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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'Web 2.0' Category

Spotlight on Engineering’s Learning Technologists in 2015: STEAPP

By Jessica Gramp, on 9 January 2016

Learning Technologies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP)

In Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (STEaPP) learning technology support is provided by the department’s Learning Techologist (Alan Seatwo).  Part of this work involves assisting colleagues to explore the use of emerging teaching themes prior to the start of the MPA Programme. These sessions focus on implementing the UCL E-learning baseline, exploring classroom learning technology and using video for students’ presentation assessment and as a self reflection tool. Prevalent learning technologies in the department include the UCL Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), rapid eLearning development tools, video editing & production, cloud storage, webinars, screencasts, online surveys and classroom learning technologies, such as electronic voting handsets. In this post Alan explains how his department used learning technologies in 2015.


The department was already equipped with a collection of good quality video recorders and in August the department further invested in new hardware and software for video recording & editing, such as a range of camera/ mobile phone mounts, a tripod, wireless microphone and a copy of Adobe Creative Suite. In addition, streaming video and webinar platforms were explored during the organisation and delivery of a seminar by Professor Daniel Kammen and a written report was presented to the department for possible use in the future.

Doctoral student virtual presentation

Doctoral student virtual presentation

There have been no reports of teaching staff and students experiencing major issues using Moodle. Although there have been some maintenance down time from UCL networks, overall access to Moodle is excellent. Colleagues are supportive of the idea of using classroom-learning technology. Specifically, Word-Cloud was used in How to Change the World 2015; Kahoot! and Socrative were used in Policy Making and Policy Analysis; Communication and Project Management Skills; and the Vodafone – UCL Public Policy Intensive Programme. Feedback about the use of such software from colleagues and students was very positive.

UCLeXtend is a separate Moodle platform for external use. The Vodafone – UCL Public Policy Intensive Programme was granted the use of the platform to deliver the online learning elements. This enabled the department to experiment with organising and delivering online learning programmes to non-UCL users that might be useful for future use.

Vodafone UCL Public Policy Intensive Programme UCL eXtend course

Vodafone UCL Public Policy Intensive Programme UCL eXtend course

Students’ presentations were recorded, stored and made available for course assessment and self-reflection. The experience of exploring video streaming in Professor Kammen’s event enabled the process of screencasting, video recording and webinars to be refined. The average turn around time to deliver edited student presentation videos is around 24 hours after recording takes place.

Two Virtual Open Day sessions were conducted in Blackboard Collaborate (webinar software). A series of online interviews using BB Collaborate, Skype and Google Hangouts were also held with potential students.

Other learning technologies being used in the department include:

  • Opinio to support research activities in STEaPP Grant Research Funding Proposal Form, City Health Diplomacy and Science Diplomacy;
  • Articulate Storyline 2 to create two online self assessments in the undergraduate programme: ENGS102P: Design and Professional Skills 2015/16.

There have been no major issues reported by staff using Moodle to organise and disseminate learning content and facilitating discussion via the forums. The level of usage from students is also good. Data from Moodle shows that students responded to staff instructions to access learning content and submit their assignments electronically. One of the areas that can be further enhanced is the use of learning analytics, which can assist staff to identify usage trends of their designed activities and content.

Looking ahead: We are in the planning stage for How to Change the World 2016 and have two areas of focus at the moment: Online Attendance Recording and Reporting; and a Peer Reviewed Video Assignment. We are also making good progress on designing and developing an open-source learning object as part of a project funded by a grant from the UCL Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching (CALT).

Now and next from E-Learning Environments Summer 2015

By Domi C Sinclair, on 15 July 2015

The second edition of our new monthly vlog series, where we bring you all the most important news from UCL E-Learning Environments. This video focuses on the what ELE are doing over the summer period, as well as some future plans.

Useful link:

Moodle Snapshot: https://moodle-snapshot.ucl.ac.uk/

ELE Blog: https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/digital-education/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ucl_ele

Game SIG: https://moodle.ucl.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=21489§ion=3

Introducing the ELE vlog

By Domi C Sinclair, on 22 June 2015

In E-Learning Environments (ELE) we have lots of useful and important information we need to communicate with staff (and students) who use our systems. We have various different ways of communicating with everyone who uses our systems (like Moodle, Lecturecast and MyPortfolio) including email, Twitter, Moodle News and this blog. However we also recognise that these are all text based mediums, and sometimes read chunks of information isn’t preferential. To try and make this easier, and offer an alternative way of communicating we are pleased to introduce the ELE vlog.

We are launching this new vlog (or video blog) on our YouTube channel and hope to post a new video every month informing viewers of the most interesting or important things happening within ELE and our systems. If we get a good response, or have requests, then we may increase the frequency of videos, or make videos explaining particular topics. If you have any ideas of videos you’d like to see from ELE then please comment on this blog post or send us an email to ele@ucl.ac.uk.

So, without further adieu, please enjoy our first vlog embedded below (and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more educational and hopefully entertaining content!)

ELE Communication Channels

Moodle News: https://moodle.ucl.ac.uk/mod/forum/view.php?f=1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UCL_ELE

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/LTSSUCL/videos

When UCL students edit Wikipedia

By Mira Vogel, on 15 April 2015

A presentation by Rocío Baños Pinero (Deputy Director, Centre for Translation Studies), Raya Sharbain (Year 2 undergraduate, Management Science and Innovation) and  Mira Vogel (E-Learning Environments) for the UCL Teaching and Learning Conference, 2015. Here’s the abstract, presentation graphics embedded below and in case you can’t see that, a PDF version of those.

See also the UCL Women’s Health Translatathon write-up.

The internet is for being social (and for cats).

By Domi C Sinclair, on 5 March 2015

The power of the internet, and people’s desire to interact socially have been demonstrated time and time again, and I recently wrote a post for this blog about the power of the crowd. Another example that struck me, and that I wanted to share was that of the Kickstarter project, Exploding Kittens.

Exploding Kittens is a card game, that received a large amount of funding ($8,782,571) via it’s Kickstarter campaign. The amount of money they received was vastly over their initial $10,000 goal and so money is really not a problem for this project. Within the mechanics of Kickstarter many campaigns offer what are known as stretch goals. These are additional benefits offered to backers if the campaign exceeds certain goals. They are usually designed to encourage funding and will start once the project has exceeded its initial funding target. The Exploding Kittens project had initially refused to do any stretch-goals, however due to pressure from backers they agreed to set up a series of extras that could be achieved by reaching certain targets. As I mentioned before this project received a gigantic amount of funding, and the project team did not want or need any more money. Instead they decided to set a number of social challenges, to get backers engaging in the project and community, as well as to get them interacting with one another and working towards a shared good. These social goals ranged from things such as reaching a specific number of Facebook followers for the project to 100 people in a room having a picture taken with cat ears on. Yet again the backers showed their power and managed to meet even some of the weirder targets to unlock the stretch goals.

You might not think Exploding Kittens has much to do with education, but it shows the potential for getting people to work together for a shared goal through a series of social targets. One of the projects social goals was to create a Wikipedia page for the Exploding Kittens project. This could be translated into education by setting students the goal of creating a wiki page, on UCL’s very own wiki and then everyone contributing to unlock extra tutorial slots, or more mock exam questions. The difficult part with education is ensuring the goals are tempting enough for students to want to unlock them, without being so important that denying them to students would be unethical. Some of the other challenges that could be used in an educational context include the various photo challenges. You might set a selfie challenge for students to take pictures with certain museum artefacts, or outside buildings of specific historic significance. Perhaps they could then be asked to write a report about why that object or building is so important or their experiences there, or they might have to pick someone else’s selfie to write about. Maybe you could set a group challenge where at least 5 students have to take a picture in a certain location – which would involve them communicating with one another to make arrangements and might help with group dynamics for later project work. These of course are only ideas, and subject experts are much more likely to know what they wish to get out of students. It might just help to think of how we can utilise other popular elements of the internet for an educational purpose and get everyone working together, for the greater good.


By Domi C Sinclair, on 26 February 2015

About a year ago, a colleague in E-Learning Environment showed me this online image tool, GigaPan. I enjoyed looking at this tool, and scrolling deeper and deeper into some stunning, extremely high quality panoramic shots. Recently I noticed that same colleague showing the tool to someone else and decided it was time I shared it with the wider community.

At its basic level it is a great tool for displaying large images and will embed nicely into MyPortfolio, UCL’s e-portfolio system.

GigaPan has a tagging feature, that allows you to tag details in the image that might be hidden when viewing the full image, and only become apparent when you zoom into the right location. This might be people going about their business somewhere on a busy city shot, or flora and fauna in a wild landscape. I started thinking about how this might be used in an educational context. It could be used to scan for details in a subject related shot, or perhaps as an induction activity. It could be used to find certain items in a picture,  that has been taken by the person setting the task, like a digital scavenger hunt. The aim in this would be to tag specific items, and each of these could be connected to a goal. Perhaps the person who finds the most items gets a Mozilla Open Badge or an invite to an exclusive event. It might be you are only allowed to tag one item, and once you have you are required to produce a report or presentation about it’s relevance to your subject.

There are many possibilities and I think GigaPan presents an opportunity to get creative in how you might set tasks for students, and have some fun.

You can explore the site yourself and generate your own ideas by visiting http://www.gigapan.com/