Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Tag: elearning (Page 1 of 2)

Episode 11 – John “Hack” Hackmeyer from CyberCrocodile

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Building Effective Digital Training Courses for Onboarding and Enablement

John Hackmeyer – LinkedIn

Nowhere Land – Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
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TEL in 2020

Well … 2020 has been quite a year. The most extraordinary 12 months any of us have experienced. Although 2020 has had its stresses (to put it mildly) I’m proud at how the TEL team has helped the University maintain its mission. Our existing students were able to progress and new students have been able to start their University career. Without technology, that would have been impossible.   

Like many people, we understood the disruptive potential of Covid-19 in late February. By early March we started thinking about the support we could offer if the University had to deliver teaching remotely. We thus had the elearning Tools website ready to publish when the VC sent his email about home working.  

That move to home working affected the TEL team less than many other teams in the University – partly because many of us already had some experience of home working and partly because we work with technology on a daily basis. All we need to do the basics of our job is a fast, stable internet connection. (One team member, stuck abroad when airlines began to remove scheduled flights, spent several days working from Australia. For a while we truly were providing around-the-clock service!) It helped the team enormously that we used SLACK: the platform held a record of our thinking and enabled people to catch up on discussions they might otherwise have missed.  

That’s not to say working at home (or living at work?) was without challenges – especially for those of us who were homeschooling children or who had other caring responsibilities. One lesson I think we learned far too late was this: when we’re working at home we don’t need to be available all the time. Too many of us jumped to respond to a SLACK message immediately or to answer an email the moment it reached our inbox. It’s nice to know our team members are conscientious – but that “always-there” mentality is ultimately self-defeating. And although SLACK enabled us to work efficiently while we were remote, it’s undeniable that face-to-face communication is quicker and less prone to misunderstanding than text-based communication. All that raises an interesting question: when we get back to some sort of normality, will we all rush back into the office? Not many people miss their commute, but some do miss the office environment – so will we work more flexibly, with one or two days spent in the office and the rest working at home? Or will some of us become full-time home-workers?  

Returning from speculation on future events to events that happened back in the spring of 2020: the University started to develop its “Blended and Connected” approach to the new academic year. To support that initiative, the TEL team created the website Preparing for teaching in a blended learning context, with content coming from across the whole of DCQE. We also worked closely with our colleagues in Academic Development to put on the TEL Tales Blended Learning Festival (and more recently a Blended Learning Mini-Fest).

The “Blended and Connected” approach allowed us to address a long-standing complaint from students. In response to our yearly Digital Experience Tracker, students regularly criticised the lack of consistency across their Moodle modules. We now had the chance to develop and implement a templated approach to Moodle. The TEL team also improved the Moodle theme, in light of co-creation work with a group of University computing students studying UX/UI design.

Of course, all those other tasks involved in running a large Moodle installation did not go away because of the pandemic. Integrations with other systems (more of which below) had to be managed, the upgrade to Moodle version 3.9 had to take place, and all of this took place as the University moved from Quercus to SITS. (Can anything be more stressful for a university than changing Student Record systems in the middle of a pandemic?) The SITS project touched most aspects of University life; for us, it required the development of new feeds into Moodle. 

Moodle itself has performed robustly since the start of the academic year, despite routinely serving numbers of students that in previous years would have been considered extraordinary. By the start of December our new Moodle had clocked up 1,264,306 logins and students had engaged in 14,088,187 activities (read/writes). Phew… 

Throughout 2019, discussions and consultations around content capture had taken place (and a new policy on content capture was eventually agreed). We entered 2020, however, in a difficult place. We were concerned about the technologies we had available to support content capture: our existing platforms had reached end-of-life. The team facilitated a number of supplier demonstrations early in the year, with the last demonstration taking place just before the work-from-home directive took hold, and UoP chose Panopto – the most widely adopted video platform within universities. The implementation and roll-out of such a platform would normally take place over the course of a full year, but we made Panopto available (complete with Moodle integration and a support website) within six weeks. Quite an achievement! And the platform is being heavily used: by November, we had 29,793 videos created; 10,464 hours of video created; 736,081 views and downloads; and 97,759 hours of video delivered. Again, phew…    

To support synchronous delivery for the new “Blended and Connected” approach, the University purchased Zoom. And, of course, we were quick to integrate this with Moodle. One useful feature in Zoom, which at that point could not easily be replicated by existing options such as Meet and WebEx, was the easy creation of breakout rooms. (Offering a plethora of technologies that do similar things – Zoom, WebEx, Meet – has the potential to lead to confusion for staff and an inconsistent experience for students. It can be difficult to take options away from people; in some cases, it might be technically impossible to remove options. But – in the interests of a consistent student experience – perhaps we need to be firmer in our recommendations of what tools to use?)

We invested in other tools, too: Padlet to facilitate collaboration; Vevox as an audience response system; and we continued to push Nearpod for interactive lessons. For all of these, we continued to provide our usual training support for staff, and offered face-to-face and small-group sessions – mediated by Zoom, WebEx, and Meet! 

Throughout the pandemic, the TEL team has been active on social media – and the stream of positive, uplifting, motivational messages from TEL accounts were well received during the lockdown. More than one member of staff said the posts cheered them up!

We worked with staff across DCQE to help them create support sites (for example the Wellbeing and ASK sites) and with staff across the University in workstrands, workstreams, and elsewhere. We supported departments in adapting to an online alternative to their usual ‘go-to method’ of face to face presenting such as the Staff Induction Welcome Event for new staff members held by HR. I hope that cross-institution working carries on when we return to some form of normality because everyone agrees it has been beneficial.

What else? Well, we have kept abreast of accessibility issues and our responsibilities under PSBAR. This is a difficult issue for all universities: the legislation was written, I believe, with static content in mind. But a VLE contains rapidly changing content from thousands of users. The sector as a whole is grappling with the implications of this.

We hope to develop our (externally hosted) CPD Moodle. As more people become aware of the platform, more courses are going on there. And we are working closely with CEG Digital, the University’s partners for expanding our DL offering

Questions around analytics and data have been of interest and, when we’ve had any spare time (hah!), we’ve tried to make progress in this area. We have liaised with a Business Analyst on the creation of a Student Engagement and Monitoring dashboard; locally, we have started to look at how to surface useful statistics on the Moodle dashboard. Watch for developments over the coming months! 

I could write much, much more about the team’s attainments – but I’ll leave it there.

We have encountered many setbacks and challenges – inevitably so, given the amount of change that has been implemented over such a short period of time – but the team, as part of the wider University, has achieved so much this year. We can leave the plague year behind us and enter 2021 knowing we have a bright future.

Recap of available support for teaching in a blended learning context

Over the past few weeks TEL and the Academic Development Team have been super busy developing and collating lots of resources to support our colleagues across the University in preparation to teach in a blended learning context.

It is crazy to reflect on the amount of work that has gone on in the last few months – so I just wanted to highlight some key resources and communication channels that we have developed – new and old –  that can support and inform you in the coming weeks ahead as we plan for TB1.

Preparing for teaching in a blended learning context website

Banner for the homepage a lady at a desk looking at her laptop

Information on this site includes:

Learning Well resources to support student wellbeing and inclusion.

elearning tools website

The elearning tool banner which is a photo of part of a laptop, part of a pen and notebook and part of a cup and saucer

This website was set up in the immediate week after Covid-19 lockdown began but is pretty much updated daily with new resources. 

The site covers:

  • teaching remotely guidance on lectures, seminars, assessments etc.
  • elearning tools and how to use them in the correct context.
  • a huge resource bank of relevant articles and other media. 
  • links to upcoming internal and external events to support you in teaching in a blended learning context.

TEL Tales Blended Learning Festival

The TEL Tales Blended Learning Festival banner, which is a big wheel, some festival tents and shapes of people along the bottom

The TEL Tales Blended Learning Festival may well have finished but you can still visit this website and engage with the recorded sessions from this super successful week-long event. 

Training events calendar

We have a wide-range of virtual training sessions covering teaching in a blending learning context and the functionality of tools within Moodle and beyond.

A screen shot of the TEL Training programme with training information, dates, times etc.

Digital Learning Portsmouth

Visit our YouTube channel – dedicated to providing support for Moodle, Turnitin and other interesting technologies that can be used in teaching.

Screen Shot of the banner which is different coloured icons

The TEL Team

Of course, if any of the above doesn’t have the support that you require – please do not hesitate to contact us (elearn@port.ac.uk). We are a lovely bunch who will do our best to help at all times!

Cartoon images of the TEL Team standing in a row

Our Social Media

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter to keep up-to-date with our posts, sharing information about upcoming events and resources.

TEL's Instagram header including numbers of followers and us following

 

TEL's Twitter Image including number details of Followers and Following

Credit: https://fontawesome.com/icons

Peermark – a tool for group feedback.

Recently Coventry University released a new plugin for Moodle around the idea of group and peer feedback. A colleague highlighted the new tool to me and at first glance I thought it looked like a promising solution to one of the requirements many academics have while running group work: the ability for students to score the contribution of individuals within the group and provide either public or anonymous feedback to group members.

Currently Moodle provides various options to support group work and peer learning, because Moodle HQ realises that these approaches hold an important place in the arsenal of many academics. Firstly, Moodle provides a generic framework for creating groups – these can then be allocated to an activity (such as discussion boards, wikis or group assignment submissions).

Secondly, and with a greater focus on the use of peer learning, Moodle provides the Workshop tool.

While groups can be Moodle Workshop screenshotadded and used within the Workshop, the idea is predominantly that students add a submission. The submission is then allocated to a specified number of their peers, who then grade and provide feedback on it.

If you haven’t used the Workshop tool in anger, here is a quick overview of how to use it as a peer-assessment tool:

  1. All students submit their work (traditionally this will be an essay, but it could be work in some other format).
  2. The work is allocated to the other students. This can be scheduled and automated if required.
  3. Every student marks the assessments they have been given (academics can also provide feedback, although this is not a requirement).
  4. Each student receives a final grade for the submission and a grade for their ability to assess the work (academics can overwrite grades should they feel the process has proven unfair).

This tool provides students a fantastic opportunity to reflect on their own writing and work while comparing it to that of their peers. However, it does not allow for a group to provide anonymous feedback to their peers on projects. To do this academics currently have to find solutions outside of Moodle. The most notable option for this is TeamMates. TeamMates allows groups to feedback on the overall project work and then score the engagement of the rest of the team throughout the project.

We now have a new Moodle-based solution! Peerwork, created by Coventry University, is an integration with Moodle that provides a peer feedback option for group work. You can learn more about this approach from the video they have produced:

While working through Peermark, I was really impressed with its simplicity of set-up and use. I created the framework as an academic, but also completed the process as a student. Using multiple test accounts, I was able to understand how the process would work from both sides and see how you can adjust the overall grade given to a group though the peer reviews on the work.

The only criticism was really just my understanding of what the tool did (so not really a criticism of the system). When I uploaded a document as a student it cascaded it to each other members of the group. Each student does not need to upload a file, it is targeting the students for feedback on their peers and how the group worked throughout a project. The upload was almost a secondary consideration to the process.

Peermark is not the Workshop reimagined. They are two very different tools that serve a specific purpose.

The Workshop facilitates a student writing a piece of work, submitting it and other students provide feedback and evaluation of that work.

Peermark allows groups to discuss, rank and analyse how the entire team worked together over the course of the project. The work is created by the team for evaluation by the academic but the feedback given by the group on each other member will directly affect the shared grade of the team.

Peermark is currently on a test installation of Moodle.

If you would like a demonstration to see whether it would fit your need, please contact tom.langston@port.ac.uk

Image taken from Unsplash :John Schnobrich
John Schnobrich

Guest Blogger: Simon Brookes – A content capture policy for the University

For several years, the University has provided staff with the technology to record video and/or audio for the purpose of extending teaching and learning activity beyond the confines of the classroom. This has included the provision of limited lecture capture technology in some large lecture theatres, as well as providing access to software that allows staff to produce learning materials on their computers.

The content captured in these ways is of particular use for revision purposes, for scrutinising difficult concepts, for students with caring responsibilities, and for students for whom English is not their first language.

In response to growing demand from our student body, the University has been investigating the possibility of expanding the availability of content-captured materials. This investigation was co-ordinated by the Content Capture Working Group, and included a full consultation with all University staff and students, via online surveys, as well as in-depth discussions at a series of “town hall” meetings, which were attended by staff and students from across the University.

This consultation informed the development of a Content Capture Policy, which is now available here, in draft format, for further scrutiny. This Policy aims to promote inclusivity and increase the accessibility of our teaching whilst reducing any potential barriers to learning. By implementing these adjustments, which would benefit all students, it should reduce the need for individual adjustments, promote good practice and maximise learning opportunities. If you would like to provide feedback please email it to Harriet Dunbar-Morris, Dean of Learning and Teaching, at DeanLandT@port.ac.uk.

The Policy will go to the University’s Student Experience Committee, before making its way, via the University Education and Student Experience Committee, to Academic Council for final approval. It will then be published in time for the start of the next academic year.

We will be introducing staff development sessions prior to implementation. Please look out for these.

Image Credits: Photo by Forja2 Mx on Unsplash

Episode 10 – Bartolomeo Meletti from Learning on Screen – Copyright

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Episode 10 - Bartolomeo Meletti from Learning on Screen - Copyright
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Copyright Resources:

copyrightuser.org

learningonscreen.ac.uk

The Game is On

BoB National

IPKat

1709 Blog

Nowhere Land – Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

TEL Training Sessions – Update

Can’t spare 2 hours (let alone 3 hours) to attend TEL Training sessions, but would like to . . . . . well you can now!  

We’ve reviewed our sessions and have been able to reduce the running times of our longest sessions to make them easier to fit into the already busy working day. We’d like as many of you as possible to be able to attend our sessions, so in reducing the running times (in some cases by 50%) by keeping content relevant but concise, we hope more of you will be able to join our sessions in the future.

How do I find more information on TEL Training Sessions?

You’ll find our calendar with all our new times and full description on the sessions we run by going to the Department of Curriculum and Quality Enhancement (DCQE) website and clicking on the TEL Training Calendar.

Where else can I book onto the sessions?

The calendar on our blog pages also indicates the training sessions with a dot underneath the date, just click on the dot and the session information will appear. You can also book yourself onto a session here; just click the button at the bottom. Feel free to switch through the months to see what training sessions are coming up.

Who are your training sessions for?

Primarily, the workshops are for lecturers and PHD Students, but they can be adapted for professional service members of staff too. If you’re not available at the times of our training events, or if the programme does not cover a specific area you’re interested in, we can offer a 1-2-1 session tailored to your needs. In addition, if there’s a group of people in your department who would like a session to update their knowledge in a certain area, we can also arrange that.  We have a meeting room here in Mercantile House, but we can always come to you. To arrange these bespoke sessions, firstly complete the Bespoke Training Request form, click here give us a brief outline into which areas you’d like the training to cover and for how many people, someone will then contact you to discuss your requirements.

So if you’ll looking to embark on a project involving technology, or if you would simply like some support or advice on how to use the various elearning tools available at the University, the TEL team are here to help.

We look forward to welcoming you at one of our training events in the near future.

 

Episode 8 – Charles Barker – Presentation Performance

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Copyright Information:

Nowhere Land – Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
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Guest Blogger: James Brand – Erasmus+ Staff Training: Visiting the FernUniversität in Hagen (Part 3)

This is the third of four related blog posts about about an Erasmus+ Staff Training experience to the FernUniversität in Hagen which took place in June 2018. In this post I will be discussing initiatives that the FernUniversität  has implemented to ensure the quality of distance learning being delivered at the University. I also mention the instructional design approach and educational theory that underpins e-learning at the University.

E-teaching Certificate

One of the benefits that the FernUniversität offers to staff is a recognised qualification in e-learning for practitioners at the University in the form of an E-Teaching Certificate. This is an internal training programme available to teaching staff at the University, the course takes on average 1.53 years to be completed. The course is made up of a number of fundamental workshops including Introduction to didactics, Overview of FernUni-Tools, E-Learning and Law, Evaluation, E-Assessment, Documentation, and reflexion (individual), Peer observation of teaching (kick-off workshop). There are also a number of electives which can be taken as part of the programme and concludes with an e-teaching project which involves the planning, implementation, and evaluation of a project with a peer overview observation element. This training is delivered as a mixture of online and blended learning. This programme has proved to be very popular and is in high-demand from staff. There were several requests as to whether the University offer the course externally but unfortunately they are not able to!

Instructional Design

Instructional design and didactics were topics that raised throughout the training week. Dr. Ada Pellert, President of the FernUniversität, in her welcome to attendees of the training week said that previously there had been an absence in the expertise of instructional design at the University. This is something that they are trying to improve by working with academic staff and the introduction of the E-Teaching Certificate.

A session from Dr. Theo Bastiaens, Vice-President for Digitalisation and International Affairs, on Instructional Design was informative and discussed many aspects of delivering education. This included discussion of the psychology of learning and major learning theories. The importance of having a learning philosophy was also emphasised during the session. Dr Bastiaens also explained the use of learning patterns, the framework for high-quality distance learning, that the University encourages staff to follow.  One important statement on the use of technological innovations in learning was that “Technology is not a solution – it is a tool to make education easier. This is why instructional design theory is important. It’s all about your approach to teaching and learning.”

Like the University of Portsmouth, the FernUniversität also uses Moodle as its Learning Management System (LMS). A number of presentations during the week highlighted how support staff at the FernUniversität had worked with academic staff to develop their courses on the LMS into high-quality template designs to improve the student experience. A number of courses had been relaunched with a face-lift and with new approaches to maximise learning. Presentations from a number of academic staff highlighted the course design of the online and blended elements. In the Faculty of Law, all courses featured an introductory video from a lecturer. I could see many elements of best practice in the work of colleagues at the University of Portsmouth. The University is also using H5P to develop learning materials on Moodle.

One of the things highlighted was the need to be aware of different academic cultures and allowing academic freedom is important when considering course design and the use of the LMS. For example, the Faculty of Mathematics had a very different approach to the Faculty of Law.  This is something that I’ve been aware of for a long time at the University of Portsmouth but it had not really resonated until hearing it at a different University.

In my final post post I will be reflecting on my experience of undertaking an Erasmus+ Staff Training week and I will also summarise the keynote presentation that concluded the training week.

Image credits: Photographs by James Brand

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