Tuesday, 17 July 2018

TELFest 2018 - What we did differently

Between 25 - 28 June 2018 we ran our 5th Technology Enhanced Learning Festival, TELFest. Every year we do things differently or introduce some new ideas and here is a summary of some of those things as well as some highlights of the event.

TELFest was opened up to an external audience

Traditionally TELFest has been exclusive to staff at the University of Sheffield and a select number of invited individuals.  This year we opened up most of the festival to external institutions, with the exception of the Monday which was more 'hands-on' or University of Sheffield focused. We were delighted to have over 80 attendees from other institutions, attracting an international audience as far as Cairo and China.

Livestreaming

A parallel of sessions were livestreamed throughout the event using livestream, which we chose because it enabled chat functionality with no login restrictions. Each livestreamed session had an online moderator who facilitated discussion amongst our online audience and ensured that questions were asked to presenters. Throughout TELFest we had over 550 unique viewers from over 50 countries. It was great to see the positive feedback we were getting from people who were unable to attend.
Tweets about the TELFest Livestream
You can catchup on these sessions via the TELFest website and here is a direct link to the list of recordings: https://digitalmedia.sheffield.ac.uk/channel/TELFest+2018/95272991

Have I got TEL news for you

Keeping up with our game show keynote theme (in previous years we have had Faculty Fortunes, Room 101 and the CrysTEL maze), this years game show was based on Have I got News for You? The session took a competitive quiz-based look at some hot topics in technology-enhanced learning, hosted by Professor Wyn Morgan, VP for Education and featuring a panel of contestants from around the University.


As well as being highly entertaining, the sessions encouraged debate amongst both our teams and our audience, exploring topical issues in the TEL domain.



Best of the Festival

TELFest was jam packed with excellent and varied presentations and workshops throughout, with the festival closing with a keynote on Tightrope Walkers: Social Media, Equity, and Educational Practice by Dave Webster, Head of Learning & Teaching Innovation at The University of Gloucestershire (catchup here). A special mention must also go to our sessions voted 'best of the festival':
  • Tuesday Puzzling It Out, Helen Whitehead and Liz Cable, University of Nottingham / Leeds Trinity University
  • Wednesday Live-editing The Past, Charles West, University of Sheffield (Catch Up)
  • Thursday Using breaks to boost student creativity, Dermot Breslin, University of Sheffield (Catch Up)

Networking

To promote networking throughout the festival, each delegate pack included postcards and stickers and delegates were asked to add their self-identifying stickers of choice to their lanyards to spot like-minded delegates. Below are some of the post cards that had AR built into them.

   


Sponsorship

We were delighted to receive sponsorship for this year's TELFest with the support of our suppliers and sponsors: Turnitin, Kaltura, Blackboard, PebblePad and Echo 360. Their support and support from the University of Sheffield meant that we were able to keep the event free to an external audience. Thanks to Blackboard we also let us pilot Transact, their new product which enabled us to track attendance. Delegates were able to 'tap' in to a session using their new contactless technology. This very reliable technology enabled us to identify those that attended sessions helping us to elimiate our paper based system.

A big thank you to all of our organisers, presenters, delegates and sponsors, who after 5 years continue to make TELFest an ever increasingly valuable and vibrant event.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Exploring Student Engagement with Learning Technologies - A reflection from TELFest

Last week at TELFest myself and Farzana ran a session on how analytics data can be used to understand more about how students are engaging with online tools we use.

We explored what data was available in some of the core systems we use at the university and encouraged discussion around:

  • How it would work in peoples contexts
  • What was useful about the systems 
  • What they felt was missing

To support this I created a series of infographics using Piktochart. For anybody interested in creating infographics I found the creation progress to be really straightforward.

Click on any of the infographics below to see a larger view of what is available in that product.

   

   

Some of the points raised in the session were:
  • The confusion flagging in Encore (Echo 360) is a great tool but it would be good if the tool automatically prompted an email to alert the instructor confusion had been flagged.
  • There were some comments that the data that comes out particularly in MOLE can be a little overwhelming. Being able to pinpoint a particular piece of content would be better.
  • The group felt we need to be mindful about the use of analytics to not create a culture of over-auditing or making students feel they were under surveillance.
  • A point raised that analytics looks at the where and what people accessed but doesn't always tackle the why.
The session was a thought provoking one which concluded that whilst there is a lot we can do with the data from the systems, we use there is still a way to go to make it readily meaningful. The tools should be quick and simple to use and the data should be easy to digest.

Thanks to everybody that attended the session and we will ensure any feedback goes back to the relevant suppliers.

Monday, 14 May 2018

TELFest 2018 - Open for registration

TELFest 2018 is now open for registration.

Taking place between 25th-28th June, the University of Sheffield's festival of Technology Enhanced Learning is in its 5th year, and welcoming delegates from external institutions for the first time.

The 25th June sees a skills day, for University of Sheffield staff to learn more about the various systems available to them, closing with workshops on Blackboard's forthcoming Ally tool for accessibility, and the online content tool Xerte. This is followed by the full conference, open to internal and external delegates, from 26th-28th.

We have a packed and exciting lineup this year, with highlights including:

  • Keynote speaker David Webster (University of Gloucestershire) on 'Tightrope Walkers: Social Media, Equity, and Educational Practice'.
  • Have I Got TEL News For You, presented by our resident TELFest gameshow host Professor Wyn Morgan.
  • Sessions highlighting the playful side of teaching and learning, with workshops on Digital Storytelling, educational Escape Rooms, and Creative Play.
  • Introductions to the Diamond Building's VR Suite and Student-run Makerspace.
  • As always, the Innovation Corner exhibition to end proceedings.
This is as well as sessions on flipped learning, e-portfolios, online assessment, TEL's role in student mental health, VLE frameworks, active learning, creative commons, virtual reality, lecture recording, course design, webinars, feedback, creative media, video sharing, accessibility, learning analytics, students as creators, educational apps, social media, online exams, student engagement, ethics and more!

We hope you can join us! For the full agenda, and to register, see http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/telfest

Friday, 4 May 2018

White Rose Learning Technologists's Forum 11th April 2018


Event Report WRLTF 11th April 2018



On wednesday 11th April we were very pleased to welcome the White Rose Learning Technologists’ Forum back the University of Sheffield, for a specially themed meeting looking at the use of video in learning and teaching. We had an excellent turnout, with colleagues from every HE institution in the region attending, as well as those from the regional health service, and our corporate members.

We are very happy to have recordings of all the sessions, which we have made available, so I will just mention a few points that really stood out to me on the day. All videos are available via our Digital Media Hub, and presentations are available either as attachments from the URLs provided, or linked from the text description in the case of those done as Google Presentations.

All videos can be seen together here:
https://digitalmedia.sheffield.ac.uk/channel/White%2BRose%2BLearning%2BTechnologists%2527%2BForum%2B11%2BApril%2B2018/91377381


Scaling up and new opportunities with the Kaltura Digital Media Hub - Graham McElearney, The University of Sheffield

I was fortunate to open the session, presenting a summary of a large scale project I’ve been leading on, to scope and implement a new media hosting system. Like many universities, our requirements for delivering video have matured along with the technologies over the last 15 years. This had resulted  in us having  a fragmented collection of technologies in place, which we  wanted to consolidate for our current and future needs.

As part of our implementation we conducted a series of pilots with specific colleagues around the Institution. This enabled us to test some key functionality of the system, but also led to some unexpected benefits.

One of our key requirements was to enable student submission of videos they create for assessments. We have struggled with this for several years, having employed a number of inadequate work arounds. Using the Kaltura Building Block in Blackboard, students are now able to submit their work directly into the VLE. Not only is this a more robust and secure system than some of the other workarounds we tried, it also means that the work is in the VLE ecosystem and can then be graded electronically. This led to our second key finding - the Kaltura platform has an associated content creation tool, CaptureSpace, which allows the creation of screencasts and webcam recordings, and is accessible from anywhere within the VLE. This has now enabled a number of colleagues to use this for creating audio, video and screencast feedback in different disciplines. The idea of creating rich media feedback has been around for quite some time, but it has always seemed to be logistically challenging - not so much in terms of creating the media, but in managing the process of returning the feedback to the students in an effective manner.

A third unexpected benefit we’ve relied with Kaltura has been the ability to create video quizzes. These are videos that pause at certain point and pose MCQ questions to the students. These can be purely formative or can be linked to the Grade Centre in Blackboard. This new feature has been trialled in a number of departments so far, most notably Geography, who are using it for pre-lab briefing and testing with level 1 students. It’s early days with this feature but we can see many applications for it. A fourth benefit we are seeing across campus is the use of CaptureSpace to produce flipped learning content, and this was the topic of our final session, discussed below.

Video and presentation available at

Video to support learning and teaching at The University of York - Wayne Britcliffe, The University of York

Next up up was Wayne Britcliffe from the University of York, who presented on the use of video across the Institution, and in a range of different contexts.

One of the key ways that colleagues in York used video was to help prepare students for laboratory classes. I think this is a classic use for video that is relevant for many Institutions - we often face the problem that our student cohorts have vastly outgrown the lab facilities we have, often built decades before to accommodate a fraction of the number of students. We can’t just dispense with lab teaching, but we do need to make it more effective. Providing essential briefing on say equipment use, health and safety etc, can really help to make the time spent in the lab more effective, and can also help compensate for a variety in previous experience that ours students may have. Labs supported were in chemistry, biology and archaeology, and the videos themselves were created by students. Using the resource of talented students in this manner seems like an excellent way of getting high quality videos made within reasonable cost - the latter of which can be areal barrier to using media in teaching.

Another key use of video was to support flipped learning, and Wayne showed us examples from Computer Science and Economics. Wayne reported that lecturers found this a satisfying experience, but one challenge they found was how to make the best use of the face to face time, after the students had watched the pre-class videos. This seems like a very important issue for us as learning technologists - we possibly naturally focus on both the means of producing the video content, and how we deliver this to the students - perhaps now we should be focusing more attention to what activities take place in class.

A final example of Wayne’s work at York addresses another challenge we certainly face here in Sheffield, which is how to record lectures for mathematically based subjects who traditionally make extensive use of a black/whiteboard for writing out mathematical notation. Conventional lecture recording solutions presume an approach based around the use of a “PowerPoint” type presentation as being at the core of a lecture, although for many maths-based disciplines, this is unsuitable. York now have two rooms in which the have cameras that are linked to pressure pads built into the lecture theatre floor, which enables the cameras to follow the lecturers writing as they traverse the often large blackboards used in these subjects - something we shall certainly investigate here as there is much demand for this solution.

Video and presentation available at

Using video to enhance music education  - Ruth Clark and Mark Rogers, Leeds College of Music

Our third presentation was from Ruth Clarke and Mark from Leeds College of Music (LCM). They too presented a range of approaches used across the College, but it was interesting to see how the were used in a rather more specialised environment of a music college.

LCM are using Panopto to great effect, and have licensed the software recorder for all 1200 staff and students across the College, which means video creation is truly accessible to all. One interesting aspect of their niche us of the Panopto system was their requirement for very high quality audio - this is something that we might not normally consider for conventional lecture recording system, which is designed for speech, screen capture and occasionally video capture. However for music this is critical, and so LCM and Panopto worked hard to make sure this was of a high enough quality and could respond to a full range of frequencies and dynamics as found in a wide range of musical styles.

One key application of video, over and above lecture recordings, was once again to provide information in advance of lectures. With  a higher proportion of learners with dyslexia than average, students respond very well to these when provided in video or audio format. Screencast recording hare also extensively used, to teach aspects of music writing a production software. Some of these software packages have quite intricate workflows and so these also provide standardised guidance on best practices for these. This is particularly important with music software, as there is a huge proliferation of this kind of content publicly available o(e.g., on YouTube), but with no guarantee that the approaches demonstrated are the correct or best ways of working.

In a final example from LCM, students use their access to the recording tools in Panopto to enable them to record a wide range of activities that enable them to reflect on their own performance. In addition they’re able to gather evidence from their community music projects and placements, which helps to solve a range of logistics and safeguarding issues.

Video and presentation available at

Assessing student media assignments - Rob Pashley, The University of Sheffield

Our fourth talk was from my colleague Rob Pashley in our Creative Media Team (CMT) here at Sheffield. The CMT’s function is dedicated to providing media production skills to students. The majority of this is embedded within academic modules, in which students create videos as a different form of assessment from a conventional essay, exam or presentation. We know from evaluations conducted over a substantial period of time that encouraging students to create videos about their academic disciplines is a fantastic way for them to develop their own subject knowledge. This activity is supported via practical workshops that enable a a standardisation of skills training, similar to that discussed by our colleagues from Leeds, above, and is further enabled by having an equipment loan service (cameras, microphones etc), and by providing access to the necessary editing and post production facilities required to produce a finished video.

None of our students are media production students as such, and so this presents something of a challenge, in terms of how we assess their work. It would not be appropriate to judge the students too much on their technical craft skills in the way that we might with media production students, and so we need to find other meaningful ways of doing this. This is still a work in progress for us, and it’s something we’ve been looking at in various forms for sometime, going back to work we started with the Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group back in 2008.

If not assessing production skills per se, we can ask questions such as how well does the video present the topic under consideration, and how well do the students use the media format to explain concepts or elicit other responses from the viewer.

Another key way of assessing the work is via a reflective statement by the students - but on what should they reflect? One key area is to ask them to articulate why they have produced their videos the way they have. So what sorts of choices and decisions did they make about how they presented their chosen topics, or how they interpreted certain scenes, when looking at more literary/creative works. At the heart of this, I think we also need to ask the students how they think that engaging in a creative task has helped build their own subject knowledge, and whether there is anything specifically different about working in a creative medium such as video that enables them to build new understanding about their subject that they otherwise wouldn't have.

This is very exciting work and also very important, as doubts over how to access this work can present  a barrier to more academic colleagues from choosing to use this exciting form of assessment with the  students.

Video and presentation available at
A flipped-classroom math module for molecular biology students - Dr Rebecca Barnes, The University of Sheffield

Our final presentation of the session came from Rebecca Barnes, another Sheffield colleague from our department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. Rebecca presented some work she had been doing, running a level one module aimed at reducing maths anxiety for biology students. Maths anxiety is a well documented problem for many students, and can cause real stress and hamper performance in subjects such as biology, where maths may not be at the heart of the topic, but is nonetheless a key enabler for many practical activities in this discipline.

Rebecca produced a series of over 90 screencast videos for students to use. These are designed to be watched by the students outside of class time, and this enables students to work at their own pace and importantly, on their own, without the fear of their peers seeing their  lack of confidence and competence. More generally I think this is a good lesson for level one students in terms of taking a bit more ownership and control of their own learning that they may have been used to at school.

Rebecca deliberately recorded hand written screencasts using a stylus in Onenote, as she felt that this dicated a sufficiently slow pace for students to be able to keep up without being rushed. Crucially she also drew attention to the fact that when recording flipped learning materials, it is really important to stay enthusiastic and up beat throughout them, which can be a challenge if you are spending a whole day recording them. Leaving plenty of time to create the recordings was one of her key recommendations. Rebecca also flagged up the issue of finding the most effective use of the face to face time as being an area in which she was keen to develop.

Video and presentation available at

Discussion and next meeting:

We spent some time at the end of the meeting reflecting on the afternoon's presentations. It seemed like a well balanced programme, ranging from broader Institutional strategies and practices, but also focusing on some module specific practices and the knotty issue of assessing video work by students. There seem to be some convergence of practice now, such as providing video content to supplement lab classes, and producing flipped learning materials. Supporting student generated media content is of ever increasing importance as more and more we recognise the value of harnessing students’ creativity here.

We also explored a number of issues and barriers to wider adoption. There were some familiar candidates here, such as inconsistent infrastructure to enable staff to record their own media, including not having access to recording equipment, and an absence of a comprehensive hosting and delivery platform to support this type of activity. As ever, access to staff expertise to advise, train and produce materials was also cited as a problem for many.

As is often the case, it appears the solutions to these could be met with with further investment by our Institutions, but as Nick Jeans (SERO Consulting Sheffield) pointed out, in order to obtain this we need to be able to really demonstrate the effectiveness of TEL to our senior managers.

This led neatly onto our very final business of the day - the next meeting. We hope that this will take place in Leeds in the early part of July - exact time and venue TBC. However we have set the theme, and following on from the above, we are going to look at “Measuring the effectiveness of technology enhanced learning” and we welcome applications from colleagues to present at this. If you are interested in doing a session here, please email g.mcelearney@sheffield.ac.uk.





Friday, 13 April 2018

Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference 2018

I've just got back from this year's Blackboard Teaching and Learning conference (#BbTLC18). It's always a good conference, and this year it was right on our doorstep in Manchester, which is great because it's not a lot of travelling, but it does take away the opportunity to visit an institution for the first time which I always enjoy. As ever, it had a packed agenda and the presentations were very good. I've presented at the last two conferences, and this year I was sharing that with Farzana. More about that shortly. With such a full schedule, I'm just going to take a quick run through the days and briefly mention the sessions I attended.

The conference started for me on Tuesday afternoon (Monday was the academic adoption day that Simon attended, and the DevCon for those with a more technical role than me). First up was the Opening keynote from Volker Hirsch which was a fascinating dive into data and what it means to us.

Me and Farzana just about to start
Our presentation was in the first parallel sessions track straight after, which I think is the best time to be given. We were talking about the changes we’ve made over the last year, and how the student voice drove that. The room was packed, with people carrying chairs in with a few minutes to go and we had too many questions for the time at the end. It’s always good to get a response like that, and many people came up to us after giving us positive feedback, which was very welcome.

The theme of the rest of the day for me was exam orientated. I've presented about our online exams previously, and I like to keep up with what other are doing, so I went along next to see Chris Moore from UWE talk about how he'd introduced final year open book essay based exams in his teaching. Then it was off to hear Claire Iving from Newcastle talk about their online exam approach, which is very similar to ours in many ways.

The afternoon finished with the Blackboard keynote speak, with senior Bb leaders talking about their vision for the company. It was also good to hear them acknowledge some things that hadn't gone to plan, in this case the change from Crocodoc to Box View.

As I'm the usergroup leader for NEBUG, I got to spend the evening with other usergroup leaders from Europe and Blackboard people, which is a great chance to hear more about what they are doing in their groups, meet some face to face for the first time and catch up with those I've known for a while, and also to meet some senior Blackboard staff including the CEO Bill Ballhaus and CPO Tim Tomlinson.

Wednesday kicked off with the Blackboard product keynote, which gives a good insight into what is coming to all the products we use. My first pick of the sessions was Malcolm Murray from Durham talking about a gamified course they had done. He's written a extra bit of code to create a really good interface to a standard course that has improved student engagement. Next up was a quick 20 min introduction to ReadSpeaker from Sandra Stevenson-Revill at Derby, which looks an interested tool for all users to allow course content to be read to them. Next was Lisa Fishburn from Newcastle talking about how to deal with a course that hasn't been refreshed for about 10 years - how do you go about dealing with 1500+ folders worth of content! I also won a Kinder egg from Lisa as well 😁 The last session of the morning was another quick 20 min session by Tamsyn Smith and Matt Diprose from Southampton about their VLE awards.

I had the pleasure of spending time with Luca Bordogna from Bocconi University in Milan over lunch. He had seen my presentation there last year and wanted to talk some more about what we were doing with online exams and assessment. After lunch, I opted to miss the panel discussion and instead spend time with Jan Thomson and Neil Carroll from UCLan, talking to them about how I manage a lot of the back end admin side of running Blackboard Learn. I find these times at conferences the most valuable, sharing knowledge with colleagues from other institutions. I finished the day in another Sandra Stevenson-Revill session, taking a look at some of the extra features that Derby have created to make things work more easily.

The evening was a chance to spend time over dinner with a group of people from a number of institutions, and get to know some I'd not met before.

The final day of the conference (Thursday in case you've lost track) started for me with Bobbi Moore from Reading talking about the online course for staff development they've created to support their users. Next up was Joe Currie from QM Edinburgh talking about their move to the new Blackboard SaaS platform, something that is of particular interest to me currently. The penultimate session for me was listening to David Pike from Bedfordshire talking about how they exploring and quantifying TEL usage and how that can focus approaches that support the TEF. This years conference concluded for me with Peter Rayment from Cardiff talking about how they have used Eesysoft to produce focused support for their users, and generate course usage data for staff to access.

Fun in the party photo booth
Lots of really good thought provoking presentations, great feedback on our session, and quality time spent talking to lots of people have made this years TLC a very good one, and the final night party is the perfect way to finish things off - to have a bit of fun with some new colleagues and friends.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Digifest 2018 highlights

I've just got back from a trip to Birmingham for Jisc's Digifest 2018, two days of ed-tech talk and exhibitions at the International Conference Centre.

The conference started with an impressive demonstration of the Janet Network, with a live orchestra on stage joined virtually by a projected video stream of an accompanying trio in Edinburgh. Jisc chief executive Paul Feldman opened proceedings, before introducing National Union of Students president Shakira Martin. Shakira gave an impassioned call-to-arms on how technology should remove barriers for students, but not be seen as a replacement for face-to-face studies, and ended with the message that we need an education system that's adaptable and flexible for all students, no matter their background.

In the first session I attended, ALT's Maren Deepwell spoke of development of CMALT, which included two new pathways being piloted for new career staff and managers, and emphasis on the scheme mapping onto other professional qualifications such as UKPSF. She was joined by Edinburgh's Susan Greig, who spoke of a 'Zumba class' approach to CMALT, that is peer support (and peer pressure) to complete CMALT in small cohorts.

This was followed by a session by Jonathan Rhodes, Gemma Wilton and Elnora Marston of Wolverhampton, who gave details of their SEDA- and HEA-accredited courses, 'Learning to Tutor Online' and 'Digital Transformations'. It was emphasised that these courses, delivered on the university's VLE, would give teachers a vital experience of being a student which would influence their own practice - as pointed out: "You can't learn to swim by watching YouTube videos".

A lightning session by Sarah Fielding and Anna Ruff of the University of Southampton gave details of their institution's VLE award schemes, which sounded like an excellent way to reward staff for creating quality learning materials online. The system allows students to nominate courses they feel have been excellent in their online delivery, and staff to nominate themselves for courses they are particularly proud of.

Jisc's Chris Thomson and Sheffield Hallam's Liz Austen delivered a great workshop on 'Going dragon-hunting' - using digital storytelling in higher education. Liz told of how getting students to use Adobe Spark to tell their stories visually allowed the voices of "hard-to-reach" groups of learners to be heard.

Paul Waterworth of Calderdale College gave a talk on TEL's role in supporting students with mental health difficulties. While acknowledging technology such as social media can have a negative impact on mental health, and screen use can lead to insomnia, technology has a role to play in helping students. This includes apps for help for anxiety, such as Elefriends and Anxious Minds, mindfulness apps such as Calm, Wellmind and Happier, and mental health awareness apps such as PTSD Coach and RCPsych.

Jisc's Andy McGregor led a session introducing the 'Co-design Playdeck', a set of cards (inspired by Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies cards) that give strategies for collaborative innovation. The cards give a series of techniques for understanding, imagining and building a project, and provides a simple way to break down the practicalities and process of making an idea into a reality. A really useful tool - the printable 'Playbook' version can be found here.

Sadly I missed the final keynote, which was a talk on VR/AR in medical education by Shafi Ahmed, but the Twitter responses suggest I missed out on a great presentation!

A great couple of days in Birmingham, with some great examples of digital innovation in the sector.

Pete Mella.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

TELFest 2018 - It's on its way!

It doesn't seem long since the last one, but plans are well afoot for TELFest 2018, which will be running between 25th-28th June.

2017 saw our biggest and most successful TELFest yet, which was recognised as a key factor in the TEL Team's award of Learning Technologist Team of the year at the Association for Learning Technology's 2017 conference.

This year we're building on this success, opening TELFest out widely to delegates and participants from other HE institutions for the first time. In another change, we will be running the festival over three days, preceded by a pre-conference practical skills day for University of Sheffield staff. There will be the usual mix of workshops, case studies, panel discussions, debates and exhibitions, with some more unusual sessions planned that we're keeping under wraps for now!

The call for submissions is now open, and we'd love to hear your ideas. Please also share widely with colleagues - from the University of Sheffield or further afield - if you think they may be interested. For details of how to submit, and more information about TELFest, please see the TELFest Website.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference at Sheffield Hallam University.


The Conference has run for a few years but was announced it would be the last time it would be run in this format. A new format will be announced sometime in early 2018.

The morning consisted of an approach called Build your own Conference (BYOC). The idea of this was that delegates could suggest an idea for a session or better still lead it. At the beginning of the day these were assigned to group common themes and allocate rooms.

The first session we attended was around an app swap of learning and teaching. A number of apps were suggested including:
  • Padlet
  • Wunderlist
  • Trello
  • Metaverse
There was a short introduction to Raspberry PI computers and suggested that Code Club was a good place to learn more about coding for a Raspberry Pi.

We then attended a session which used Lego to convey how you personally felt about social media which birthed some weird and wonderful creations.
In the afternoon we attended a session with a round table discussion on the idea of whether Social Media should be used in learning and teaching and what issues should be considered when using it in a learning context. This brought in a number of viewpoints but the consensus was that whilst Social media does seem to mostly have its place you need to exercise caution when using it.

Lastly we attended the TEF Crystal Maze. This used a series of challenges (or zones) to unlock a number of codes. In Turn you gain up to 3 crystals for each task. The winning team is the one with the most crystals.This was a great way to learn a little more about a topic that otherwise can be a little heavy.

Overall the day presented some interesting discussion around social media and its use in higher education. I look forward to seeing whats next for the conference in whichever form it decides to become.


Friday, 19 January 2018

You can hide marks from Students so they can only see the feedback - MOLE Assignment Tool

Whilst looking into something in Grade Centre, I stumbled across a way of hiding the grades from a student initially, so they can only see their feedback, and then revealing the grades at a later time.

This only works using the MOLE assignment tool, and you would need to hide the rubric scores if you were using those, but it does give you a way of allowing access to feedback whilst marks are being moderated.

Click on the link below to see the full guide

Guide on how to hide marks

Friday, 12 January 2018

Durham Blackboard Users Conference 2018

The conference theme
Last week I had the pleasure of spending time in Durham for the annual Blackboard Users Conference. Now in it's 17th year, I've been lucky enough to attend over the last 7 years and it has been a great time to meet people and learn about what is happening across the UK with other Blackboard VLE institutions (MOLE runs on Blackboard Learn).

This year, I was presenting about our move to running MOLE based exams and how it has developed over the last 5 years. I got a lot of questions at the end of my session, so I'll take that as a sign that it went well :)

The conference started for me on Wednesday afternoon with the Blackboard Mobile and Collaborate User Group. This runs as a hybrid meeting, with people both in the room at Durham, and connecting in via the Blackboard Collaborate online collaborative learning platform. This gives us a chance to find out what others are doing with their mobile platforms, find out the issues and problems that arise, and how the challenges have been overcome. An update round the meeting from each institution allowed us to set the scene, and then we had members of the Blackboard Mobile team joining us from the US to present some of the new features that are coming soon, and to take feedback from us on the mobile apps. It's a good way to kick off the conference, and the discussions carried on over an meal in the evening.

Thursday morning saw the start of the conference 'properly', with a welcome from the Durham PVC for Education, and then the usual conference opening from Malcolm Murray, who heads up the Learning Technologies Team in Durham who organise and run the conference. Next up was the keynote from NUI Galway's Sharon Flynn. A long time attendee of the conference, it was great to have a keynote from the community for a change, rather than someone coming in from outside. With the conference theme of 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' (the theme is always suggested by the attendees of the previous year) Sharon wove this into her talk about where they had been and where they were heading. Sharon was the inspiration that triggered TELFest for Farzana and myself, so it was lovely to get a mention from Sharon about this during the keynote.Unfortunately illness gave me a late change for the next session, as the presenter I had earmarked to listen to had been unable to make it, so I jumped in the session Urkund were running to show how their plagiarism detection tool has been integration into Blackboard Learn. As we are a heavy user of Turnitin, I am interested to seeing what alternatives are out there, even though there is no consideration in moving away from a service. A spot of lunch is always good as it's a chance to catch up with people as well as actually eating something. I had a number of things I wanted to talk about and these contacts are invaluable in helping us improve how we do things - this year has been no exception in providing this help for me :)

After lunch I went to listen to how Edinburgh approached gathering meaningful data on their student experience. Ross Ward talked about how they had done this and gave me some food for thought on how we can continue to improve our 'UX' since the course refresh. Next up was Dave McArthur from Glasgow Caledonian, who definitely gave the most entertaining presentation of the conference, with much laughter in the room, talking about how they reworked existing content for use in a distance learning programme.The afternoon continued with Jonny Crook and Andrew Gold from Manchester Uni talking about their experiences of using standard course structure, again something that is of interest as we have just been able to introduce course templates for departments this year. Day one finished in Blackboards session on the impact of accessibility. With their new Ally tool looking very interesting, this is an area I think we need to explore in more detail, and with their research findings that around 80% of images did not contain alt descriptions and 1/3 of document had contrast issues in VLE content, it's clear work is needed.

Important networking!
The evening was more time to talk to people over the conference dinner, in the wonderful setting of the great hall in Durham castle. Having been for a few years, I know a lot of the attendees quite well and it's always good to meet up again, and have some fun as well as talk work.

Day two began with the Blackboard keynote from Katie Blot, who gave us an insight into her time with the company and where things are heading. Next up was an interesting presentation from Candice Nolan-Grant from Durham about how then have used a course within Blackboard to offer new users self-guided training. This is something I've been considering, so it was good to see how they had done it, and be able to ask some questions about their successes and failures. Watch this space!Next up was Derby talking about their academic led EMA project, and it was amazing to see how big a project it was. Over lunch I had a Blackboard Usergroup Leaders meeting, which is a very useful time to get together face to face and discuss some of the things we have been trying to do over the previous year, and where we would like to be heading. I run the North England usergroup (NEBUG), which has been around for a few years now and is a very useful addition to the conferences throughout the year. After lunch I was up at the front. The final sessions were a useful insight into the tendering process from John Usher of Blackboard and Jonathan Knight from Keele talking about something we've just begun to implement, and that is the devolving of administration access using hierarchies, which is getting very system admin technical, so I'll not go into any more detail.

Home time
As ever, an excellent conference. I always come away feeling inspired by what others are doing, confident we are working hard to make things better and amazed by the generosity and camaraderie of the Blackboard community in the UK and Europe... Also very tired!!!

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...