VLE minimum standards evaluation – looking around

This second post to stem from our VITAL Baseline evaluation work this year tells some of the story about looking outwards to the sector for policy seeking to understand best-practice around minimum standards for VLEs.

As a part of our original work developing the VITAL baseline the working group thought it would be useful to see what, if anything, was happening with VLE minimum standards across the HE sector at that point in time. With a pressing timescale and clear directive that a) we had to have a standard and b) of what it should consist this time round, the most we could look at was who had some kind of minimum standard or expectation for their VLE and what was in it, so get some simple benchmarks and reassure ourselves that we hadn’t missed anything that we could include whilst we had this opportunity to shape our own set of standards at the development stage. As a low-cost way (for us) of gathering some rough and ready data a call went out to the ALT mailing list asking people to contribute to a Google Sheet to say whether their institution had any kind of minimum standard or expectation, or were looking to develop one, and what was in it. As a group we didn’t engage at any further level with this work (although one of us, Peter Reed, wrote up and presented some of his own analysis of the original data at a few conferences and usergroups for which you can find an entry point to here). I had always hoped to return to this work with some questions I had about the sector-wide landscape as a part of any evaluation and that what I learnt from this exercise would also inform any recommendations we would make for future development of the standard. The main areas I want now to examine are:

  • In terms of the original data gathered we should re-examine what we can understand from this. I was anxious about how crowdsourced data stands up and what the implications were of this approach for an evaluation so would like to review this methodology in some detail as well. 
  • I wondered what results we would get if we more closely defined the group(s) of institutions against which we wanted to benchmark and actively approach these. I felt at the time that the original data might encourage a view that minimum standards policies were a standard feature of the topography of Technology Enhanced Learning strategies and policies in HEIs and I wanted to test this. 
  • Then as well as asking who has a standard and what is in it the more interesting questions would include why one exists for that institution, how is its rationale contextualised (e.g. is this linked to a learning and teaching strategy?), what kinds of processes were involved in its development, is it compulsory and has any evaluation taken place?
  • For those institutions who don’t have one, what is the story, if there is one, here?
  • Beyond approaching institutions we would look at any literature, conference proceedings, blog posts and mailing list discussions around minimum standards as a part of the evaluation work more generally but specifically for this information about why institutions do or do not have a VLE baseline.

In picking this work up again for our Baseline evaluation project I thought an obvious although simplistic initial sampling strategy would be to survey the rest of the Russell group which would make for a manageable, quick desk-based web-search. I looked for what could be discovered from the websites of the Russell Group institutions for any indication of an institutional VLE standard in place and what further detail was available publicly. A first-glance review found that in December 2015:

  • Six definitely have an institutional standard with compulsory/required/expected elements.
  • Three offer institutionally recommended good practice guidance.
  • Fourteen seemed to have no institutional standard requirement or expectation.
  • For one institution I couldn’t find any detail one way or another.

I’ve collated a list with details of what each standard or recommendation above consists but one immediate thought on the above is that there might well be standards at faculty or school/departmental level where there is no institutional requirement. It would be useful to uncover this information as my own feeling is that handing over standards to more local levels is probably the way to move in the future, which we’ll discuss in a later post on any recommendations that emerge from our evaluation work. 

Also immediately what we would want to do next is to contact institutions directly and try to confirm whether what we have found accurately reflects their situation and to get a little more detail on the whys and hows as listed above in this post (and we’ll also first need to look into ethical approval around this if we are intending to publish our results) and if there might be more local standards that aren’t found on central websites and I’ll make this list available when it is as complete as possible.

Another question this simple snapshot of Russell Group institutions raises for me is whether Liverpool is leading in this area, as we appear to be in the minority here, or alternatively whether we were late-arrivers to the debate around minimum standards and have taken a different direction to the majority? Obviously the snapshot view is unconfirmed and looking at a bigger group of institutions would give better data but as I began to discuss in the first Baseline evaluation post we want to look at the evidence used that informed the decision to make this one of the first initiatives to comprise our institutional TEL strategy to assess its strengths and its limits. Does this snapshot view tell a contrasting story to that of other sources of evidence used to develop TEL strategy and the Baseline originally? Are there any similarities between Liverpool and the other Russell group institutions that have a standard in place? I’d be interested to discover the extent to which minimum standards policies feature in Technology Enhanced Learning strategies and policies in HEIs when measured in a larger sample group. Thinking further about the sample group I wondered whether we should follow this 2014 UCISA report and look at all pre-92 institutions for a greater mix of institution types and with time post-92 institutions. More work but valuable for developing our understanding.

In a similar fashion to that of the original Baseline development representing an opportunity to look at some of the internal evidence of the ways in which the VLE is being used within the institution, this outward-looking work also offered the opportunity to richly inform our thinking and strategic approach by looking to the sector and the experience and evidence here. We want to assess the extent these sources of evidence were exploited in the original development and how they could be in the future as part of our recommendations for any future institutional TEL initiatives.

As an almost tangential sign-off, when thinking about what I’d write for this post I realised that I have been using the terms ‘benchmark’ and ‘benchmarking’ unthinkingly. Then I panicked, what are they and why would you want to do this? This panic didn’t last long as found this useful-looking JISC resource what is benchmarking? If anyone knows more about this guide we’d appreciate your thoughts and advice but I think I am going to use it for writing up this sector scene-setting aspect of our evaluation work.


eLU Winter School 2016

Update: an additional Stream Capture session has been scheduled in the Winter School week.

11th – 15th January 2016 – 7 sessions planned – full information and booking at the CLL Booking Website here.

Nellie, the classroom computer of the future (BBC Tomorrow’s World http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0154hns)

The schedule for our 2016 Winter School is finalised and ready to book with the following sessions available. Please note there are now two Stream Capture sessions running due to the high levels of interest in this workhop. Each title is a clickable link to full details and booking page.

  • Mon 11th Jan 2-4pm – Wikis for collaborative group work – Looking at the Campus Pack wiki tool and its uses for groupwork
  • Tues 12th Jan 2- 4pm – Stream Capture for screencasting, lecture capture and podcasting – key concepts, practical considerations, examples and case studies, and how Stream Capture can be used in this context
  • Weds 13th Jan 10-11:30amVITAL Essentials – Entry-level guide to using VITAL also covering the VITAL Baseline, copyright and accessibility
  • Weds 13th Jan 2-4pmAn introduction to Technology Enhanced Learning – Introduces the technologies we have available centrally at Liverpool, their applications for learning and teaching, and highlights policy, strategy and guidelines relating to TEL. The session asks you to reflect on your practice with and understanding of learning technology within the context of your own discipline and some suggested learning technology frameworks.
  • Thurs 14th Jan 10-11amOne hour GradeMark – Short practical session on using this grading and feedback tool in Turnitin
  • Thurs 14th Jan 2-4pmTurnitin assignments and Originality Reports – How originality reports are produced and how to read them.
  • NEW, ADDITIONAL SESSION: Fri 15th Jan 10am-12pmStream Capture for screencasting, lecture capture and podcasting – key concepts, practical considerations, examples and case studies, and how Stream Capture can be used in this context

As well as these scheduled sessions, we will be happy to run these or other workshops for schools, departments and faculties on many aspects of e-learning and learning enhanced technology by request. Please do approach us about any of your e-learning/VITAL training needs.

Studio Wednesdays

Please also remember our ask-us-anything ‘Studio Wednesday’ drop-in session, running every Wednesday afternoon between 1:30pm and 5pm. Full details on this drop-in are available here.

VITAL Baseline support

Remember that the VITAL module ‘VITAL Baseline and guidance’ includes full online support on meeting the VITAL Baseline.

LUSID is retiring

After 17 years of service the LUSID system is to be discontinued. Most users of LUSID have already moved to alternative online systems and if you were planning to use LUSID this academic year you will not be able to access LUSID directly as from Thursday 1st October 2015. You will need to be supported to move to another system and we would ask that you contact the eLearning Unit in CLL or CSD Service Desk as soon as possible to arrange this.

The final switch-off date is scheduled for Friday 19th December 2015. If you need to access or retrieve any of the data that is held in LUSID then please contact CSD Servicedesk for advice well before the December switch off date.

MOOCs: A Learning Curve

Finalising our MOOCs feels like adding the last touches to a new home before settling into the new neighbourhood. Here at the eLearning Unit, over the last three months, we’ve been developing two MOOCs for the FutureLearn platform, ready to go live in September. This blog post is a summary of some of the things we’ve learnt on our MOOC creation journey-of-discovery. The University of Liverpool will have its first taste of running two Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), sitting alongside a range of other online course opportunities that have been created and designed by Universities throughout the UK and abroad. It’s the first of six MOOCs altogether and we’ll be progressing soon to start work with more academics, to design and develop more MOOC courses. We really want to hear your experiences of creating MOOCs. Please comment below.

leahmoocadvertA learning curve

MOOC development has been a significant Petermoocadvertlearning curve for us, especially when balancing the design and structure of course materials (lasting six weeks) alongside time restraints and technological drawbacks commonplace in the content development of any online course. That said, MOOCs tend to be multimedia intensive and the time heavy task of putting together a series of videos flagged the need for careful preparation. Certainly the fine tuning of video footage can be laborious, so we’ve featured this in our longer term MOOC development plans, building a more streamlined approach to our multimedia production workflow. This includes working closely with the academic lead of the MOOC, scripting out and story-boarding any video ideas to make sure they fit the flow of the course. We’ve realised that putting this time aside will allow us greater control when deciding which content should be filmed footage, in the form of videos, compared with content that should be displayed in a different formats (eg. images, text, audio).

Filming Dr Leah Ridgway n the High Power Lab

Taking time out, to plan, informed our decision making processes for content production and gave us the chance to integrate an important element to our courses – a sense of pace and the opportunity for reflection. We felt this pedagogical structure gives participants the chance to digest key bits of learning before moving through each section. This can be tricky to do. We had to constantly take a step back to view the bigger picture of the six week course whilst remembering that every resource created would be accessed online by an audience that does not necessarily have any direct access to the academic lead (as in traditional face-to-face learning). We find that we are in a constant process of assessing and re-assessing the interaction between course content and the learning objectives.

At the outset, engaging with MOOC creation in the eLearning Unit utilised skills we currently use in developing the online Continuing Professional Development (CPD), with a few obvious differences. Rather than using our familiar VLE Blackboard environment, we were using the clean cut FutureLearn platform. Rather than a small audience, we are facing a massive audience. It’s not so straightforward and despite the approach to MOOC production being largely similar to online CPD, the scale is bigger and the workload a lot heavier. Equally, with MOOCs being seen as part-marketing tools for institutions, issues surrounding branding were important to address. This led to the consideration of filming locations and getting away from simply filming a series of face-to-face lectures. The potential for a massive international audience had to be considered throughout, ensuring we painted a picture of campus life and the institution.

Core MOOC team: Rob Lindsay, Phil Walker & Matt O' Rourke with academic lead Dr Leah Ridgway.
Core MOOC team: Rob Lindsay, Phil Walker & Matt O’ Rourke with academic lead Dr Leah Ridgway.

To date, we’ve produced content from Professor Peter Kinderman’s ‘Psychology and Mental Health‘ course and Dr Leah Ridgway’s ‘Electrify‘ (an introduction to electrical engineering). Both MOOCs have a distinctive style that suits the approach of the academics involved. There’s always a big balancing act going on. First and foremost we were maintaining production whilst also fine tuning the educational experience. The core MOOC team is made up of three people. We’ve managed to draw on the wider expertise within the eLearning Unit to help with course design and web development. This has allowed us to enhance elements of the MOOC and integrate many of the face-to-face approaches used by the academic leads. The ‘Psychology and Mental Health’ is a good example, where we’ve worked with an expert Javasript web coder, building into the MOOC an interactive participant survey.

This blog has touched mainly on the multimedia elements of content creation. There’s much to learn however, specifically in terms of pedagogical design for MOOCs. Have you any experience to share on MOOCs and pedgagogy? Tell us about it in the comment boxes below. After all, the collaborative element between institutions and individuals, as well as the sharing of your ‘how-to’ for MOOC design, can only aid understanding of where all this is going. The learning curve continues!

Written by Philip K Walker

Winter School Sessions 2014

The eLearning Unit Winter School: 8th – 17th January 2014 – 10 sessions planned – full information and booking at the Booking Website here.

The eLearning Unit is pleased to announce the schedule for 2014’s e-learning winter school. As well as the usual introductory workshops for academic and administrative staff, we will be running more advanced sessions for staff already familiar with VITAL as listed below. There is a new session this year on information and digital literacies, what these are in your disciplinary context and how they are important for student learning. There is also a new session on running webinars and online classrooms with Adobe Connect (recently upgraded at the University of Liverpool). We’ll be looking at polling technologies like PollEverywhere, TextWall and Socrative in the session ‘Using technology to support classroom interaction with students’. ‘VITAL Plus’ is another relatively new session where we will explore the lesser-known and utilised tools and facilities in VITAL, along with some tips and tricks for working with VITAL.

  • Weds 8th Jan (am) – VITAL introduction for administrators
  • Weds 8th Jan (pm) – An Introduction to Technology-Enhanced Learning using VITAL
  • Thurs 9th Jan (pm) – Turnitin assignments and Originality Reports
  • Fri 10th Jan (pm) – Wikis, Blogs and Journals
  • Mon 13th Jan (am) – Running webinars and online classrooms with Adobe Connect
  • Mon 13th Jan (pm) – What are information and digital literacies?
  • Tues 14th Jan (pm) – VITAL Plus
  • Weds 15th Jan (am) – Using technology to support classroom interaction with students
  • Thurs 16th Jan – (pm) – Mini-session 1 – Using Xerte to create accessible, online content
  • Fri 17th Jan (am) – Mini-session 2 – Creating online CPD within the University

Full information and booking at the CLL booking page here.

As well as these scheduled sessions, we will be happy to run these or other workshops for schools, departments and faculties on many aspects of e-learning and learning enhanced technology by request. Please do approach us about any of your e-learning/VITAL training needs.

Studio Wednesdays

Please also remember our ask-us-anything ‘Studio Wednesday’ drop-in session, running every Wednesday afternoon between 1:30pm and 5pm. Full details on this drop-in are available here.

3 words: Congratulations, Dr Prescott!

This is a big congratulatory blog post to our Head of the eLearning Unit, Dr Debbie Prescott, who successfully defended her thesis on “Influential factors in the adoption and implementation of educational technology at the University of Liverpool“ on Monday 28th  Oct 2013, graduating from Lancaster University’s Doctoral Programme in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning. Debbie was supervised by Dr Gale Parchoma and her examiners were Prof Mark Stiles and Dr Julie-Ann Sime.

Educational Development and eLearning Unit congratulate Dr Debbie Prescott on getting Ph.inishe.D.

You can also glimpse at the celebratory, post-viva champagne photo at Lancaster’s website, and below are a few congratulatory quotes from colleagues (please feel to add yours in the comments box):

Dr Anne Qualter, Director of Academic Development and Lifelong Learning, Head of the Centre for Lifelong Learning, “I am really proud of Debbie’s achievement and of the whole team who were so generous in supporting her – well done.”

Dr Ian Willis, Head of Educational Development, “Many congratulations to Debbie, it’s a real achievement to complete a PhD and at the same time be so involved with key developments in e-learning across the university. I really appreciated Debbie’s willingness to share the different stages of the whole process, I think we all learnt from it.”

From Jaye McIsaac, Educational Development, “Your PhD is a really interesting study that demonstrates the value of educational research informing and supporting institutional practice and policy.  Congratulations Debbie.”

Tünde Varga-Atkins, eLearning Unit, “Having witnessed your enthusiasm and sheer amount of work that you put in to get this amazing achievement is inspiring. You are a good role model to follow! 🙂 ”

Well done, can’t help but say it again, Doctor Prescott,  from all of us at eLU and Eddev!

Visions of a 3D Eye – Creating resource alternatives

26-09-2013 09-58-44

Our digital age of smart devices and online connectivity is providing new opportunities in the production and consumption of educational resources. Smart devices make these educational resources available from almost any location. It is no surprise that there is increased interest in the possibilities that digital content can offer learners (we’ve already seen the on-going interest in MOOCs and Open Educational Resources). The challenge for staff can often be where to start and how to produce content in a way that is applicable to students and their learning.

A recent joint project between the eLearning Unit and Orthoptics arose from an academic’s desire to enhance her educational resources. The eLearning Unit were able to provide some support and this led to the production of a series of 3D eye animations.

The aim was to present a dynamic, interactive cross sectional view of the eye to give both students and patients an insight into a fully functioning human eye and reveal the muscular movements that we don’t normally see. This work built upon traditional paper based 2D images of the eye – resources that were limited in terms of giving a complete ‘overall’ picture of how the eye functioned. Also,  students don’t always have immediate access to the bulky plastic 3D eye models, but now have the opportunity to study the workings of the eye in digital format. Not only is this resource innovative for the student experience but it provides staff with flexibility when deciding which educational eye resource is most appropriate for a particular group of students.

3d eye modelTo give you a flavour on how this project came about the perspectives of three of the people involved have been compiled. These are taken from the people who worked closely on the project with the 3D graphic designer.

Anna O Connor, Lead Academic on the project

“After attending a session on animations at the 2012 Learning and Teaching Conference  I was excited about the possibility of developing some eye animations for Orthoptics. Students can struggle to envisage eye structures and eye movement disorders based on 2D images, and animations seemed like the perfect solution. I was put in touch with Scott earlier this year and straight away he took on board what we wanted, and developed some amazing resources – way beyond what I thought was possible. Sometimes it was a challenge for me to explain things to a person with no prior eye knowledge making me think about every aspect of an eye movement in minute detail, but Scott got to grips with the complex terminology and was patient with us when we wanted things to be exactly right.

The range of animations that Scott Dingwall developed is fantastic. They are very detailed and we will be incorporating them into the teaching at the university, but also clinical tutors at hospitals all around the UK can use them to support student’s learning. As we have made them freely available, they could also be used to illustrate eye movement disorders to patients and a range of medical professionals all around the world. The first animations were released in time for the first ever World Orthoptic Day so we Tweeted the link which was then retweeted by orthoptists all over the world!

Everyone in the Directorate of Orthoptics and Vision Science would just like to say a huge thank you to Scott for developing this amazing resource, and also the eLearning Unit for all their help facilitating this project and creating the webpages.”

Paul Duvall – Learning Technologist

“Working with Dr Anna O’Connor from Orthoptics on a number of projects (see Eye on the future) it became obvious that one element missing in the directorate’s teaching, which could make a significant impact on the student experience, was the lack of high quality animations showing eye movements. Orthoptics staff and students use static images and animations, produced in packages such as PowerPoint, to replicate eye movements and the potential impacts on movement when certain eye conditions were present. Although this gave some indication of the motion involved Anna was not satisfied with the learning resources available for this essential area of the Orthoptics curriculum.

The eLearning Unit took up the challenge to assist in this matter, through the effective use of technology. Scott Dingwall had previously worked with the Victoria Gallery and Museum Liverpool, producing a superb 3D animation of a hippo skull in a publicity project. This came to our attention and we put the development expertise and talent that Scott possesses together with the detailed academic knowledge of eye movements in Orthoptics and a new project became a possibility. We are now delighted to announce that, through a web interface designed by the webteam within the eLearning Unit, a full range of eye movement animations are now available for students. We hope this satisfies the demand and the necessity for these animations and presents another good example of technology enhanced learning at the University of Liverpool.”

Stuart Feltham, eLearning Unit – Webteam Manager

“I became involved in the project fairly late on. The fantastic animations needed to be presented on the web in a way that was easy to use and understand whilst providing accurate information about what you were seeing. Paul, Scott and I met with Anna to discuss options and decided that a simple resource that could be used for a multitude of situations was the best approach. We therefore developed a resource that was intuitive and simple; bringing together Scott’s animations, Anna’s knowledge and integrating them with the newly created video streaming service from the University (Stream ) to provide a resource that is easy to use, attractive and available across a range of desktop and mobile platforms to allow use in a lecture, as a post lecture resource or even at a patient’s bedside on a tablet device. The result was the Positions and Movement of the Eyes web resource.”

Do check out the website and see the resource at the following link – also feel free to leave comments and feedback: http://www.liv.ac.uk/elearning/orthoptics-project/

Post written by: Philip Walker, Anna O Connor, Paul Duvall, Stuart Feltham

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:  http://tinyurl.com/dxhnbhm]

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:  http://tinyurl.com/dxhnbhm]


[Link to the original website for this poster:  http://tinyurl.com/dxhnbhm]

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 – http://www.guardian.co.uk/higher-education-network/blog/2013/feb/11/augmented-reality-teaching-tool-trend

Scarlet Project – http://teamscarlet.wordpress.com/

cARe Project http://blogs.city.ac.uk/care/

Living Learning: Plumbing from Kendal College https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/living-learning/id549156508?mt=8

written by Phil Walker

eLearning Network Meeting – Social Bookmarking – MOOCs

The first e-learning network meeting of 2013 took place on Thursday 31st January. Over thirty staff with an interest in learning technologies from across the University met for lunch, to hear about some of the interesting and innovative activities in which colleagues are involved, and of course an opportunity for some informal discussion and networking.

The main part of the meeting was given over to an excellent presentation and discussion led by Dr Tim Bullough and Dr Andrew Green from the School of Engineering on the JISC-funded ENGrich project. This project has developed a set of student tools that greatly improve the facility of their online searches for rich multimedia resources that are discipline relevant. The returned resources can then be bookmarked and rated by the students for their usefulness for a specific module and these ratings shared within the institution and year groups. This set of tools is planned to be made available directly from the University’s student portal and whilst currently set up for Engineering students, with further development work could be repurposed for any discipline, particularly those that utilise a lot of visual resources and which also employ technical terms that have different meanings in other fields.


The initial driver for the project was the finding in Engineering that the majority of students will first turn to searching online for lecture slides and videos of lectures from any  reasonable-looking source for further information on the subject of a lecture. Two main problems were identified with this behaviour:

  • Students spent far too much time looking for relevant and useful resources (especially where basic search methods only are deployed and technical terms are also used by completely different disciplines so that irrelevant results are returned).
  • Before the project began, there were no tools in place for students to be able to share these resources between themselves where they found something particularly useful.

The first part of the project harnessed the Google Custom Search facility to create a search box which would allow students to enter simple search terms but filter out irrelevant results (Engineering uses technical terms such as stress, fracture, fatigue and strain which are common to medicine and veterinary science as well). The search can be categorised by resource format such as video or slide presentations, and the added power here is that individual resources can be quickly searched on the page without having to open them up separately.

ENGrich search and results

The second part of the project was to develop a closed space (specific to Liverpool) where students can rate resources that they found most useful and share these ratings with each other, grouped by module and programme. The ENGrich team have chosen the Learning Registry toolkit (an open source system for sharing, amongst other data, ‘ratings, reviews, comments, and other annotation data’) and used it to create a private University of Liverpool ‘Node’ where the resource ratings can be created, accessed and shared by the students.

Here’s the link to the project website and this link is to the JISC page for ENGrich. Thanks to Tim and Andrew for a superb contribution to the eLearning Network and we look forward to hearing how this project progresses in the future as it moves from its test phase. The session was videoed and a link to this will be added here when available.

We also had a quick discussion on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) about which there has been a lot of media and academic interest, with major universities offering free online modules and programmes (mostly unaccredited) and attracting learners in the tens of thousands. The elearn-net mailing list at Liverpool has already seen a lot of interesting discussion about the value and variety of MOOCS and the eLU are planning at least one lunchtime event to explore this topic further. From the network meeting there was a positive response to the notion of MOOCs, that it would be a useful thing for Liverpool to engage with if done well, and some staff very keen to run one themselves.

Look out on our events calendar for the next eLearning Network meeting as well as for the MOOCs event, and if there is anything you would like to bring along and present or discuss at a future meeting please do get in touch with the eLU.

Please also contact the eLearning Unit if you would like to be added to the e-learning mailing list ‘elearn-net’ at the University of Liverpool.


Webinar – Marking by criteria in VITAL – 20th February

A quick post to advertise a webinar the eLearning Unit will be running on Wednesday 20th February 2013 on the new Rubrics interactive marking facility in VITAL. Full details below.

VITAL webinar – Easier Marking By Criteria – Using the Rubrics Card

If you are marking and offering feedback electronically to students in VITAL modules, the new marking by criteria facility (using the ‘Rubrics’ tool) could be useful as a part of this process. Rubrics can be used for marking Blackboard assignments, blogs and wikis for example.

Example of an interactive criteria marking card (‘Rubrics’)

The eLearning Unit will be running a lunchtime webinar on the ‘Rubrics’ criteria-marking facility on Wednesday 20th February between 13:00 and 14:00. Go to our booking page here to sign up and we will send you instructions for joining near to the session date.

About Webinars: The webinar format means you join the session online from your office PC rather than having to go to a training room on campus. The session will comprise the elements of a face-to-face session but run virtually. All you will need to participate in the session is a pair of headphones for your computer and an internet connection. (A microphone can also be useful but not essential as text ‘chat’ can be used for communication in the session.)

About VITAL Rubrics: Interactive, electronic versions of criteria sheets can be created, attached to most assessable items in a VITAL module and used for marking. Cards can be used to generate a grade or can be used qualitatively, they can be made visible to your students before they submit their work or after, and they allow for extra written feedback if required for every level on each criterion. Further, criteria cards can be shared amongst marking teams, as well as adapted, re-purposed and re-used.

Rubrics Webinar:  The session will cover:

  1. What are rubrics and rubrics cards?
  2. What can be marked in VITAL by rubric card and an example of use (includes student view).
  3. Setting up rubrics cards in VITAL.
  4. Question and Answer.

There will be opportunities to ask questions as we go along and to try out the Rubrics facility.

(Please note that this session does not cover the Turnitin GradeMark rubric card – contact the eLU for details of our next session on GradeMark or to arrange a workshop.) Contact the eLearning Unit with any questions you may have on the above.