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    Archive for the 'Learning designs' Category

    Addressing ten Moodle accessibility concerns for UCL’s disabled users

    By Jessica Gramp, on 17 May 2017

    UCL staff from Digital Education Advisory and UCL’s Disability Services teams are currently looking at how to improve the accessibility of UCL Moodle for those with disabilities, which will benefit all users. Information from two focus groups, one with students and one with staff, have highlighted a number of concerns, which the Accessible Moodle project aims to address.

    The focus groups identified ten areas of concern (listed in order of priority):

    • Clutter – it is difficult to find what you are looking for amongst irrelevant links and content.
    • Emphasis – understanding what is the most important information is not easy.
    • Layout – page elements are not configurable, there is too much visible at once and the blocks are too wide.
    • Navigation and Orientation – pages are long and disorganised, with links to external services not adequately signposted.
    • Usability – some interfaces, especially for assessments, are particularly difficult to use.
    • Awareness – useful features (skip links) and services (Moodle snapshot) remain unknown to those who would benefit from them.
    • Personalisation – there’s a lack of configurable page elements (blocks, fonts, font sizes and colours) or information about how to do this independently with browser plugins and other assistive technologies.
    • Text – there’s a lot of overly long text that is too small, in a difficult to read font with poor contrast and in difficult formats both in Moodle and the resources it contains.
    • Consistency – there’s inconsistencies between some Moodle courses and conversely some courses not being adequately distinguishable from others.
    • Graphics – there’s heavy reliance of written information that could be expressed more simply with icons and images, with appropriate alternative text for those using screen readers.

    The learning curve of using new interfaces, problems with assessment, and clunky mobile access were also mentioned by the focus group participants.

    These issues will be addressed by a number of initiatives:

    • A new, more accessible UCL Moodle theme for use on desktop and mobile devices.
    • Changes to Moodle configuration.
    • Enhanced Moodle features.
    • Improved training, staff development and support.
    • Proposals to Moodle HQ and iParadigms (who provide Turnitin) to improve interfaces.

    Further updates on this project will follow on the Digital Education blog.

    Innovating Pedagogy 2016 report

    By Clive Young, on 2 December 2016

    ip2016Innovating Pedagogy 2016 is the fifth annual report from the Open University (this year in collaboration with the Learning Sciences Lab at the National Institute of Education, Singapore) highlighting new forms of teaching, learning and assessment with an aim to “guide educators and policy makers”.

    The report proposes ten innovations that are “already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education”. In other words they are at an early phase of the Gartner Hype Cycle. Whether any will become, in the current idiom, ‘normalised’ remains to be seen and some scepticism would be advised. However, as I noted when the 2015 version was published, such reports often frame the discussion around technology in education, even if initially only at the level of “buzz-word bingo” for enthusiasts.

    The current list “in an approximate order of immediacy and timescale to widespread implementation” is;

    • Learning through social media – Using social media to offer long-term learning opportunities
    • Productive failure – Drawing on experience to gain deeper understanding
    • Teachback – Learning by explaining what we have been taught
    • Design thinking – Applying design methods in order to solve problems
    • Learning from the crowd – Using the public as a source of knowledge and opinion
    • Learning through video games – Making learning fun, interactive and stimulating
    • Formative analytics – Developing analytics that help learners to reflect and improve
    • Learning for the future – Preparing students for work and life in an unpredictable future
    • Translanguaging – Enriching learning through the use of multiple languages
    • Blockchain for learning – Storing, validating and trading educational reputation

    The usual fascinating mix of familiar ideas with novel concepts, the report gives a quick overview of why these may be important and includes handy links to further reading if you are interested

    UCL’s new HEFCE-funded curriculum enhancement project

    By Clive Young, on 1 December 2016

    natasaFollowing our successful bid to the HEFCE Catalyst Fund, which aims to drive innovation in the higher education sector, Digital Education and CALT launch a new project today called UCL Action for Curriculum Enhancement (ACE).

    UCL ACE is one of 67 new HEFCE-funded projects which will develop and evaluate small-scale, experimental innovations with specific cohorts of learners and will run for a period of 18 months.

    The project links to our commitment in the UCL Education Strategy 2016-21 to the development and implementation of the Connected Curriculum and the ABC learning design process. It aims to develop and evaluate UCL’s innovative rapid-development approaches to blended curriculum design, which focus on a framework for research-based education (Connected Curriculum) in order to make a curriculum development pack available to all HEIs interested in improving programme design and engaging students in research-based learning.

    The project will evaluate the impact of our ABC rapid-development approaches to programme development on student outcomes and experience via case studies, produce an online and downloadable pack which can be adapted and used by any higher education institution and establish a supportive community of practice around its implementation.  

    Across UCL programmes of study are being re-designed and developed to engage students much more actively in enquiry-based learning with the Connected Curriculum (CC) framework introduced to facilitate these changes. In parallel we have seen growing use of digital resources and approaches to support new modes of study such as blended learning.

    UCL aims are to ensure that educational intentions, outcomes, activities and assessments are aligned to form a cohesive, connected and effective learning experience for our students, and that programmes of study enable students to connect more effectively with researchers, with the workplace, with each other, and with local and wider communities.

    However we recognise planning rich and complex learning environments requires a structured, dialogic approach to effecting change in programme and module design. UCL has therefore piloted an integrated set of ‘light touch’ but focused learning design approaches, including workshops, CC guides, digital benchmarks and online support.

    One key component is ABC, our effective and engaging hands-on workshop trialled with great success over a range of programmes. In just 90 minutes using a game format teams work together to create a visual ‘storyboard’ outlining the type and sequence of learning activities and assessment and feedback opportunities (both online and offline) required to meet the module’s learning outcomes. ABC is particularly useful for new programmes or those changing to an online or more blended format. This approach generates high levels of engagement, creative informed dialogue and group reflection about curriculum design among even time-poor academics. This is a highly transferrable methodology already trailed at Glasgow and Aarhus (DK) Universities. There are versions in Spanish and Dutch following other workshops run in Chile and Belgium.

    In addition, we are introducing workshops to enable programme leaders and teams to work with students to benchmark their programmes in line with the descriptors of the Connected Curriculum framework, using a published Guide.

    For this project, we aim to continue to deliver this range of dialogic workshops but track their effects and impacts carefully, using a combination of focus groups (with staff and with students), individual semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, and analysis of programme-level and module-level metrics. We will use this focused analysis to develop a resource pack to enable these developmental activities to be scaled up, both with and beyond UCL.

    Clive Young (UCL Digital Education), will lead the project team which will include ABC co-developer Natasa Perovic (UCL Digital Education) and CALT colleagues.

    HEFCE Press release HEFCE supports experimental innovation in learning and teaching

    Moodle in the classroom

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 4 November 2016

    Words by Rebecca Yerworth:

    We all know that it is good to make lectures interactive and that there are many tools out there to help us. Various departments have invested in hardware and software to enable students to ‘vote’ or submit other responses during lectures… but how many of us use these tools? I am technically savvy and keen to apply best practice in my teaching, yet I cannot face using them! I want to, I love the concept, but have been put off by the need to install software and setup session specific activations, quite apart from the need to train myself and the students in how to use the systems. There had to be a better way I thought, how about Moodle? I’m used to putting lecture notes on it, and students are used to navigating to the right course page to find them … are there any Moodle activates which could be used within a lecture?

    So I applied for an E-learning development grant, which funded a student (Bindia) to work with me on exploring this.

    We found that “Hot Question” was the simplest and most versatile tool, but also successfully tried out “Choice” and quiz questions where you drag and drop labels on to an image (this worked really well the second time … once we had shrunk the image and shortened the labels so that they fitted on to smartphone screens!).

    I love using the ‘hot question’ activity as a virtual flip chart, and it came into its own during the revision sessions.  I displayed an exam style question on the board, and instructed students to answer part 1 via Moodle. A couple of minutes later there was a bunch of answers simultaneously displayed on the board and the students devices. “Between them these two would get full marks” I commented before going on to describe the strengths and weaknesses of the answers.  One mouse click created a new page in the activity and we moved on to another part of the question, with the previous page save for students to review later.  Students reported how helpful they found this session – and the saved answers that they could look back on later.

    Another activity which received positive feedback from the students was when we used ‘choice’ in conjunction with an on-line multi-choice medical ethics activity. The class worked through the case study together, anonymously entering their guess/answer to each question in Moodle. I then selected the most popular option on the website… “oups, most of us would have acted outside of General Medical Council Guidelines… well done the 10% of you that selected option c.” Having to enter their own choice forced the students to think through these tricky issues, and seeing what the rest of the class choose helped provide reassurance and an understanding of what other students thought.

    We made some user guides, which will be available via the UCL-Moodle help wiki, in the hope that others will be inspired to try out Moodle-In-lectures. If you do, it would be interesting to hear how you got on.

    I will defiantly be using more Moodle in lectures this year. As well as setting up specific activates, I will make sure I have a generically labelled ‘Hot questions’ and ‘Choice’ on every page that I can use and reuse for impromptu activities – like when a student ask a good question and you want to find out what the rest of the class think before providing the answer.

    Introducing the new E-Learning Baseline

    By Jessica Gramp, on 7 June 2016

    UCL E-Learning Baseline 2016The UCL E-Learning Baseline is now available as a printable colour booklet. This can be downloaded from the UCL E-Learning Baseline wiki page: http://bit.ly/UCLELearningBaseline

    The 2016 version is a product of merging the UCL Moodle Baseline with the Student Minimum Entitlement to On-Line Support from the Institute of Education.

    The Digital Education Advisory team will be distributing printed copies to E-Learning Champions and Teaching Administrators for use in departments.

    Please could you also distribute this to your own networks to help us communicate the new guidelines to all staff.

    Support is available to help staff apply this to their Moodle course templates via digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

    We are also working on a number of ideas to help people understand the baseline (via a myth busting quiz) and a way for people to show their courses are Baseline (or Baseline+) compliant by way with a colleague endorsed badge.

    See ‘What’s new?’, to quickly see what has changed since the last 2013 Baseline.

     

    ABC reaches Glasgow… and Santiago!

    By Clive Young, on 23 May 2016

    (For latest news about ABC LD, visit ABC LD blog)

    Nataša Perović and I took UCL’s popular ABC learning design workshop on the road last week, on Friday running a session for the first time outside UCL. We were invited to the University of Glasgow by ex-UCL colleague Dr Vicki Dale, now with their Learning Technology Unit. Vicki had seen the workshop running in London and was keen to try it with her colleagues. 32 participants came from all four of Glasgow’s colleges and the energy in the room was remarkable and  indicative of the huge interest generated. We were pleased to see the method was as “really useful” for Glasgow participants (see below) as we have found it with UCL colleagues.

    glasgow

    In a curious coincidence on Friday the ABC method was also used for the first time abroad, this time in Santiago, Chile. Robert Pardo, Director of the Centro de Aprendizaje, Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, had taken our materials, translated them into Spanish and after a couple of Skype sessions with us ran the workshop very successfully with a group of his colleagues. His conclusion? ” It works!! “

    chile