Blackboard Ally is being rolled out January 2019

Blackboard Ally Banner

To support our commitment to a more inclusive campus, we’re introducing a new tool called Ally!

What is Blackboard Ally

Ally helps your students get the most from their course resources, and help you make your Blackboard space inclusive for all. Blackboard Ally automatically converts course resources into a variety of formats, from HTML and e-book for reading on mobile devices, to Electronic Braille for the visually impaired, and audio for learning on the go.

Ally also helps you make small changes to resources you upload to make them more accessible, in easy-to-follow steps.

Instructors will see a small dial icon next to any uploaded content giving an indication of how accessible it is. Clicking this icon will detail issues along with helpful guidance and a simple interface to fix them. Students do not see these accessibility indicators, the only interaction they have with Ally is downloading automatically generated alternative formats.

Ally accessible score icons.

Ally is being rolled out in the New Year (January 2019): to find out more, explore these quick guides from Blackboard to get you started.

For Instructors – get to know Ally

For Students – How to access usable resources

Twitter users can also follow #BbAlly to see how others across the HE sector are using Ally.

If you would like any further information about Blackboard Ally, and other learning technologies, please contact your Technologist via Ask LTD

Inclusive by Design

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

As part of Learning Service’s “Inclusive by Design” initiative and on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Learning Technology Development (LTD) want to mention some of the things we are doing to support staff to generate content and resources that are usable for all.  The team are working with others to improve content across all areas but more importantly for students to be able to use resources in a way that suites them and their needs.

Introducing Blackboard Ally (coming January 2019).

  • Ally provides you guidance on how to correct accessibility issues with your digital course content. Students are able to download a version of the file most appropriate for their device and need.

Social Sites – VLE Skip Link option.

  • Important for keyboard-only users to navigate VLE content without getting bogged down in a seemingly never ending series of clicks before they are able to move on to the next item.

Transcripts and Closed Captions.

  • The latest LTD video productions contain transcripts for those who prefer to follow the action in word form.  Closed captions offer everyone the ability to follow what is being said, especially good for those when English isn’t their first language.

Our Staff Development Programme.

  • Aims to support staff in the production of content that means all students can benefit from your content, in a way they prefer and suites their learning style.

Want to learn more about these and how they and other technologies can support student learning, contact your Learning Technology Development Officer.

Hosting all around – 360° video content.

360° content is increasing in popularity.

360 video on smart phoneThe production of 360 degree content couldn’t be easier; most of us have access to devices capable of capturing images that software or apps can stitch together to give an immersive viewing experience.

Lecturers across the university continue to explore this technology, generating good quality content for students to access through their devices whilst studying a module.

However, our own Media Production Team have invested Sample of 360° video camerasin the latest Insta360 Pro 360º professional camera, which they explain, presents a whole range of new possibilities when filming around campus. To learn more about the Media Production Team and the Insta360, visit the Learning Services wiki pages.

Examples of use: Areas across campus where 360° video is being used and generating interest:

  • Faculty of Health and Social Care – Paramedics and the 360° Experience. An ambitious project which aims to expose students to a variety of environments, giving them a sense of being present at a scene without actually being there in person (virtual practitioner).  Barry Mathews (Lecturer in Paramedic Practice and Pre-hospital Care) is exploring the potential of 360° images to simulate hazardous and clinical settings. Students will practice their observational skills and identify individual hazards and use this to influence their dynamic operational risk assessment.
  • Whilst on field trips with her students, Susan Jones (Lecturer – Geographical Information Systems) produced a series of 360° photographs of locations visited along the Northwest Coastline of scientific interest.  For Sue, who is keen to start using immersive content on her modules, this was an exciting time to (metaphorically speaking), tentatively dip a toe into the immersive water. Initial thoughts suggest there is value in producing content that students can use for revision, that gives them the means to study and explore areas of interest and identify points of reference.
  • The University Library, as part of its introduction to staff and students, has produced a 360° tour. People can take a virtual look around the different spaces and facilities before actually visiting in person. Interactive hot-spots provide information whilst red target-like buttons make it possible to move from room to room and between floors.

Other uses of 360 content:

  • Capital Projects site walk-through (CATALYST). Experience Edge Hill University’s newest £26m building, go on a tour with others and see how the building looks during its construction.
  • Aintree Library IT Suite and Issue Desk 360° Images. Never visited Edge Hill University’s Aintree Library? These photosphere images give you an all-round view of the IT Suite, Issue Desk, study space and shelf stock.

Plans for future use:

  • Paul Ward’s (Head of English and History) interest in 360 content, to make resources that are fun and interactive.  It also enables the department to address all the disciplines; so for example, a virtual fieldtrip using 360 would allow historians to look at developments across time, linguists to look at language use in different contexts, creative writers to visit new settings for fiction, and literary critics to explore literary connections or literary settings.  Paul goes on to say, “It also shows students how digital technologies that they are familiar with are learning and research tools”.

Options for hosting your 360° video content.

There are many hosting options around, the trouble is most offer hosting at a price, via a subscription, or they have free versions that are limited in features or for a limited time.

Here, we look at three of the most popular services used by staff at Edge Hill University.

About each platform

Online option: YouTube

YouTube Logo

A free video sharing/social website where anyone with an account can view, upload and share content.

If you need your content to be shared worldwide, YouTube is the second largest search engine. However, if you wish to target your audience, for instance within a module, by hosting your videos on YouTube, you are sending your audience to a third party site. This means that YouTube videos will be more visible within Google, compared to the videos embedded on your modules.

Unwanted content, clutter can be distracting for some, particularly those with a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD). YouTube’s auto play function means students may view unrelated content based on their own search criteria and pattern.

Online option: Vimeo

Vimeo Logo

Aimed at giving filmmakers a platform to present and promote their work.

Unlike YouTube, Vimeo doesn’t rely on funding from ads, preferring to offer a service which has less clutter, charging a membership fee for 500MB of space per month. Unless you opt for Pro membership, Vimeo’s video player incorporates its logo alongside your content.

Institution option: Panopto

Panopto LogoInstitutional platform to manage, live stream, record, and share videos across an organisation and/or a specific module in Learning Edge.

A secure platform for educational content, you manage access and take control of what your audience can see, no adverts, or suggested videos and no more clutter.  Unlimited space, full feature and no additional cost implications.

The University offers dedicated support and staff training. Guides and FAQs provide just-in-time resources at the point of need. Students can benefit from using assistive tools, with Panopto’s playback viewer, such as:

  • A graphical and textual index of PowerPoint slides.
  • The ability to slow down or speed up the recording.
  • The ability to make time-stamped typed notes and bookmarks.
  • A search tool that indexes on-screen text as well as spoken audio.

For a comparative view of the three services covered in this post, click the image below:

360 video hosting comparison matrix

Alternatively, download a PDF version: 360° Video Platform Comparison Matrix.

If you are interested in finding out more about creating your own 360° content and hosting options, contact Learning Technology Development Team via ext.7754, ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk or Ask LTD knowledge base.

Martin Baxter

 

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer

Time for Students to Lead Online?

Wall ClockStaff, and students alike have deliberated long and hard over when, where, and how they can work more collaboratively, either in taught sessions, while engaging in a group activity, or during activities that require distance participation.

Look no further, Learning Services has the right solution for you, in the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra tool.

There is greater emphasis these days on giving students the space, time and flexibility to work collaboratively, on joint projects and away from the constraints and rigidity of the conventional classroom environment.

All Learning Edge course templates include a link to Blackboard Collaborate ‘Ultra’, within the course menu (Note that Faculty or Department Administrators must add this course menu template) to merged courses.Blackboard Collaborate Logo

In earlier versions of Blackboard Collaborate, you’ll remember Tutors were given the role of Moderator; everyone else was given the Participant role. The Moderator is the person responsible for the room (usually the tutor), and is required to conduct sessions, and control Participant (usually the student) privileges and the availability of tools.

In the Ultra version, however, although the Tutor has overall control as Moderator, there are a couple of new roles the Moderator can use including; Presenter and Captioner. To encourage effective student online collaboration, we recommend setting up sessions, and applying the Presenter role for all students.

Captioner can be applied to any user. They are given an area to type what is being said, so that those with a hearing impairment can participate and join in with the conversation.

The Presenter role is designed to allow participants/students to use the whiteboard tools and present without giving them full moderator privileges.

Presenters can upload, share, edit, and stop sharing content. Presenters are able to share their screens and upload images or PowerPoint files, they cannot modify another users’ permissions the way a moderator can.  This is a useful role, as all students are given the same, high level of user access, but can’t accidentally exclude another member from the project group activity.

Guides to help you:

If you want to discuss this and other users of Collaborate further, as always contact the Learning Technology Development Team via ext.7754, ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk or Ask LTD knowledge base.

Martin Baxter

 

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer

Bite-sized Lecture Series

Students at Edge Hill University value the support they receive whist studying here, so much that they tell us how important that support is, each year through the National Student Survey.

Andrea Wright

Edge Hill has a diverse student population and recognises the importance of innovative approaches to teaching and learning which are both inclusive and supportive.

Since the introduction of Panopto software in 2016, more and more areas of the University are being provisioned and many more students are benefiting from access to recorded lecture content.

Andrea Wright (Senior Lecturer – Film Studies), introduced her students to recordings of taught sessions to encourage engagement and shared understanding of her topics.  Andrea’s approach to using Panopto, means that her students can review lectures in manageable bite-sized videos.

BiteSized Lecture Series

From the statistics gathered over two years of using Panopto, Andrea is able to see when students are making use of her bit-sized recordings.

Panopto Bar Graph Session Stats

Consistently, the peak periods of use are around assessment time and prior to submission deadlines. Students are using the recordings as a support mechanism and revision tool, to check key terms, concepts and understanding of the topic.

Andrea also states “following the introduction of Panopto in 2016, there is certainly some evidence of students attaining slightly better in the modules. Particularly for some students who may well have struggled to gain a pass mark, there was evidence of them getting beyond the pass mark and a larger proportion of students achieving a first class.” Andrea strongly believes, Panopto has the potential to benefit all students to gain higher marks toward their degree.

YouTube Video link

For more information about Panopto at Edge Hill University, please contact our team of experts on lecturecapture@edgehill.ac.uk

If you feel inspired by Andrea’s story and want to use this or another technology to help you enhance and support your own teaching, please get in touch with the Learning Technology Development Team in Learning Services. We would be very happy to work with you.

Related case studies: Inclusive Practice.

Martin Baxter

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer
(Faculty of Arts & Sciences)

 

Carol Chatten

 

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer
(FAS & Medical Education)

Have you used the Inclusive Digital Practices Toolkit?

Inclusive Digital Practice ToolkitLearning Services have created the toolkit to support academic staff in the creation of accessible Digital Content.

The toolkit includes quick tips, a checklist, user guides and some video case studies that showcase how teaching staff are using Digital Technology to support their students.

We are submitting the toolkit for the Blackboard Catalyst Award for Inclusive Education and are looking for some endorsements from staff who have used the toolkit to enhance their teaching practices.

Please get in touch, to let us know if the toolkit has helped.

email: John Haycock (haycockj@edgehill.ac.uk)

Paramedics and the 360° Experience.

Barry Matthews (Lecturer in Paramedic Practice and Pre-hospital Care) based at Edge Hill University’s Manchester Campus.  Barry has been trying out Learning Services’ Giroptic 360cam, to create immersive resources for his students.

The Giroptic 360cam produces 360° photographs and video and was the topic, back in January 2017, of Mark Wilcock’s blog post “360 Degrees of Learning Potential”.

Barry agreed to talk to us (on video) about his experience of using the 360cam and his ambition to expose his students to as many on-the-job challenges and dangers as possible, without putting them in harms way.  He is convinced that the introduction of immersive technologies has the potential for doing this.YouTube PlayerRead on and learn more about Barry’s vision to offer an immersive experience for his students, which might otherwise be impossible to do within the safe and controlled environment of a classroom or simulation centre.

“The paramedic team have recently been experimenting with social media to reach current and future students/applicants. We have found that a lot of applicants attend open days at the Ormskirk campus and that their attendance at the interview day is the first time they have ever seen inside the Manchester site (St James’). I wanted to use the 360cam to give prospective students a view of what resources and facilities are utilised at St James’ and to give them a chance to see the bespoke teaching environment, clinical skills area and of course, the ambulance.

This mini-projeAmbulance and Clinical Skills room ct of these images for social media was to gain some experience of using a 360cam, and discover its potential and limitations. It was easy to use, but as St James’ has multiple companies with multiple Wi-Fi networks, a stable connection to a weak standalone Wi-Fi was impossible. This meant I had to set the camera up, push the shutter button and run. This was not particularly easy with so many reflective surfaces! I had to be inventive with my camera placement, opening doors to change the reflective angle of the glass and setting up somewhere near to hide. I do have some nice photos of a garden taken using the Wi-Fi at 10m, so it does work outside of this Wi-Fi jungle.

The 360cam is a simple device to use and can be controlled by buttons on the device itself, or by using a mobile platform and its own Wi-Fi. This produces three images in 4k definition which the software stiches together to form a 300°x360° image, as a panoramic, that can be exported as a JPEG. I then uploaded the panoramic image into Facebook which transformed it into a photosphere which can be explored on any device. The only additional software I used was Adobe Photoshop to blur a face out of one of the pictures, which is available through the EU application catalogue.

The resolution of the images taken by the Giroptic 360cam are good, a little bit of noise,Giroptic 360cam in palm of hand but useable. The video does not record in the same definition (2k) so I didn’t use this functionality as the images were more than sufficient for the aims of this task.

Within the paramedic team, we have a great many potential uses for a 360cam-like technology. Simulation training enhances skills such as functional expertise, problem-solving, decision making and team-based competences (Lateef, 2010). Ambulance crews can work in any environment, and at times these can be stressful. We want to simulate these stresses for our student paramedics by using immersive environments. We utilise a room which projects video on the walls, with sound, to recreate these stressful and potentially dangerous environments to prepare our students for practice in a safe and controlled way.

The recreation of an environment has been shown to increase student engagement; with a negative aspect being identified as at times the environment can be distracting to the student (Bradley, 2006). This is exactly what we want with a student on both the DipHE and BSc (Hons) Paramedic Practice programmes. The situations that they will be working in when they qualify can potentially be distracting and dangerous, so we want to prepare for them for this so they don’t lose focus of their environment. I have attended patients in football stadiums, on airport runways, between live motorway carriageways…. I could probably describe a patient in every environment you can think of, and add some to the list.R.T.A. Scene Re-creation

Another use for the 360cam we are looking to explore is the creation of images of potentially hazardous environments, such as ‘drug dens’, construction sites etc. The students can then practice their observational skills and identify individual hazards and use this to influence their dynamic operational risk assessment. It is important the students learn how to identify hazards before they develop in a safe and protective environment. Therefore they can maintain not only their own safety, but also the safety of their colleagues and their patient, in any environment or situation they are presented with.”

Barry Matthews

 

 

Barry Matthews
Lecturer in Paramedic Practice and Pre-hospital Care

 

Are you interested using this technology or looking to explore innovation in your area please get in touch with us. We’d be more than happy to answer any questions or just get in touch if you would simply like to know more!

Contact us by email LTDSupport@edgehill.ac.uk or phone us on Ext 7754.

Improving Participation – Inclusive Digital Practice Toolkit

Teaching Essentials Toolkit

The “Inclusive and Accessible Practice (IAP) Project”, brought together expertise from Learning Services’ Assistive Technologies and Learning Technology Development Teams (John Haycock and Martin Baxter).

Both Martin and John have come-up with a Toolkit for staff, supporting them in the production of inclusive resources.  The aim is to enable all students to participate equally with digital content whilst studying.  The Toolkit is called “Inclusive Digital Practice”, and is a collaboration between Learning Services and the Centre for Learning and Teaching, John Bostock (Senior Lecturer in Teaching & Learning Development).

Student studying, Edge Hill and Learning Services logo.

Within our student groups it is increasingly likely that some will have a disability or learning difficulty.  According to our records, approximately 14% of our students disclosed a disability, the true numbers are likely to be higher, as some students prefer not to disclose a disability, or they may just want to keep it hidden.

The toolkit provides support for staff in creating teaching and e-learning materials that are accessible and inclusive by design; describing some of the steps for adopting an inclusive practice, how to achieve them and instances (case studies) where good practice is already taking place at Edge Hill University.

The Inclusive Practice Toolkit is made up of the following resources;

Want to learn more about the toolkit?

Visit the Learning Edge “Staff” tab, and the Inclusive Digital Practice panel at the top of the page.Learning Edge Staff Tab displaying the Inclusive Practice Panel.Adopting an inclusive approach and producing ‘barrier-free’ learning, gives everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances, the chance to study at higher levels of education (Inclusive Teaching and Learning in Higher Education as a route to Excellence).

John Haycock Profile.

 

 

John Haycock
Learning Support Officer (Assistive Technologies)

 

Martin Baxter Profile

 

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer

 

Do you have a story to tell about your Inclusive Practice?  Let us know, click the linkMy Inclusive Digital Practice.  We want to share good practice so that more people can learn about it.

Technology Supported Learning – Lecture Capture (Classic User)

Panopto logi

 

 

Good Practice AwardNatalie Reynolds is a Senior Lecture in Secondary English. Natalie was introduced to lecture capture software (Panopto) during her own studies and immediately wanted to explore its potential on the programme she teachers here at Edge Hill University.

Panopto software provides lecture capture, screen-casting, video streaming, and video content management solutions. The Panopto lecture capture system is now available for use by staff in faculties as an additional learning tool for students at Edge Hill University.

Natalie is passionate about teaching and the importance of exposing students to some of the best and latest technologies to support their learning here at Edge Hill University. In this short YouTube video, Natalie talks about her introduction to lecture capture software and the use of Panopto in her teaching.

Hear what Natalie has to say, in this short video interview, about her first experience of Lecture Capture and the Panopto for Education software.

YouTube Video Player

Read on and learn more about Natalie’s use of Panopto software:

“My Name is Natalie Reynolds, like every teacher I want all my students to succeed in their studies regardless of where they are and how they learn.

I needed a platform that would enable my students to access a key lecture regarding starting their Professional Practice placement and was introduced to Panopto by a Learning Services presentation.

 

I felt that even if I would have emailed the PowerPoint that would accompany the lecture to my trainees individually (in addition to it being uploaded onto Blackboard), there would continue to be questions coming in from trainees when situations occurred during their placement. In light of this, I decided to record the session using Panopto however I also planned a flipped learning session and was then able to add further information (trainee presentations) into the recorded session after the original lecture took place.

Panopto Software Interface

The result of using Panopto was that my trainees were able to access the session when they needed it and not when I sent it to them. The fact that content was added in after the initial lecture (trainee presentations) gave them further ownership of the piece and made them more willing to access the content. The impact of using Panopto for this particular session was that it significantly reduced the volume of emails I received with questions about placement issues: trainees were able to access the recorded session and go straight to the information relevant to their situation. The other significant point is that trainees were able to have answers to these questions immediately, regardless of what time their question was posed as the recorded session is available on Blackboard. For key sessions such as the one outlined, I would have no hesitation in recording the session so that it can be accessed straight away by trainees at a later date, at a time when they need it.

Lecture Capture Enabled Room

Feedback from the trainees was extremely positive, especially when they realised that they could access the session at any point and move quickly through the recorded content. Some said that they felt a little uneasy at the beginning when the disclaimer slide was displayed however once it was discussed and fully explained, concerns were allayed. Some peers commented that using Panopto could result in attendance falling. My response to this, having investigated research carried out on this exact point, is that attendance falls when sessions do not engage or motivate the learners, no piece of technology is going to cause a drop in attendance. If sessions are personalised, pitched correctly and motivate your trainees, there will be no issues with attendance.”

If you feel inspired by Natalie’s story and want to use this or another technology to help you enhance and support your own teaching, please get in touch with the Learning Technology Team in Learning Services. We would be very happy to work with you.

Related posts:

Lecture Capture…What’s in a name?
Technology Supported Learning – Lecture Capture Summative Assessment
Embedding Technology – Panopto for Keynote Conference Events

Natalie Reynolds

 

 

 

Natalie Reynolds
(Senior Lecturer in Secondary English)

 

 

Online Student Response Systems – Claire’s Story

EH700 health046 TSL

Claire Moscrop is a Senior Lecture in The Centre for Learning & Teaching. Claire was until recently a Senior Lecturer in Computing, as a result of the continued increase in student numbers in this area, Claire was intent on maintaining student engagement for her sessions, particularly as the increased numbers meant moving from small seminar rooms to larger lecture theatres.

socrative

Claire is an advocate of technology, as long as it helps to get the best from her students. Claire wanted to utilise students own devices in her sessions to encourage students to be engaged and responsive during lectures. An online solution was sought to minimise the impact on growing numbers, and also due to lack of suitable in-house clicker systems.

This is Claire’s story; her experience of researching and using online response systems.

YouTube Player

“Given the growth in student numbers in the Department of Computing, we were forced to move back to a more traditional lecture/seminar model for our first year cohort. My immediate concern was to ensure that the levels of student engagement did not suffer in the traditional lecture theatre environment with over 200 students.

BW Clickers

I started to investigate the options for increasing engagement in this kind of environment and first considered the use of the clicker systems available at Edge Hill. These were quickly ruled out due to the logistics of transporting them, and the fact that I immediately had to leave at the end of the lecture to teach another session. This led me on to the idea of using the students’ own devices such as their mobiles, tablets and laptops. A number of academic papers were available on the efficiency and effectiveness of this method so I began to identify and trial different student response app’s. I settled on Socrative for a few reasons, firstly it was free, I was going to have to use the application within weeks so I knew I would not get any funding within that time period. Secondly, the Socrative interface was very clean and intuitive, both for the students and the teacher.

socrative teacher logo

Socrative was implemented from the first lecture with the first year cohort in semester 1. Students had no issues downloading the app and were able to start using it immediately. My method of using the app was simple, I decided before the lecture at what points in the lecture I would like to test understanding or to encourage discussion. I then entered the questions in to the Socrative Teacher app before the session, meaning I could just click on ‘start’ on my phone when I wanted to release the first question. Moving between the questions within the lecture was simple and I was able to see responses from students in real time. I included roughly 2 or 3 questions per lecture across the 10 weeks of lectures.

This method had a number of benefits:
• It allowed students to respond anonymously, which was a very important factor for the increased engagement as it removed the fear of responding in front of peers that usually exists in large lectures.
• It allowed me to test the student’s grasp of certain concepts immediately, and allowed me to save reports to follow up later.
• It allowed real time interaction with minimal disruption on the flow of the lecture.
• It allowed students to discuss what was being taught and work in groups to answer questions, thereby increasing their engagement.

socrative student logo

The student response to the use of Socrative was very positive, the data collected for the study demonstrated that students felt more engaged during the lectures, in comparison to the more traditional lectures they were also having that semester. It was clear that students very much linked the interactivity (with me, and also during their peer discussion) to their increased engagement. Anonymity was also a key factor that gave students the confidence to respond.

After this initial trial I continued to use Socrative in lectures and also started to implement it in to end of Seminar mini tests after students requested it. I would encourage any tutors to have a go at using the students own devices in this way, my initial aim to increase engagement in lecture theatres was very easy to achieve with this method.”

Claire Moscrop

Claire Moscrop
(Senior Lecturer – Centre for Teaching & Learning)

 

 

 

If you feel inspired by Claire’s story and want to use this or another technology to help you enhance and support your own teaching, please get in touch with the Learning Technology Team in Learning Services. We would be very happy to work with you.

logos for 3 clickers systems

There are a range of response systems that you might want to use with your students, including online ones like Socrative and Kahoot, handset based ones like TurningPoint, and even paper based ones like Plickers, which can work in situations where you don’t have access to a wireless network. Learning Technology Development have sets of Plicker cards which you could borrow.