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    Archive for the 'Technology blogs' Category

    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

     

    Turnitin assignments not resetting properly – issue now resolved!

    By Janice Kiugu, on 31 July 2017

    At the start of the academic year and in preparation for the next cohort of students on a course, staff are required to ‘Reset’ their Moodle courses. This removes students work and grades but leaves course resources and activities in place.

    An issue was identified at the end of July that was affecting Turnitin assignments when a Moodle course was ‘Reset’. This has now been resolved. Staff can now reset their Moodle courses. HOWEVER, the process of resetting courses has changed slightly so please read through the guidance provided via this link carefully, paying particular attention to step 4 of the process.

    If you reset your course/s containing Turnitin assignments before 11th August, the Digital Education team suggest resetting them again, to ensure the issue described below does not occur.

    *********************************************************************

    An issue has been identified that is affecting Turnitin assignments when a Moodle course is ‘Reset’.

    At the start of the academic year and in preparation for the next cohort of students on a course, staff are required to ‘Reset’ their Moodle courses. This removes students work and grades but leaves course resources and activities in place.

    Issue

    The ‘Reset’ function in Moodle normally creates a new class ID for a Turnitin assignment and staff should then be able to edit the assignment settings accordingly.  The issue that has been identified is that resetting the course seems to ‘lock’ the anonymous marking setting to  ‘Yes’  making it un-editable.  However, even if the Post date is edited and no submission has been made, student’s names are visible.

    We have reported the issue to Turnitin and they have acknowledged that there is problem and indicated that they hope to have a solution we can implement by the end of the week.

    Action Required (temporary workaround)

    We recommend, where feasible, that you wait until we have a fix in place and refrain from ‘resetting’  your course until we advise otherwise.

    Staff who have reset their courses in preparation for the next cohort of students or any staff planning to reset their courses before the issue is resolved should take the following steps:

    After resetting your Moodle course:

    • Delete the Turnitin assignment(s) that currently exist
    • Create new Turnitin assignment (s) with the required settings

      Guidance and instructions on creating Turnitin assignments are available from our Moodle Resource Centre: https://wiki.ucl.ac.uk/display/MoodleResourceCentre/M20+-+Turnitin+Assignment

    We apologise for the inconvenience caused and will advise when the issue has been resolved.

    If you have any questions of concerns, please contact the Digital Education team by emailing
    digi-ed@ucl.ac.uk

     

    Applying Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Principles to VLE design

    By Jessica Gramp, on 16 July 2017

    Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Principles describe how educators can cater to the needs of students with differing needs, including those with disabilities (CAST 2011). It stems from the social model of disability, which places the problem within the environment, rather than with the individual who has the disability (Collins 2014).
    Technology enables the quick modification of learning materials to meet the specific needs of students (Pisha & Coyne 2001) and online communication can even hide a disability from others. For example, a deaf student who participates in an online discussion forum does not need to reveal they are deaf in order to communicate with peers. This can lower the social and communication barriers that may be experienced when communicating in person. Also, there are many modern technologies specifically developed to help people with disabilities engage with online environments. This means online learning environments are particularly well placed to address the goal of Universal Design for Learning. It is the responsibility of the institutions and developers who maintain these environments to ensure they can be accessed by all.
    While most of the UDL guidelines apply to curriculum design, some of them are relevant to the design of the broader virtual learning environment (VLE).

    UDL principles (CAST 2011) mapped to how a VLE might meet relevant checkpoints

    To learn more, click on one of the Guidelines in the boxes below.

    I. Provide Multiple Means of Representation

    PerceptionLanguage, expressions, and symbolsComprehension

    II. Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression

    Physical actionExpression and communication
    Executive function

    UDL Principle 1 aims to ‘provide multiple means of representation’  by ‘providing options for perception’, which includes ‘offer[ing] ways of customizing the display of information’ (CAST 2011). This means the VLE should offer the ability to do things like resize text and enable screen-readers to read aloud text to those who have visual impairments or dyslexia.

    Within UDL Principle 2, guideline 4: aims to ‘provide options for physical action’, which includes ‘vary[ing] the methods for response and navigation’ (CAST 2011). This means ensuring all navigation and interaction can occur via a keyboard and using assistive technologies such as voice activated software like Dragon NaturallySpeaking, which recognises speech and converts it to text.
    UDL Principle 3 seeks to ‘provide multiple means of engagement’ by ‘recruiting interest’, including enabling the learner to choose colours and layouts (CAST 2011). There are a number of tools that enable users to change the fonts and colours on a webpage and it is important these are able to be applied. The VLE should also offer the ability to customise the interface, in terms of re-ordering frequently accessed items, placement of menus and temporarily hiding extraneous information that may distract from the task at hand.
    These three principles and the specific checkpoints mentioned above are being addressed as part of the Accessible Moodle project, which aims to make UCL Moodle more accessible. The main ways these are being addressed are through the development of a more accessible Moodle theme, as well as the development of Moodle code itself. Although the project has limited ability to develop this code, suggestions for improvements are being raised with the Moodle development community via the Moodle Tracker. You can sign up and vote for accessibility enhancements to help these get prioritised, and therefore resolved more quickly, by Moodle HQ and other developers within the community.
    The remaining UDL principles are intended to guide the development of more accessible content and curriculum designs, and therefore these will inform the development of the Universal Design for Learning course that is being developed at UCL, to help educators understand how to design accessible learning tasks, environments and materials.
     
    You can read more about the Accessible Moodle project on the UCL Digital Education blog.
     
    References
    CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. [online]. Available from: http://www.udlcenter.org/sites/udlcenter.org/files/UDL_Guidelines_Version_2.0_(Final)_3.doc [Accessed 16 July 2017].
    Collins, B. (2014). Universal design for learning: What occupational therapy can contribute? [Online]. Occupational Therapy Now, 16(6), 22-23. Available from: http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/21426/1/Collins.pdf [Accessed 16 July 2017].
    Pisha, B. & Coyne, P. (2001) Smart From the Start: The Promise of Universal Design for Learning. Remedial and Special Education. [Online] 22 (4), 197–203. Available from: doi:10.1177/074193250102200402.