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, [email protected] 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 [email protected]

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 ([email protected])

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 [email protected] 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.

Technology Supported Learning – MaST Programme Embedding Technology

Edge Hill University Western Campus lake view

Mark Wilcock (Learning Technology Development Officer) has, over the last few years, been working with the Faculty of Education’s MaST Team, providing support and guidance with the introduction of a number of key technologies including:

  • iSpring (a rapid learning authoring toolkit for developing professional e-learning courses in Powerpoint.
  • Blackboard Collaborate (browser-based web conferencing solution).
  • Panopto (lecture capture software).

In this case study, Mark tells us about his work with the MaST Good Practice AwardTeam and explains how and why they began to explore the available technologies, the benefits to the department and the students on the courses here at Edge Hill University.

This is what Mark says about the project and working with the MaST team to introduce these technologies;

“For many years now I have worked with the MaST team. I’ve delivered various staff development sessions and raised awareness and confidence in using technology in teaching and learning. More recently I have worked alongside them in the adoption of new learning technologies such as iSpring and Blackboard Collaborate. As a Technologist I’ve always recognised the need to respond to the changing demands of the student expectation and of course the opportunity to collaborate with staff towards enhancing the learning experience overall with the use of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL). Starting back in 2014, MaST explored the use of iSpring as a tool to develop and enhance their current online induction resource for students. Here they created an accessible and interactive course induction resource that included a variety of multimedia (audio narration, video guides, information & social media links and supplementary attachments) to give students the best start to the course and to accommodate for all the diverse range of learning styles of the online students. This project enabled me to not only reach out to academics, but to also understand and build even stronger relationships with the team and the course the MaST programme itself. It also demonstrated the benefits that the iSpring as a technology brought to the online student experience, highlighting the student rewards and usability for staff.

iSpring, Blackboard Collaborate and Panopto logos

Moving into 2015 and 2016, the MaST team introduced Blackboard Collaborate and Panopto into their programme. The team required a platform to support online lecture streaming and video capture. Prior to the institution having Panopto (lecture capture) at its disposal, the only tool that could deliver such an ability was Blackboard Collaborate. For those new to Collaborate, it is a real-time video conferencing tool that lets you replicate the physical classroom into a virtual one with the option to share applications and a whiteboard. Though Collaborate was not actually a dedicated lecture capture product and more of a online classroom tool, it did however provide a short term fix to live streaming for the MaST Conference days until Panopto was introduced in 2016. However, the benefits of the team using Collaborate prior to Panopto, actually worked in their favour for their future endeavours as they had already obtained an initial understanding of this tool it is now currently being considered as a communication platform for online group and one to one meetings with students.

Student with Laptop

I strongly believe that the benefits of our collaboration has supported this application of technology into the online elements of their programme, which has enabled them to replicate the traditional teaching and learning activities for blended and distance learning, meeting the modern day expectations of the online student. For me personally, the ability to transfer knowledge and key understanding to academic staff working together with the technologies provided can only improve the student learning experience by improving teaching and learning within Edge Hill University is extremely rewarding. Overall my view is that Staff who develop good digital capabilities in technology enhanced learning can offer new opportunities for their students through improved access to resources, increased interaction between staff and students, changes to learning and teaching styles and more flexibility in their choice of place and time.”

You can here from Mark in this short video about his work with the MaST Team;

YouTube Video Player

…this is what Andrea Taylor (Senior Lecturer MaST) said;

“MaST have been working with Learning Services’ Mark Wilcock for a couple of years on ways to develop and deliver blended learning session for our students, some of whom are based on campus with others at locations across the country. Initial trials with Blackboard Collaborate were very promising, this allowed us to offer face to face sessions whilst students in Birmingham were able to join the session remotely from a device or their computer.  Working with Mark was also important in developing a number of iSpring packages which allowed us to create interactive multimedia e-earning content.  As we grew in confidence, in terms of using the technology, we were made aware of lecture capture software.  

The MaST Team approached Mark again to find out more about this new resource called ‘Panopto’ to see what it offered as an alternative.

It was important the technology is easy to use and allowed us to capture the lecture electronically and live screen to the second venue without any issues, and to create accessible recording we can upload quickly to the VLE so that students have almost immediate access to this resource.  Panopto allows our students to view the keynote address after the face to face day to follow up on their learning and to encourage further reflection.  We would recommend that other departments incorporate this technology into their courses.  The support for its use had been fabulous and although we have used it at a very basic level, we look forward to utilising many of the other features that are available through Panopto”

The MaST Team;
Mary McAteer, Andrea Taylor, Victoria Grinyer, Ann Barker, Philip Rowe, Stephen Williams

If you feel inspired by Mark, the MaST Team and want to use these and/or other technologies to help enhance and support your own teaching, please get in-touch with the Learning Technology Team in Learning Services.  We will be very happy to work with you.

Mark Wilcock

 

 

Mark Wilcock
(Learning Technology Development Officer)

Technology Supported Learning – Lecture Capture

Panopto logi

“Presenting Performance and Practice”

Good Practice AwardKevin Henshaw is a Senior Lecture in Operating Department Practice, Kevin has been involved in a project piloting the use of Panopto software to record students performing presentations and clinical skill procedures for summative assessment.

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

Listen to what Kevin has to say in this short video  about his own and that of his students experience of using Panopto software:

YouTube Video Player

Kevin goes on to say…

“Lecture Capture technology has been readily available for some time now ( Kadirrie, 2011) and Edge Hill, as an Institution, is considering the merits of making the most out of Lecture Capture software. To this end the Institution has piloted Panopto. This software is readily available to download from EHU application catalogue:

Panopto is incredibly easy to install and to navigate. The primary aim of Panopto is to provide a means of electronically ‘capturing’ lectures.
As a part of my professional development I set myself an objective to develop a system of recording student activities such as presentations and other ‘soft skills’ (Skills Funding Agency, 2015. Carter and Wolmuth, 2010) which are seen as essential skills for students in Higher Education. Pinsky.et.al (2000) refer to a study by which students are given access to a recording of their presentation together with written feedback. Pinsky refers to ‘A picture is worth a Thousand Words’ and examined some of the practical uses of a combined approach to presentation feedback in Teaching.
The addition of feedback to a recording is crucial and affords the student an opportunity to ‘see’ themselves perform while reading the feedback. Panopto allows this facility and a single hyperlink can then be sent out to individual students or, groups of students, which can then be viewed on a mobile device anytime, anywhere.
By using a mini i-Pad, a number of recordings of various student activities have been carried out. These include:

•    Presentations (both formative and summative)
•    Viva Voce exams (audio recording only)
•    Simulated Clinical Scenarios
•    Observed Structured Clinical Exams (OSCEs)

EH335 DSC_0086 ODP

Video recordings are annotated by the 1st marker.  For quality assurance purposes
hyperlinks can sent to External Moderators who can view both the written feedback
and the presentation via Panopto. Documents (such as copies of the presentation)
can be attached to Panopto as a PDF.

Participants are encouraged to examine their ‘performance’ and write a brief
reflection about how they thought they met the Learning Outcomes which can be
attached to Panopto as a PDF.

For Group performances (such as simulated clinical exercises) a discussion forum
can be easily set up on Panopto which will allow for asynchronous discussion
between group members”.

For more information about Panopto at Edge Hill University, please contact our team of experts on [email protected]

If you feel inspired by Kevin’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.

Kevin Henshaw
Kevin Henshaw (Senior Lecturer in Perioperative Care)

Technology Supported Learning – Submission Possible with SafeAssign

Mission ImpossibleLast year the Professional Education Team started to explore current options for electronic submission at Edge Hill University.

 

Mark Sutcliffe (Senior Lecturer in Professional Education) Good Practice Awardshares his experience of SafeAssign, part of the Blackboard Assignment Submission offer, in support of the challenges faced by students with academic writing.

“Prior to using SafeAssign I had known about anti-plagiarism software for some time. However, neither myself nor my colleagues in the undergraduate team I work with had ever attempted to use it. I believe the main reason for this is that we had heard stories of the technology not being as effective as it originally was and sometimes working on an inconsistent basis. As somebody who has been eager to promote IT-related innovation within my area I have always been aware that technology can be as easily rejected as accepted, especially if the initial experience of using it is poor.

In September of 2015 the team convened to discuss ways of further enhancing the effectiveness of practice, especially in relation to supporting academic writing, which often proves the most significant challenge to students’ studies. The additional ways that technology could help us and them was considered and following on from this I liaised with learning services to discuss ideas. A suggestion made by Martin Baxter and David Callaghan was SafeAssign, a recently integrated feature within Edge Hill’s VLE, Blackboard.

Safe Assign User TypesWhat quickly became apparent during the initial demonstration of SafeAssign was how straightforward it was to set up. A few simple clicks embedded this feature as part of creating a new assignment in a course/module area. However, what makes SafeAssign so effective is the way instructors and users can use this tool to check submitted work. SafeAssign initially provides an overall percentage, representing how much of the content connects to its global database, which includes uploaded work and published material. This can potentially provide a quick indicator of how much material has been used from external sources. In addition, SafeAssign generates a report, allowing instructors (and potentially users) to see exactly where such material has been used. I left the demonstration impressed with what I had seen and eager to promote the use of SafeAssign.Safe Assign Student View

At the next team meeting SafeAssign was discussed and demonstrated to my colleagues. It was trialled with work connected to a module submission in December of 2015. It was agreed amongst the team that we encouraged students not to view this technology with negative connotations, rather it was introduced as a supportive tool for their work. This was achieved through making sure that they could utilise the technology during the drafting process and self-check for any potential issues themselves. To assist in this process (and alleviate multiple submissions for a particular module) I created an additional submission point purely for drafts of work.

SafeAssign Logo

The feedback from the implementation of SafeAssign has been very positive. Staff are enthusiastic about having a tool to hand that provides quick assistance in investigating issues with submissions, whilst students recognise SafeAssign as a tool to help scaffold the development and quality of work. Because of its success, other degree programmes are now looking to utilise SafeAssign technology. I would strongly recommend its use.”

You can see and hear Mark talking about SafeAssign and how students embraced the technology in support of their academic writing.

YouTube Video Player

If you feel inspired by Mark’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.

Mark David Sutcliffe

 

 

Mark David Sutcliffe
(Senior Lecturer in Professional Education).