Technologies are an “absolute lifeline” for our students!

Blackboard Collaborate and discussion forums help build community and meet students’ emotional and learning needs.

Readers of this Learning Edge blog will be familiar with our Best of TEL series, where we invite colleagues from across the university to guest author posts about their practice, to inform and inspire others. This post has a guest author, but is slightly different, as this time we hear from one of our recent graduates.

Lisa Corcoran, a student on the BA (Hons) Teaching, Learning and Mentoring Practice in 2012-13 and talks about her experience of the TMP3000 Work-Based Research module which incorporated the use of discussion forums and weekly webinars via Blackboard Collaborate:

“Distance learning for me was a very isolating experience, TMP3000 was the final milestone of a long and arduous journey. At times the daily slog of work, family and study seemed relentless with no light at the end of the tunnel. I was at the end of four years study and had found communication a barrier in most of the other modules I had completed.

I think universities who offer distance learning don’t always consider these emotional factors, Edge Hill certainly offered great resources in terms of its library postal service, taster days and written material. But nothing compares to human contact and being able to have that reassurance that you are on the right track.

Whilst completing TMP3000 my feelings are that the communication and support was outstanding and as a learning community we all came together in the final hour though the discussion boards and the webinar to support each other. That learning community was only facilitated because of those discussion boards and webinars, for some people it was an absolute lifeline and the importance should not be underestimated as very important emotional needs and learning needs were met daily on those discussion boards.

On a personal note the webinar sessions were most helpful, the experience I was having with distance learning was very abstract and the webinar made it a concrete tangible process which brought about a change in my state of mind that yes I was on the right track, yes other people were feeling the same way and yes there was somebody there (David) to reaffirm I wasn’t going mad.

I cannot emphasise how important it was for me to take part in live discussions without the misinterpretation of email and the long text, to be able to speak rather than type a question and be part of a discussion with real live people. The experience for me was absolutely invaluable on every level and absolutely without a doubt was a contributing factor to achieving a first class honours.”

BestofTEL_SMALL

Lisa’s story powerfully illustrates the positive effect that technology can have.  Her words describe how the use of technologies, and particularly the web conferencing tool, helped connect her with her fellow students and tutor, and offered ‘human contact’, which addressed her need for emotional support during learning.

At Edge Hill we have built up a critical mass of good practice that can be accessed by staff who are thinking of incorporating these technologies into their courses. If you have been inspired and would like to learn more your Learning Technologist can help.

You are also invited to join a Developing Digital Excellence staff development session:

…and you have access to a wide range of user guides on eShare:

If you enjoyed this post, you might also be interested in some of our previous Best of TEL guest entries:

Turnitin Grades – What Has Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen!

It’s that time again… marking.

Very few would actually admit to enjoying marking reams of students’ work right after the Christmas break but it is a necessary (evil) task.

And to make things worse, students seem to be finding their grades out early! How on Earth did that happen? You’ve done everything you thought you needed to, so how are they getting them!?

Yes, the process to hide grades and marks from students is a little convoluted. Ideally we’d have a single button that we could use to hide and then un-hide whenever we want (or even better, on a specific date!) but alas, no such magic exists… yet.  Whilst we await with fingers crossed for a better way, there are a couple of things you need to do now to get it right.

Here’s our top 5 tips for hiding grades:

  1. Remember the Post Date (This is the date on which TURNITIN gives access to any marks and comments you have left via the Turnitin Grade Mark feature).
    1
  2. Remember the option (within Optional Settings when setting up Turnitin) for ‘Reveal grades to students only on post date? > YES
    2
  3. Remember to hide the relevant column in the Grade Centre also (Turnitin is a separate programme to Blackboard, so don’t forget that not only do you have to hide in Turnitin, but also in Blackboard!)
    3
  4. Check that the grade isn’t being fed through to another column that ISN’T hidden! For example Total or Weighted Total column.
    4
  5. The final one that can be very annoying… if you forget to hide the grades until after you’ve entered marks, then even if you hide the columns retrospectively, if a student has already been in and seen their grade then it may have ‘cached’ on their web browser so regardless of what you do, they’ll still get to it!

If you have any questions at all about this information get in touch with your local friendly Learning Technologist for your department who will be more than happy to help our with any queries or niggles you may have with using Turnitin or Blackboard (or any other learning technology for that matter!)

Oh, still here? Excellent! How about a few more nuggets of information about online submissions?

  • Remember that Turnitin is an individual tool for checking originality in writing.  You don’t need to use it for Images, Videos, Audio, most presentations, or other work that is not predominantly text.  It’s also not designed to take group submissions, unless one person is submitting on everyone’s behalf and you know who that person is!
  • If you genuinely have a group submission, consider using the Blackboard Assignment tool which does allow submission by group (which you can also set up in Blackboard)
  • Also use Blackboard Assignment for ‘other’ file types.  Turnitin only like text files, so if you are submitting a file of a more unusual type, use Bb Assignment
  • Also with that in mind, Blackboard Assignment allows multiple file submissions – so may well be the best option if you are expecting more than one file from students.
  • Remember that Turnitin only accepts files up to 20mb in size!  Any bigger and it will be rejected!
  • Turnitin GradeMark is marking online – don’t forget that you can lose your comments if your connection is flaky (e.g. wireless) as the connection to the server will drop.  It’s probably best to make notes offline and then copy and paste them in to ensure there are no tears at the end of an epic marking sesh!
  • You can ‘navigate’ through students’ submission when marking using the arrows at the top of the page (this goes for Turnitin and Bb Assignment).
  • Don’t forget you can always download work if you find it easier for marking, or need to work offline.  Turnitin won’t allow you to upload a marked paper – so remember to make those comments so you can copy and paste, but Bb Assignment does, so you may wish to consider changing your assignment submission method.
  • It’s worth noting that we have a new feature in Blackboard Assignment called ‘Safe Assign‘.  This is an emerging originality checking tool that may in time replace Turnitin.  If you fancy giving it a go (possibly on a submission that’s not critical to having Turnitin features) then feel free to check it out in your Test Course or come and have a chat with LTD!

Carol_Chatten

 

 

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer

Students, technology and study – still time to have your say!

The 6th EHU student eLearning Survey is an important means of gathering large-scale, detailed feedback on how students experience technology in teaching and learning. Past surveys have contributed massively to our development and support of technology-enhanced learning. The current survey has a couple more weeks to run but the responses already reveal interesting trends that I thought worth sharing. Do these reflect your own experiences? There is still time to complete the survey at http://surveys.edgehill.ac.uk/elearning_2014 (and be in with a chance of winning up to £100 in Amazon vouchers).

Trend 1. Mobile devices are essential tools to support your studies

This isn’t really surprising when you think that your smart phone has more computing power than Apollo 11 when it landed a man on the moon. Apart from money, your phone is the one thing you probably won’t leave home without. Survey responses so far tell us that smart phone access to Learning Edge now seems to be a mainstream activity for accessing notifications, presentations and course content. Just under a quarter of you are using Apps to support study – RefMe, PC Availability, Dropbox, Socrative, barcode scanners and note-making apps to name a few.

Table 1 shows how mobile access to Learning Edge has increased year on year alongside other activities. Table 2 shows the types of devices that are being brought onto campus (%).

Table 2. Devices students bring onto campus.

Table 2

 

Table 1. How students use mobile devices for study

Table 1

 

 

 

 

 

Trend 2: Accessing Learning Edge on and off-campus is a much-improved experience

The 2012/13 survey revealed fewer number of you were experiencing technical difficulties when using Learning Edge on and off campus – but oddly, the most dramatic improvement was in the reduction of off campus technical difficulties.

This prompted us to take a fresh look at on-campus access to Learning Edge and I’m pleased to say that it looks like the many #getconnected roadshows and promotion of Eduroam for reliable WIFI access on campus have had a big impact. Early data from the current survey shows a significant improvement in your on campus access to Learning Edge as illustrated by tables 3 and 4.

on campus access to Eearning Edge

Table 3

 

Off campus access to Learning Edge

Table 4

 

 

 

 

 

Trend 3. Learning Edge is essential for 27/7/365 access to your course

Past surveys told us that each year more of you agree with the statement that Learning Edge enhances knowledge and understanding gained at taught sessions. Early indications are that this year is no different – but with a pleasing improvement on 2012/13. There has been a similar improvement in the response to the statement ‘my tutors regularly update Learning Edge with course information and materials –currently 93.4% of student responses agree with this statement (tables 5 and 6 illustrate).

Table 5. tutors regularly update Learning Edge

Table 5

 

Table 6. Learning Edge enhances my learning

Table 6

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst much data has been obtained by this survey so far, it is important to capture the widest sample of experiences and feedback possible. This isn’t a vanity exercise – although praise is always welcomed. As well as the good, we also welcome the bad and downright ugly! This survey is an important part of our commitment to keep listening to you so we can continue improve year on year on what we do.

Lindsey Martin Assitant Head of Learning Services

 

 

Lindsey Martin, Assistant Head of Learning Services (Learning, ICT & Media Technologies)

 

 

Keep Calm and Submit this Christmas

KeepCalmBanner

Christmas comes around quick doesn’t it!? One minute you’re moving in to halls for the term, the next you’re back off for a fortnight!

It’s hard work being a student but before you pack your Christmas hat, XBox and onesie don’t forget your end of term submissions!

We’ve drawn together some good practice to ensure that your submissions over the next week (or so) go as smoothly as you could possibly wish for. There are always chances of uncertainty, but with a little thought and preparation (like a good Christmas present) you’ll be riding as high as Father Christmas himself as opposed to slipping up on black ice.

1. On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

…advice on where to submit your work

Your first port of call for help with submission should always be your tutor.  They know where the submission dropbox is in Learning Edge and will be able to point you in the right direction.  Please ensure you follow any guidelines you have been provided with.

Keep your tutor informed of any problems you may have, especially in the days leading up to a deadline – it helps them to keep track of your progress and ensures they can help you quickly if need arises.  If you can’t get hold of your tutor, give your departmental administrators a visit.

 

2. On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

…two places to get help (Twitter and Ask Us!)

Have you ever encountered a Learning Edge or Turnitin issue during submission? If you think this could be system related, we do have preferred Twitter feeds for you to follow that will highlight any known issues:

@EdgeHillVLE provides scheduled Learning Edge maintenance alerts and up to date system notices around different technologies used within the VLE such as Turnitin.

@Turnitinstatus is the official feed for Turnitin system status, you may find that Learning Edge is fine but Turnitin is unavailable.  Checking this feed will help you diagnose an issue with Turnitin submissions.

Let’s say everything is OK technically and you have an issue around the online submission process and Learning Edge? A good starting point would be to head over to the Ask Us service and see if your question can be answered here. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can simply type your question and we will discuss it with you in real time using our live chat facility.

 

3. On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

…three web browsers

Why is it you get a technical problem right at a critical moment?  If you have given yourself time, you should be able to try another PC if you run into problems. We know that anything could happen at any moment; internet dropping out, PC crashing, wireless not connecting the list goes on, so give yourself a break and some time to try out another computer – in university, in work or even your mate’s PC. If it’s just not happening for you, see the first point (keeping in touch with your tutor).

One quick solution could be to try a different browser.  The common ones are Internet Explorer (10+), Firefox and Chrome (although you may wish to try Safari on a Mac).

Often, tutors will allow multiple submissions to an online drop-box, so you may be able to use this to your advantage. Check with your tutor and if this is the case, try submitting your work, even if not quite finished yet, to the drop-box a few days before the deadline just so you’re up to speed with the process before your final submission.
Waiting until 1 minute before the deadline isn’t the time to start figuring out how everything works!

 

4. On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

… (twenty) four hours

It may come to the time of doing your ‘final’ submission but if in Turnitin you have submitted an earlier version you will find that when you submit again everything looks the same…at least for 24 hours. You will have to wait until the next day to see your new originality report and the preview of your updated document – another good reason to be organised and get your work in handy! tiiRemember at the second stage of submitting to Turnitin you can check what you are about to submit just to be certain you’ve attached the right file.

 

5. On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

… FIVE VIDEOS!

 How do I submit  HOW DO I SUBMIT?
 How do I save my digital receipt  HOW DO I SAVE MY DIGITAL RECIEPT?
 Viewing your Turnitin Report (in Turnitin)  HOW DO I SAVE MY REPORT?
 How do I save my report  VIEWING YOUR REPORT
 Viewing your mark and feedback VIEWING YOUR MARK AND FEEDBACK (if your tutor marks online)

 

We know that when that deadline is approaching it’ll be stressful enough without unexpected niggles, so try not to leave your submission till the last minute. This echoes all points above but if done correctly will ensure the final moments before you click ‘Submit’ will be as stress-less as possible.

mini_fist_pump

Once all done, sit back, put your feet up with a nice cuppa and enjoy your Christmas holiday. Remember, if you have any problems Keep Calm and Ask Us!

 

wordpresspenpic

Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer

 

 

Carol_Chatten

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer

The 6th Student eLearning Survey (and Prize Draw)

StudentSurvey

Where does the time go? The sixth EHU student eLearning survey is now live. Telling us your experiences and expectations of the technology you use to support your learning helps us to understand what works and what doesn’t.

The survey isn’t just a tick box exercise, it drives change – as well as the good, we want to know the bad and the downright ugly so we can continue to improve the features, access and support of EHU systems like the Learning Edge virtual learning environment. Since the last survey we have, amongst other things, dramatically improved the look and feel of Learning Edge based on your feedback – including 1-click access to its home page from the Go Portal and enabled access to your subject library resources.

If you are an Edge Hill student, please (please!) complete our survey. We realise that your time is precious – especially with end of term assignment deadlines looming – and so we have added a sweetener of a prize draw of  £100, £50 and  £25 Amazon vouchers.

The survey may be accessed from the home page of Blackboard, or direct from http://surveys.edgehill.ac.uk/elearning_2014. We plan to close the survey on 23rd January 2015 and in the meantime, we look forward to hearing from you …

Lindsey Martin Assitant Head of Learning Services

 

 

Lindsey Martin, Assistant Head of Learning Services (Learning, ICT & Media Technologies)

What Does Your Blackboard Course Look Like to Students?

The Enter Student Preview buttonAcademics sometimes want to check what students can see and do within their Blackboard Courses. One way to see a student view is to select the ‘Enter Student Preview’ button at the top right of the screen.

An alternative is to set up a student account for long term use. This can be done using the ‘Add Test Student’ tool, which is available from Course Tools in the Control Panel.

The short video below talks you through the options.

Viewing Your Blackboard Course as a Student video

Test link

Using Classroom Voting Systems

Optivote HandsetsLearning Services have been supporting the use of the Optivote and TurningPoint classroom voting systems over the last eight years. Recently the sets have been moved from the Learning Technology Development offices in the LINC to the University Library.

This change means that the systems can now be booked via the Loaning Equipment page on the Learning Services Wiki and you will need to go to the Ground Floor helpdesk in the University Library at Ormskirk to collect and return the sets.

Please get in touch with us in Learning Technology Development if you need any help or guidance on the use of the systems. Our contact details and our voting system guides are available on eShare.

Finally, if you are interested in using these systems you might enjoy the recent post by Elaine Hughes about her experiences using Optivote, and I’ve recently put together a video looking at the use of Kahoot as an example of a system that allows the use of student mobile devices.

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