X Close

E-Learning Development Grants


It's all about sharing


Individual contribution peer assessment in group work

rmapdpg19 May 2016

UCL Engineering trains students to use engineering knowledge within extended group practical activities to better prepare them for their careers after graduation. However, despite the substantial educational benefits of getting students to work in teams, students express and experience concerns that significantly decrease the student satisfaction.

UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering in collaboration with the Institute of Education decided to look deeper into this matter and organized student focus groups across the Engineering Faculty, and spoke with various members of staff that use and assess group work. The message is clear: an element of “individual contribution” is needed, possible set by peers and tutor moderated, which improves the group dynamics and penalize the “passengers”. Otherwise students frequently express dissatisfaction if all members of a team are given the same mark regardless of the individual effort.

The concept is simple. At the end of a group work students rate the contribution of each team member, and this is used by the tutor to generate an individual mark. This encourages self-reflection, increase student satisfaction and reduce student’s complaints. The only major drawback is that the peer assessment of individual contribution is mainly collected using pen and paper, hence very staff consuming, as current e-learning tools are inadequate. From our research, this tool should be online, anonymous, preferable within Moodle and flexible so staff can adapt it and ask or value different aspects (e.g. reliability, punctuality, contribution to ideas, etc.).

This is an ongoing project. We presented some results at the UCL Teaching and Learning conference in April 2016, which attracted a lot of interest. It is clear that individual contribution assessment is something that many members of staff from across UCL want to implement, and yet we lack the appropriate system. We decided to take the lead on establishing a consortium with those interested, and seek for some funding to develop an appropriate system within Moodle that would allow us to efficiently incorporate this practice into our teaching. If you are interested on participating, discussing and/or hearing more of our results, please contact p.garciasouto@ucl.ac.uk.

Our thanks to ELDG 2015 who partially funded this project.

Students make documentary videos: archaeology and beyond

Marcos Martinon-Torres21 August 2014

Most students are fed up with writing essays, and most teachers are fed up with writing them. Of course they serve a purpose, but surely there are other ways to assess what our students have learned and are capable of doing, while keeping them learning, and helping us learn too.

Thanks to an E-Learning Development Grant, last year I piloted an alternative assessment for my undergraduate Archaeometallurgy course. I gave students the opportunity to produce, plan, write, shoot, and edit 5-minute documentary videos on a topic of their choice, provided that they were relevant to the course syllabus and aimed at an educated, nonspecialist audience. The result was remarkable success: a good number of students embraced the challenge of using their smart phones for something new, and engaging different parts of their brain . They produced very creative and informative videos. Together, they presented interviews, experiments, museums and archival research on a wide range of topics, such as the production of weapons in Roman Britain, Mycenean gold, crucible steel, the Benin brasses at the British Museum or the rather more modern history of the aluminium in our cans of Coke.

Without a doubt, for many of these students, who had no experience of videomaking, this assessment took longer than other options. Far from complaining, however, they appreciate the fact that they were prompted to learn new skills that will be useful outside the classroom. Needless to say, I learned a lot too, not only from their videos but also from trying to guide them in an area outside my own comfort zone. As their videos will soon be uploaded to a Youtube channel, the students will also be contributing to democratising access to knowledge – another useful lesson learned by all.

Luke Davis wrote a news item for the Teaching and Learning Portal where you can find a few more thoughts about the experience, as well as a a link to a blog by one of the students, where she presents her video as well an interesting assessment of the whole experience.

This would not have been possible without the help, stamina and creativity of David Larreina, a PhD student who was recruited as a TA to create guidelines and offer surgeries to the students. David created two sample videos as well as a detailed set of guidelines in wiki form, which the students found very informative. Importantly, these videos and guidelines are written in such a way that they should be useful for people outside archaeology, considering similar assessments for their own courses – or those simply willing to create short, documentary videos for any purpose.

I very much hope that you find these guidelines useful – if you use them, or if you would like to discuss any of this with a view to using videos as a form of assessment, feel free to get in touch.



Video lectures filmed by students: report

ucahjde22 June 2014

My final report on the e-learning project “Video lectures filmed by students” is now available to download in PDF form.

The purpose of this e-learning project was to test the effectiveness and viability of getting students to film mathematics lectures and the effect on student learning of making these videos available. The project was made possible by an E-Learning Development Grant (ELDG) and by the cooperation of a large number of people who I thank at the end.

Disclaimer. The project analysis is not scientific: there is no attempt made at comparison with a control group, the data sets are not large and the statistical methods used to analyse them are crude. This report is intended to be at best a rough guide to the UCL Mathematics Departmental Teaching Committee as to what action to take on filming of mathematics lectures.

To see all my blog posts about this project, follow the following links:

1. E-learning: Video lectures filmed by students

2. Video-lecture project: weeks 1 & 2

3. December: video project update

4. E-learning project report

Changing behaviour ELDG blog – Post-it mapping

Matt Jenner10 September 2013

This post was originally written by Elena, Harveen and Caroline – the team who received the ELDG grant:


BCT Taxonomy student site logo







On Thursday 29th August, Caroline Wood and her student developers, Harveen Kaur and I (Elena Panagiotopoulou) met to start thinking about mapping out content for the site. From our previous discussions and from reading this helpful e-learning blog on Articulate.com, we knew we had to carefully plan the sequence of activities that our students would be led through. At the beginning of our meeting, we used the ‘Silent Post-it technique’ to brainstorm independently on ideas about the content and what would make the site more engaging. We used post-its to write downour ideas and we then discussed them thoroughly one by one. Using the post-its, we created a flowchart in order to put the content in order:

Using 'Silent Post-it technique'

Capturing ideas – using ‘Silent Post-it technique’

Putting Post-its in order

Caroline, Harveen and Elena putting Post-its in order

As we’re all behavioural scientists on this team, we automatically started discussing how we could structure content using different behavior change techniques (BCTs) to increase the amount of time that our students want to spend on the site:

Techniques used
Set out learning objectives and outcomes of the module Setting of goals
A ‘buddy’ or character to guide students through the resource Providing social support
Series of interactive quizzes Practicing skills
Option to access resources anytime through quick links Practicing skills
Certificate available for students who complete all quizzes Positive reward
Quizzes will gradually become more difficult Graded tasks
There will be lots of examples and feedback during and after tasks Providing feedback
Positive reinforcement given throughout the tasks Support and praise
Timing! Providing an estimate of how long each task will take Setting of goals
Make the task topics relevant for students Relevant and personally useful problem solving
Building your own intervention task – something which they could build on for their 3rd year research project. Action planning for future learning
Know that their input will continue to improve this resource for them and for future students Engagement and involvement
Share with the students our journey in making this resource for them Engagement and involvement

At the end of our meeting, we had a more clear idea about the content of the site. Our next step will be to each take a section of the content and be responsible for building on Moodle.

What happens in a ‘Moodling’ session?

Caroline E Wood29 August 2013

BCT Taxonomy Student Moodle site

Designing learning activities in Moodle

On Friday 16th August, my student (Harveen Kaur) and I (Caroline Wood) met with one of our ELDG mentors (Vicki Dale) and Moodle expert Mira Vogel, E-Learning Facilitator, for a Moodling session. Mira has developed a site in Moodle for UCL users called An Elf’s Lair, and this, alongside the Moodle Features Demo by Rod Digges and colleagues, provided a focus for discussions about what is technically possible in Moodle as well as what is pedagogically advisable.

We are using Moodle to design an interactive, online resource as part of undergraduate teaching about the Behavioural Change Technique taxonomy (BCT). Students will be asked to review some introductory material on the Moodle site before exploring core theoretical foundations in two lectures. After the lecture, they will be expected to explore BCTs in action and build their skills on the Moodle site.

Mira encouraged us to think about what students will see when they first log on. As well as the site being visually stimulating and engaging, students need to be informed about learning objectives and other introductory information about how the resource fits into their programme. That is quite a lot on one page already, so we discussed how we might alternatively store some of this information as a course handbook or a downloadable file and just have the link to it available on the home page.

We also discussed different options for displaying content (text or other media) in pages, books and lessons. Pages are useful for displaying short sections of information. Books are useful for displaying information in a linear page-turning way. Lessons facilitate a non-linear experience; they can be used in the traditional ‘programmed learning’ sense where students’ progression is limited by their ability to complete tasks or questions successfully, or to offer a ‘Choose your own adventure’ experience to allow students to explore the ramifications of their actions in relation to a case simulation.

We also explored the possibility of controlled release of material in Moodle, and decided that the interactive components should be made available on the day of the lectures so that students can immediately apply theory to practice. On the Moodle site, students will be guided through a relevant example of a behaviour change intervention – the development of effective study habits. Throughout each of the exercises, students will be encouraged to revisit elements of the BCT Taxonomy framework; this will be facilitated by use of the Glossary tool.

One of our key discussions was how we could use quizzes for the interactive components. Our complete training programme, on which the Moodle site will based , involves a lot of discussion and opportunities for trainees to ask experts to explain anything they do not understand. This can be difficult to simulate online due to the fact that there are often no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers. Although students will be able to ask questions during the lecture, detailed feedback in the online quizzes is essential to further student understanding and clarify misunderstandings during independent learning. There are several ways in which we could do this. One solution might be to incorporate graphs of student responses from a previous face-to-face workshop, so that students can compare their own answers to those of a larger cohort.

Handy tips we picked up from our session included:

  • Tip #1: The ‘Paste from Word’ icon strips out unnecessary formatting when copying content into Moodle from any of the MS Office applications.
  • Tip #2: You can switch between teacher and student views of the course by going to the settings tab on the left hand side of the screen.
  • Tip #3: We could have entries from our glossary appear on the right hand side of the main screen to highlight definitions for different BCTs in the taxonomy.

We will be experimenting with the different features in Moodle and mapping out our content over the next couple of weeks before starting to commit to particular activities. We would really welcome useful suggestions and other handy tips, so please feel free to comment on which features you have found most useful in Moodle!

We are tweeting! @UCLTaxonomy

Student-produced e-learning videos – which tools should we use?

Vicki Dale19 August 2013

Domi Sinclair and I have met twice with Dr Adrien Desjardins, of the Department of Medical Physics and Bioengineering, to discuss options for a project funded under the E-Learning Developments Grant (ELDG) initiative. Adrien – who is also the recent recipient of a Provost’s Teaching Award – successfully bid for an ELDG for the second year in a row, for his project ‘Development of an iterative framework for e-learning video creation’. This involves students creating instructional videos in small groups, and then peer-reviewing other students’ videos, with a view to critiquing them intellectually, pedagogically and technically. The students then revise their own presentations in response to peer feedback, and then a postgraduate student appointed as an e-learning coordinator refines the presentations for subsequent upload to YouTube. An example of Adrien’s former students’ videos can be viewed on the UCL Medical Physics YouTube channel.

Previously, the students used PowerPoint to design their presentations, and then would use the Camtasia screen capture system to record a voice-over track to add value to the presentation and convert it to video format. However, this creates a very static resource which is difficult to subsequently edit, should the e-learning coordinator wish to make revisions. This year, Adrien has been exploring alternative options such as Prezi and PowToon. Prezi is free for educators and offers the advantage of a more creative, non-linear presentation. It also allows presenters to record or import an individual audio track for each frame; however, although presentations can be made available online, they cannot be exported to video formats. PowToon is another commercial, creative presentation tool which facilitates some impressive animations including its hallmark ‘handwriting’ animation, where the presenter writes some text and when the frame is played, a hand appears to write the text in real time (see Domi’s example PowToon). A limited version of PowToon is free but its features are limited. These can be unlocked for a modest annual subscription for educators. However, although PowToon files can be exported to video formats, it currently only permits one audio track per presentation.

Our experiences of exploring potential tools raise some important issues for educators (and their students) wishing to create online learning resources. While third-party software can be very appealing in terms of the opportunities for increased functionality, flexibility and creativity, there is the risk of relying on an external system where the data is stored ‘in the cloud’ and where the future existence of the tool is not guaranteed. Some tools like Prezi are increasingly becoming embedded in higher education and are therefore less risky; however, there is a danger that other tools which are new are being produced by small, independent companies who have yet to establish a foothold. At the same time, there is the need to equip students with digital literacies , which means knowing how to use emerging tools in addition to standard office applications. Other considerations include how ‘high stakes’ the materials are (for example, if they contribute to summative assessment) as well as how important it is that materials can be edited and re-purposed in the future. We have not made a decision yet; whether we go for PowerPoint, Prezi, PowToon or another presentation tool, we need to ensure that student learning is not compromised but enhanced.