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    Archive for the 'MyPortfolio' Category

    Thoughts from AAEEBL 2015

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 6 August 2015

    Last week I was fortunate enough to attend and present at AAEEBL 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. You might be wondering what AAEEBL stands for and what this event was all about, especially if you have never heard of it before. The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning focuses on the usage of portfolios at their annual conference. In fact one of the key points to come out of the conference was a consensus that as a community we should stop referring to e-portflios (or eportfolios depending on your preference), which is distracting and in many cases superfluous. Instead it is time we just talk about portfolios and focus on the pedagogy. This conference was very much aimed at focusing on the pedagogy, and in most cases the tool used was almost irrelevant to the presentation. In education it is far too easy to get caught up in our own silos, whether that is a department based silo or a tool based silo. When we stop and look to the outside we can often find valuable input we would have otherwise missed.

    Collaboration was also a key theme from the conference. To make a portfolio effective involves everyone working together. It involves tutors and students having a clear dialogue about what is expected in the portfolio. It also can benefit from peer-to-peer collaboration, whether that is academics helping one another out with creative ideas/support or students giving each other tips and feedback. Of course it can also require working with the E-Learning team, and here at UCL we are always happy to offer advice or support around any platform, including portfolios. Currently we use the Mahara platform at UCL, you might have heard of it as MyPortfolio which is the name we use for our installation. If you’d like to find out more about MyPortfolio then you can go directly to the platform at https://myportfolio.ucl.ac.uk or visit the MyPortfolio Resource Centre in the wiki – although please note this site is currently under maintenance and being updated.

    The final key theme I’d like to highlight is badges. There were a number of presentations and a keynote on the use of badges with portfolios. This seems like a natural fit as portfolios are a great way of collecting evidence for a badge. A badge in turn is a nice way to recognise competencies or skills that might not otherwise be acknowledge by assessment criteria or formal credit. The McArthur Foundation have produced a video which explains the basics of what a badge is, if you are still unsure.

    At UCL we have done some pilots with badges and we’d be happy to talk to anyone about this if they wish to get in touch.

    If you’d like to get a wider overview of the conversations from AAEEBL then please see my Storify, collecting my tweets and all the best other tweets from the event.

    You can also see my presentation on utilizing the (portfolio) community: https://youtu.be/wcFBsON_-6Q.

    Should you have any questions then please contact the E-Learning Environments team.

    MUGSE 3 – London, RVC

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 17 March 2015

    The third meeting of MUGSE (Mahara User Group for Southern England) took place on Friday 6th March, at the Royal Veterinary College in London. Mahara is the software that at UCL we refer to as MyPortfolio, our flexible e-portfolio system.

    The user group meeting had a mix of experiences in Mahara, as well as a mix of learning technology professionals and academics. The group was also lucky enough to have Don Christie from Catalyst in attendance. Catalyst are the company who are responsible for the Mahara project, and they look after the core code and carry out updates.

    The session began with a group round table, with everyone having the chance to contribute problems or question and then the rest of the group offering solutions or answers based on their own experiences. After this there were a series of presentations, including help files and case studies from Roger Emery and Sam Taylor at Southampton Solent University, a look at the April Mahara upgrade from Don Christie and finally Domi Sinclair (me) talking briefly about the importance of getting involved in the Mahara community. If you would like more details about this user group please read the article from Digi Domi and follow MUGSE on Twitter @mugseUK.

     

    Helping us to help you

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 16 December 2014

    When you have a problem or question E-Learning Environments (ELE) are always more than happy to hear from you, and will do all we can to help you as quickly as we can. However, this process can be slowed down if we don’t have all the information we need to investigate your problem, or answer your question. So here are some top tips for what to include in an email/ ticket to ELE, so you can help us to help you.

    1. Course name (and link)

    UCL is a large university with hundreds of courses, and even more modules. Therefore it is very difficult for us to investigate a problem without knowing the name of a course/ module, so that we can look at the problem and try to replicate it. A lot of problem solving is reverse engineered, so we will try to replicate the problem for ourselves and then figure out what is wrong, by using our familiarity with the components of the technology. It is also helpful to include a link to the course/ module in question, as sometimes these are not obvious when searching in Moodle/ Lecturecast. Asking for the course name is always our first step, and so by including this in your original email then you will save time and help us resolve the problem faster.

    2. Activity/ resource name (and link)

    As well as there being a lot of courses at UCL, individual courses may have more than one of a particular activity, such as a Turnitin assignment or forum. It will take ELE extra time if we have to search through all of them to find the problem, and it also means that sometimes we are not always sure if we have found the problem. By including the name and location of the activity in the original email ELE can go straight to it, and get to work determining the problem.

    3. Screenshots

    When we look at a course, it might not always be possible for ELE to replicate a problem. This might be because the issue is related to a particular browser you are using, or due to permissions on your account. As these parameters might not apply to ELE we may not be able to see the problem, which makes it much harder for us to help with the answer. If you can take a screenshot (using the PrtScn key) and then paste that into a document and send it as an attachment, it will help us see the problem and any error messages you are receiving. It can even mean that we can answer the question or give a solution straight away upon seeing the screenshot.

    4. Error messages

    Screenshots of error messages are good, but if you can’t take one then including what an error message says will help ELE to diagnose and resolve the problem. It also helps us if we have to deal with any third party suppliers (such as Turnitin).

    4. Specifics

    A summary of the problem is best as ELE might not have a lot of time to read a long email, and it may be possible to determine and resolve an issue with only a few key details, listed above. However it can also help to be specific. If you are reporting a problem then list what steps you are taking that are causing the problem, which buttons are you clicking and in what order? Details are also helpful if you are asking a question about a new activity you’d like to start, but you’re not sure which tool to use. If you include specific details about what you want to do then ELE can suggest the tool that fits your needs best.

    By following these tips you will have an easier and quicker experience with ELE, and we will be able to get through more problems or questions in less time.

    Please feel free to send your queries to ELE via our email address, ele@ucl.ac.uk

    MyPortfolio Upgrade and User Group

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 25 November 2014

    Today we have upgrade the MyPortfolio system to version 1.10, you can read about the improvements this has brought on our recent post announcing the upgrade.

    In addition to this the Mahara User Group for Southern England (MUGSE) was held last week. Mahara is the name of the software used to run MyPortfolio at UCL. The user group contained a number of presentations on topics such as new users of Mahara, changing the language files and up-coming improvements. You can see a full write-up of the user group on my personal blog: http://digidomi.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/mugse-2-sparsholt-college/ Please note that as this is my personal blog it is not associated with UCL and reflects my own thoughts and opinions.

    The next user group will be happening in the first quarter of next year and is likely to be in London. More details will be shared nearer the time and once a location and date have been confirmed. It is also likely that the conference, which from this year will be known as the Mahara UK Hui (to reflect the systems New Zealand roots) will also be held in London, around the start of July.

    If you have any questions about the MyPortfolio system please get in touch with E-Learning Environments

    MyPortfolio Upgrade 25 Nov 2014

    By Domi C Sinclair, on 13 November 2014

    MyPortfolio will be unavailable on 25 November 2014  from 08:00 to 10:00 whilst we carry out a routine upgrade.
    On 25 November we will upgrade MyPortfolio to version 1.10. There are many benefits to this upgrade, including A new editable dashboard, social media block and Open Badges backpack integration.
    New editable dashboard – The dashboard now has new icons for Create, Share and Engage, which help promote the key benefits to the system. You can also now customise your dashboard so it had the information and look you want.

    MyPortfolios dashboard

     

     

     

    Social media block – There is now a social media section of the Profile which allows you to link to your sites easily. You can then include these links on any page as a nice easy series of button thank link directly to your content.

    Social media block

     

     

     

    Open Badges backpack integration – Display your public Mozilla Open Badge collections from your backpack on your MyPortfolio page.

    Open Badges in MyPortfolio

     

     

     

     

     

    If you have any questions about the upgrade please email ele@ucl.ac.uk and we would be happy to answer your questions or address your concerns.
    All times are for the UK (GMT or BST), for other locations please convert: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html

    UCL Engineering’s learning technologist initiative – one year on

    By Jessica Gramp, on 9 October 2014

    UCL Engineering’s Learning Technologists have been supporting rapid changes within the faculty. Changes include the development of several new programmes and helping the uptake of technology to improve the turnaround of feedback.

    In late 2013, the UCL Engineering faculty invested in a Learning Technologist post in order to support the Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP), as well as the other programmes within Engineering departments. Since then two Engineering departments, Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) and Management Science and Innovation (MS&I) have both employed Learning Technologists to help develop their e-learning provision. These posts have had a significant impact on the e-learning activities. To evaluate impact on the student learning experience we are collecting information and feedback from students throughout the academic year.

    These three roles complement the UCL-wide support provided by the E-Learning Environments (ELE) team and the Learning Technologists work closely with the central ELE team. This relationship is facilitated by Jess Gramp, the E-Learning Facilitator for BEAMS (Built Environment, Engineering, Maths and Physical Sciences) who co-manages these roles with a manager from each faculty/department. This arrangement enables both formal input from ELE to the departmental activities and plans; and for the learning technologists to receive central mentoring and assistance. Without this structure in place it would be difficult to keep these roles aligned with the many central e-learning initiatives and for the learning technologists to liaise with the technical teams within ISD.

    The initiatives developed by these staff include: designing and implementing Moodle course templates; ensuring adherence to the UCL Moodle Baseline; running training needs analysis and developing staff training plans; delivering e-learning workshops; working with staff to redesign courses, as well as developing them from the ground up, to incorporate blended learning principles; delivering one-to-one support; and working with academics on e-learning projects.

    Moodle Templates
    Engineering now have a Moodle template that provides a consistent experience for students using UCL Moodle to support their learning. This template is now being used on all IEP, MS&I and STEaPP courses and all new Engineering Moodle courses from 2014/15 onwards will also use this template. In some cases the template has been modified to meet departmental requirements.

    Engineering Faculty Moodle template (click to enlarge)

    Engineering Faculty template

    See how MS&I have modified this template and described each feature in their MS&I Moodle Annotated Template document.

    Moodle Baseline course audit
    In MS&I all Moodle courses have been audited against the UCL Moodle Baseline. This has enabled the department’s Learning Technologist to modify courses to ensure every course in the department now meets the Baseline. The template document that was used to audit the courses has been shared on the UCL E-Learning Wiki, so other departments may use it if they wish to do similar. You can also download it here: Baseline Matrix MSI-template.

    Training Needs Analysis
    In STEaPP a Training Needs Analysis was conducted using both a survey and interviews with academics to develop individual training plans for academics and run training workshops specific to the department’s needs. The survey used for this has been shared with colleagues on the UCL E-Learning Wiki.

    Staff e-learning training and support
    In STEaPP a Moodle Staff Hub course has been developed to support staff in their development of courses, including links to e-learning support materials; curriculum development advice; and links to professional development resources. This course has now been duplicated and modified to assist staff across Engineering and within MS&I. If any other UCL faculties or departments would like a similar course set up they can request this be duplicated for them, so they may tailor it to their own requirements. This and other courses are being used to induct new staff to departments and are supported by face to face and online training programmes. The training is delivered using a combination of central ELE training courses and bespoke workshops delivered by Engineering Learning Technologists.

    E-assessment tools to improve the speed of feedback to students
    In MS&I the average turn around for feedback to students is now just one week, significantly shorter than the four week target set by UCL. In order to support this initiative, the department has adopted a fully online assessment approach. This has been achieved predominately using Turnitin, a plagiarism prevention tool that also provides the ability to re-use comments; use weighted grading criteria to provide consistent feedback to students (in the form of rubrics and grading forms); and mark offline using the iPad app. The use of this tool has helped staff to reach the one week feedback target and to streamline the administrative processes that were slowing the feedback process. The Learning Technologist in MS&I has recently arranged workshops with the majority of MS&I staff (including those who are new to UCL) to demonstrate how Turnitin can be used to deliver feedback quickly to students. Several modules within the IEP are also using Moodle’s Workshop tool to enable peer assessment to be managed automatically online. The use of this and other e-assessment tools is saving academics and support staff significant time that used to be spent manually managing the submission, allocation and marking of assessments.

    Technical e-learning support
    While the ELE Services team continues to be the main point of contact for technical e-learning support within Engineering, the local Learning Technologists are able to provide just-in-time support for staff working on local projects. The Learning Technologists are also able to provide assistance beyond what is supported by the central E-Learning team. This includes any development work, such as setting up specific tools within Moodle courses (like the Workshop tool for peer assessment) and setting up groups in MyPortfolio. Development work like these activities fall outside the remit of the central E-Learning Environments team. Also, because the Engineering Learning technologists are based within the faculty, they obtain a better knowledge of local working practices, and are therefore better equipped to understand and support department specific requirements than the central team is able to.

    Project support and funding
    The local Learning Technologists have worked with academics within Engineering to develop bids for Engineering Summer Studentships and other projects, including the E-Learning Development Grants that are distributed yearly by ELE. The successful project proposals have been supported by the local Learning Technologists, which has meant a greater level of support has been provided to the grant winners than has been possible in previous years.

    Using technology to support scenario-based learning
    The Learning Technologist for STEaPP had a unique opportunity to work with staff during the development of their curriculum to ensure that technology was considered at the very outset of the programme’s development. In MS&I the local Learning Technologist has helped to develop a scenario-based, blended-learning course that is now being used as an exemplar of how other academics may redesign their own courses to empower students in their own learning (both electronically and face to face) and provide authentic learning experiences. Many Engineering programmes are already using project-based work to provide students with authentic learning experiences and assessments and this is something the Learning Technologists can work with academics to develop and enhance further.

    Trialing new technologies
    Several e-learning systems have been trialed within Engineering significant input from the Engineering Learning Technologists, including the mobile e-voting system (TurningPoint ResponseWare) for up to 1000 students; and peer assessment of upwards of 700 student videos within the IEP. The successful implementation of such large scale trials would have been difficult without the support of the Learning Technologists.

    E-Learning equipment loans
    One of the common problems with technology uptake is ensuring staff have access to it. Engineering have invested in a number of devices to enable (amongst other things) offline marking; video capture and editing; and presentation of hand drawn figures during lectures. Equipment is available for loan across Engineering and also within STEaPP and MS&I. These include laptops, video recording and editing kit (such as cameras, tripods, microphones and editing software) and iPads. The maintenance and loaning of these are managed by the local Learning Technologists. They are also able to provide advice and assistance with the use of these devices, especially in terms of multimedia creation, including sound recording and filming, and editing of videos to enhance learning resources.

    Working closely with E-Learning Environments and each other
    One important aspect of these roles is that they have close ties to the ELE team, allowing for important two way communication to occur. The Engineering Learning Technologists are able to keep abreast of changes to centrally supported processes and systems and can obtain support from the central E-Learning Environments Services team when required, including receiving train-the-trainer support in order to run workshops locally within Engineering departments. Similarly, ELE benefit by an improved understanding of the activities occurring within faculties and departments, and accessing the materials that are developed and shared by the Learning Technologists.

    Each week the Engineering Learning Technologists share any developments, issues, and updates with each other and the E-Learning Facilitator for BEAMS. The result is a strong network of support for helping to problem solve and resolve issues. It also enables resources, such as the staff hub Moodle course and Moodle auditing matrix, to be shared across the Faculty and more widely across UCL, enabling the re-use of materials and avoiding duplication of effort. The importance of the strong working relationship between the Engineering Learning Technologists became apparent during UCL Engineering’s How to change the world series. During an important final-day session all three Learning Technologists were involved in resolving technical issues to ensure the voting system operated correctly in a venue with incompatible wireless provision.

    Conclusion
    UCL staff and students today operate within a rapidly changing educational environment. Both staff and students are expected to understand how to use technology in order to operate within an increasingly digital society. There is a huge number of self directed online learning resources available (such as MOOCs and YouTube videos) and increasingly flexible work and study arrangements are being supported by enhanced technology use. As more staff see the benefits that technology can bring to the classroom, and true blended learning becomes the norm in many areas, it is going to be more important to implement appropriate support structures so staff have the resources to understand and work with these emerging technologies. It is equally important that students are supported in their use of these tools.

    The Learning Technologists within Engineering are in a unique position to understand the opportunities and issues arising in the classroom, and react to these quickly and effectively. We have already seen numerous outputs from these roles. These include a video editing guide to help academics produce professional looking videos for their students; the use of tools within Moodle and MyPortfolio on a scale not seen before with large cohorts of over 700 IEP students; and an exemplar of how scenario-based learning can be supported by technology in MS&I. While these outputs have been developed in reaction to local needs, they have been shared back for others to use and reference, and therefore they benefit the wider UCL community.

    As we see more of these roles implemented across UCL, we will begin to see more dramatic change than has been achievable in the past. One of the plans for the future involves running student focus groups and interviews to better understand how Moodle and other e-learning systems are helping students with their studies and how provision can be improved. The Engineering Learning Technologists will continue their work with local staff to help their departments to use technology more effectively and improve the student experience.