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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    UCL Engineering’s learning technologist initiative – one year on

    By Jessica Gramp, on 9 October 2014

    UCL Engineering’s Learning Technologists have been supporting rapid changes within the faculty. Changes include the development of several new programmes and helping the uptake of technology to improve the turnaround of feedback.

    In late 2013, the UCL Engineering faculty invested in a Learning Technologist post in order to support the Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP), as well as the other programmes within Engineering departments. Since then two Engineering departments, Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) and Management Science and Innovation (MS&I) have both employed Learning Technologists to help develop their e-learning provision. These posts have had a significant impact on the e-learning activities. To evaluate impact on the student learning experience we are collecting information and feedback from students throughout the academic year.

    These three roles complement the UCL-wide support provided by the E-Learning Environments (ELE) team and the Learning Technologists work closely with the central ELE team. This relationship is facilitated by Jess Gramp, the E-Learning Facilitator for BEAMS (Built Environment, Engineering, Maths and Physical Sciences) who co-manages these roles with a manager from each faculty/department. This arrangement enables both formal input from ELE to the departmental activities and plans; and for the learning technologists to receive central mentoring and assistance. Without this structure in place it would be difficult to keep these roles aligned with the many central e-learning initiatives and for the learning technologists to liaise with the technical teams within ISD.

    The initiatives developed by these staff include: designing and implementing Moodle course templates; ensuring adherence to the UCL Moodle Baseline; running training needs analysis and developing staff training plans; delivering e-learning workshops; working with staff to redesign courses, as well as developing them from the ground up, to incorporate blended learning principles; delivering one-to-one support; and working with academics on e-learning projects.

    Moodle Templates
    Engineering now have a Moodle template that provides a consistent experience for students using UCL Moodle to support their learning. This template is now being used on all IEP, MS&I and STEaPP courses and all new Engineering Moodle courses from 2014/15 onwards will also use this template. In some cases the template has been modified to meet departmental requirements.

    Engineering Faculty Moodle template (click to enlarge)

    Engineering Faculty template

    See how MS&I have modified this template and described each feature in their MS&I Moodle Annotated Template document.

    Moodle Baseline course audit
    In MS&I all Moodle courses have been audited against the UCL Moodle Baseline. This has enabled the department’s Learning Technologist to modify courses to ensure every course in the department now meets the Baseline. The template document that was used to audit the courses has been shared on the UCL E-Learning Wiki, so other departments may use it if they wish to do similar. You can also download it here: Baseline Matrix MSI-template.

    Training Needs Analysis
    In STEaPP a Training Needs Analysis was conducted using both a survey and interviews with academics to develop individual training plans for academics and run training workshops specific to the department’s needs. The survey used for this has been shared with colleagues on the UCL E-Learning Wiki.

    Staff e-learning training and support
    In STEaPP a Moodle Staff Hub course has been developed to support staff in their development of courses, including links to e-learning support materials; curriculum development advice; and links to professional development resources. This course has now been duplicated and modified to assist staff across Engineering and within MS&I. If any other UCL faculties or departments would like a similar course set up they can request this be duplicated for them, so they may tailor it to their own requirements. This and other courses are being used to induct new staff to departments and are supported by face to face and online training programmes. The training is delivered using a combination of central ELE training courses and bespoke workshops delivered by Engineering Learning Technologists.

    E-assessment tools to improve the speed of feedback to students
    In MS&I the average turn around for feedback to students is now just one week, significantly shorter than the four week target set by UCL. In order to support this initiative, the department has adopted a fully online assessment approach. This has been achieved predominately using Turnitin, a plagiarism prevention tool that also provides the ability to re-use comments; use weighted grading criteria to provide consistent feedback to students (in the form of rubrics and grading forms); and mark offline using the iPad app. The use of this tool has helped staff to reach the one week feedback target and to streamline the administrative processes that were slowing the feedback process. The Learning Technologist in MS&I has recently arranged workshops with the majority of MS&I staff (including those who are new to UCL) to demonstrate how Turnitin can be used to deliver feedback quickly to students. Several modules within the IEP are also using Moodle’s Workshop tool to enable peer assessment to be managed automatically online. The use of this and other e-assessment tools is saving academics and support staff significant time that used to be spent manually managing the submission, allocation and marking of assessments.

    Technical e-learning support
    While the ELE Services team continues to be the main point of contact for technical e-learning support within Engineering, the local Learning Technologists are able to provide just-in-time support for staff working on local projects. The Learning Technologists are also able to provide assistance beyond what is supported by the central E-Learning team. This includes any development work, such as setting up specific tools within Moodle courses (like the Workshop tool for peer assessment) and setting up groups in MyPortfolio. Development work like these activities fall outside the remit of the central E-Learning Environments team. Also, because the Engineering Learning technologists are based within the faculty, they obtain a better knowledge of local working practices, and are therefore better equipped to understand and support department specific requirements than the central team is able to.

    Project support and funding
    The local Learning Technologists have worked with academics within Engineering to develop bids for Engineering Summer Studentships and other projects, including the E-Learning Development Grants that are distributed yearly by ELE. The successful project proposals have been supported by the local Learning Technologists, which has meant a greater level of support has been provided to the grant winners than has been possible in previous years.

    Using technology to support scenario-based learning
    The Learning Technologist for STEaPP had a unique opportunity to work with staff during the development of their curriculum to ensure that technology was considered at the very outset of the programme’s development. In MS&I the local Learning Technologist has helped to develop a scenario-based, blended-learning course that is now being used as an exemplar of how other academics may redesign their own courses to empower students in their own learning (both electronically and face to face) and provide authentic learning experiences. Many Engineering programmes are already using project-based work to provide students with authentic learning experiences and assessments and this is something the Learning Technologists can work with academics to develop and enhance further.

    Trialing new technologies
    Several e-learning systems have been trialed within Engineering significant input from the Engineering Learning Technologists, including the mobile e-voting system (TurningPoint ResponseWare) for up to 1000 students; and peer assessment of upwards of 700 student videos within the IEP. The successful implementation of such large scale trials would have been difficult without the support of the Learning Technologists.

    E-Learning equipment loans
    One of the common problems with technology uptake is ensuring staff have access to it. Engineering have invested in a number of devices to enable (amongst other things) offline marking; video capture and editing; and presentation of hand drawn figures during lectures. Equipment is available for loan across Engineering and also within STEaPP and MS&I. These include laptops, video recording and editing kit (such as cameras, tripods, microphones and editing software) and iPads. The maintenance and loaning of these are managed by the local Learning Technologists. They are also able to provide advice and assistance with the use of these devices, especially in terms of multimedia creation, including sound recording and filming, and editing of videos to enhance learning resources.

    Working closely with E-Learning Environments and each other
    One important aspect of these roles is that they have close ties to the ELE team, allowing for important two way communication to occur. The Engineering Learning Technologists are able to keep abreast of changes to centrally supported processes and systems and can obtain support from the central E-Learning Environments Services team when required, including receiving train-the-trainer support in order to run workshops locally within Engineering departments. Similarly, ELE benefit by an improved understanding of the activities occurring within faculties and departments, and accessing the materials that are developed and shared by the Learning Technologists.

    Each week the Engineering Learning Technologists share any developments, issues, and updates with each other and the E-Learning Facilitator for BEAMS. The result is a strong network of support for helping to problem solve and resolve issues. It also enables resources, such as the staff hub Moodle course and Moodle auditing matrix, to be shared across the Faculty and more widely across UCL, enabling the re-use of materials and avoiding duplication of effort. The importance of the strong working relationship between the Engineering Learning Technologists became apparent during UCL Engineering’s How to change the world series. During an important final-day session all three Learning Technologists were involved in resolving technical issues to ensure the voting system operated correctly in a venue with incompatible wireless provision.

    Conclusion
    UCL staff and students today operate within a rapidly changing educational environment. Both staff and students are expected to understand how to use technology in order to operate within an increasingly digital society. There is a huge number of self directed online learning resources available (such as MOOCs and YouTube videos) and increasingly flexible work and study arrangements are being supported by enhanced technology use. As more staff see the benefits that technology can bring to the classroom, and true blended learning becomes the norm in many areas, it is going to be more important to implement appropriate support structures so staff have the resources to understand and work with these emerging technologies. It is equally important that students are supported in their use of these tools.

    The Learning Technologists within Engineering are in a unique position to understand the opportunities and issues arising in the classroom, and react to these quickly and effectively. We have already seen numerous outputs from these roles. These include a video editing guide to help academics produce professional looking videos for their students; the use of tools within Moodle and MyPortfolio on a scale not seen before with large cohorts of over 700 IEP students; and an exemplar of how scenario-based learning can be supported by technology in MS&I. While these outputs have been developed in reaction to local needs, they have been shared back for others to use and reference, and therefore they benefit the wider UCL community.

    As we see more of these roles implemented across UCL, we will begin to see more dramatic change than has been achievable in the past. One of the plans for the future involves running student focus groups and interviews to better understand how Moodle and other e-learning systems are helping students with their studies and how provision can be improved. The Engineering Learning Technologists will continue their work with local staff to help their departments to use technology more effectively and improve the student experience.

    Have you met BoB?

    By Natasa Perovic, on 9 October 2014

    Box of Broadcast

    Box of Broadcast

    BoB (Box of Broadcasts) National is an innovative shared online off-air TV and radio recording service for UK higher and further education institutions.

    Staff and students can record any broadcast programme from 60+ TV and radio channels. The recorded programmes are kept indefinitely in an media archive, which currently stores over 1 million programmes and are shared by users across all subscribing institutions. The archive also includes searchable transcripts and one click citation referencing.
    The recordings can be set before or after the broadcast (30 day recording buffer). The programmes can be edited into clips and shared with others. They can also be embedded into Moodle.
    To start using BoB, log in with your UCL user details http://bobnational.net/

    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.

    (more…)

    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.

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