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Tutor’s experience of using UCL Reflect with students

Karen A MShackleford-Cesare12 February 2020

About Reflect and its User Group

Reflect, UCL’s educational blogging platform, has now had its first birthday and the Digital Education team are delighted that staff from across UCL have enthusiastically taken up the challenge of asking their students to blog, or produce other kinds of online assessment on Reflect.

Digital Education initiated the Reflect User Group (RUG) with its first face-to-face event on Thu December 12th, 2019 from 2-4PM. It was an informal ‘show ‘n tell’ opportunity for staff users of Reflect to compare and contrast their experience of using this tool in their teaching practice. Curious non-users were also welcome as we sought to expand its use to enhance teaching and learning.

We had intended to have the first RUG event in the Spring term, but Reflect user and Russian tutor in SSEES, Maria Sibiryakova asked us to step on the gas (accelerator) to make it happen sooner rather than later. She was very keen to meet fellow Reflect users, exchange ideas and learn of/from their experience and practice.

The tutor experiences showcased

The event showcased the experience of four teaching colleagues who used Reflect in the following ways (click on the bar for more):

  • “Reflect as a portfolio tool” –

    Ros Walford, Lecturer and Maria HadjisoterisSenior Teaching Fellow, IoE

    Reasons for use

    • For students to develop a reflective e-portfolio of their practice whilst on placement
    • To facilitate more "back and forth" between teacher and student than was possible with the paper-based portfolio because it can be accessed online at any time.
    • To eliminate the administrative overhead that managing paper binders incurred.

    Outcomes

    • A template was designed that had all the required sections and included guidance to students on adding content. Hence, each student received the same portfolio structure.
    • Self-instructional video was created to get students up and running with their portfolio, which was effective and reduced the need for face-to-face sessions.

  • "Portfolio assessment using the Reflect platform" –

    Hilary McQueen, Lecturer, IoE

    Reasons for use

    • For students to develop a reflective e-portfolio of their practice whilst on placement
    • To facilitate more "back and forth" between teacher/mentor and student than was possible with the paper-based portfolio because it can be accessed online at any time.
    • To eliminate the administrative overhead that managing paper binders incurred.

    Outcomes

    • A template was designed that had all the required sections and included guidance to students on adding content. Hence, each student received the same portfolio structure.
    • The portfolio template has tabs that usefully break down the requirements for students.
    • It was possible to facilitate access to students e-portfolios by non-UCL staff mentors in the schools where UCL students were doing their placements.

    Wish list

    • A way to check progress – some kind of automatic system that shows what has been done and what is new, and ideally what has been checked as we have to keep separate records, which is very time consuming.

    What I would do differently

    • I would create a table for the observation form and insert ready for use.
    • We would book a computer room and go through how to use Reflect.
    • I would introduce Reflect (now I know how to use it) and ensure that other staff members were there, too.
    • Have a test blog that everyone could add something to (say), just to practice.
  • “Reflect for science blog assessments and showcase portfolios” –

    Nephtali Marina-Gonzalez, Principal Teaching Fellow, Medical Sciences 

    Reasons for use

    • The Department wanted to replace of traditional assessment methods with coursework activities designed to engage students in the research carried out in the Division of Medicine inline with the aims of the Connected Curriculum.
    • To give Year 1 students an opportunity to create a public-facing output that showcased the research done at UCL and their understanding of it in terms suited for a lay audience. 

    Outcomes

    • Students found this activity more engaging that last year’s traditional single answer question (SAQ) exam and general feedback from the students was very positive.
    • There was a significant increase in marks for their blogs across the board relative to past exam grades, (namely, 71.4 +/- 6.1 blogs vs 56.1 +/-15 SAQ). 
    • Students were able to appreciate the importance of broad public engagement to their learning process. One student said:
    “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t really understand it”.

    For Neph's 5 top tips more about his experience with Reflect peruse his case study and interview

    Wish list

    • Better marking tools that were integrated with Moodle.

    What I'd do differently

    • Give the students several examples of what is expected of them.
    • Invite UCL's Copyright officer to give a lecture to on copyright issues.
    • Utilise the Open tool kit for students that Digital Education's Leo Havemann and Samantha Ahern are developing.
    • Students found communicating scientific concepts in lay terms particularly challenging so the target audience of the blogs will be adjusted according to the level of expertise of the students.
    • Build on our use of Reflect to have our students use it to create a 'showcase portfolio' that will trace their progress and achievement throughout their degree.
  • “The Use of Blogs in Developing Writing Skills in Russian” –

    Maria Sibiryakova, Senior Teaching Fellow, SSEES

    Reasons for use

    • For students to create a language portfolio, which serves as an ipsative form of assessment. They contribute to it regularly and can get feedback from peers and externals as well as their tutor that feeds forwards into their next post.
    • To motivate students  to write more in Russian by:
      • Providing an external audience for their work, not just their tutor
      • Enabling them to see and comment on each other's work – peer review
    • To prompt students to take responsibility for what they write both the:
      • Content they create
      • Language they use

    Outcomes

    • Students were less likely to submit a draft
    • This new form of assessment was as effective as traditional methods, e.g. exams
    • Students developed transferrable digital skills through their use of WordPress

    Wish list

    • Ability for students to see the number of views their posts have had
    • Would like Reflect to have more support for marking
    • To eliminate the need for Turnitin, Plagiarism as a trust issue

    What I'd do differently

    • Incorporate training on academic integrity
    • Include a copyright statement and seek guidance/support from the UCL library.

    For more view Maria's presentation slides.

     

Reflect user support

Krystyna Huszcza, Senior IT Trainer, Digital Education, ISD 

Runs a hands-on workshop at basic/introductory level at least twice per term that is open to all staff and students. No prerequisites are required beyond an assumed comfort level with using word processors and browsers. The course description is presented below and you can find and book a place on the next workshop on the Digital Skills Development at IOE – Course Bookings page.

[Note: Staff wanting to arrange demonstrations or hand-on training for their students (and/or colleagues) at specific times should email digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk].

Blogging/WordPress: Blogging with Reflect (WordPress-based)

UCL Reflect is UCL’s new educational blogging service allowing students and staff to use blogging for teaching and learning. It is in fact a WordPress platform called CampusPress which offers access to many WordPress themes and plug-ins. See: UCL Blogging Service for more information about the Reflect service.

Individual blogs can be requested by staff or students. Teachers can request a Class blog to use with their students in teaching or for assessment. To request a Reflect blog please use the online form available from our wiki page: Requesting a blog

This introductory session will focus on the basics of working with an individual blog and aims to build your confidence for posting blogs and managing your account. It assumes you have very little or no previous WordPress experience. The session will cover many of the basics skills, introduce you to one or two advanced tools/features and point you in the right direction for further training and resources. Topics covered will include:

  • Navigating Reflect
  • Creating posts
  • Formatting text
  • Working with images
  • Scheduling a time to publish posts and reverting to draft status
  • Versions
  • Categories and Tags
  • Themes
  • Widgets in sidebar
  • Pages and Menus
  • What are plugins?
  • Privacy
  • Useful settings and customisations

EARLY BOOKINGS REQUIRED: Please note that bookings for this course are only open until 4 days prior to the course to allow for time for a UCL Reflect blog to be created for you to use in the training session.

If you wish to create a Reflect blog well in advance of the session you may request one by completing the online form found on UCL's Reflect wiki page: Requesting a blog.

One of the things we had hoped to have time for at the meeting was to discuss how the RUG can be most useful to members. Although due to lively Q&A, we didn’t end up getting to that topic, we still want to hear your views on this. Hence, please let us know via our online form. All in all, we think the format of this meeting worked well and we intend to repeat it in the next few months.

Looking forward to the next User Group meeting, we are hoping once again to hear from staff with a range of use-cases for Reflect. Issues which we know people are working on include assessment criteria for Reflect blogs and sites, doing group work on Reflect, and comparing Reflect with MyPortfolio. Of course, if you would like to speak, or hear about particular things please complete this online form, we’ll be notified and get in touch.

Inspiration – Great News – It has been saved!

Michele CFarmer29 January 2020

I have heard that Inspiration mind mapping software has been bought by another company and will be continued.

Inspiration software to be discontinued

Michele CFarmer5 November 2019

SUBJECT: Inspiration Software, Inc. Closure Notice
For over 36 years Inspiration Software, Inc has been in the business of creating,supporting and selling software tools to advance thinking and  learning skills for learners of all ages.
Over the last few years, the market and technologies needed to serve our
customers have shifted tremendously.

After extensive consideration and with regret, we have decided to stop selling our products and close Inspiration Software. Therefore, as of 25th November, we will no longer be fulfilling orders.

We have notified Student Finance England of our plans to close Inspiration Software and are working with them to ensure there is an orderly exit from the DSA sector for Inspiration 9.

We do have some good news for our customers as our DSA products will continue to be supported and sold by other companies.

• Inspiration® Maps and Kidspiration® Maps will now be a part of
Diagramming Apps, LLC. Inspiration Maps is now a DSA approved product.

• Inspiration 9 IE customers can continue to find curriculum, customer service and tech support through TechEd Marketing at inspiration@techedmarketing.com or 01672 560387.

A dedicated Inspiration 9 support website for users will be launched in November.

For the foreseeable future, existing users of Inspiration 9 for Windows will be able to continue to use it as normal in their studies.

Inspiration 9 for Mac users are likely to face issues if they choose to upgrade their current operating system to Catalina, which doesn’t support 32-bit applications.

If you have any further questions on this matter, please do not hesitate to reach out to Reeza Awoodun (reeza@inspiration.com).

We thank you all for your support in recommending Inspiration 9 over these past years.
Yours sincerely
Mona Westhaver
President & Co-founder
www.inspiration.com

Developing Digital Scholarship at UCL

MoiraWright23 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

New UCL Open Education Special Interest Group

CliveYoung26 February 2016

open

Inspired by the widespread interest in the UCL event Open Data as Open Educational Resources next Friday (places still available but filling fast), we are pleased to launch the the new UCL Open Education Special Interest Group (SIG) on Friday, 11 March staring at 2pm.

The topic of the session will review the past, present and future of Open Education at UCL in response to the aspiration in the draft UCL Education Strategy 2016-21

“We will have introduced an open education resources (OER) service to provide a showcase for UCL education and for student-generated content, and to bring together internal resources of common interest in support of the Connected Curriculum”.

The SIG and the event will be chaired by Simon Mahony (UCL Depratment of Information Studies) and coordinated by Javiera Atenas & Clive Young.

If you are interested in the increasingly important area of open education, and would like to register for the session, please sign up via Eventbrite.

Photo: elycefeliz on Flickr

Digital Literacy: Friend, Foe or Fad?

MoiraWright16 December 2015

The UCL DL SIG invites UCL staff and students to an afternoon of discussion, networking and debate on digital literacy on Thursday January 7th 2016 from 2-4.30pm.

This event is planned to address the question ‘Digital literacy: friend, foe, or fad?’ through an exploration of the benefits and challenges in the conception, delivery and evaluation of this hot topic. Delegates will be encouraged to reflect on their practices and discuss.

Highlight of the event is that Helen Beetham, Education Consultant to UK HEI’s and Jisc, will speak. Helen Beetham is an author, researcher and innovator in the field of e-learning, with particular expertise in Higher Education. Since 2004 she has played a leading role in the JISC e-learning programme as an advisor on pedagogic issues. She is an experienced workshop leader and a regular speaker at conferences in the UK and abroad. An edited volume of essays, Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital Age, was recently published by Routledge. Her areas of research and advisory expertise include: e-learning policy and practice; learners and learning in the digital age; pedagogy and educational theory; design for learning; e-portfolios for learning; academic writing and academic literacies.

The QAA HER at UCL is upcoming and as part of this they have asked UCL to provide a snapshot of digital literacy activity at UCL. This report is not part of the scored element of the review. Steve Rowett and myself have been conducting interviews to learn more about what is happening at UCL. Some of this work was conducted using Jisc tools and it has uncovered a fabulously rich and varied picture – this event will include some presentations and examples of exciting current practice from UCL staff and students including Diana Lee – hack organiser, blogger, tech society and student, Free Hype – voluntary student society, Professor Martin Oliver and Dr Lesley Gourlay UCL Institute of Education, Dr Viv Jones UCL Department of Geography and Dr Sunny Bains (please use Eventbrite link for tickets below to view the full programme).

About the UCL DL SIG

When the UCL E-Champions network was formed a UCL Digital Literacies Special Interest Group (UCL DL SIG) was set up at the same time. The 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 E-Learning Environments.

We’re using the Jisc definition of digital literacy: ‘the capabilities which fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society’ (see link Jisc: Digital Capabilities 6 elements below).


Refreshments are provided along with time to network.
Tickets are via Eventbrite (use the password: UCLDLSIG) :

Click here for tickets and programme details – Digital Literacy:Friend, Foe or Fad?


Further reading

Jisc Blog: Building capability for new digital leadership, pedagogy and efficiency

Jisc: Landscape Review
Jisc: Frameworks mapped to 6 elements

Jisc: Digital Capabilities 6 elements, Helen Beetham pdf

QAA: How we review higher education

QAA: Higher Education Review: Themes for 2015-16