The session started with a refresher of what PebblePad is and its development over the years. PebblePad is the market leader in the ePortfolio world and we have been using it at UoC since 2005. All staff and students have accounts at UoC which can be accessed from the Staff and Student hubs and even from within Blackboard itself. The system is complemented by a wonderful app, PebblePocket, which is free from Google Play and iTunes. If anyone leaves the university, they can register for an alumni account, which is free forever.
We outlined a few of the many ways PebblePad can be used: creating a wide variety of assets such as portfolios, blogs, activity logs, or by creating assets from the in-built templates provided by the system. These assets can then be shared with other PebblePad users or those without PebblePad account. Items can also be created and provided with a weblink which the intended audience can click on without the need for a username and password, so it’s also an excellent web publishing tool.
We then continued to talk about how PebblePad can be used for assessment and the various ways of getting the best out of students. Custom templates can be designed (workbooks) – usually by academic staff – which can provide the student with structured scaffolding on which to build their work. We also looked at the many ways of giving feedback – both formative and summative.
The session ended with a quick demonstration of how to easily add items to PebblePad and we had a glimpse of some good examples of templates currently in use at the University of Cumbria.
Once users login, PebblePad provide lots of in-built support via their homepage (called the Learning Centre) and we in AQD have supplemented this information with various articles and helpsheets via our TEL Knowledgebase which can be found here.
Anyone interested in using PebblePad with their students is encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to start off interesting conversations!
Click the image below to view the recording (university login required)
The session started with a brief recap of how Blackboard usage has grown at the university, with the system now being classed as “mission critical”. A move to module-site delivery and a consistent approach resulted in a set of protocols being developed, and these were shown during the webinar, along with other support available, such as a staff-facing knowledgebase.
Access to these resources can be found via the Staff tab on Blackboard, along with the route to accessing your Blackboard module site, which was demonstrated during the webinar.
The option to review and reuse existing content was highlighted, and a tour of an exemplar site showed how a course could be organised; following the protocols and making the most of the tools available.
A quick walkthrough of adding a profile picture to your site, and making a screen-recording introduction to your course then followed.
There are some exciting changes coming to Blackboard for 2018/19 academic year such as:
Course Creation and Automated Template Application
System Home Page Redesign and Responsive Theme
Course Creation and Automated Template Application
The Blackboard course creation route has remained largely unchanged for a number of years. Although it has worked well, it is fairly inefficient and is not robust enough to support future developments and tighter integration with SITS.
Currently, apart from student enrolments, there is a lack of two-way communication between SITS and Blackboard for our module deliveries. All modules created in SITS (via a MAV) and completed with the correct data are automatically created in Blackboard however if the course should subsequently be removed from SITS then this is not reflected on Blackboard which has caused issues of incorrect sites being used.
Students no longer associated with the MAV are not automatically removed from the Blackboard site.
To begin working on a site a tutor needs to select a course from within Blackboard (this relies on the module site creation process above), redesign or apply the correct template and, if required, copy any existing materials across from the previous instance of the course manually.
The new system will:
Improve and increase updates in both frequency and capability of enrolments and course creation
Simplify the route to consistent Blackboard sites
Reduce the risk of incorrect Blackboard site selection
Limit the number of sites created to only the ones which are actually required
Establish the foundation for an enhanced dynamic link between SITS and Blackboard
Create more accurate SITS records
Once in place, Blackboard sites will only be created when the lead tutor is assigned to the MAV within SITS, this is critical as Blackboard sites will not be created without this data. Once the data has been entered on the MAV in SITS the Module Blackboard sites will be available to a tutor within a few hours. Requests for “non-module” Blackboard sites will be via a form request.
The identified tutor will automatically be attached to the newly created site and will find it listed under “My Courses”, or within the “Pending” category if the tutor has enabled “Terms”.
On selection of the site you will be taken through the two-step process of attaching a template and optionally, copying selected content from a previous instance. The basic site is now ready to add/update content and attach other tutors as required.
If you plan to deliver a course where a number of modules are taught together then the system can help you create a combined site by prompting you to identify the modules (MAVs) to be included.
Only students who are on the MAV will appear on the Blackboard site.
The new system will be in place for all 2018/19 courses.
System Home Page Redesign and Responsive Theme
System analysis, sector trends and our experience tells us that students are increasingly accessing learning materials via alternative devices year on year. Whilst analytical data from Blackboard confirms the traditional desktop is still top of the list for access, a significant proportion of logins are from mobile and tablet devices and has been increasing for a number of years.
With our current system, display response to this wide variety of devices is difficult to predict but we are aware it can sometime cause issues, unpredictable behaviour and, on the whole, results in an inconsistent user experience.
To help mitigate this frustrating user experience, we are developing a new interface using a Responsive Web Design approach.
Responsive Web Design will make the site mobile-friendly and improve the way it looks on devices with both large and small screens as it automatically scales, reorders and prioritises content and elements to match the screen size on which it is viewed. It also keeps images from being larger than the screen width and prevents users on mobile devices from needing to do extra work to read content.
The Blackboard App is constantly being updated, and the responsive theme will work in conjunction with the App to provide a much more seamless experience when using a mobile device.
As part of this project theme functionality, the Homepage and other “non-course” areas will be reviewed to provide a much more engaging experience.
The annual system update will take place during summer. The date has yet to be arranged, but it is likely to be at a similar time to previous years – around the end of July / early August. Please be aware that Blackboard will be unavailable for up to 24 hours during the upgrade.
Regular and timely upgrades are necessary to ensure we have;
Full system support for each academic year
Access to the latest features and updates
Support for current client software – operating systems, browsers, etc.
Up-to-date security and performance settings
We will publish further information regarding dates and any new features of interest as soon as they become available.
Details and descriptions are subject to change, and more information will be circulated as necessary and as it becomes available.
Providing an inclusive, safe and varied learning environment is central to promoting engagement across a diverse student population. Browser-based interactive presentation programmes such as Mentimeter can be used to achieve this in a way that reaches multiple learners simultaneously through their own portable devices and grants them anonymity.
We used this session to present our research on student perceptions of two features of Mentimeter: interactive multiple choice quizzes and the option for students to ask open anonymous questions during class. We found that students across two different levels, subject areas and contexts (anonymous questions and quizzes) recognised the value of Mentimeter in promoting engagement and inclusion. All students were in favour of Mentimeter being used again. Students perceived the quizzes to be fun, to consolidate learning, break up the lecture, and increase focus, while users of the anonymous open questions saw value in the potential for less vocal students to have their voices heard.
Participants in the Pedagogy in Practice session had the opportunity to take part in a quiz and an anonymous question and answer session, both of which were held remotely across campuses in Carlisle, Ambleside and Lancaster. This allowed the participants to interact with the software from a student’s perspective. Full functionality was accessible to all via Skype. Anonymous questions from the floor were used as the starting point for discussion around participation in quizzes by students with learning disabilities, by students of different ages and at different levels of study. We offered practical guidance on using interactive presentation software across various contexts. We concluded that technology-enhanced learning tools such as Mentimeter are effective in promoting student engagement and participation, and suggest that an optimal approach is to use these in combination with verbal question and answer sessions to suit a diverse population of learners.
To view the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, please click here
Due to the success of PIPs last academic year we are running a series of seminars again for staff to meet and share practice on teaching and learning themes face-to-face. They will take the form of a short presentation by the lead, followed by an opportunity for discussion. All staff are welcome whether you teach or support student learning, and you are encouraged to share examples of successful practice as well as challenges to which you have found solutions, or that are yet to be solved! Bring your lunch
Thursday 14th December 1 – 2pm
“Sharing TEL tips to develop our digital capabilities” Sandie Donnelly
Lancaster Room SB204 Sentamu Building
Whether you’ve got some TEL tips to share or you want to make more use of technology in learning and teaching, please join our TEL PIP to share expertise, Christmas treats and find out about software available to staff and students at UoC.
Monday 18th December 12 – 1pm
“Use of Mentimeter to promote student engagement and inclusion” – Davina Hill & Kelly Fielden
Via VC Carlisle (SKF05) Skiddaw Building & (AXB002) Alexandra Building Lancaster and skype option available
The provision of an effective learning environment is central to promoting engagement and is a key component of the Teaching Excellence Framework. Mentimeter, a technology-enhanced learning tool can be used to achieve this in a way that reaches multiple learners simultaneously and grants them anonymity. We will use this session to describe our research on student perceptions of Mentimeter, offer practical guidance on using interactive presentation software to promote engagement and inclusion, and provide a forum for discussion. We will focus on two features of Mentimeter: interactive multiple choice quizzes and the option for students to ask open anonymous questions during class
On here you will find information and tools to help you with group work, creative assessment, inclusive assessment, marking and moderation and feedback. Save the link and check back periodically as the resource will develop and expand.
Nicky Meer, looks back on her recent PFHEA accreditation.
Although the HEA does not define who ‘ought’ to be a fellow, many have found that colleagues outside of a narrow norm can face barriers to accreditation. Some face barriers through their own self-belief: ‘I am just a technician/learning advisor/library staff… so I wouldn’t be able to get it’. And others may face barriers due to subconscious or unintended assumptions made by those who create schemes or resources that help people compile their submissions. This could result in specific language patterns used or narrow examples given, potentially making people outside of this feel it’s not for them.
To read the full article on the HEA Blog, click here
What is the 12 Apps of Christmas?
The 12 Apps initiative was created and first run by Regent’s University London in December 2014. The aim was to provide participants with a short online continuing professional development giving participants a daily opportunity to explore a mobile app that has been recommended by one of the 12 Apps contributors.
How the 12 Apps of Christmas work? Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting the 20th of November, a post is published at 10am on the 12 Apps of Christmas course page.
The post will contain suggestions of how to use that days app and how it might work effectively for you in a professional/learning/teaching context. Each post contains short task to help you get started with the app. The tasks take no more than ten minutes a day, although there is an optional ‘Further Tasks’, which takes more time and helps you to explore other potential uses.
Who is it for? This online course is also open to anyone that has an interest in new technologies and would like to explore mobile apps. This online course is geared towards all University of Limerick staff that have an interest in using new technologies in their working context.
The Twitter hashtag #UL12apps during the course. After the live course, the materials will be left up to refer back to later.
On successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:
Reflect on how apps can be used within their learning/teaching/professional context.
Discuss opportunities and challenges with their peers on the use of new mobile technologies.
Trial a specific app for learning/teaching/research in their own context based on an informed rationale.
How to take part
Go to the following link http://bit.ly/2h9bX5r and fill in your account details. Once you have created your Sulis (Learning Management System) login you can join the 12 Apps of Christmas site by going to the following link https://tinyurl.com/ydb5sn3k.
The conference took place at the Crowne Plaza in Newcastle. The early start was soon forgotten when greeted with bacon and sausage sandwiches on arrival, a very promising start!
The day loosely followed, what were described as the ‘Seven Major Themes from the HE Sector’ with some topics more of a focus than others:
Turnitin reported they were making solid progress in the UK after a £5.2m investment in Turnitin UK over the past two years with a 66% staff increase and infrastructure/application monitoring investment resulting in 12 hours less degraded service and an improvement in their First Response time from 5-6 days to 30 minutes.
Turnitin and JISC are in Stage 1 of a partnership around data integration and Learning Analytics. Working on a data exhaust (data generated as a by-product of online actions and choices ie. cookies, log and temporary internet files).
Marking and Moderation
Unfortunately this topic was covered in a session I was unable to attend….
Assessment Workflows and Integration
Linked to ‘Data Access’ above; Learning Analytics likely to drive workflow definitions and refinements, in other words in the future institutions will be able to unlock Turnitin data to acquire information.
It was identified that there was a need for better communications from Turnitin, particularly on new features and service outages (twitter isn’t the ideal comms tool for such important information). Communications on new feature changes will be farther in advance.
Turnitin now employ a team of writers who are currently updating the 4000 User Guides and creating video’s to make their offering much more current and engaging. Coming soon will be a new and improved platform and tools to enable institutions to make more use of the resources.
Ghost Writing or essay mills, contract cheating, authorship verification…
The conference was heavily focused on Contract Cheating alternatively named Ghostwriting; there is currently some debate on favoured terminology.
Turnitin has completed the first phase of research to address the global problem of contract cheating; the act of hiring someone to complete an assignment for you, as these assignments are guaranteed to be original work the current plagiarism detections tools are ineffective.
The cheating sites have evolved to be ‘big business’ so much so that currently 1000+ sites are reported to be active and prices and turnaround times have been driven down eg. Currently a 1500-word assignment can be bought for £154.
The AHE conference has grown from a half-day University of Cumbria event at the Carlisle campus to an International sector-leading two-day programme held at various locations around the UK. 2017 saw the 6th conference which was held in Manchester. The aim of the conference is to showcase research-informed practice in the areas of assessment and feedback. Each conference has attracted increasing numbers of delegates from over 25 countries. The atmosphere is one of friendliness and sharing practice. It’s an inspiring mix of people, countries and institutions and there is always something new to learn. Please make a note of June 2019 for the next one. In the meantime we have….
The one-day conference
On the ‘off’ year a one-day conference is held. Next year, 28th June 2018, the theme is Transforming Feedback: Research and Development. The keynote for this one-day event is David Carless who will be discussing Feedback for the longer term: Developing student feedback literacy.
Feedback continues to be a challenge for institutions so this is an area ripe for research and evaluation of practice. For more details, please go the website: