If you ever need to find a research participant: check out ‘Call for Participants.com’

If you are a supervisor, a postgraduate researcher or into research in one way or another, then this website may be of interest. It helps you find a participant for your research, whether it is a survey, interview or something else. The website is entitled ‘Call for Participants’. It’s been developed by students at Nottingham University and was supported by the JISC Summer of Innovation programme.
Call for Participants
Call for Participants
The live website will soon superseded by a more improved version which can be customisable to institutions or departments. So for instance, if you are a Psychology department at University X, you will be able to design your own landing page, listing all your current research projects’ “Call for participants” area. This site may also be useful if you just want to have a quick view on the current research going on in your field.
The departmental and institutional customisation is a new offering and is currently being piloted.  Matt Terrell who presented this project at the JISC learning and teaching experts forum, asked if any institutions are interested in piloting these new features. It is currently free, so why not try it out?
Tünde (Varga-Atkins)
If you are interested in hearing about university related developments in technology enhanced learning, please subscribe to our University of Liverpool eLearning Unit blog (bottom right).
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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.

hazards-v2.1

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

hearing

[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.

https://sites.google.com/a/jiscadvance.ac.uk/augmented-reality/home

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

Making sense of learning in a digital age – guest lecture events

A forthcoming event:

You are warmly invited to a guest lecture on “Making sense of learning in a digital age” on the 31st October 2012, 1-2pm presented by Helen Beetham, an international speaker on this topic.
The guest lecture  event is of interest to anyone who wants to improve the student learning experience. Please have a look the flyer for details of the event, persuade and bring another colleague to come with you, and see you there!

Making sense of learning in a digital age - guest lecture by Helen Beetham
Making sense of learning in a digital age – guest lecture by Helen Beetham

In addition, Helen Beetham is also facilitating a workshop on the same day between 2.30-4.30, entitled Designing for C21st learning: digital capability in programme design and development” which will be of value to anyone involved in programme or module development with a remit of developing academic and/or employability skills.

Please book on to the events at the CLL booking site (both, or either the guest lecture or the workshop) just that we know how big a room we will need. The workshop can cater up to a maximum 25 people, on a first-come, first-served basis. The flyer is also linked at our eLearning Unit Blog.

For more information about the event, please contact: eddev@liv.ac.uk (admin) or Tunde Varga-Atkins, tva@liv.ac.uk.

Sarra and Tunde, on behalf of the Developing Digital Literacies Working Group

Report on the Heads of e-Learning Forum meeting 7th March 2012

I attended the HeLF (Heads of eLearning Forum) meeting on 7th March at Glasgow Caledonian University (who came to the rescue and provided a venue after a fire at the original location of University of Strathclyde meant we couldn’t meet there). HeLF is a national group with representation from 120 Higher Education institutions.

The focus of the meeting was on ‘Driving External Change‘ and contributes to HeLF’s theme for 2011/12 on Leading our institutions through change: change in external and internal environments. How do we work with students and get their involvement?

The meeting began with a presentation by Professor Phillipa Levy who is the Deputy Chief Executive (Academic) of the Higher Education Academy. Prof Levy described their new Strategic Plan, how they are focusing on putting students at the centre as ‘producers’ rather than consumers and how students are becoming agents of change. They also recognise that there are ‘e-challenges’ with the role of digital technologies, e.g. how to engage more staff in digital activities, that students may have differential access to technology and how to encourage a culture of shared learning design and and content. The HEA’s terminology for e-learning is now shifting to ‘flexible learning’ with a recognition that technology and e-learning is (or should be) embedded in the L&T experience rather than something separate.

The second presention was from Paul Bailey who is the programme manager in the JISC e-Learning team. Paul gave an overview of how JISC will change after the Wilson review to become a ‘company limited by guarantee’ from 1st August 2012.  JISC are working on a new strategy but the 5 strategic objectives are likely to be the same as before. Paul described how JISC are also focusing on students as change agents, similar to HEA.

David Beards from the Scottish Funding Council talked about their approach to e-learning and how the changes to JISC will affect them.

Andy Ramsden who is on the Steering Group of the MELSIG (Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group)  asked us to think about how MELSIG could be useful in our own insitution. This is an excellent SIG (Dan Roberts blogged about the MELSIG event he recently attended) and I think the general feeling around the group was that this is worth continuing.

Dr Neil Ringan from MMU gave an overview of an e-reader pilot project that started in September 2011 in the Department of English. 35 members of staff were given a Kindle e-reader (including the current Poet Laureate) though some members of staff already owned an iPad so it was possible to compare to some extent what staff thought of each. The aim of the pilot was to look at how the e-reader could be used

  • to support professional practice as producers and consumers of creative materials (using the e-reader as an e-reader) and
  • to support academic practice, particularly in relation to assessment and feedback (using the e-reader for reading & annotating assignments).

Positive aspects of the Kindle were the size, quality, battery life, that it is easy to store lots of text, the accessibility, price and quick access to the book store. Negative aspects were that PDF documents were not intuitive, creating e-books is clunky, annotation tools are too slow and primitive, the proprietary amazon e-book format lock in, limited internet capability and the speed and refresh rate.

Positive aspects of the iPad were the ease of importing PDF documents, PDF reading and annotation, that there was full internet access, that it was a more viable netbook replacement and the battery life. The negative aspects were the size and weight (in comparison to the Kindle), the Apple and iTunes propriety issues, the price and that there was no physical transfer.

In summary:

  • the Kindle was considered to be an excellent e-reader but not much more.
  • The iPad is a good e-reader (not as good as the Kindle) but it was also a lot more besides.
  • Staff were enthusiastic about using the Kindle as a reading tool but there was no enthusiasm to use it for assessment and feedback purposes.
  • The view across the department is that tablets, rather than netbooks, are the best way forward. Staff wanted the pros of the iPad but cheaper, and the pros of the Kindle, but more flexibility in what it can do and for it to be easier to use (this evaluation pre-dates apples latest developments with ibooks). It may be worth looking at the Kindle fire.

The rest of the meeting covered more general HeLF business. These are useful meetings as it is important to find out how colleagues in other institutions are addressing similar issues.

Debbie Prescott

Presentation by Hilary Thomas from JISC RSC Northwest

We were pleased to welcome Hilary Thomas, eLearning Adviser for Higher Education from the JISC Regional Support Centre Northwest to Liverpool on 24th February to give a presentation entitled “Making the most of technology in your teaching”.

Hilary began by giving a useful overview of JISC and the activities that JISC supports and is involved with (loads of stuff!).

Hilary then considered the use of technology in your teaching from four perspectives; staff creativity, the student focus, your subject discipline and the technology.

Technology shouldn’t just be used just for the sake of it – it should contribute to what you want to achieve. This isn’t always easy though when there might be an institutional (or other) requirement to use certain technologies.

We discussed some of the perceptions of technology, whether it is the institutional Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) or a… uurm… TV Hat (think I’ll pass!!). How it is important to recognise your own preconceptions and expectations of technology and play to your strengths, i.e. are you more comfortable providing information to your students via video, audio or text? By way of a demonstration of how easy it can be (equipment permitting) to create audio, Hilary had us all singing Twinkle, Twinkle, little star (all together now…). Thankfully we didn’t have to sing for long to make the point 😉

We heard about the Raising Aspirations – Blackburn’s Moodle Award Scheme event and how one of the tutors preferred to use the drawing board of Adobe Connect (available at Liverpool) instead of a text medium. We also discussed the use of Skype and had quite a good discussion about the positive and negatives of students and lecturers using facebook.

Hilary demonstrated the ZoomIt, MyStudyBar and Natural Reader tools which might be useful for your students or in your own teaching, I can certainly think of ways they could be useful for me. Hilary also provided a list of resources for example https://www.jisc-collections.ac.uk/ and some useful links on her PowerPoint slides that colleagues might want to browse through.

The slides from the presentation are now available to University of Liverpool staff. The video recording of this event will be available soon and will linked from this post.

If you were at the presentation and think there’s anything that I have forgotten to include – or if there was anything you found particularly useful about the presentation please post a comment.

Thanks to everyone that attended and made this a fun and useful event! 🙂

Debbie