Currently viewing the tag: "Blogs"

This case study highlights a pilot run by Janet Jackson, a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Sciences in the School of Science & Technology. The pilot introduced the use of mobile technology on two field trips, to Wicken Fen and Stonehenge.

The main aims of this pilot were to allow the students to document and reflect on their findings whilst in the context (in this case the field trips), and then to access and re-use that information outside of the context.

Students enjoyed using the devices, particularly for photography and video, which helped them to record a lot of data very easily. 80% of the students said that the app was ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to use.

Learning across contexts – mobile for fieldwork (case study, PDF 638KB)

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This case study reports findings from a pilot run in stage 2 of Foundation Art and Design (Nov 2011-Feb 2012) by Jayne Corfield in the School of Arts.

Online spaces in NILE, which are easily accessible using mobile technology, were set up for students to document and reflect on their work anytime, anywhere, across any context.

Learner generated contexts – mobile for anytime anywhere learning (case study, PDF 511KB)

Watch the video here.

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Why have I suddenly got two blog tools appearing in my NILE site?

The blog tools that we have always had in NILE are actually plug-ins (that is, they are made by a different software company to the people who make NILE, and are literally ‘plugged in’ to the NILE platform). If you have used blogs in the past, you will be familiar with the ones that look like this:

Campus Pack blog icon


The dropdown tool menu in a Content Area in NILE, showing the different blog tool optionsThese tools are still available for you to use – you will see this option referred to as ‘Campus Pack blog’ in the tools list in your NILE sites. Sadly though this tool does not yet work so well with the mobile version of NILE in the new iNorthampton app. So for those of you who would prefer your students to be able to blog on the move, we have also switched on the blogging tools that are built in to NILE. You will now see extra options for ‘Blogs’ (or Blog Link from the Collaborate button) and ‘Journals’ in your NILE site.

What’s the difference?

The built-in blog tools are better at some things, and worse at others, in comparison to the Campus Pack plug-in blogs. Here are the main things you need to know:

  1. Both tools will allow you to have a group blog, or a private blog that can only be seen by the individual and the tutor. In the Campus Pack blog this is a setting in the blog tool when you create it, whereas the built-in version has two separate tools for this – the ‘blog’ tool for open groups or shared individual blogs, and the ‘journal’ tool for private individual or group blogging.
  2. If you are dividing your students into groups within your NILE site, the built in tools will allow you to create a blog and/or journal for each group when you create the group. With the Campus Pack tools, you have to do this separately – create the groups first, then create the blogs and allocate them.
  3. Both tools will allow you to create a column in the grade centre and specify grades for students’ work. The built-in blog and journal tools will allow you to add grades within the blog itself, while you’re checking the posts. This feature is not available in the Campus pack tool.
  4. screenshot of the blog and journal tools, viewed in the app on an iPod TouchThe built in tools do not currently have an RSS or email subscription option, or an export option, and they do not have granular permission levels (for example, allowing non-members to view a group blog). If you need this kind of granularity, please ask the team for advice.
  5. The built in blog and journal tools are easy to access on a smartphone, via the iNorthampton app. The Campus Pack blogs do not currently display well in mobile browsers.

Tell us what you think

If you are a regular user of blogs in NILE, we’d love to hear your thoughts on either or both of these tools. Please send us any questions or comments at:

Switching tools off in NILE

Don’t forget that if you only want to use one of these tools, you can switch the other one off to avoid confusion (or if you prefer, you can switch off both!). To do this, go to your Control Panel and click on Customisation, and then Tool Availability. Remove the ticks for any of the tools you don’t use in your site.

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This guide is based on discussion and contributions by the E-learning and the First Year Student Experience (ELFYSE) special interest group (SIG).

Bringing together the areas of e-learning and student transition, retention and progression, this guide draws on both theory and practice to provide recommendations for and guidance to both academic and support staff on using learning technologies to support the first-year student experience. It is designed to help you think about ways of approaching and incorporating the use of learning technologies to support and enhance your students’ first-year experience.

Our own Learning Technologist, Julie Usher has contributed to two of the articles which have been included:

“Addressing issues of plagiarism in the first year” and “Easing cultural transition through peer-to-peer interactions”