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 'Teaching and Learning Network' Category

    Introducing Luke Davis

    By Jessica Gramp, on 9 May 2014

    LukeDavisCommunications Manager (Education) Luke Davis is the editor of the Teaching and Learning Portal – a one-stop shop for news, case studies and resources on the subject of teaching at UCL.

    We asked him about his work on the site and how UCL staff can get involved.


    What can people expect to find at the Teaching and Learning Portal?

    The aim is to offer everything that a member of UCL staff could need on the subject of teaching. That includes plenty of case studies about new approaches being used inside the university as well as up-to-date news and event info. There is also information on topics such as professional development, learning technologies and education strategy.


    What does your role involve?

    Day-to-day, I find out about the latest things UCL staff are doing in terms of teaching and then produce new case studies, features and news stories.


    How long have you been at UCL?

    Just three months. It’s a big change from working in a small communications agency, but I’m really enjoying it. There are so many fascinating people doing incredible things, and, of course, education is right at the top of the agenda.


    What plans do you have for the Portal?

    I’m currently working with colleagues in Web and Mobile Services to redevelop it. It’s a big job that will involve lots of user research before scouring all the existing content and redesigning the site. The idea is that we end up with a modern, attractive site that’s easy to navigate and full of up-to-date, useful, fascinating content. We’ve set ourselves the daunting target of having it ready in October.


    How can UCL people get involved?

    If you do have a story, or even if you’d just like to suggest a topic for me to explore further, please get in touch. I’m always on the look-out for new leads and ideas. And if you want to keep up-to-date with what’s on the site, please sign up to the monthly digest newsletter.


    Contact Luke at l.davis@ucl.ac.uk

    Visit the Portal at www.ucl.ac.uk/teaching-learning

    Digital Literacies special interest group (SIG) meeting – November 2013

    By Jessica Gramp, on 28 November 2013

    Digital Literacies at UCLFifteen academic and support staff from across UCL met for the first UCL Digital Literacies special interest group (SIG) on Wednesday 27th November.   Jessica Gramp, form E-Learning Environments, delivered a presentation prepared in collaboration with Hana Mori, giving the Jisc definition of digital literacies.

    We’re not sure about the term – some find it demeaning.  A better term than Digital Literacies is clearly needed so that it doesn’t offend and imply a deficit. There’s also a need to differentiate between kinds of digital literacy. Some areas that have been used at other institutions include: digital identity, managing studies; working in team; using other people’s content responsibly and digitally enhancing job prospects. There was a general consensus that digital literacies need to be embedded, not tagged on as a separate thing to do.


    TLN – Digital Stories and Why buttons go bad

    By Matt Jenner, on 28 March 2011

    Dominic Furniss and Rachel Benedyk explained in this weeks Teaching and Learning Network how their use of Digital Stories have been used with their HCI students during induction week.

    What is a Digital Story?
    Pictures + audio + narrative = digital story

    Think of a narrated set of images, but with the potential to demonstrate a high level of understanding of a topic mixed in with a visual and narrative forms to explain a topic or concept. A digital story is designed to show this and Dominic and Rachel’s students did this brilliantly.

    After taking part in a session at another university, Dominic wanted to bring the idea of Digital Stories to UCL. He realised they can be used as a short exercise with students and can be a very effective learning tool. Creating a digital story brings out many transferable skills such as emphasising students working together, communicating a message and synthesising their understanding.

    The HCI students worked in groups to create a digital story in a half-day workshop. Set during induction week and working in groups the students did not yet know one another, nor did they know at what level to be aiming for. Each group shared their creation in a class-wide presentation session. After this the groups were asked to peer review each submission which proved a useful exercise for gaining skills in marking and criticising each other’s work. In addition, the feedback from the students gave a multifaceted view on group work, settling in and understanding the context. The teaching staff noted during the year that the students were more tuned into the subject and willing to work in groups – however this would need deeper research to ascertain how linked it may have been to this induction exercise.

    Value in creation
    Something Dominic and Rachel hadn’t envisaged was the quality of the digital stories created. One excellent example is below, entitled Why buttons go bad, which shows clearly how students fresh to UCL have arrived at good academic pace:

    This video has since been used by UCL TV and on the UCLIC website for public engagement across the campus and beyond.

    The idea of creating a Digital Story is so simple that it may pass you by, but their application can be widely-adopted. Think replacing a conference poster, a summary of what your students have learned during the year or the outline of a proposed paper. Creating a story takes only half a day, and if you’re interested the LTSS or Dominic and Rachel would be very happy to talk to you about it some more.

    More information on the TLN programme page for this event.

    Echo 360 logo View the recording of this event (UCL authentication needed)


    TLN – Round the lighthouse and back in time for …Casablanca! – Using feature films in the classroom – Melvyn Stokes

    By Matt Jenner, on 7 March 2011

    This week the Teaching and Learning Network are lucky to have Melvin Stokes who talked about using feature films in the classroon.

    Melvyn begins by introducing the history of american cinema, including newsreal shots of black protesters being hit by american enforceMelvyn Stokesments with a water canon or Thomas Canby in the early 1900′s. After this, technical developments made the feature film possible. The first major feature films were on 4, 5 and 6 reals. In addition were developments in editing and special effects. Cinema attendance soared in the 20, 30 and 40′s as telling stories on the screen.

    But the question is, how can this be introduced into teaching?

    Melvyn uses a pre film text to read which also acts as an introduction to the film itself and questions such as how does [the film] shed lights on the cultural issues in which the context it will be introduced?

    Melvyn then goes onto show us clips and how they were influential to American cinema and perhaps revolutionised a way of thinking into the audiences that went to go and watch them. He shows clips from, The Birth of a Nation, So Red the Rose, The Searchers, Hester Street, The Grapes of Wrath and finally Casablanca.

    Popcorn!It’s well worth noting that we had more popcorn than we were able to eat, next time we hope you can come along too.

    More information on the TLN programme page for this event.

    Echo 360 logo View the recording of this event



    TLN – Jenny Marie & Pam Houston – Supporting personal tutors in supporting key skills

    By Matt Jenner, on 16 February 2011

    Today’s Teaching and Learning Network presenters are Jenny Marie from CALT and Pam Houston from the Division of Biosciences and they were talking about the key skills programme and personal tutors. This included information for those at UCL for key skills and in particular, how Life Sciences are using the personal tutorial system to help develop key skills and visa versa.

    Why would we develop key skills?

    Jennie Marie presentingJenny Marie starts by introducing key skills. In a recent session between the LTSS and academics, key skills came out top for academics in terms of the institutional priorities. Key skills underlines so much at UCL, including the transition process into the institution and recording the skills a student has obtained when they leave. A student’s academic life also flows into their employability and life skills.

    In addition, some great resources are around to help out, Skills4Work, a Moodle course, MyPortfolio, Key Skills Grid and the Key Skills Website which pulls all these resources together and provides more general information and links to other sites and resources. Links below.

    Student key skills is managed all within Portico, if a personal tutor logs in they can view their student’s profiles, history and reports. Students must produce evidence for a key skill and some are using MyPortfolio as a blogging tool and to upload evidence for their tutor to view.

    Pam Houston – Biosciences tutorial scheme

    Pam houston - presentingPre-transition programme they made their own mentoring scheme, but since the transitions programme was running they have supported and recruited mentors to settle new starters into the university. There is one second / third year mentor for eight first year students, most of whom have had some mentoring experience before.

    The students had a personal tutor but as students can take modules from all over the faculty, picking a tutor is not that obvious or clear. By implementing the new tutoring system the students received a much more structured tutoring programme. This included a platform for key skills awareness and training which was married with an established a link with their personal tutor, which stayed the same throughout the years of study. This helped the employability of the student as the tutor could write a better statement about the student and make them more employable.

    Biosciences wanted to identify student skills and find some common skills development for the department. The also wanted some materials customised for the department, so they seemed more relevant. They ended up grouping key skills into four sections, academic, self management, communication and interpersonal. This was conducted over a ten week period which covered essay writing, invigilated essay writing, feedback on the essay, key skills development, Turnitin submission, feedback on their submission, the Originality Report produced and how to critique a scientific paper. The module was branded as PHOL1001. It was noted as a not very expensive course to run after the first initial setup.

    The outcomes included students being were more engaged and found they could prove where their obtained their key skills from UCL. From a tutor’s perspective; they got to know their students a lot better and as their student’s employability shot up, the number of letters of recommendation came down.


    More information on the TLN programme page for this event.

    Echo 360 logo View the recording of this event


    TLN – David Emmett – e-learning challenges and self-test learning initiatives in a multi-site Australian medical school

    By Matt Jenner, on 2 February 2011

    David joins UCL for this Teaching and Learning Network session from University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia where his role is Senior Lecture in e-learning within the Medical School.

    David Emmitt speaks at the TLN

    The Medical School has 1,700 students and 10,000 alumni and a staff to student ratio of about one to ten. Their MBBS course is structured with sessions which are based around Problem Based Learning scenarios which are split into several weeks. Sessions support the students, give them advice and help the groups to set up their own infrastructure/roles within their groups. The students were given interactive whiteboards but they actually wanted just pens as the whiteboards didn’t offer them anything and were instead a barrier. The PBL scenarios also made use of video to highlight specific areas of the scenario to help break down the problems for the students.

    They have been trailing the use of videoconferencing but this is still in early developments. They also are using Adobe Presenter to record voice over PowerPoint (so you record your presentation in the office and then distribute to your students) and this sends a package which can be read as a .PDF file of comparable size for sharing electronically.

    The Medical School used an internally built VLE (virtual learning environment) but have this year have moved into the University of Queensland’s Blackboard VLE. This expanded the opportunities for online learning but also brought along many challenges too. With financial restrictions the University cut down on e-learning support posts which increased the load on the remaining staff. They are looking towards a VLE review and specifically Moodle, so far they have been very impressed and seem confident that the additional freedom of what Moodle can offer in terms of teaching and learning will bring much benefit to the institution, although a lot more work is involved, decisions like this are not that quick or easy!

    One of the selling features of Moodle for them is the Lesson activity which allows a structured pathway though content. It presents materials, asks questions, provides feedback and can guide and steer the learner through a pathway instead of just linear content delivery.

    In additional, David received an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) grant and has been in liaison with Tony Gardner-Medwin at UCL for using Certainty Based Marking and LAPT which offers students a chance to assess their knowledge but also how confident they are of the answer they are giving which reflects in the marks given. In addition, they have been using an experimental self-assessment modification to Moodle which allows the student to select a type of quiz. From a bank of questions the student can make their own quizzes and do it as often as they like. The back of questions is adopting an intercollegiate from the outset so students may get questions on material they have never covered. Luckily the content is organised and so this can be avoided (or be a ‘feature’).

    David hopes that in the future the VLE can be a more personalised environment for students, allowing them to record their learning and collect their own materials and add them to their own list of resources or activities which they have used to learn.


    Certainty Based Marking – http://www.ucl.ac.uk/lapt/

    Teaching and Learning Network – http://www.ucl.ac.uk/tln