Catherine Fritz demonstrated the concept of flipped teaching – moving assignments into the classroom and delivering lectures as self-paced and scheduled events.
Lectures can be paused by the student to enable research to take place, and give students struggling with vocabulary the chance to look up a word. The lecture is also a much more powerful revision tool. Class work can be more active and collaborative as a result.
The University provides a number of applications to host flipped lectures – Panopto is probably the most suitable, but Kaltura video or NILE based tools like Xerte are also possible delivery mechanisms. In this case Catherine described how Powerpoint can be used to create slides supported with audio. Her presentation contained a step-by-step guide in how to do so.
Powerpoint proved an effective alternative, particularly when access to Panopto is not available. In some respects it is simpler to use than Panopto – amending text on a slide is very easy to do. However, long presentations can result in quite large files which are a problem for some distance learners. Dividing these lectures into sections may well be necessary. As with all asynchronous delivery, support for questions and discussion needs to be available for students at the same time. This will require monitoring, and often moderation, from the tutor.
Overall, this presentation is an excellent example of innovative teaching making used of simple technology and is well worth consideration as an approach. Many thanks to Catherine for producing what is effectively a multimedia instruction manual!
Since the Expo, a new version of Panopto for the iPad has been launched which offers offers a much better recording experience for tutors and an attractive and useful viewing platform for students. It is free to download from the App Store. Ensure you connect to northampton.hosted.panopto.com and login using NILE.
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.
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.
- 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
Gill Gourlay – Senior lecturer in Marketing and Entrepreneurship has the challenge of marking around 350 level 4 papers with a marking team of 6 tutors. Marking criteria for this assignment already existed and Gill and the team used paper based rubrics to mark the work in previous years.
With varying benefits and challenges the team successfully marked and fed back to all students. Have a look at the case study for more details about the process: Using NILE (Blackboard) Rubrics to mark Turnitin assignments
Sally Laurie – Senior lecturer in Marketing and Entrepreneurship has been using innovative technology within NILE for a few years now. Over the last academic year Sally has started to use the Rubrics tool within NILE to evaluate her students’ work using existing marking criteria based on the UMF guidelines and learning outcomes for each module.
With support from Learning Technology, Sally has successfully used rubrics within a classroom, while students present, to mark and feedback on their work. Moderation also took place at the same time.
The case study describes all the details, benefits, challenges and key points: Using NILE (Blackboard) Rubrics to mark Presentations
This case study describes using the Xerte online eLearning Authoring system to develop resources for a blended learning course.
The aim was to increase the quality of communication of the module content, through interactive learning opportunities for distance learners. It was also anticipated that supplementary materials for other modules in the School of Education could progressively be provided in this format.
Case Study (case study, PDF 515.6 KB)
This case study describes using Panopto and iPad for easy and mobile recording of student assessments.
The main aim was to record student assessments and upload immediately to our VLE, minimising editing and publishing while maximising availability for external moderation.
Case Study (case study, PDF 171.6 KB)
This case study describes using the NHS IT Skills pathway for teaching IT to Podiatry students
The main aim of this pilot was to evaluate the student experience of using an on line IT skills pathway either on campus or at home.
Full Case study detail (case study, PDF 151.5KB)
All Student Comments (case study, PDF 104.7KB)
This case study describes using Skype in undergraduate dissertation tutorials
The main aim of this pilot was to allow students attending a University based undergraduate degree course (BSc( Hons) podiatry) the option of either face to face contact or the use of Skype for a tutorial on their undergraduate dissertation.
Full Case study detail (case study, PDF 496KB)
All Student Comments (case study, PDF 171KB)
This case study talks about a Wiki in NILE which was used to help podiatry students select their undergraduate dissertation project.
The main aims of this pilot were to see if there was a more efficient way to allocate dissertation topics.
“Easiest thing I have ever used ! Didn’t even have to think twice about how to use it” Student Comment
Full Case study detail (case study, PDF 495KB)
All Student Comments (case study, PDF 324KB)
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