Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Tag: student (Page 1 of 5)

WiseFlow ePortfolio – Unlocking the power of WiseFlow: Transforming ePortfolio assessments

In the digital age, traditional paper-based portfolios have given way to ePortfolios, harnessing a powerful way to showcase a student’s work that demonstrates their learning, progress, reflections and achievements, over a period of time. ePortfolios are increasingly becoming popular in education as they offer several benefits to both students and academics.

For students, ePortfolios provide an adaptable platform to showcase their learning journey, including their best work and reflections on when it didn’t go quite to plan, and draw on evidence from a range of sources whether that be PDFs, images, videos, audio snippets or written text. This process helps students develop their metacognitive skills and self-awareness as learners over a period of time.  Academics, on the other hand, can use ePortfolios to assess students’ learning outcomes in a more comprehensive and authentic manner. In turn, this allows academics to gain insights into students’ thought processes, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and provide targeted feedback. Additionally, ePortfolios allow academics to track students’ progress and provide evidence of their achievements.

Using ePortfolios also builds several skills, including digital literacy, communication and critical thinking – all of which are vital in the modern workplace. Students have to select, curate, and present their work in a clear and engaging manner. They also have to reflect on their learning process and map this to learning outcomes. These skills are crucial for success in the modern workplace, where digital communication and collaboration are essential. With a background in teaching vocational courses for 12 years at Further Education level, I’ve seen first-hand the impact and outcomes of effective ePortfolio use for both students and academics. 

At Portsmouth University, we have struggled to find a solid ePortfolio solution. We currently use a popular open-source ePortfolio platform that allows students to create and share their digital portfolios. While the platform has several benefits, including flexibility, customizability, and integration with other systems, it also faces some challenges. One major issue is its user interface, which can be overwhelming and confusing for some users – particularly in the setup stage of having to import the portfolio into your own profile. This process often leads to a lot of technical issues and puts up an immediate barrier to entry for those not tech-savvy. Additionally, the learning curve for using the platform can be steep, and it may take some time for users to become familiar with all the features and functionalities. However, despite these challenges, academics and students value the use of the ePortfolio system on offer and the benefits this provides.  

We are currently coming towards the end of our first stage of a pilot with a new system: WiseFlow. This is a cloud-based digital end-to-end exam and assessment platform that supports the assessment and feedback lifecycle for students, assessors and administrators. It’s fair to say that staff feedback about the WiseFlow pilot has been overwhelmingly positive. As a core project team, we’ve had the pleasure of working with academic teams to support students with innovative assessments in Wiseflow, across a range of disciplines. This all links to our Digital Success Plan to (re)design robust assessments to meet the needs of the diverse student population within a blended and connected setting and incorporate a robust specialist end-to-end assessment platform. Our aims in the project were to make it easier for academics to design assessments, easier for students to find their assessments and feedback, and reduce the manual workaround assessments for academics and support staff.  All of which, WiseFlow seems to have been able to deliver. 

Within the pilot, we wanted to really push the boundaries of WiseFlow – utilising a wide range of assessment types to really test if WiseFlow can become the go-to platform for assessments at Portsmouth University.  One of the big challenges for us was to find an ePortfolio solution that is user-friendly, and adaptable across a range of disciplines as well as providing a versatile feedback loop where students could receive formative feedback on their work from assessors and develop ideas, prior to final submission. After challenging the team at WiseFlow to this – they came back with a solution. Block arrows showing the timeline of a flow ePortfolio for Online Course Developers, eLearn Team, Students and Academics

Traditionally, a FlowMulti (just one of the many ‘flow types’ WiseFlow offers for assessment) would be used for open/closed book multiple-choice exams, where the participants fill out a provided multiple-choice test.  However, the team at WiseFlow suggested we could utilise this functionality to use as a bespoke ePortfolio solution.

Using a FlowMulti allowed us to replicate the layout and design of current ePortfolios as well as allow us to adapt the setup to truly take ePortfolios to the next level. To create the feedback loop, we allowed assessors early access to the work, early release of feedback to students, and students to submit unlimited times before the deadline.  The portfolios could be easily updated year-on-year, were inviting for students to engage with, and could be authored by multiple academics at the same time. This seemed like the perfect solution.  

After testing, adapting and re-testing, we felt this solution offered a totally new level of ePortfolio to our current offering. The ability to re-purpose traditional multiple-choice questions allowed us to push the boundaries of assessment further, like never before. The only limitation is our own creativity to adapt and repurpose these. We put together a showcase of a PGCert portfolio to show our academics the findings, who immediately fell in love with the platform and we started working together to develop a portfolio to run within the pilot.

“As a course team, we are incredibly excited about the flexibility that the Wiseflow ePortfolio has to offer. Working with the project team we have been able to design a summative assessment vehicle which is both intuitive for learners and versatile enough to encompass a broad range of tools which enable the course Learning Outcomes to be demonstrated in an engaging and meaningful way.”  Dr Joanne Brindley, Academic Practice Lead & Senior Lecturer in Higher Education.

A screenshot of an image taken from a computer of the page that the participant will see asking them to reflect on their skills. A screenshot of an image taken from a computer of the page that the participant will see. The image is of empty drop box for the participant to upload their activity into it. A screenshot of an image taken from a computer of the page that the participant will see asking them to type up a reflective statement on the using of Technology to support learning.

We are now in the “participation” phase of two ePortfolios – one for the Research Informed Teaching module and one for the new Level 7 Teach Well: Principles to Practice professional development module.  We have had great experiences re-designing pre-existing portfolios to really push the boundaries of what is possible in WiseFlow. We’ve added interactive elements, by turning traditional questions and approaches on their head – such as using a histogram for reflection, allowing students to visually reflect on skillsets pre- and post-observation. We’ve provided students freedom of choice with assessment by integrating a voice recorder into the portfolio and also utilising existing platforms to integrate into the WiseFlow portfolio. Really, the only limitation is our own imagination.  

“We teach the PG Cert Higher Education so our students are staff. The platform is incredibly user-friendly for both staff and students. We used it for ePortfolio as the last platform created lots of complaints, whereas this platform has led to lots of compliments.  The staff members spoke highly of the platform and I believe, many have asked to be part of the pilot next year due to their positive experience.”  Tom Lowe, Senior Lecturer in Higher Education

There has been overwhelmingly positive feedback from academics and students regarding the usability and functionality of using WiseFlow as an ePortfolio solution.  Through word of mouth and firsthand experiences from early career academics, particularly those who are studying on the Research Informed Teaching module, the platform’s potential in enhancing their own teaching has become widely recognized.  I remember being invited to one of Tom’s lectures to showcase the platform to his students who would be using it and the response was overwhelming. Staff were excited to use this as students and saw the immediate potential for their own teaching. It is always a good sign of a new innovation when there is an immediate benefit to both staff and students that can be applied instantly in the classroom. Essentially, we now have a waiting list for academics who are wanting to work with us to develop ePortfolios in WiseFlow – with no advertising at all and purely from those who have used it as students. We believe that when this is advertised, we will see a huge influx of academics wanting to use this. We have also spoken to other Universities in WiseFlow user groups, who are actively keen to explore this and want to learn about our innovative approach. The potential of this solution is game-changing, not just for us, but for other Higher Education institutions. 

However, using an innovative approach and essentially turning a quiz assignment on its head does not come without some drawbacks that need to be considered before academics embark on an ePortfolio solution within WiseFlow.  There is currently a 12-file limit, set at 10Mb per file when students upload files into the portfolio. Although it is great that students can do this, it does not lend itself to modern file sizes or some of our subject areas (for example, our Creative and Cultural Industry Faculty, where students would regularly upload large .psd, CAD files, HD video, and high-quality audio etc). In our initial pilot, we haven’t encountered this issue – but it’s worth considering if this is the correct way to proceed with an assessment. The limit on the number of files is also a concern. For example, some students in our pilot have reached the 12-file upload limit. While there are workarounds, such as storing files in a Google Drive folder and sharing the link or combining multiple files into one, however, it defeats the purpose of an ePortfolio as an all-encompassing system. Perhaps, a better approach would be to have an upload limit as a whole, with a defined combined file size.  The final consideration to make is that once the ePortfolio is live, we cannot make changes.  We’ve worked extensively with academics and our support teams to iron out any issues prior to release, but again, this is important for academics to understand. Careful planning and consideration must take place in the authoring phase of an assignment, which will then be rigorously checked prior to release – in the same way an exam would. Despite these setbacks, we’re actively in discussions with WiseFlow regarding developing this and hope to make progress on these in the near future. 

The future of ePortfolios in WiseFlow is exciting, and we can’t wait to see how they will continue to be developed across the University. The ability to adapt and transform ePortfolios will open up new doors for our students and academics to really develop the ways in which students can showcase their knowledge and understanding. We’re hoping for a successful run of ePortfolio use within our pilot and looking forward to developing new ideas as we move into the future.  

Until next time. Watch this space.

Chris.

RIDE 2023 – Sustaining Innovation: Research and Practice

The Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE) is a University of London initiative focusing on research, training, capacity building, and strategy and policy development to support innovation in online and distance education. On 28 and 29 March 2023, CODE held its 17th annual conference – a hybrid in-person and online event – on Research in Distance Education (RIDE). The theme of RIDE 2023 was sustaining innovation and sustainable practices.

Here are a half-dozen of my personal highlights and takeaways from the conference:

Photo of the outside of Senate House in London. A grey imposing Art Deco building.

Senate House London

  1. In-person conferences are better than virtual conferences. Last week I met someone from my undergraduate days, a person I hadn’t seen in four decades. And I caught up with a colleague from the early days of the TEL team, who is now working in London. (It’s remarkable how many Portsmouth EdTech people seem to have ended up in London!) It was great to reminisce and to hear what is new. These interactions I guess might have happened online, but I doubt it.
  2. Hybrid conferences are hard to get right. The Senate House was constructed in the 1930s, and it is simply not set up to handle a hybrid conference. The organisers did their best to ensure that in-person and online participants enjoyed an equivalent experience, but the limitations of the technology and the physical spaces in the building made it difficult. I can understand why conference organisers want to run hybrid events (and why teachers want to run hybrid lectures) but these are hard things to get right. I have attended many excellent online conferences, and many excellent in-person conferences, but I cannot recall a hybrid event that has ever worked seamlessly.
  3. The sector is continuing to debate and think-through the opportunities and threats posed by generative AI. Professor Mike Sharples, from the OU, delivered an excellent keynote address. He noted that he had given the talk several times recently, and each time he had to update it: developments in this field are currently happening on a weekly basis. (It was also interesting to learn that Mike began research into AI and education during his PhD – about 40 years ago!)
  4. The concentration on sustainability provided an interesting lens through which to view our practice. One session looked at the move from in-person, paper-based exams to online exams. The claim was that this was a much more environmentally friendly approach to distance education. That might be so – but a full accounting was not given of the environmental costs of online. A lot more research is needed.
  5. The University of London Worldwide is experimenting with AI tutors. The intention is not to replace human tutors with AI tutors but to see whether this technology can help provide some elements of a personalised education at scale. They are just at the start of this project – it will be interesting to see how it develops.

Credit Image: Photo by Open Journey

Introduction for Tel Tales – Beth Hallissey

Hi, I’m Beth. I have just started in the TEL Team within DCQE. I’m based at Mercantile House where I already have a reputation for wearing flashy shoes from my extensive collection! I work Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for TEL, and on Mondays and Tuesdays, I work next door at the Dental Academy next door as a Teaching Fellow. I moved to Portsmouth recently so I’m still getting my bearings and exploring the area. So if anyone has any recommendations (particularly food), please let me know!

My career had a bumpy start; I went to Drama School aiming for a degree in Stage Management and dropped out after 2 years. I then worked at a school as a Design and Technology Technician before going for an apprenticeship in Dental Nursing. Dentistry isn’t a field I ever thought about; even in the interview when they asked what experience I had, I told them I had “Dentist Barbie” as a child. I now owe my career to Dentist Barbie because I got the job, and keep a “mint in box” version of her at home.

After a couple of years in practice, I got a job at Plymouth University doing clinical demonstrations and a bit of teaching in their Dental Simulation sites. After nearly 8 years, I had become Senior Technician for Dentistry, I had an honorary contract with the National Examining Board for Dental Nurses as one of their OSCE examiners, and would support the British Antarctic Survey, training doctors in Dentistry. I’m very passionate about EDI; I was Co-Chair of their LGBT+ Staff Network and a regular guest speaker on their Springboard programme.

As you can imagine, I have a big interest in simulation technology. I have created some training resources using 3D Printing including my own “Dexterity Block” for students to develop practical skills, which has been successfully used in education over the last few years. My work has been featured on the front cover of Dental Update, and I have helped design programs for Haptic Simulators that have been used around the world. I’m really looking forward to playing with all the new tech Portsmouth has to offer!

I feel my role in TEL will complement my teaching role over at the Dental Academy really well. I’m also looking to do the HEA Fellowship in the future. I’m a big fan of Moodle and have used it previously. I think it’s utilised really well here by being integrated with so many apps, so I’m keen to be involved with it. I’m interested in Gamification and its impact on student progression. I think technology is so important in education, even more so now in a post-pandemic world. Students are incredibly lucky to have a range of accessible resources to suit various learning styles and keep them engaged. Perhaps I would have done better at school if I’d had access to what they have…

Image of Beth holding her pet African Pygmy Hedgehog named Chorge.Outside work, I dedicate my time to being a massive nerd. I spend probably far too much time gaming and building Lego than the average adult should, but I have no plans to grow up just yet! (I stillneed to get Lego Optimus Prime). I love music but it’s been many years since I picked up a guitar. Instead, I have been a local radio DJ, creating music quizzes and playing everything from Abba to Zappa. Most importantly, I have a pet African Pygmy Hedgehog named Chorge!

TEL in ’22 – and looking forward to ’23

(Co-writer: ChatGPT)

In 2022 the TEL team said “goodbye” to some valued colleagues, who moved to take up different roles within the University, and we said “hello” to new colleagues who joined us. Chris, Jo, and Mike have already introduced themselves on TEL Tales, so I would like to use this end-of-year post to discuss a couple of work-related highlights: our implementation of Moodle 4.0 and, regarding the key area of assessment and feedback, our pilot of the WiseFlow end-to-end assessment platform.

Moodle 4.0

Moodle 4.0 is the latest version of the Moodle learning management system, and it includes many new features and improvements that aim to enhance the user experience and support better learning outcomes. Some of the key improvements in Moodle 4.0 include:

  • A new and improved user interface: Moodle 4.0 features a redesigned and modern user interface that is more intuitive and user-friendly, and that provides easy access to the most important features and functions.
  • Enhanced learning analytics and reporting: Moodle 4.0 includes improved learning analytics and reporting tools that provide teachers with more detailed and actionable insights on students’ learning, allowing them to track their progress and identify areas for improvement.
  • Improved accessibility and support for mobile devices: Moodle 4.0 has been designed to be more accessible and user-friendly for users with disabilities, and it includes support for mobile devices, allowing students to access their learning materials and activities on the go.
  • More options for personalization and customization: Moodle 4.0 provides teachers and administrators with more options for personalization and customization, allowing them to tailor the learning environment to the specific needs and preferences of their learners.

Overall, Moodle 4.0 is a significant improvement over previous versions of the learning management system, and it offers many new features and enhancements that can support better learning outcomes and a more engaging and effective learning experience.

At this point I would like to ask the reader: did you notice anything unusual about my discussion of Moodle 4.0?

Moving on, another major project for the TEL team has been to support a pilot implementation of the WiseFlow end-to-end assessment platform. Our hope is that a dedicated platform will allow us to improve our practices around assessment and feedback. Let’s explore that idea below in a little more detail.

Assessment and feedback

There are many different ways to assess students, and the best approach will depend on the specific learning goals and objectives, as well as the context and needs of the learners. Some key principles and strategies that can help to ensure effective assessment of students include:

  • Align assessment with learning goals: The assessment of students should be closely aligned with the learning goals and objectives of the course or programme. This will help to ensure that the assessment is focused on the most important and relevant learning outcomes and that it provides valid and reliable information on students’ progress and achievement.
  • Use a variety of assessment methods: Different assessment methods can provide different types of information and insights into students’ learning, and it is important to use a range of methods in order to get a comprehensive picture of their progress and achievement. Some common assessment methods include tests, quizzes, projects, presentations, portfolios, and observations.
  • Provide timely and meaningful feedback: Feedback is an essential component of assessment, and it is important to provide students with timely and meaningful feedback on their progress and performance. This feedback should be clear, specific, and actionable, and it should help students to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and identify areas for improvement.
  • Engage students in the assessment process: Students should be actively involved in the assessment process, and they should be given opportunities to reflect on their own learning, evaluate their progress, and set goals for improvement. This can help to foster a growth mindset and a sense of ownership and responsibility for their own learning.

Overall, effective assessment of students requires careful planning, the use of a variety of assessment methods, timely and meaningful feedback, and student engagement in the assessment process.

Again, at this point I would like to ask the reader: did you notice anything unusual about my discussion of assessment and feedback?

I inserted those italicised questions above because I (Stephen Webb) did not write any of the text in the two subsections. My “co-author” (ChatGPT) wrote the text.

In 2022, GPT3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) became a mainstream technology. At least a dozen apps are available that can provide clear, comprehensible text-based responses to prompts provided by a user. An app such as ChapGPT can write essays (and poems, and computer code, and much else besides). And many of our students will know this.

Similar technology can generate artwork. The artwork accompanying this blog post is an original by DALL-E, from a prompt I provided. DALL-E is a much better artist than I can ever hope to be.

I hesitate to call this technology Artificial Intelligence because it is neither artificial nor intelligent; I prefer the term Assistive Computation. Whatever we call the technology, though, I believe that in 2023 we need, as educators, to start grappling with its implications. Can we reasonably assess students by setting them essays to write, when apps can spit out the essays for them? What does the technology mean for notions of authorship and plagiarism? (You will notice that I have credited ChatGPT as being the co-author of this blog post; is that reasonable or meaningful?) What are the best strategies for learning with this technology?

Of course, teachers as well as students can use Assistive Computation. As an experiment, recently, an academic asked ChatGPT to generate a question in a particular knowledge domain that could be set for a first-year undergraduate essay. (The question it generated was entirely suitable.) The academic then asked ChatGPT to generate a rubric for the question. (The rubric was acceptable.) Then the academic asked ChatGPT to write an essay based on the question it had set. (The essay showed no insight, made no new points but would have received a passing grade.) Finally, the academic asked ChatGPT to mark the essay according to the rubric. (The feedback, if nothing else, was at least provided in a more timely fashion than human teachers can provide.)

This experiment suggests to me that either (i) we cut out the middlemen (students and teachers) and let AI do whatever it wants; or (ii) we work together – both students and teachers – to understand how to use Assistive Computation to improve teaching and learning. 

There are many questions here. And I believe 2023 is the year we all need to start grappling with them. Another question: should educators be concerned about this technology? I’ll let my co-author answer:

It’s natural for educators to be concerned about the potential impact of technology on their profession. However, it’s important to note that systems like ChatGPT are not capable of replacing the role of a human educator. While they may be able to generate text, they do not have the ability to understand or evaluate the content of that text in the same way that a human can. It’s also worth considering that the use of such systems may actually highlight the importance of critical thinking and analysis skills, which are vital for success in education and beyond. In the end, the role of educators will continue to be important in helping students develop these skills and prepare for the future.

I (the human, not the AI) would like to wish you an enjoyable festive period and a happy New Year!

Credit Image: An original by DALL-E

Guest Blogger: Teach Well: Principles to Practice Module

Hi everyone, I’m Maria Hutchinson and I joined the Academic Development team back in June as a Learning Designer. One of the projects I was given early on was to create a professional development module to support the pedagogical upskilling of our Online Course Developers (OCDs), Seniors OCDs, Learning Technologists, Educational Technologists, Learning Support Tutors, Associate Lecturers, or other relevant roles related to supporting student learning.

The aptly named Teach Well: Principles to Practice module has been approved and we are actively recruiting for TB2 Jan-May. This new 30-credit L7 professional development module is FREE for UoP and will run TB1 and TB2.

Join us on a pedagogical journey through 3 pillars of practice for teaching well in higher education, and gain the confidence to critically evaluate learning and design approaches and reflect on what it means to teach well across different modes of study.

On completion of the module, you will be able to support colleagues in the fields of learning design and wider pedagogic practice, including supporting workshops such as enABLe, the University’s framework to support innovative team-based learning design. You will also engage with the UKPSF and be able to work towards an appropriate level of Fellowship.

This practical module focuses on learning design, teaching practice, and assessment and feedback, in the context of a solid pedagogic framework linked to blended and connected learning. A significant component of the module content and associated skills is practical teaching.

Academic teaching students in classroomYou will learn via a mixture of face-to-face away days* and online synchronous sessions, including workshops, discussions and guest speakers, where you will be encouraged to engage. Guided learning will include asynchronous online activities, in addition to which, you will be expected to engage in assessment activities and independent study. Key dates of online sessions and away days.

*NOTE: Attendance at face-to-face away days are mandatory, therefore, you should ensure that you have prior approval from your line manager to attend them.

For more information and for details on how to enrol, please contact: maria.hutchinson@port.ac.uk

Top Four Moodle Questions – Part 1 Staff

After the most unusual academic year ever, with everyone adapting their teaching style and working online. It was the TEL Team’s mission, along with help from the Online Course Developers to get this academic year 2020/21 modules redesigned and ready to go.  All their hard work has paid off, but would you believe it, the same top four questions appear again this year!

Q1) I cannot see my module(s) on my Moodle dashboard, why not?

Are you a new member of staff or have you recently taken over the module? Has the module changed name/code and has it had a Moodle presence previously? These are some of the reasons you may not be able to see a module on your dashboard, to help us resolve the issue we will require some details about the module(s) – the module title and/or the module code, the level of access that you require for the module(s), and your username. With this information, we can add you to the module or create a blank module (or clone an existing one) for you to build.

Q2) My students are not attached to my modules, why not?

Students are added to modules in Moodle by mapping course codes and registration instances, or modules codes and attendance groups against Student Records. We do not manually add students as this access will not update should they change their modules of study.  Let us know if you are missing students and we will try to see if we can resolve this problem for you or bring it to the attention of your Admin Hub if a change needs to be made in Student Records.

Q3) I can see my students are attached to my module, but they are saying that they can’t see the module on their homepage, why not?

It could be that your module is still hidden from the student view.  

To unhide your module, go to the module, click on the ‘Actions Menu’ (top right-hand-side), click on ‘Edit settings’, click on the drop-down arrow in the box alongside the ‘Course visibility’ title, click on ‘Show’ scroll down and click on ‘Save and display’.  Once your students have refreshed their Moodle page, students should be able to see the module.  If students still cannot see the module, please supply the module’s details and we will investigate to see if we can resolve this issue. 

screenshot of the words Course Visibility next to a box with a drop down arrow showing the word Show

Here is a screenshot of the drop-down box, if it says Hide click on Show.

It is also important to remember that modules ending in JAN stay hidden from student view until Teaching Block 2 starts (or until the module is unhidden).  So you’ll see the students, but the students won’t see the module.

Q4) My colleague needs access to my module, can I add them myself?

Yes you can – on the module page click on the ‘Actions Menu’ (top right-hand-side), click on ‘More’ at the bottom of the list. Click on the tab ‘Users’, then in the ‘Users’ section click on ‘Enrolled users’ (first title).  This will take you to the participants’ page, click on the box that says ‘Enrol users’ a box will appear, first assign the role you wish your colleague to have from the drop-down menu, then type their name in the top search box, where it says ‘Select users’. When the name you require appears click on it, so it appears above the box, then click on the ‘Enrol selected users and cohorts’ button.  

screenshot of the enrol users box showing details of where to click

Here is a sample of the Enrol users box.

When your colleague refreshes their page or logs into Moodle the module will appear on their dashboard.  With Lecturer access you can give a colleague a ‘Lecturer’, ‘non-editing Teacher’ or ‘Guest’ role, you cannot assign the ‘Student’ role.

Alternatively, complete the Moodle Request form on My Services and we’ll add new users for you. 

Don’t forget the TEL Team are here to help with your queries and questions so please do get in touch with us at servicedesk@port.ac.uk

Credit Image: Photo by Raychel Espiritu on Unsplash

Roles in Moodle

Do you often feel baffled by the many roles and privileges of your role in Moodle. Are you clear about what the definition of your role is and what it allows you to do? For example, do you know the difference between the ‘Non-Editing Teacher’ and the ‘University Admin Staff’ role? Did you know that there’s a PhD student role titled: ‘Student-Teacher’? Have you ever wondered what the difference is between the ‘Unit Reviewer’ role and the ‘External Examiner’ role?

I hope that this blog will give you answers to some of these questions. Although while the roles themselves shouldn’t change, some of the processes might be different in the summer, due to new systems and upgrading. New features are added and old tools are upgraded to improve functionality of Moodle at the end of August, this is when Moodle is taken down for a couple of days. This year the date for the Moodle upgrade is week commencing 24th August. We try to encourage anyone with an active role in Moodle to attend our training sessions, although our sessions cover more then just Moodle. To see the description of all the sessions we run, go to the Department of Curriculum and Quality Enhancement (DCQE) website and click on the TEL Training Calendar. 

Differences between the roles:

The Lecturer 

  • Who is this given to? 

This role is mainly given to content creators.

  • What are the privileges?

The main privileges of this role is the person can add, edit and delete the content within the site. It allows the person with this role to view hidden and visible content, along with being able to complete activities and view student activity reports on the site. This role can also switch between roles so that they can see the view, of a lesser role or a role that is equal to them.

On most sites in Moodle, the Lecturer’ role is given to the person responsible for the information on the module. This is normally the module co-ordinator, but not always, for instance a Project or Dissertation module may have many lecturers updating key information onto the site as each may be responsible for certain areas, or different groups of students. 

The Non-editing Teacher 

  • Who is this given to? 

This role is given to lecturers, who teach on the module, but do not have to update or upload content onto it.

  • What are the privileges?

This role has four privileges, the person can view hidden and visible content, along with the ability to complete activities on the site and the capability to view student activity reports.

The ‘Non-editing Teacher’ role may be given to lecturers and in some cases PhD students who teach on the module, although a new role has been created titled ‘Student-Teacher’ role so that they are more identifiable. The person with this role may be permanently on the module or acting as a substitute, but there would be no reason for them to touch the content on these sites. The ‘Non-editing Teacher’ role is occasionally given to external examiners, rather than the ‘External Examiner’ role, as this role can see hidden content, which the ‘External Examiner’’ role isn’t able to view. 

The Student-Teacher

  • Who is this given to? 

This role is only given to PhD Students. 

  • What are the privileges?

The privileges of this role are very similar to the ‘Non-editing teacher’ the only difference with this role is they cannot view student information including their activity. 

The ‘Student-Teacher’ role is for PhD students who are assisting with the teaching programme of the module. The main reason for the role was PhD students needed a greater level of access than a student, but couldn’t have a ‘Non-editing teacher’ role as they would then be able to see student information.  The ‘Student-Teacher’ role cannot see any of the students activity reports, emails or details for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) purposes.

The University Admin Staff

  • Who is this given to? 

This role is given to members of the Department of Student and Academic Administration. 

  • What are the privileges?

This role has the same privileges as the ‘Lecturer’ role, they can add, edit and delete the content within the site. They can view hidden and visible content, along with being able to complete activities and view student activity reports on the site. This role can also switch roles whilst on a site so that they can see the view of a lesser role or one that is equal to their role.

The role of the ‘University Admin Staff’ has increased across the university with administrators needing to use Moodle for reporting or analytic purposes as well as inputting some key information.

The Student

  • Who is this given to? 

This role is given to any participant taking the module. 

  • What are the privileges?

This role has two privileges, they’re able to view visible content and able to complete activities.

When students are uploaded onto modules in Moodle through Student Records they are automatically given the ‘Student’ role. The ‘Student’ role is also given to members of staff when they are given access to core training sites in Moodle.

The Student (Interest only)

  • Who is this given to? 

This role is given to participants taking the module who have not been added to the module through Student Records, unless asked otherwise in their request. 

  • What are the privileges?

The privileges are the same as the ‘Student’ role, they’re able to view visible content and to complete activities.

Participants might be given access to this role if they’re taking the module for interest only, or have directly come into the University at a different year and need to view the modules to help understand the content of the course. The ‘Student (Interest only)’ role is used where marks received from these modules are not necessarily going towards their end grades. This role is not linked to the students’ timetable, MyPort etc. 

The Senior Online Course Developer

  • Who is this given to? 

This role is given to the Senior Course Developer 

  • What are the privileges?

As you can imagine this role has all the privileges of the ‘Lecturer’ role and more. They have the ability to change site names and module codes along with adding blocks into categories. This role can enrol some users manually and unenrol non-student enrolled users and add tags which attached cohort of students onto sites. They can also backup and restore existing sites and roll over sites for the new academic year.

The ‘Senior Online Course Developers’ role is a new role, created towards the end of last year. This role has been created to help channel and monitor requests for Moodle accounts, who is assigned what role and why that level of access is needed.  This is carried out in conjunction with eLearn.

   The Online Course Developer

  • Who is this given to? 

This role is given to Online Course Developers.

  • What are the privileges?

This role has the same privileges as the ‘Senior Online Course Developers’ role, the only difference being is they cannot manually add Moodle accounts onto sites.

The Unit Reviewer

  • Who is this given to? 

In the past this role has been given to the Associate Deans (Students) and members of the staff leading on the Blended and Online Development Team. In addition, this role is given to auditors, externally and internally to the University.

  • What are the privileges?

This role can view visible and hidden content.

The External Examiner

  • Who is this given to? 

This role is given to external examiners that are not based at the University. 

  • What are the privileges?

This role can view visible content, completed activities and view activity reports.

External examiners don’t normally need to see hidden content, so it was requested that we create a Moodle role that has the ‘Non-editing teacher’ role benefits without seeing material that they do not need to see.

The Guest

  • Who is this given to? 

The role is given to people who just want to view a module.

  • What are the privileges?

This role only has one privilege and that is to be able to view visible content. 

 

Roles and Responsibilities in Moodle

Moodle – Roles and Responsibilities Table

Please Note: The privileges shown on this grid are for Moodle version: 3.7.1

 

Lecturers, do you know you can change the role description in a module?  

If you wanted to change the name of the ‘Student’ role to read ‘Participant’ or the ‘Lecturer’ role to read ‘Facilitator’ or ‘Author’ or even ‘Non-editing Teacher’ role to read ‘Tutor’, it’s easy to do. However, be aware that when you change the role description that everyone with that role will have the new title.  

How to rename the roles:

Click on the module that you wish to make the changes in, then:

  • Click on the Action menu cog (top right hand side)
  • Click on Edit Settings
  • Scroll down
  • Click on Role renaming
  • Find the role and type in the name that you want the role to change to
  • Click on Save and display 

This will change everyone on the module with that role to the new name.

Disclaimer: The privileges of these roles were correct at time of publication. 

which role(s) apply to you?

Image Credit: Photo by Roel Dierckens on Unsplash

Image Credit: Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Guest Blogger: Emma Cripps – Digital Resources for Research Students

Hi! My name is Emma Cripps and I am the eLearning Coordinator in the Graduate School. When asking a colleague what I should write my first TEL Tales blog post about, the response was “something you are interested in”. There are a lot of aspects of my job that interest me, but at the moment there is one topic that I am particularly focussed on – the way in which online learning resources are created. 

Having worked with undergraduate, and some postgraduate taught courses for over 8 years, my move to the Graduate School in 2019 required me to approach online learning from a completely different viewpoint. Having previously worked with academics to develop online resources that mostly supplemented face-to-face courses, I am now presented with the challenge of creating fully online, standalone, self-paced learning modules. The Graduate School, through the Graduate School Development Programme (GSDP), usually delivers over 150 face-to-face workshops a year that support postgraduate research (PGR) students at key doctoral milestones, helping them to become independent researchers and employable graduates. Part of my role is to develop some of these face-to-face workshops into online learning modules, that any PGR student can complete at any given time. Whilst to some, this type of online content may be seen as more suitable for distance learners, the content I create is intended for all research degree students. The most popular workshops we run as part of the GSDP can be repeated up to five times in any given academic year, but for students who are busy undertaking research, working on their personal and professional development, teaching, and trying to maintain their wellbeing, along with any of the other daily tasks required of them, it can be difficult for them to commit to attending one of these workshops. And, given the current situation, the online versions of our workshops are now crucially important to our PGR students.

Online resources, now more than ever, play such a huge role in research students’ development. The ability to log on at any time, from anywhere (with an internet connection) and choose what it is they want to learn, allows research students the flexibility to fit their development around their other commitments. With this idea underpinning the work I do, I have not only continued to develop our online workshops, but have worked with colleagues in the Graduate School to curate resources from many different sources, such as LinkedIn Learning, Future Learn, SAGE Research Methods and many more, to ensure that every topic we cover in our face-to-face workshops has at a minimum, one good quality online resource. However, online resources may not always be full workshops or additional resources from other providers. Within the Graduate, we have been able to record aspects of some of our workshops, which we have been doing for over 4 years now, and provide these, along with additional resources from the face-to-face workshops via our Moodle sites. This results in our online provision being quite varied, engaging, and interesting for PGR students.

When thinking about the content I create, manage and recommend to PGR students, I have always used the following considerations as my starting point. In the current situation, and knowing that I will need to develop even more online resources in the future, I believe these are still some of the best questions to ask at the outset when developing online content: 

  1. Is the content actually needed?
    What is it that I am looking to develop, and is it suitable to be created in an online format? Is there an alternative option that already exists, and if there is, does it meet the learning outcomes, the students’ needs, and is it a high-quality resource? There are some workshops that we would not develop into an online format, such as our “Mini Motivation Boost” workshop. This workshop aims to give PGR students some space and time to reflect on their journey so far, and with the support of the workshop tutor, and other PGR students, consider strategies to get back on track with their research. This workshop works so well because of the interaction between research students, their ability to share their challenges, and discuss ways in which they can overcome them. Unfortunately, this would be particularly difficult to capture as an online learning course, and would not give students the same, supportive experience. Going forward, we would look to deliver this type of session as a live, or synchronous, session, but with additional resources to support it, such as a toolkit of resources, Apps, activities and ways to keep in touch that participants can access alongside the synchronous session.

  2. Is the content accessible?
    The next thing I have to consider is the accessibility of the content I am creating or recommending. I recently participated in a webinar hosted by a large North American company who provide software that’s used to create digital artefacts. The title of the webinar was something along the lines of “creative ways to turn PowerPoints into online courses”. Great! A lot of the content I work with starts off as a PowerPoint, so this would give me some really creative ideas for content development. How disappointed I was when the first 20 minutes of the webinar was spent demonstrating how a PowerPoint can be saved as individual image files and uploaded as an image gallery! Not only does this create a completely inaccessible item for those using screen readers and other assistive technology, but it is also not very interesting for learners to engage with! What I am trying to say here is, I think we still have some work to do in how we develop online content that is both interesting to engage with and accessible, but it is possible to do both, it might just take a little more imagination and creativity! 

  3. Is the content usable?
    The term usability describes the “ease of use” (Church, 2015) of a product, and is an aspect of user experience, as is accessibility. When thinking about the usability of online resources, it is important for me to remember that PGR students are going to have to navigate and find this content, with little or no help. Whilst we provide guidance, videos, quick links and more, there will be times when PGR students don’t know exactly what it is they are looking for, or even if it exists at all! Because of this, everything related to the Graduate School’s online learning content must be easily found, easy to navigate, easy to interact with, and work across all devices and systems that students may be using. Not only that, but the actual content needs to be useful (see point 1!), interactive and engaging. There is certainly more I can be doing in this area, but for now, I am working to reduce the amount of searching PGR students have to do to find what they are looking for, and ensuring that there is a consistent experience with all of the online content that we create.

  4. Do I have the knowledge and skills to develop or evaluate the content?
    This final consideration is actually a really important one. I have been working in online learning for almost 10 years now, and the online environments and content that I create have changed so much in that time, as have my skills and knowledge! What hasn’t changed though is the supportive community of online course developers, educational technologists, enthusiastic academics, and engaging professional service staff. One thing I have had to do a lot more in the last year though is network with subject matter experts (SMEs). SMEs have knowledge or skills in a specific topic (“What’s a”, n.d.), and can be a really helpful source of information, feedback and experience. The relationship with SMEs in the Graduate School makes up the foundation of our development programme, and we are always so grateful to the staff who give up their time to support us. I certainly would not be able to create content for the Graduate School without the input and feedback from staff who have a greater knowledge in complex areas of researcher development, and in aspects of online content creation that I am less familiar with.

Whilst this blog post has been written in the context of postgraduate researcher development, and the work that the Graduate School undertakes, I believe that the considerations I have outlined above, and the approach I take to online content creation can be applied across all levels and courses at the University. One additional thing I would like to add is that with the provision of online resources, the number of PGR students attending Graduate School workshops has not decreased, and we were able to support over 2,600 students in our workshops in the 2018/19 academic year. That being said, with over half the PGR students at the University of Portsmouth undertaking their research degree part-time, our online provision is an important support mechanism for any and all research degree students. Given the uncertain future we are currently facing, the provision of online resources will continue to be of massive importance, and you will find me hard at work reviewing, collating, creating and checking all the online content we provide to our PGR students to ensure that it continues to support them in their research, academic, professional and personal development.

References

Church, S. (2015). Usability and user experience. Retrieved from https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/usability-and-user-experience

What’s a Subject Matter Expert (SME)? (n.d.). Retrieved from Articulate website: https://community.articulate.com/series/everything-you-need-to-know-about-working-with-smes/articles/what-is-a-subject-matter-expert-in-e-learning  

The Graduate School supports a community of over 1,000 research degree students from across the University, including MRes, Professional Doctorate and PhD students. We offer bespoke training and professional development workshops that allow our research degree students to grow their personal, professional and research skills and career aspirations. We are also the first port of call for Research Supervisors, offering guidance, support, and development events. Find out more on the Graduate School webpages.

Credit Image: The feature image is from the Marketing Portal, and is “Free for use” and “Available for Third Party”. It shows ‘imaging phantoms’ which have been created and used by one of our PhD students, and were showcased at our 2019 Doctoral Festival of Research.

Guest Blogger: Claire Tewkesbury – Lockdown And Life With No Students

As someone who thrives on routine, going into lockdown and working from home on a permanent basis has been tough. I work full time for the Students’ Union and I started to work from home permanently on the 17th of March. While it was tricky at first, I have managed to develop a new kind of routine now. 

I live in a small flat so no desk space or a spare room to work from and, with a partner who is also working from home, we’ve had to be crafty with the space that we do have. I was lucky enough to have a desk topper that converts from sit to stand bought for me but, with no desk, it sits on my coffee table instead! New routines don’t come easy but I make sure to pack down the desk, my screen and my computer each night which helps me to separate my work life and my normal life. I still run outdoors so I’ve managed to keep a small part of my normal workday routine by running in the mornings before I start work for the day. Running outdoors really helps my mental health so I’m grateful that this remains a constant in my life. 

One benefit of working from home is that I’ve actually been really productive. I’m a list keeper and I usually have quite a few items on my to-do list. I work in a student facing role meaning we usually have a lot of students coming to the door every day and it turns out, without physically being able to see students, the things I need to do on this list get ticked off a lot quicker! 

I do miss this interaction with students and I’m really proud of the ones I work with closely. They’ve adapted incredibly well during tough times and, although they’ve expressed how sad it’s been to have to wrap up their Society activities early, they’ve rallied together and dealt with it in really positive ways. We ran our Student Awards event digitally so I’m delighted that we got to celebrate our students’ achievements, albeit in a very different way. 

On top of my full-time work, I’m also a part-time Masters student at the University so I understand the impact this situation has had on them. I’m studying a Research Masters in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries so a lot of my research is done individually anyway but it can be hard not having your network around you in difficult times. A lot of the students I work with were due to graduate this summer so now won’t see the many friends they’ve made until they do. 

If the current situation has taught me anything it’s that I don’t really know how to slow down even when life forces it upon you. I’m constantly working towards something or engaging in a new challenge – now I’ve finished my university coursework for this year, I’m setting up a virtual event for charity and taking a nutrition course online. But I have realised now that it’s important to give yourself downtime as well. 

Some days I’m full of motivation and still find myself working away after 5 pm and other days I have no concentration at all, but I’m learning that this is OK. I’m a big planner and like things to be just so but now I’m taking it one day at a time – learning that it’s OK for my ‘normal’ to look a little different right now. 

Photo of Claire's work station with the table flat

Photo of Claire's work station with the desk topper extended

In the photo on the left the desk topper is closed for when Claire sits down to work and in the photo on the right, the desk topper is opened for when Claire wants to stand.

 

Claire is a Student Groups Coordinator at the Students’ Union and a MRes student at the University of Portsmouth.

Image Credit: Photo by Mārtiņš Zemlickis on Unsplash

Guest Blogger: Fiona Cook – Introduction to Tel Tales

Hi, I’m Fiona Cook and I am the new Research Associate for the Department of Curriculum and Quality Enhancement (DCQE). 

I have joined the University after nearly four years, across three roles, at the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union (UPSU). My latest role at UPSU was Insights Lead and I was responsible for leading all consultation, research, benchmarking, and data management, and for supporting GDPR compliance. Previously, I worked for the Student Focus team which covered areas such as academic representation, quality assurance, and collaborative partners. I have also worked in FE where I supported multiple departments including all HE provision. 

I have joined DCQE to support the University’s work on widening access to and participation in HE and enhancing the student experience. My role focuses on projects across the University that support the Access and Participation Plan, particularly those around BAME students, WP, innovation in learning and teaching, and student voice. When I saw the posting for my new role it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring together my experience and interests! 

My previous roles at UPSU means I have already worked closely with the University, and DCQE, on similar projects including content capture, the NSS, the student charter, and the TEF. Working within the Student Focus and Insights teams means I have a lot of experience with student voice, and I thankfully already know quite a few of the many acronyms used in this area. 

I think student feedback is crucial in the development of both strategic and operational planning, and I’ve been able to share my work on using data to drive the student experience at conferences such as the University’s Learning & Teaching Conference and Qualtrics X4 which was one of the highlights of my career to date! The relationship between the University and the UPSU Insights team was also mentioned in the newest APP, demonstrating the importance of collaboration and inclusion.

I am keen to support access and participation through equity of opportunity, and I am excited to continue to contribute to this in my new role. I hope to bring my experience of these key areas and use it to support the development of University activities, whilst also developing my own research and analysis skills. 

It’s quite strange that after just over six weeks into a new role I’m now working at home daily. I shared some of my top tips for remote working on LinkedIn, and it’s been really useful to access the TEL resources as I adjust to regular video calls and life online.

Outside of work I am interested in dancing, politics, and baking – although I made my sister’s wedding cake last year so I’m on a slight hiatus. I’ve also recently adopted an eight-year-old cat called Mimi. 

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn

Fiona is based in Mercantile with AcDev and the Tel team.

Welcome to the team, Fiona! We look forward to hearing more about your projects in the not so distant future on Tel Tales.

« Older posts

© 2024 Tel Tales

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑