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    Archive for the 'Technology blogs' Category

    Sneak a peak at the new (more accessible) UCL Moodle theme

    By Jessica Gramp, on 9 October 2017

    As part of a wider Accessible Moodle project, a new UCL Moodle theme is being designed to make it more accessible for those with disabilities. The theme is like a skin (or a wallpaper) that changes the way the text and colours are displayed, without changing any of the content that exists on each Moodle page. As well as changing the look and feel of all Moodle pages, it will provide additional navigation aids in the form of menus, blocks that can be hidden and potentially also docked blocks, which sit to the left of the page for easy access.

    The new theme will be rolled out to all staff and students in the next major upgrade of UCL Moodle in summer 2018. The Moodle theme is applied to a user account and in Summer 2018 everyone will be switched to the new theme automatically as part of the UCL Moodle Summer Upgrade. The theme is not to be confused with Moodle course formats, which allow you to change the way a Moodle course is laid out.

    I wrote earlier on how the new theme will address accessibility issues. A number of staff across UCL provided feedback on the proposed theme and after a number if iterations, we have now agreed on a design that foremost meets the needs of staff with particular disabilities, as well as being more usable for everyone. As well as working with individuals who participated in the project’s initial focus groups, the E-Learning Champions were also given the opportunity to feed in their comments on the proposed theme and forward this to interested colleagues.

    The proposed new UCL Moodle theme showing collapsed topics format

    The proposed new UCL Moodle theme showing collapsed topics format. Click to enlarge.

    We had contemplated a pink theme, however, blue proved to be a better option for a number of staff with particular disabilities. The blue version was also more popular with those staff without disabilities. The below design shows how the tabbed course format will look, but with blue, instead of pink tabs, menus and links.

    Tabbed course format but the pink tabs, text and menus will be blue

    Tabbed course format but the pink tabs, menus and links will be blue. Click to enlarge.

    The UCL Moodle homepage will be simplified and will provide more space for news relating to teaching and learning at UCL. The menus will be blue instead of the pink shown in the design below.

    New more accessible UCL Moodle homepage, but with blue instead of pink menus

    UCL Moodle homepage, but with blue instead of pink menus. Click to enlarge.

    The Accessible Moodle project team at UCL worked closely with designer Ralph Bartholomew from St Albans Web Design and developer Pat Lockley from Pgogy Webstuff to implement the new theme.

    If you have any questions or comments about the new theme, or would like to be involved in the pilot, please contact Jessica Gramp.

    [Edited to remove reference to the theme pilot, which was not able to go ahead as planned].

    A new academic year, an upgraded Lecturecast Service (students)

    By Janice Kiugu, on 5 October 2017

    Lecturecast is UCL’s automated lecture recording system with over 115 rooms across the University enabled with more being added through the year.

    The system is designed for course tutors/administrators to electively choose to record their lectures as supplemental resources and share them with their students via the respective Moodle course.Lecturecast is not a replacement for lecture attendance and is provided to complement lectures and provide an additional resource to support student learning.

    There are multiple benefits of Lecturecasting content, including the ability for you to revisit complex material and to engage in discussions outside of the classroom.

    Over the summer, the UCL Lecturecast system was upgraded to a more user-friendly and interactive interface, providing students with more tools to support their learning. When viewing a recording, you can now:

    • Make notes and download them for reference
    • Post questions
    • Bookmark content- this allows students to revisit a particular slide or scene and any notes that have been made
    • Flag content that may be confusing – flagged content is highlighted to the Tutor(s) associated with the course
    • Engage in discussions relating to the lecture with other students on the course

    Further changes have been made to enhance learning and teaching and to make learning more interactive and engaging for students. Staff can now:

    • Use the Lecturecast system to upload supplementary resources created elsewhere in various file formats
    • Create interactive slides that contain question slides
    • View analytics –   to better understand what students find most useful or to help improve future lecture delivery
    • Respond to questions students have posed as well as posting questions to students

    More information about using Lecturecast can be found here:  Lecturecast – Student Guide

    A step-by-step guide to viewing Lecturecast recordings and making use of the additional functionality is available here – Lecturecast Student Guide Learning the Basics

    For information on UCL Data Protection Policy, UCL Computer Regulations (Acceptable use Policy) and  how your data is being used, please refer to our  Lecturecast Information student wiki page.

    Support

    For information on how Lecturecast is being used on your course, please contact the relevant Tutor.

    For technical support on using the system,  please contact the ISD Service Desk: Tel: 020 7676 5000, 25000 (internal) Email: servicedesk@ucl.ac.uk

    UCL’s new Lecturecast system is live

    By Janice Kiugu, on 28 September 2017

    This summer the Lecturecast service received a significant upgrade when we moved from our previous lecture capture solution to the latest offering from our supplier Echo360.

    For those who have used Lecturecast in the past, you will be pleased to know that the new system offers a more streamlined and user-friendly service that allows you to schedule recordings for your lectures, link your recordings to a Moodle course and manage and edit recordings through the Lecturecast Active Learning Platform (ALP) interface. In addition to upgrading the system, we also have more rooms that are Lecturecast Enabled. Currently, over 110 rooms are online with more being added within the next few weeks.

    We believe that the new system will make it much easier for you to schedule recordings and share them with students. There are benefits to be had for both staff and students in ‘Lecturecasting’ events. In a recent survey of UCL students and their use of technology, the most frequent request was for Lecturecast to be more widely available.

    The new Lecturecast system comprises three elements:

    • The Lecturecast Scheduler: this allows you to schedule recordings for confirmed CMIS (i.e. UCL’s online timetabling and room booking system) booked events.
    • The Lecturecast Connector block – available on every Moodle course when you ‘Turn editing on’. This allows you to link your Moodle Course to a section in Lecturecast that contains the recordings for your course.
    • Lecturecast Active Learning Platform (ALP) – This is where recordings are hosted. The ALP interface provides functionality that goes beyond just hosting recordings and allows you to create and add resources that include interactive slides and view learner analytics. For students, it allows them to flag and bookmark content as well as take notes, participate in discussions and respond to interactive slides.

    We have developed new training resources including video and step-by-step guides to get you started using the new system, and are currently developing more advanced guides which will be available soon. These are available via the Lecturecast Resource Centre

    Training and guidance on using the additional functionality will be phased in over the next 12 months.

    If you are looking for inspiration and on how you might incorporate the use of Lecturecast into your teaching, have a look at some of the case studies from institutions around the world using Echo360 (the developers) behind Lecturecast.

    Below are a host of links to get you started in using the new Lecturecast system at UCL.

    If you have any queries or need support, please email lecturecast@ucl.ac.uk

    Upgrade to UCL Electronic Voting System (EVS)

    By Janice Kiugu, on 18 September 2017

    Electronic Voting Systems allow staff to make classroom teaching sessions more interactive and engaging. The currently supported system for this at UCL is TurningPoint – with software directly installed on managed teaching computers across central campus and handsets/receivers available for loan from central services. More information about potential benefits, and how the system works, can be found here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/learning-teaching/elearning-staff/core-tools/electronic-voting-systems/#do and here: https://www.turningtechnologies.com/library/

    Over the summer, managed teaching room computers were upgraded to Windows 10 and Office 2016. To ensure compatibility, the TurningPoint software on these teaching machines has also been upgraded to a new version (v.8). While the new version of TurningPoint is very similar to previous versions, there are some changes, and a new licensed receiver will need to be used.

    What does this mean for staff? 

    • Presentations created in the OLD version (TPv5) will run in the new version (TPv8) however, there is no backwards compatibility so once they have been run/used in TPv8 you will not be able to edit or run them in the old version.
    • The old receivers/dongles will NOT work with the new version of TurningPoint. The Digital Education team have issued central services with a set of new licensed receivers. These will be issued when a loan is taken out for the handsets. Note that the new receivers will accept a maximum of 500 responses.
    • Teaching Rooms with built in handsets (Harrie Massey LT, Christopher Ingold Auditorium, Cruciform LT1) have the new receivers installed on the managed PC. If you choose to use your laptop and have updated the version of TP on it, ensure you loan the appropriate dongle from the Central loans desk. If using Cruciform LT1, you can plug in the labelled cable emerging from the teaching podium into your laptop.

    Action required

    • If you use a laptop to run TP, please install the latest version from the software database. You can download TurningPoint version 8 from the ISD Software database: http://swdb.ucl.ac.uk/package/view/id/410 (UCL staff login required), or directly from the TurningPoint website: https://www.turningtechnologies.com/downloads (form to fill out).
    • If you are using equipment loaned by Departmental teams, check to ensure that you have been provided with a new receiver, if you intend to use the managed PC in the Teaching space. (Note: old receivers will continue to work with the old version of the software but you may experience some issues if moving between different campuses and teaching setups.
    • We recommend that you ‘test’ your  presentation before running a ‘live’ session using the latest version of TP and contact Digital Education Services – digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk  if you experience any problems.

    For more information regarding TurningPoint and to access training guides, click here

    Questions or experiencing issues with the new software? Please email digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk.

    Jisc student digital tracker 2017 and BLE consortium – UCL report available

    By Moira Wright, on 11 September 2017

    markus-spiske-221494The UCL report on the data collected from the Jisc student digital tracker survey (see my previous post on this)  is now available.  The survey was jointly conducted by Birkbeck, LSHTM, RVC, SOAS and UCL back in March. Following a workshop in July, and using the Jisc national survey results as a benchmark, we have been able to make some conclusions and recommendations regarding the digital experiences of our students, based on the survey responses.

    You can read more about the BLE consortium in the ‘Jisc Insights from institutional pilots 2017’ report on page 18

    http://repository.jisc.ac.uk/6671/1/Tracker2017insights.pdf

    Please note Appendix C is available on request (moira. wright @ ucl.ac.uk)

    Download (PDF, 820KB)

    Download (PDF, 98KB)

    Download (PDF, 246KB)

     

    Jisc student digital tracker 2017 and BLE consortium

    By Moira Wright, on 10 August 2017

    computer-767776_1920UCL participated in the 2017 Jisc Digital Student Tracker Survey as part of a consortium with the Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE) made up of SOAS, Birkbeck, LSHTM and RVC. 74 UK institutions ran the tracker with their students collecting 22,593 student responses, while 10 international universities collected an additional 5,000 student responses

    We were the only consortium to participate in the survey and had come together as a result of institutional surveys, such as the National Student Survey, meaning that the time available to run it independently was short (a month) and we therefore felt that our individual sample sizes would be too small. We treated the survey as a pilot and advertised a link to it on each College’s Moodle landing page as well as some promotion via social media and the Student Unions. The survey generated 330 responses, which given our constraints was much more than we expected.

    The survey comprises five broad areas: Digital access, digital support and digital learning. Most questions were quantitatively recorded, but there were four open questions, which produced qualitative data. We were also able to choose two additional questions to the survey and we selected e-assessment, since that was a previous shared enhancement project (see www.bloomsbury.ac.uk/assessment) and Moodle, since all members of the consortium use the platform for their Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

    Once the survey closed and we had access to the benchmarking report we ran a workshop for representatives from each of the Colleges in July 2017 whereby the results corresponding to the survey’s open questions were analysed in institutional groups, which facilitated interesting discussions over commonalities and potential implications.

    Sarah Sherman, the BLE Manager and myself, have been working to produce a report which will examine our collective responses to the survey in comparison with the national survey population with a recommendation that individual Colleges independently analyse their own results in more detail. For confidentiality, each College will be presented with a version of this document, which contains the relevant data for their institution only and not the complete BLE data set. A disadvantage of the consortium approach was that we were not able to benchmark individual Colleges to the survey population as the resources would not allow for this. In the future, the participating Colleges may wish to run the survey individually rather than as part of a collective as it was not possible to conduct deep analysis with this data set. 

    markus-spiske-221494

    Although the sample size collected by the Bloomsbury Colleges was small and not statistically viable, there is much we can extract and learn from this exercise. For the most part, our collective responses tended to fall within the margins set by the national survey population, which means we are all at a similar phase in our student’s digital capability and development.

    You will have to wait for the full report for more information on the UCL data collected but just to whet the appetite you can see the key findings from Jisc in this 2 page report: Student digital experience tracker at a glance .

    Finally, you can see this collection of case studies, which features the Bloomsbury Colleges consortium, here.

    Please get in touch with me if you would like to get involved (moira.wright @ ucl.ac.uk)

    Sarah Sherman and Moira Wright

    Jisc/ NUS student digital experience benchmarking tool 

    Jisc guide to enhancing the digital student experience: a strategic approach