Let’s use PowerPoint to move away from PowerPoint with iSpring!

Love it or hate it, Microsoft PowerPoint has been the go-to tool for learning content for many years now and it will more than likely continue to be a staple in the Learning Edge tool box for years to come.  As we all know PowerPoint does have its limitations when incorporating multimedia + instructional tools if you’re trying to accommodate diverse learning styles and more equally trying to enable content accessibility via mobile devices (Edge Hill Central and Learning Edge Apps). Everywhere we look these days, we can see the impact that mobile technology continues to have on our society. According to Cisco Visual Networking Index, by the end of 2014 the number of mobile devices will exceed the number of people on earth, and by 2018 predicts there will nearly 1.4 mobile devices for every person. Mobile Learners with iSpringSince January 2014 here in the Learning Technology Development Team we’ve been exploring the capabilities of the iSpring application as an additional plugin to PowerPoint to meet the needs of academic staff and to also enhance the online/mobile learning experience of our students. For those new to iSpring, it’s fundamentally an e-learning authoring tool that integrates with PowerPoint, so no special skills are needed to start using it. iSpring gives PowerPoint the ability to add multimedia easily and include instructional functionality to slides.  This also ensures accessibility for both traditional desktop and mobile users by transforming your PowerPoint file into HTML5! (This means that it will play on pretty much any device without the need for additional software or apps!)

iSpring RibbonOn Thursday 3rd July 2014 I presented an introductory iSpring webinar via Blackboard Collaborate to 26 Edge Hill University Staff, which demonstrated the concepts of multimedia usage and instructional design within PowerPoint.  (I really wanted to title the session “The Jerry iSpringer Show’ though I wasn’t too sure how that would go down!) The webinar enlightened staff to the main differences between an ordinary PowerPoint presentation and a presentation energised with the features of iSpring. During the webinar I explained and demonstrated a variety of methods on how multimedia resources can be incorporated into your current or new PowerPoint presentations by just a few clicks using iSpring. All the tools I covered in the webinar have been approved as ‘mobile & desktop friendly’ solutions, which enables users to utilise resources online or in class.

Feel free to watch the webinar on YouTube by clicking on the link below:

I really value the quick feedback we receive from staff. I’d like to share some of those comments I’ve received from staff within the Faculty of Health and Social Care:

“The software is user friendly; you can make the most of this resource by embedding exercises, discussion, video, web links, reading, references etc.   It is possible to have a student centered, interactive resource recorded and available online in a short period of time.  Students have given very positive feedback and they value the ‘discussional’ approach we use, which makes online learning personal.  One student said that it was like having a one to one tutorial.”  Trish Prescott, Senior Lecturer CPD

“I find it much easier to use .ppt and dropping in audio from Audacity.  Being able to drop in other items really enhances the presentation”  Elaine Hughes, Senior Lecturer Adult Nursing

“The thing I like most about iSpring is that my PowerPoint presentations can be combined with sound files in three strokes of the mouse, and hey presto! My Learning Edge presentations can be viewed by students on their iPhones and iPads.”  Chris Jones, Senior Lecturer CPD

“iSpring is enabling me to teach  in all the ways that I was imagining – all in one package!”  Sertip Zangana Senior lecturer CPD

“iSpring allows me to build and edit material very easily in the way I want it to look on the page for the student.” Jeremy Brown, Reader in Health Service Research

“The beauty of iSpring for me, is in its potential to create a learning experience that addresses the needs of both the campus based and distance student.  With the increased functionality over other methods that I would have relied on previously, I can see opportunities to develop more engaging materials!”  Irene Dudley-Swarbrick, Senior Lecturer Applied Health & Social Care

Since the webinar took place Edge Hill University now has 43 iSpringers who originated from the early adopters project – who are taking e-learning to a whole new level. These users are located as followed:

15 x Faculty of Health and Social Care

12 x Faculty of Arts & Sciences

10 x Faculty of Education

5 x Learning Services

1 x Directorate

LTD have extended the outline of the original webinar in the form of a ‘digital hand-out’ for all current and new users…. just to make things even smoother over this academic year and beyond. Feel free view the resource by clicking on the below image and then bookmarking it in your browser or within your eShare account.

iSpring 1 So maybe you’re thinking “I’d like to give this a try”.  Have no fear, you are all more than welcome to join this technological revolution in teaching and learning in the form our LTD ‘Hot Desk’ options.  Within the LTD office (LINC 2nd Floor Room S2) we have a laptop which is bookable by all staff as well as 2 hot desks fully loaded with iSpring and many other exclusive software packages.

To book yourself onto any of the ‘Hot Desk’ options simply email LTDSupport@edgehill.ac.uk or phone us on Ext 7754 and we’d be more than happy to help you with one of the available options at a time that suits you best! Post a comment below if you have any questions. You can also get in touch with us if you would simply like to know more!


Mark Wilcock Learning Technology Development Officer


Games for Health UK Conference at Coventry – 14th May 2014

1On Wednesday 14th May I attended the Games for Health UK conference, held at Coventry University’s Simulation Centre. This was a satellite event linked to Games for Health Europe, which is an organisation based in Amsterdam.

Jurriaan van Rijswijk spoke first, talking about Games for Health’s vision of using games as a way to change education, promoting active learning and behavioural change. As an organisation they want to help game creators in institutions to share their work more widely. He also said that the ‘Games for Health’ book that they had published, which contained proceedings from their 3rd annual conference, encouraged people to take the organisation more seriously.

Next, Sebastian Yuen talked about wearable technology and how this can be used to change patient behaviours. He was able to talk about his own experience using Fitbit and talked about the possibilities around using badges.

Charlotte Lambden who is a Research Therapist at Newcastle University spoke about a game that they had developed to help with the rehabilitation of people such as stroke victims. It is called Limbs Alive and encouraged people to perform a range of movements and tasks, helping the patient see their progress.

Paul Canty from Preloaded spoke about a range of games for health. You can explore further on the Games with Purpose and Games for Change websites, but examples were FoldIt, Family of Heroes, The Walk, Dys4ia, Actual Sunlight, and Touch Surgery.

Pamela Kato talked about the future of games for health. She says we need research to help us understand if games work, for whom, when and how. We need quality games, and distribution channels so there are places where people know that they will find high quality games. She also gave advice on making games saying to be precise about what you want when dealing with game development studios, because they cannot do your job as a medical professional or academic. She was keen on people hiring artists to work on the game to make them look better, and including the target group in development at each stage to make sure there is nothing that would prevent that group using the game. Games she mentioned were Re-Mission 2, and Plan-It Commander.

Jamie MacDonald from Fosse Games shared from his long experience in the games industry, again pointing out the importance of quality and customer recommendations in making a game a success. He said a key area to look at is innovation. This can be leading in new categories of games, with new audiences, and in using new hardware, but it can also be smaller scale evolutionary innovation within an existing genre.

Finally Adrian Raudaschl spoke about gamification, John Blakely spoke about games to improve the training of Junior Doctors, and Alex Woolner about growing Games for Health UK.

Over all I was impressed by the organisation and its aims. There was a focus on the importance of producing quality games, and on sharing games that have been created. Because of the cost of creating quality games, the reuse and sharing of what has been created seems vital if the use of them is to grow and make the investment worthwhile.

It is certainly going to be useful to keep in touch with what is going on in this organisation, to know what sort of educational games are being created and how people are using them in health contexts.


Peter Beaumont
Learning Technology Development Officer

Screencasting Formative Feedback

How one tutor increased students’ engagement with feedback.

YouTubeButtonIn this video blog post Carl Simmons explains why assessment is so problematic and suggests how tutors can increase the amount of useful information that students receive using screen and voice recording software.

The issues are:

  1. Good quality feedback consumes significant tutor resource;
  2. Students tend not to use the qualitative feedback comments.

Carl replaced traditional feedback (handwritten comments / annotated Word documents) with videos of each students’ script, adding an audio recording of himself talking about the work – a ‘screencast’.

Results indicate that students both use this feedback more than traditional text comments – and feel that the assessor has their best interests at heart, providing a motivational boost.

SpeechBubbleThe students engaged far more readily with the screencast feedback – often viewing it more than three times.  There was also a perception that the feedback took significantly longer to produce – yet Carl found creating the screencasts took him about the same length of time as previous methods.

Carl’s approach is significant because many studies indicate increasing student engagement with qualitative feedback improves students’ outcomes.

Carl has created a screencast that outlines the technique and discusses how he analysed the data.  Potential issues are also identified, such as raising students’ expectations.  Here’s the link: http://youtu.be/P5R69BvjJDI

Your next steps?

Create a screen cast of your own – perhaps marking an exemplar piece – unpacking the reasoning behind the piece’s grade.

Carl would be delighted to speak to colleagues, both at Edge Hill and beyond to give help and advice to those considering using this screen casting technique.  Further, perhaps you might be able to add to the research data – seeing if the results you get are similar to those already observed.

BestofTEL_SMALLCarl Simmons
Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Education

Telephone:  01695 650916 x7916
Email: simmonc@edgehill.ac.uk


For further help, support and advice on how you can use screen casting or any other TEL tools, please contact your Learning Technologist (see the Faculty Contacts on this page) or email the LTD Team on LTDSupport@edgehill.ac.uk or 01695 650754 (x7754).  Or – you just ‘do it’ with my favourite FREE service: http://www.screenr.com/.

Learning Edge Upgrade Success!

The scheduled summer upgrade has been completed successfully and you can now login to Learning Edge as normal.

The upgrade introduces a number of improvements – most significantly a new true student preview and anonymous & delegated grading options.

Where can you learn more?

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the LTD team will be hosting an online webinar (via Collaborate) at 2.00pm on Wednesday 23rd of July and Thursday 24th July. These sessions will introduce you to what’s new, provide you with an opportunity to ask questions and help you explore where and how to make the most of the new improved system.

Please Feedback

Take your time to explore the upgraded system and let us know what you think.

The LTD team have worked hard to test the upgrade so we are not expecting any unexpected behaviour! However, if you do spot any problems please let us know asap so we can investigate and get them resolved for you.

Contact the Learning Technology Development team to share any queries or comments you have regarding the upgrade or the online webinar– leave a comment below, email ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk or call 01695 650754.

Meg Juss, Learning Technology Development Manager




Meg Juss
Learning Technology Development Manager

Summer 2014 – Blackboard Upgrade Awareness Webinar

Summer each year allows a window of opportunity for Learning Technology to update Blackboard to the latest version, containing new features and fixing a number of niggles. This year, the upgrade will occur on the evening of Sunday 20th July into the morning of Monday 21st July.  During this time, there will be no access to Blackboard up until (we expect) Monday afternoon once we have carried out testing to make sure everything is running as expected.

Webinar 23rd and 24th July @ 14:00

To follow on from the upgrade, we are offering a short webinar where you can find out what the new features are and anything that you may need to be aware of.  There aren’t too many changes this time, so we don’t anticipate that the webinar will be a long one, but it will give you the opportunity for an overview and also ask questions to our team of Learning Technologists. The link you will need to join the webinar is:


You can also access it via the Staff Development -> Staff Webinar Area under ‘Communities‘ in Blackboard Any questions, please contact the Learning Technology Development Team on ext. 7754 or ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk

Accessible and Inclusive Design: iSpring Version

For those who couldn’t make it to the recent session on creating accessible content I thought it would be worth making a version of the session available.

In the session we looked at how content uploaded to Edge Hill’s Learning Edge online learning environment can be created in ways that make it more accessible to a wide range of students including those with SpLDs and those using mobile devices to access content.

By the way, I used the Yeti Pro microphone that Carol wrote about earlier this month, so the recording will give you the opportunity to listen to it in action.


Peter Beaumont
Learning Technology Development Officer

Yeti Pro Blue Microphone – a beast of a microphone!

LTD recently purchased a mammoth of a microphone to help with recordings of screen casts and other materials and also to offer it to staff who are developing their own content for teaching and learning.

The Yeti Pro microphone, manufactured by the legendary Blue Microphones, is a stunning microphone to record with giving clear crisp recordings straight to your PC.

Now the techie bit…

  • USB connection to PC
  • 24 bit/192 kHz digital recording resolution with analog XLR output.
  • Featuring three custom condenser capsules
  • Four different pattern settings (Stereo, Omni-directional, Cardoid and Bidirectional,
  • A-D converter chip and separate analog circuit path for use with professional studio mixers and preamps.
  • Built-in headphone amplifier for zero-latency monitoring
  • Direct controls for headphone volume, pattern selection, mute, and microphone gain.

Basically this means that for whatever purpose you have in mind for your audio recording, you’ll be able to find the best setting for the job but most commonly you’ll probably be using it to record yourself, so the cardioid setting will do just fine.


With the availability of USB this makes it super quick and simple to plug in and use (after installing a small USB driver – but we’ve already put this on the hot desks in the LTD office and on the screen casting laptop!)

The quality really is top notch, so if you fancy giving it a try to raise your game with your screen casts, come visit LTD and we’ll get you on the right track.


Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer

LTD Hot Desks

Come along to the LTD office to use our Hot Desk PCs.

FlyerCoverThe Hot Desk PCs have dual screen monitors for working with Blackboard and creating graphic, audio and video materials for teaching and learning.  They are loaded with teaching and learning software such as iSpring and Camtasia, and have high quality microphones and headphones.  We also have a laptop that you can take out on short term loan when you want to continue your content development or create your audio or video recordings in a quiet spot.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the desks is the location – in the heart of the LTD team – surrounded by colleagues brimming with ideas about how to make your online courses engaging, effective and enjoyable.

Please contact the LTD Team, email LTDSupport@edgehill.ac.uk (01695 650754), or come along to the top floor of the LINC building and see what we have to offer.

We all look forward to seeing and working with you.

A Knight’s Tale – ebooks the ultimate creation

Learning Service’s Learning Technology Development Team wanted to find out if it is possible to create an eBook of course content and distribute it to students without publishing through a 3rd party but via the institutional Virtual Learning Environment (Blackboard), as a way of providing media rich content which can be downloaded to their device.

Dr Charles KnightDr Charles Knight (Senior Lecturer Business School) assisted by taking part in a pilot project to develop course content for his students using eBook creation software.

On completion, Charles kindly agreed to be interviewed about his and the student experience.

As a result of the interview, this blog post contains a number of audio clips taken from the interview as our way of sharing a personal account of this subject with others who may also have an interest in this area.

After researching software with the right options for us, we decided upon Ultimate Ebook Creator (UEC) for the creation of ebook content. Which, in our view offered what was required in terms of (DIY) in-house creation, capable of producing several file types and is easy to use. Prior to the pilot a free trial version of the software was available making it a good choice, because it meant we could compare it with other free software such as Calibre and Scrivener.

The right solution

ebook software packagesIn addition to our own software research Charles also took a looked at Calibre, which he explains, is easy to use for converting documents into an ebook format. However, in terms of creation, he goes on to say;

Ultimate Ebook Creator is a very powerful piece of software.  The built-in document editor is very similar to Microsoft Word, so is very familiar and much easier to use than some other software packages”.


Introduction: Charles Knight

Traditionally, lecturers here use PDFs to distribute course content via Blackboard. Charles wanted to know what the advantages and disadvantages are of using eBooks, and also to get a better idea of the process of creating and distributing eBooks.

The problem with PDFs

Another of the drivers for conducting the pilot was to look at eBooks as more engaging alternative to PowerPoint.

When originally undertaking the pilot the first item to investigate converting was the course handbook.  The process currently involves producing a handbook as a Word document, saving it as a PDF and uploading it to Blackboard. For the pilot, Charles also offered the students an .ePub and .MOBI version of handbook so students can choose a format depending on their device or apps.

Challenges using the software

Another area which often presents a challenge is copyright. For the purpose of the pilot we asked Charles to consider this in the production of his material.

The content created and converted for the pilot was produced by Charles with the exception of the front cover. Charles explains the reason for this and why creating a good book cover that stands-out is important and goes on to describe his approach to copyright compliance:

During the pilot Charles was able to provide students with a number of file types and the opportunity to download .ePub, .MOBI, PDF and Word files for equity and with the aim of distributing them online through Blackboard.

Surprisingly for Charles and the students, downloading an eBook file to a dedicated eBook reader presented the main challenge. However, other devices such as the iPad, Android tablets and some mobile phones would suggest an application to open the file making it much easier to download and use.

Hear Charles share his thoughts on the process of creating eBooks, the software used and the complexities involved in terms of the process and the matter therefore of additional support and training for staff and students:

So what recommendations does Charles offer to others who may be considering doing something similar with eBooks and any comments for manufacturers of this type of software?


The future

Following on from the pilot, we asked Charles what would he do different next time and what his thoughts are around producing eBooks in his future courses and module:

“I’ve played around with the formats, I’ve got three devices in-front of me; an iPad, Nexus 5 Android phone and a Kindle tablet and it rescales and it’s dynamic content on each of these, you know because you can resize it. It’s made me think, it’s a far better format!”


It has been a very interesting journey and one where we have enjoyed areas of success and begun to reflect on current practices.  However there are still some challenges ahead and proposals of enhancements for the software developers to take on board.

Finally my thanks to Charles Knight for taking part in this pilot at such a busy time of the taught curriculum and to his students for providing valuable user insight. I would also like to thank Nitin Mistry, from Ultimate eBook Creator, for his part in the project; working with us to adapt his software, providing free and unrestricted access to UEC’s full features during the pilot and the continued developments he made throughout the project.

Martin Baxter




Martin Baxter (Learning Techology Development)

Learning Edge Upgrade 20-21 July 2014 – What’s coming this summer

See Whats Better

The summer is on the horizon, bringing with it not only better weather but a better Learning Edge too! We are currently working with Blackboard to introduce a number of new features which will improve your experience and use of Learning Edge.

The upgrade will introduce exciting innovations as well as improvements to core capabilities, some of which are detailed below:


Student Preview

This new tool will enable you to quickly view and verify the design of your course Studetn_Preview_Iconcontent and course navigation from the perspective of a student. This means that you will no longer need to manage the creation and enrollment of test student accounts.

Anonymous and Delegated Grading

Anon_Grading_DelWith the Blackboard assignment tool you will be able to grade anonymously and delegate grading responsibilities to other members of staff.

Social Tools and Profiles

Learning gets social

With upgraded social learning tools including calendars, social spaces and improved cloud profiles, both students and staff can stay connected inside the traditional Virtual Learning Environment.

‘My Blackboard’ also provides a convenient one stop location for frequently used tools, such as My Grades for students and the Retention Center for staff.


Summer Upgrade Pre-Testing


In order for us to prepare for the upgrade, we will be carrying out extensive testing throughout May, June and July. The important dates for you to make a note of are the 27th May and 23rd June, as LTD team will be unavailable for general queries.

You can still email us on ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk with anything urgent, but LS help desk will be able to assist you on 01695 584286 with your general enquiries.

You are welcome to sign up to the Upgrade Cohort (Service Pack April 2014 upgrade) if you would like to keep updated with developments of the new upgrade: http://bbbb.blackboard.com/LP=35

And the final important date is…

Following successful testing the current target date for the upgrade is July 20th / 21st.

As always, any questions on whats happening please contact LTD Support on 01695 650754 or email ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk.







John (LTDSO) & Nina (LTDOC)