Social Media Roundtable #LIVUNISOCIAL

#LIVUNISOCIAL presentation slide

Social media in education expert Eric Stoller has suggested that “from student recruitment to alumni relations, social media has a place at every step of the student journey”  

We couldn’t agree more. At the University we have some fantastic examples of using social media which need to be disseminated more widely across the campus. So following a chat on Twitter (see below), staff from the e Learning Unit in the Centre for Innovation in Education (CIE) and colleagues in the Central Teaching Lab (CTL)  decided to set up a social media meeting together. The meeting will take place on Tuesday 2nd May 3pm – 5pm. For more details and to register contact 

I should also mention that this idea and name was inspired by the excellent work going on at my alma mater: University of Glasgow.

This inaugural round table event is aimed at University of Liverpool staff using social media to support and enhance the student journey. We’ll bring together examples of good practice and also explore new ways these tools can be used. Bring an open mind and a creative approach.

If you would like to book a place contact

Places are limited. There will be cakes.

Follow online #LIVUNISOCIAL.

Telling Stories: ULMS Social Media and External Engagement workshop

Social Media 01

Supriya Garikapti attended one of the eLearning Unit’s CPD sessions on the Use of Twitter in Higher Education. She contacted me soon after and asked if I’d like to share some of my work at an upcoming Social Media and External Engagement impact workshop in the Management School. I was only too happy to oblige. You can view my presentation here which is entitled Twitter Top Tips.

The basis for the workshop was to share a wide range of good practice from colleagues across the school. A great deal of work is already underway regarding maintaining the excellent standing of the school in the upcoming REF assessment in 2021. It is with the knowledge that Lord Nicholas Sterns’s recent recommendations look likely to guide the shape of the next assessment exercise that I’ve highlighted the three impact recommendations below:

Recommendation 5: Institutions should be given more flexibility to showcase their interdisciplinary and collaborative impacts by submitting ‘institutional’ level impact case studies, part of a new institutional level assessment.

Recommendation 6: Impact must be based on research of demonstrable quality. However, case studies could be linked to a research activity and a body of work as well as to a broad range of research outputs.

Recommendation 7: Guidance on the REF should make it clear that impact case studies should not be narrowly interpreted, need not solely focus on socio-economic impacts but should also include impact on government policy, on public engagement and understanding, on cultural life, on academic impacts outside the field, and impacts on teaching.

There is increasing evidence of the value of blogging about your work and sharing it to wider audience via social media channels such as Twitter. There are also plenty of handy tips to get you started and help you effectively promote your work. The eLearning Unit regularly run sessions on social media such as An Introduction to Twitter and Getting more out of Twitter. Get in touch with the eLearning Unit in the Centre for Innovation in Education to find out more. Right, that’s enough advertising!

HSS Press Officer Matt Hurst kindly didn’t speak to a PowerPoint presentation which allowed my #LIVUNISOCIAL event advert to gain maximum exposure! (I promise that’s the last advert!)

#LIVUNISOCIAL presentation slide

Matt informed the audience about the role of the Press Office in supporting staff to make the most of their press contacts, brokering relationships with major media outlets, providing media training for academic staff, as well as providing useful advice if things go wrong on social media. In the context of the events theme, visibility on news, radio and television is considered a pathway to impact and may be looked on favourably in the REF submission. To that end, they are in the process of setting up a state of the art broadcast suite in partnership with Globelynx.

Following on from this was Paul Sapple, Public Engagement With Research manager for the University. He impressed upon the gathered attendees the importance of impact and the support he provides in helping staff along that pathway.  He shared with us some of Supriya’s recent research its impact. The case study focused on empowering young girls in India to understand and manage their fertility.

Jennifer Johns shared her experiences of writing about Brexit for the online publication the The Conversation. For those unfamiliar with the name, it is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and is publicly accessible online. Contributions from the University of Liverpool are high with over 130 academics and researchers. Publishing in this way opened up opportunities to further increase impact as it led to work on BBC radio and Slovak TV. The article was widely shared across blogs and Twitter and while this was a pleasing when looking at the analytics (1700 views), she stated that once published here it’s no longer in your hands. The drawback to wiring a piece on a contentious topic is the comments she received on the site. Comments on websites sometimes bring out the keyboard warriors and trolls who are only in it for the “lulz”.

My knowledge of the intricacies of the tariffs applied to the sale of alcohol in Canada increased tenfold after hearing about the internationally recognised work of Andrew Smith. He didn’t seem to need to use social media for impact, as his work was widely reported in the Canadian press as part of a major legal case. However, he continued to help keep the story alive on his regularly updated blog

As the audience dwindled due teaching commitments, many people will have missed  what was certainly my favourite presentation of the afternoon. Nick Papageorgiadis shared how he used the openness and immediacy of Twitter to promote the research in his subject area: research on national Intellectual Property (IP).  He developed a new index that measures the strength of patent systems of 49 countries, annually, for the years 1998-2015. The index was published at the Journal of World Business and the scores and latest updates of the index are available on this website. His approach to using Twitter was very focused. He identified a clear audience for his work, only posted and responded to questions on his research and when retweeting the work of others, he always posted a short comment about the article. In particular, certain retweets of his work have driven traffic to his patent systems website, significantly so in Australia and Finland where his work has informed governmental reports. Summing up he suggested there are many pro’s to using Twitter. It’s very useful to share the work you have done and if used alongside a website, you can easily track the impact of your tweets. Having it all online aids the evidence collection process. According to Nick, there is a price to pay for working in this way. He states that it took some time to get started and maintain a presence on Twitter, and that the workload allocation model does not distinguish this activity as teaching or scholarship. This begs the question when will we get to a stage where our work activity on Social Media is recognised and supported?


The eLearning Network meets again!


The first eLearning Network meeting of the new academic year continued the traditions of last years gatherings: an encouraging and engaged interest group; sharing and discussion of practice from all areas of the University; a look at new services and software applications in development; standing-room only! Increasingly people are also staying on after the main meeting to continue the discussions sparked in the room and to catch up with colleagues from other schools and departments, which is another real strength of this network. Join us! Here’s a flavour of what we covered this time.

Lu Mello and Pete Alston – supporting internships and placements

Whilst this was the final presentation of the meeting it was a great example of what the network meetings do so well, sharing practice and exchanging ideas around how technologies can be deployed and their value in different learning and teaching contexts. Lu discussed how, working with Pete Alston, they had looked in Life Sciences to PebblePad as a way of a) more effectively managing the administration of the ever-increasing number of their students on one year placements or six-week internships abroad and in the UK, and b) more importantly they were looking to formalise and improve the quality of the reflective report writing and associated evidence-gathering required of the students.

With smaller numbers in previous years much of the administrative and student reporting and reflection on placements and internships had been handled through emails. This was leading to too much variety in the reports and sometimes poor reflection, and email was not a strong evidence-gathering tool. PebblePad offered a means by which to build a far more structured environment for the students which demanded quality reflection on the skills they are learning. PebblePad also formalised deadlines for students reporting and the feedback they could expect. Students really valued the system as they felt looked-after whilst away from campus but Pebblepad by itself was not enough and a good deal of preparatory work with the students and the staff was needed. All of this contributed to students feeling very positive with high engagement in the process, every single student completing their reflective reporting every week within the context of other close support mechanisms from Skye calls and emails to site visits.

Gordon Sandison – Library Copyright Guidance – Digitisation

Gordon, the University library’s licensing manager, started off this term’s session with news of a just-published online resource from the library on copyright (and click here for the Information for teachers page which includes VITAL and lecture capture advice). This is very searchable, thorough and includes advice on many aspects of copyright, with extensive help on digital resources, including lecture capture.

Gordon also highlighted that the library’s new digitisation service has been formally launched. If you have a journal article or extract from a text that you want to include on VITAL for example, and if it doesn’t exist electronically in the library, then rather than scanning this yourself and going through the CLA process to make sure it clears our copyright requirements, simply ask the library to do this for you and include it on your Reading List @ Liverpool list. There’s plenty of guidance on the digitisation service here, it will save you a lot of time so please do use it.

Duncan Brown and Alan Brown – a view of VOTA polling app

Classroom polling technologies have been high up on many people’s teaching wishlists for a long time. There are lots of services out there from older-style clickers to web-based systems like Poll Everywhere but nothing is currently provided by the University centrally so schools and departments have been purchasing and subscribing to services as needed. Encouragingly Duncan and Alan from CSD gave us a look at and a try out of a beta version of a polling application, VOTA, currently in development. The project has come out of the team’s interest in exploring the potential of HTML5 websockets so is more of a technology-led than a learning and teaching led development at the moment. Once it’s ready, and further features will include embedding live polls into PowerPoint slides, it will be made available as a simple polling tool that will scale up to use for large cohorts so will be a fantastic entry-level tool for someone to try out this kind of technology in their learning and teaching. Given that there are other more sophisticated polling tools that exist there are no plans to develop VOTA beyond the simple tool we saw in the session. However there was a lot of interest in the prospect of a centrally-available polling system and the discussion in the room was around whether the basic system could be developed in time to do something different to that which Poll Everywhere etc could do and model some different interactions that would be directly relevant to Liverpool staff. A very positive discussion and there is exciting potential here.

Duncan Brown – Stream Capture feedback

Duncan has been the lead developer of our Stream Capture system and we had an informal discussion with him around its development which was an excellent opportunity to feed back on our experiences to date and have an influence on the direction in which the system is being built. An extremely useful tip worth sharing here on how the Stream Capture settings are managed (recording preferences, save to drive etc.) is that your account settings follow you around rather than you needing to reset them whenever you are in a different room.

That’s a very quick round-up and we hope that it persuades you to come along, so we look forward to seeing you at the next meeting which will be on Thursday 28th January 2016 and you can book here nearer the time. We also hope to hear from you and what you would like bring along so if you want to join the mailing list and be notified when the booking opens please contact the eLearning Unit.


Turnitin GradeMark on your iPad…

…and hurrah! it includes a facility for working offline.

This summer the iPad app for Turnitin GradeMark was generally released after a long period of Beta-testing and a lot of anticipation.

Available free from iTunes ( this app will let you carry out all of the grading and feedback functions you are used to with GradeMark.

Before you can use the app you will need to make a settings change which is detailed in this FAQ from our VITAL Self Service tool (click the link). The FAQ also explains how you create a class code so that you can link from the VITAL module containing the assignments to the iPad app.

We’d be very interested in hearing any reports from staff trying this app out so please do get in touch with the eLearning Unit to discuss your experiences.

Augmented Reality

Imagine hovering your smartphone camera display over a poster on a wall and seeing a video appear on screen related to the content of the poster. Augmented reality (AR) works in this way. See the video below for an example. It merges content created virtually (videos, images, animations, graphics) with real world environments. This virtual content is layered over a real-life object, whether that is a picture, a person or even a building, the options are endless. Viewed through the camera display on a smartphone or tablet device, these AR ‘overlays’ can be triggered by a GPS location, a sound, or through the recognition of an image (usually a photograph, graphical display, painting or poster). This is dependent on the application used but if content is synchronised, using an AR app, then content can ‘overlay’ information, for example, onto a famous landmark, or help someone to navigate around an a city area.

Newspapers, magazines and advertising agencies have already made use of AR. I’ve seen one app used to animate logos and text displays in the headlines of newspapers. It is fun seeing an advertisement in a newspaper come to life as an animation, however, this use of AR appears, in my opinion, rather gimmicky and the ‘fun’ effect was one that quickly waned. In terms of using two forms of media together, I think that comes down to preference. Certainly in my own experience I’m unlikely to use my phone or tablet for AR purposes whilst simultaneously reading a newspaper. AR in the context of entertainment will inevitably face practical questions as to why audiences should use AR in conjunction with other firmly established forms of media. Will the technological development of AR echo the anticipated rise and now more recent fall of the 3D TV? I do believe AR has a place that, once identified, will integrate it into certain elements of everyday practice. My hope is that this practice includes education and the interactivity found in learning environments.

AR in Education

It’s hard to know where to start when choosing an app to work with AR. A brief search through the Google Play and online App stores reveals an explosion of AR apps all focusing on different types augmented experiences. This ranges from live virtual views of someone’s location, using map software, to producing music using a hand-drawn piano layout.

After trying a lot of different AR apps, I came across Aurasma. Aurasma is a smart device app that was demonstrated by Judy Bloxham at the e-Assessment Association hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University in November 2012. Judy’s involvement in an AR project, supported by JISC and their RSC Northwest Network, is powered by Aurasma and has utilised AR for the purposes of enhancing educational content. The project compiled a series of posters that aided formative assessment and became interactive when students used the Aurasma app alongside them. This helped students to engage in a reflective thinking process drawing upon some of the key principles they had covered in their learning of the subject. Using AR and interactive content like this can also provide an ideal entry point for a learning activity to begin – with options to break down content into a series of options that students can choose to follow.

A good example is outlined in the poster below (provided by Judy Bloxham), allowing the user has to use Aurasma to interact with a series of buttons and videos to see which is the correct shelf for storing raw meat in the fridge.

fridge[Link to the original website for this poster:]

You can use Aurasma’s image recognition tool and see how this poster can trigger interactive learning content. This can be tested on a computer screen or using a printed version of one of the posters linked below. There are two ways to do this depending on the smart device that you are using. Some instructions are outlined below.

Android devices:

1. Visit the Google Play store to search and download Aurasma
2. Open Aurasma and press the ‘A’  icon at the bottom of the screen
3. This takes you to the Explore section. Press the magnifying glass at the bottom of the screen to go to the Search page.
4. Type in RSC Northwest to find the RSC Northwest Channel. Click the image and then click the ‘Following’ button on the next screen.
5. Now press the bracket icon [ ] on the bottom line to return to the camera view. Then view over one of the posters below.

Apple devices:

1. You can download Aurasma in the same way as above (for the Android devices) and follow the options to connect to the RSC Northwest channel.
2. Alternatively, search RSC Northwest in the App Store and install it to your Apple device.
3. Use the camera view and hover one of the posters below. Make sure the whole of the poster is displayed on your smart device.


[Link to the original website for this poster:]


[Link to the original website for this poster:]

These are examples of how an image can trigger an Aurasma ‘aura’. Open one of the PDF files to full screen and hover your smartphone device over the image. If the app has joined the channel correctly the image should trigger the interactive ‘aura’ content. Do let us know in the comment box below about your experiences using this app.

To read more about the use of AR used in education then visit the following sites below. These were recommended by Judy Bloxham, who I would like to thank on behalf of the eLearning Unit here at the University of Liverpool, for allowing us permission to make use of the above posters, demonstrating the use of Augmented Reality in education. Her work in raising awareness about the potential benefits of AR in education is ongoing and well worth following. Below are some further links related to the information above and to other AR projects, if you would like to delve further.

Guardian Blog Post –

Scarlet Project –

cARe Project

Living Learning: Plumbing from Kendal College

written by Phil Walker

MELSIG event April 2012 – report

Images and screeencasts in learning and teaching

The latest MELSIG event (Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group) was hosted by the University of Derby this April. The focus was on Education disciplines, with consistent emphasis on the use of screencasts, images and podcasts for learning and teaching. MELSIG once again fired the enthusiasm of attendees, creating an excellent programme for understanding and collaborating on innovative practice around the country. The day was broken into two parts, with the morning comprised of a series of presentations and a world café session, and the afternoon a number of workshops and ‘open-floor’ sessions. The main room for the event was a superb flexible teaching space which encouraged participants’ creative thinking in many ways, including allowing notes to be made on write-on-glass walls. Watch the video below for an overview of the room and how it can be used – who needs flipcharts!

Screencasting and visual capturing

The first session presented a case study of a solution to the timely concern that faces academics when they release an academic question, i.e. a way to tackle the influx of common ‘what do you mean’ questions emailed to tutors from unsure students. Camtasia proved a likely solution providing tutors with the chance to produce screencasts, in this instance for giving students clear guidance on good academic writing technique in a short, ‘snippet’ format. The personal appeal for students was seeing tutors give visual guidance, narrating good examples of what they were looking for in the academic writing process via an informal video, leading to students better understanding how to have a ‘critical approach’ to their own writing.  The benefits were clear with email queries dropping massively from around 99 needy inbox requests, to only one or two. Students had a better grasp of the tutor’s mindset and all it took was a little visual effort, of easily recorded guidance, planned carefully, rather than reams of written information. In a further iteration of this process, students were asked to critique and evaluate written work in the light of these narrated examples to further develop their critical skills.

“Hit the red button!”

During a lively discussion following the above session, Andrew Middleton (Quality Enhancement and Student Success, Sheffield Hallam University and one of the powerhouses of MELSIG events) evangelised on the potential of simply hitting the record button on any of the abundance of visual recording devices that are almost ubiquitous in academic envrionments. Pulling out his pocket size Flip-cam, he illustrated the ease of capturing workshop content and using it to engage learners and/or document useful information. We are visual beings. Video, film and podcasting have been in the e-learning arena for the last decade and more. The flavour given to learning by visual information is clear, yet we can do much more to capture thoughts, ideas and opinions, simply by the click of a button. With the devices to hand we can create authentic, ‘just-in-time’, personalised videos and audio recordings, which don’t need much editing or high production values.

Student video/screencast assignments

At the University of Derby, presenting via video, with screencasting options, allowed one student cohort an alternative way to tackle an assessed presentation assignment for a module dealing with how curricula are constructed. Students were also offered the option of a formally assessed presentation in a lecture theatre, but everyone opted for creating a recorded screencast at home, that could be uploaded remotely as their assignment submission. Utilising Panopto, with support from the University’s learning technologists, students each created a 20 minute screencast. Tutors were then able to watch the pre-recorded screencasts remotely, whilst simultaneously writing up the student’s assessment criteria. We heard from some of the students themselves about their experience of creating a piece of work for assessment in this way and it was interesting to hear how many of them  thought deeply about achieving an academic voice/tone in their presentation.

Conceptual images

There is a heavy emphasis on words in academia and perhaps we neglect some of the ways of early learning though images. Pedagogy that uses visual content has a somewhat undernourished place in education. Natasa Lackovic’sPhD research at the University of Notthingham, explores the literacy of the image, pinpointing the pedagogic use of the image in learning. An intriguing presentation was given by Lackovic, focusing on how students can develop their conceptual understanding by utilising images and illustrations. This is essentially using images as hinges to access and understand abstract concepts. Lackovic asked her students to combine an image with a concept (eg. Empiricism), search for a variety of images relating to the concept and then discuss the findings. Lackovic found this approach deepened the conceptual knowledge and collaborative opportunity for students, leading to many more questions about the potential use of imagery in the learning experience. Even the somewhat over used Powerpoint, a regularly sought lecture tool, could make use of this research and consider the impact images can have in reinforcing concepts thus provoking deeper thought. Infographics spring to mind. Different subjects will make use of different images, so breaking out of bullet-point moulds of text heavy information may in fact spark alternative ways of seeing a concept. Lackovic’s presentation was a point well defined and carried momentum throughout the day’s events, with other workshops considering the impact of copyright issues and the position of imagery in digital literacy.
This was another inspiring and useful day run by MELSIG and something we would very much like to see hosted at the University of Liverpool.


You can read the University of Derby learning technology team’s blog post on the day here.

There is a blog post you can read here about the previous MELSIG event at the University of Salford, which also describes the world café session on what makes a great podcast.

Phil Walker

Digital media in HE event – podcasts, screencasts, digital video

A superb one-day event focussing on podcasting, screen-capture and screen-casting, eZines and digital video. This was run by the Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (MELSIG) and held at the University of Salford. Below are some highlights of the day including some great examples of simple, innovative practice, some new bits of kit (shiny! shiny!), some new apps and some interesting projects (with online games for l&t prominent).

Here’s the full schedule for the day. In the morning we heard from Andrew Middleton considering audio spaces as learning environments – for listening, discussing, thinking, developing and articulating ideas, for acting together or individually, for recording and reporting. We’re generally within reach of simple and powerful audio recording devices and there is no need for our audio artefacts to be hi-fi masterpieces. Lo-fi is quick, manageable, is seen as more ‘authentic’, captures immediacy and the personality of the creator, both learners and tutors. Andrew ranged over a multitude of use examples of audio files and podcasts (the two terms tend to elide) including some described here.

Helen Keegan then took us down the rabbit hole, describing a Masters programme module she had run as an Alternate Reality Game, the mystery of who is Rufi Franzen?! The essence of the module was about acquiring creative skills, developing creative curiosity, and becoming literate in digital tools that can facilitate this. Read her blog linked to above for more on this fascinating, head-spinner of an adventure (for staff and students).

Next up was a World Cafe style event, ‘What Makes a Great Podcast?’ In our groups we each discussed a specific question on elements of podcasting, from the ideal duration of a podcast to interview techniques. Super-useful and great way of breaking down any barriers and get talking to each other into lunchtime.

There was a general interest in the room in how all of these tools can be turned to innovative and engaging ways of offering feedback to students, individually, in groups and whole cohorts. In the screencasting session I attended after lunch we were shown how one lecturer offers feedback to students on their assignments  using the free Jing screencasting software. Lots of advice, kit and resources to explore in this session.

Even at a small event I then managed to mistakenly attend a different session to the one I had planned, but am very glad that I did end up in the Open Floor Thunderstorm (!) in the final session of the day run by Alex Spiers from LJMU. Here anyone could get up and talk about a relevant project they were involved in, for a maximum of ten minutes, using the time how they wanted, either to present, ask the room for help, ideas and feedback, or just to stand up and talk. We heard ‘thunderstorms’ on: using ShowMe on the iPad for feedback on student work; using podcasts with trainee nurses on placement abroad to tell stories of their experiences; a lecturer asking for advice on using video and screencasting to create revision aid resources for her students; using alternate/mixed-reality games in a PG Cert Academic Practice module to explore play as a medium for learning.

If you are interested in any of the above items then I will be happy to talk through them in detail with you and I highly recommend signing-up to the MELSIG mailing list for regular updates and notice of events (the next is planned for March in Derby). The MELSIG wiki is open to all and is packed full of guides, ideas and resources, from 100+ ideas for podcast uses to free audio sound effects libraries.

As a bonus item from the day, have a watch of this demo video of a system called PaperShow which I heard about from Dragos Ciobanu at the University of Leeds. It has proved so popular with some lecturers that they have abandoned more ‘traditional’ PowerPoint presentations for lecture sessions (actual demo starts 20 seconds in if you don’t want to hear Phil Jupitus’ jokes…).

Dan Roberts