Understanding our student and staff experience of learning technologies

‘Nothing endures but change’. Heraclitus. So true.

This time a year ago I was urging students to complete the 6th EHU Student e-Learning Survey and a whopping 798 actually did. Today I am able to publish the full report and recommendations based on the analysis of that survey’s results. We are very grateful for our students’ generosity with their time and feedback. It is our hope that we repay them with year-on-year improvements that show we are actually listening to what they are telling us.

students using a laptop. Cover of survey report

Cover from survey report

 

The survey’s findings shed light on a number of topics:

  • Access to technology
  • Trend analysis in the use/ experience of Learning Edge since 2008/09
  • Positive and negative features of Learning Edge
  • What students think makes for an ‘ideal’ digital learning environment

 

But there’s more …

 

In addition to publicising the student survey findings, this post is also a call for feedback via its sister survey into academic staff engagement with technology, library and services to support teaching. The survey is currently live until midnight on 29th January [now extended to midnight 5th February] and can be accessed from the Learning Edge home page. We’ve even been able to secure three lots of £15 Amazon vouchers for a free prize draw for entrants.

Please complete the survey and help us to better understand your experience of using technology and the services that underpin it. We have learned over many years that success in providing and supporting learning technologies doesn’t come from following a ‘how to’ guide, but is highly context specific, dependent upon properly understanding how people use them – and what it feels like to use them. Tell us how it is for you and contribute to the ongoing improvement.

Lindsey Martin Assitant Head of Learning Services

Lindsey Martin

Technology Supported Learning – A Wright Rubric

Andrea Wright – FLM3023 (CW1)
Good Practice Award
This summer, for the first time, Film Studies moved over to marking using Turnitin, and we decided that we wanted to make that marking as useful to the students as possible by indicating how they were scoring in relation to the grade criteria of 0-100, how well they were meeting the LOs and also by preserving some personal feedback that we have always used and been praised for by external examiners.

After help from Martin and Carol [in the Learning Technology Development Team], it became clear that rubrics, in conjunction with quick marks and a personal comments would be the best way to achieve this. We removed the numerical scoring from the rubric and used our existing levels 4, 5 and 6 grade descriptors to create three generic rubrics that could be shared with all the module leaders. Each of the module leaders then added the specific LOs for each of their assignments to the rubric and attached it to modules. That way, all students in each level would score against a common criteria and also specific LOs for each module.

Quick Marks, Film Studies Set

     FLM3023_4FLM3023_5

In terms of the quick marks, while many of the general, provided ones are useful, there are also certain things that Film Studies regularly comments on – including italicising in film titles, making sure there is a reference for each film, adding names of actors, how to handle quotations and so on. I asked around the team and created a collaborative list from the feedback. I then created a new quick mark set and shared this with the team in addition to the rubric.

FLM3023_3   FLM3023_2

The overall result is that we have a good, standardised way of approaching marking across the programme and students can expect a consistent experience across the modules that they are studying. So far, student feedback from the third years has been overwhelmingly positive and a number have commented, in particular, that they have found the marking very clear and beneficial.

If you are interested in following in Andrea’s footsteps please get in touch with the Learning Technology Team in Learning Services and we can show you some other examples of what other departments are doing with rubrics and you can see if you would benefit from adopting a similar approach.

AWright

 

 

Andrea Wright
Senior Lecturer – Film Studies

 

LTD_Carol_Chatten

 

 

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer – FAS

 

Martin Baxter

 

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer – FAS

 

 

 

Keep Calm and Submit this Christmas

LS0391-Submissions-Blog1

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, Playstation and elf onesie don’t forget your end of term submissions!

During November our team of Student Advisors ran a series of 10 drop in sessions to answer all your queries about online submission. If you missed these, don’t worry! Our Student Advisors are based at the Ask Desk and are available 11-4pm during weekdays and we’ve also drawn together some good practice in this blog post 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. If you need further help submitting your work online, you can also speak to a member of staff at the Ask Desk (9am-7pm weekdays) or you can Ask Us online.

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, 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….

… 5 UniSkills Packages!

The Uniskills online submission page is something definitely worth bookmarking to your browser favorites. Here you can gain access to all online submission guides and the online Turnitin toolkit (see below).

TiiPackage

In addition on ‘Your FoE Resources‘ or ‘Your FoHSC Resources‘ or ‘Your FAS Resources‘ tab from the Learning Edge Homepage you get access to ‘UniSkills Online Toolkits‘:

  • Referencing
  • Planning Your Assignment
  • Finding Academic Information
  • Dissertations

 

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.

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!

 



LTD_Carol_Chattenwordpresspenpic

Carol Chatten & Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officers

 

 

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.

Rubric

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

blackboardRubrics

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.

LTD_Carol_Chatten

 

 

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:

CollaborateTool

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?

Image

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
http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/lli/tel/lecture-capture/case-study
http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/lli/repository/case-studies/lecture-capture-experiences

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 lecturecapture@edgehill.ac.uk

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 http://bobnational.net/, 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.

 

beaumont_smaller

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.


beaumont_smaller

Peter Beaumont
Learning Technology Development Officer