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    Archive for the 'General Learning Technology' Category

    Jisc Learning and Teaching Experts Group, June 2015

    By Mira Vogel, on 23 June 2015

    Originally comprising project fundholders from the E-Learning Programme and now more open, Jisc convenes the Learning and Teaching Experts Group three times a year. This meeting – the 35th – had sessions on the student experience, leadership, and students as partners, all with a digital focus.

    Helen Beetham introduced a new NUS benchmarking tool for the student digital experience (not yet released, but see their existing benchmarking tools), and further work on a digital capabilities framework for staff. Each table critiqued one of eleven areas of the tool, and contributed ideas to a twelfth on ‘Digital Wellbeing’.

    There followed a series of shorter presentations including two senior managers describing their respective institution’s digital strategy and approach to supporting digital leadership, along with staff at Reading College who presented on their use of Google, their ethos of ‘pass it on’ for digital know-how, and how staff can indicate that they are happy to be observed (by hanging a green or red coat hanger on the door of their teaching room – paradoxically and unsurprisingly the green one was redundant because everybody got the message and used it).  In case anybody remained unconvinced that there is any urgency to this, Neil Witt (another senior participant) tweeted a recent House of Lords report, Make or Break. The UK’s Digital Future [pdf]. He thinks that for institutions to build digital capabilities will require an HR strategy.

    During lunch I talked with Ron Mitchell about Xerte the open source suite for authoring interactive digital content, and made a note to ask for a pilot installation. I failed to find the roof garden (consulting the floor guide later, it’s close to the bottom of the building) and fretted about a very large fish in a very small tank on reception. Then came a session on cultures of partnership with a panel of students and student-facing roles. Like the previous session, this was full of tantalising ideas like staff being able to choose a student or staff colleague to observe their teaching, and Dan Derricot from Lincoln University starting to think of student engagement as a ladder where the course evaluation form is lower than, say, creating new opportunities. Partnership culture depends on visibility; at first staff need to take a lot of initiative but as students see other students’ work, they are more likely to step forward with ideas of their own. Eric Stoller tweeted this interesting-looking paper theorising student involvement. Jisc has a network of Change Agents and (separately) there is a new journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change with a call for papers.

    Finally the members showcase. I attended Lina Petrakieva’s session on assessing students’ digital stories at Glasgow Caledonian. They had to deliberate about similar things to us, namely whether to require the students to use a common platform (they did) and whether to change the assessment criteria in recognition of the new modes of expression (they did). I caught the end of a talk from the Lisette Toetenel at the Open University about setting up a network to share designs for learning.

    Participants used the Twitter hashtag #JiscExperts15 mostly to amplify the event but with a few conversations sparking – including this one on helping champions and when James Kieft (a runner up for last year’s Learning Technologist of the Year) from Reading College dropped the bombshell / reminded us that they’d turned off their Moodle in 2014 and moved to Google applications. This set quite a few people off – not for reasons of rent-seeking and fear of change though I’m sure we all need to check for that, but business models, orientation, and the risk of abruptly-retired services. It also gave other people a frisson of liberation). I should reassure (?) at this point that there are no plans to turn off UCL Moodle. Then somebody asked what the purpose of learning technologists would be in the VLEless future but the session ended before another round of “What is a learning technologist today?” could get underway. Sometimes I think of these (what we’re currently calling) digital education professional services roles as midwife, sometimes I think of them as more specialised educational design roles in waiting until the ‘digital’ becomes more taken-for-granted. As long as education isn’t served up pre-programmed or decided centrally, the roles are likely to endure in some evolving form.

    Thanks to Jisc and all contributors for a stimulating day.

     

     

     

    Introducing the ELE vlog

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 22 June 2015

    In E-Learning Environments (ELE) we have lots of useful and important information we need to communicate with staff (and students) who use our systems. We have various different ways of communicating with everyone who uses our systems (like Moodle, Lecturecast and MyPortfolio) including email, Twitter, Moodle News and this blog. However we also recognise that these are all text based mediums, and sometimes read chunks of information isn’t preferential. To try and make this easier, and offer an alternative way of communicating we are pleased to introduce the ELE vlog.

    We are launching this new vlog (or video blog) on our YouTube channel and hope to post a new video every month informing viewers of the most interesting or important things happening within ELE and our systems. If we get a good response, or have requests, then we may increase the frequency of videos, or make videos explaining particular topics. If you have any ideas of videos you’d like to see from ELE then please comment on this blog post or send us an email to ele@ucl.ac.uk.

    So, without further adieu, please enjoy our first vlog embedded below (and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more educational and hopefully entertaining content!)

    ELE Communication Channels

    Moodle News: https://moodle.ucl.ac.uk/mod/forum/view.php?f=1

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/UCL_ELE

    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/LTSSUCL/videos

    Games, gamification and games-based learning SIG

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 18 June 2015

    Do you have an interest in games, gamification and games-based learning?

    If so we would be really interested in hearing from you, we are looking to put together a special interest group at UCL around these areas. The aim of the SIG will be to encourage interaction and discussion on these topics and others, ranging from research on games and play to their implementation within teaching practice (plus hopefully have a bit of fun along the way).

    Please join via our Moodle page if you are interested in taking part along and we will arrange an initial meeting of the group soon.

    Research and Education Space (RES)

    By Jessica Gramp, on 28 May 2015

    RESMark Macey (mark.macey@bbc.co.uk) works on a project named the Research and Education Space (RES) as the Education Engagement Manager, which is being developed through a partnership between the BBC, Jisc and the British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC), who share the goal of  building a platform that indexes and aggregates materials available for education and research use.

    The RES project aims to help teachers and learners find online teaching resources in all subject areas and at all levels which can be relied on. RES is building an open, accessible catalogue of online educational resources that can be used in both Primary, Secondary, HE and FE teaching, either directly within classroom materials and on electronic whiteboards or in materials developed by educational publishers and software providers. The aim is for RES to make student’s learning more interesting, varied, colourful and informative and to allow teaching to become more enriched across different levels and subjects.

    The RES project is in a developmental phase and research is needed to make the offer as rich and as useful as possible to those in education.

    Mark is planning to hold research groups (made up of teachers from different subjects and across the HE/FE sector) in late June/ early to mid July in White City, west London (dates and times TBC depending on availability of attendees). It would be great to know if this is something that might be of interest and if you might be available and interested to attend to offer your knowledge and experience. If you are interested then please let Mark know (at the above address) what dates you can and can’t do in that period. The meeting is likely to be 4-5 hours. Travel expenses will be paid and there is a fee paid for a replacement teacher or direct to you – as well as tea, coffee, sandwiches and copious biscuits 😉

    There are more details about RES below and on the attached Word doc and Mark would be interested in talking with you once you have read about the project. He is available to answer any more questions you might have.

    Read more about the project here (PDF 368KB)…

    Moodle 2.8 – Summer 2015 upgrade

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 27 May 2015

    For the attention of all UCL Moodle teaching and support staff.

    Moodle Summer Upgrade 17 to 22 July 2015

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    At 17:00 on Friday 17th July 2015 Moodle will be made unavailable to allow the yearly snapshot copy to be created. Once the process is compete the snapshot will be made available for staff and students, this is expected to be completed by 17:00 on Saturday the 18th July 2015.

    We will also be taking this opportunity to perform our yearly upgrade of the Moodle system as previously advertised. The live Moodle service will be returned to service no later than 10:00am on Wednesday the 22nd July 2015, although it is expected that the upgrade will be returned to service earlier than this time. However we need to include an “at risk” time to account for a full restoration of the service if something was to fail with the planned upgrade. We will keep you notified as to when Moodle will become available over the upgrade weekend via the ELE blog (blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ele) and out Twitter channel (@UCL_ELE)

    For new Moodle upgrade features and changes please see the New Features page Moodle Resource Centre wiki.

    If you would like to find out more about the Moodle snapshot (formerly the Moodle archive), including its intended purpose and how you can hide content, please visit the Moodle Resource Centre wiki for more information.

    What do I have to do?
    If your module ends before the upgrade and you would like the snapshot copy to be made available then no further action is required.

    What if my course(s) doesn’t finish before the upgrade?
    We recognise that not all Moodle courses will end before the 17th July. Some run into August/September and others may run later, several times a year or never stop. More information on the process of requesting a manual snapshot can be found in the Moodle Resource Centre wiki on the Manual Moodle Snapshot page.

    What happens after the snapshot?
    Once you have a snapshot copy of your course we strongly recommend you take some time to consider resetting and reviewing your course so it can be used for the next cohort. For more information on preparing your Moodle course for the next academic year, see the following: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/staff/e-learning/tools/moodle/procedures/preparing

    To see the snapshot (formerly archive) for yourself, visit: http://moodle-archive.ucl.ac.uk

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

    Students’ intellectual property, open nitty gritty

    By Mira Vogel, on 19 May 2015

    Brass tacks by  MicroAssist on FlickrWhat happened when staff on one module encouraged students to openly license the online products of their assessed group work?

    Object Lessons is a module on Bachelor of Arts and Sciences at UCL. In keeping with its object-based nature and emphasis on inquiry and collaboration, part of the assessment is a group research project to produce a media-rich online exhibition. Because the exhibitions are lovely and shine a light on multimodal assessment, the teaching team are frequently approached by colleagues across UCL with requests to view them. In considering how to get students’ permission for this, Leonie Hannan (now at QUB), Helen Chatterjee and I quickly realised a few things. One, highlighted by an exchange with UCL’s Copyright specialist Chris Holland, was that the nature of the permission was hard to define and therefore hard to get consent for, so we needed to shift the emphasis away from staff and the nuances of their possible use scenarios, and onto the status of the work itself. Another was that since the work was the product of a group and could not be decomposed into individual contributions without breaking the whole, consent would need to be unanimous. Then there was the question of administrative overhead related to obtaining consent and actually implementing what students had consented to – potentially quite onerous. And finally the matter presented us with some opportunities we shouldn’t miss, namely to model taking intellectual property seriously and to engage students in key questions about contemporary practices.

    We came up with four alternative ways for students to license their work ranging incrementally from open to private. We called these:

    1. Open;
    2. Publish;
    3. Show;
    4. Private.

    You can read definitions of each alternative in the document ‘Your groupwork project – requesting consent for future use scenarios’ which we produced to introduce them to students. As part of their work students were required to discuss these, reach a unanimous consensus on one, and implement it by publishing (or selectively, or not at all) the exhibition and providing an intellectual property notice on its front page. That way staff would not have to collect consent forms nor gate-keep access.

    Before we released it to students I circulated the guidance to two Jiscmail discussion groups (Open Educational Resources and Association for Learning Technology) and worked in some of their suggestions. A requirement that students include a statement within the work itself reduces the administrative overhead and, we hoped, would be more future-proof than staff collecting, checking off and filing paper records. While making it clear that students would not be at any deficit if they chose not to open their work, we also took a clear position in favour of Creative Commons licensing – the most open of our alternatives, since as well as flexibility and convenience it would potentially lend the work more discoverability and exposure.

    What did the students choose? In the first iteration, out of ten groups:

    • Five opted for Open. Between them they used 3 different varieties of Creative Commons licence, and one submitted their work to Jorum;
    • Two opted for Publish;
    • None opted for Show;
    • Three opted for Private (including one which didn’t make a statement; since the group kept the work hidden this defaults to Private).

    We haven’t yet approached the students to ask about their decision-making processes, but from informal conversations and reading some of the intellectual property statements we know that there are different reasons why half the students decided not to make their work open. One was the presence of elements which were not themselves open, and therefore could not be opened in turn. From evaluations of a number of other modules, we know that the students were not generally all that enthusiastic about the platform they were asked to use for their exhibition (Mahara, which is serviceable but vanishingly rare outside educational settings). This may have contributed to another factor, which was that not all group members felt the work reflected well on them individually.

    Then there’s the matter of deciding to revoke consent, which is something individual students can do at any time. In the context of group work we decided that what this would mean is that if any group member decides at a later date that they want to reduce openness, then this effectively overrides other group members’ preferences. That doesn’t work in reverse though – a student can’t increase openness without the consent of all other group members. So here we are privileging individuals who want to close work, although we do encourage them to consider instead simply ending their association with it. We have yet to find out how this state of affairs works out, and it may take quite a while to find out. But so far it seems stable and viable.

    We would be very interested in your views, suggestions and any experiences you have had with this kind of thing – please do comment below.

    Particular thanks to Pat Lockley and Javiera Atenas for their input.

    Image source: MicroAssist, 2012. Brass tacks. Work found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/microassist/7136725313/. Licensed as CC BY-SA.