Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Tracking the number of scans of QR Codes

As some people are aware, we've been rolling out the QR Code Tour Generator with scan tracking. The idea is we'll be able to provide some quantitative answer to the question, this is all very nice, but has anyone scanned the QR Code?

In a previous post I've outlined how we are giving a voice to a building (http://wolseyweb.ucs.ac.uk/blogs/elevate/?p=739). This went live  on the 24th May. So, given a week has passed, has anyone scanned it?

The answer is yes, and thanks to the tracking I the QR Code Tour creator (owner) can follow the link and see how many scans, and when it was scanned. In our case, it has been scanned three times (one of which was me).

Another interesting observation is the QR Code Tour Generator automatically includes a short url to the resource. The intention is to allow people who do not have a QR Code reader the ability to easily access the resource. The log data indicates that although the number of QR Code scans is three, the resource (a youTube video) has been accessed via the short url twelve times. Therefore, it is very important to include the short url.


Friday, 27 May 2011

AMC #QRCode Treasure Hunt

The Administrative Management Committee are hosting their annual “away day” at the Ipswich Waterfront building this year.  Normally some form of team building quiz takes places, this year a treasure hunt was the order of the day, the Elevate Team will be supporting the treasure hunt with the use of QR Codes.


  • A 20 question multiple choice quiz with the questions being based around the Waterfront Building

  • 20 teams

  • Teams ending in Kai, with the scoreboard being displayed once they arrive


  • A mobile phone of one team member of each team to be used to access and answer questions

  • Each team given a name

    • Team A

    • Team B etc.

  • Use of QRTour generator to create QR Codes and SUrls for links to mobile friendly questions

  • Mobile friendly web page for each question

  • Web page contains form that writes to database

    • Drop down list of Team names – Select your team name

    • Radio button options for multiple choice answers

    • Correct answer writes a “1” to the database, an incorrect answer writes “0”

  • A results page queries the database and displays the scoreboard

    • Ping Google Chart API to create on the fly bar chart

This brief fits the recently developed QRTour generator perfectly, the idea being that each question would be a point of interest on the tour.  The tour generator would create a QR Code that loads the question on the mobile device, as the tour also provides a short URL on the poster, users without a reader can still take part.

After some good work from David we have a proof of concept up and running, below is how the QR Code will be displayed, the poster is produced on the fly in PDF format by the generator, we will be creating a new “Treasure Hunt” template to remove the “Tour” type references.

QRTour Poster

Once the code is scanned or the short URL is entered on the phone, the browser will load the mobile friendly question as shown below:

Mobile Friendly Question Page


All questions are now in the xml file that the aspx calls from, the results page is working, but just needs styling.

Tasks Left

  • Creating the mobile friendly site to host the questions

  • Styling the results page

  • Training Torri to create the QRTour which will host the questions

  • Stick QR Codes to locations around the campus

So, we have a system that allows multiple teams participate in a treasure hunt, finding the questions around the building, scanning a QR Code to allow them to submit each answer.  Then when they all meet back up in Kai's the winners will be known as the scoreboard will be updated in realtime.

It should be fun, and another proof of concept for our "QRTour Generator".


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Advanced eSkills Workshop - Manipulating the Gradebook, Course Statistics and the Dashboard

Workshop Session PresentationThe Elevate Team ran its first workshop session as part of the Advanced eSkills for eLearning initiative for staff at UCS.  The session was titled "Manipulating the Gradebook, Course Statistics and the Dashboard to meet your needs", seven members of staff attended the workshop, which I didn't think was too bad considering the time of year with exams and marking being high on the agenda.

I took the opportunity at the start of the session to show the attendees how to deploy a survey, every UCS module contains the official module feedback form as a survey.  A discussion ensued about how well used the online surveys were, one lecturer confirmed that they used the online survey and were getting 100% response rate.  This may have been due to the "cunning" use of the Adaptive Release feature in Blackboard, students have to complete the survey before the essay submission point becomes available.

The rest of the session was to cover the following topics:

  • Enabling Statistics for items, folders etc.

  • Viewing Statistics

  • Running module/course reports

  • Early Warning System

  • Performance Dashboard

  • Grade Centre

    • Hide/Show Columns

    • Smart Views

We moved to a more hands on approach and had the attendees follow my lead, starting with enabling/disabling statistics for items, folders, survey etc. and then moving on to how you can view those statistics.  Depending on the module, course or community that is being used, the criteria may need to be modified.  For a normal module, you should be able to select length of the module with no issues, but for some course and community areas, the criteria may need to be narrowed down due to the number of users on that area.  Sometimes the statistics have been known to time out if there are a large number of users and the date criteria is also covering a wide range.

Next we looked at how to run module/course wide reports for a number of activities.  We spent some time going through each of the reports, again mentioning the possible issues with the criteria and why they may need to change that criteria.  Once a few of the attendees had run some reports, we moved to the Early Warning System.
The Early Warning System is a rule-driven communication tool that sends email messages to Students and their Observers when the criteria for the rule is triggered. Rules can be based upon a test score, a due date, or Course access. Each notification message is fully customizable. A notification log is created for each student who receives a Early Warning message.

The above is Blackboard description of the Early Warning System, we went through and created a rule to pull through students that hadn't accessed the module area with a set number of days.  We then looked at how the system can notifications to those picked out by the rule.  A quick discussion was had regarding the types of rules that could be created, and a quick look at the Performance Dashboard.

One area that is heavily used within Wolsey is the Grade Centre, most lecturers use this feature due to the number of online submissions being made at UCS.  Although this is currently being done, there is little knowledge of what can actually be done via the Grade Centre, rather than just adding grades or feedback.

First off we had a look at hiding columns to tidy up the view, especially if areas have a number of quizzes, assessments etc.  The Elevate Team has noticed a growing number of problems where lecturers are choosing to hide a column from their Grade Centre view rather than hiding the column from the students' My Grades view.  This has led to a number of issues so we spent 10 minutes discussion what should be made unavailable from the students' view whilst waiting for grades to be ratified.  We went through the complete process from initial creation of the submission area to releasing the grades.

After this we had a look at Smart Views, how they can be used and how to create them, this was the area that created the most buzz in the room.  Many of the lecturers mark work from other modules, usually they are given a group or selection of students rather than them all.  They could really see the benefit in creating a smart view of just the students that they need to mark, and how they could also just include the column of the assessment they were working with.  Saving them having to sometimes scroll through hundreds of students with many columns in the Grade Centre.

So, overall a good session, the attendees had quite a mix of skills and knowledge of Wolsey, we sometimes had to skip back to more basic elements, but it was a useful session for all involved.

This workshop will become part of the stand alone Elevate staff development programme.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

WSAAG - A successful start

WSAAG AgendaMonday 23rd May saw the inaugural meeting of the Wolsey System Admin Advisory Group at the Waterfront Building.  We had seven attendees for the meeting, two members from Academic Services, one from UCS Bury, one from UCS Great Yarmouth and the three of us from the Elevate Team.

The agenda for the meeting was:

  • Welcome & Introductions

  • How we hope the group will work & Terms of Reference

  • What do you need to do with Wolsey?

  • Wolsey plans – short and medium term

  • Next meeting

After the initial welcome and introductions we moved to the terms of reference and how the group will work, it is proposed the group meets twice a year and works with a flexible, informal way.

We split the group in to two and asked the groups to think and make notes on "what do you need to be able to do with Wolsey?".  After a short time for discussion we asked the two groups to swap there notes and to then discuss the other groups thoughts.  We need asked each group to discuss the ideas they had add, these are listed below:

  • Assistance for academics i.e. podcasts,more technical

  • See things from a student point of view

  • Encourage standard use across the networks

  • Wimba

  • Change the look of announcements - make some stand out

  • Good practice area, showing how and what is available

  • Need to use the facility more

  • Need to assign staff to course areas

  • Need more training - eTraining

  • Be able to view what a particular student has access to

  • Needs to be easier to navigate (hide historic documents)

  • Issue with communities - communication

  • Hide old modules

We spent some time discussing the issues raised above and have some action points to work with, the main actions are:

  • To allow Domain administrators to view what a particular student is enrolled on

  • Add cross-network modules to all appropriate domains

  • Add cross-network communities to all appropriate domains

  • To investigate what is possible with regard to "hiding" historic module/course ares

  • Investigate UCS Bury admin search issues

  • Developing more online help materials / online courses for Wolsey training tools

  • Allowing LNs to create their own course areas - not for use with official UCS modules

We closed the meeting after a short discuss about our short to medium term plans, the headlines were:

  • Short term

    • Late June / Early July - create new 2011/12 module areas

    • Roll over lecturer enrolments

    • NOT rolling over custom course recipes

    • Intranets to be removed from Wolsey by December 2011

  • Medium Term

    • We do not know what VLE we will be using for September 2012

    • Both Blackboard and Moodle are possible

    • Elevate Team to write paper for Executive

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that attended, especially those that had to travel to Ipswich.



    Pilot: giving the building a voice >> James Hehir

    Thanks to all for the feedback on a previous iteration, we are now on iteration two, and have posted this up to see if it is scanned. I'll post again in a few weeks.

    We've been piloting the idea of trying to give buildings around the campus a voice. The intention is to enable people (staff, students and the general public) to find out what is going on in our buildings around campus. This information will consist of short interview (3 minute videos) with a person from estates who will give the general background. The imagery will be around a number of still shots of tasks and activities being undertaken in the building. The material will be made available through a number of routes, including the Elevate QR Code Tour Generator, and our emerging UCS Augmented Reality Layar. The publication route assumes it will be accessed via a mobile device. However, there is some scope for accessing it on large screens. The model is to publish within our unlisted YouTube channel.

    A key part of the feedback from iteration one, was the need to make it more professional given the likely (potential) audiences. For instance, a tighter script, better quality audio and more effective images.

    The QR Code is laminated and posted on the building for iteration two is displayed below. There is some work we need to complete around the disclaimer.

    Wednesday, 18 May 2011

    Augmented Reality Development Sprint #layar #AugmentedReality #Aurasma #Hoppala

    Well it's half way through our augmented reality sprint week and we have a proof of concept AR Layar ready and working.

    Utilising the Layar application for both IOS and Android, and using Hoppala we have so far created an interactive overlay for the Layar application. As a proof of concept, we decided to use UCS' buildings along the Waterfront in Ipswich as placeholders for various snippets of information.

    From a user perspective this would mean a user can hold their mobile device (while in the Layar app) and see various 'augments'  or 'Points of Interest' across the waterfront, detailing those snippets of information, such as library opening times, department info, contact details and some audio.

    Below you can see how this would look using an iPhone.. (we did of course test with an Android-based Motorola Atrix as well, thanks Dan!)
    AT View along the Waterfront
    iPhone view using Layar

    And here we can see what each of the elements do. (Click to enlarge image)

    One thing we did have to think about when developing the assets was to make sure each asset was mobile friendly, some of the information we wanted to provide was web based but not mobile friendly, and the last thing we wanted users doing was having to zoom around a large website just to see the latest news. Therefore we added a small but worthwhile stepping stone to the information, setting up a Joomla installation on our webserver and using a mobile friendly template, we were then able to pull in the relevant information from their sources (live dynamic feed) and display them in a fashion which would make users feel as if the information is right there in the Layar application and not just redirecting them to a website.

    There are a couple of additions we would like to have added, but currently they wouldn't work at all on a mobile device, we will be speaking with our Marketing department to suggest the virtual tours and photo galleries are made mobile friendly in future.

    Here you can see what the mobile friendly stepping stone looks like in the Layar application. (Image on the left being the mobile friendly version)

    Points of Interest and associated assets:

    OrangeInfozoneInfozone FAQs
    Infozone Email
    Opening Times
    BlueUCSWelcome Audio
    UCS News
    UCS Events
    UCS News Feed
    * Photo Gallery
    Email login
    * Virtual Tour
    GreyElevateElevate Blog
    Elevate Twitter
    Elevate FAQs
    Wolsey login
    MagentaJames HehirBuilding Voice Audio
    Building Opening Times 
    PurpleStudents’ UnionKai Menu
    GreenLibraryLibrary Catalogue
    Library Opening Times
    Library News - Twitter* = unable to use due to not being mobile friendly

    We also created a couple of pages that were viewable from this stepping stone, you can see the button in the top right of the screen shot of the mobile friendly screen above, this is a small menu that allows users to view a few extra pages, these pages were:

    • Contact Us

    • Who are we?

    • What are we doing with AR?

    The screenshot below shows how mobile friendly we were able to make these pages, they also stay inside of the Layar app when accessed.

    [caption id="attachment_722" align="alignnone" width="269" caption="Extra menu"][/caption]

    We created all of this using the Hoppala online tool.

    Hoppala allows you to pin point a marker on a very familiar google maps api and associate information to it, as you can see below in the image to the right, we have some of our augments displayed ready to edit. Hoppala is incredibly straight forward to use, albeit the usability of the site could do with tidying up!

    [caption id="attachment_720" align="alignnone" width="491" caption="Click to enlarge"][/caption]

    Once you have set where you would like your augment to appear, you can then add your various assets to it, we noted that Hoppala allows 6 assets before showing a 'More' button.

    Adding assets is pretty self explanatory, you will notice an 'Auto trigger range' element, we used this in our proof of concept with a piece of audio welcoming users to the UCS Waterfront building. We simply set the auto trigger range to 20 meters, sure enough in testing when we were in range of the building the audio started to play.

    The main thing to think about when assigning your assets is how it will look to your user, is the resource mobile friendly? Are you linking to a site which may be problematic for mobile users, flash based information is a no no for iOS users :( and is the information relevant to what the user is looking at?

    The next stage of the development sprint is to research current educational uses of augmented reality and how we might be able to use these within UCS.


    We came across a very interesting app late on the first day of the sprint, this app allows something very interesting, something that we would be very keen on developing for UCS.  The app "Aurasma" allows the overlaying of images/video in realtime, the materials are authored directly on the phone.  The app itself is currently in proof of concept stage, the developers are looking for feedback on how it can be improved for future release.

    We are very keen to see that happen, we've had a quick play with the app and we are very impressed.  A video from the app developers is below:


    This is a technology that we are very keen on and will use it as a proof of concept to bring a poster to life for our Teaching & Learning day later in the year.

    Inaugural Wolsey System Admin Advisory Group

    The Elevate Team are pleased to be able to announce that the inaugural meeting of the Wolsey System Admin Advisory group will be held on Monday 23 May 2011 at 11:00am in the Waterfront Building.

    This is the first of the Elevate run advisory groups to meet, we are hoping that a more open and informative community will grow from these groups.

    The agenda for the first meeting is:

    1. Welcome & Introductions

    2. How we hope the group will work & Terms of Reference

    3. What do you need to do with Wolsey?

    4. Wolsey plans – short and medium term

    5. Next meeting


    We look forward to welcoming all advisory group members.

    Tuesday, 17 May 2011

    Elevate Team has two papers accepted for Alt C 2012

    I'm very glad to announce the Elevate Team have had two papers accepted for ALT-C (Association of Learning Technologists, annual conference) in September at the University of Manchester (http://www.alt.ac.uk/altc). Both of which will be presented by myself.

    The papers will draw on some observations from our work at UCS, as well as at the national level. The papers are;

    0105, Emerging Practice in a Digital Age - institutional approaches to changing practice. This paper will be co-presented with JISC. Our contribution will be a case study exploring institutional strategies for changing practice based on our experiences with implementing location aware learning activities.

    0130, eSubmission - UK policies, practices and support. This paper is co-presented with the Heads of e-Learning at the University of Brighton, and Edge Hill University. It draws on the outcomes of a survey we undertook with Heads of e-Learning in UK HEIs. This focused on capturing the current and future direction by institutions in terms of eSubmission, eGrading, and eFeedback.


    The use of clickers at UCS: reflections on academic year 2010/11

    I've written the report of the initial observations and staff feedback on the use of clicker's (audience response system) to enhance the learning experience. The full report is available from:

    The outcomes were very encouraging. The executive summary is;

    In January 2011, the Elevate Team started administrating an audience response system (clickers) pilot service at UCS. This service aimed to administer the loan of clickers and develop staff in how they might use audience response systems (TurningPoint Clickers) to enhance face to face teaching.

    The following report covers the period January 1st, 2011 and April 30th, 2011, and aims to address;

    1. Are clickers being used by staff at UCS and are they likely to continue using them?

    2. Do staff perceive clickers add value to their teaching, and the student learning experience?

    3. Is the emerging staff development model and support programme fit for purpose? Will it scale for greater uptake?

    The broad findings imply;

    1. staff liked using clickers, the perception was they add value to their teaching and staff are planning to use them again.

    2. the administration around managing the clickers needs to be improved. In particular, the collection and return process

    3. the staff development programme needs to be fine tuned in terms of greater emphasis on question design and more promotion.

    So it reads like this is much more to come with people using clickers creatively at UCS :-)


    Wednesday, 11 May 2011

    Augmented Reality Web Browsing Project

    The Elevate Team will be starting another one week intensive development project on the 16th May. This project aims to explore and develop an application for augmented reality web browsing within a UCS, educational context. An example of which is available from the University of Exeter (http://www.exeter.ac.uk/students/life/layar/).

    There are two aims;

    1. Develop a layar augmented reality for the Waterfront and James Hehir Buildings at UCS. This will be a proof of concept to present to the Induction Steering Group. The product will be a layar application, and documentation of what was done and the lessons learnt.  The information being accessible via the layar will include;

    • team specific by site: Waterfront - Elevate (latest blog posts, latest youtube, latest FAQs); InfoZone (latest FAQs)

    • team specific by site: James Hehir - Kai, Building Voice

    • general - twitter streams; UCS news; UCS Virtual Tours

    • authenticated - e-stream videos, access to my Library info

    • by person - new starter (specific set of FAQs)

    2. Research how might augmented reality web browsing be used within teaching and learning at UCS. This is a desk based landscape study to identify the current developments and mapping these back to potential uses as a learning technology. The outcome will include a link to a resource, a description of what it is doing and a mapping to a potential use at UCS.

    Tuesday, 10 May 2011

    e-learning UK Daily News

    I've added a link in the Blogroll (see left side) to the e-Learning UK Daily News which is auto created from people who are following @kamyousaf twitter account. This creates a daily aggregation of tweets, blog posts and news from various sources. I'd recommend this site as a great place for one coffee break a day. It is a wonderful way of keeping up to date with lots of  info from across the area.

    In fact, I'm so taken, I'm going to explore the opportunity of us (The Elevate Team) to develop one ... so, watch this space :-)

    Wednesday, 4 May 2011

    Out and about: Andy at UEA's Teaching and Learning Day

    I attended the Teaching and Learning day at UEA on the 3rd May. The theme of the day was around student employability, although the workshops I attended didn't seem to mention or link back to this theme.

    From a UCS perspective, there are a number of messages which can be taken. Firstly, the is a significant amount of work being out into embedding student employability within the curriculum, with transferable and translational skills. They are engaging with lots of employers, making their employability destination data more transparent to schools and departments, and the Business School have recently undertaken an audit of student employability within their current curriculum.

    Another observation was UEA use their equivalent to our ILTS are much more effective and referred to as there was a strong emphasis around evaluation of impact on the student learning experience.

    From a personal perspective, I really enjoyed the workshops (very nice to be a stranger in the crowd, with no agenda, so I could just ask a few questions).

    There was a very interesting session around developing learning materials using prezi.com (using it as an easy authoring mind map tool). The model was at the end of each lecture, the lecture would supplement the learning material with links, images, text questions, and video. They would use prezi to make this available as it offers a very appealing visual interface which is much more engaging compared to text / links in blackboard. The resource would grow over the duration of the course, week by week, lecture by lecture. It would also allow the students to get a sense of how the course interlinks, as prezi is similar to a mind map. The log data indicated regular access by students, high levels of access, and students revisiting after the semester had finished. This implied they used it in semester 2 !!

    One application was to develop a virtual classroom as the metaphor. This made me think, what a wonderful way of developing material to join up our support for classroom technologies. I've since, downloaded the desktop application, and I'll give it a go :-)

    Another session focused on screencasting and creating vignette (short, key concept screencasts of around 5 to 10 minutes). The vignettes where interesting, and would be very nicely hosted in a oer repository.  Lots of use around Camtasia, with zoom ins, interactive questions etc., So, more like a stand alone learning object.

    The person running this session, seemed to like bringing in technologies. So included twitter questions and qr codes. Both of which were sound in principle. However, the implementation was poor. There was no preparation of the audience for the qr codes, or how to install the reader. Therefore, if you didn't know, you couldn't engage. The number of people excluded from the activity could have been reduced if he'd included the short URL with each qr code. This would have also mention people could have followed up after the session.

    A couple of really interesting points were around the integration of the blended learning approach. For instance, twitter is used for more open discussion as it is not very good at short, quick interaction. While the longer term model is around the use of vignettes, to get knowledge etc., across before the session, and then open up the opportunity for a more discursive, active learning lecture. All great stuff, however, it was surprising there was no mention of the effective and innovative use of audience response systems to facilitate the active learning in large group teaching.