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E-Learning Development Grants


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An iterative framework for e-learning video creation

By Adrien Desjardins, on 25 May 2014

With a previous E-Learning Development Grant (ELDG) entitled “Learning about learning,” our Department developed a novel e-learning framework that enabled students to create and revise e-learning videos for teaching their peers. This framework was implemented as coursework in one of our undergraduate courses (MPHY2002: Introduction to Biophysics; 38 students). It was described in a manuscript that was submitted to the Journal of Science Education and Technology (co-authors: Jessica Gramp from E-Learning Environments; Teedah Saratoon and Prof. Alan Cottenden from the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering).

With ELDGs awarded in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014, we refined our e-learning framework. Students created Powerpoint slides with narration text that answered medical physics questions chosen by the course Lecturers. Our e-Learning Coordinator (Teedah Saratoon, a PhD student who was funded by the ELDG) transformed the students’ phase 1 materials into videos by converting their narration text to audio streams and merging these audio streams with the Powerpoint slides. In phase 2, the students reviewed the presentations created by their peers and proposed changes to improve them from a pedagogical standpoint. The students were required to justify each change and to implement them in order to create revised presentations. Subsequently, our e-Learning Coordinator created revised videos based on the students phase 2 materials. For both phases, the students worked collaboratively, with 2-3 students per group.

Whereas in the previous academic year, students generated presentations that were centred on an explanation of particular topics, students in this academic year generated presentations to answer specific questions that were largely quantitative. We expected that students in this academic year would find it challenging to present quantitative material in a lively manner. Somewhat surprisingly, we observed that the students did not seem challenged by this; their presentations were engaging, with creative touches.

An important part of this year’s ELDG was the introduction of concept maps. This learning assessment technique, which was introduced by Vicki Dale from E-Learning Environments, could be very well suited to quantifying learning associated with both creation and viewing of e-learning videos. Together with Mira Vogel, Vicki kindly provided a guest lecture on concept maps, in which the students obtained hands-on exposure to the technique. The positive feedback that we received from students has motivated us to make it a key component of the course next year.

Teedah, our E-learning Coordinator, wrote: “I’m very proud to have been part of such a creative project. The e-learning videos that students have created have facilitated their learning through teaching, allowed them to exercise their critical evaluation skills and provided excellent material that can benefit future students. Taking on such an unconventional piece of coursework, together with the knowledge that their efforts may survive beyond their own learning as a study tool for others, has brought out real inventiveness and enthusiasm in the students, which has only added to the success of the project.”

The e-learning framework developed with this ELDG was presented at two events: the UCL Teaching and Learning Conference on April 3 (co-presenter: Jessica Gramp), and the Franco-British Engineering Education Workshop, which was held at the French Embassy on March 25-27.

In the next academic year, we will focus on quantitative assessment of the pedagogical value of student-generated e-learning videos. Additionally, we will start to put together a toolbox for other Module Organisers at UCL who may be interested in implementing a similar e-learning framework.

We are very grateful for the support and guidance that we received from Domi Sinclair, Vicki Dale, and Jessica Gramp from the E-Learning Environments (ELE). Teedah Saratoon, our E-learning coordinator, did a terrific job whilst in the final months of completing her PhD thesis!

The Bridge to China story

By Chris J Dillon, on 23 May 2014

The Bridge to China ELDG is now long spent (many thanks!), but this is a good place to write a short account of the experiment of using wikis for language learning at UCL.

The story starts with an intuition I had in 2008 and was absolutely not based on the language-learning research of the time which generally did not mention the word wiki. The intuition was that a wiki could be used systematically to arrange the formal aspects of a language – the rules, exceptions and lists that form the nuts and bolts of a language.

I was teaching myself Norwegian at the time and had run out of reasonably priced materials. I met Margrethe Alexandroni, Teaching Fellow in Norwegian in UCL’s Department of Scandinavian Studies and a gifted author of Norwegian short stories. The stories were in electronic format on floppy discs. We transferred them to the wiki and added vocabularies, grammar, exercises, a dictionary and some MP3s. It was huge fun and now represents the world’s largest free and open resource of Norwegian language learning materials.

A change of job in 2012 made Mandarin Chinese a major part of my working life. I decided that, instead of going to a language class, I would go the wiki route again. I gathered a team of about ten around me including Selina Zheng from UCL CLIE and we collected sentences which were then analyzed into categories to build a grammar.

However, we did hit the buffers in one area. We simply could not get hold of Mandarin conversations. I dashed off an application for an ELDG and was delighted when the response was yes. For the £1,000 we got fifty conversations, written by two students who had provided huge amounts of voluntary work on the wiki and so it was good to be able to say thank you in a practical way. They produced so much, Chinese transliterating, annotating and editing was coming out of my ears for weeks. Heaven!

img: Recording conversations for Bridge to China

Recording conversations for Bridge to China

And now for two hours each week students gather in my office for recordings and we are now up to conversation 27 of 50.

One suspects that this is a robust approach. If it works for languages as different as Norwegian and Mandarin. Obviously I do all I can to promote further language wikis at UCL. I have a feeling the next one may be in India or Eastern Europe and fortunately they have bears in both locations. (We used a polar bear and a panda as a logo for the projects.)

So, conclusion “Don’t worry if there’s no research, if you know it will work, just do it!” and smile sweetly at the naysayers. How else are we going to discover new things? Others elsewhere simultaneously made the same discovery and now wikis and languages have almost become respectable.

Showcase: The BCT Taxonomy for students

By Caroline Wood, on 9 May 2014

BCT Taxonomy student site logo

First, a bit of background…

Behaviour change is increasingly recognised as central to human well-being, social cohesion and sustainability – plus, with the development of the Behavioural Insights team (aka the ‘Nudge Unit’) it’s also becoming a hot topic amongst policymakers. It’s important therefore we equip the behaviour change scientists of the future i.e. our students here at UCL, with the knowledge and skills to design, implement and rigorously evaluate interventions. The behaviour change technique taxonomy v1 (BCTTv1) was developed by a Medical Research Council (MRC) funded project as a method of reporting the behaviour change techniques used in interventions. The popularity of the taxonomy prompted high demand for training in use of BCTTv1 so a face-to-face user training programme was developed.

What did we set out to do?

The aim of this project was to develop the existing face-to-face taxonomy training programme into an e-learning resource for second-year students on the BSc psychology programme. The vision was to use the resource as a ‘wrapper’ around a lecture entitled: ‘Behaviour Change Techniques’.

What we did and how we did it!

To make sure we were up to speed with the techy-bits, we attended a Moodle session led by our ELE advisors Matt Jenner and Vicki Dale. We used a combination of mind-mapping and a technique called ‘post-it process mapping’ to draw out content of our existing training materials plus any other ideas. We discussed our structure before starting to upload to Moodle. Our training materials included a series of short presentations built using Prezi with audio recordings, using a standard iPhone microphone (we considered buying a microphone however the iPhone worked just as well!), YouTube videos and multiple-choice questions (MCQs).  We started with an introductory presentation that showed students how the content of their lecture fitted in. The e-learning course was split into four sessions. Each session introduced five BCTs and finished with a MCQ mini-quiz, so students could check their progress. After session four, students could download their BCT training certificate.

Project outcomes: What we achieved

We had…some engagement from students directly after the lecture and then again – unsurprisingly – around the time their coursework was due. Several members of staff approached us as they wanted to use the resource themselves! Its helped to spark interest in the bigger, BCTTv1 online training site: www.bct-taxonomy.com and its informed development of teaching and training activities of the new Centre for Behaviour Change (CBC) at UCL. We hope to develop the resource for use as a ‘wrapper’ around a third-year option module in inter-disciplinary behaviour change running in the next academic year.

What we learned: a couple of top tips and our out-takes…

Tip 1:     We weren’t able to carry out a full quantitative evaluation as planned due to low engagement. It’s difficult to engage undergraduate students in their lecture let alone outside it! For best results, make engaging with your e-resource part of their course grade.

Tip 2:     We started small but it’s hard to create a ‘wrapper’ for one lecture. Save your strength – build for at least an option module but ideally a full course.

Check out our Prezi slides:

IntroductionSession 1, Session 2, Session 3, Session 4

Developing an online resource for UCL medical students on population screening programmes

By Janina Dewitz, on 9 May 2014

Background and aims (brief recap)

The Department of Applied Health Research (DAHR) is responsible for providing teaching on population screening to ~400 year 4 UCL MBBS students annually. Screening is a public health service which seeks to identify individuals who may be at risk of a range conditions, such as breast, cervical or colorectal cancer. We have traditionally delivered this material as face-to-face lectures, followed by small-group interactive sessions (n~35). In their feedback in 2012/13, several students suggested that the lecture material might be better delivered via a self-study module.

In response to this, we sought to redesign the teaching session for the 2013/14 academic year. We sought to create an online resource to replace the lecture to:

  • give students greater flexibility in how and when they access the course
  • make the teaching more student-centred and interactive
  • give greater relevance to students’ future medical practice
  • provide students with a revision resource to refer back to when needed
  • enable students to assess/develop their own learning.


What did we create?

We created a Moodle site, with:

  • short lecture casts
  • embedded video clips
  • practice multiple choice questions (MCQs)
  • links to relevant external resources

Students received access to the online resource two weeks before their timetabled teaching sessions in February 2014. They also received an email reminder one day beforehand, but otherwise were free to use the resource at a time and pace that suited them. On the first page of the site, we provided a link to a ‘diagnostic’ quiz – five MCQs which enabled students to assess their existing level of knowledge and identify gaps. The tabbed page layout of Moodle then enabled students to identify materials to address their personal learning needs.


How were students involved?

  1. Recently graduated junior doctors (throughout, n=3): the doctors were essential in informing the site’s shape and structure. They also contributed to several parts of the site and conducted key parts of the evaluation and consultation
  2. Video interview project with Year 6 MBBS students (September 2013, n=2): students on a Peer-Assisted Learning Module created a learning resource comprising a series of videos with doctors on the relevance of screening to their careers. They edited the videos and we uploaded them using YouTube to the Moodle site
  3. Focus groups with Years 5 and 6 MBBS students (October 2013, n=6): to understand more about the way in which they learn and the teaching methods they find best motivates them to learn and to obtain feedback on the resource in development
  4. Pilot with Years 5 and 6 MBBS students (December 2013/Jan 2014): to obtain feedback on the site in its final stages and pick up errors/glitches in functionality
  5. Feedback (n~148): all students that used the online resource and attended face to face teaching were invited to give feedback.


Did we “turn our vision into reality”?

We think so! We presented some interim finding to UCL’s Teaching and Learning Conference on 3 April 2014 [slides]

Did students use the module? ~70% of students accessed the module before the face to face teaching. We did need to send reminders though – when we didn’t, uptake was much lower.

Was it acceptable as a way of learning? Generally student feedback was more positive than last year’s lecture.

Was it an effective way of learning?? In terms of exam performance, we don’t know yet – we will look at student exam performance later in the year.

The UCL e-learning development grant was essential to us in doing this project in two major ways:

  1. It enabled us to work with undergraduate or postgraduate students at all stages of the project, in a range of different ways.
  2. It also gave us access to really useful advice and guidance on developing a Moodle site and on evaluating our project.


Reflections in the different software we used to develop the module: Hits and misses

Video editing software:

upYouTube: great for simple edits, our “go to” place for uploading films onto Moodle. Note – it didn’t suit everyone: ”I have just spent an hour wrestling with various bits of editing software, including YouTube, to clip the first few seconds and have to admit defeat – they’ve totally outfoxed me!” (Tutor)

upSerif MoviePlus (Starter and Full editions): this programme was recommended to me. There is a free version but ended up buying the full version to convert some videos into formats compatible with what we needed. It took a while to learn and I remain slow on it, but I like its flexibility and capacity to do pretty much everything I think I will need to do in relation to video editing in the future.


Screen capture software to create LectureCasts

upDebut: it was very straightforward to create videos and upload them to YouTube. Sadly once trial period lapsed, we had to move onto something else.

 updownJing: One is limited to only 5 minutes but this was long enough for most of the LectureCasts we did. Creating videos was very straightforward

downCamstudio: It was highly recommended but it crashed loads of times and I didn’t find it helpful to use at all.


Moodle analytics, to monitor site use

uprange and detail of data on student use: we could see students’ practice questions responses, when students accessed the module, which parts and for how long. All this was really useful to identify where tutors needed to focus on in face to face sessions and which parts of the module seemed most useful to students.

downdata analysis: we found it extremely laborious to extract data from Moodle on module use. In some cases (eg test results) we could download spreadsheets from Moodle but for things like when students accessed the module, this involved for us lots of cutting and pasting from pages on moodle. Has anyone figured out a less tine intensive way of doing this?


Jessica Sheringham Senior Research Associate, Dept Applied Health Research

ELDG report: 29 April 2014

Showcase: Chris Dillon

By Janina Dewitz, on 28 February 2014

Chris developed a Norwegian language wiki in 2008. It became the largest open source Norwegian language learning resource on the Internet. Its success is what inspired the current Mandarin wiki project:

Bridge to China aims to further the understanding of all aspects of the Chinese speaking world. China here is used in a very wide sense and includes mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore and anywhere else where the Mandarin language is spoken.It gives particular importance to the understanding of the modern Mandarin language.

Meet the “Bridge to China” team:

the team

Chris talked about how the ELDG money enabled him to get the wiki content developed. “Bridge to China” lives at  http://bridgetochina.org.uk and is open to anyone in the world to use.

Chris has previously blogged about his project:


ELDGs work!

By Janina Dewitz, on 29 January 2014

Things that make me happy:

Over on the twitter


I hope Matt will share more details on this blog soon!

Showcase: Antony Makrinos

By Janina Dewitz, on 17 January 2014

Antony Makrinos has been developing practice quizzes for his Greek and Latin undergrads. He gave this presentation on how he’s been getting on:

Aside from quiz building being time consuming, the biggest struggle that Antony has faced during his project was related to Greek fonts and its diacritics. Moodle isn’t very forgiving: it simply marks a missing accent as incorrect. There is the option, of course, of deploying multiple choice questions, but these aren’t as effective for learning vocabulary as actually having to recall and type out a word using the short answer question type.

Antony brought a few students along who added a virtual Greek keyboard to their e-Learning wishlist.


Ask the Audience

At the ELDG Showcase event in December we asked the audience a series of randomly drawn questions. We asked, you answered:

If you had all the money in the world, what would you develop?

  • “Virtual reality reconstruction of Pompeii & Herculaneum with information about architecture, history, lifestyle etc…”
  • “Mobile computing for all. Multimedia capture for all. Server space for all. Support for all in the use of these things. Development resource to improve and sustain open source software for the above.”
  • “A real/complete interactive tool for all undergraduates. Provide them with ‘a tablet’ that can be uploaded from a central location”
  • “Secure written online exams. Develop wizards for MyPortfolio”
  • “Online pronunciation course”
  • “Full distance learning capability; even more development on UCL eXtend so that it works like e.g. Amazon in terms of user interface and feedback”
  • “We could have a Greek virtual keyboard on the screen. Have a word box where we could pick out the Greek words from; link with texts we studied.”
  • “Tablets for all students preloaded with timetables/syllabus/course content and exam questions/assessment. Dedicated software to deliver the content of all the modules”
  • “I would set up lots of language/culture wikis aiming at world peace through mutual understanding”
  • “MOOCs”

If you weren’t at the event in December, let us know in the comments what you would develop.

Showcase: Lynsie Chew and Alan Parkinson

By Janina Dewitz, on 6 January 2014

Lynsie and Alan have been working on glossaries and quizzes for accounting students.

Here is Lynsie with an overview of the project:



Ask the Audience

At the ELDG Showcase event in December we asked the audience a series of randomly drawn questions. We asked, you answered:

Moodle would be so much better if …

  • “it had set-up wizards.”

  • “it wasn’t so cumbersome (small changes take a lot of time) and worked on tablets”

  • audio record and/or video lectures while you are delivering a powerpoint presentation which is uploaded in a moodle page”

  • “it did distance learning easily; did group submissions to turnitin; it did online interactive forms (e.g. peer evaluation) which can be posted as an assignment; if Moodle assignments let you open multiple file submissions (you currently get an error message and have to click onto a file several times to open more than one)”


If you weren’t at the event, add your own answer in the comments below this post.

Showcase: Elisabete Cidre and Alexandra Gomes

By Janina Dewitz, on 17 December 2013

Our first presenters at the ELDG Showcase event were Elisabete Cidre and her project student, Alexandra Gomes. Together they have been working on providing a video resource for urban design students. The project involved filming two London locations at various times during the year to give students an insight into what the spaces look and feel like across different seasons and in different weather/light conditions.

Here is what Elisabete and Alexandra presented: Cidre_Gomes_presentation

The videos also provide a snapshot of how the spaces are used by people:

Sloan Square

Greenwich Park

Further Greenwich videos:


Ask the Audience

At the ELDG Showcase event in December we asked the audience a series of randomly drawn questions. We asked, you answered:

When it comes to learning technologies, I am most interested in …

  • “the seeming irreconcilability of web2 and higher education assessment (and multimedia)”
  • “video based learning (within a sound pedagogical design)”
  • “Moodle enhancements”
  • “the next best thing (-: “
  • “what gets the students engaged with the subject”
  • “those which are helpful for ALL students to learn and progress in their learning”
  • “those which are helpful to ease the workload of staff involved in facilitating the students’ learning”
  • “in applications and e-learning new environments”

If you weren’t at the event, add your own answer in the comments below this post.

Thank you!

By Janina Dewitz, on 17 December 2013

Thank you to everyone who attended our December showcase, and a HUGE thank you also to all our presenters:

  • Elisabete Cidre and Alexandra Gomes
  • Alan Parkinson
  • Antony Makrinos and his students
  • Chris Dillon and his Chinese dragon
  • Tristan Robinson
  • Philip Lewis
  • Chris Blackman

As requested, I am going to share their presentations and any project links bit by bit over the coming weeks along with answers from the “Ask the Audience” questions we asked during the event.