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 'Technology blogs' Category

    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 translation through editing Wikipedia

    By Mira Vogel, on 15 December 2014


    UCL Centre for Translation Studies
    CenTraS Wikipedia Translatathon, Nov 2014 (CenTraS) recently held an event to learn how to contribute to Wikipedia, the encyclopedia anyone can edit. These kinds of events are known as ‘editathons’ – we called ours a ‘translatathon’ because it involved 36 postgraduate translation studies students, all new to editing Wikipedia, translating English women’s health articles into several different target languages. The event was jointly organised by CenTraS’ Rocío Baños Piñero, Wikimedia Gender Gap Project Worker Roberta Wedge, and me. In this account I’ll focus on practicalities, which I hope will help anybody thinking of running one themselves.

    Preparation

    For a translatathon the choice of subject needs to be something that is both underrepresented and that participants can relate to. Given that the people in this case were almost all women and enrolled on a programme with a technical and medical focus, women’s health was a good choice.

    To arrange refreshments and estimate the number of Wikimedian volunteers needed, we invited students from across CenTraS to sign up in advance on EventBrite (our event was restricted to CenTraS students, but for open events Wikimedia has Event Pages which can handle sign-ups, reminders, &c). Eventbrite also allowed us to ask students a few extra questions, allowing us to plan for their target languages. The invitation included the schedule so that students would know what to expect.

    Other preparation entailed booking a suitable computer room, arranging tea, coffee and biscuits (Wikimedia funded these), and organising logins for the Wikimedia volunteers. To learn the concepts, the editing basics, think through some edits and actually make them in the article, Wikimedia recommend a minimum of 4 hours. Our translatathon was organised around the students’ timetables between 2-7pm (5 hours went incredibly fast) divided between the basics of Wikipedia editing, choosing an article, a presentation on why translating Wikipedia matters, and a final round-up.

    Students were asked to complete an hour’s self-paced training from Wikipedia on the basics of editing, but were reassured that if they couldn’t, that wouldn’t be a problem.

    Learning to edit

    After a discussion about encyclopedias, Roberta introduced the basics of Wikipedia editing. She contrasted Wikipedia’s article pages with their respective Talk Pages (where editors discuss the content of the article), and each user’s own User Page (personal, no need for neutrality or referencing). The first words students wrote on Wikipedia were “I am learning to edit Wikipedia” on their own User Pages. This isn’t just a random sentence – it signals to other Wikipedians who may be watching out for disruptive acts or unusual practices that the author is inexperienced and should be treated hospitably. Another helpful thing for new Wikipedians to do on their User Page is to add the text {{new user bar}} and then save – this template then presents a list of links to help and general orientation which the user can remove once they know the ropes.

    There are some particular practices for translating Wikipedia. For example any Wiki user should include a brief edit summary before they save, but for translation this is the place to cite the original article. “Translated from [[:en:title of article]]” is the customary way of referencing. The Talk Page (something every article has, used by editors to inform each other about plans and discuss dilemmas) is useful for noting sources, too. By the end of that session, students knew how to get into edit mode, how to make a link, how to reference, and some Wikipedia etiquette.

    Translating Wikipedia

    Next students identified articles to work on from the English Women’s Health category. They checked whether the article existed in their target language Wikipedia, and whether it could helpfully be developed through translation. Then, to avoid working on the mainspace (live article), they copied  one section of the English article into their Sandbox (a sub page of a user’s personal page which can be used for for drafting and testing). It soon became clear that you need to work in the Sandbox of your target language Wikipedia so that when you make internal links in the usual way (surrounding that page’s title in double brackets) it will refer to that Wikipedia, rather than the English one (not all Wikipedias have a sandbox but it’s easy to create a bespoke one from your User Page by appending a forward slash (/) and the word Sandbox). Then, to avoid students inadvertently overwriting each others’ edits, the 30 or so students working in Chinese used a shared document to note which article and section they were working on (again, if we’d had a Wikimedia event page we’d have used that – but instead we used a Google Doc).

    It’s usual for Wikimedia editathons to include a presentation from a subject expert about the topic of the day. Ours was from Fabian Tompsett who introduced the 288  Wikipedias with reference to the article on ebola. Thanks to the work of Wikiproject Medicine, the ebola article emerged as a trusted source during the 2014 outbreak, with translation continuing to play a vital role.

    Discussing translating WikipediaThen we returned to editing. A number of translation-related queries were discussed, such as which were the best resources to find reliable medical terminology or how to deal with the translation of bibliographical references in across languages. There was marked trepidation when the time came to move the work from the Sandbox to the mainspace, because students were worried that their work wasn’t perfect. The Wikimedia volunteers reassured them that it’s in the nature of a wiki is for articles to start small and be refined over time, often by several different authors. Again, explaining works in progress is where the Talk Page and Edit Summary come in. Finally, Wikipedia articles each have a sidebar listing its counterparts in other languages, so the last thing we did was to make sure this included links to and from the new translated material.

    What students said

    I chatted with some of the students to find out what they made of the translatathon. One told me that she uses Wikipedia a lot when translating – particularly comparing the English version with the version in her target language – and that she wanted to “give something back”. She also mentioned that it was exciting to be able to publish something on such a prominent site. Being familiar with HTML, she found editing very straightforward. But as one of the students who had completed the self-paced training in advance she had found herself at a loose end during the first part of the session, and suggested providing more advanced training for people in her position.

    Another student who used Wikipedia very frequently was conscious that many of the articles in her language were inadequate and was interested in making improvements. Even as a self-described non-technical user she found Wikipedia editing straightforward. The one thing she said she’d like to change about the translatathon was more clarity about exactly what students would achieve at the end (for example “at least one paragraph translated”).

    A third student told me she felt very motivated to practice translation on Wikipedia in the future. As well as the realisation that some of the women’s health articles are underdeveloped on Chinese Wikipedia, she was excited about writing on such a visible site and inspired that people in China would be be able to read her work.

    Thanks, Wikimedia

    The Wikimedian volunteers were great. Contributing on the day with suggestions, one-to-one assistance and the occasional bit of troubleshooting were Jonathan Cardy (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums Organiser), Fabian Tompsett (Volunteer Support Organiser) from the Wikimedia UK Office, and the generous volunteer Wikimedians James Heald, Nicolas Webb, Zoe Millington and Raya Sharbain (UCL student and founder UK Wikimedia Campus Ambassador). Wikimedia evaluated the event with a feedback questionnaire – I’ll update here when I hear more.

    Wikimedia are supporting a working group on teaching translation through Wikipedia editing.

     

    Turnitin Version on Moodle

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 3 December 2014

    At UCL we are currently running two versions of the Turnitin e-submission plugin, both version 1 & 2. The reason we are running both versions is that we were planning to transition from version 1 to version 2, as there is no direct way to upgrade version 1 assignments into version 2 assignments. We ran testing on version 2 and it seemed to do all the basic functionality we expected. In addition to this version 2 offers some new features, including a more streamlined submission inbox and the integration of PeerMark, Turnitin’s peer marking tool. However, after running version 2 of the plugin within a real world use for just over a month, we discovered (with the help of feedback from tutors, course administrators and students) that some of the finer details, and other elements that are not easily testable in an isolated environment were not working as desired. We have fed these back to Turnitin and some of these features are now working in the upgraded version 2 plugin, this includes late submissions being highlighted in red.

    A couple of members of the E-Learning Environments team recently attended MUGGL, the Moodle User Group for Greater London. At this user group was a representative from iParadigms, the parent company that owns Turnitin. We were able to ask this representative some questions about problems UCL are currently experiencing with the version 2 plugin, and were able to confirm these issues are not unique to our institution. The representative from iParadigms informed the user group that Turnitin are aware of a number of issues with the version 2 plugin for Turnitin, and have resolved some of the issues. However they have also decided to turn their attention to a new version of the plugin, which is being referred to as ‘Turnitin Next’. This plugin is currently in beta testing, and not yet ready for release.

    The E-Learning Environments team plan to do what we can to be involved in the beta testing, so that we can be as sure as possible that this new plugin will work and do as we expect it to. It should be noted that our influence over the features within the plugin is likely to be limited, if we have any at all, and that it is not guaranteed we will be allowed to partake in the beta testing. Once the next version of Turnitin Next is released the E-Learning Environments team will take all normal steps to ensure the plugin is thoroughly tested, and that we produce ample documentation for any new ways of working within the plugin. It is highly unlikely we would move to the new plugin before summer 2015.

    As things currently stand E-Learning Environments plan to run both the version 1 and version 2 plugins for Turnitin until further notice. These plugins should be seen as equally valid for use and a table comparing features has been produced and will continue to be updated in the event of any changes to functionality. Once E-Learning Environments have more information on the implementation of Turnitin Next we will notify the UCL community with as much notice as possible.

    Moodle upgrade to v2.6.6

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 2 December 2014

    Moodle will be unavailable on 9th December from 08:00 to 10:00 whilst we carry out a routine upgrade.

    On 9th December we will upgrade Moodle to the next version of Moodle 2.6. This upgrade is mostly a series of bug fixes, security patches and small improvements.  The changes may not be visible to all users, but it is an improved version of the plugin which it is valuable for UCL to upgrade to.

    If you have any questions about the upgrade please email ele@ucl.ac.uk and we would be happy to answer your questions or address your concerns.

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

    MyPortfolio Upgrade and User Group

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 25 November 2014

    Today we have upgrade the MyPortfolio system to version 1.10, you can read about the improvements this has brought on our recent post announcing the upgrade.

    In addition to this the Mahara User Group for Southern England (MUGSE) was held last week. Mahara is the name of the software used to run MyPortfolio at UCL. The user group contained a number of presentations on topics such as new users of Mahara, changing the language files and up-coming improvements. You can see a full write-up of the user group on my personal blog: http://digidomi.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/mugse-2-sparsholt-college/ Please note that as this is my personal blog it is not associated with UCL and reflects my own thoughts and opinions.

    The next user group will be happening in the first quarter of next year and is likely to be in London. More details will be shared nearer the time and once a location and date have been confirmed. It is also likely that the conference, which from this year will be known as the Mahara UK Hui (to reflect the systems New Zealand roots) will also be held in London, around the start of July.

    If you have any questions about the MyPortfolio system please get in touch with E-Learning Environments

    UCLeXtend update – November 2014

    By Matt Jenner, on 24 November 2014

    UCL’s new public-facing e-learning environment; UCLeXtend is ready and waiting for your ideas. Live since May 2013 it has attracted over 5000 learners and 23 courses. We revamped it in August 2014 and now it’s sitting pretty. But there’s a lot more to come, this is where you get involved. 

    Note: this post is largely written for an internal audience, apologies to external readers – do contact us (details below) if you have an enquiry.

    About UCLeXtend

    For those who don’t already know, it’s a Moodle-based online platform which can cater for a wide range of courses. Its core capability is to advertise courses, attract/process registrations and provide an online space for learning and teaching. Do take a look for yourself – http://extend.ucl.ac.uk 

    UCLeXtend homepage - November 2014

    UCLeXtend homepage in November 2014

    It can be used to support a range of ideas and activities and so far has been used for: 

    • CPD
    • Executive education
    • Conferences
    • Taster modules
    • Research dissemination
    • Mini-MOOCs
    • Self-paced study. 

    Some are free, others charge; some are open, others are closed/private. A few are fully online, and the majority support face to face activities. Around half are brand new – but others have been running for some time in other guises. Some are not even courses at all, and that’s OK too.  

    In brief; UCLeXtend is/offers:

    • Moodle based – get on the ground running;
    • Open registration – you do not need a UCL computer account to be a UCLeXtend learner / delegate / participant / etc. Anyone can register with their own email / password combination.
    • Payment processor – not everything in life is free, so UCLeXtend accepts most credit and debit cards (or the slower, pay-by-invoice option)
    • Free course provider – some things in life are free, you don’t have to charge for your course
    • Discounts and ‘bulk seats’ options – more information in the UCLeXtend 101 wiki

    Note: income derived from your UCLeXtend course goes directly to your department finance codes.

    Get involved & find out more

    Online guidance

    There’s a few more things to cover; but much of it is procedural or too bloaty for email. So instead; we’ve compiled online content that outlines a lot of the questions you may have, processes, a handful of forms and a few other things. Do take a look, it should cover a lot (but it’s still in development):

    https://wiki.ucl.ac.uk/display/UCLeXtend

    (UCL login required – top left of the wiki, sorry external folk)

    UCLeXtend drop-in session

    If you’re interested in exploring UCLeXtend  or have questions you want to ask please do get in touch. We’re also running a trial (one-off for now) session where you can come and ask questions, share your ideas and hear about what do next. We’ll do a demo of UCLeXtend and be on hand to talk with you. Feel free to come for the whole hour, or drop-in whenever you like. 

    Details

    2nd December 2014, 13:00 to 14:00 in Foster Court 233 

    If you can’t attend this we will look to put on more dates in the future (January onwards) or would rather do it via an online meeting or for us to come along to a departmental / faculty / teaching group session then just ask. 

    Getting started? Why not try a ‘CPD Wrapper’

    With so many options opening up; we felt it important to highlight one which is slightly easier to grasp and works well with existing provision. The concept is CPD Wrappers which we covered at the last Forum event in November. Here’s a presentation we made in E-Learning Environments which broadly outlines the ideas:

    Full URL: https://www.haikudeck.com/cpd-wrappers-uncategorized-presentation-AmK4CAMI4E

    If you’re interested in developing a ‘CPD wrapper’ (or anything else for UCLeXtend) get in touch with us, email is best – extend@ucl.ac.uk

    Contact us

    I don’t mind you contacting me directly, but you may find a faster (and more organised) response from the email above which goes to a shared inbox. Or come along to the session next Tuesday and we’ll go from there. 

    Hope to hear of your ideas soon!