Rubrics… So what are they anyway?

Recently in the Learning Technology Department we’ve been taking lots of calls and emails from staff wanting to use Rubrics in their teaching and learning but specifically, marking.

What are they?

Rubrics could also be called Grading or Marking Criteria.  I’m sure many of you are used to the grid system used to mark students work using ‘Scales’ (e.g. 1st, 2:1, 2nd etc… / Pass, Merit, Distinction etc…) and ‘Criteria’ (e.g. Knowledge, Presentation, Understanding, Content etc…)

If you translate your paper criterias into a rubric in Blackboard (or Turnitin) you can use them electronically to mark your students’ work quickly and efficiently.  There are of course some limitations (for instance you can’t annotate a rubric as some would on a paper copy) but once you learn to work with them and create your own departmental methods, in time it should become much quicker and easier.  The best bit is that it’s all saved alongside the submitted work so that students can always refer to it and staff can always cross check their marks or conduct second marking easily.


Where do I set them up?

Rubrics are available in both Turnitin and with a number of Blackboard (Learning Edge) tools such as Blogs, Wikis, Discussion Forums and Assignments.

However! Turnitin only likes Turnitin Rubrics and Blackboard only likes Blackboard Rubrics.

If you create a rubric you can use it multiple times across different submissions, so for example; if you create a rubric in Turnitin you can use it across multiple Turnitin dropboxes.  The same goes for Blackboard tools.

You can also ‘share’ rubrics with others – so if you’ve created a rubric someone else can grab a copy from you to use in their own assignments (you export it, email it to them and they import it).

For details on how and where to find and set up Turnitin Rubrics check out the package created especially for just that: Turnitin Rubrics ePackageRubricsPackage

For Blackboard Rubrics check out the Blackboard help pages:
Blackboard Rubrics Guide


So why should I use them?

Rubrics can speed up your marking and can also take away some of the extensive writing that you have to do when giving feedback.  If used well you should find that you write less ‘generic’ things and can focus more on specific student feedback.

Rubrics can also help with consistency – if all the module or programme tutors use the same rubric then students across that module or course will have more of the same, equal feedback so there will be less disparity.

Rubrics can be used alongside Quickmarks or comments and also general comments, audio feedback and the final overall mark.

We hope you find it useful and helpful to use rubrics in your practice.  Let us know if you have any comments about them or if you need any further support to roll them out.




Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer

Collaborate Ultra now available to all courses

Earlier today we upgraded the University’s web-conferencing system, Blackboard Collaborate, to the new, user-friendly, ‘Ultra’ experience.

All 2015 courses have a link from their main menu to the Collaborate system – users simply need to click on the Collaborate button on the left, then Join Room buttons to launch the web conferencing system:


Blackboard’s Collaborate Ultra Tutorials provide a good overview of the updated interface. Take a look at this Blackboard Collaborate video to see what it looks like in action.

You can also use Collaborate Ultra as you own ‘Virtual Office’ – to meet with students or colleagues remotely.  Here is a guide and a video showing how to do this:

Support and Guidance

Remember, the Learning Technology Development are always here to help you with your use of technologies – so, whether you are an existing Collaborate user who wants to talk about how the upgrade will affect your current practice, or whether you are a first time user who wants to take advantage of the new Ultra web-conferencing interface, please do get in touch.

David Callaghan
Learning Technology Development Officer

Lecture capture … what’s in a name?


That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

To paraphrase Juliet’s speech to Romeo, what matters is what something is, not what it is called. The term lecture capture is a case in point as it invokes a whole range of responses and assumptions. As Edge Hill are rolling out a 12 month lecture capture pilot, it seems timely to look at what it is, the benefits it brings, and how it will be applied here at Edge Hill.

LLecture capture Poster

Some of the benefits of lecture capture
This is not a new technology and the benefits have been researched in various institutions. Studies suggest that students can participate more actively in sessions when they feel able to focus less attention on taking notes. A BIS commissioned Equality Analysis published in December 2014 advised that lecture capture has the potential to assist autonomous learning. There is also evidence that students tend to review short passages rather than watching or re-watching entire recordings, suggesting that they tend to use the facility to review complex or important parts of the lecture. According to our academic colleagues in the FoHSC who tested the lecture capture software over the summer, it was both a positive experience and simple to use.

The elephant in the room …
One common argument against the introduction of lecture capture is that it will have a negative impact on student attendance at lectures. Although lecture capture might be expected to reduce attendance, there is little evidence of this among UK HE institutions. Most recently, the Times Higher reported how Queens University Belfast monitored the introduction of lecture capture and concluded that it did not impact on attendance.
Two short case studies from the University of Leicester also discuss the impact on attendance

Lecture Capture at Edge Hill
The software is called Panopto and it will capture and sync audio and presentation materials. Video will not be captured by default but will be an option. The tutor controls what is recorded, when it is released and for how long it is available. Access to recordings will be password protected via Learning Edge and there is the option to stream content and therefore prohibit its download by others.

To start with, the software has been installed in all 9 lecture theatres on the Ormskirk campus but use will be on an ‘opt in’ basis for the purpose of supplementing students’ learning and development. It is not intended as a replacement for student attendance at sessions or as a replacement for face-to-face teaching.

Lecture capture is most often used as an extension of the classroom through a ‘flipped’ or blended learning approach, but also supports distance learning as a replacement for the traditional ‘live’ format. The software is ideal for the ‘flipped’ approach as it can also be used to make talking heads or narrated screencasts from your own computer.
In the coming weeks we’ll push out more information about the pilot and the many benefits we anticipate it will provide. Meanwhile, if you would like to know more, please contact

Lindsey Martin Assitant Head of Learning Services

Lindsey Martin


Collaborate to be upgraded on Mon 16th November

We’ve listened to your feedback and will be upgrading the university’s web-conferencing system, Blackboard Collaborate, to a new, user-friendly, ‘Ultra’ experience on Mon 16th November at 2 am.

Improvement Highlights

  • Online sessions can be accessed easily and quickly from within the browser;
  • An intuitive and clutter-free interface;
  • Your course room stays open 24/7 allowing independent student work;
  • Live closed captioning features.

Take a look at this Blackboard Collaborate video to see what it looks like in action.



Blackboard’s Collaborate Ultra Tutorials provide a good overview of the updated interface and their release notes will tell you more about the Ultra Experience and the Ultra Changes.

Collaborate Briefing

Full details of the upgrade and planned improvements are covered in this Collaborate Upgrade Briefing Document.







Support and Guidance

Remember, the Learning Technology Development division are always here to help you with your use of technologies – so, whether you are an existing Collaborate user who wants to talk about how the upgrade will affect your current practice, or whether you are a first time user who wants to take advantage of the new Ultra web-conferencing interface, please do get in touch.

David Callaghan
Learning Technology Development Officer

Record and Share TV and Radio Programmes Online with Box of Broadcasts

BoB Logo Box of Broadcasts (BoB) is an online service which makes it easy for you to legally record programmes from the TV and Radio, and to make them available to your students online.

Not only that, but you can access the recordings others have made, and students have access to record and share programmes themselves.

You can access BoB by going directly to the website at, selecting ‘Log In’ and typing ‘Edge Hill University’ as the organisation name. You will then be prompted to type in your Edge Hill username and password.

Alternatively you can access the Edge Hill Library Catalogue and search in there for ‘Box of Broadcasts’.

We have put together a guide which covers how to record, create clips and playlists, embed videos in Blackboard, and get notifications of upcoming broadcasts on a topic.



Peter Beaumont
Learning Technology Development Officer

Upgrade to our web conferencing tool

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Next month LTD will be upgrading our web conferencing system Collaborate Ultra, a faster, easier, and more intuitive system that has been well received during stakeholder testing.

YouTube video of Ultra Here’s a great introductory video from Blackboard that covers most of the features effectively:

Our testers found the system to be very easy to get into and use. Note that as this is an early version of the system some of the features of the current version of Collaborate, such as polling, breakout rooms and support for iPhones and iPads are still in development.  LTD have a handful of ‘Classic’ Collaborate rooms available for users who need to use the earlier version of the system.

All courses from 2015 onward have a link in the course menu to Collaborate, and when the upgrade is complete anyone clicking on those links, staff or student, will be taken to a Collaborate Ultra room.

Please get in touch with us for further information about the Collaborate Ultra upgrade – if you want to use the system with your students now we can create a few of the new types of Collaborate rooms ahead of the general release of the upgrade.

For further help and support on this or any others aspect of Learning Technology, please contact your faculty Learning Technologist.

David Callaghan

ALT-C Conference 2015: Some things to consider

ALT-CALT-C is the main annual conference for the Association for Learning Technology. It is a great environment in which to see what others are doing, and to think about some of the big ideas that affect education.

In this post I’ll share some of the messages from the conference that I personally would like to consider further.

Keynote: Steve Wheeler
Key Message – Students could help us think in different ways.

Steve Wheeler from Plymouth University explored how learning is changing, and how we may need the help of students to help us think in new ways.

It can be difficult for us to notice the opportunities that new technology offers us; things change fast and we have little time. I was reminded that in around 2008 there was a short time when students often complained that they couldn’t get on campus computers to do work, because almost every computer was logged into Facebook. It was the consequence of a time just after the growth and adoption of social media, but just before everyone had smartphones that could be used to access the social media tools. These sort of odd things happen, and almost before we can react properly they’ve changed again. If these situations (both opportunities and challenges) are difficult to predict in the short term, then in the long term it is impossible to think what might change and how the collection of those changes working together might affect our context.

We could learn from each year’s intake of students about how technology could be used. Steve used the example of interactive whiteboards where early users just used them like blackboards, but someone without the experience of using blackboards who was given time to explore, might discover the possibilities.

In the past the learning technologies we had such as videos, and TVs, were primarily transmission tools, but now networked technologies can help move us towards student centered learning.

Teachers are often nervous about using technology, because there can be aspects of technology use that they think the students understand better than them. Even Steve’s students reported feeling like this when they went into school to do teaching practice and became the teacher, so the nervousness doesn’t seem to be related to age and experience with the technology. Personally I feel the same in induction sessions with the students when you advise a student to solve an issue one way, and other students come with other (sometimes better) solutions. I feel like I’m losing the position of ‘expert’, but as Steve is saying, perhaps we have to accept that in a complex changing environment there is no alternative.

On the topic of where the technological expertise lies, Steve pointed out that the ‘Visitors’ and ‘Residents’ theory is better than the much criticised ‘Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants’ theory if we are going to understand the way staff and students approach technological tools and spaces.

Keynote: Phillip Long
Key Messages – Cognitive Science can tell us a lot about learning. Performance and learning are not the same.

Phillip Long from the University of Texas at Austin spoke about the importance of using what we know from cognitive science when designing learning activities and environments.

First he talked about Soderstrom and Bjork’s work on the difference between learning and performance, where “Learning reflects the relatively permanent changes in behaviour or knowledge that support long-term retention & transfer” and performance is the “temporary fluctuations in behaviour or knowledge that can be observed and measured during or immediately after the first acquisition process”.

He discussed how there are different techniques for practicing in learning (e.g. distributed practice), and how some will work better for short term performance and some for long term learning. This can cause problems when working with students as they can really enjoy the results of short term performance gains and find aiming for these motivating. Long term learning methods with initially poor results can cause them to react badly.

He talked about EdX’s use of Cerego (see Jessie Brown’s overview) which is software that learns your personalised memory decay curve and aims to use this to optimise learning and methods of practice. Also if we want to encourage students to do important, but potentially tedious learning activities there is evidence that introducing transcendent purpose can help students, especially those with poor grades to start with.

He finished with the question “How can we bring good learning science into elegant learning environments that fit your institutional culture?”

Keynote: Laura Czeriewicz
Key Message – Online learning can play a role in reducing inequality.

Laura Czerniewicz spoke on the effects of online learning on inequality. She notes that we saw $1.87 billion (£1.22 billion) in ed tech funding in 2014, which means the effects cannot be large, including the effects on the developing world. She referred to Therborn’s 2013 book that looks at types of inequality to consider.

To face challenges in this area, she mentioned that we need to be aware of:

  • how online learning benefits some groups more than others
  • how learners need help so that they are prepared to learn in the online environment
  • how access to electricity and the internet affects any strategy
  • how mobile may be the answer if the price of data can be reduced
  • how verification of learning rather than learning alone is required for people to get jobs
  • how colonial attitudes need to be avoided and pluralistic epistemologies considered

Other Things of Interest
Key Message – Technology is not neutral.

The work P.A. Danaher was presenting was based on Affordance Theory (Gibson, 1979) via Actor-Network Theory (Wright & Parchoma, 2011). He mentioned how these theories say that technology is not neutral but shapes and is shaped by its users and occupants, and how effective research needs to respect that.

Key Message – Learning Technologists should be agents of change.

Peter Bryant from London School of Economics talked about the ‘Middle Out’ approach to institutional change. This was a concept taken from politics about the importance of creating growth through the middle classes, but in his focus on institutional change he says that there is a problem when Learning Technologists end up just maintaining the status quo by just supporting existing practices and not innovating new ones.

Peter argued that Learning Technologists should see themselves as agents and leaders of change at a strategic level and that we should aim for “a role where the learning technologist argues, lobbies, supports and resources change and where they work to break down functional barriers and silos between academic and professional services, in order to seek change through the development and celebration of a collective identity”.

Key Message – Technology affects power dynamics between teachers and learners.

Jonathon Worth spoke about his experiences as a photographer, how he learned to take advantage of the open nature of the web, and the resulting open course he ran. He discussed ethics around loss of privacy, changes to power within a class, cultural and technological barriers that might emerge, and how technology might affect trust. The idea that students should be asked to give informed consent around their use of ‘the digital’ is a challenge.

Key Message – Virtual field trips are possible, but require a lot of initial development.

Work from the School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds was presented, where they had created a field trip environment (works best in Firefox) using the Unity game engine. This allowed field trip activities to be undertaken without the travelling, and allowed disabled students to participate more fully in them. The level of detail was only really suitable for undergraduate study, and they are looking at the possibilities of developing it in more detail for post-graduate learners. Adding hand drawn field sketches to the simulation alone took 80 hours work, which indicates the time taken up by the project.


Peter Beaumont
Learning Technology Development Officer

Blackboard Collaborate Video Case Study 3 of 3

Third and final case study in the series (part 1 and part 2)

Caroline Galon, Graduate Teaching Assistant, in Performing Arts, explains the importance of mastering any new technology and how Blackboard Collaborate provides her with the most stable and reliable platform from which to conduct her research interviews. Caroline tell us how Person looking at image of people-overlay and world map.crucial it is for her research that she has confidence using the technology, especially as her research involves meeting online with extremely busy people, experts from around the world.

On attending training and after talking to her Faculty Learning Technologist, Caroline explains why she continued using Blackboard Collaborate and how she felt it offered her the complete and robust solution she needed.  It was also important to Caroline, that the web conferencing tool used is widely supported in terms of providing best practice resources, guidance and buddy support, particularly as a first time user.

Caroline Galon - youtube playerCaroline describes her own experience of interviewing participants, all of whom are external to Edge Hill University with no previous experience of Blackboard Collaborate and the challenges she faced along the way.  She continues to compare Blackboard Collaborate with Skype, which she feels is more user friendly.

The next release of Collaborate, ‘Ultra’, is currently being evaluated by LTD with internal stakeholders and external colleagues.  It has the potential to offer significant benefits over the current version, such as ease of entry and a more attractive and intuitive interface.

Blog 3 Bb Collab Case StudyBlackboard’s release notes will tell you more about the < The Ultra Experience > and < The Ultra Changes

If you feel inspired by this and other videos in the series and want to learn more about web conferencing (Blackboard Collaborate) and other technologies, your Learning Technologist can help.

In addition, you can access to Blackboard Collaborate training session, talk to your Learning Technologist or book onto a session via the Staff Learning and Development Programme:  Developing Digital Excellence

Martin Baxter
Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer

Summer’s over… Let’s welcome the new term!

We wave goodbye to the long days, sunshine(?!) and quiet campus but instead we greet our new students and all the fun – and challenges – that the new term brings!

So what’s been happening lately in the world of learning technology? Well, possibly not much that you can actually see but plenty has been going on behind the scenes as well as enhancements to what was already there.

LEHomeYou may have firstly noticed that we’ve gone purple! Yes, in keeping with the Learning Services chosen corporate colour we have matched this in the Learning Edge look.  We think it looks rather smart – let us know what you think…

Momentum has picked up in our Faculty Resources areas in Learning Edge (you will see these as ‘Your FoE Resources‘, ‘Your FoHSC Resources‘ or ‘Your FAS Resources‘, with new ‘panels’ being created all the time to host useful information for students including job updates, events on campus and pinpointing handy learning resources.  Lots of departments have asked for their Twitter feeds to be added to the Learning Edge Homepage too.  If you want yours on there get in touch with LTD to find out how!

Possibly for the first in quite some time we didn’t apply a major update to Learning Edge.  We still carried out an update to the system to ensure it’s as robust and reliable as possible for this coming year.  The update fixed a number of ‘bugs’ and also streamlined some of the processes to hopefully make everything work faster.

Qwickly continues to be a popular tool for staff to ‘qwickly’ make their courses available.  Don’t forget to do this so your new students can see their modules or programme areas! You can find it at the bottom of your Course list on the Learning Edge Home page.

With any luck before Christmas we will welcome the new Learning Edge/Blackboard Mobile App for students.  This will bring an updated and improved experience to students who prefer to use their mobiles for their learning.  Watch this space for further information! We may also soon see a Blackboard Mobile App specifically for Instructors! Again watch this space for further information.  (If you are using the Learning Edge/Blackboard Assignment tool for submissions don’t forget you can download the ‘Grader‘ app to mark students’ work on your tablet) or for iPad users, you can get the Turnitin marking app.

The new BOS (Bristol Online Surveys) interface came in before summer and we hope that you’re enjoying using the additional functionality it came with, the easy to use face-lift and mobile friendliness!  If you aren’t currently using BOS – you might wish to take a closer look at what it can do for you here: BOS Help & Support.
Get in touch with LTD to get a free account to use for whatever you need it for – student surveys, evaluations, research, opinion gathering and much more!

Other little goodies…
eShare continues to grow in popularity for staff to host their teaching materials.  Every member of staff has an account using their staff login details to access it.

ispringExampleiSpring for rapid e-learning content development using PowerPoint has taken off in a number of departments.  If you want to find out more contact LTD for some examples or find out if we’ve got a license we can allocate to you.  In addition to this we should hopefully be welcoming Office Mix too… again, watch this space!

In LTD we’ve got some really exciting projects already kicking off.  These include work around User Experience testing, Reading List integration with Learning Edge, Staff Knowledge Base plus much, much more (In the region of 40+ projects in fact!)
One project in particular will see the development and deployment of a TLA (Teaching Learning and Assessment) Tab that will join the others in Learning Edge.  We aim to include exciting and informative help, guidance and support in regards to all things Teaching and Learning.  We’ll be approaching as many departments as possible for their input so please share with us your ideas!

This is a really exciting year coming up and we are looking forward to working with as many of our wider colleagues as possible over the coming year.  Contact your Learning Technologist for all your Teaching and Learning with Technology needs (not just Learning Edge!) The earlier you get them involved with their skills and expertise the greater the satisfaction you will have when your ideas come to fruition!  Details of your Learning Technologist can be found by clicking here.

Have a fantastic 2015/16 academic year and keep in touch!




Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer


Blackboard Collaborate Case Study 2 of 3

Blog 2 Bb Collab Case Study cropLesley Briscoe, Senior Lecturer on the International Midwifery Programme.  Lesley explains in this the second in a series of three video case studies (click to view the first in the series), the challenges of delivering a programme aimed at both conventional students and those accessing the programme online and from overseas.

She goes on to mention the solutions Blackboard Collaborate provided her, the Midwifery Team and the students studying the programme, particularly those attending from all corners of the world.

Lesley’s video outlines her personal experience and the significance that technology can play to instil confidence in developing an online course that is able to deliver all that it promises.

Click the YouTube image below to hear more about Lesley’s experience…LB youtube_player

If you feel inspired by this and other videos in the series and want to learn more about web conferencing (Blackboard Collaborate), your Learning Technologist can help.

In addition, you can access to Blackboard Collaborate training, talk to your Learning Technologist or book onto a session via Staff Learning and Development Programme: Developing Digital Excellence

Martin Baxter
Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer