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    Archive for the 'General Learning Technology' Category

    Introducing StepShot Manuals

    By Jim R Tyson, on 8 February 2018

    For a while now, I have been quietly promoting StepShot Manuals (StepShot for short) to my colleagues in ISD. StepShot is a rapid documentation development tool. Which is not nearly as bad as it sounds. StepShot allows you to record an on-screen process – for example, formatting a table in Word or filling out an expenses form – taking screenshots, adding callouts and annotations and writing explanations as you go.

    Some key uses for StepShot include

    • rapid development of training materials and technical documentation
    • developing test scripts for UAT
    • recording test results or bugs
    • creating knowledgebase articles
    • recording process for business analysis and process review

    If you have ever done these jobs, then you might have combined several tools, for example

    a screenshot tool (Windows has one built in), Word, an image editor (Paint or Photoshop), with a workflow like this: take all your screenshots, insert them into word editing, cropping etc as you go, adding explanatory text.

    Stepshot brings all this together in one tool. You set it up to record the activity and select to create a screenshot for mouse clicks or keyboard actions or to use a specific hot key combination for screenshots. As you go through the activity recording images you can also give each a descriptive title and a comment. When you stop recording StepShot opens its editing tool. This latter looks a bit like PowerPoint: your images are listed vertically down the left while the main window allows you to edit an image and add text.

    Click to see the animation!

    This is already a vast improvement on hacking documents together with separate applications, none of them specifically designed for the job, but wait there’s more! StepShot can export your document when you have finished, as Word, PDF, HTML, XML or DITA and can publish directly to Confluence, SharePoint or WordPress. (If they add a PowerPoint option I’ll throw a party). There are simple built in templates for output and with a little effort you can create a customised or branded template.

    So, currently about a dozen people at UCL have taken up a license (UCL staff members can contact ISD Training Administration for licensing information. To use StepShot you do need admin rights on your Windows or Mac PC.). It has been used to create training materials for lecturecast (published on Confluence), it has been used in UAT creating test scripts, it has been used by software testers to record bugs and communicate them to developers. No one currently using it has had more than a two minute informal introduction to the product but people seem to pick up its basic use very quickly. Users report that they enjoy using it as well. The most commone response using it for the first time has been about the immense time savings you can achieve and next about the simplicity of use. One or two people have commented that they don’t really like the look of the output, but this is largely because they haven’t learned how to customise output. I have offered a short workshop on customisation and hope to run it again.

    I have created a Microsoft Team site and I will be keeping in touch with people using it since I have been asked to feedback our experience to the developers.

    Developing Digital Scholarship at UCL

    By Moira Wright, on 23 January 2018

    The next UCL Digital Literacy Special Interest Group (UCL DL SIG) will be taking place on Friday February 16th from 2pm – 5pm (ticket link at the end of this post).

    Digital content is increasingly being used in learning, teaching and research across the Higher Education sector. This has led to a significant change in research practices across disciplines, which include knowledge creation and dissemination through social media and repositories. Complex software tools are being used for data analysis in Arts and Humanities as well as Sciences, and large data sets are being made available to the research community, leading to a blurring of the organisational and support responsibilities of academic stakeholders. This timely event takes a look at digital scholarship at large, and considers new initiatives and opportunities within UCL to address the challenges associated with this disruptive shift.

    Event Programme

    Developing Digital Scholarship: Emerging Practices in Academic Libraries – Alison MacKenzie, Dean of Learning Services at Edge Hill University and Lindsay Martin Assistant Head of Learning Services at Edge Hill University.

    The impact of digital on libraries has extended far beyond its transformation of content, to the development of services, the extension and enhancement of access to research and to teaching and learning systems.As a result,the fluidity of the digital environment can often be at odds with the more systematic approaches to development traditionally taken by academic libraries, which has also led to a new generation of roles and shifting responsibilities with staff training and development often playing ‘catch-up’. One of the key challenges to emerge is how best to demonstrate expertise in digital scholarship which draws on the specialist technical knowledge of the profession and maintains and grows its relevance for staff, students and researchers.


    From digital scholarship to digital scholar  – Alison Hicks, Lecturer UCL Department of Information Studies.

    Drawing on her experience working as an academic librarian in the United States, Alison’s presentation centres on the capacities that are needed to participate in practices of digital scholarship, as well as the inherent risks and challenges of engaging in open and networked spaces.


    Introduction to Digital Scholarship and Open Research – Daniel van Strien, Research Data Support Officer UCL Library Services.

    Daniel will be presenting on a session which aims to help participants make a practical start in practicing open science and digital scholarship he is a Research Data Support Officer within UCL Library Services with an interest in digital scholarship and new approaches to research.


    Where’s your digital at? – Moira Wright, Digital Literacy Officer, UCL Digital Education.

    With an interest in student digital and information literacy skills for employability. Moira will be talking about the Jisc Digital Capability Discovery Tool and how to get involved in the UCL beta pilot.


    Research IT Services – Tom Couch, UCL Research IT Services (RITS).

    Whilst many of the existing users of Research IT Services are pushing for more of the same but better, the broadening base of digitally engaged researchers from different disciplines requires more experimentation with new technologies and services. Tom Couch reports on some recent projects that have helped RITS to engage and support new groups of researchers.


    Please use this link to book your ticket via Eventbrite

    We’re using the Jisc definition of digital literacy: ‘the capabilities which fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society’.
    The UCL DL SIG was created for UCL staff to promote the use of technology in learning, provide a platform to ask questions, exchange ideas and also to get support from colleagues beyond UCL Digital Education.

    Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

    Where’s your digital at?!

    By Moira Wright, on 22 January 2018

    Discover your digital capabilities! The Digital discovery tool helps you to reflect on your digital expertise and confidence. Find out how to make digital technologies work for you – and get noticed for the skills you have already.

    The tool is a self-administered quiz about professional digital practices in education. Workshop participants will receive a personalised report based on their responses with links to resources and guidance. The tool is designed to be reflective, informative and developmental – it’s not an objective measure of an individual’s digital performance.

    UCL staff are invited to participate in one of three workshops of the beta pilot with an opportunity to use the tool and provide your feedback to JISC.

    Places are limited for these sessions and a sandwich lunch will be provided.

    Sign up via Eventbrite use the links below:

    Thursday 8th February 2018 from 1 pm – 2pm

    Tuesday 20th February 2018 from 1pm – 2pm

    Monday 26th February 2018 from 1pm – 2pm

    A version for students is planned for March 2018 and we’re keen to give students at UCL an opportunity to participate in the pilot. If you would like to discuss running departmental workshops (either staff or student) please contact Moira Wright.

    Links:

    JISC digital capability discovery tool

    Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

    New Digital Skills course dates for 2018

    By Caroline Norris, on 5 January 2018

    ISD Digital Skills Development has course dates available for the New Year.  As usual, we are offering a wide range of courses covering Excel, Matlab, LaTeX, Photoshop, R and more.  New dates are once again available for Unix courses which were absent from last term’s schedule.

    If you want to develop your spreadsheet skills, our very popular Excel Essential Skills and Using Excel to manage lists courses are back again for staff and Excel workshops covering similar skills are available for students.  To find out more about our workshops, check out our previous Digital Skills Development blog post.  Nearly 80 students participated in these workshops when we introduced them last term and the feedback has been very positive.  Courses in Pivot Tables and Charts are also available for both staff and students.

    Most of our courses take place in computer workrooms so there is no need to bring your own device.  However, please note that you should bring your own laptop for all of our R sessions.

    For a full list of all the courses and workshops on offer visit the student course catalogue or the staff course catalogue.  Visit the student booking system or staff booking system to book.

    If you can’t attend any of the dates we are currently offering or there is no date available for the course you want, enrol on our Moodle course to be the first to be notified about any new sessions.

    Don’t forget….

    Digital Skills Training at IOE offer training in a wide range of apps including Office 365 Teams, Sway and OneNote and tools for infographics, mind-mapping, screencasting, video editing, blogging and more.  Some sessions are specifically aimed at Mac users. Visit IT for IOE IT Course Booking for details and to book.

    We have a vast range of high-quality video-based courses available at Lynda.com. These cover technical skills but also business, personal and creative skills as well.  Visit the UCL Lynda.com page to find out more.

    Not sure what you need or have a more specific issue you would like help with?  Come along to one of the Digital Skills Development drop ins if you want more individual support.

    Improvements to the Lecturecast Service

    By Janice Kiugu, on 7 December 2017

    The Lecturecast service was upgraded over the summer and we have seen many more lectures being scheduled for recording so far this year – not just due to an increase in the number of rooms where Lecturecast is available, but also in the proportion of events being recorded. As we now draw towards the end of the year and to Christmas, we are glad to be able to share some of the improvements that have been made since the system first went live.

    Lecturecast Moodle Connector block
    The Lecturecast Connector block provides a new way to seamlessly link recordings held under a module code (or multiple module codes) in Lecturecast to a Moodle course.

    Since the block went live, we have continued to try and improve its integration with Moodle and the Lecturecast system. On Thursday 7th December these changes will go live in Moodle, including:

    • The Lecturecast Connector block will no longer overwrite the Moodle course short name. Previously, though it could be changed back, mapping to a Lecturecast section in your course would update the short name to match the section name.
    • The block now displays all Lecturecast sections you have mapped to your Moodle course, which is particularly useful if you have lectures recorded under different module codes.
    • If staff un-link a Lecturecast section from their Moodle course, the Connector block will update within 24hrs to no longer show this as a mapped section.
    • Adding a Lecturecast activity no longer adds an item to the course Gradebook. (14/12/2017)

    Our Lecturecast Connector block user guides have also been updated to include these changes.

    Lecturecast Scheduler
    The Lecturecast Scheduler ties in to existing CMIS timetabled events, reducing the need for duplication of information, and has allowed staff more direct ability to manage the scheduling of their recordings. Based on staff feedback, a number of changes have been made to both the functionality and the interface the tool offers.

    These include improvements such as:

    • Email notifications enabled when there is a change to event location or title in CMIS.
    • More descriptive error messages with hover-over help text so staff know what to do next.
    • A ‘Captured Events’ tab has been added with filter and sort options.
    • Better filtering – based on event start times and the option to clear all filters.
    • The ability to change capture options (recording and availability options) on the ‘Events’ tab, as well as on the ‘Scheduled Events’ tab.
    • Addition of a ‘Version Information’ link in the Scheduler to allow greater transparency of improvements and changes.

    You can find out how to make the most of these improvements using our updated Lecturecast Scheduler user guides

    If you have any questions about the changes, please feel free to email lecturecast@ucl.ac.uk. We hope you’ll find that these changes make the service easier to use, but look forward to working to improving the service further in the coming months.

    Learning Analytics as a tool for supporting student wellbeing – Identifying student mental ill-health

    By Samantha Ahern, on 20 November 2017

    Research has shown that students who are distressed and at risk from mental ill-health will often exhibit one or more of the following indicators concurrently: academic struggles and failures, excessive absences from classes and obligations, excessive substance use, loneliness and isolation, social and interpersonal difficulties with others on campus, changes in self-care and lack of self-care, extreme risky behaviours, inability to tolerate frustration and normal stressors in college, inability to regulate emotions, hopelessness and despair(Anderson, 2015).

    Gemmill and Peterson(Gemmill and Peterson, 2006) have found that internet communication may have the same buffering effects of stressful life circumstances in the same way as non-internet communication by increasing measures of social support and perceived social support.

    This corresponds to findings by Gordon et al. (Gordon et al., 2007) who investigated types of student internet usage (meeting people, information seeking, distraction, coping and email) and four indicators of well-being: depression, social anxiety, loneliness and family cohesion.

    Their findings suggest that it is the type of internet usage, more so than the frequency of use that relates to depression, social anxiety and social cohesion. Using the internet for coping purposes was significantly associated with lower levels of family cohesion and higher levels of depression and social anxiety. Whereas, information seeking and email were positively associated with family cohesion.

    Research into predicting depression with social media(“Predicting Depression via Social Media – 6351”, n.d.), in this instance Twitter, found that social media contains useful signals for characterising the onset of depression in individuals, as measured through decrease in social activity, raised negative affect, highly clustered ego networks, heightened relational and medicinal concerns, and greater expression of religious involvement. It is noted that in order to identify changes in some behaviours, it was important to know the normal behaviours of the user e.g. an indicator of depression is a tendency to be more active at night. To be able to identify if there has been a change in activity the authors defined the normalised difference in number of postings made between the night window (9pm and 6am) and day window to be the “insomniac index” on a given day.

    In summary, these studies show that identifying behavioural changes are key to identifying student mental ill-health, this therefore implies that an understanding is needed of normative behaviours of students.

    References:

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