Posts by: belindagreen

Learn Tech and Learning Design recently reviewed some popular online voting/polling tools to investigate which offers the best options for student engagement.  Criteria for assessing the tools included ease of log in and navigation, range of question types and formats, ease of participation and access on different devices. We also compared the range of features available on each tool’s free version versus the paid for version.

Of the four tools investigated – Kahoot, Microsoft Forms, Mentimeter and Socrative – Mentimeter was considered the easiest and most engaging to use, with enough access, reporting and variety in the free version to satisfy most learning and teaching needs.  Here are a few of the features we liked in Mentimeter:

  • Wide range of interactive presentation templates (they call them Inspiration)
  • Students don’t need to create an account, just go to and enter the code generated by Mentimeter and displayed on the quiz/presentation
  • Easy for students to participate on a mobile device (anonymously)
  • Good range of question types – wordcloud, multiple choice, open ended, scales, ranking, Q&A
  • Leaderboard function to inject some competition
  • Unlimited audience, unlimited presentations in the free version
  • Up to 2 question slides, up to 5 quiz slides in the free version
  • Export to PDF function (export to Excel only in the paid for version)

Mentimeter appears to meet some accessibility standards, however it does seem that there is still work to be done.  Otherwise we received positive feedback from another institution about their user and technical experience of Mentimeter.

Overall we felt that Mentimeter is a useful resource for encouraging interaction and real-time responses from students in a lively and engaging way.

However, staff should note:

The use of voting/polling tools must be driven by pedagogical requirement and offer new/different benefits to existing licensed products. 

Staff must not use Mentimeter for collecting personal or sensitive information. Students do not need to sign up to engage in Mentimeter activities.

Academic staff should consider the diverse needs of their cohort, paying particular attention to the feelings that can arise from timed activities and leader boards.

Although not officially supported by the University, we feel Mentimeter offers additional features and opportunities for engagement to those available in Collaborate polling.

Staff should review the recommendations for the use of third party tools and speak to their Learning Technologist prior to introducing any new technology to ensure it is fit for purpose. 

And remember, too much of anything isn’t a good thing!

Information regarding accessibility has been obtained from the Mentimeter VPAT:

All WCAG AA requirements are either supported or partially supported with guidance.

All Policies regarding Mentimeter (privacy, security, cookie, processors and candidate) may be found at :

Nicola Denning, Richard Byles, and Belinda Green

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Abbie Deeming, Senior Lecturer in Education, has been commended by students and external examiners for her assessment guidance and feedback, and use of marking rubrics. These rubrics meet the University’s requirement to mark to learning outcomes, and make the criteria used in marking clear to students, which is one of the questions that students are asked on the National Student Survey.

cartoon character holding a red pencil drawing a big red tick, to denote marking

“By providing students with clear guidance and good quality, consistent feedback that is personalised and tailored to the individual and which includes links to helpful ‘feedforward’ resources, we are seeing an increase in students better reaching their potential. As a team, we are working to ensure that this excellent practice is represented throughout all modules in the Foundation Degree in Learning and Teaching (FDLT).”

Abbie Deeming

Feedback from Students

Regarding the use of rubrics on the FDLT programme, comments from students were very positive.

“I found the marking rubric very helpful to see how I met the criteria for each LO [Learning Outcome] and for what I need to be more careful with in the future.”

“The rubric is very clear and helpful. Being presented as a grid means it’s easy to read and can be used as a checklist when reading through assignments before submitting. The feedback is really detailed and helpful. I know now what I need to focus on to improve my next one!”

“I found the marking rubric very useful as it clearly outlines what needs to be covered within the assignment. I could also find the little fine details within the marking rubric too, even the formatting. The feedback I found very useful too. In fact I would like to email my appreciation. Overall the feedback was very good as it broke down everything that needs to be improved on, whilst also highlighting the excellent bits from the assignment. Although the feedback was “savage”, I understand it has to be to help us as writers improve. Thank you.”

“I thought that the feedback was very useful. I keep looking back at it then looking at my report to see what I can improve. It was very helpful and hopefully next time I improve. Many thanks.”

“The rubric gave me lots of confidence as I was able to easily see what my strengths were. Overall, I’m thrilled with the feedback. I’m under a lot of stress at the moment but I’m pleased I’ve still produced a good piece of work.”


Below is a copy of the assessment guidance and the marking rubric, created for PDT1065: Pupil Engagement and Assessment. The purpose of the module is to engage students in studying the theory and practice of supporting learning, the assessment of learning and of learner needs, and principles of planning to advance learning. It also provides students with the opportunity to develop their own study skills. The assessment is a 3,250 word report, exploring both formative and summative assessment, reflecting on current practices within a setting and referring to relevant literature on the subject of assessment.

PDT1065 Assignment Brief and Rubric


  1. Firstly, determine what exactly are we looking for in this assignment, and how do we make this explicit.
  2. Break down the module learning outcomes against grading criteria to create a rubric which makes it clear what the assignment must look like to equal a pass, merit, or distinction. 
  3. Communicate this clearly and consistently to students – they will be more likely to achieve better grades.
  4. Make the assessment guidance and criteria used in marking clear to students in the assignment brief
  5. Advise students to look at the distinction column of the rubric, and to make this into a ‘to do’ list.
  6. In taught sessions, help students make the connection between the session content and the learning outcomes.
  7. Following each session, suggest readings for students to look at in more depth to help strengthen their assignment.
  8. Arrange a tutor and learning development-led session on the theme of ‘understanding your assignment’.
  9. Ensure consistency across the module team, including partnering with associate lecturers to talk through the learning outcomes, and to explain the ethos behind the use of a marking rubric, i.e., clear guidance and consistency.
  10. You will find that marking to LOs helps the marking tutor as well, as there is clear guidance on where the mark falls.
  11. Overall comments should be positive, detailed, and helpful. Aim to give between two and four action points (feedforward), depending on the student and grade. At the next assignment, ask students to note how they have responded to these points.
  12. On the assignment post date, send an announcement via NILE, offering individual tutorials if clarification is needed on action points.

Feedback from External Examiner

Extract from Summer 2018 Report on PDT1065
Section A2: Measuring achievement, rigour and fairness:

  • “Assessments are flexible and inclusive and allow for a range of different responses based on the students’ workplaces and experiences.”
  • “Assessments are tightly and clearly linked to the learning outcomes.”
  • “The quality and quantity of written feedback to the students is a major strength of this course. As I found last year, feedback is universally positive, detailed and helpful.”

“In talking to colleagues on the course, it is clear that they feel very strongly that this is an integral part of the process of teaching and supporting their students to the best of their ability.”

Further reading

  • Dylan William (2009) Assessment for Learning: Why, what and how? Institute of Education
  • John Hattie (2008) Visible Learning. Routledge
  • Shirley Clarke (2008) Active Learning through Formative Assessment. Hodder Education
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“First Year Education Studies students have been participating in a joint project with students at HAN University in Nijmegen and Arnhem in the Netherlands.  An ongoing email correspondence with regard to preconceptions of and stereotyping within England and the Netherlands culminated on Wednesday 25th March with a SKYPE seminar and conversation between students at the two institutions. 

Contributions and discussions were lively and both cohorts of students were able to expand on cultural and social traditions in their respective countries. The UoN students will form part of a group travelling on a study visit to Nijmegen in June – it is intended that a meeting with the Dutch students who participated in the SKYPE seminar will form part of their itinerary.” (Tony Smith-Howell

The students reported that talking with their peers oversees in this way it felt no different from being in the classroom.  The tutors are already planning further meetings and online mentoringThey captured their feedback of using SKYPE for the session, via the magic of iPad….. 

Please contact the Learning Technology Team if you would like to find out more about using Skype for your students.


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School of Education Early Years students, led by Dr. Eunice Lumsden, recently engaged in a Tweetchat with students from Sheffield Hallam over two days, using the hashtag #epcrep .  This was to respond to the new All-party Parliamentary group report ‘Early Years – A Fit and Healthy Childhood’, which has been co-written with contributions by SoE Faculty, and presented at the House of Lords in March.  The Tweetchat was moderated by Dr Damien Fitzgerald, Principal Lecturer.  An overview of responses has been created in Storify:  Students reported that this was an exciting way to engage, and are keen to continue using Twitter as part of their professional development.

If you would like to explore how to use Twitter for Learning & Teaching, please contact the Learning Technology Team.

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You may be having trouble getting Kaltura screen recorder to work. It turns out that with the latest version of Java as a security feature, applets get blocked if their HTML source and jar file are on different servers. To overcome this, you need to add an exception for both and – this does do the trick!  The link below explains it in detail:  (Thank you to Dr.Hendrix, for tracking down this solution).

How does it work on a mac?  It appears to VERY picky about browser, OS and java versions.  We got it to work in Safari on OSX v10.9.3 with Java 7 – running the NILE site in “Unsafe mode” by going to Safari Preferences > Security > Manage Website Settings > Select Java from the left and selecting ‘Run in unsafe mode’ for  Not ideal, but until Kaltura and the latest version of Java are in synch, it is at least possible to get it to work.

Please contact IT Services (rather than LearnTech) on ext. 3333, if you need to get this working on a uni machine.

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