Blackboard Catalyst Award: How Learning Edge helped the win!

The Learning Technology Development (LTD) Team has had a very successful 2014.  We’ve implemented and seen some great things happening with technology enhanced learning throughout the University.  More noticeably the faculty specific tabs and resources generated on Learning Edge and of course the continuing success of all the iSpring resources for staff and students. With this in mind I can’t help but think ‘where we would all be without the training and development to understand and support its use on a daily basis?’.

 

Cast your minds back to early May this year when you might recall that Edge Hill University received a Blackboard Catalyst Award for the Developing Digital Excellence (DDE) series under the University’s Staff Development programme.  Blackboard commended the DDE programme for its dynamic approach and good practice based on its blended provision of staff development with its use of TEL related tools.

 

As part of the award, Blackboard invited myself and Carol Chatten to present a live webinar to an international audience on 16th October 2014.  Here we had the opportunity to share our experiences on creating and managing the Developing Digital Excellence series and of course highlight the areas that enhanced the sessions delivered. The webinar itself was recorded and so you can now have th opportunity to watch it for yourself if you didn’t manage to make it on the day.

 

Access the recording here.

 

If you’ve haven’t attended one of the DDE sessions yet, what are you waiting for? Why not try one of the award winning sessions now by exploring the ‘Staff Development’ area on the staff GO portal today! We have a number of events coming up in the Digital Office and Practitioner strands.

 

Enjoy the recording and hope to see you very soon…

 

Carol_Chattenwordpresspenpic

Mark Wilcock & Carol Chatten 

Learning Technology Development Officers

 

 

Engaging learners with Blackboard Collaborate

How the Inclusion Team is using our web conferencing platform to engage students, enhance communication and improve outcomes.

Anne McLoughlin is  the leader of Edge Hill’s dyslexia programme.  The programme is a blended course – mostly online – delivered via our Blackboard VLE and the Collaborate web conferencing system, with some face to face conference days.

I interviewed Anne in September.  This 10 minute recording* is a mini-case study:

[eshare version of the recording and transcript: http://www.eshare.edgehill.ac.uk/5767/]

Here are some highlights:

  • One of the aims of using Collaborate was to give a more engaging experience for remote learners;
  • Sessions delivered with Collaborate are recorded – thus students are able to re-visit the sessions;
  • Collaborate is used for student inductions – with presentations by Learning Services staff;
  • It’s also used for tutorials – attempting to give an equivalent experience to distance students;
  • Issues revolve around students confidence with technology and ‘Java’[2];
  • The Collaborate mobile app has been very reliable;
  • The LTD guides have been useful [3];
  • The support from LTD has been “really good” [4];
  • The feedback from students indicates that Collaborate has made them feel part of the University community.

And, finally, Anne’s advice to staff: “Have a go …, perhaps a small number [of students] to start with, and then just go for it!”  And really finally, Anne’s last word: “I love it …”

BestofTEL_SMALLAnne McLoughlin
Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Education
Professional Development
Extension:  7163
Telephone:  01695 657163
Email: mclougha@edgehill.ac.uk

 

Anne would be pleased to discuss her approach to using Collaborate with anyone at Edge Hill – her contact details are above.

If you have more general questions about the Collaborate service or any of the tools within the Learning Edge Suite 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.

*Note that the recording was made on my mobile phone – illustrating the quality that is possible from a device most of us have in our pockets.


[1] Note that I’m creating a blog post on how to have a virtual office link at the end of your signature – so watch out for that in a few days time – or contact one of the LTD team if you want to do it now.

[2] Blackboard have removed the need for Java in the next version of Collaborate.

[3] We have many guides and resources – here are some that we understand have been very useful to colleagues:

Building and teaching in Learning Edge
Blackboard Collaborate: Audio and Video Equipment (Device Guide and Recommendations)
Planning Collaborate Session: An Overview
Introduction by Blackboard: Collaborate Web Conferencing Online Orientation
The LTD Best of TEL Blogs – such as: Collaborating all over the world

[4] Developing Digital Excellence sessions – such as:
Basic Introduction to Blackboard Collaborate (Student Services Webinar) 22/07/14

Using Optivote in Large Lectures for Student Engagement and Enhancing Learning

Optivote HandsetsIn this post Elaine Hughes, Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing and a SOLSTICE Fellow, tells us about her experience using an Optivote voting system. If you are inspired to think about using this type of system in your own teaching, there is plenty of support and information available to help you get started.

Could you set the scene for us?
“As Kurt Lewin said ‘Learning is more effective when it’s an active rather than a passive process’. Therefore maintaining student engagement and enhancing learning in lecturers of around 140 students can prove to be very challenging. Other than written formative tests there are limited ways of assessing whether learning has taken place at the point of contact. Yet, it is well documented that when learning is fun then it can prove to enhance memory and thus stimulate learning.”

What did you do?
“Before the Optivote system was available for use I still used quizzes in the classroom with rewards for the right answers, usually Quality Street, which proved to be very popular with the students. It clearly helped focus their concentration as they were able to give the right answers after a taught session but whether learning had taken place throughout the class couldn’t be evaluated. What you also couldn’t see were how many got the answers right as not all students would attempt to verbally answer. Cue Optivote.”

Why did you do it? What were the drivers?
“The use of a voting system allowed greater student engagement and allowed me to evaluate whether students had understood the key messages in a lecture. It moved the delivery of sessions forward and I think there are probably many other ways to use this in class which could be measured over a period of time.”

How did you use the voting system?
“Because I teach anatomy and physiology initially Optivote lent itself to these sessions. However I have now used the Optivote system in large groups for a number of years across level 4-6 for sessions for different purposes:

  • for formative quizzes following anatomy and physiology sessions where the end of module assessment included a summative exam
  • as an alternative method of teaching anatomy and physiology, using the questions as a focal point to discuss the reasons for the answers
  • in clinical decision making and delegation sessions where students are asked to rationalise their decisions in practice and used as discussion points”

What was the outcome?
“The use of the Optivote handsets really promoted student engagement with the session content and generated discussion among the groups. In terms of ‘did deep learning take place?’ this is much harder to quantify. However in the module where there was a summative exam the pass rates were higher. To make real claims as to whether this was directly related to the use of technology research would have to be undertaken. However what is evident is the students enjoy this engagement as these sessions are consistently highlighted in module evaluations.”

What were the issues and concerns?
“With any technology within the classroom, especially with so many pairs of eyes watching, the fear is always ‘will the system fail’ and ‘have I programmed this correctly?’ There’s a handy guide to setting up your database and loading in your presentation and questions/responses but I think the first time I used it it wasn’t so simple! Although with practice it’s easy to set up and use, but like everything practice makes perfect – however I still always test it before each use!”

What ‘unanticipated outcomes’ were there?
“I wasn’t sure how the students would react. Would they think it was childish to press the button and vote? Would they want to get involved? Would they see it just like ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ and jump in with their answers? I needn’t have worried. What I actually saw at one point was probably the most disengaged group I’d ever taught sit on the edge of their seats, pointing their handsets at the screen and pressing buttons before the voting timer had even started! I did think that this was just a one off response from this particular group but when I demonstrated the use of the equipment to staff I had exactly same reaction! When students go off task in a class they talk. What I also tend to see with Optivote is lots of chatter with their neighbours, but it’s quite obvious they’re discussing the question that’s been posed to them, especially during clinical decision making as this can get quite animated.”

Did the use meet your expectations?
“In terms of student engagement it certainly has met my expectations. Keeping such large groups engaged and interacting, not just with me but with each other and on the subject content, can be difficult. However assessing if learning has taken place is more difficult. The students certainly remember the sessions but do they remember the content!”

What would be your advice to others trying to do this?
“I’m no techno expert by any means but if technology scares you then just speak to someone who has used it. It literally takes 20 minutes to set up your database and then it’s done. After that it’s a couple of minutes to set up in class. Don’t use it too frequently as it becomes too familiar: that way the students continue to engage with the process. Don’t use too many questions and change your format, it keeps the audience on their toes.”

BestofTEL_SMALLElaine Hughes
Senior Lecturer Adult Nursing & SOLSTICE Fellow

Getting Started with Virtual Reality

A Google CardboardWe have a weekly meeting in Learning Technology Development where we get together to talk about things that have interested or inspired us. Recently I brought along my Google Cardboard so that the team could try out some Virtual Reality experiences.

There is a lot of interest in Virtual Reality at the moment with Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR and the development of a wide range of headsets including those which use your phone as a screen and computer, and those which are standalone devices. Google Cardboard is one of those which holds a compatible phone, and is at the cheaper end of the scale as you can make it yourself, or buy it semi-assembled for less than £20.

My Google Cardboard As you can see I’ve added a velcro strap to make it hands free and Sugru to protect it from skin as it was getting used by a lot of people. A Bluetooth controller is also needed to use some Virtual Reality apps, but not all.

There is a dedicated Cardboard app for Android devices which demonstrates potential uses; I’ve looked at this in detail in another blog post. There is also a web page that you can visit to experience more experiments. The easiest way to create basic content yourself is by making Photo Spheres which newer (4.2+) Android devices can create using the default camera app. Another really good Android app to get you started is Tuscany Dive which displays a 3D environment that you can explore, and doesn’t require a controller.

As for possible uses in education we talked about ideas such as allowing new or potential students to view their rooms, or areas of campus, if they cannot access them for whatever reason. We wondered about using the headsets for Augmented Reality; the only AR example I’ve seen is the demo for a Role Playing Game. In the long term we could perhaps do some of the things that we’ve used 3D Virtual Worlds like Second Life for, such as running virtual risk assessments and role plays. Merchant et al (2014) undertook a meta-analysis of research into use of this ‘desktop-based virtual reality’ in education, which might be a good starting point to explore what has already been learned in this area.

We’re still quite a way from these technologies being ready for mainstream use; Gartner’s 2014 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies estimates that it will be 5-10 years before Virtual Reality reaches the Plateau of Productivity. There are also many issues to overcome such as motion sickness. However affordable headsets that use devices that many of us already own, can help us develop a better understanding of what we could use these technologies for in education.

beaumont_smaller

Peter Beaumont
Learning Technology Development Officer

Blackboard Profile Tool

Untitled-3Many people have uploaded profile pictures to Blackboard. When they post messages on Blackboard Tools such as the Discussion Board their photos now appear next to the messages, and simple personal profile pages are available.

Research by Kear et al (2014) found that some learners in online courses felt personal profile pages helped provide social presence in the online environment, while others preferred to learn about each other from the profile messages themselves. Because different students feel differently about creating profiles you might want to give students the option of creating a profile, rather than forcing them to. However there may be situations where you want to encourage student to add profiles and if so there are privacy settings available which may help put their minds at ease if they feel uncomfortable about creating profiles.

Below is a link to a video that goes through the process of creating a Blackboard profile. This includes uploading a profile picture, and changing privacy settings.
video that goes through the process of creating a Blackboard profile

If you prefer to use a text based guide, you can also follow the instructions provided in this guide on eShare which also covers using more of Blackboard’s Social Learning Tools.

beaumont_smaller

Peter Beaumont
Learning Technology Development Officer

Tab-tastic! Learning Edge now has faculty specific resources!

For new and returning students, there is something different in Learning Edge for this year!

For those returning, you may remember the Learning Services tab within Learning Edge, but now there is something even more special for each Faculty and Department for you to use.

The old tab has been replaced by Your FoHSC Resources, Your FoE Resources or Your FAS Resources.  Each one has specific resources tailored towards your Faculty and course so that you only get the most relevant information for your studies.

FoE tab   FoHSC tab   FAS tab

In each tab you will find panels full of useful information about your subject including videos, Twitter feeds, guides and quick links to the most needed materials (such as Referencing, Academic Skills, Journals, reading lists and more!)

readinglist        roombookings        eresources

Click an image for a larger preview

 

Keep an eye on these tabs as they will be dynamically updated to bring you the most relevant information depending on the time of year and will also change depending on what you are asking for to be included.  Just use Ask Us to let us know your ideas.

If you need any help please contact the Learning Services Help Desk based in the library.

 

 

Bristol Online Survey (BOS) – New Features Coming Soon

BOS logo

The team behind Bristol Online Surveys have been working on the new and enhanced version of BOS which will be released later this year. BOS is the University supported survey tool which is easy to use and allows you to create, deploy and analyse surveys.

BOS featuresThe new version will look and feel different, with many features which will enhance the functionality within the survey design, completion and analysis.

BOS will also be mobile friendly which makes it easier for participants to complete surveys on their mobile phones or tablets – hopefully this will increase your returns!  You can even allow sharing of surveys via Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

So, what do I need to do in preparation?

 If you already have some surveys in your BOS account, please review them and close or delete any that you no longer need. This will greatly help to reduce the migration time.

We have also been advised that any unlaunched surveys with a close date set at over 2 years ago will not be migrated. If you need to keep a survey that this applies to, please ensure you modify the close date.

The Upgrade Process

The upgrade will happen towards the end of October this year. During this time, we will experience some downtime (estimated to be a day) on our University BOS account and all active surveys will be temporarily unavailable. The participants will see the message advising them to come back shortly.

Once the migration has been completed, you and your respondents will see the new updated interface.  The link to your survey will remain the same.

For more information about the upgrade date and a sneak peek into the new features and enhancements to BOS, keep checking this blog.

If you would like any further information or if you have questions regarding this, please contact us via the email at ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk or call us on 01695 650754.

 NB: Surveys containing personal information

It is worth noting that if you are collecting personal information about individuals, there are a number of legal obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998. Principle 5 of the Data Protection Act is particularly pertinent here: “Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes.” If you don’t have any specific reasons to hold on to the data, then it should be deleted. For more information about your data protection responsibilities see the ICO’s Guide to Data Protection.

nina_unsworth

 

Nina Unsworth

Learning Technology Development Operations Coordinator

 

Time to get Appy!

Smartphones and Tablets get better every year and more of you are using your mobile devices to engage with Edge Hill content on the go.

With the start of term only a few weeks away, what better time to showcase the apps available to you…

Edge Hill Central

EHU Central logo
EHU Central

 

 

 

Stay connected with Edge Hill University wherever you are.

Look-up course information, search the library catalogue, check your emails and stay up-to-date with the latest university news, videos, images, and more.

iTunes link | Google Play link

Blackboard Mobile Learn

BB Mobile
BBMobile2

 

 

 

Blackboard Mobile Learn makes it easier for you to keep up with your courses by letting you access them whenever and wherever you want – now on WiFi and cellular!

We have also bundled a copy of this in to the Edge Hill Central App – so there is no need to install separately.

iTunes link | Google Play link

Blackboard Collaborate

CollaborateCollaborate2

 

 

 

Blackboard Collaborate is Edge Hill’s web conferencing tool. Collaborate provides an online environment where students and staff can engage in a live web conference for online classes, meetings, one-on-one tutoring, and much more.

In order to attend a Blackboard Collaborate session your tutor will need to schedule a session or create a room.

iTunes link | Google Play link

For more information on mobile enabled content available at Edge Hill University can be found here

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

JL_Blog

 

 

 

 

John Langford

Learning Technology Development Systems Officer

Collaborating all over the world

Using Blackboard Collaborate to support students based outside the UK

Pam Nicol has a number of roles at the University – this posting involves her work on the Masters in International Higher Education. Pam has been using Collaborate since it was introduced to the MIHE team about four years ago, and previously to that used the Wimba system.  This piece is derived from an interview I did with Pam on 6th August 2014.

“I teach on the Masters in International Higher Education – specifically a series of six sessions about strategic management, via Collaborate, to students located all over the world. Collaborate has been really useful – allowing me to present live and to recorded the sessions for students who can’t join at the time.

Bb Collab Image

Blackboard Collaborate ©

Collaborate is a great piece of technology – it’s been very reliable – it hasn’t let me down once!

When I was first asked to teach using web conferencing technologies I was quite nervous, but quite quickly it became evident how easy it was to use – to the extent that an IT novice like myself could use the technology quite effectively.

My introduction to the Collaborate system was hardly ideal – consisting of a quick run through from colleagues about half an hour before I was due to give a session. Needless to say, there were a few problems with that first session, but now I have a big ‘Press the Record Button’ above my monitor as a reminder!

The structure of my sessions are an hour for a lecture, then an hour for follow-up questions / individual tutorial. The six sessions are delivered around 5:30pm, for an hour, with tutorials / questions between 6:30 and 7:30. The twilight timing seems to fit in with students across multiple time zones.

Students use the mic or the chat window to ask questions during the session, and I remain online for up to an hour after the lecture to pick up on individual questions that students don’t want to raise in front of the group.

One of the main issues I’ve had to overcome is finding a quiet space – a shared office is not ideal. My currently favourite location is one of the small rooms in the SIC – as beyond 5pm it gets very quiet and I can borrow their headphones and camera.

Other issues I’ve experienced is unsuitable equipment that students or visiting lectures might try to use. We’ve also had some issues with visiting lecturers using Mac equipment. However, on the whole we’ve not had many issues with student’s equipment – noting that the instructions that Blackboard and Edge Hill have put in place to support students is very good (http://www.eshare.edgehill.ac.uk/1642/)– most students who are experiencing problems try to solve it themselves using the guides before they contact me.  A new guide is available via eShare on equipment that has been tested by Learning Services and is consdered to work well with Blackboard Collaborate (http://www.eshare.edgehill.ac.uk/5262/).

I’ve also noticed that teams in the Faculty of Health are more ready to try new technologies such as Collaborate.

I don’t think we would be able to deliver the qualification without Collaborate – I can’t see a way of getting students from all over the world involved in a class discussion except through web conferencing technologies.

My advice to staff thinking of doing some sessions with their students is just to have a go – and don’t get put off by the first few steps (that can be a little daunting for the novice). Also, write a script and print this out to have with you as you deliver – this is very useful for ‘filling in’ when there are gaps in the flow – and include comments such as what the weather’s been like recently. And if you are in a shared office, find somewhere else, or book a classroom.

My advice to the institution would be to see if Collaborate might be used to make courses that are not viable due to low numbers open to a wider audience.

And finally, one thing I’d really like is a feature to enable me to have a room available to invite students from anywhere in – not needing to setup a course area for them.”

 

BestofTEL_SMALLPam Nicol
Learning Facilitator
Student Services

Telephone:  01695 584190 x 4190
Email: nicolp@edgehill.ac.uk

 

It’s evident that Pam is very enthusiastic about the Collaborate technology – and she is demonstrating excellent practice in terms of delivery and recording. Pam would be pleased to discuss this with anyone at Edge Hill – her contact details are above.

I have also helped Pam achieve her final request above – using a tutor room in a course area. I’ll be creating a guide and blog post about this technique in a later posting, but it you want to know about this or any of the tools within the Learning Edge Suite contact your Learning Technologist (see the Faculty Contacts on this page) or email the LTD Team on LTDSupport@edgehill.ac.uk or x7754.

What Equipment do I Need to Collaborate?

Classroom PCs with Blackboard Collaborate Logo insetBlackboard Collaborate is a real-time web conferencing and online learning tool that can be used to support teaching and learning and other collaborative projects, and is generating a great deal of interest within Faculties and Departments at Edge Hill University. There has been a major increase in its use for taught sessions, meetings and student support.Close-up of Plantronics Headset

Learning Technology Development (LTD) is often asked, “what equipment do I need to fully participate in a Blackboard Collaborate session?”  So we have come-up with a document and resources that allow you to “try before you buy”.

The eShare guide (LTD5032: Blackboard Collaborate: Audio and Video Equipment) outlines best practices and suggests equipment recommended by LTD based on our own experience of using it with Blackboard Collaborate.

Open boc with Blackboard Collaborate logo floating aboveNow, the try before you buy element comes from the investment made by Learning Services in quality equipment that you can borrow from the Library and testing it prior to your own or departmental purchase.

Want to learn more about Blackboard Collaborate and the benefits for staff and students who need real-time virtual collaboration.  Contact your LTDO for more information, consultation and any training you wish to explore.

Martin Baxter

 

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer