Adventures in Technology Enhanced Learning @ UoP

Tag: training

TEL Training Workshops and Bespoke Sessions

For the next few weeks, the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Training Team have put together a schedule of workshops, incorporating some of your old favourites, sprinkled with some online interaction, a dollop of digital technology and stirred in with a jugful of pedagogy resulting in some great revamped, updated and brand new workshops. During the last few months of virtual workshops, we’ve taken on board your comments and suggestions, which we’ve received through the feedback you’ve given us. The topics you really want sessions on and recommendations on breaking some workshops down further into bite-sized chunks. In addition, we’ve collaborated with the Academic Development (AcDev) section of the Department of Curriculum and Quality Enhancement (DCQE) to develop a new familiarisation programme to help colleagues find out more about using digital technologies to complement and enhance their teaching and interactions with students.

How do I book on a session and find more information on TEL Training Workshops?

You’ll find our calendar with all our new times and description on the sessions by going to the Department of Curriculum and Quality Enhancement (DCQE) website and clicking on the TEL Training Calendar.  For alerts on up and coming training sessions from ourselves and the Academic Development (AcDev) workshops, follow us on our social media platforms:

Who are your training sessions for?

Primarily, the workshops are for lecturers and PHD Students, but they can be adapted for professional service members of staff too. 

Bespoke sessions

If you’re not available at the times of our training events, or if the programme does not cover a specific area you’re interested in, we can offer a 1-2-1 session tailored to your needs or a group session for you and your colleagues. Topics for bespoke sessions can be based around our programme, or we can tailor the session to answer any specific questions or needs that you have. Please complete a Bespoke Training Request form and simply tick the box next to the session you would like training on. If you tick ‘Other’ please give a brief explanation of the topic you wished to be covered in the session. Complete with the date on which you would like your virtual training session to take place, along with your preferred time then click ‘SUBMIT’.

Please click on the link below for the Bespoke Training Request form:

Bespoke Training Request Form

We look forward to welcoming you at a TEL Training Session in the near future.


Credit Image: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Reflecting on the TEL Tales Blended Learning Festival

As you are probably aware by now, the TEL Tales Blended Learning Festival was a week long festival looking at developments in educational technology with learning and teaching. How the sudden shift to online and blended learning has put a strain on many academics workloads and more often skill perceptions. I say this as what the current situation has shown is people are far more capable than they ever gave themselves credit for

Across the week the range of subjects was impressive and comprehensive. All the sessions were recorded and can be found on both the TEL Tales Blended Learning Festival website and YouTube on this playlist.

This post though, is just a brief look at how the week felt to me. The first point to note of every conference is that if you are presenting, you don’t really get to attend. Except with a fully digital conference, I am able to go back and revisit the sessions. This is a real pleasure as there were a few sessions that conflicted with mine that are of benefit to my training and personal interest (now just to find the time to watch them all back)!

The second area for me is the adrenaline rush, even just being sat at my desk. The first day saw a few technical issues that made it all the more exciting to diagnose and solve as part of a team. It got rectified very quickly, and by the 4th session of the day the hangover from the problem was gone. The team came together, set goals, allocated tasks and we did it. The reason I bring this up is not to talk in depth about the issue but to say how great it was to work with the whole team, we were able to overcome obstacles together and  provide a smooth experience to those that attended. 

My third point is that it was great to have another person to present with and to a large crowd (for most sessions) to bounce ideas around and get people involved with the process. It was a shame that my session with Andy Clegg wasn’t a little longer to be able to run the activity in full, which would have essentially been ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’. Throw some ingredients at us and let us help solve a problem on the fly. This did take place with Mike Wilson when we ran beginner and advanced Moodle demos and were able to just show people answers to questions they had. It was live, specific and not fitting a normal conference where you may not get what you actually hoped to see. It is something that I hope to be able to do more of going forward, working with colleagues on sessions that can be fun, engaging and promote creative discussions for those that may not normally see the benefit of what we do in the department.

My final reflection is that I am so proud of what the team and colleagues have done. Watching Stephen Webb and Shaun Searle demonstrate principles of content capture and talk about how quickly they have had to deal with the implementation of Panopto, it makes you proud to be part of something so proactive (maybe a little reactive in this case) and so professional. The whole conference was put together quickly with people quickly developing sessions and actually we all learned of ways to develop our specialisms into the wider field of what the department does. 


From the feedback I and others have received, it was a great success and I hope to do something similar in the future. It has opened my eyes to ideas that can run across the year and not just in one day. How my training online could be the way to go (don’t get me wrong I love face to face experiences) but actually online, I know people have a device and I can be more creative with what was once a demonstration type session. 

This festival was a pleasure to be a part of, and I was sad it finished. I was also glad at the end as it was intense, mildly hectic and not really a sustainable solution to training especially with trying to help manage a family in lockdown (I was lucky not to be attacked by children!). However, my feeling going forward, even after the worst of this current isolation is over, is that the conferences that we run and organise could and should have more online elements to really engage everyone that wants to attend. It opens up other possibilities that physical locations can’t. The best part of this whole experience though was this tweet from @Drstuartsims. Even in lockdown, conference food is questionable …

Credit Image: Photo by Stefan Spassov on Unsplash

Credit Image: Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Using Technology in Learning is Child’s Play – Can HE learn lessons from Primary Education?


I am fortunate enough to work in an open plan office and regularly hear the inspirational words of the staff from ACDEV, working with lecturers to unpick their true learning intentions and ways to engage learners. The range of ideas and enthusiasm given within the discussion makes me want to don my teaching cap again but it also makes me reflect on my past experience of 10 years teaching in Primary Education. 

A common question we have from lecturers is how can I use technology to engage my students more. I think this could be reworded as how can technology enable further

learning to take place. The pedagogic ideas need to be there in the first place and this idea that technology is a magic wand needs to be dispelled (pardon the pun!).

Primary education – students with short attention spans, sound familiar?

Within Primary Education there is the traditional approach of starter and introduction (normally on the carpet), activity and then a plenary at the end. This is a very simplistic structure and there are plenty of variances but I want to focus on the carpet time element. There was an urban myth of sorts that children can only concentrate and focus on the carpet for the number of minutes of their age. So in a lot of my cases, that was 4-5 minutes to get my main message across about what I wanted them to learn in the lesson. Now I am not for one suggesting 20 minute lectures but are university students that much different to primary school children? We try to promote within content capture sessions to do small bitesize recordings as they are the most viewed and well received. It made me think outside the box and get my class up and moving, or taking them outside. Quite often we would play games and children would not realise they are learning, they were hooked.

Hooking them in with technology

While this is impractical in HE due to the layout of teaching spaces around the university, another means is to use technology. I was fortunate enough to meet the late Tim Rylands. He was a truly inspirational educator who won many plaudits for pioneering gamification. I wanted to share the clip below, to highlight not the actual technology used (the clip is 5 years old) but the creative thinking behind it.

The current flowing throughout is to engage and motivate learners and while children of primary age are perhaps a more wide and open audience, the premise is still valid in HE.

Our department offers an ‘Enhancing Lectures’ training session which has this very ethos at heart. Using a student engagement platform such as Nearpod allows students to be co-contributors to the events unfolding within their lecture. Their input is used and valued and they become active stakeholders in the success of the learning experience.

Do we promote this sort of practice enough?

Final Thoughts

Stand and Deliver may be an iconic 80’s track and may get a nostalgic airing in a club night but may not be to the liking of the modern day student. Why then should we expect the old fashioned delivery method of standing at the front of the lecture theater and imparting knowledge to be any different? I believe we need to reflect on our own pedagogic practices and survey the ever expanding landscape of technology to engage students further.

These are uncertain times and whether it’s the Moodle and Technology Conference within the Science and Health faculty on our return to campus or the Online Teaching and Learning festival in July, these provide academics with plenty of ideas and stimuli. Perhaps the greatest learning progression starts not with the student but the educators themselves.

Image Credit: Photo by Thomas Kolnowski on Unsplash

Guest Blogger: Adrian Sharkey – Moving Classroom Training Sessions Online

The ‘new normal’ has seen all of us adjust to working online amazingly quickly. The adaptability and resilience of those of us who deliver sessions and those of us that participate in them is one of the positive things we’ll be able to take from the lockdown. Most of us have taken to  this naturally, whilst others may have found the transition from teaching on-campus to online challenging, It’s worth looking at the techniques and tools we have used during this time and how we’ve moved our sessions from the classroom to online and been able to keep going. Mostly this is a trainer looking at transferring stand alone classroom sessions to online delivery, for teaching/lecturing there are other challenges to delivering a curriculum that will need a range of other tools to support a whole course of study, but hopefully, much of this will still be useful.

Choose your tool

There are lots of video conferencing tools that all do pretty much the same thing. You will have heard of Skype, Google Meet. Webex, a lot of organisations are using Microsoft Teams and for personal use Zoom has been pretty prominent. Preference in these will be down to personal choice but it is worth considering that your University account will give you easy access to Google Meet and Webex which have additional features  to help deliver a session (these will be covered later in the article). Webex may at first seem a more complicated platform than some of the others, but the Webex Training platform allows you to set up your session in advance, import a presentation and use integrated tools like a whiteboard and polls – it may be more difficult initially – but it is worth getting to grips with.

Design your session

Take some time to redesign your classroom session around the online tool and the online delivery techniques you feel comfortable with. Delivering online has a very different feel to being in the classroom, so ‘chunk’ the lesson plan, divide it into deliverable chunks. Take the opportunity to have another look at the learning objectives and make them more ‘efficient.’ For online delivery it may be more effective to take out the ‘nice to haves’ that work better for the classroom. If converting an all day session, this could work better as three 90 minute online sessions, consider also flipping the classroom by providing pre or post course activities/materials.

Lots of interaction

One thing to battle against when delivering online is participant drift and multi-tasking. It is really easy to be distracted, quickly check Facebook or look at emails while you’re supposed to be on a course, so consider the following:

Share ScreenAll the conferencing tools will allow you to share the screen so you can demo or present. Many other tools may be integrated such as a presentation, whiteboard, polls or quizzes.

Lots of slides  – Most presentation skills courses will tell you that less is more, online the opposite is true. Keep the session moving by changing the screen quickly and often. There doesn’t need to be loads of information on each slide, just something key, but keep them moving quickly. Forty plus slides for an one hour online session wouldn’t be unreasonable. This would obviously be different if you are delivering application training, but the principle of keeping things moving still applies.

Online chatVideo conferencing tools will generally have a chat feature, use this and get participants to ask you questions through it. It is a great way to keep participants engaged by regularly stopping to check this and dealing with anything that has been raised.

Polls/questions/quizzes – Use these throughout the session to encourage interaction. The advantage of Webex Training is that these tools are inbuilt, there is a ‘show of hands’ option and a quiz can be set up in advance of the session. There are many online quiz or audience response tools that could be utlised, things like Nearpod, Mentimeter, Vevox. Kahoot etc.

Online whiteboard – This is a great way to encourage participation in a quick activity by getting participants to write on a whiteboard that you can all see, then discuss the comments made. Again there are many of these available, but a whiteboard feature is integrated with Webex Training. With Google Meet you can use the Jamboard app, even schedule a meeting from this.

Delivery options

Depending on whether you have a small session with a few participants, or a large session with hundreds of people, you’ll want to consider your delivery options.

Meet/inviteFor a session that requires full interaction from your participants send them a joining link or meeting invitation. This can be generated from your chosen video conferencing tool.

Live streamingIf you are potentially delivering a more traditional lecture format online, this could go out to hundreds of people. Provide a live stream link and it will be possible to view the session without ‘participating.’

Record the sessionWebex and Google Meet make it possible to record sessions as do most of the other tools. Links to the recording can be published or made available on an LMS if appropriate.

MuteHaving everyone’s microphone on at the same time might cause issues, especially with a large number of participants. Get everyone to mute their mic and just unmute it when they want to ask a question or get involved. In Webex Training the trainer controls the microphones, so by default everyone can be turned off and the trainer can turn a participant’s mic on when appropriate.

Webcam – As a trainer you don’t always need the webcam to be on. If you want to focus on a demo, presentation, quiz etc. it would be better to have your camera off. It could be turned on again for a question and answer session.

Next steps

Having adapted quickly and moved what we currently deliver from the classroom to online, if we now have a new normal, then we need to consider if what we did in the classroom is actually applicable to online. This article shows there are immediate adjustments that need to be made, but longer term is duplicating a classroom session online the best way to deliver online learning? Maybe authoring tools, videos and other forms of digital creation are needed?

Check out Myport for the Webex and Google Meet articles. LinkedIn Learning has a course on the Webex Training tool, there are also useful learning paths on working and teaching remotely, as well as on the different areas of digital capability.

Credit Image: Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash

Bespoke TEL Training Sessions

TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) will be offering bespoke training sessions over the summer period, timetabled TEL training sessions will resume in September.

Informal 1-2-1 bespoke sessions can be held at your desk, or if there are several of you interested in a session we have a room available where you can request a more structured group session. Topics for bespoke sessions can be based around our traditional TEL programme, or we can tailor the session to answer any specific questions or needs that you require.

Please complete a Bespoke Training Request form (see below) and simply tick the box next to the session you would like training on. If you tick ‘Other’ please give a brief explanation of the topic you wished to be covered in the session. Complete with the date on which you would like your training session to take place, along with your preferred time and finish it by clicking ‘SUBMIT’.

Please click on the link below for the Bespoke Training Request form:

Bespoke Training Request Form

Once we receive your form, a member of  the TEL team will contact you to confirm your training arrangements.

NB: Bespoke TEL training sessions can also be arranged throughout the year.

Credit image: Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

Becoming an Online Course Developer

Given various constraints experienced by both learners and training providers, online learning appears to be a growth opportunity. I have lost count of how many ‘online course developer’ (OCD) positions have been advertised over the years within the University and similar vacancies regularly appear elsewhere. Each vacancy is hotly contested, so what does it take to get into online learning as a developer? How can you give yourself the best chance of being offered the position? And is it really the dream job that many applicants claim it to be?

Firstly, I should say the various ‘online course developer’ positions are not all the same. Tasks and responsibilities can be very varied, depending on the team/department/faculty/institution you are in as well as the types of courses you support. So it is worth finding out more about this beforehand. Strictly speaking, the role is to create courses which are studied (either wholly online, or partially as blended learning delivery) via the internet. You are not expected to be a subject expert writing the materials, although an enthusiasm or understanding for a particular subject will make your role a lot easier and more enjoyable. Your expertise should lie within learning technologies – beyond that you will need to read the job specification…

Factually, that’s about all I can say. However, this post would be a little on the short side if I were to stop there – so I’d like to offer some insight drawn from my own work experience. Note: I make no promises and bear no responsibility for your application (especially if I am on the interview panel)! Still, what have you got to lose?

Firstly, why do I feel I can offer advice on this topic and why should you listen? After all, throughout my working life I have written fewer application forms and attended fewer job interviews than statistics suggest that I should have (reference ‘dream job’ from paragraph 1). What this does mean is that I have experience in the role, as I have worked for the University of Portsmouth for over a decade starting in an administrative position that gave me a great basic understanding of University operations. This is something that is reflected in how often I refer OCDs back to their course administration teams to follow procedure, rather than agreeing to apply what might appear to be a quick fix – if a shortcut was the way a task was supposed to be done then it would already be the way to do it.

In July 2008 I became the University’s first ‘eLearning System Support Officer’ taking responsibility for the day-to-day operations of our first virtual learning environment (VLE) – WebCT. Since then our VLE’s have changed (from WebCT, to Blackboard, and then to Moodle) and so have my job titles (eLearning System Support Officer, Online Course Developer, Educational Technologist and Senior Educational Technologist). I have witnessed first-hand the growth of online learning and the increased requirement for the online course developer role. When the University switched from Blackboard (which we branded Victory) to Moodle for the 2012 academic year, we recruited 20 online course developers and the number of posts has continued to grow since then.

Candidates for those original positions had to endure an Excel numeracy/spreadsheet test, a paper-based proofreading task and an online assessment before their formal interview. The selection process has changed since then and usually now requires candidates to give a presentation before a formal interview. That said, do not underestimate the importance of proofreading and attention to detail as mistakes in your application form and/or presentation will be noted – so be warned! The spreadsheet test has also been removed, although interviewers will be expecting to see evidence of digital literacy and organisational skills, so if these are not evident in your presentation make sure you bring examples of each into your interview answers. Another topic that often comes up at interview is ‘communication’ – chances are you already have some answers prepared for this, do they involve communicating online via forums and web conferencing tools such as Webex, Skype or Google Hangouts?

Moving away from ‘transferable’ skills, what specific knowledge or skills do you require for online course development? I would be very surprised indeed if you had never encountered issues with access to online material. This statement from Tim Berners-Lee, W3C (look this up!) Director and inventor of the World Wide Web, describes the ambition of accessibility “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”. For a ‘development’ role you should familiarise yourself with ways to negate visual, hearing or other sensory impairments, limitations of mobile devices e.g. screen sizes (if these are your intended audiences), bandwidth limitations and requirements for internet connectivity. There may also be other geographic or political limitations placed upon accessibility. If you are required to give a presentation at your interview make sure it is accessible to you, or you will have to give a very good interview to get the job!

Another consideration that should always be at the forefront of your mind is copyright. This is a large subject, and one in which I don’t pretend to be an expert, so if in doubt – look it up. There are various helpful sources online, and the University Library also has some friendly staff who can advise on copyright. You would not be silly enough to include anything in your presentation without copyright clearance, would you?

Creativity is an attractive quality in a developer – however don’t lose sight of functionality. A lack of creativity and design flair may leave materials dry and unengaging, whilst a lack of functionality will not just lead to a lack of engagement but complaints and demands for refunds! Why not check out H5P and let your creativity run wild on HTML5-compliant browsers.

Many appointable candidates show an independent drive for self-enhancement and as a result many skills are ‘self-taught’ – the University’s site-wide licence for may help with this! However, if you cannot evidence particular skills or experience in answer to an interview question the panel will not know that you possess such a skill. Utilise your application form to display evidence of skills by attending training sessions. The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team offer a diverse range of training to staff on all of the technologies we use at the University – much of it aimed at development of materials that would be  particularly useful if you do not already work in that area. Evidence of undertaking ‘online learning’ via a massive open online course (MOOC) could also differentiate you from other candidates. Check out Coursera or Futurelearn for a list of courses from a range of providers.

For some OCD posts you will be required to give training sessions. Presentation skills are a transferable skill and are receiving great emphasis within many of the courses offered at the University these days. Based on requests over the last couple of years, I have had a need to develop a system and workflow to facilitate the recording and assessment of student presentations in a simple and timely manner, so that lecturers may provide written feedback to students enabling them to review their own performance. Check out Assessed Video.

Many years ago I was a participant on a course to develop skills in training others. What I took away from that training was that the key to presenting is confidence. You acquire confidence by having faith in yourself and what you are saying – so do your homework. Preparation is everything. If you work through the job specification and can answer ‘yes’ or ‘I have that’ to everything, then you have a right to not only be in that room but to be confident that you deserve to be there auditioning for the role. Run through your presentation beforehand at home, you may find it helpful to record yourself – phones make wonderful video cameras these days (you might even try the TechSmith Fuse app). The first time you watch it back you will probably be horrified by the number of times you ‘um’ and ‘er’, so try the presentation again and speak more slowly. Do not be afraid of silence, as natural pauses help your audience follow what you are saying. If you need a little help why not try one of the ‘presentation speaking’ workshops run by the Academic Skills Unit.

You must be aware of delivery methods for the materials you produce. This may be via a SCORM package, but will most likely be delivered via the University’s VLE. We use Moodle, which is an open-source package so there is no excuse for not being familiar with it. You can download a copy ( and play with it yourself on your personal computer or play around with a demo site from

Finally – technology moves fast! I hope you have found what I have written to be a good starting point, but that you are already thinking about what the latest developments are. After all, you want to be a developer, don’t you? Good Luck.



Tim Berners-Lee. Retrieved from 25th July 2017

TEL Training Sessions

Some of you may have noticed that the way TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) training sessions are advertised has changed, you no longer receive a weekly email from Staff Essentials on a Friday afternoon. Our training sessions can now be found at the bottom of the Monday’s Staff News Update email. To see our sessions you’ll need to scroll down to ‘More news’ and look under the section ‘Staff Development’.

We’ve been amalgamated under the Learning and Teaching heading, but there’s nothing there to differentiate our sessions, we can only advertised three  sessions per week in this format.

To see more of our sessions you’ll need to scroll down and click on the banner which says More Staff Development, this takes you to the Staff Development page.  Published on this page are the sessions on the Staff News along with a few more training sessions from across the University, but again there is nothing to distinguish which ones are our training sessions.

Where to find our training sessions

We have added our training sessions to the calendar, here on our blog page.  Training sessions are indicated with a dot underneath the date, just click on the dot and the session information will appear. You can book yourself onto the session here, just click the button at the bottom. Feel free to switch through the months to see what training sessions are coming up.  During August 2017 we’ll be without our training room, but please contact us to arrange a 1-2-1 sessions or group training session tailored to your needs in your place of work.

Another place to find our training information is to go to the Department of Curriculum and Quality Enhancement (DCQE) website and click on the TEL Training Calendar here you’ll find our calendar with dates, times and full description on the sessions we run in this department.

Who are the training sessions for

Primarily, the workshops are for lecturers, but they can be adapted for professionally service members of staff. If you’re not available at the times of our training events, or if the programme does not cover a specific area you’re interested in, we can offer a 1-2-1 session tailored to your needs. In addition, if there’s a group of people in your department who would like a session to update their knowledge in a certain area, we can also arrange that too.  We have a meetings room here in Mercantile House, but we can always come to you.  To arrange these bespoke sessions, firstly contact elearn on either extension: 3355 or, giving us a brief outline into which areas you’d like the training to cover and for how many people, someone will then contact you to discuss your requirements. So if you’ll looking to embark on a project involving technology, or if you would simply like some support or advice on how to use the various elearning tools available at the University, the TEL team are here to help.

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

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