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Digital Adventures in Vilnius

By rebecca.wilson, on 24 April 2024

Working in the Digital Skills Development team it is a pleasure to teach creative media sessions to students and staff at UCL, but how exciting to be able to share our sessions at Vilnius University in Lithuania. 

Vilnius University Campus

Vilnius University campus Credit: Rebecca Wilson

I was invited to work with Dr Michelle Cannon, Lecturer in Digital Arts and Media in Education, UCL Institute of Education, to help plan and deliver agile film making, Soundscape creation, and stop motion animation workshops.  We arrived late at night in Vilnius airport, our luggage full of iPads, stands, lights, art materials and our heads full of ideas. 

Our colleagues in Vilnius University were Associate Professor Sandra Kairė,  Director of the Institute of Educational Sciences and Gintė Žulytė, Education Co-ordinator of Meno Avilys (the Institute of Documentary Film Vilnius). Meno Avilys is a Lithuanian NGO, committed to promoting film and media cultures, and related educational programmes. We worked collaboratively to plan targeted workshops for their students. Our Vilnius colleagues audited the sessions with a view to further development for their new Media Education module for Erasmus students next year. 

group of students making a stop motion animation

Animation workshop Credit: Michelle Cannon

The literary stimulus we chose was Shaun Tan’s graphic novel The Arrival. Reflecting first on a text as a stimulus roots the activity thematically and conceptually and provides a springboard for creative production. The student brief was to make a 30 second film using stills, video and sound to create a moving montage inspired by themes from the text such as dislocation, longing, loneliness and wonder. 

English was no barrier to communication and students were gathered from a range of disciplines including Primary Education, Childhood Pedagogy and Psychology. None of the students were familiar with practical media-making as part of their university curriculum. It was both moving and inspiring to experience the students’ enthusiasm for creative digital making. 

group of students editing on tablet

Film editing Credit: Rebecca Wilson

In a short space of time, students learnt film making techniques, how to edit and incorporate sound, and how to share and critique their work. They also learnt stop motion animation techniques; making a collage of artwork to create an animated abstract visual sequence. We also shared ideas and examples using ‘Audacity’ software to demonstrate mixing layers of sound to craft engaging Soundscapes. 

We facilitated a whirlwind few days of creative making and it was a pleasure to work with such articulate, creative and enthusiastic students.  Our visit was a great opportunity to collaborate internationally with like-minded academics and staff to promote creative Media Education and practice-based learning experiences.  

 

Half the struggle with digital knowledge is knowing what it’s for

By Jim R Tyson, on 10 April 2024

Sometimes I hear an announcement about an update or improvement to some technology or ‘app’ (as the youngsters say) that sounds exciting and eminently worth investigating.  When I start sifting through Google results to find out more, I can spend a day or two sometimes working out what’s going on.  That’s OK, it’s part of my job to do this and then, if what I’ve learned is useful, to find ways to communicate it to other people.

For example, Excel now allows users to create ad hoc and custom functions using lambda().  Now, if you are a computer scientist, mathematician, philosopher or linguist, you will probably have heard of the lambda calculus, an important mathematical invention of the twentieth century that influenced all those disciplines.  It provided a way to formally characterise computation as function application and abstraction (roughly, don’t quote me on this – it was a long time ago).  Now, even students of computer science may sometimes encounter the calculus and end up wondering ‘OK, but what’s it for?’

Well, one way to demonsrate its practical use is by introducing the world of the lambda() function in Excel: it allows you to formally define new Excel functions.  I immediately spotted some  uses  for this.

Descriptive statistics for sub-populations

Excel provides all the most common and useful statistical calculations as basic functions such as count(), average(), var(), stdev() and for some functions there are conditional versions countif(), averageif(),which allow for subsetting your data.  So, it might be that you have two columns of data, the first is some interesting measure (temperature? height? resting bpm?) and the second some characteristic such as ethnicity or gender.

It might be that you want to know what is the average resting heart rate (for example) of the male participants in  your study.  You can do this using averageif(): =averageif(B1:B100, “male”, C1:C100).  Assuming that the sex data are in the range B1:B100 and the resting heart rate data are in C1:100.  In fact, Excel has an averageifs() to help with cases with multiple selection criteria.  So that’s good for data analysts using Excel because it’s a common analytical approach.

However, this only works for averageif(), countif(), maxif(), minif() – there is no conditional var(), stdev(), skew() or kurt().  Well, for variance and standard deviation, we can construct a pivot table to get the subpopulation analysis we want and that’s great.  But occasionally (probably not that often) we want to calculate the skew in resting heart rate for all male participants, and maybe even the kurtosis.  And here, after that long lead in, is where the lambda() function proves it’s worth.  First, lets look at how we would caculate the kurtosis in some measure as a function of gender, using a combination of built-in Excel formulas: Given a data table where column A is the categorical (eg gender) variable and B is the measure of interest:

1 A B
2 1 56
3 1 62
4 1 48
5 1 58
6 1 58
7 1 55
8 1 42
9 1 54
10 1 47
11 2 52
12 2 59
13 2 56
14 2 45
15 2 63
16 2 52
17 2 44

The formula we want is kurt(if(A1:A17=1,B1:B17))

So there are three parameters, the first is the range to which we apply the second (the selection criterion value (here, 1 = male)), the third is the range where the kurt() function will be applied.  I tested this formula and it works fine, it’s just a bit clunky to use compared to the built-in averageif() etc.  So, I decided to reconstruct it using the lambda() function, to produce my own kurtif() function.  In an empty cell, we put the lambda expression:

=LAMBDA(a,n,b, KURT(IF(a = n, b)))

with the three parameters represented (arbitrarily) by a, n and b.  A moments reflection and we see the relation between the lambda expression and our previous Excel formula.  From a practical point of view, the lambda expression tells us where in the calculation to plug in the values a, n and b to get our result.

When you enter this expression in a blank cell and hit return you will see the warning message

#CALC!

 

which is Excel recognising that the cell contains a lambda expression.  The next step is to name the new function kurtif().  Copy the new lambda expression to the clipboard (highlight and control-c) then from the formula tab on the ribbon select and open the name manager.  In the dialog that this opens press the new button; give kurtif as the name for the new function and then paste the lambda expression from the clipboard then OK and close the name manager dialog.

Now you can carry out the computation as:

=kurtif(A1:17,1,B1:B17)

which is simpler and has the advantage of looking very like averageif() and the other, similar functions.

A missing significance calculation in Excel

Excel has a very simple to use function that will calculate a correlation coefficient (R) from two arrays of data: =correl(Array1,Array2).  It is a minor annoyance that this calculation doesn’t return a p value for R, allowing us to test the null hypothesis that the true correlation between Array1 and Array2 is zero.  So, let’s assume that we have calculated r for two columns of data each and we know that n is just the count of one array, and the result is in cell H1 (for no particular reason).

Now, it’s a fairly simple trick to calculate a t value based on the correlation coefficient.  The formula is

and since we have just calculated r, it is simple to calculate t with the formula (and put the result in H3):

=H1*(sqrt(count(Array1)-1))/sqrt(1*-H1^2)

The last (and for now separate) step is to find the significance for this t score with the two-tailed t distribution function with n-2 degrees of freedom

=t.dist.2t(H3, count(Array1)-2)

And there we have it.  So, it would be useful to have a little helper function we could apply simply,  to calculate  from r.  Here is the lambda function code:

=LAMBDA(r,n,(r*SQRT(n-2))/SQRT(1-(r^2)))

and we can name it and use it as before.  I named mine ‘convertRtoT’ and used it like this with the correlation coefficient in H1 and n = 30:

convertRtoT(H1,30)

So now we know what the lambda() function is for.  The example is perhaps a little obscure, but the principle – that half the struggle with digital knowledge is knowing what it’s for – holds for far more mundane cases: I’ve been learning Power BI, and while there are simple answers – power BI is for visualisation – it’s only after I’ve been through a few hours of tutorials that I’m really understanding what it’s about.

Homework

If you want to check out the example calculations, please go ahead.  I checked them all in Excel (and for the t to r conversion, I checked my result against R), but it’s always possible to make a bluder when copying and pasting.  But finding and fixing errors is good practice.  If you want more practice, then I would suggest creating a function skewif() that works like kurtif(), taking two arrays ( a score and a selection criterion) a gives the skewness for the cases selected by the criterion.  Good luck.

(this blog post was supported by the music of Iannis Xenakis, “Six Chansons No 1, ca sent le musc”)

Develop your Digital Skills: Term 3 training courses and more

By Katy O Foster, on 7 March 2024

Image of two badges on a blazer. One of them says Digital Skills

From training and support to helping you improve your digital capabilities, read below to find out what exciting opportunities Digital Skills Development can offer UCL staff and students in term 3.

Term 3 training courses

To book, follow the links below or find more information here: How to book a course on MyLearning.

Mastering Excel

General
30/04/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: In a Nutshell: Excel functions we should all know Online
28/05/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: In a Nutshell: Excel functions we should all know Online
28/05/2024 13:00 14:30 DSD: Pivot tables in Excel – Workshop Online
29/05/2024 13:00 14:30 DSD: VLookup in Excel – workshop Online
30/05/2024 13:00 14:30 DSD: Charting with Excel Online
Excel Essential Skills Workshops
08/05/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 1 (campus-based) In-person
22/05/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 2 (campus-based) In-person

Data analysis and visualisation

Choosing the right software
16/05/2024 14:00 15:00 DSD: Software for success: Winning with charts Online
R
24/04/2024 10.00 17.00 DSD: An Introduction to R with Rstudio (campus-based) In-person
01/05/2024 14.00 17.00 DSD: Data visualization in R with ggplot2 (campus-based) In-person
23/05/2024 10:00 17:00 DSD: An Introduction to R with Rstudio (campus-based) In-person
06/06/2024 10:00 17:00 DSD: An Introduction to R with Rstudio (campus-based) In-person
Stata
15/05/2024 10:00 17:00 DSD: Getting started with Stata (campus-based) In-person
21/05/2024 14.00 16.00 DSD: Scripting Stata Graphs Online
05/06/2024 14:00 17:00 DSD: Scripting Stata’s Tables and Collections (Campus-based) In-person
Nvivo
09/05/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: In a Nutshell: Starting an Nvivo Project Online
Excel
30/05/2024 13:00 14:30 DSD: Charting with Excel Online

Interaction and collaboration

General
30/04/2024 13.00 15.00 DSD: Software for success: Survey tools Online
14/05/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Mentimeter – improving feedback and interaction Online
REDCap
08/05/2024 13.00 14.00 DSD: Introduction to REDCap for research Online
09/05/2024 12:00 13:00 DSD: Data import and export in REDCap Online
09/05/2024 15.00 16.00 DSD: Managing participants in REDCap Online
14/05/2024 12:00 13:00 DSD: Options in designing consent forms in REDCap Online
14/05/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Using conditions and filters in REDCap Online
21/05/2024 13.00 14.00 DSD: Setting up User Rights and Data Access Groups in REDCap Online
Qualtrics
02/05/2024 13.00 14.00 DSD: Qualtrics Tips and Tricks Online

Multimedia content: Creating and editing

Graphic design and photo editing
30/04/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Design an impactful research poster using UCL templates Online
07/05/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Basic image editing using free tools – demo Online
16/05/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: An introduction to free graphic design tools – Inkscape Online
21/05/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Photo editing with Pixlr X – workshop Online
30/05/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Creating infographics using free web based tools Online
Film and video
02/05/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Make a short film using your iPhone Online
07/05/2024 10.00 11:00 DSD: Planning and filming advice for a short film Online
23/05/2024 14:00 15:00 DSD: Explore the potential of UCL Mediacentral  Online
29/05/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Best practice for video captions and transcripts Online
Podcasting
25/04/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Podcasting made easy Online

Writing, presenting and referencing

Mentimeter
14/05/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Mentimeter – improving feedback and interaction Online
Microsoft Office
23/04/2024 10.00 12.00 DSD: Format your Thesis (Windows) – Manage long documents in Word Online
23/04/2024 14:00 15:00 DSD: Creating accessible PowerPoint presentations Online
07/05/2024 13:00 14:00 DSD: PowerPoint for Researchers and Presenters: Words, Images and More Online
08/05/2024 10:00 11:00 DSD: Word Tips and Tricks Online
04/06/2024 14:00 16:00 DSD: Format your Thesis (Windows) – Manage long documents in Word Online
Zotero
29/05/2024 14:00 17:00 DSD: Kick-starting your literature review with Zotero (Campus-based) In-person

Accessibility and assistive technology

Social media
28/05/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Creating accessible social media content Online
Film and video
29/05/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Best practice for video captions and transcripts Online
Powerpoint
23/04/2024 14:00 15:00 DSD: Creating accessible PowerPoint presentations Online

Programming

Git version control
04/06/2024 13.00 14.00 DSD: In a Nutshell: Git version control Online
05/06/2024 10.00 13.00 DSD: Dive into Git version control Online

Social Media

28/05/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Creating accessible social media content Online

LinkedIn Learning

In addition to the above, UCL staff and enrolled students can access over 16,000 courses for free on LinkedIn Learning.

Join us for an online webinar to discover more about the benefits and features of LinkedIn Learning:

18/06/2024 13.00 14.00 Discover LinkedIn Learning  Online

Digital Skills Support: Office hours

To make them more widely accessible, our drop-ins have been changed to an office hours format, with slots available each day. If you have a question or would like individual support on a specific issue, book an appointment with one of our team: Digital Skills Development Office Hours

Upgrade your skills with the Discovery Tool

In partnership with Jisc, the Digital Skills Development team have put together a Discovery Tool to help UCL staff and students identify gaps in their knowledge and improve their skills. Use the self-assessment questions to start your journey towards better digital skills today: Discover your digital

Now with AI questions added for staff

The Jisc Discovery Tool now has a question set for staff on Digital skills in AI and Generative AI and a lot of new resources on AI skills have been added to the tool. Find out more in our blog post.

Contact us

For any questions on Digital Skills Development at UCL, email isd-digiskills@ucl.ac.uk

Discover your Digital – AI questions added to the Discovery Tool

By Caroline Norris, on 22 February 2024

The Discovery Tool consists of reflective question sets which explore your digital practices and confidence levels.  The main question set looks at overall digital capabilities but there are also additional question sets for staff covering effective teaching and accessibility and inclusion and leadership all from a digital perspective.   The tool can also be used by students and there is a general question set for all students and one aimed at new students.

See below for full details of how to use the tool and upcoming workshops on 23 April and 13 May.

New for 2024 there is now a question set on Digital Skills in AI and Generative AI for staff and a similar question set will be available for students on 20 March 2024.

The staff AI questions are arranged under the following categories:

  • Responsible AI
  • AI and digital proficiency
  • AI and digital productivity
  • AI and information and data literacy
  • AI and digital communication
  • AI and collaboration and participation
  • AI and digital creativity
As with other question sets you get a customised report  indicating your confidence and proficiency in each area represented in a chart (pictured right) and some suggested next steps to develop your skills.
All the reports signpost to a wealth of free resources and these have been augmented with additional AI-focused content.  We have also added customised UCL resource cards which signpost relevant UCL policies, guidelines, resources and learning opportunities.
Want to find out more?  Visit the Discover your digital web page for details about how to use the tool or come along to a workshop to try it out.  We can also arrange workshops for specific groups of staff or students.  Contact us with any queries.

Develop your digital skills: Term 2 training courses and more

By Katy O Foster, on 8 December 2023

From training and support to helping you improve your digital capabilities, read below to find out what exciting opportunities Digital Skills Development can offer UCL staff and students in term 2.

Term 2 training courses

To book, follow the links below or find more information here: How to book a course on MyLearning.

Data analysis and visualisation

Choosing the right software
30/01/2024 10:00 11:00 DSD: Software for success: Data analysis & statistical tools Online
01/02/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Software for success: Winning with charts Online
05/03/2024 12:00 14:00 DSD: Software for success: Data visualisation Online
R
17/01/2024 13.00 20.00 DSD: An Introduction to R with Rstudio (campus-based) In-person
31/01/2024 14.00 17.00 DSD: Better Tables in R (Campus-based) In-person
07/02/2024 15.00 17.00 DSD: Data visualization in R with ggplot2 (campus-based) In-person
08/02/2024 14:00 16.00 DSD: Data manipulation in R with Rstudio Online
20/02/2024 10.00 17.00 DSD: An Introduction to R with Rstudio (campus-based) In-person
11/03/2024 10.00 17.00 DSD: An Introduction to R with Rstudio (campus-based) In-person
Stata
06/02/2024 10:00 17:00 DSD: Getting started with Stata (campus-based) In-person
06/03/2024 14:00 17:00 DSD: Scripting Stata’s Tables and Collections (Campus-based) In-person
14/03/2024 14.00 16.00 DSD: Scripting Stata Graphs Online
Nvivo
01/02/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: In a Nutshell: Starting an Nvivo Project Online
Matlab
26/02/2024 & 27/02/2024 10:00 17:00 DSD: Introduction to Matlab (campus-based) In-person

Mastering Excel

18/01/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Excel Tips and Tricks Online
24/01/2024 12:00 13:30 DSD: Charting with Excel Online
30/01/2024 12:00 13:30 DSD: Vlookup in Excel Online
30/01/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: In a Nutshell: Excel functions we should all know Online
13/02/2024 12:00 13:30 DSD: Pivot Tables in Excel – workshop Online
22/02/2024 10:00 11:00 DSD: Excel Tips and Tricks Online
22/02/2024 14.00 16.00 DSD: Intermediate statistics with Excel Online
07/03/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: In a Nutshell: Excel functions we should all know Online
13/03/2024 14:00 16:00 DSD: Advanced statistics with Excel (campus-based) In-person
Excel Essential Skills Workshops
24/01/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 1 (campus-based) In-person
07/02/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 1 (campus-based) In-person
21/02/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 1 (campus-based) In-person
06/03/2024 13.00 14.00 DSD: Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 2 (campus-based) In-person
13/03/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 2 (campus-based) In-person
20/03/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Excel Essential Skills – Workshop 3 (campus-based) In-person

Accessibility and assistive technology

16/01/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Creating accessible Powerpoint presentations Online
16/01/2024 10:00 12:00 DSD: Creating accessible Word documents Online
14/02/2024 14.00 17.00 DSD: Creating accessible documents with LaTeX (Campus-based) In-person
28/02/2024 14.00 17.00 DSD: Creating accessible documents with LaTeX (Campus-based) In-person
29/02/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Best practice for video captions and transcripts Online
19/03/2024 10:00 11:00 DSD: Creating accessible social media content Online

Programming

12/03/2024 10.00 17.00 DSD: Think like a computer programmer (campus-based) In-person
18/03/2024 14:00 17:00 DSD: A Quick Introduction to UNIX (campus-based) In-person

Interaction and collaboration

19/03/2024 12:00 14:00 DSD: Software for success: Survey tools Online

Multimedia content: Creating and editing

Graphic design and photo editing
24/01/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Design an impactful research poster using UCL templates Online
06/02/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Basic image editing using free tools – demo Online
15/02/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: An introduction to free graphic design tools – Inkscape Online
22/02/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Creating infographics using free web based tools Online
06/03/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Photo editing with Pixlr X – workshop Online
Film and video
24/01/2024 14:00 15:00 DSD: Explore the potential of UCL Mediacentral  Online
31/01/2024 14:00 15:30 DSD: Introduction to stop motion animation – workshop In-person
27/02/2024 10.00 11:00 DSD: Planning and filming advice for a short film Online
27/02/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Make a short film using your iPhone Online
29/02/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Best practice for video captions and transcripts Online
Podcasting
22/02/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Podcasting made easy Online

Writing, presenting and referencing

Choosing the right software
18/01/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Software for success: Writing tools Online
05/03/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Software for success: Working with Bibliography and Citation Apps Online
Microsoft Office
16/01/2024 10.00 12:00 DSD: Creating accessible Word documents Online
16/01/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: Creating accessible PowerPoint presentations Online
08/02/2024 10.00 12.00 DSD: Format your Thesis (Windows) Online
05/03/2024 10.00 11.00 DSD: Word Tips and Tricks Online
07/03/2024 14.00 16.00 DSD: Format your Thesis (Windows) Online
26/03/2024 12:00 13:30 DSD: Effective use of Onenote – workshop Online
LaTeX
13/02/2024 10.00 17.00 DSD: Overleaf: LaTeX with NatBib (campus-based) In-person
14/02/2024 14.00 17.00 DSD: Creating accessible documents with LaTeX (campus-based) In-person
28/02/2024 14.00 17.00 DSD: Creating accessible documents with LaTeX (campus-based) In-person
29/02/2024 14.00 15.00 DSD: LaTeX: Demo of Overleaf Online
Zotero
21/02/2024 15:00 17:00 DSD: Kick-starting your literature review with Zotero (Campus-based) In-person

Office hours

If you have a question or would like individual support on a specific issue, book an appointment with one of our team: Digital Skills Development Office Hours

Upgrade your skills with the Discovery Tool

In partnership with Jisc, the Digital Skills Development team have put together a Discovery Tool to help UCL staff and students identify gaps in their knowledge and improve their skills. Use the self-assessment questions to start your journey towards better digital skills today: Discover your digital

LinkedIn Learning

UCL staff and enrolled students can access over 16,000 courses for free on LinkedIn Learning.

Contact us

For any questions on Digital Skills Development at UCL, email isd-digiskills@ucl.ac.uk

Discover your Digital – new staff workshops now available

By Caroline Norris, on 16 November 2023

Diagram showing the Jisc Digital Capabilities Framework

Do you want to start a conversation with your students about their digital skills for work and study? Are you looking for a way to enable staff to reflect on their digital skills and identify gaps in their knowledge?

We are delighted to announce a new staff workshop introducing the Discovery Tool.  The tool consists of reflective question sets which explore your digital practices and confidence levels.  The main question set looks at overall digital capabilities but there are also additional question sets for staff covering effective teaching and accessibility and inclusion, all from a digital perspective.   The tool can also be used by students and there is a general question set for all students and one aimed at new students.

New for January 2024 there is now a question set on Digital Skills in AI for staff and one for students is due in March.

We currently have online workshops scheduled to take place at 15 February and 6 March 2024.

About the workshop

During the workshop you will have the opportunity to try out the tool for yourself and receive a personalised report with suggestions for how to develop your skills and links to free resources.
You will explore how you can use the tool with colleagues, for example as part of the appraisal process or an away day, or with students to encourage them to reflect on their digital practices and experience.
Results are confidential and you can choose who to share your report with.  However we are able to generate anonymised analytics to identify overall trends across departments (for staff) and subjects (for students).
Book a place on Eventbrite or visit the Discover your digital page to find out more about the tool and how to use it.  If you can’t attend one of these sessions but would like us to let you know about future dates or you would like to organise a workshop from a group of staff or students, please contact us via our expression of interest form.