As well as having a NILE course for each of your modules, your programme has its own NILE course too. For the 20/21 academic year we have been working with colleagues in IT Services to make improvements to the way that programme courses are created in NILE, which will make the process of finding and using programme courses much easier.
During the 19/20 academic year, 3,410 programme courses were created in NILE. Of these, only 6% were actually used, and the story is the same in previous academic years. The reason for this apparent low take up of programme courses is actually due to the way that NILE automatically creates a large number of programme course variations based around year and mode of study. For example, when trying to find the 19/20 programme course for History, you’ll be faced with the following list:
- CBAAHISTY-1920: 19/20 BA History
- CBAAHISTY-1FT-1920: 19/20 BA History Stage 1 FT
- CBAAHISTY-1PT-1920: 19/20 BA History Stage 1 PT
- CBAAHISTY-2FT-1920: 19/20 BA History Stage 2 FT
- CBAAHISTY-2PT-1920: 19/20 BA History Stage 2 PT
- CBAAHISTY-3FT-1920: 19/20 BA History Stage 3 FT
- CBAAHISTY-3PT-1920: 19/20 BA History Stage 3 PT
- SUBHIST-1920: 19/20 History
The end result here is that it is often difficult to know which of these programme courses is the best one to use. Additionally, the most requested type of programme course, the one with all of your students on it, is not in the above list because it is not automatically created; rather it has to be generated manually via a multiple programme course merge.
The good news is that earlier in the year, SEC (Student Experience Committee) approved a proposal to improve and simplify the creation of programme courses in NILE, the result being that your programme now has only one NILE course, and all of your students are automatically enrolled on it.
To return to the above example, there is now only one programme course in NILE for History this academic year.
- CBAAHISTY-2021: 20/21 BA History
This course contains single and joint honours students; first, second and third year students; and full-time and part-time students: in fact, anybody and everybody studying History at UON during the 20/21 academic year.
But this doesn’t mean that programme courses now have to be one-size-fits-all affairs. While you can use these courses to communicate easily with and create activities and resources for all your students at once, you can also use the groups and adaptive release tools in Blackboard to communicate with and create activities and resources for specific groups of students.
The only other programme courses created in NILE for 20/21 are one for all Joint Honours students (CCH-2021) and one for all Foundation Study Framework students (CFSF-2021).
If you have any questions about finding and using your 20/21 programme course, or about how to set up groups in your course and release content to or communicate with specific groups of students, please do get in touch with your learning technologist.
What is UON Ultra?
UON Ultra is a four-year project to migrate the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), NILE, from Blackboard Learn Original (hereafter Original) to Blackboard Learn Ultra (hereafter Ultra). The purpose of moving from Original to Ultra is to ensure that the University is using a modern VLE that is intuitive, mobile friendly, device agnostic, responsive, and accessible: i.e., a VLE that best supports our students and our mode of teaching, and which works equally well regardless of whether it is accessed via a desktop, laptop, iPad, etc., or smartphone.
Who will the project impact?
Original is the University’s digital campus and has been used at Northampton since 2002. Original is embedded in all aspects of teaching and learning at the University: it is where online teaching and learning takes place; where online learning activities are engaged in; where teaching and learning materials are made available to students; and, since 2012, is where almost all students’ assignments are submitted, and where students receive their assignment grades and feedback. The project will therefore impact all University students and all academic staff at the University and at partner institutions.
Who are the project delivery team?
UON Ultra will be delivered by the Learning Technology Team, in conjunction with academic staff from across the faculties.
What are the key dates and milestones for the project?
UON Ultra will be delivered in four discrete phases over four years, starting in October 2019 and ending in September 2023. The delivery timescale has been chosen and approved by UMT to ensure minimal impact to students who are used to Original, and to allow staff as much time as possible to get used to working with Ultra.
Phase one – 2019/20
• October to December 2019: Blackboard Original Managed Hosting (MH) to Software as a Service (SaaS) migration planning and testing.
• December 2019: Migrate all Original environments (Production, Staging, Test) from MH to SaaS.
• January 2020: Upgrade Original to Ultra Base Navigation (UBN) on Test.
• February 2020: Design and deliver pilot course EDUM129 via Ultra on Test.
• May 2020: Upgrade Original to UBN on Staging.
• June 2020: Upgrade Original UBN on Production.
• June to September 2020: Recruit participants to Ultra pilot project and design modules (approx. 10) for Ultra delivery from September 2020.
Phase two – 2020/21
• September 2020: First teaching of pilot Ultra modules.
• September 2020: Creation of test Ultra courses for all Level 4 modules.
• From September 2020: Ultra training for academic staff. Subject areas to receive bespoke training from their learning technologist.
• September 2020 to August 2021: Design of level 4 Ultra courses by academic staff (with support from the Learning Technology Team).
Phase three – 2021/22
• September 2021: First teaching of all Level 4 modules via Ultra.
• September 2021: Creation of test Ultra courses for all Level 5 modules.
• From September 2021: Continuation of Ultra training for academic staff. Subject areas to receive bespoke training from their learning technologist.
• September 2021 to August 2022: Design of level 5 Ultra courses by academic staff (with support from the Learning Technology Team).
Phase four – 2022/23
• September 2022: First teaching of all Level 5 modules via Ultra.
• September 2022: Creation of test Ultra courses for all Level 6/7/8 modules.
• September 2022 to August 2023: Continuation of Ultra training for academic staff. Subject areas to receive bespoke training from their learning technologist.
• September 2022 to August 2023: Design of level 6/7/8 Ultra courses by academic staff (with support from the Learning Technology Team).
• September 2023: First teaching of all Level 6, 7 and 8 modules via Ultra.
Where can I find out more about Ultra?
The Learning Technology Team will, of course, provide plenty of bespoke training on Ultra from September 2020 onwards, but Blackboard have also created training and support materials about Ultra which you can access.
Blackboard’s LearnUltra site contains a lot of information about Ultra and explains the benefits of using it: https://learnultra.blackboard.com/
Blackboard Ultra Training Videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLontYaReEU1tCbsCDP-u_wsKdkDBegIhH
If you have any questions about the UON Ultra project, please contact the Head of Learning Technology, Rob Howe, at firstname.lastname@example.org
New Box View to Bb Annotate
At the end of June, staff will notice a change in the way that they annotate students’ essays and reports in the Blackboard Assignment tool. Many staff use Turnitin to mark essays and reports, etc., and this update does not affect Turnitin at all; however, staff using the Blackboard Assignment tool will want to familiarise themselves with this update.
At present, the annotation function in the Blackboard Assignment tool is provided by New Box View, and it looks like this:
At the end of June, Blackboard are replacing New Box View with Bb Annotate. Following this upgrade you will notice that the tool looks a little different, and you’ll find that the annotation options have been greatly improved:
If you are planning on using the Blackboard Assignment tool to provide feedback and grades to students from July 2020 onwards, please familiarise yourself with the new Bb Annotate tool. Full guidance is available at: https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Assignments/Grade_Assignments/Bb_Annotate
Notes about the migration from New Box View to Bb Annotate
- All pre-existing annotations created through New Box View will be migrated and visible in Bb Annotate.
- When a student or a member of staff accesses an annotated file during the migration, it will take a little bit longer to load but will be displayed in the new Bb Annotate viewer.
- If a member of staff is actively annotating a file using New Box View during the migration, the file will not migrate to Bb Annotate until the member of staff has completed that session. Upon loading the submission file again, it will display in the Bb Annotate viewer.
- Members of staff will be able to delete annotations as well as add new comments to any existing comment created using New Box View.
Supported file types in Bb Annotate
You can view and annotate these document types directly in the browser with Bb Annotate:
- Microsoft Word (DOC, DOCX)
- Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT, PPTX)
- Microsoft Excel (XLS, XLSM, XLSX)
- OpenOffice Documents (ODS, ODT, ODP)
- Digital Images (JPEG, JPG, PNG, TIF, TIFF, TGA, BMP)
- Medical Images (DICOM, DICM, DCM)
Help and support with Bb Annotate
Full guidance on using Bb Annotate is available at: https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Assignments/Grade_Assignments/Bb_Annotate
Staff can also get help and support with Bb Annotate from their learning technologist:
New look-and-feel for the NILE homepage
June 2020 sees a new look-and-feel for the NILE homepage. While the new homepage is indeed radically different, NILE courses are entirely unaffected. You can read more about the new NILE homepage here:
What is the new NILE homepage for staff
What is the new NILE homepage for students
New NILE courses for the 20/21 academic year
New NILE courses for the 20/21 academic year will be available for use from the 2nd of June onwards. As usual, the new courses follow the standard template as set out in the NILE Design Standards, so you can create your courses afresh, or you can copy materials from your 19/20 courses into your 20/21 courses. To copy materials across, please follow very carefully our instructions about how to do this:
Bulk copying content between courses in NILE
Full information about finding and setting up your new NILE courses can be found in our FAQ – How do I set up my new NILE course for the upcoming academic year?
There are no significant changes to the way that module courses have been created, however, there are major changes to the way that programme courses have been created.
Changes to NILE programme courses
Earlier this year the Student Experience Committee approved changes to the way that programme courses are created in NILE. For many years each programme has had a number of different programme course variations in NILE, which meant that for most programmes there were often eight different variations, and no single course that collected together all students on a programme. From this year onwards there is now a single programme course per programme per academic year, and this course has all students on it who are taking the programme (all years of study, full- and part-time, single and joint honours). This means that a single honours student will be enrolled on one programme course, and a joint honours will be enrolled on both of their programmes courses, plus the joint honours programme course. Foundation students will also have a single programme course for all foundation students.
NILE updates for anonymous marking
As anonymous marking becomes the new normal for the 20/21 academic year, changes in the integration between NILE and the Student Records System mean that you will no longer see students on your NILE courses who have transferred or withdrawn from your modules. The main effect of this is that you can now safely use Turnitin’s ‘Email non-submitters’ tool.
Additionally, and to assist with the process of anonymous marking, the Learning Technology Team have put together the following guides for staff and students:
Anonymous marking guide for staff:
Guidance for students submitting work anonymously
Help and support with NILE
As ever, for help and support with any of the NILE tools, or simply to find out more about what NILE is and how the Learning Technology Team can help you, please see our website:
And do feel free to contact your learning technologist for advice and guidance about anything related to educational technology in general, or NILE in particular:
As part of our work improving and updating NILE, we are making some changes to the way that you log in to NILE, with the aim being to make accessing NILE both simpler and more secure.
You will still use your current University of Northampton username* (your student number, or staff ID) and password to login to NILE; these will not change. In fact, most of the changes will be made behind the scenes as we upgrade to the latest and most secure method of authentication, but there are one or two changes that you will notice.
Firstly, once you have logged in to the Student Hub or Staff Intranet** you will no longer have to log in to NILE again. Just click on the NILE link, and you’ll be taken directly into NILE without having to enter your username and password again.
Secondly, if you access NILE directly via nile.northampton.ac.uk, then for a limited time you’ll see that you have two login options. You’ll have the regular username and password option, but you now also have an option to use the new ‘Log in to NILE with your UON ID’ option. If you prefer to access NILE directly, rather than going via the Student Hub or the Staff Intranet, we encourage you to start using the new ‘Log in to NILE with your UON ID’ option.
When you use these new NILE login options, then when you come to log out of NILE you’ll see that you are presented with two choices: you can either log out of NILE only (which logs you out of NILE, but keeps you logged in to other University systems, including the Student Hub, Staff Intranet, and your University Office 365 and OneDrive accounts, etc); or you can securely log out of NILE and all University systems at the same time.
*Your University username will be in one of the following formats:
- Students: this is your 8 digit UON student number;
- University of Northampton Staff: this is your UON staff username, usually comprising your initial(s) and the first few characters of your last name;
- Staff working at partner institutions: this is your ARMS account ID, and is an 8 digit number beginning 999.
**Please note that only University of Northampton staff can log into the Staff Intranet. Partner staff will always need to access NILE by going directly to nile.northampton.ac.uk
If you’ve unexpectedly found yourself in the midst of a terrifying global pandemic and have been told that you will now be delivering all your classes online, then you may find one or two things in this blog post that will help you.
1. Which tool(s) should I use for online teaching?
In the world of online teaching, you will often find people referring to synchronous and asynchronous tools. All this means is real-time, or not. Synchronous tools are real-time online tools, and are those that are used instead of a face-to-face classroom session – they allow people to interact online with one another in real time: think Skype, or Facetime, or just being on the phone with someone. Asynchronous tools are those that are used when people can interact as and when they have time – they do not typically require an instantaneous response: think email, or text messaging, or simply writing letters.
At the University of Northampton, your synchronous teaching and learning tool of choice is Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. It is the University’s virtual classroom tool, and has been part of NILE and enabled and available in your NILE sites for a few years now. If you are moving a face-to-face class online it is highly probable that you will want to use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (hereafter simply Collaborate). Asynchronous tools are a little more varied, but given the current situation let’s keep it simple and say that unless you have a better idea (which is perfectly possible), Blackboard’s Discussion Board tool is your asynchronous tool of choice.
The University’s Learning Technology Team will support you to understand and use these tools, both from a technical and a pedagogical perspective. However, as you will appreciate, they’re pretty busy at the moment, so here are a few things that may help you out while you’re waiting for a response to that email you just sent them.
What you need to know about Collaborate
Collaborate is already in all of your NILE module site(s) – each and every one of them. You don’t need to do anything to start using it with your students, apart from making the ‘Virtual classroom’ link available (which is covered in the staff Collaborate guide).
There is guidance on using Collaborate for staff and students available here:
Collaborate Guide for Staff
Collaborate Guide for your Students
What you need to know about Discussion Boards
Discussion Boards are also already activated and available in your NILE site(s). You may want to use these in between Collaborate sessions in order to facilitate class discussions in the days or weeks in between classes.
If you’d like to know more about Discussion Boards (and Blogs and Journals too), you’ll find this guide useful:
Blogs, Journals and Discussion Boards – A Guide for Staff
2. What happens with assessments online?
For the most part, coursework assessments will be able to continue normally. However, if your students were due to take an in-class test then this is going to be a problem.
A good option here is to consider making your in-class test into an open book or take home exam. It may be the case that with minor modifications your in-class test paper can be revised to work well when students are at home with access to their books and to the Internet. You may also consider giving students a longer window in which to take the exam – if you’ve not thought about using a 24 hour exam before then perhaps this is the time to try it out!
If this appeals, then then the best way to put it into practice is to release your open book/take home exam paper on NILE at the point at which the exam begins, and to setup a Turnitin submission point with a submission due date/time for the end of the exam to collect the papers in at the end (make sure it accepts submissions after the due date though, as some students may be allowed extra time). Most students are familiar with using Turnitin by this point in the year, and Turnitin’s text matching feature will deter collusion and plagiarism.
Full guidance on setting up and using Turnitin is available on our website at:
3. Do I have to teach differently online?
Online teaching is certainly different from face-to-face teaching, but many, if not all, of the principles of good teaching apply regardless of whether you are teaching online or face-to-face.
One of my favourite books about teaching is Ken Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do (2004). In a study entitled What the Best Online Teachers Should Do, which was conducted a few years after Bain published his book, a group of teachers tried out Bain’s recommendations in the online teaching and learning environment. While they found that online teaching was different to, and, sometimes, more difficult than, face-to-face teaching, the three key principles of ‘good teaching’ applied both in the online and in the face-to-face teaching worlds. In a nutshell, these principles are:
Principle 1. Foster student engagement
“Bain (2004) asserts that the best college teachers foster engagement through effective student interactions with faculty, peers, and content. They see the potential in every student, demonstrate a strong trust in their students, encourage them to be reflective and candid, and foster intrinsic motivation moving students toward learning goals.”
“In the online environment, lecture need not and should not be the primary teaching strategy because it leads to learner isolation and attrition. The most important role of the teacher is to ensure a high level of interaction and participation … student engagement with teachers, peers, and content is vital in the online learning environment.”
Principle 2. Stimulate intellectual development
“According to Bain the best teachers create a natural critical learning environment. … when it comes to stimulating intellectual development in students, questions are the key to creating a natural critical learning environment … Questions are universal; they can be asked and answered anytime or anywhere. They work best when the students ask them or when the students find them interesting. As long as it is possible to ask questions in an online class, then Bain’s natural critical learning environment can exist in an online class.”
Principle 3. Build rapport with students
“One way that Bain identified highly effective teachers was by how they treated their students. He recognized that such teachers ‘tend to reflect a strong trust in students. These teachers usually believe that students want to learn and they assume, until proven otherwise, that they can.'”
” … when it comes to building rapport with students, the best online teachers should understand the characteristics of their students and adapt accordingly … An important element of rapport building is that teachers are flexible – with regard to getting to know their students, getting their students to know them, working around deadlines, and creating an atmosphere that enhances learning.”
And if those three principles sound pretty much like what you’re doing already in your regular face-to-face classes, that’s probably because they are! So maybe online teaching is not too different from face-to-face teaching after all. While the environment is certainly different, the aims and principles of good teaching remain the same.
NB. All the above quotes are from Brinthaupt, T. M., et al., (2011) What the Best Online Teachers Should Do. Merlot Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(4). Available from: https://jolt.merlot.org/vol7no4/brinthaupt_1211.htm
4. Where can I get more help and support?
There is more help and support available about all aspects of technology-enabled teaching and learning from the Learning Technology Team.
You can find lots of information about NILE and about the various digital tools available to you and your students on our website:
You can take our online, self-study NILE training course:
If you are a member of staff at the University of Northampton you can also get more help from your learning technologist:
If you are a member of staff at one of our UK partner or international partner organisations, you can get more help from the NILE champion at your institution:
Dr Craig Staff, Reader in Fine Art, and Robert Farmer, Learning Technology Manager, have published an article in the latest edition of Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education, a special edition on the theme of democratizing knowledge in art and design education. According to the journal’s editor, Professor Susan Orr, Dean of Learning/Teaching & Enhancement at University of the Arts London “The authors make a strong argument that the patchwork text approach works well within a creative education context, where experimentation and risk-taking are valued.”
The article itself presents the findings from a four-year project designed to gather undergraduate Fine Art students’ perceptions of replacing an essay with a Patchwork Text Assessment (PTA), a form of assessment in which a series of self-contained, thematically related patches are written at regular intervals over a series of weeks or months and are then stitched together with a final meta-patch exploring the unity and interrelatedness of the individual patches.
On completion of the PTA, students were asked a series of questions about their experiences, and analysis of their responses showed that they had found completing the PTA more difficult, more enjoyable and more rewarding than writing an essay. Importantly, there were no suggestions that the PTA had dumbed down assessment practices, nor was there an increase in the workload of the academic staff supporting and assessing the PTA.
The full article can be viewed and downloaded here: https://doi.org/10.1386/adch_00003_1
We’ve written a few posts about learning styles in the past, and an important letter in yesterday’s Guardian added yet more support to the anti-learning styles side of the argument. Thirty academics signed a letter to the Guardian calling for teachers to end the use of learning styles and to make more use of evidence-based practices instead. Regarding the use of learning styles, the letter said that they were “ineffective, a waste of resources and potentially even damaging as … [they] can lead to a fixed approach that could impair pupils’ potential to apply or adapt themselves to different ways of learning.”1
You can read the entire letter here: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/mar/13/teachers-neuromyth-learning-styles-scientists-neuroscience-education
1. Sally Weale (2017) Teachers must ditch ‘neuromyth’ of learning styles, say scientists
“Now is the time of the essay film.” So said the film-maker Mark Cousins to the Guardian’s Charlotte Higgins in 2013. This realisation came to Cousins during the making his film, The First Movie, which was filmed in the Kurdish region of Iraq in 2009. One major problem that Cousins faced when making the film was that because the region was so dangerous, there were no cinematographers who were willing to work on the film. This did not stop Cousins though, and he decided to make the film himself using tiny, handheld cameras. What may have been perceived as an insurmountable obstacle was not only overcome, but actually created new ways of working and a new sense of freedom for Cousins. As he says,
“‘What I used to hate about filming is that I’d want to get up before dawn in Calcutta and film the sunrise. But you’d have to go knocking on the door of the director of photography, who’s sleeping, and say, ‘Please can you get up?’ This tiny camera, no bigger than a mobile phone, has become like a pen, he says: he can work alone, with the freedom of a prose essayist. ‘Now is the time of the essay film: that way of taking an idea for a walk.’”
Of course, the idea of the essay film, or cine essay as some film-makers like to call it, is not new, it’s just that it’s taken some time for technology to get to the point where the video camera and editing equipment are truly as portable and lightweight as the pen and the notebook. The idea of the film camera as a pen (or camera stylo as it is sometimes known) was introduced by Alexandre Astruc in his 1948 essay The Birth of a New Avant-Garde: La Camera-Stylo.
Astruc was one of many film theorists who had high expectations about the potential of cinema to go beyond mere entertainment and spectacle, and who believed that cinema was capable of expressing complex, philosophical thought. He believed that cinema could be the intellectual equal of the novel or the philosophical essay, and nearly seventy years ago he said,
“Maurice Nadeau wrote in an article in the newspaper Combat: ‘If Descartes lived today, he would write novels.’ With all due respect to Nadeau, a Descartes of today would already have shut himself up in his bedroom with a 16mm camera and some film, and would be writing his philosophy on film: for his Discours de la Methods would today be of such a kind that only the cinema could express it satisfactorily. […] From today onwards, it will be possible for the cinema to produce works which are equivalent, in their profundity and meaning, to the novels of Faulkner and Malraux, to the essays of Sartre and Camus.”
But was Astruc right? Well, the philosopher John Gray might agree that he was. Indeed, Gray might well go further and say that the film-makers of today are doing a better job than academic philosophers in exploring some of the key philosophical issues of our time. In his review of a collection of Nietzsche’s lectures on education, entitled Anti-Education: On the Future of Our Educational Institutions, Gray tells us that,
“Justin Kurzel’s film of Macbeth presents an uncompromisingly truthful vision of the human situation unlike anything in the academic study of the humanities at the present time. The Wire and Breaking Bad explored the contradictions of ethics with a rigour and realism that is lacking in the baroque disquisitions on justice and altruism that occupy philosophers. Amazon’s version of Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle is a more compelling rendition of the slipperiness of consensus reality than you will find in any number of turgid volumes of critical theory.”
Of course, neither Gray nor anyone else is saying that one form of expression is, per se, better than another. And Astruc’s point about Descartes is deliberately designed to be provocative and polemical. To argue that the cine essay is better than the essay is as pointless as trying to argue which account of the Holocaust is the best; Claude Lanzmann’s film Shoah, Primo Levi’s memoir If This Is A Man, or David Cesarani’s book The Final Solution. The point is that the essay and the cine essay can present different perspectives on the same subject, and will reveal different things about that subject through the specificity of the different media.
But the question we need to ask is what does this have to do with teaching and learning? Well, if we are persuaded that film is capable of expressing complex, philosophical thought, and if we are also persuaded that the equipment with which to make films is small, portable and already in the hands of many students, then it may follow that, on occasion, we might want to ask their students to submit a cine essay instead of an essay. And this is where the work of LSE lecturer Professor William A. Callahan comes in. Professor Callahan leads a course in Visual International Relations at LSE, and his students are regularly assessed via documentary films. The reason for this is, he says, that
“Documentaries encourage students to work collaboratively, reinforce concepts learnt, and generate new knowledge as well as resources that can be used by future students. Allowing students to create knowledge (and materials) together seems an excellent practice, so it’s a surprise it isn’t more widespread.”
Professor Callahan’s decision to introduce documentary making as an assessed component of his course came from his own experiences of making films, after he took a short course in documentary film-making and started making his own films. As he found out from his own experiences as a filmmaker, the camera is capable of recording the
“nonlinguistic and nonrepresentational aspects of knowledge: the laughs, sighs, shrugs, cringes and tears that are provoked in the on-camera interview process, which then can be edited into an engaging set of images that, in turn, can produce laughs, cringes and tears in the film’s audience.”
And it is this ability to convey meaning and to persuade through the use of images that he wants his students to understand when they take his course.
“That’s what the students get by the end of the course. They know how to write an essay but by the end of the course they should know how to, not just convince us with their academic, rational thinking, but move us through their images, move us emotionally.”
While it may not be possible to get access to the kind of equipment used by Callahan and his students, mobile phone manufacturers are continually trying to persuade us of the high quality of the cameras in their phones. Apple’s Shot on an iPhone campaign was a major part of the iPhone 6 release, Samsung have their own Captured on a Samsung S7 gallery, and most of the other big mobile manufacturers make great claims about the quality of the cameras in their phones. And there are now film festivals entirely dedicated to screening films shot on mobile phones, including the Mobile Motion Film Festival and the Mobile Film Festival, which is running for the twelfth time in 2017. Given than many of these devices are already in the pockets of our students, is now a good time to consider the cine essay?
Tips and recommendations
1. Probably the most important recommendation for anyone thinking about asking their students to submit a film or documentary, is firstly to have a go a making a film yourself. If you don’t have your own film-making gear, the LearnTech team can lend you an iPad so that you can have a go at making a film. The LearnTech iPads come with iMovie (a film editing program), so you can film and edit on the iPad. You can also borrow an iPad tripod from the LearnTech team.
2. If you don’t know where to start there are some usful introductory guides about making films on mobile devices. This one from Tom Barrance is worth a look: http://learnaboutfilm.com/making-a-film/filmmaking-iphones-ipads/
3. You can learn how to use iMovie to edit your film by signing up to the course on Lynda.com. All staff at the University can access Lynda courses for free (unfortunately students cannot access Lynda courses for free at the present time). The iMovie on iPad course is here: https://www.lynda.com/iMovie-tutorials/iMovie-iOS-Essential-Training/165441-2.html
4. If you can get a few people together then it may be possible to run a one day workshop for staff who are interested in learning how to film and edit using iPads. If this is something you’d like to do, feel free to email me: email@example.com
5. This one is important. While the LearnTech team can lend iPads to members of staff for short periods of time, there is nowhere in the University where students can borrow film-making equipment (unless they are film/media/photography students). Thus, any film or documentary assignment will rely on students having their own equipment. Although most students do have smartphones, not all will have one, so you may want to make any film assessment into group projects.
6. If you do decide to alter an assessment to make it a film submission you will need to have your module re-validated. This is not an especially onerous process, but you may like to ask a Learning Designer to help you with this. Learning Designers can help you to design a suitable moving image assessment and can check through your learning outcomes to ensure that new assessment aligns with the learning outcomes. To change a module for the forthcoming academic year, you will ideally need to be ready to submit the revalidation paperwork in the January of the current academic year.
7. Prior to making any changes to a module and introducing a film/documentary assignment, it may be worthwhile asking your current students what they think of the idea.
8. Film-making can be quite time-consuming, so it might be best to err on the side of caution and keep the film length short, especially if it is the first time your students have sumitted a film. Five minutes is plenty of time, and could easily equate to 2.5 assessment units in a group project with two or three students per group. Again, a Learning Designer can help you with this process.
9. NILE fully supports student moving image submissions. Students can upload their completed films to http://video.northampton.ac.uk and can submit them to assignment submission points in NILE. Staff can view these film submissions directly in NILE without having to download them. Staff can also use http://video.northampton.ac.uk to upload their own films and embed them into NILE modules.
10. If you find that you really start to enjoy film-making and want to take things to the next level, you can learn all about making films from one of the great modern masters, Werner Herzog: https://www.masterclass.com/classes/werner-herzog-teaches-filmmaking
More information about William Callahan
If you would like to know more about William Callahan’s approach you can read about it here: http://lti.lse.ac.uk/lse-innovators/william-a-callahan-visual-international-politics-student-movies/
You can also watch him talking about it here: https://vimeo.com/140330542
You can view his films and the films of his students here: https://vimeo.com/billcallahan
And you can read his paper, The visual turn in IR: documentary filmmaking as a critical method here: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/64668/
21 tips, tricks and shortcuts for making movies on your mobile: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/12/21-tips-tricks-and-shortcuts-for-making-movies-on-your-mobile
10 tips for editing video: http://blog.ted.com/10-tips-for-editing-video/
7 interviewing tips for video storytellers: http://blog.ed.ted.com/2016/11/23/7-interviewing-tips-for-video-storytellers/
How our mobile-only TV package made the network news: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/academy/entries/c1b5506f-c627-417e-8958-ca36aaf86f01
Instead Of A Book Report, My Students ‘Wrote’ A Video: http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/technology/instead-of-a-book-report-my-students-wrote-a-video/
6 Steps to Media Creation in the Classroom: http://dailygenius.com/6-steps-media-creation-classroom/
* Many thanks indeed to Belinda Green for the useful links.
The Quick Overview:
• Where students need to carry out online surveys, and where academic staff do not have a preference as to which tool the students use, we recommend eSurv: http://esurv.org
• A tutorial video explaining how to use eSurv is also available here: http://bit.ly/esurv-tutorial
One area where students sometimes come unstuck with their research projects is when they try to extract data from the free online survey tool they have used. While it is often easy to create a simple online survey for free, and easy for a limited number of respondents to take part in the survey, it is not always so easy for the researcher to access their data.
There are a large number of free online survey tools available for use, and choosing the most appropriate one is not always easy. In almost all cases, accessing the full-functionality of the survey tool is not free. For example, the free version of the survey tool may be limited by number and type of questions available (a maximum of ten questions, for example, and only basic questions). It may also be limited to a maximum number of responses (fifty responses per survey, for example). Another common restriction is to limit access to the survey data, and not to allow the researcher to download the data for analysis in a statistical package. While all these restrictions can be overcome by paying a monthly subscription to the survey tool provider, students often feel rather cheated when they find out that it will cost them, in some cases, £60 to download their data for analysis in SPSS. They often feel especially annoyed when they find out that if they chosen different tool they could have had free access to their data.
As part of a recent University of Northampton URB@N project, Paul Rice, Phil Oakman, Clive Howe and Rob Farmer decided to find out whether there was a genuinely free online survey tool out there somewhere. And they decided to make things more difficult by trying to find one that was also easy to use and that stored data in a way that was compliant with the UK Data Protection Act. The good news is that they found one!
If you would like to find out more then you can read all about it in their paper published in the journal MSOR Connections: https://journals.gre.ac.uk/index.php/msor/article/view/311
- Collaborate Ultra receives improved annotation features
- Blackboard Upgrade – August 2021
- Xerte online resources covering Advance Care Plans and Do Not Attempt Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation enable delivery of quality teaching in line with Active Blended Learning (ABL)
- New NILE courses now available
- Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2021 – The Results
- UON gains early access to Collaborate Gallery View for students
- Make NILE more accessible this May 20th.
- NILE Design Standards 2021/22
- Blackboard Collaborate introduces the new Gallery view
- Student Guidance on finding the emergency virtual rooms that staff are using during March 2021
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