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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'External Learning Technology events' Category

BoB (Box of Broadcasts) National

By Natasa Perovic, on 1 November 2014

How are you getting on with BoB?

BoB is Learning on Screen’s on demand TV and radio service for education. This academically-focused system allows staff and students to record programmes from over 65 free-to-air channels, and search BoB’s extensive archive.


Logging in


Searching for content

Requesting programmes

Using embed codes

Using with PowerPoint

Importing your clips and playlists

Accessing BoB reports

Setting user preferences

Issue reports and laternative bradcasts

To access BoB, log in with your UCL user details http://bobnational.net/

BoB user guide http://bobnational.net/faq

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 programmes from 65+ TV and radio channels.  The recorded programmes are kept indefinitely in an media archive, which currently stores over 2 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/

Hype vs hope in e-learning

By Clive Young, on 5 September 2014

Across higher education there is a genuine feeling we are at some kind of tipping point in the use of e- learning. On the other hand practitioners are wary of the risk of over-hyping and point to the recent feverish marketing of MOOCs.

At the Association for Learning Technology Conference earlier this week, for me one of the most thought-provoking sessions was the opening keynote from Jeff Haywood, University of Edinburgh. Jeff is both Professor of Education & Technology and VP Knowledge Management and has among many other things led Edinburgh’s pioneering initiative with MOOCs.

The talk put the hype in perspective and looked forward to where higher education might be in the next decade, but Jeff was conscious of Terry Mayes’ notion of e-learning’s Groundhog Day phenomenon “the cycle of raised expectation followed by disappointment” (e.g. Groundhog Day again?, 2007)

Looking back he concluded that although change was inevitably slow in universities, it was definitely occurring.  As an example he suggested much of students learning was nowadays facilitated by devices and applications not provided by the institution. General attitudes to online teaching and learning were also becoming more positive as students and staff were getting more familiar with them, the “socialisation of technology”, and many universities were seeing online delivery as a ‘worthwhile’ business supplement to existing residential provision.

He suggested however universities had been using technology to improve the quality of what we currently do, rather than increase the efficiency of the underlying economics. One thing MOOCs had shown was that a reasonably effective learning experience can be delivered economically at a scale hitherto unimagined.  This raises  – though so far in my view doesn’t yet answer – the question of whether we can increase productivity while maintaining quality.

Jeff asked if we use purposefully use technology to help students break out from the timetabled pacing of learning or enable staff to teach some parts of the programme to many more students.

So what could higher education look like in ten years? Jeff’s person list was; on demand, self-paced, location-flexible, relevant to life/career now and in the future, global and local, personalised, affordable, high value added and covering a wide range of subjects.

This vision is not about technology per se, but is unachievable without technology. Some kind of vision is necessary but we know universities as big complex organisations transform slowly so the vision must be combined with patience and persistence. To keep momentum and direction over a decade we therefore need a road map made up of systematically planned ‘modest, purposeful’ steps. These steps must be at the same time ‘agile’ and be adaptable to emergent change or evidence.

An interesting and ambitious vision for the increasingly ‘off-campus’ University of Edinburgh was laid out. He suggested their 50 fully online Masters degrees and the well-subscribed continuing education programmes may be a better indicator of future core business direction than the 15 MOOCs currently running. He saw ‘on-campus’ and ‘off-campus’  provision becoming more integrated and balanced, “nobody would graduate from the university in any degree who had not taken one core fully online course” and that “all our teaching staff would have some experience of teaching online”. At Masters level he foresaw a 50:50 split of on/off campus students, with a steady blurring of the distinction at programme level. Continuing education would be enriched by technology and Edinburgh would continue to develop its ‘open’ components to increase the reach of and global/local engagement with the university – open will therefore become a “core part of the business’.

To get there Edinburgh suggested a series of systematic ‘serious experiments’ in key areas (e.g as derived for example from the Horizon reports) which not just for local use but always with a view from the beginning of how to scale to an institutional level. This will introduce the key technical and digital literacy elements needed to achieve the University’s vision.

E-learning essentials (genuinely)

By Matthew S B Smith, on 7 August 2014

Last month I attended a 3 day JISC Netskills workshop at Newcastle University entitled ‘e-learning Essentials’. Based on this particularly uninspiring title, I was prepared for the course to cover already well-trodden ground. However, I quickly found it to be the antithesis; within the first hour the unexpectedly inspiring trainer Danny McAtominey was making me think about e-learning in a way I had not considered in some time.

The course focussed heavily on learning theory and rationale with the first day spent entirely away from technology (in fact during the three days I did not learn about a single new tool or piece of software). We looked at educational taxonomies, instructional design cycles and pedagogical frameworks (the kind of diagrams I do not doubt we all have copies of but so rarely dig out and consult) and how these align with and inform course design.

So often it feels as though we are tagging technology onto current practice (technology enhanced learning?) and although this can (and does) positively impact teaching and learning, I can never help thinking that we are only really scratching the surface. Danny really helped to shift the focus away from the technology and a tool driven approach to the learning and course design. He put forward a very strong argument for scenario based, multi-disciplinary courses that put the online delivery on an equal footing with the classroom teaching.

Since attending the course I have been much more considerate and analytical when approaching even the most seemingly simple of requests from teaching staff; really thinking about the motivation behind using technology and how it may allow all types of learners to access higher levels of engagement.

In all, the course has at most changed the way I view e-learning or at least recalled to me a perspective I have held in the past (a little like being shown a photograph of a place you once visited). This being so, by the end of the course, I had revised my opinion and felt ‘e-learning Essentials’ was a wholly accurate description. I would therefore highly recommend it to even the most experienced practitioner, as much for the time it provides to reflect on e-learning in general, as for the content covered.

Please note, there are currently no workshops scheduled but I have been informed by JISC that there will be deliveries taking place at Euston and Newcastle later in the year and next year. More information can be found at e-Learning Essentials.

Webinar: UCL working with the new change agents

By Clive Young, on 3 June 2014

webinarClive Young (ELE) and Stefanie Anyadi (UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences) led an ALT webinar today on work UCL has been doing with our community of teaching administrators (TAs).

We described the now-completed JISC Digital Department project that supported these staff in developing their digital literacies and in working more systematically and strategically with them as change agents. This had led directly to the establishment of our supported programme leading to the Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology (CMALT). We also introduced the E-Learning Champions initiative and explained why we had included TAs to work in partnership with academics and ELE staff. Although very much a work in progress this has proved effective and has already helped benchmark e-learning activity, develop local plans across two of our schools and has led to the emergence of active faculty-level e-learning groups.

The slides and recording are available on the ALT Repository at http://repository.alt.ac.uk/2351/

MyPortfolio – outside of UCL

By Domi C Sinclair, on 1 April 2014

Although at UCL MyPortfolio is only just starting to pick up pace, externally the system (known as Mahara) already has an extensive user base that stretches all around the world. Yesterday saw the first User Group meeting based in Southern England, and you can read a full summary of the event posted on my personal blog (please note this blog is not connected to UCL and I’m linking to it to prevent a duplication of information). The User Group also included a summary from the recent Mahara Hui conference held in New Zealand. Despite the system originating there, it was the first Mahara conference to be held in New Zealand.

For those of us who were not lucky enough to secure flights for the Hui there will also be a Mahara UK conference taking place this summer down in (hopefully) sunny Brighton. The UK conference is a two day event, although one day ticket options will be available, over the 17th-18 July. The event will give individuals a chance to see examples of good practice, share pains and generally learn more about the e-portfolio system. The event welcomes IT professionals, academics, support staff and students – so why not consider attending? For those who are already using the system you can also submit a proposal and have the opportunity to take part in the conference and get feedback on your work.

If you have any questions about MyPortfolio in general please contact E-Learning Environments.