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Improving Inclusivity – observations from the UCL Education Conference 2019

EliotHoving9 April 2019

I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 UCL Education Conference on Monday 1st April 2019. The conference was themed around:

  • Widening participation
  • BME (Black Minority Ethnic) Attainment
  • Assessment and Feedback
  • Supporting student success
  • Digital education and innovations

Although it was April Fool’s day, and Brexit loomed large, the conference was full of sober analysis and creative initiatives.

The opening plenary by Anne-Marie Canning MBE challenged Universities to play a greater role in promoting inclusivity in their internal practices, and in the broader public sphere as powerful and influential institutions capable of bringing about change. A subsequent panel discussion raised plenty of questions over the structural and everyday challenges to inclusivity, including whether inclusivity was a process or an outcome. This set the tone for the workshop sessions for the remainder of the day. I attended three sessions, which were part of the Digital education and innovations stream of the conference. Each session demonstrated a creative and pragmatic way to improve inclusivity in the classroom.

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

Multisensory and personalised feedback

Maria Sibiryakova presented her approach to teaching writing in Russian. She highlighted the challenge of teaching to a diverse cohort where students can have different experiences of living in Russia and different interests in learning Russian. In the course, students complete seven mini-essays (500 words each) and Maria provides audio and written feedback to students, which combine to “feedforward” into the next assessment.

Maria presented some of the benefits of using audio feedback, including:

  • Multisensory feedback – hence more accessible,
  • Improves teaching presence – students hear you and your voice,
  • Conversational and personalised feedback, and
  • Often quicker to produce.

Maria used a tool called VoiceThread, which has some intriguing features. It’s also possible to deliver audio feedback using Turnitin Assignment.

Photo by Adi Chrisworo on Unsplash

Open in class discussion with Moodle Hot Questions

Rebecca Yerworth and one of her students, Xu Zhao, demonstrated how Moodle’s Hot Question activity can facilitate in-class discussions.

The Moodle Hot Question activity allows for students to submit questions and/or answers via Moodle on their phone or laptop. This facilitates class discussion by increasing the participation of students who otherwise wouldn’t speak up in class due to personal or cultural reasons. Rebecca moderates the discussion live in class, answers questions, and draws out connections between different student answers. She also finds the Hot Questions activity flexible to use as it can be enabled in Moodle and switched on with a click of a button when a new discussion is needed.

Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

Welcoming new Chemistry students through a Moodle module

Dr Stephen E. Potts presented on the development of a Moodle module for welcoming new Chemistry students.

The UCL Chemistry Undergraduate Welcome Page introduces students to the Department, their degree programme, a typical timetable, Lab safety, and even how to submit an assignment on Moodle. It also includes some fun stuff like how to join the UCL Chemical and Physical Society and a collection of molecules with silly names. The module is designed to be delivered completely online, so is Baseline+ compliant, and is released to students when they are registered but before they arrive on campus.

I found the module was a great example of making Moodle look good (yes, it’s possible!). It was visually enticing, clearly structured, and combined quiz activities, video, text and image to engage students. The course has received positive feedback so far, and Stephen plans to build on the module, possibly to include multi-lingual content. I was also really impressed by the virtual tour of the Department. Students click through main buildings and labs, in a similar manner to Google maps, and can also click on information points to view location specific information. The tour was created using a 360 camera and Google Poly.

These three presentations demonstrated some of the everyday ways that inclusivity can be improved through teaching practice and technology. They also showed that improving inclusivity can often be accomplished as part of improving student engagement overall. There was much more to the conference than can be summarised here, and you can read the conference Abstracts to find out more. A tremendous thank you to all the organisers and presenters!

The latest Digital Education and RITS collaboration is ready for launch – almost

SamanthaAhern8 March 2019

Space shuttle on launchpad

Digital Education and Research IT Services have been collaborating on the production of online self-paced training courses based on popular RITS face-to-face courses.

To date two courses have been formally launched, and we are making final preparations to launch our latest course.

If you would like to know more about why and how we developed these courses you can view our presentation from the OER18 Conference.

However, we need your help with a few final checks.

We would like your assistance in undertaking some final quality assurance tasks  – as like other work it’s difficult for us to spot our own errors or spelling mistakes.

We would particularly like assistance in identifying:

  • Spelling errors
  • Formatting issues
  • Missing images
  • Broken links
  • Correct Jupyter notebooks reference

Any assistance in this matter will be greatly appreciated, however we do ask for any feedback to be submitted by Monday 25th March. Please email feedback to: s.ahern@ucl.ac.uk

We have produced some guidance and a feedback  template for reviewing our courses – Research Software Engineering with Python and Introduction to Research Programming with Python.

 

Educause – Key issues in T&L in 2019

20 February 2019

A US focus to the infographic of course, but an interesting insight nonetheless.

Follow-up notes and “7 things” briefing papers at https://www.educause.edu/eli/initiatives/key-issues-in-teaching-and-learning

Turnitin and Moodle Assignment training

EliotHoving7 February 2019

The Digital Education team is running two new training courses, Hands on with Turnitin Assignment, and Hands on with Moodle Assignment. Each session is practical, from a staff and student perspective you will experience the process of submitting, marking, returning marks, engaging with feedback and managing records. Both courses are applicable to Tutors and Course Administrators new to online marking or needing to refresh their knowledge.

Register through the HR Single Training Booking System or follow the links below:
Hands on with Turnitin
Hands on with Moodle Assignment

Email digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk for more information or to inquire about specific training for your Department.

Windows 7 Colour and Font Modifications Missing from Windows 10

Michele CFarmer7 January 2019

The issue is that in previous versions of Windows, you were able to get into the settings to change the colour of the window background, so that when you opened a Microsoft Word or Excel file, the background colour on your screen was your chosen shade.

The window option allowed a colour chart to open up, where you could move the cursor around to find the exact shade you were looking for (alla Win 98, 2000, XP, 2007, etc.). In Microsoft 10, there is no simple option.

The current accessibility options provided by MS for Win 10 are pretty awful.

I have been in touch with Microsoft and they say that due to complaints that they will be bringing this facility back, but we do not know when.

This window is no longer available

Screenshot of Windows 7 colour and appearance options

In the meantime UCL users can access a ‘Screenmasking’ option from a networked piece of software called TextHelp Read and Write. This software is either found on the Desktop@UCL, or from the Software Centre or Database.

Screen-masking Option Menu in TextHelp Read and Write

Innovating Pedagogy 2019

4 January 2019

The latest Innovating Pedagogy report from The Open University explores ten innovative trends in teaching, learning and assessment in eduction.

Aimed to inform ‘teachers and policy makers’, the annual report – this is the seventh – is free to download from www.open.ac.uk/innovating

The 2019 report was written in collaboration with the Centre for the Science of Learning and Technology (SLATE) in Bergen, Norway and sketches ten trends ‘in currency’ that they think have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice at all levels. These are listed below “in approximate order of immediacy and timescale to widespread implementation”. Digital education features of course, “technology can help us to do new things, rooted in our understanding of how teaching and learning take place”.

  • Playful learning Evoke creativity, imagination and happiness
  • Learning with robots Use software assistants and robots as partners for conversation
  • Decolonising learning Recognise, understand, and challenge the ways in which our world is shaped by colonialism
  • Drone-based learning Develop new skills, including planning routes and interpreting visual clues in the landscape
  • Learning through wonder Spark curiosity, investigation, and discovery
  • Action learning Team-based professional development that addresses real and immediate problems
  • Virtual studios Hubs of activity where learners develop creative processes together
  • Place-based learning Look for learning opportunities within a local community and using the natural environment
  • Making thinking visible Help students visualise their thinking and progress
  • Roots of empathy Develop children’s social and emotional understanding

Some of these ideas will be familiar, others more novel so the short sketches provide a useful overview and update, with links to further exploration.