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Emma Dillon and Anna O’Neill

Emma and Anna

Emma Dillon  RMN,BSc,PGCE,MSc,FHEA.
MHFA Adult Instructor.
Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing.
“As module leader for NPR3028P I really enjoyed working with Anne to develop a Xerte for the year 3 skills week for BSc Nursing.  Anne helped me to transform my ideas into an interactive e-learning package looking at well-being of the student/graduate nurse. It was fun to create and has really positive feedback from the students: “the well-being Xerte really motivated me to look after myself, it was fun and interactive – it really made me think” – “the Xerte reminded me of the core values of nursing and resilience”-” the well-being Xerte really bought the skills week together“.
Xerte E-Learning Package

Xerte E-Learning Package for Skills Week

Anna O’Neill
Lecturer in Practice Development
Faculty of Health and Society
“I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Xerte and the experience of using this package with our third-year student nurses.
Anne’s teaching style was such that I felt comfortable to develop the Xerte with support, so as to truly experience setting up the Xerte, learning to incorporate pictures, links and the ability for students to download their work to upload onto PebblePad.
Xerte is a fantastic way of supporting blended learning and/or distance learning.
We used Xerte for our year 3 skills development package in line with our move to Waterside and our students feedback was extremely positive”.

Xerte E-Learning Package - Skills Week

Xerte E-Learning Package - Skills Week

 

Written by Jim Lusted, Learning Designer

I recently attended a workshop hosted by Northampton Students’ Union (SU) and facilitated by the National Union of Students (NUS) where SU staff, academics and student representatives were introduced to a project called the ‘Greener Curriculum’. This is certainly a more catchy title than the more commonly used term Education for Sustainable Development – shortened to ESD – which represents an area of activity gaining increasing prominence across the HE sector.

 

What is sustainability?

At the start of the workshop we were asked to define ‘sustainability’. Most of us immediately came up with environmental issues such as recycling, creating less waste, energy efficiency and so on, but we were also encouraged to consider the social and economic aspects of sustainability that we might not immediately recognise. This makes up what has been termed the ‘3 pillars’ of sustainability, or the ‘triple bottom line’ of people, planet and profit.

This holistic approach is reflected in the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted in 2015 to commit nation states to take action not only on high profile ‘green’ issues like climate change, but also concerns such as social equality, poverty, protecting life (human and non-human), and ensuring a quality education for all.

Education and sustainability

These are all unarguably worthy causes, but what role might universities play in promoting sustainability? The workshop asked us to consider this in relation to our own circumstances at Northampton. The NUS defines ESD as ‘education that aims to give students the knowledge and skills to live and work sustainably’, and their vision behind ESD is to ensure students leave higher education being part of the solution rather than the problem when it comes to tackling some of the big issues mentioned above.

The NUS have commissioned research that shows that two thirds of students want to have sustainability issues embedded into their programmes:

 

“Sustainable development is something universities should actively incorporate and promote.”
(NUS 2018)

Students want to engage with the big challenges of our times through their studies – be it environmental, social or economic – and they want to explore ways they positively influence the world around them.

Education for sustainable development @ University of Northampton

As the workshop progressed, many of the participants noted the apparent similarities between the guiding principles of ESD and the ideals that underpin Northampton’s status as an AshokaU ‘Changemaker’ campus. Indeed, one of the manifesto commitments of a Changemaker campus refers explicitly to sustainability:

“Operating in socially and environmentally conscious ways to model changemaking for students and other institutions and contribute to the vitality of people and the planet”

(AshokaU 2018)

We felt that Northampton might be particularly well suited to embedding ESD into the curriculum when channelled explicitly through the Changemaker agenda. This academic year, as part of the UMF assessment review, all modules have been required to articulate revised learning outcomes, including some directly attributed to Changemaker values. This gives teaching staff a real chance to reflect on how they are embedding such values into their curriculum and where they are providing students with opportunities to explore some core principles of sustainability in their studies.

Embedding ESD in the curriculum – some ideas

We were given a number of useful resources and tips during the workshop to help consider how and where ESD could be embedded into teaching practice and curricula. Firstly, although some courses may be more aligned to ESD principles than others, like the social sciences (indeed, courses like Geography are likely to have sustainability as a core topic), we were encouraged to consider how every subject has the potential to include ESD perspectives. A really useful A-Z guide, called #sustainabilityAtoZ has been produced by the NUS to showcase examples across the breadth of academic disciplines where ESD has been embedded into programmes. Similarly, a website called www.dissertationsforgood.org.uk has recently been set up by the NUS as an attempt to try to bring together dissertation students with local and national organisations – with a view to creating dissertation topics and projects that can have a direct impact on the ‘real world’.

The future for ESD

It seems like many of the big issues facing the HE sector at the moment – debates about ‘value for money’, student satisfaction, graduate employment and so on – lend themselves to ESD being given ever higher profile in future higher education policy and curriculum design. Our workshop discussed several examples of universities across England who had undertaken big reviews of their own university wide curricula (much like our UMF review) to better align graduate attributes and skills more closely to ESD principles such as social responsibility and impact. With all this in mind, I expect we will be hearing much more about the idea of a ‘greener curriculum’. I personally really welcome the renewed interest developing a social conscience among students through their studies, and at Northampton in particular I see a real opportunity for us to creatively explore the ways in which ESD values can help bring the ‘Changemaker’ agenda into our teaching at the University.

 

Welcome back and happy New Year from the LearnTech Team!

We are delighted to announce the new cycle of LearnTech lunchtimes. For those of you as yet unfamiliar with this training and as a reminder for everyone else, LT lunchtime sessions currently introduce some of our core NILE tools and some specific SaGE elements, including their potential applications and how these technologies can enhance your teaching and learning.

Please note, where more than one session per tool is being offered in the next cycle, the first (and where appropriate third) will be run in the Tpod at Park and the second offered virtually in a Collaborate virtual classroom. In addition, we will happily offer parallel sessions at Avenue Campus on a request basis; please contact Vicky Brown, Learning Technology Manager to arrange.

Please see below for the full schedule of offerings and booking links:

 

Kaltura/ MediaSpace (video)

Kaltura is the University’s single video solution; this is a chance for those who have already started to engage with this tool and those as yet to experience it. Areas covered include an introduction to MediaSpace; video capture using CaptureSpace; uploading video to MediaSpace; embedding video content in NILE; using quizzes in Kaltura.

Friday 19 January – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus,  Library, Tpod

Monday 12 March – 12:30-13:30 – Collaborate Virtual Classroom  (link will become live ahead of session)

Tuesday 8 May – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus,  Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2fWkTbG

 

Collaborate (Virtual Classroom)

This session will introduce those new to using online virtual classrooms (Northampton is licensed for Collaborate: Ultra Experience until 2020) as well as for those who are curious to learn about new functionalities now available in the tool. Topics may cover some of the following: setting up the tool in your NILE sites; inviting attendees; sharing files/ applications/ the virtual whiteboard; running a virtual classroom session; moderating sessions; recording sessions; break-out rooms.

Monday 12 February – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Thursday 12 April – 12:30-13:30 – Collaborate Virtual Classroom  (link will become live ahead of session)

Thursday 7 June – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2eG7mZR

 

Edublogs / MyPad (blogging tool)

Edublogs (MyPad) is the University’s personal and academic (WordPress) blogging tool and can be used in a number of ways to communicate and share learning resources. Topics covered may include: creation of individual / class student blogs; use of menus/ media; blog administration within modules; creation of class websites.

Wednesday 28 February – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Wednesday 25 April – 12:30-13:30 – Collaborate Virtual Classroom  (link will become live ahead of session)

Tuesday 19 June – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2f4BEUM

 

Assessments (Rubrics)

Have you heard about the use of rubrics in NILE and wondering what all the fuss is about? Want to find out how to grade your assessments electronically using rubrics? Curious to know how you can streamline your marking by using quantitative and/ or qualitative rubrics?

Come along to this LT lunchtime session to find out more about how to enhance and enrich feedback for your students using these tools in NILE.

Thursday 29 March – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2pNL0H8

 

Assessments (Groups)

Groups are a powerful tool in NILE that can be used to facilitate and manage group assignments, and enable communication and collaboration for students.

If you are interested in seeing how to easily create groups, set an assignment (e.g. Group Presentation or online Debate), AND potentially reduce administration and marking time, whilst still maintaining quality of feedback, then please sign up ….

Tuesday 30 January - 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Wednesday 23 May – 12:30-13:30 – Collaborate Virtual Classroom  (link will become live ahead of session)

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2pNRmXb

 

In addition the following training sessions are currently scheduled for Xerte – N.B. these are 2.5 hours in duration:

Xerte (online content creation tools)

Xerte is a University supported tool used to create interactive e-learning and online content.

In this training session you will be introduced to the software templates, page types, features and tools available to enable you to produce an interactive e-learning session or online content provision.

You will also learn about the importance of instructional design for your e-learning and online content projects, and benefit from some useful hints and tips, technical advice and items relevant to developing e-content generally.

Park Campus, Library, LLS IT Training Room

Wednesday 24 January – 10:00-12:30 (LLS IT Training Room)

Thursday 1 March  – 13:30-16:00 (LLS IT Training Room)

Wednesday 25 April – 13:30-16:00 (LLS IT Training Room)

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2fYwKpY

Spaces are limited, so do not delay, book today! Unable to attend on these dates? More will be offered on a rolling basis so watch this space. In the meantime, please visit our NILE Guides and FAQs.

 

Summer is fast approaching and it’s business as usual in the the LearnTech Team. As this academic year draws to a close, we are already looking ahead and preparing for next year’s teaching. With this in mind, we will be offering our weekly LearnTech lunchtime sessions and other training opportunities on a rolling basis over the summer months, maximising the opportunities for you to engage, pick up new skills and receive the support you need to create inspiring and active teaching content for the benefit of your students. One tool in particular you may wish to familiarise yourself with is Turnitin’s new interface Feedback Studio, due for release from August.

LearnTech lunchtime sessions currently introduce some of our core NILE tools and some specific SaGE elements, including their potential applications and how these technologies can enhance your teaching and learning. Sessions are being offered at Park and we will happily offer parallel sessions at Avenue Campus on a request basis; please contact Vicky Brown, Learning Technology Manager in the first instance.

You can book now and come along to receive updates, refresh your skills and find out how your peers are working using UN-supported LearnTech tools. Feel free to bring along your own lunch to the hour long sessions.

We look forward to welcoming you over the coming weeks. Details, dates and booking links follow:

Kaltura/ MediaSpace (video)

As the University has now moved to a single video solution in Kaltura (MediaSpace), this is a chance for those who have already started to engage with this tool and those as yet to experience it. The following areas may cover an introduction to MediaSpace; video capture using CaptureSpace; uploading video to MediaSpace; embedding video content in NILE; using quizzes in Kaltura.

Monday 5 June – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus,  Library, Tpod

Tuesday 4 July – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus,  Library, Tpod

Tuesday 1 August – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Friday 1 September – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Tuesday 26 September – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Tuesday 24 October – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Tuesday 21 November – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2fWkTbG

 

Collaborate (Virtual Classroom)

This session will introduce those new to using online virtual classrooms (Northampton is licensed for Collaborate: Ultra Experience until 2020) as well as for those who are curious to learn about new functionalities now available in the tool. Topics may cover some of the following: setting up the tool in your NILE sites; inviting attendees; sharing files/ applications/ the virtual whiteboard; running a virtual classroom session; moderating sessions; recording sessions; break-out rooms.

Monday 22 May – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, IT Training Room

Monday 19 June – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Tuesday 18 July – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Monday 14 August – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Monday 11 September – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Monday 9 October – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Monday 6 November – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Monday 4 December – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2eG7mZR

 

MyPad / Edublogs (blogging tool)

MyPad (Edublogs) is the University’s personal and academic (WordPress) blogging tool and can be used in a number of ways to communicate and share learning resources. Topics covered may include: creation of individual / class student blogs; use of menus/ media; blog administration within modules; creation of class websites.

Friday 30 May – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Monday 26 June – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, IT Training Room

Monday 24 July – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Tuesday 22 August – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Monday 18 September – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Monday 16 October – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Tuesday 14 November – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Tuesday 12 December – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2f4BEUM

 

Assessments (Rubrics)

Have you heard about the use of rubrics in NILE and wondering what all the fuss is about? Want to find out how to grade your assessments electronically using rubrics? Curious to know how you can streamline your marking by using quantitative and/ or qualitative rubrics?

Come along to this LT lunchtime session to find out more about how to enhance and enrich feedback for your students using these tools in NILE.

Tuesday 13 June – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Tuesday 5 September – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Monday 27 November – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2pNL0H8

 

Assessments (Groups)

Groups are a powerful tool in NILE that can be used to facilitate and manage group assignments, and enable communication and collaboration for students.

If you are interested in seeing how to easily create groups, set an assignment (e.g. Group Presentation or online Debate), AND potentially reduce administration and marking time, whilst still maintaining quality of feedback, then please sign up ….

Wednesday 12 July – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Tuesday 3 October – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2pNRmXb

 

Assessments (Turnitin Feedback Studio)

Turnitin has a new interface that will be adopted institution wide later on this year – Feedback Studio. Would you like to get ahead of the crowd and get a sneak preview of the new look and feel; to see the features offered by the new interface; see a demo and find out where to seek help and further support?

Sign up to this new LT lunchtime session to find out more.

Monday 7 August – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Tuesday 12 September – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Tuesday 31 October – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2qnc3dB

 

In addition the following training sessions are currently scheduled for Xerte – N.B. these are 2.5 hours in duration:

Xerte (online content creation tools)

Xerte is a University supported tool used to create interactive e-learning and online content.

In this training session you will be introduced to the software templates, page types, features and tools available to enable you to produce an interactive e-learning session or online content provision.

You will also learn about the importance of instructional design for your e-learning and online content projects, and benefit from some useful hints and tips, technical advice and items relevant to developing e-content generally.

Park Campus, Library, LLS IT Training Room or Tpod

14 June 2017 – 10:00-12:30 (IT Training Room)

29 June2017 – 13:30-16:00 (Tpod)

13 July 2017 – 10:00-12:30 (Tpod)

15 August 2017 – 14:00-16:30 (Tpod)

6 September 2017 – 10:00-12:30 (IT Training Room)

27 September 2017 – 13:30-16:00 (Tpod)

12 October 2017 – 10:00-12:30 (Tpod)

1 November 2017 – 10:00-12:30 (Tpod)

28 November 2017 – 13:30-16:00 (Tpod)

21 December 2017 – 10:00-12:30 (Tpod)

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2fYwKpY

 

Spaces are limited, so do not delay, book today! Unable to attend on these dates? More will be offered on a rolling basis so watch this space. In the meantime, please visit our NILE Guides and FAQs.

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The LearnTech Team is pleased to bring you the next three months programme of LearnTech lunchtimes, following on from the success of our inaugural offerings.Thanks to those of you who have already attended: we hope that you have managed to apply & implement some of what you have learnt for the benefit of your students. For those of you as yet unfamiliar with the concept, read on….

We will once again be introducing you to the various NILE tools, their potential applications and how these technologies can enhance your teaching and learning. Sessions are being offered at both Park and Avenue Campuses and we have a few new additions to whet your appetite, so book now and come along to receive updates, refresh your skills and find out how your peers are working using UN-supported LearnTech tools. Feel free to bring along your own lunch – tea and coffee will be provided.

We look forward to welcoming you over the coming weeks. Details, dates and booking links follow:

 

Kaltura/ MediaSpace (video)

As the University has now moved to a single video solution in Kaltura (MediaSpace), this is a chance for those who have already started to engage with this tool and those as yet to experience it. The session covers an introduction to MediaSpace; video capture using CaptureSpace; uploading video to MediaSpace; embedding video content in NILE; using quizzes in Kaltura.

Friday 17 March – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus,  Library, IT Training Room

Friday 30 March – 12:30-13:30 – Avenue Campus, Library, CTC

Tuesday 11 April – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Monday 8 May – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here:

(Park Campus): http://bit.ly/2fWkTbG

(Avenue Campus): http://bit.ly/2gAKcQx

Collaborate (Virtual Classroom)

This session will introduce those new to using online virtual classrooms (Northampton is licensed for Collaborate: Ultra Experience) as well as for those who are curious to learn about new functionalities now available in the tool. Topics covered include: setting up the tool in your NILE sites; inviting attendees; sharing files/ applications/ the virtual whiteboard; running a virtual classroom session; moderating sessions; recording sessions; break-out rooms.

Tuesday 21 March – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Thursday 23 March – 12:30-13:30 – Avenue Campus, Library, CTC

Friday 21 April – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Monday 22 May – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, IT Training Room

Please sign up here:

(Park Campus): http://bit.ly/2eG7mZR

(Avenue Campus): http://bit.ly/2hwElOv

MyPad / Edublogs (blogging tool)

MyPad (Edublogs) is the University’s personal and academic (WordPress) blogging tool and can be used in a number of ways to communicate and share learning resources. Topics covered include: creation of individual / class student blogs; use of menus/ media; blog administration within modules; creation of class websites.

Tuesday 4 April – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Friday 28 April – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Friday 30 May – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2f4BEUM

Assessments (Rubrics)

Have you heard about the use of rubrics in NILE and wondering what all the fuss is about? Want to find out how to grade your assessments electronically using rubrics? Curious to know how you can streamline your marking by using quantitative and/ or qualitative rubrics?

Come along to this LT lunchtime session to find out more about how to enhance and enrich feedback for your students using these tools in NILE.

Tuesday 28 March – 12:30-13:30 - Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2n1m8xu

Assessments (Groups)

Groups are a powerful tool in NILE that can be used to facilitate and manage group assignments, and enable communication and collaboration for students.

If you are interested in seeing how to easily create groups, set an assignment (e.g. Group Presentation or online Debate), AND potentially reduce administration and marking time, whilst still maintaining quality of feedback, then please sign up ….

Thursday 4 May – 12:30-13:30 – Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2n1sRI1

Assessments (Turnitin Feedback Studio)

Turnitin has a new interface that will be adopted institution wide later on this year – Feedback Studio. Would you like to get ahead of the crowd and get a sneak preview of the new look and feel; to see the features offered by the new interface; see a demo and find out where to seek help and further support?

Sign up to this new LT lunchtime session to find out more.

Monday 15 May – 12:30-13:30 - Park Campus, Library, Tpod

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2mjnTml

Spaces are limited, so do not delay, book today!

 

In addition the following training sessions are currently scheduled for Xerte – N.B. these are 2.5 hours in duration:

Xerte (online content creation tools)

Xerte is a University supported tool used to create interactive e-learning and online content.

In this training session you will be introduced to the software templates, page types, features and tools available to enable you to produce an interactive e-learning session or online content provision.

You will also learn about the importance of instructional design for your e-learning and online content projects, and benefit from some useful hints and tips, technical advice and items relevant to developing e-content generally.

Places are limited to six per session.  Contact: anne.misselbrook@northampton.ac.uk for more details.

Park Campus, Library, LLS IT Training Room or Tpod

29 March 2017 – 10:00-12:30 (IT Training Room)

13 April 2017 – 10:00-12:30 (Tpod)

5 May 2017 – 10:00-12:30 (Tpod)

23 May 2017 – 14:00-16:30 (Tpod)

14 June 2017 – 10:00-12:30 (IT Training Room)

29 June 2017 – 13:30-16:00 (Tpod)

13 July 2017 – 10:00-12:30 (Tpod)

15 August 2017 – 14:00-16:30 (Tpod)

6 September 2017 – 10:00-12:30 (IT Training Room)

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2fYwKpY

 

Avenue Campus, Library, CTC

Wednesday 3 May – 14:00-16:30

Wednesday 24 May – 14:00-16:30

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2ng6wqq

Unable to attend on these dates? More will be offered on a rolling basis so watch this space. In the meantime, please visit our NILE Guides and FAQs. Still need help? Please contact your assigned LT direct.

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Following the successful roll out of our first LearnTech Lunchtime sessions we are delighted to announce that we are now able to offer parallel sessions at Avenue Campus.

The first two will cover Kaltura / MediaSpace (video) and Collaborate (Virtual Classroom Tool). Details as follows, with more sessions to be announced in the New Year (so please watch this space!):

Kaltura/ MediaSpace (video) –

Wednesday 18 January 2017 – 12:30-13:30 – Avenue Campus,  Library, IT Training Room 1

As the University has now moved to a single video solution in Kaltura (MediaSpace), this is a chance for those who have already started to engage with this tool and those as yet to experience it. The following areas may cover an introduction to MediaSpace; video capture using CaptureSpace; uploading video to MediaSpace; embedding video content in NILE; using quizzes in Kaltura.

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2gAKcQx

Collaborate (Virtual Classroom) –

Thursday 2 February– 12:30-13:30 – Avenue Campus, Library, IT Training Room 1

This session will introduce those new to using online virtual classrooms (Northampton is licensed for Collaborate: Ultra Experience) as well as for those who are curious to learn about new functionalities now available in the tool. Topics may cover some of the following: setting up the tool in your NILE sites; inviting attendees; sharing files/ applications/ the virtual whiteboard; running a virtual classroom session; moderating sessions; recording sessions; break-out rooms.

Please sign up here: http://bit.ly/2hwElOv

Spaces are limited, so do not delay, book today!  Unable to attend on these dates? More will be offered on a rolling basis so watch this space. In the meantime, please visit our NILE Guides and FAQs.

Tagged with:
 

Solve a Teaching ProblemWe came across this great resource recently, from the Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation Center at Carnegie Mellon University. It’s designed to help academics solve teaching problems through a three-step process:

  • Step 1: Identify a PROBLEM you encounter in your teaching.
  • Step 2: Identify possible REASONS for the problem
  • Step 3: Explore STRATEGIES to address the problem.

To access the site, click on the image, or use this hyperlink: https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/solveproblem/index.html

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As in previous years, LearnTech have been working with colleagues in Curriculum and IT on the creation of new NILE course (programme) and module sites for the forthcoming academic year, only this year with a twist: instead of routinely copying over all teaching materials from earlier site iterations, we are taking this opportunity to review and ‘spring clean’ legacy content, particularly with a nod to the course evaluation and redesign coming out of recent CAiEROs.

NILE 2016-17 module template

NILE 2016-17 module template

The updated and fresh NILE template, proposed at (and tweaked on the back of consultations with) the SEC (Student Experience Committee) on 24th February and with the Learning and Teaching Forum, has resulted in the creation of  4,251 ‘clean’ sites, now ready and already receiving content.

Following the updated minimum NILE standards, LearnTech and Academic Librarians have so far worked with colleagues from the Schools of Education and Health running a total of 11 sessions covering changes to the template; reviewing and copying relevant content; checking curriculum data and reading lists and populating sites ready for the new student intake.

The Team is now working on the roll-out to the Business School and is in contact with subject leads from the Schools of Social Sciences, Arts and SciTech, identifying local support needs, creating online resources to help guide site population and working with colleagues from other University support teams to ensure everything is set up and in place for the new academic year – where possible, before the summer vacation strikes!

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screenshotOne of the most important roles of a Learning Technologist is in mediating between users of technology and the technology itself, so providing technical support is a critical factor in the acceptance of technology by teachers and the satisfaction of students. It has a direct effect on perceived ease of use and usefulness (Sánchez et al, 2010).

Academic staff require a variety of levels of support, given that their approach to using a new VLE (or previously unused features of an existing one) will vary from trial-and-error experimentation to a desire for formal training. Support within a VLE usually consists of searchable alphabetic lists of help items or by categorising common activities, often consisting of text supplemented by video clips (either of these formats appears equally effective, so a combination of the two would seem the best approach). As technology acceptance seems to be positively related to the ease of completing a task (Rienties et al, 2014), improving access to support material should be a priority. There is little doubt that a good student experience is directly linked to the configuration and use of VLE tools, but there is a similar need to ensure that they are confident in the use of those tools too.

As maintainers of the VLE ‘container’, we need to be aware of the need for help and make it clearly available in a form that users can elicit appropriate material easily. Students react positively to relevant support information and their learning is enhanced, though they might not access it as regularly as we might think and may not wish to explore subsequent links to further resources. Operative instruction (“click this, then this”) would appear to be more effective than functional instruction (“you can use this tool to discuss topics with your peers”) for simple tasks, but the opposite is true of complex tasks. Help is more likely to be accessed when some prior knowledge of a task exists, so users new to a VLE must be a high priority to be directed towards it. Making material:

  • Context sensitive
  • Simple to understand
  • Of good quality (both text and multimedia)

appear to be significant to the value of help material (Aleven et al, 2003).

We have been aware of the shortcomings of access to our NILE help material for some time (even if the help resource itself is excellent). The lack of a search facility within Blackboard Learn had previously limited us to a set of thematic links for students and staff (these referenced a number of different resources, from single page PDF files to full-blown support sites) and an alphabetic listing of single issue topics. The former were perceived to be useful, but the latter proved difficult to both use and maintain. The relatively high number of dead links that remained unnoticed and unreported in the student help tab would seem to suggest that few of them were actively used. Indeed the access and use of individual help items was impossible to judge, though we had introduced basic analytics tracking to the staff and student help pages in September 2014.

For the 2015/16 academic year we have, therefore, completely changed access to help material by using a MyPad (EduBlog) site to act as an electronic index. As systems administrators we are able to use categories as a tool to cluster and filter individual blog posts into thematic groups and providing tagging filters that can modify those clusters and construct tailored help searches. Users can also directly access tagged items through the ‘most used tags’ word cloud.

While we have control over the thematic links, the standard search function that exists within Edublogs is very basic and produces results which are solely ranked upon recency. This does mean that we are required to identify important posts and manually adjust their date on a regular basis to ensure they are ranked most highly. The lack of any sophisticated parsing of a search query is a further problem – a natural language query is likely to result in no hits but one or two common words with return a high number of hits, again plagued by the poor ranking.

However, this may not be too much of a problem providing that the number of blog posts remains relatively small and it many respects this is desirable. We have seen examples of Edublogs based help systems which contain high volumes of disparate content (going well beyond the core VLE functions) that results in very poor search results. When our new help system was created, it used approximately 90 entries to re-create the thematic and item links in the old help pages and it will be our aim to keep the total number of active posts under 150. In this manner we should reduced the number of excessive search results while keeping the maintenance of entries manageable.

screenshotPerhaps the greatest advantage of the new help system is that we now have access to anonymous analytics to inform us about which items are being used and the flow of access to each item. We can also see the text used in search requests that fail, so for the first time we can add new posts or editing existing ones to achieve a ‘hit’ in the future. The range of these search requests can be surprising – within a week of the system being used we needed to add entries to capture searches for ‘timetables’ and ‘examination results’, a need we would have been totally oblivious to last year.

Despite the wide range of help requests, our aim is to keep its content tightly focused on NILE core and arranged technologies, signposting requests for which we are not the best contact point to the highest level of appropriate contact (such as the Student Help desk, IT Services or Skills Hub). Wherever possible, we avoid linking to specific pages on an external site content as links we have no control over have an unpleasant habit of changing. Our main exception has been Blackboard Learn’s online help, which benefits from a robust (and predictable) URL convention but has very confusing generic advice at its top level. To aid our maintenance, you will see that links are colour coded – Black for external Blackboard Help, Blue for other external resources and a ‘heart’ for material created or managed by LearnTech.

Post content is kept deliberately short and task oriented, uses additional ‘how to’ videos whenever possible and restates the issue using variety of different terms to improve search results. We have a significant amount of extra work to do though and intend to improve thematic (such as marking assignments and providing feedback) and task (‘How can I make a video?’) orientated access to related material progressively. LearnTech’s Iain Griffin has already produced a more specialist help site for PebblePad that provides an excellent model for these some of these application or task related mini-sites.

As of now, we see a very similar number of ‘hits’ on our help page to that of a year ago – we look forward to providing a more detailed report on facts and figures and progress in developing the site later in the year.

 

References

Aleven, Vincent, Stahl, Elmar, Schworm, Silke, Fischer, Frank, & Wallace, Raven. (2003). Help Seeking and Help Design in Interactive Learning Environments. Review of Educational Research, 73(3), 277-320.

Rienties, B., Giesbers, B., Lygo-Baker, S., Ma, H., & Rees, R. (2014). Why some teachers easily learn to use a new virtual learning environment: A technology acceptance perspective. Interactive Learning Environments, 1-14.

Sánchez, R. Arteaga, & Hueros, A. Duarte. (2010). Motivational factors that influence the acceptance of Moodle using TAM. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(6), 1632-1640.

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Here are a few things we need to tell you about your NILE sites for the 15/16 year. Please take look as there will more than likely be something that is relevant to you.

Making your site live

Don’t forget that sites are not automatically made available to students. You need to make them available once you’re ready. To do this, you can use the Quick Actions box which is on the Sites & Organisations tab. Click Site Availability, then use the toggle switch to make sites available/unavailable (ie. turn them on/off) to students.

Contacts

To make things easier to copy contact details from site to site you can change your contacts section from using the Contacts Tool to a standard content area. This will enable you to copy individual items/contacts between sites instead of all contacts at the same time. However, if you have spent some time on your contacts area already (using the Tool) and just want to ensure the Student Desk details are correct, you can create a new contact and use this URL as the link: https://nile.northampton.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/xid-2138093_1?target=blank

For more information on using a Content Area for your Contacts have a look at this guide

Reading lists

Unfortunately we have discovered that there are some 15/16 sites that have not automatically got a link to the Reading List (Talis Aspire) site. If you find that there is not a link in the Reading List section of your site then follow this guidance to add it. It is only a few clicks.

Turnitin update

Updates to the Turnitin integration with NILE over the summer has resulted in the frustrating issue where the Primary Display in the Grade Centre reverts to displaying the number has now been resolved. If you make changes to a Turnitin assignment (eg. changing the post date) the Primary Display settings are retained.

Kaltura update

If you are using videos for assessment then the product (Kaltura) behind this has been updated. This new guide provides details of the slight change in the way that students should submit video for assessment. Look out for more details soon.

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