Report: e-Learning Network Meeting – January 2017

We were delighted to welcome Professor Helen O’Sullivan, APVC Online Learning, as speaker at the first e-Learning Network meeting of 2017. Helen spoke to us about the University’s new Education Strategy, giving the network an overview of the structures, leadership teams and immediate priorities. The recording of that talk is linked-to below. Helen then led a discussion workshop on what an institutional Digital Education vision might look like (this part of the session is not recorded). We also managed to make time for a couple of extra items: a first look at Turnitin Feedback Studio, the new design for GradeMark we will be moving to in July; and an introduction to the Go Mobile user group that began meeting this academic year. A pretty busy lunchtime for the forty staff members who came together for this valued networking event.

Professor Helen O’Sullivan

So much is going on at the University at the moment it was a welcome opportunity to spend some time thinking through and discussing how current strategies relate to our own interest area and Helen did a great job of this, even in the sweltering conditions of our meeting room. The Education Strategy’s core values, ‘Liverpool Hallmarks’, of ‘research-connected teaching, active learning and authentic assessment’ are immediately appealing to anyone interested in learning and teaching, and learning technologies can play a critical role in these. I won’t go into micro-detail but what I found really useful was an update on the top priorities for the coming year, including the setting-up of a new Programmes Development Team, a media technical support team, continued work on the Electronic Management of Assessment project, and also hearing about less familiar things including the focus on the London Campus portfolio and degree apprenticeships. Click the image below for the (Stream Capture) recording, about 32 minutes long.

Click the image above to watch the recorded talk by Prof O’Sullivan (32 minutes)


We then moved to some group discussions to consider a Liverpool take on David White’s digital leadership framework which is designed to help high-level discussion and decision-making about all things digital, giving some coherence for thinking about the whole organisation and how decisions can affect all of these layers. The framework diagram below is taken from David’s blog post (click the diagram to read) and was the starting point for the activity. In my group we focussed quite a bit on the Digital Service layer, which possibly reflected the areas we work in but which we felt was the bedrock of an organisation’s culture and medium.

Turnitin Feedback Studio – Dan Roberts

There was also a bit of time for a couple of extra items. First up was a look at the new design for Turnitin GradeMark, called Turnitin Feedback Studio. This was an out-of-the-box walkthrough and we were only examining the feedback environment. Essentially the desktop version has been rebuilt and the design is very similar to the current iPad app version, but now you will be able to use it on any device. This video below maps the key differences between our current version of GradeMark and what we will see after this summer’s upgrade. You can also try out a live, online demo if you follow this link.

No horses seemed to be startled by this new look. From a design point of view I think it is a much-improved, cleaner system, tidying away a lot of the distracting array of menus and buttons we are used to, and instead putting the most commonly-used feedback tools directly in front of you whilst marking work; no more hunting around for different comment types for instance. The rebuild has also focussed on making GradeMark fully-accessible which is great. Asking about what kinds of things people would be interested to test in the lead-in time to the summer upgrade, long-standing functionality/workflow requirements such as double marking were top of the list. Looking through the release notes whilst writing this post I can see that there is a Beta version of the multiple markers facility for which Turnitin are looking for some testers, so we will organise this through the network and the e-submission/EMA project board. Get in touch directly if you want to be a part of this testing.

Go Mobile Usergroup – Alex Spiers

We rounded off chatting about the new user group for anyone interested in anything mobile that Alex  has set up and has met a couple of times already this academic year. It is as wide-ranging as that sounds, so we’ve looked at apps, devices like the iPad pro and pen, and the kinds of things staff and students from all parts of the University are doing with mobile technologies for learning and teaching. Look out for the next meeting which we hope will be this side of Easter and we’ll release details ASAP or keep up with #LIVUNIGO.

Next meeting – April 27th

Many thanks to Helen for the valuable and engaging insight into the strategic thinking and work going on for the University’s Education Strategy, and the role that Technology-Enhanced Learning has to play as it moves into its implementation phase. It was also a great opportunity to have a first say on some emergent ideas around a Digital Vision for the University of Liverpool. This is an ongoing process and Helen would welcome more comments and feedback on anything covered in the presentation or discussion.

The next e-Learning Network meeting is scheduled for Thursday 27th April 12:30 – 2pm. The network lunch is intended primarily as a sharing event so if you have an idea for one of our meetings or anything you want to share about something you have been doing with TEL and to get some feedback and discussion from the group then please let us know.


Winter School 2017 – Week 2 Workshops – 16th – 20th January

The Winter School began today with a great session on engaging students visually in lectures with loads of ideas for presentation materials. There are a number of other sessions in the first week , which you can read about here and still book the last few places here.

This year we are also running a second week of sessions (Monday 16th to Friday 20th January) looking at technologies for learning and teaching beyond VITAL and a number of which are designed to tie-in with the online Bring Your Own Device for Learning 2017 events. All sessions listed below and bookable at:

  • Monday 16th Jan – An introduction to Twitter (2 – 4pm)
  • Tuesday 17th Jan – GoMobile user group meeting (1 – 3pm)
  • Wednesday 18th Jan – e-submission and e-marking workshops
    • An Introduction To Electronic Submission Of Coursework (9:30 – 11am)
    • The Turnitin Assignment Tool For e-submission (Part 1) And GradeMark For Feedback (Part 2) (12 – 2pm)
    • The Blackboard Assignment Tool For e-submission (Part 1) And Feedback (Part 2) (2:30 – 4pm)
  • Thursday 19th Jan – Student as co-creators (11am – 1pm)
  • Friday 20th Jan – Advanced Twitter (2 – 4pm)

Finally, after these two weeks are a couple of events which might interest you.

  • Wednesday 25th Jan – Building good VITAL modules – a practical session looking at ways of building on the VITAL Baseline to create well-designed modules.
  • Thursday 26th Jan – eLearning Network meeting. In this meeting we will be getting a first look at the new Turnitin Feedback Studio.

All sessions bookable at:


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.


E-learning Network Meeting – May 2014

E-learning Network meetings this year have grown into lively, well-attended, network-led events and it is fantastic to have so many staff at Liverpool who want to share the excellent things they are doing with technologies for learning and teaching. Please do get in touch with Debbie Prescott, head of the eLearning Unit, if you’d like to get involved and present. This May’s network meeting featured items on:

  • The institution as e-book publisher.
  • Technologies for Architecture studio teaching.
  • Pearson’s Learning Catalytics, MyLab & Mastering.

There’s a quick overview of these below but if you would like any more detail about any of these presentations then please do get in touch.

The institution as e-book publisher

Anthony Cond (Liverpool University Press) and Andrew Barker (Library – Head of Academic Liaison, Special Collections & Archives) kicked off the meeting to discuss a fascinating collaborative project involving their areas and the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Funded as a part of JISC’s three year programme looking at the viability of institutions becoming e-book publishers, the University of Liverpool will be developing two e-textbooks using different publishing/content creation applications (Biblioboard and Xerte) and for use with modules being run at the University. Students will get access to these e-textbooks as a matter of course and they will be freely available to anyone else, published under Creative Commons licenses and as print on demand resources as well. There was a lot of discussion in the room around reading preferences (print versus electronic), how a sustainable model for this kind of provision could be achieved, and how students will react to these kinds of resources. You can read more about this project and the two e-textbooks to be developed here and here for details of the JISC callout.

Technologies for Architecture studio teaching

Mike Knight from the School of Architecture took us through some of the brilliant things they have been doing building on their work in using wikis and remote design reviews for studio teaching, to now refiguring they way they run tutorials and give feedback in design reviews using iPads and examining how remote tutorials might be run for XJTLU and our London campus with Skype, high-quality webcams and podcasting and whiteboard software.

penpaperstudioarchitectureKey considerations for tutorials were communicating effectively with students and providing timely and quality feedback. The traditional paper and pen tutorial can mean there is only a transient record of the tutorial. The School used the free iPad sketching app Penultimate to record the sketching ‘conversation’ between tutor and students. Replicating and recording the tutorial conversation digitally means more effective records are kept and this record can be used interchangeably with the work being done elsewhere in wikis where students develop their design work.

archstudioreviewfeedbackFor design review feedback the School is trialling an online version of their feedback form which the tutors use with their iPads. Immediate benefits have been in the timeliness of the feedback and in administrative savings organising the feedback forms. The next stage of this work will be to look at rolling it out to other year groups.


Mike also walked us through the remote tutorial set-up he has been trialling. Podcasting software (XSplit) enabled them to deploy multiple high-quality webcams along with whiteboard software for sketching interactions on drawing tablets and finally utilising Skype Pro. This has been pretty successful for a low-cost solution, with the tech not generally getting in the way of the tutorial (time differences and the Skype/network blips being the main problems). The team are also looking for an iPad app which would could be used in place of the drawing tablet.

Pearson’s Learning Catalytics, MyLab & Mastering at Liverpool

Our last session was led by Jo Corwood (Pearson) and it was a pertinent contrast to hear from a representative of one of the major academic publishers and how they are approaching the digital age. Jo outlined some of the work going on to make the MyLab and Mastering products from Pearson that are already being extensively utilised at Liverpool a more seamless experience for students. Jo also touched on a new classroom polling system Learning Catalytics that was developed at Harvard and which Pearson have now taken up with the Learning Catalytics development team to develop the product commercially. Below are a couple of films (one of an hour and the other of just one minute!) which gives an overview and an insight into what this particular polling system can do. One to keep an eye on.

One hour presentation from Eric Mazur on Learning Catalytics

Short promotional video (1 minute!) from Pearson on Learning Catalytics

Previous network meetings have included sessions on MOOCs at Liverpool, the Kritikos discipline-specific web search facility, the new Liverpool TEL strategy, blogging in the library, VITAL upgrades overviews, demonstrations and discussion of new applications from CSD – including the in-development lecture capture system and of other new institutional systems, such as Adobe Connect and Reading Lists @ Liverpool. Network meetings are also a superb opportunity to meet colleagues with a shared interest in learning technologies. The lunch isn’t too bad either!


E-learning: The Future of Education in Pakistan

On a recent trip to Pakistan, contributing to the INSPIRE project, I delivered a series of e-learning workshops and talks across a section of the Punjab (a province with a population of over 80 million people!). The participants at these workshops were primarily young doctors and medical educators from throughout the region. The workshops considered the past, present and possible future of education and technology. The sessions were designed to show the current situation in the UK, and particularly in Liverpool, related to education and technology. We then moved into group discussions considering how Pakistan could develop in this area. The day’s activities ended with a practical hands on session where software, introduced earlier in the day, could be experimented with. This section of the workshop included products such as Google Docs, Prezi, Dropbox, Polleverywhere, Ning and many more.

Despite issues such as regular power cuts and a limited technical infrastructure, in some regions, the doctors were very enthusiastic about the use of technology in their teaching and were very keen to learn and explore new opportunities.

Following on from the visit, participants were asked to produce some evidence highlighting effective use of technology in their own teaching. Once demonstrated they will gain a certificate of attendance for the workshop. An online environment has been created for this purpose and several blog posts have already been posted indicating a strong belief that technology plays an essential and integral part of medical education in Pakistan.

It was an excellent visit from my point of view, fascinating to experience a different culture and hugely rewarding to work in a new environment. I would also like to think the visit was well received with colleagues in Pakistan. Our activities attracted some local and national attention, culminating in newspaper articles and an invitation to speak with the Punjab chief minister. The welcome we received, everywhere we went, was incredible and the hospitality of the Pakistani people, during our visit, second to none.

Further developments currently underway, as a result of the visit, are a project to create a VLE for the University of Health Sciences (UHS), Lahore, using a Google Apps for Education domain and the potential creation of PhDs and further significant training opportunities between Pakistan and the University of Liverpool. Exciting times!

Paul Duvall.

eLearning Network Meeting 13th July 2011 – Apps for L&T

The last eLearning Network meeting of 2010/2011 took place on Wednesday 13th July and the focus of the meeting was on Apps for Learning and Teaching and mobile stuff in general! Yet again we were really pleased with how many people turned up and contributed to the session.

After a quick update on some e-learning activities (including the upgrade to VITAL on 18th July) we entered a lively discussion about the use of Mobile technologies at Liverpool and where it might go in the future.

Craig Goacher from CSD kindly brought along a few different mobile devices for people to  try. Thanks to Steve McKinnell too for bringing his iPad to demonstrate.

We looked at the Blackboard Mobile Learn app for VITAL on the iPad and discussed what it could and couldn’t do. We then turned out attention to other apps that may be useful for staff and students. Most of the apps on the list that follows have been tried by someone in the group and found to be useful – but please be aware, except for Blackboard Mobile Learn, none of these are “officially” recommended…

Examples of more apps can also be found at  Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.

Note taking:

MS Office type:

Mobile Office
Documents to Go


Mind maps/concept maps:

Reference managers:

Accessing the University:
Remote Desktop


File storage:

I’m certain I’ve missed some that we discussed so please feel free to add to/discuss this list via the comment facility below.

If you’re thinking about an Android mobile device, Peter Miller has looked into the Tabtech (manufacturer Eken) M009s 7″ resistive screen, Android 2.2: and kindly provided some details below…

Note that at this is very much a low-end machine compared to the iPad, i.e. significantly slower, but consideration may highlight some of the support issues associated with Android and help distinguish features that are essential as opposed to desirable, e.g. it lacks GPS, accelerometer, phone-asssociated functionality, ability to display direct to external monitor. Some common apps may not be available, e.g. if the hardware is absent. The resistive screen needs a firm press and does not support pinch-zoom gestures requiring multi-point touch. Supports 16 GB microSD card.

Wifi (not EduRoam as yet). Comes with 30pin-to-USB (x2) and -RJ45 connector for USB memory stick/keyboard/mouse, 3G dongle (some, not all), ethernet. Also direct link to USB port on PC. No display to external monitor.

Known to run (after ~12 days use of device!) — all at no additional cost, some as supplied with device, others as freeware, freemium or adware
— Google Docs and Reader (for RSS etc)
— Documents To Go (viewer for MS Office and PDF files; limited editing)
— Adobe Acrobat viewer
— eBooks: Kindle app; Aldiko app (for Calibre)
— YouTube

— Web browser with support for Flash, iPlayer; can run Xerte learning objects

— Evernote (not tested; required Market cache flush before it appeared as an option)
— AK Notepad (sync with as lightweight Evernote equivalent; supports use of Share to pipe output between apps)
— PubMed Mobile
— Instapaper for archiving web pages for later reading (also Web Scrapbook)
— Seesmic (for Twitter)
— Bb Mobile Learn (attached files need to be saved and viewed separately; haven’t tried editing)
— Thinking Space (commercial Pro version supports Mindmeister API)
— AndTidWiki app for generating personal wiki
— Clipper clipboard manager
— ASTRO File Manager

— DropBox

— WApedia (Wikipedia)

— app for screen sharing ( to get PC version)

There are no apps for MindMeister or Prezi as yet though you can view files after a fashion using the respective Flash-based web viewers. No app for Splashtop.



eLearning Unit at the Learning and Teaching Conference 2011

The eLearning Studio

This year the eLearning Unit took over a room at the University of Liverpool’s 2011 Learning and Teaching conference, crammed it full of learning technology excitement and called it the eLearning Studio. Strategically located next to the coffee and registration desks, members of the team were on hand all day for anyone attending the conference to drop in, discuss and try out a range of technologies (hardware and software) for learning and teaching. (We were also offering alluringly comfortable, café-style seating for anyone who just wanted a sit down and a nice cup of tea).

Four themed areas were set up in the Studio: Multimedia, Content Creation, Classroom Technologies and the Showcase. On offer across all of these themes was the opportunity to:

  • Try out software applications, either available at UoL, including LAMS for learning design and Xerte for accessible, rapid content creation, or as commercial products to buy, such as Articulate and Wimba Create;
  • View video case studies of innovative learning and teaching practice at UoL over the last couple of years;
  • Have a go on some inexpensive kit for creating audio and video (and easy-to-use software to edit it) including a Zoom audio recorder and a Flip camera, and some screen capture software (Camtasia and Jing);
  • Look at some outputs from the eLearning Unit’s activities over the past year including CPD module development, social networking site development and curriculum review (as well as this blog, our websites (here also) and twitter feeds (here also).

We were also asked to showcase the Student Stories videos produced by Student Support Services which highlights the successes and challenges different students face as they attempt to balance their university studies and their personal well being.

The Classroom Technologies theme featured our WordWall text-entry classroom response handsets, which were a real focus of interest for many people. With a few simple activities and games to try out, and so get an understanding of the kinds of interactivity these types of system afford, lots of questions and discussions were generated as people sought out strategies and applicability for their own teaching and learning practice.

As an experimental venture and with no formal space in the day’s programme, we were not sure what level of interest or footfall the eLearning Studio would attract. By the end of the day it was heartening to have welcomed so many enthused people through the doors (including our conference keynote speaker, Professor Stephen Brookfield and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Kelvin Everest) and to have had such a range of questions and discussions. We enjoyed busy periods during the registration, coffee and lunch breaks and a steady trickle of people came along to have a more detailed discussion during the main parallel sessions. There is a real upsurge of interest in e-learning and learning technology at the University, evidenced not just by visitors to the Studio, but by the many conference presentations that figured e-learning as a natural/habitual element of practice (rather than a ‘quirky’, experimental or hobbyist activity).

Based on this successful, inaugural run-out, we hope next year to offer an enhanced manifestation of the eLearning Studio, perhaps running a few more structured activities or presentations/workshops from other staff. We would be delighted to hear any comments or suggestions from people who visited the Studio this year and many thanks to those of you have who mentioned the Studio so positively in the 2011 L and T Conference Feedback survey.

The eLearning Unit