Currently viewing the category: "Projects"

This summer, we’re moving away from using the Panopto system to expand and extend the use of our Kaltura MediaSpace platform.

We have enjoyed an excellent service from Panopto, but based on a number of factors, including lots of feedback from staff, we’ve decided to move away from Panopto and instead use our MediaSpace platform to support all our video capture, storage and streaming needs going forward to Waterside. This means we’re going to migrate your content out of Panopto and onto MediaSpace over this summer. So, if you use currently Panopto, can we ask that you do not create any new materials from now on, and instead start using MediaSpace instead.

If you’re new to MediaSpace then there are some useful Help videos at video.northampton.ac.uk, like this video and we are happy to run training sessions and 1:1’s on request, or you can email learntech@northampton.ac.uk if you have specific questions.

Please note, you will not be able to access Panopto beyond 8th July 2016. The videos in NILE will still be viewable by students, but staff will not be able to record any new videos.

There will be more communication from us, to ensure your content is transferred smoothly and that you are confident using the MediaSpace platform but if you have any questions, then please get in touch.

Tagged with:
 

The report for this year’s mobile survey has now been published where we look at the way that mobile devices, apps and interactions are used and carried out at Northampton. There were 322 respondents who took the opportunity to let us know their thoughts on the University’s mobile provision and any developments that they would like to see.

The report provides a brief summary of the main findings of the survey, including an overview of technology ownership among staff and students, trends in mobile use, facilities on campus (WiFi etc), and feedback on the iNorthampton app (which you can find in the App Store, Play Store and on the web).

You can read the report here: Mobile Survey report 2014/15 (PDF, 1024KB)

Tagged with:
 

We are pleased to announce the release of the new version of iNorthampton, currently available in the App and Play Stores.

This release has addressed some of the feedback that we received about the app from staff and students, as well as it being built on a new development platform behind the scenes.

For those that have noticed that the old version hasn’t been updated for a while, this is the reason why – we’ve had to build it from scratch and re-visit the ways in which the data is pulled in from various institutional systems, which took much longer than anticipated.

So, the functionality remains similar to the previous version but with lots of new content. There are new Videos and Photos and updated locations and details in Maps like opening times and descriptions of shops and eateries on campus. As well as a new map of Northampton which contains points of local amenities like pharmacies and nightlife. Don’t forget that you can still use Augmented Reality on iPhone within the campus Maps.

We have added the Tours feature, which will take you around both campuses allowing you to move around areas and buildings.

We are still working on the dedicated iPad version, which will make more use of the larger screen size of the iPad to give users a more scaled experience of the app and its features. We hope to go live with this over the next few months. In the meantime if you want to get iNorthampton on your iPad you can download the iPhone version by searching the App Store and choosing to search for iPhone rather than iPad apps.

We now plan to move forward with developing more features and functionality within the app. The library tool was the most requested feature for improvements, and the Library and Learning Services department are currently reviewing the Library Management System. The ability to renew books and check their account on mobile will be included in the new system and we will hopefully be able to make that available through iNorthampton.

Tagged with:
 

As part of building on previous NILE quality discussions, the schematic below represents the current proposal for quality standards. Rather than gold, silver and bronze, there are two main levels – foundation at the most basic level and then collaboration / participation above this.
All campus-based programmes should be at the foundation level, based on the standard NILE templates.
Each programme designed for blended learning must reach the ‘participation’ threshold. Each programme designed for pure online learning must reach the ‘collaboration’ standards.

Please note that further guidance is currently being developed to support each of the standard levels. This information is being presented to provide extra context to the current LearnTech training sessions.

Tagged with:
 

The summary of the 2014 mobile survey has now been published and we are really grateful to the 444 respondents who took their time to complete this. As part of the survey, we gave staff and students the opportunity to add comments and make suggestions about the University’s mobile provision and specifically about developments that need to be made.

Device support

For the first time Android has slightly overtaken Apple in device ownership. This is inline with Gartner’s predictions and findings. Blackberry ownership is still in decline, whilst Windows phone ownership has increased to 6.6% of respondents. The web based versions of iNorthampton complement the app for those that are unable to download it onto their device. A dedicated Windows app is being requested by the user community, however there is no timescale for approval or release, yet.

iPad users have requested a dedicated version of iNorthampton which complements the NILE (Blackboard Learn) download. In last year’s report we stated that this would be available in 2013, however it is still in development and will hopefully be released before the end of the 13/14 academic year.

 

Wireless

IT Services are responsible for the site wide implementation and maintenance of the campus wireless provision and they have now successfully implemented the educational wireless service Eduroam. Eduroam (education roaming) is the secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community. Just connect to Eduroam wireless from your mobile device and enter your Northampton username (in the format username@northampton.ac.uk) and password (which is normally used to log in to Northampton machines). Choosing to connect to Eduroam when on campus will give you a dedicated connection to the Wifi and you will no longer need to authenticate through a browser.

iNorthampton

Use of the iNorthampton app has increased with NILE, Library and Timetables being the top three tools within it for staff and students.

When asked about functionality that participants thought would be useful to include in the app the most common answer referred to the Library tool. Users would like to be able to renew books and check their account details. Other comments included requests for more detailed maps (e.g. room finder, opening times), access to email and other University services and more use of texting.

We are working on the new version of the app which will incorporate some of the functionality being requested. Unfortunately innovative development of the app has been slowed significantly by the changes made to the web site, and the compatibility between that platform and the mobile development platform. This has resulted in the app remaining stagnant for a much longer period than we are happy with.

Other comments 

“Links to bus timetables, email, and other University services”

Northamptonshire County Council have their own app (called NCC) for Android and iPhone, which was developed by staff here at the University. This already has live bus timetables, so we’d recommend you use this if you can. They also supply a text service to send bus times to your mobile.

We took the decision not to include email, as smartphones already include a tool to integrate this. We will be providing more guidance on how to setup email on devices in the next release.

Where possible we will include links to University Services, but we will be maintaining a balance between iNorthampton just being full of links to the main University site and actually displaying data within the app itself. For example, we are working closely with Student Services to ensure that information pertinent to living in halls and navigating around campus is included in current, or bespoke functionality.

“More use of texting for institutional messages?”

The Learning Technology team are currently investigating text messages through NILE. This will be phased in during the 2013/2014 academic year.

If you would have any other comments on iNorthampton then please mail LearnTech@northampton.ac.uk

 

Tagged with:
 

Providing Mobile Access to Learning and Teaching

The Learning Technology team are pleased to announce a new monthly lunchtime event for all staff at the University of Northampton.

With more and more people accessing the internet via mobile devices, The App Cafe provides an opportunity to look at the implications of mobile devices and apps in HE and how we can better use them in learning and teaching. This first App Cafe will look at the top five essentials for going mobile and consider some different apps that you can start to use easily in a learning and teaching context.

We want to hear from you. This is a participative ‘by you, for you’ event with an opportunity each month to share the apps you already use in the classroom with fellow staff across all disciplines.

With take-aways like ‘Your 5-a-month’ (top apps for learning and teaching), coffee and even cake, this is one lunchtime event in LLS you shouldn’t miss.

First Monday of the month, starting 4th November 2013 | 1-2pm | in the TPod, Park Library

Book your place by signing up today: https://theappcafe.eventbrite.co.uk

We hope to see you there!

The University of Northampton will become only the fourth UK university to host a Hydra Immersive Learning Suite in the very near future. A control room, three syndicate rooms and plenary room in the Naseby building at Park Campus will allow agencies in Northamptonshire to engage in a range of scenario-based training activities.

The Hydra foundation is a community of users from all around the world who share resources across a range of subjects – from counter-terrorism to child protection (see the Hydra Foundation site for examples). The system is ideal for developing and evaluating multi-agency procedures in a realistic but safe environment.

Teams are presented with a range of audio and video based material during a session and are required to record their decisions as the exercise progresses. The control room can monitor the activity of each team and vary the material they receive accordingly. At appropriate points, a subject expert can review decisions with the participants in a plenary session.

There is a licencing requirement which restricts the use of the suite to exercises which involve at least one emergency service, but this should not be seen as an onerous restriction. The development of innovative multi-disciplinary training at the University is an exciting prospect.

Resources

Hydra presentation 15th May 2013 – Panopto recording
Hydra Foundation: www.hydrafoundation.org

 

 

Tagged with:
 

The JISC 2012 paper on Extending the learning environment provides information which assists in informing the review process of VLEs.

Earlier in 2012, Northampton went through a VLE review process and the notes and links below may be of interest to institutions which are going through a similar process. I have sub-titled this post ‘Caviar or Red Herring’ as the process may be seen as either a quality opportunity to ensure that you have the best product (the Caviar) or an opportunity to spend significant time comparing products with very similar functionality (the Red Herring) – you may not be sure which you have until you get to the end of the process…..and could end up with a mix of the two !

** Please note that the review below was conducted early in 2012 – all products mentioned were reviewed at that time and have changed significantly since in terms of functionality and version. **

We started the review process with a number of key principles:

  • The institution is committed to reviewing its virtual learning environment to ensure suitability for purpose and cost effectiveness.
  • Any change must enhance the student experience. Staff and students should evaluate the options and be involved in the change decision. Dedicated and nominated staff within the Schools should be allowed time to review the options with the support of their Dean.
  • The change process can be disruptive for staff and students due to the migration needed. This can be mitigated though recruitment of dedicated staff to support the process.
  • Whether we maintain the current platform under the current VLE or move to an alternative platform, the review is an opportunity for staff to fully engage with all students and University stakeholders.
  • Material and structure should be reviewed and improved where possible. Templates and support will be provided and staff will engage with these. Additional long term support will need to be considered.
  • All platforms under the VLE should be externally hosted at present to provide maximum uptime.

[The decision to go hosted with the current VLE (Blackboard] was made in 2007 based on the need for high level system availability which could not be guaranteed with internal hosting. This decision was based on Northampton’s internal culture and infrastructure. It was decided at the time of the VLE review that the system should be maintained as a hosted operation]

As part of the process we were aware that several other institutions had conducted VLE reviews in the past year and contacted these to obtain a copy of their findings – some were more open than others (for obvious reasons).

This brief report is a summary of the six VLE reviews which we were able to obtain.

Reviews were instigated by either / and:

  • Issues caused with current internal hosting
  • An impending significant upgrade to the current system
  • A perception that a move will save money

Four of the six will continue to use Blackboard; one is moving to Moodle on cost grounds; ** are considering moving to Moodle.

Uptime is considered a key issue for all reviews and most are considering, or have already moved to hosted option regardless of the product chosen.

Functionality reviews have tried to compare the latest features of each system and there is an inevitable cross over between them. Analysis of the reviews seems to indicate that Blackboard currently has a more intuitive structure ‘out of the box’. Flexible designs may be achieved in Moodle.

All reviews have noted that there is a ‘transition cost’ which pushes up the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Moodle options necessitate the need for a developer (or team) in house to make best use of the system and customise the interface.

The majority of academic staff within the reviews noted no pedagogical advantage in moving from Blackboard to Moodle and felt that any such a change would present a significant risk to the current status of the University’s core business and its likely future development. Retraining would be needed in any transition.

** noted that staff development and training needs were often overlooked, or severely underestimated in transitions. They had migrated to Moodle as a perceived cost saving.

Recommendations:

  • The TCO of any migration is fully costed
  • Staff and students need to be fully consulted in current and future needs
  • Regardless of the option chosen – staff need to be fully supported and encouraged to make best use of it. Some current poor student reviews within the current VLE were prompted by poor academic engagement with the system rather than any lack of functionality.
  • The review process must review the latest available version of each VLE.
  • Considering the current IT infrastructure, we need to maintain a hosted solution regardless of the option selected.

The final report which was presented to the University Executive Group summarised the 4 month review process. Please note that some confidential details have been removed for obvious reasons.

The decision to remain with Blackboard for a further three years was based on a wide range of factors and not just the basic cost. The TCO which included price, cultural issues and migration meant that the decision was the best for Northampton at that time. I’m fully aware that other institutions will conduct reviews which will be conducted within a completely culture and with different needs which will lead them down a different path. We will be looking for a formal review again in 2014/15 – let’s hope that this is a ‘Caviar’ experience.

For further details on the review process please contact Rob Howe

 

 

Tagged with:
 

The summary of the 2013 Mobile Survey has now been published and we are really grateful to the 936 respondents who took their time to complete this. As part of the survey, we gave staff and students the opportunity to add comments and make suggestions about the University’s mobile provision and specifically about developments which needed to be made.

 

Downloads

iNorthampton is now made up of two key components which were previously bundled into a single app. The main iNorthampton download is available for both Android and Apple users – other devices (e.g. Blackberry) should make use of the pure web version as indicated on the January 2013 blog posting.

The link to NILE from iNorthampton will prompt the download of Blackboard Mobile Learn (this is also available as a separate download for Blackberry, Apple and Android).

 

Some respondents had noted issues with downloading iNorthampton onto their devices – these people should contact the Learntech team (LTSupport@northampton.ac.uk) for assistance. A few Android users noted concern over the permissions which were requested during download. The nature of the Android device requires these permissions in order for the app to run. A full list of the Android permissions and the reason for them has been made available.

 

Device support

The survey results indicate the continued growth of Apple and Android device usage. Blackberry users have declined over the three years of the survey and other devices have only negligible growth at the present time. The web based versions of iNorthampton complement the app for those that are unable to download this onto their device.

iPad users have requested a dedicated version of iNorthampton which complements the NILE (Blackboard Learn) download – this is planned for release later in 2013.

 

Wireless

The University has increased wireless coverage over Park and Avenue and is providing a number of new services to enhance this area. Eduroam is being phased in and will allow staff and students to be able to log onto the network at Northampton for long periods of time whilst moving around the site. It is already available to any Northampton staff and students who visit other Eduroam enabled sites. Just connect to Eduroam wireless from your mobile device and enter your Northampton username (in the format username@northampton.ac.uk) and password (which is normally used to log in to Northampton machines). It is anticipated to make this available at Park and Avenue shortly.

 

Extra Functionality requested

“Please can we have notifications from NILE when new announcements are being posted?”

This is now available within the Blackboard Mobile Learn download for Android and Apple devices – these users should ensure they have the latest download in order to receive this functionality.

 

“Can we get additional links to bus timetables, email, virtual desktop and other University services?”

Northamptonshire County Council have their own app (called NCC) for Android and iPhone, which was developed by staff here at the University. This already has live bus timetables, so we’d recommend you use this if you can. They also supply a text service to send bus times to your mobile.

We took the decision not to include email, as smartphones already include a tool to integrate this. We will be providing more guidance on how to setup email on devices in the Autumn release of iNorthampton.

Virtual desktop work is currently in development and will integrate this into iNorthampton as soon as it is released.

Where possible we will include links to University Services, but we will be maintaining a balance between iNorthampton just being full of links to the main University site and actually displaying data within the app itself.

 

“Please could we have more maps and opening times on iNorthampton?”

Currently the release includes maps for Park and Avenue campus. Maps are one of the reasons for the large size of the app as they are fully downloaded to be able to run offline. We are investigating alternative formats of maps and are currently looking at including town centre maps as part of the core download.

We hope to include opening times and (ideally) links to the restaurant menus in the summer release of iNorthampton.

“Could we have more use of texting for institutional messages?”

Northampton are currently investigating text messages through NILE this will be phased in during summer 2013.

If you would have any other comments on iNorthampton then please mail LTSupport@northampton.ac.uk

Tagged with:
 

Introduction and Overview

Transition Out (TO?) was a six month intensive investigation (Jan – June 2012) funded as part of the URB@N project looking at how students want to use (or are already using) technology which will assist as they look towards completing their course and moving into employment or other future opportunities. This could be any type of technology ranging from mobile devices, social networking and cloud services. Students may not realise that the activities they are doing will assist with their transitions – they might be actively collaborating with peers (Ellison et al, 2007), using time management or planning tools, or generally enhancing their skills and experience using a range of technology. The work builds from the LLIDA (JISC, 2009) and SLiDA (JISC, 2010) investigation of supporting learners in a digital age.

Key Results (n=214)

•Word processing (85%) and email (88%) are the most popular technologies to support students as they leave the institution.
•Students under the age of 30 are more likely to use technology than those over this age (sig < 0.05)
•Males are tending to use technology to find future opportunities more than females (sig <0.05)
•66% had suffered from a lack of knowledge / confidence with the use of technology, however 22% would not seek out resources supplied by the University to help them improve their skills

.

5 Key Messages For Students

1.Lock down your Facebook and Twitter accounts! Employers will search for you, make sure they can only see what you want them to – privacy settings are a must!
2.Get into Social Media – Open a LinkedIn Account and professionalise your Facebook! This is the ‘new’ job search, and it works!
3.Use the support services whilst you are here, have a problem with psychometric testing or need help on time management / planning ? Go and see Careers
4.Consider which email address you use to contact employers – KittyKatLOL@me.com is not going to give the best first impression!
5.Make use of MyPad or alternative portfolio system! Employers want evidence of your experience, and this is a great way to document what you do, as you do it, to then include in your CV.  If you go on a placement this is a tool which could help you to make the most of your experience.

.

Conclusion

From the data which has been gathered so far, teams which support students (e.g. Careers and Library) will be able to refine their support, engagement and provision. Those involved in the development and running of courses will be provided with further guidance and support to consider how development of the digital literacy of the cohort will impact on their ability to gain future opportunities on leaving. Provision should be integrated into the student experience rather than being seen as a bolt-on.

Resource Links

Transition Out Poster

PDF of presentation made at Employer Engagement in a Digital Age – 4th July 2012 (University of Greenwich)

References

Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., Lampe, C. (2007), The Benefits of Facebook “Friends:” Social Capital and College Students’ Use of Online Social Network Sites. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00367.x/full [Accessed 30th March, 2012]

JISC (2009),  Learning Literacies in a Digital Age [online].  Available from: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/projects/elearningllida.aspx [Accessed 30th March, 2012]

JISC (2009),  Study of how UK FE and HE institutions are supporting effective learners in a digital age [online].  Available from: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearning/slida.aspx [Accessed 30th March, 2012]

Rossi, N. (2011), Social Networking: Professional standards and boundaries must be maintained when you are online.  Available from: http://www.nmc-uk.org/Documents/NMC-Review/NMCReview_issue4.pdf Page 8. [Accessed 30th March, 2012].

Project Team:

Rob Howe and Penelope Stanton

Further details:

Rob.Howe@northampton.ac.uk

Tagged with: