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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'Rod’s Reflections' Category

Augmenting our realities and working together

By Rod Digges, on 24 February 2015

Last year I had the opportunity to contribute to BASC2001 an interdisciplinary course looking at the world of objects, the stories they hold and how they are researched and represented.
Updating the materials for my contribution this year, part of which involves the different ways objects can be represented digitally, I came across a number of online tools that I thought it would be worth writting about, they demonstrate how much easier it’s becoming for those with no great technical expertise to create 3D models, Augmented Reality scenarios and also to collaborate in website design.

 The model above, a small maquette, made by a student at the Slade in the 1950’s was captured by simply taking a series of 25 photos and uploading these to http://apps.123dapp.com/catch/ a free cloud service that converts pictures into 3D models. The service provides an embed code that allows models to be placed in a web page but doesn’t allow annotation, https://sketchfab.com/ does, so the model files were re-uploaded there to provide the model shown above.

The creation of models like this is now a fairly simple task and once created newer online tools provide even more opportunities for the ways in which they can be represented; http://www.metaio.com/ has a downloadable Augmented Reality (AR) application (free for basic use) that allows models to be animated and viewed using ‘real world’ triggers like QR codes, images, or even locations.
By downloading an AR browser (from http://www.junaio.com/) to an Android or Apple mobile device these augmented realities can be viewed. If you’re interested in seeing for yourself, load the junaio browser onto your smartphone or tablet, scan the QR code below and then point it at the picture of the model below.

junaio_channel_378275_qrCode     Boy's head


As well as looking at ways of representing objects, students of BASC2001 have, in groups, to create a virtual exhibition of their allocated objects. While researching services that might help students with this task I came across https://cacoo.com – an online tool that allows users to simultaneously edit things like wireframe outlines for web sites – wireframing is a way laying out the essential structure of a website prior to ‘meat being put on the bones’, it’s an important step allowing teams to layout and discuss design decisions prior to committing to the work involved in realising a particular site.
One of the great features of the cacoo service is multiple editors can work simultaneously on the same page and view in realtime all the change that are being suggested. Another feature is that collaborators don’t need high level web design skills in order to contribute – an important consideration for students coming from a range of disciplines and having very different levels of digital literacy.
The ability to edit can be controlled by invitation only but, for the brave, layouts can set to be world editable like this one – https://cacoo.com/diagrams/Ubzjolw5T8HBAtTw


Annual Lecturecast Archiving

By Rod Digges, on 4 August 2014

At the end of the academic year – All Lecturecast recordings located under available/unavailable tabs will be moved into the ‘archive’ category within the Lecturecast system – at this point they will become unavailable for viewing. Unless you have specifically requested otherwise your content will be included in this process.

It is the responsibility of content owners who want recordings available from one academic year to the next to move their content back from ‘archive’ to ‘available’ once the archiving process has been completed

This year, archiving will take place take place between 8.00am Thursday the 7th August and 8:00am Friday the 8th August. During this time the Lecturecast service should be considered unavailable. Please do not log into the admin interface during this period.

Once the service is restored you will receive an email informing you that archiving is complete, content can then be un-archived – this is straightforward and details are given in the Lecturecast Guide here http://bit.ly/17m3JOX

Next academic year the usual monthly content deletion cycle will commence in October, according to the Lecturecast Archive Policy http://bit.ly/11nfZKw

PLEASE NOTE: Archived material will only be deleted two years after the date of its capture/recording. Thus it is critical to move old material out of the archive if you want it retained for viewing

If you have any questions or concerns surrounding this procedure please contact ele@ucl.ac.uk

Second time round – making a MOOC better

By Rod Digges, on 6 March 2013

I’ve just watched Professor Keith Devlin of Stanford and a colleague being interviewed about their first experiences of running a MOOC last September. The interview touched on some of the lessons they’d learned which they’re hoping to use to improve the second iteration of their popular MOOC on mathematical thinking. The second version kicked off a few days ago on the 4th March.
I enjoyed the interview and Professor Devlin’s obvious enthusiasm and humility regarding his role as teacher made it easy to warm to him as a person. Some interesting points are made regarding changes to the course after analysis of the demographic and feedback from students. Much of the discussion revolves around the importance that Professor Devlin places on trying to put a human face to a  ‘dry’ subject made potentially even dryer by it’s mode of delivery.

The interview suggests that the team have succeeded, at least to some extent, in creating a feeling of instructor presence resulting, they think, in students committing more to the course than they otherwise might have. Worth a look for anyone interested in the development of distance learning, but also interesting  perhaps for tutors involved in the teaching of large cohorts of students and also concerned about issues of de-personalisation.

The interview can be viewed at:       https://class.coursera.org/maththink-002/lecture/126

Unfortunately you have to create a Coursera account to view the interview which forms part of the introductory material to the new course – fortunately it’s free!

Professor Devlin is also maintaining  ‘A real-time chronicle of a seasoned professor who is about to give his second massively open online course.’   a (probably) unique opportunity to get behind the scenes and see some of the thinking behind the development of this MOOC as it unfolds. To read more got to: http://mooctalk.org/

Finding good example rubrics

By Rod Digges, on 8 February 2013


A well constructed rubric is a great way of  communicating, both to students and fellow assessors, exactly how the marking of an assignment is being approached but the construction of effective and comprehensive rubrics can be very time consuming.

Rubistar rubrics

Recently, while looking through the instructions for entering rubrics in the peer assessment workshop activity in Moodle, I came across a link to a site with hundreds of example rubrics.
Usefully, the site also allows users to construct their own rubrics in a rich variety of subject areas. The site is free, easy to use and well worth a look for anyone needing inspiration in this area.






Nice to find a free circuit simulation tool

By Rod Digges, on 10 December 2012



It’s quite hard to find good free tools that support work within STEM subjects so it was a nice suprise to come across https://www.circuitlab.com/.

Not only is it a flexible and very easy to use analogue and digital circuit simulator but the tool also allows users to share their work online inviting comments and suggestions from others. One of the things I really liked was that everything was online – no software to download, no complicated set-up just an extremely intuitive interface allowing users to try out their ideas with the minimum of fuss – great stuff.