Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Tag: Jisc (Page 1 of 2)

Introduction for Tel Tales

Hi, I’m Chris Wood and I am one of the new eLearning Support Analysts for the Department of Curriculum and Quality Enhancement (DCQE).

In my previous role, I taught Music Technology and Media Studies at Portsmouth College for nearly 12 years. I also lead the College’s 1:1 “creative and curious” iPad project, resulting in Portsmouth College becoming one of only two colleges in the UK to be recognised as an Apple Distinguished School. In 2019, I became an Apple Distinguished Educator – a recognition of how I continued to use Apple technology to transform teaching and learning. This has taken me all over the world and I have met so many amazing friends and colleagues because of this. Over the past few years, I’ve had many incredible opportunities to present my work at worldwide events such as ISTE, Apple Distinguished Schools events, Mobile Learning Conference, JISC, and BETT as well as local education technology events within Portsmouth. 

I have thrived on creating a culture of teaching, learning and innovation. A place where staff and students are risk-takers, sharers of good practice and digital advocates. I believe that providing a safe environment for teachers to share, explore and be brave can lead to incredible moments of learning. Throw Away Your WhiteboardLast year, I released my first book “Throw away your whiteboard”, which documented my journey of switching from a traditional whiteboard to using an iPad, Keynote and an Apple Pencil. This revolutionised the way I taught and more importantly, the way my students learnt.

The book has achieved great success worldwide and has been featured in many online book talks/events. You can download it from Apple Books for free.

I’m hoping that I will be able to bring this experience, passion and innovation into my new role at the University of Portsmouth. 

I believe we are in an exciting time for education, particularly as we emerge from the pandemic. The pandemic has taught us that we can transform education for all and develop new ways of teaching and learning. The modern classroom should no longer consist of rows of desks: technology allows students to design their own learning path and allows educators to push the boundaries of their work by extending the classroom beyond the physical institution. Having supported many teachers throughout the pandemic I strongly believe in the importance of equipping students and staff with the correct tools, resources and training to deliver effective lessons. We still have a lot to learn about the impact the pandemic has had on learning, but I am sure that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will not work. We must adopt a ‘no-one left behind’ approach and offer students differentiated paths to the same outcomes as we move forward into this new normal. 

Outside of work I have played the guitar for over 22 years and also become a successful music producer. I sit on the governing board at Leesland School in Gosport, which is incredibly rewarding and allows me to give back to these amazing schools that I attended as a child. I enjoy days out with my family; taking our whippet “Twiggy” for a walk (although, not when it’s raining as she refuses to go out without a coat!); paddleboarding; snooker; DIY; and getting up at the crack of dawn to chase sunrises.

View of the Solent

If you’d like to connect and share ideas around technology-enhanced learning, I’m always open to talk!  Feel free to connect with me and follow my adventures on Twitter @ChrisWoodTeach 

Chris is based in Mercantile House within the TEL team.

Welcome to the team, Chris!

Guest Blogger: Adrian Sharkey – LinkedIn Learning – Collection and Learning Paths

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning contains over 40,000 courses on technical, business and creative skills and is free to all University of Portsmouth students and staff. Many of the courses will map directly to studies, others will be on tools such as Autocad, MatLab or SPSS which are essential for study. The courses on a wide range of business skills can be used by staff for CPD and students for employability skills.

Collections and Learning Paths

With that amount of courses in the library, searching for exactly what is relevant or required can sometimes seem daunting. LinkedIn Learning will offer recommendations based on the skills and interests you have setup as part of your profile. If you’ve connected a personal LinkedIn account to your University LinkedIn Learning, you will also get recommendations based on your professional network. One way to organise courses is to use personal collections and learning paths. Everyone can create these, collections work for a group of courses or videos related to one particular topic or skill, learning paths when you want to work through courses in a particular order, building skills and knowledge. If you create personal collections and learning paths you can share a link to them so others users can access them.

With Admin access however, it is possible to create ‘University of Portsmouth’ collections and learning paths centrally. You’ll see these in LinkedIn Learning in the main library, under the browse button. As well as being available here and shareable via a single sign on link they can be recommended directly to users.

Custom Content

Another advantage of Admin access is that you have the ability to upload custom content into the University of Portsmouth LinkedIn Learning platform. These can be videos, PDFs, PowerPoints, links, pretty much any type of file. It means you can then create collections and learning paths with a mixture of LinkedIn Learning content with bespoke University content alongside it. Great if you want some specific explanation or demonstration alongside the expert industry standard content provided by LinkedIn Learning.

LinkedIn Learning Mapping Service

LinkedIn Learning provides a mapping service where they map their content against a list of competencies or skills in a particular area. We have done this for a number of areas: the CCI Placements team created a learning path based on competencies students need for finding a placement, a similar exercise was done for the student sports club committees. LinkedIn also provide mapping against frameworks used in Higher Education, such as the Jisc Digital Capability Framework and the framework for Researcher Development and Doctoral Skills. As well as this LinkedIn have developed course mapping against the range of activities for a typical university, things like teaching skills, skills for student success, professional development, project management and many other areas.

Next Steps

Have a go at creating your own collections or learning paths or using some of the ones set up by Linkedin Learning. If you think you could benefit from the Admin access and you want to create collections and learning for groups of students or staff contact for further help. Let us know also if you’d like to take advantage of the mapping service and get LinkedIn Learning content mapped to specific skills and competencies for your areas. Lastly check out the Linkedin Learning landing page and the collections and learning paths created by University colleagues.

For further reading on Linkedin Learning, then check out these previous posts:

LinkedIn Learning – Change

Guest Blogger: Adrian Sharkey – University of Portsmouth LinkedIn Seminar

Guest Blogger: Adrian Sharkey – Goodbye Lynda, hello LinkedIn Learning

Guest Blogger: Adrian Sharkey – Digital Capability Discovery Tool

Adrian Sharkey: @adrianjsharkey

Some comments on “The future of assessment”

The Curriculum Framework Specification document, which provides detailed precepts and guidance for the design, development and review of all new courses at the University, contains UoP’s policy on assessment. The policy’s authors made a conscious choice to call it an Assessment For Learning Policy: the policy advocates assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning. As the policy states, assessment for learning enables a culture in which: 

  • students receive feedback from academics and peers that helps them to improve their work prior to final/summative assessments; 
  • students understand what successful work looks like for each task they are doing; 
  • students become more independent in their learning, taking part in peer and self-assessment; 
  • formative assessment is, where possible, aligned to the module summative assessment, in order to facilitate cyclical feedback opportunities which will clarify expectations and standards for the summative assignment (e.g. the student’s exam or portfolio submission).

As the University considers how to implement its new five-year strategy, however, and how to meet its ambitious vision for 2030, might we need to rethink assessment? Not rethink the approach of assessing for learning, but look again at some of the details of how we assess?

The changing nature of assessment over the coming five-year period happens to be the subject of a recent publication from JISC: The Future of Assessment: Five Principles, Five Targets for 2025. This report, the output of a day-long meeting held in 2019, identifies five key aspects of assessment and the role that technology can play. The report argues that assessment should be (in alphabetical order, not order of importance):

  • Accessible – taking an inclusive approach to assessment is the ethical thing to do, of course, but we now have a legal requirement to meet certain accessibility standards. Digital technology can certainly help with accessibility. Contact DCQE if you would like further advice in this area. 
  • Appropriately automated – it hardly needs to be said that marking and feedback, although crucial elements of the assessment process, is time consuming. Technology can help here, too. Technology can be used to automate the process and, if the assessment has been properly designed, students get the benefit of immediate feedback. Technology might also be used to improve the quality of feedback: in this regard TEL is currently exploring the Edword platform.   
  • Authentic – this is, I believe, a key area for the University to develop. How does it benefit students to make them sit down for three hours and hand write an essay under exam conditions? This doesn’t prepare them for the world beyond university. Surely it’s better to assess students’ ability to work in teams; display their knowledge in a realistic setting; use the digital skills they will undoubtedly need in the workplace?  
  • Continuous – in order to be successful in their chosen careers, our students will need to keep up with changes wrought by technology. So perhaps the most important skill we can teach our students is how to be independent, self-directed learners. An over-reliance on high-stakes, summative exams does not help. Of particular interest to me, in the JISC report, was the mention of using AI to personalise learning and assessment: the technology is not there yet, but it might come in the next few years. 
  • Secure – if we are going to assess a student then we need to know we are assessing the right student! For a long time the focus in HE has been on detecting and deterring plagiarism. Nowadays, though, we also face the threat of essay mills and contract cheating. Once again technology can play a role: data forensics, stylistic analysis tools and online proctoring platforms can help tackle the problem. Such tools are best used, however, in a culture that promotes academic integrity: we should use technology to help promote a sense of academic community rather than to “catch the bad guys”.

The five principles identified by the JISC working group seem to me to be realistic and practical. They are also, if I’m being honest, slightly unambitious. I think mixed-reality technology, for example, opens up many opportunities to develop assessment for learning. But perhaps that is more for a 2030 vision than a 2025 strategy.   

Credit Image:

Guest Blogger: Adrian Sharkey – Goodbye Lynda, hello LinkedIn Learning

Two years ago the University implemented, an online library containing over 14,000 courses on business, technical and creative skills. Over 7,500 staff and students have taken advantage of around 19,000 hours of learning and nearly 280,000 individual videos. Sadly, however, from August Lynda is no more.

Fortunately, none of the great content accessed by staff and students is going. It is simply being moved to a new platform – LinkedIn Learning. This has a lot of new features and advantages, which will be outlined in further communication. Before seeing LinkedIn Learning though, it is worth having a look at some of Lynda’s greatest hits.

Top Courses

For the whole University, Excel Essentials comes out on top of the most viewed courses. This is followed by programming courses, which make up a few in the top 10. The trend in the most-used courses is for programming and understanding data, although it’s good to see skills like Critical Thinking and Project Management featuring. The skills that are in demand mirror the skills that universities should be developing in students and staff around Digital Capability. For more information on the Jisc Digital Capability Framework, and to help students or staff get a tailored report on their own strengths and weaknesses, check out the Digital Capability Discovery Tool.

Use By Faculty

All Faculties have adopted the use of Lynda, but usage is highest where the content relates directly to taught courses. 

In Technology and CCI many courses relate to specialist software such as AutoCAD, design, animation or programming – skills directly related to the type of courses taught.

Lynda contains a big section of courses on Business skills, so Business and Law can take advantage of the range of Marketing courses. 

Usage in Humanities is quite a bit less, but students are using the courses for applications such as G-suite and SPSS. One way to encourage usage would be to tailor playlists around the kind of skills students need for study and employability, link them to course Moodle pages so they’re readily available. This is something the IT Training team can help with.

Total number of courses taken per faculty


Excel 2016 Essential Training

Advanced Grammar

Creating and Giving Business Presentations


3DS Max 2018 Essential Training

Cert Prep: Adobe Certified

Associate – Photoshop (2017) Learning Design Research


Google Drive/Docs/Slides

Word 2016 Essential Training

SPSS for Academic Research


AutoCAD 2019 Essential Training

ArcGIS Pro Essential Training

Programming Foundations:Fundamentals


Synchro Essential Training

Xcode9 Essential Training

ArchiCAD Essential Training

Mini Case Studies

Nadim Bhakshov, Teaching Fellow, School of Computing

Nadim has, for some time, looked at alternatives to the classic textbook. A well written textbook – as we all know – is a huge benefit to teaching complex material. For a few years now Nadim has been experimenting with Lynda. He has offered students the occasional supplementary video from Lynda to support his teaching. This year, however, he decided to find some learning paths and courses on Lynda and provide parallel material for students.The idea was to use Lynda as a supplement to provide another perspective to what was being taught in lectures and practicals. 

After spending more time looking at Lynda, listening to student feedback and looking to establish better integration, Nadim is now working on the ‘alternative to a textbook’ approach more seriously. Next year, he hopes to replace the classic textbook with learning paths and courses from Lynda and use Lynda in his own teaching. 

Lee Woods, Associate Dean (Students), Faculty of Technology

In the Faculty of Technology, Lynda links have been embedded in Moodle for student induction and the U/F students. In the School of Civil Engineering and Surveying, all courses have AutoCAD and technical drawing resources embedded into the appropriate Moodle Units.

Lee has used Lynda videos directly in the teaching of his units, International Built Environment Fieldwork (IBEF) and Transportation Engineering. There are a series of videos on Lynda around urban planning. Lee has played sections of these in lectures as a teaching aid. Part of the IBEF unit is a field trip to Copenhagen, and there is a video in Lynda, part of the Urbanised course that directly relates to the trip.

Sarah Harris and Emily Parry, Business & Law and Technology Placement Offices

Sarah used Lynda to point students in the right direction for resources to help with skills for placement interviews and assessment centres. Lynda was also used throughout the year to help students build confidence in their abilities. Emily embedded links to Lynda on their Moodle page emphasising employability and soft skills generally. Specific links were added for GDPR, Excel, communication skills and email communication.

The Lynda resources were also used to support and consolidate learning from the Excel trainer led sessions that Sarah and Emily arranged for their students.

Images of a computer screen, a tablet and two different sizes of mobile phones

LinkedIn Learning Upgrade

The upgrade to LinkedIn Learning from Lynda is planned to take place on August 1st. The content is the same as Lynda but it offers a new interface and range of new features, making learning more personalised and relevant to your study or work. There will be an option to connect a personal LinkedIn account with LinkedIn Learning – this means that learning history acquired at the University can be kept on the personal account, even when students or staff leave. Another advantage would be the more personalised recommendations based on the skills from the LinkedIn account. The only information the University will see from a personal LinkedIn account will be the profile picture. The alternative is just to choose not to connect and use LinkedIn Learning in exactly the same way as Lynda has been used up until now.

There will be more communications on LinkedIn Learning and all its features. In the meantime, keep an eye on and the Myport article to stay up to date.

Image Credit: supplied by LinkedIn


Software developers and user interface designers often use storytelling techniques to help them make sense of different features of their system and to help them communicate and explain their work to others. Software developers, for example, write “user stories”: descriptions of system features written from the perspective of an end user of the system. User interface designers often develop “personas” – a written description of a fictional character who represents a particular type of end user.

Jisc, in trying to understand what Education 4.0 might mean, have adopted a similar approach. They have created a fictional character, called Natalie_4.0, who represents a student taking a university course in geography in October 2029. What might a typical study day look like for Natalie_4.0? What opportunities will technology open up for her? By writing a story – “A day in the life of Natalie_4.0” – we can try to get a feel for what the future of educational might be like. Our story would not say that is is how education will turn out; but it can say how education might turn out.    

The twist here is that Jisc have written Natalie’s story not in the form of a written story, as is usual in the software development and UI world, but in the form of a virtual reality experience. I checked out the Natalie_4.0 VR experience at the recent Digifest conference. So – what was it like?

Well, the first thing to say is that the VR technology itself is improving at a rapid rate. Increasing numbers of VR content developers are entering the market and the hardware is getting cheaper and better. The Natalie_4.0 VR experience itself builds on this foundation: it is immersive, and while you are sharing Natalie’s day it is easy to imagine how VR technology could have real educational benefits. (Personally, I don’t believe that those benefits extend to all subject areas. Indeed, in many cases I believe the introduction of VR would be detrimental – it would be a gimmick. Nevertheless, in some niche areas I can see how VR could deliver tremendous benefits.)   

But what about the story itself? Does Natalie_4.0 provide a reasonable guess as to what the student of 2029 might experience? Well, of course we won’t know definitively for another ten years. But for what it’s worth I believe that some guesses will likely prove accurate; others won’t.

The influence of AI on daily life is one aspect of Natalie_4.0 that will, I think, come to pass. The story suggests that Natalie will have access to a personal AI that will help her throughout her day – in her learning as well as in her everyday life. But other aspects of the story seemed to me less convincing. For example, Natalie’s AI organises a live feedback session with her (human) tutor. Well, it will be terrific if turns out that every student has access to a personal tutor; if every student can sit down with a teacher and have a one-on-one session to discuss a piece of work. But how is such a thing possible in a mass education system? Most universities can’t offer that luxury now – why should that change in the future? (It might be that Jisc have underestimated the rate of progress of artificial intelligence; perhaps Natalie’s personal AI will be able to play the role of tutor as well as general assistant?)  

Another AI-related thought struck me as I sat through Natalie_4.0. In the feedback session mentioned above, the tutor uses some gee-whiz technology to provide feedback on … a written essay. Well, technology has already reached the stage where an AI can generate reasonable text in a variety of styles; in ten years time I’m sure Natalie would be able to get an AI system to write an essay for her. (Who knows. Perhaps AI systems will be able to mark essays. Why not cut out the middle-man and have an AI write an essay and a different AI mark it! All untouched by human hands!) In such a world, authentic forms of assessment will become crucial: tutors will need to assess skills that are uniquely human – judgement, creativity, leadership, teamwork, communication. That is the main thing I took from the Natalie_4.0 experience.

Image credits: Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Digifest 2019

Jisc’s Digifest is my favourite educational technology conference. Spread over two days at Birmingham’s International Conference Centre it’s an ideal opportunity to meet practitioners from other institutions and this can be nearly as useful as the set programme of talks and presentations themselves. This year the focus was on practical ideas that can be taken back to the classroom or lecture theatre. To this end, I attended sessions on the use of video.

The first session, “How digital video innovates pedagogical methods”, was run by learning technologists from Havant and Southdowns College and looked at how staff and students have used video for both formative and summative assessment. Together, the technologists have worked on around 200 videos, some produced by the students themselves. It was clear that the use of video has had a significant impact on teaching and learning at the College. While claims about improved student attainment and retention lacked supporting data, feedback from both staff and students did indicate improvement in student engagement and achievement.

The importance of video in teaching and learning was also the theme of a presentation by Dominik Lukes’  (Learning Technologist, University of Oxford). In his presentation, titled “How YouTube started a revolution in learning and nobody noticed”, Dominik argued that the role of video in teaching and learning can only expand and provided this example of the power of video as a learning tool. Whilst I’m not entirely convinced by the claim that ‘video is the future’, both Dominik’s and the Havant College presentations did illustrate the usefulness and power of video if used properly. Both presentations also highlighted the ease of using YouTube as the delivery platform especially given the automatic subtitles function. It would be interesting to find out more about what students think of video as a learning tool and the extent to which benefits outweigh costs (in terms of time primarily) but from personal experience, I think a lot more use could be made of YouTube in teaching and learning.

Of the panel discussions I sat in on, the most interesting was “Listening to teachers: implications for education and digital“ The discussion was based on a piece of research by anthropologist Donna Lanclos and others the findings of which can be downloaded here. The research consisted of interviewing teachers in both the HE and FE sector with the aim “to uncover what next generation digital learning environments might look like”. Their report also came up with a series of recommendations which are well worth reading.

I was particularly interested in how terminology was being used. Many years ago when I was a student we went to lectures delivered by lecturers, in this discussion it was about “teachers” facilitating and delivering learning. This change in emphasis – teaching rather than lecturing – is something, I assume, that will become more ubiquitous given the introduction of the TEF in 2017. A number of thought provoking issues came out of the discussion not necessarily related directly to technology. For example, to provide effective holistic support to students takes time, which is one resource most staff are short of. This issue links nicely to a presentation I saw by Bolton College on the use of chatbots. But more on that in my next blog along with a look at Snatchbot!


Education 4.0

On 5 February a group of us met with representatives from Jisc. The main focus of the meeting was to discuss the Jisc Digital Insights service (which allows institutions to better understand the digital experience of staff and students) and the Jisc Discoverer service (which allows staff and students to reflect on their digital capability and, where necessary, access relevant support material). Future blog posts will talk more about how to access these services. In this post, I’d like to reflect briefly on a comment made during the meeting by Stuart Masters, Jisc’s Chief Technology Officer. Steve mentioned that one important focus for him, and for Jisc as an organisation, is to understand what “Education 4.0” might look like.    

You will probably have heard of the phrase “Industry 4.0” – or the closely related phrase “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. This idea refers to a gathering of emerging technologies – AI, biotechnology, cloud computing, internet of things, nanotechnology, quantum computing, robotics, 3D printing, 5G wireless – that blur the distinction between the physical, digital and biological. (For reference, the First Industrial Revolution occurred in the 18th/19th centuries and involved the development of the iron and textile industries, plus steam power; society began to shift from rural to urban, agrarian to industrial. The Second Industrial Revolution is often dated 1870–1914, and saw the creation of new industries – oil, steel, electricity – and the rise of mass production. The Third Industrial Revolution – the change from analog to digital devices – began in the 1980s and we are still living through its consequences.) Some of you, no doubt, will feel there is an element of hype to the phrase “Industry 4.0”; after all, how many times has “the next big thing” turned out to be an unusable piece of kit that people use briefly then throw away once the novelty has worn off? This time, though, there really are indications that this fusion of new technological developments – the Fourth Industrial Revolution – will alter society and the world of work.

If that is the case, how should universities respond? Jisc’s suggestion is that, in order to prepare students for a world transformed by Industry 4.0, we need to be thinking about Education 4.0. That’s fine – but what should Education 4.0 look like?

In a recent blog post on this subject, Sarah Davies of Jisc looked at some tentative steps towards Education 4.0 being taken by institutions. Ensuring that students have strong digital capabilities will of course be important (and, as mentioned above, a future post will discuss work taking place here at Portsmouth in this area) but Sarah also mentioned the importance of:

  • rethinking staff and student roles;
  • reimagining learning environments;
  • giving students the opportunity to create and communicate knowledge; and
  • focusing on student wellbeing.

These are all topics that we might well want to consider in Education 4.0, but Sarah also posts a link to a presentation by Martin Hamilton (Jisc’s resident futurist) to the Education Select Committee Inquiry on Industry 4.0. In that presentation, Martin pointed out that 33% of Key Stage Two pupils fail to meet expected standards of literacy and numeracy; 66% of secondary schools have inadequate digital infrastructure. Delivering Education 4.0 will be made even harder if we can’t even get the basics right.

It’s an interesting question, though. What do you think Education 4.0 should look like?  

Feature image title: Industry_4.0.png by Christoph Roser is licensed under CC BY2.0


Guest Blogger: Adrian Sharkey – Digital Capability Discovery Tool

The Digital Capability Discovery Tool is an empowering first step for students and staff to self-assess their digital capabilities and to identify current strengths and areas of development.

What is Digital Capability? 

DIgital capabilities are defined by Jisc as ‘those that fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society’. Digital capabilities are more important than ever: they are essential requirements for employability in a digital economy.

According to Jisc’s Digital experience insights survey 2018, only 41% of UK students felt that their course prepared them for the digital workplace. Everyone should be looking to continuously develop these skills and reflect on their own digital capability.

Using the Digital Capability Discovery Tool

Staff and students are encouraged to use the Discovery Tool to self-assess their digital capabilities. For staff, the tool could potentially be used to inform the PDR process. For students, there would be benefit to discussing the results in personal tutoring sessions.

When you log into the Discovery Tool for the first time you will be asked about your role at the University – there are different question sets for new students, current students, teaching staff, and library and learning support staff. It may be that the options don’t fit your role exactly – just choose the nearest match.

Upon completing the questionnaire you will receive a confidential, personalised report showing your results in each area of digital capability and with links to high-quality, tailored resources.

All responses are confidential, so tutors and managers do not have access to them. The University does, however, have access to aggregated, anonymised data – which will help us identify gaps in our digital learning support and improve our provision for both students and staff. This is yet another reason that everyone – staff and students – are encouraged to complete the survey!

Logging on and further support

IS and DCQE provide sessions for staff to find out about digital capabilities in general, and about the Discovery Tool and how to use it. In these sessions we also discuss how to use the Tool with students and colleagues.

For further information, and to access the Tool, go to

Digital Experience Insights – a community of practice

I gave a talk on 14 November at the launch of JISC’s new Community of Practice in Digital Experience Insights. The JISC Insights service builds on their work with the Student Tracker – a survey of students’ experience of the digital environment. Portsmouth, as one of the initial pilot institutions for the Tracker, has more experience than most in using insights gained from the student survey.  

One of the key take-home messages from the event, at least for me, was that the issues we are grappling with here at Portsmouth are exactly the same issues with which other institutions are grappling. The event also provided a valuable sanity-check: the approaches we are taking are the same approaches that others are either taking, planning to take, or would like to take!

The graphic below shows one example of how the student digital experience at Portsmouth is not dissimilar to the student experience elsewhere. Students were asked to name an app they found particularly useful. The word cloud on the left shows the national response. Once the various types of VLE (Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas) are combined, the three most popular apps are: VLE, Google, YouTube. The word cloud on the right shows the Portsmouth response. The three most popular apps are: VLE, Google, YouTube. It’s the smaller words that carry the institutional flavour – and I think Portsmouth does extremely well in this regard; 93% of our students rate our digital provision as good or better.

Speech Bubbles

Helen Beetham gave one of the most interesting talks of the day. Helen gave an overview of a pilot into the digital experience of teaching staff. There were insufficient responses to publish statistically robust findings, but there were some interesting titbits in there. For example, students are much more positive than teachers about the digital environment. Is this because teachers are more critical? Or perhaps they have higher expectations of what a digital environment should look like? On the other hand, teachers are much more likely than students to want more digital technology in their courses. Are students more conservative when it comes to expectations around learning and teaching?

The majority of responders to the staff survey identified themselves as early adopters – and yet about 50% never search online for resources; 84% of them are unsure of their responsibilities in relation to assistive technologies; 81% are uncertain when it comes to dealing with their own health and well-being in a digital environment; and 13% never update their digital skills. By far the biggest problem staff face in improving their digital teaching is – of course – lack of time to do so.

For the past three years Portsmouth has sought to understand the student experience of the digital environment, and we plan to run the JISC insight service for a fourth year. But we could build a much richer picture by asking teaching staff as well as students. So this year we plan to run the staff-facing digital insights survey. More details to follow in 2019! 

Credit image: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

A VLE without a screen?

Staff use Moodle to upload learning resources, post and mark assignments, and set quizzes. Students use Moodle to access learning resources, submit assignments and take quizzes. And, of course, there are other activities that take place on Moodle – discussions, forums, wikis, and so on. It goes without saying that all of these activities involve a screen of some sort, whether a computer screen, tablet screen or phone screen. Can we imagine a VLE without a screen?

That question had never crossed my mind, but then I saw a recent edtech challenge from JISC. They are looking for ideas that can help them address the next big edtech challenges in education and research, and one of their key themes is: what might the future VLE look like? In particular, right now, they are asking: what a VLE might look like if the interface were something other than a screen?

If you have sensible answer to that question – from the perspective of either a teacher or a student – then you might want to submit your idea to the JISC challenge. Describe your idea in 1000 words or less, along with a design overview (in appropriate media) and a vision for how your idea would benefit users, and you stand to win £1000 (for best idea), £250 (for one of two runner-up ideas), or being showcased at Digifest 2019 (the top ten ideas).

Further information can be found on the JISC edtech challenge page. Closing date is 3 January 2019 – so get thinking!

Feature image title:  Man trying on VR Headset by Maurizio Pesce is licensed under CC-BY 2.0 on Flickr

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