John Malkinson

    Teaching innovation and technology enhanced learning in UCL School of Pharmacy poster

    Visualiser Workshop University of Birmingham

    By Mike J Allinson, on 24 November 2014

    At the invitation of University of Birmingham I attended a workshop on capturing the written word. The workshop was a small but happy band of engaged folk  representing Universities such as Bath,Leicester, Loughborough,Wolverhampton,Imperial, Birmingham, Ulster and of course UCL. Also in attendance were two major furniture manufactures, TeamMate and Dalen (Top Tech) as well as one of the leading Visualiser manufactures, Wolfvision.The discussion centered around how best to capture the written word and turn it into a digital signal for both inclusion onto a lecture capture and in larger lecture theaters a way of transferring the information onto a projection system, so it can be easily read by those students at the back of the room.
    Discussion was around various writing surfaces ( chalkboard whiteboards paper acetate and touchscreen ) and how each surface felt and performed for the user.It was agreed that chalk and paper had a more natural feel from a user perspective and  that whiteboards and active touch screens had a less natural feel. The discussion focused on current technology and how it could be incorporated into current furniture designs or how current furniture design could be adapted to encompass current technology.

    After lunch the manufacturers gave us their thoughts on what they were doing to support us in this quest and gave  a presentation on their most recent  products in development. What struck me throughout the presentations was that these solution were put together using current technologies and they were not really looking at this from a real research and development perspective. What we have is an instant solution to a very pressing problem. Putting the visualiser at the heart of the solution.
    The  question going forward is, is the visualiser fast becoming old technology?

    I still believe the visualiser is a good teaching tool and that we should be promoting their use and the solutions the visualiser/furniture manufacturers are offering. This is the quickest and best solution for the immediate future, as we struggle to satisfy those with a need to use analogue methods  of presentation alongside the requirement to capture these digitally

    Rather than being engaged with furniture and Visualiser manufactures should we not be engaging with manufactures of touch screen and digital presentation technologies. Is the future about developing touch screen technology to have a more natural  feel and reduction of lag so we could  embed these screens into the lectern so turning the surface into a digital writing surface?

     

    Mike Allinson

    21/11/14

    BoB (Box of Broadcasts) National

    By Natasa Perovic, on 1 November 2014

     

    How are you getting on with BoB?

    Short videos on how to record programmes and create clips and playlists:

    Quickstart

     

     

    Recording a programme

     

    Creating Clips

     

    Additional features

    To access BoB, log in with your UCL user details http://bobnational.net/

    BoB user guide http://bobnational.net/faq

    A day In the Life

    By Mike J Allinson, on 31 October 2014

    Woke up, fell out of bed
    Dragged a comb across my head
    Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
    And looking up I noticed I was late
    Found my coat and grabbed my hat
    Made the bus in seconds flat

    abbey rd

    I was invited by Revolabs to give a presentation to their European distributors, from the perspective of an end user using their audio products in higher education. This was my inaugural presentation outside UCL. I thought it might be interesting to share this so others can understand some of what I do. I have to say what follows is not every day but does capture some of the more interesting aspects of my role.

    The group meeting was held at Abbey Road Studios in studio 2 which in the 60s and early 70s was where the Beatles recorded all of their albums, hence the title and opening lyric on this blog
    In 2010 due to the growth of the mobile and smart phone industry the demand for extra bandwidth for these products became clear. So the Government seeing an opportunity for lucrative revenue gathering started looking at the radio-frequency bandwidth to see how they could achieve this. They decided the sensible thing to do was to move the bandwidth currently occupied by radio microphones.
    Along with the entertainment industry this put huge pressure on higher education who were seeing a growth in the use of radio microphones for medium to large teaching spaces. At that time there were two channels we could operate radio microphone frequencies in. Channel 69 (854-862MHz) and Channel 70 (863-865MHz). In 2012 the government sold off Channel 61-69 to the telecoms industry for their expansion into G4. This subsequently moved licensed radio frequency of channel 69 to channel 38. This meant that any microphone equipment that was bought to operate on channel 69 was now obsolete. Providing you had been using this bandwidth with a licence there was a government refund to help towards replacement equipment operating on new channel 38. Some Universities took advantage of that offer but it was and administrative nightmare. Many universities operated on the free channel, Channel 70. The problem operating on Channel 70 was the systems is in close proximity to channel 69 where there was potential for interference from the G4 network.
    Channel 38 required people to restock the radio microphone systems and be drawn into a recurrent costs for licensing. From UCL’s perspective  location in central London had drawbacks of being relatively close to the West End theatre. Therefore after much deliberation we decided to look to alternative technology. This is where our partnership with Revolabs began.

    Revolabs are Unified Communications Company based on the east coast  of the United States. Their microphone systems operate on the DECT system (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) as opposed to UHF (Ultra High Frequency). DECT has a dedicated license-exempt band in most countries worldwide and also ensures that the microphone platform has high spectral density, allowing up to 40 microphones in a single space without mutual interference or spurious effects. DECT delivers high quality 15 kHz audio bandwidth with automated set-up and frequency management. It also extends the range of radio microphones up to 100 metres without requiring line of sight to the transmitter. Many users of other radio microphone systems are faced with significant frequency management issues that are difficult to solve with limited budgets or in-house expertise. DECT’s automatic frequency band allocation ensures that microphones can be ‘paired’ with the receiver(s) with a simple button press.

    We started to replace our UHF mic systems with the Revolab solo proved effective in medium size teaching spaces and was a good solution for sound capture when using lecturecast. We found the early solo versions were not suitable or powerful enough for larger teaching spaces so kept our legacy UHF systems in those larger spaces. Over the past 3 to 4 years Revolab have significantly improved the technology and quality of their mic systems, the HD executive and now the HD elite have an excellent remote management systems that allows us so much more control and flexible management that we are happy to install these in all teaching spaces.

    The response from the audience, who consisted of major distribution partners for Revolabs from all across northern Europe as well as senior executives of Revolabs from the US was very positive. One of the largest HE institutions in the US to embrace this technology is MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). So I think we are in good company.Pleas feel free to check to the products we are using athttp://www.revolabs.com/products

    Mike Allinson

    Learning Spaces AV specialist
    University College London