Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Using iPad apps in teaching and learning: App Reviews

The Elevate Team have spent lots of time looking into the potential of the iPad for different learning and teaching contexts, and we are getting lots of interested parties asking us challenging questions. therefore, to help the dialogue and share the ideas we've created an Apps Review forum on our Blog (

This is intended to allow people to add a review of an iPad app, and read / comment on others. The hope is people will describe the app within a learning and teaching context.

This will not be a definitive list, but might be a good starting point :-)

Also, please add apps for other devices, ie., andriods etc.,

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Creating video for learning and teaching material

In the last few weeks we've seen the demand for a video capture, editing unit for learning and teaching materials grow at UCS. The following are two examples we'll be working on over July and August, and give an indication of the potential work we'll be doing. Clearly, there is considerable potential for transferring this to other contexts, for example, preparing induction material for distance learning courses. If you'd like to find out more about how we might be able to help, please email

Staff introductory videos

These are short 1 minute videos from student support introducing themselves and their roles. The video's will be linked by short url and QR Code from the student services web site and physical handbook. There will be two available for each person, one in English, and one with Chinese subtitles. The shot style will be a head and shoulders, with the each question they ask (address) appearing on the screen. These will be hosted in youtube, and any rights issues are covered by covered with our usual consent form.

Student Intern, employability videos

This will be a short 4 minute video which will be used during face to face events, and embedded on their course / division web site. The short film will be a number of stories around placement students at an organisation. This will include interviews with the students (interns), previous interns, and other staff at the organisation. The final video will include recording at the place of work, and include still images with talk overs, as well as talking head type shots.



Monday, 27 June 2011

- An Update - Feedback in Gradebook Assigned to Incorrect Students

Further to this post in December we have now managed to replicate the problem and screen capture it happening, which we have now sent to Blackboard.

The Cause: When a lecturer submits feedback for a number of students and then decides to check that the correct feedback has been added, they are clicking the "Submit" button again when navigating away from the screen, this is making SafeAssign resubmit the last file uploaded and therefore overwriting the previously uploaded feedback.

Status: Open – Reported to Blackboard, Blackboard are investigating.

Fix: Currently there is no fix

Work-around: The easy work-aroud, after uploading feedback and returning to the screen to check the correct feedback is there Do not click "submit" to leave the page, instead click "Gradebook" either in the left control panel menu or in the breadcrumbs.

Click here to view the screen capture and see the issue happening.

We will report back here once we hear back from Blackboard.

Out and about: Media Enhanced Learning SIG - University of Glamorgan

I attended and ran the Media Enhanced Learning SIG (http) at the University of Glamorgan to run a workshop on mobile podcasting, and facilitate the thunderstorm workshop.

I made a number of observations, from a UCS perspective. Firstly, the keynote was focussing on the Glamorgan iTunesU presence. It did make me think, this is a relatively easy win for UCS. We'd need 250 items for launching, and a large number in reserve to get us through the first year. The issues or show stoppers are definantly not technical. The issue stem from quality (especially audio), and rights management. However, if we set things up correctly at the start, in terms of rights ownership, clearance for 3rd party material, and capture quality etc., then we are in a very useful position. We could rapidly create the material.

An area which would be very useful to develop is our policies around using social software, web 2.0 external software within our teaching and learning. A couple of people mentioned their guidelines and policies are available, so I'll need to follow up, in particular, Social software policy at Glamorgan and at Sheffield Hallam.

Interestingly, lots of their content was very short videos, for instance, something which lasts a couple of minutes. These included recordings from key teaching and learning staff about their discipline, news related issues etc., there was also a number of technical videos around how to use hardware (I'm thinking classroom tech).

The thunderstorm session was very interesting, Salford discussed how they've been using webinars as part of their staff development model. It was very similar to ideas discussed within the team, and what I've tried at other institutions. I'd suggest a key difference was the type of person they used in their webinars. These seemed to be profs, and pro vcs etc., not practitioners. So I suppose we'd need to think carefully about what we are trying to achieve with the sessions. I'd suggest we'd include these in our online resources.

My workshop on mobile podcasting: why and how went relatively well. The slides are available from:

A few enhancements would be around a slide to draw the benefits of mobile learning so to give a context of why mobile podcasting. Also, making it clearer the models of use, ie., learning created, or staff created. With the emphasis, on where does a truly mobile experience add value? I though people were struggling with this. I think the presentation would be enhanced with the AR model of layer, pulling YouTube content based on tags, ie., student generating and distributing content.

Finally, the title might need to change to place the emphasis on creating, distributing and accessing multimedia on mobile devices.

One group did develop an interesting application. This was around patient reports, where the students would create a short summary of patient eye tests. These would be shared with other students and staff for feedback. This would both develop their identification and articulation of discipline knowledge, as well as communication skills.

However, by the end the question of do they need a truly mobile experience was questionable, it sounded like the need for access controls, storage and the listener not having to be in a mobile context.

Still there was a lot of buzz around the workshop, which was my main aim.

Out and about: Andy at the Heads of e-Learning Forum

I facilitated the Heads of e-Learning Forum event in Wolverhampton this week, which focussed on the theme of the impact of e-learning teams on the student learning experience.

The three things I took from this are: get the report and slides for the HEFCE Student perceptions of technology report. This was very interesting in terms of highlighting the perception from students that they and staff need more development around the effective and appropriate use of technology in learning (

There are lots of concerns about the interpretation of the report, especially the quantitative data. However, the "what are the NUS doing with this, interns of national policy" is quite interesting and I need to talk to our SU about this.

There was lots of discussion around trying to quantify our impact, I've been struggling. For years with this, and it was nice to see I'm in the majority to focus on stories, and shifting the agenda to ... We facilitate staff to enhance their teaching through technology, therefore, they have the direct impact on the student learning experience, and we should be building stories around our impact on staff. I would also suggest a role is you help staff evaluate the impact on the student learning experience of their initiatives.

Finally, I need to get an answer from people at UCS about the what following ....

How do we interpret the term digital literacy? Who is responsible or championing digital literacy awareness, training and development at UCS?

New report: transforming curriculum delivery through technology

The JISC have recently published a new report entitled Transforming Curriculum Delivery through technology: stories of challenge, benefit and change. This is available from:

There was a couple of messages and observations I've taken from the report for the future direction of technology enhanced learning at UCS. Firstly, the report reviews a wide range of effective uses of technology which have had an impact at the local level, and influenced institutional policy. Therefore, for us to take advantage of these projects, and emulate the success we need to ensure the discussion around the opportunities technology offers is at the start of the project and not as is common, introduced further down the line, and is less effective as it is a bolt on. As identified in the report, "the starting point for each project was to identify challenges in their particular context that might be addressed by the intervention of technology" (pg 2).

Secondly many of the projects focussed on the effective fusion of institutional services and tools, with externally hosted web 2.0 solutions. This is very much inline with our current model, and at one level the report helps to evidence the success of this approach, while also making us reflect on where we need to go to make it work for us. I'd suggest there are a number of questions we need to answer, in particular have we the guidelines in place to help staff make well informed decisions around using externally hosted solutions, and is there at the staff development and support programmed in place to enable staff and students to effectively navigate these different learning spaces? I'd suggest we are making good progress on the first issue, although there needs to be significantly more work around digital literacies. In terms of the second issue, I think we need to prioritise a better defined hub - spoke model, which will deliver the needs of practitioners at the coal face.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

A Good News Day: #AugmentedReality Layer Approved by #Layar

[caption id="attachment_683" align="alignleft" width="120" caption="iPhone view using Layar"]AT View along the Waterfront[/caption]

We've recently received some good news, our augmented reality layer developed during our recent "development sprint" has been approved for publication by Layar.

After a couple finishing touches we will publish the layer that will become publicly available for anyone in and round the Ipswich Waterfront.

The layer gives access to a large amount of information from Marketing/Infozone to student's library loans etc. by simply pointing your smartphone at one of UCS's buildings.

Monday, 13 June 2011

A Successful Day: AMC #QRCode Treasure Hunt

The Treasure Hunt part of the Administrative Management Committee away day, was held on Friday, it was a very successful day.  I have to say, we as a team are really pleased with how the event went, following the work to setup the treasure hunt, which used the QR Tour Generator.

Our initial thoughts on the event were pretty much spot on, and we achieved what we’d planned.

[caption id="attachment_802" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Scanning the Code"]Scanning the Code[/caption]


After Andy’s presentation about the work of the Elevate Team, the event was handed over to David and myself, we started by getting everyone that needed a QR Reader to find and download an app.  Then they were handed a map and off they went to find the QR Codes.

There were 20 question, each of which was a single poster created with the Tour Generator.  We tweaked the tour template to allow the output to be slightly different from the tour, we have planned to expand on this for the next Tour Sprint, allowing the users to select the type of template they want, are they creating a tour, a treasure hunt etc.  Selecting the type would use a different template allowing the printed output to be different.

When the user scans the QR Code for this event, their device loads a mobile friendly web site, with a drop down list for them to select their team name, they then have a choice of 3 options.  Once they select their answer and then submits, if they are correct, they score a point that is written to a database.  We also had a results page pulling in results from the database every 5 seconds, allowing us to keep a realtime scoreboard.

Below are a couple of screen shots from a mobile device showing the mobile friendly answer page, and the view of selecting the team and the answer:


[caption id="attachment_803" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Selecting the Team"]Selecting the Team[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_804" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Selecting the Answer"]Selecting the Answer[/caption]














The teams were due to arrive at Kai’s for lunch after completing the hunt, David and I joined Lynne, Tori, Kirsty and Fiona at Kai, we were keeping an eye on the live scoreboard to see how things were progressing.

As the teams started returning some had used an answer sheets as they’d had a few technical problems (mentioned further down), David and I then set about submitting the hand written answers into the database allowing us to use the scoreboard once the team were ready to announce the winners.

Only 1 team out of 9 hadn’t managed to use their mobile device, they successfully downloaded a reader app,but it crashed the phone and required the owner to remove the battery.

That team along with 2 others were the only ones that used the paper answer sheets, those two teams did manage to use their devices for a number of the questions.

After lunch the winners were announced and the scoreboard was displayed, as seen below:


[caption id="attachment_805" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="The live scoreboard"]The live scoreboard[/caption]


The Problems

There were a number of technical issues, most were expected to be honest.

Once the teams were set off to start the hunt, the first 2 codes were within the Waterfront Building, mobile phone signals are not the strongest inside this building, causing the first issue, as the codes required data access to load the webpage.  Even though these were optimised mobile friendly pages, they still require data downloads to access.

The next problem was when we advised staff to connect to the wireless, which works across buildings, we advised this specific SSID as we knew they would be entering other buildings.  The issue arose with the Wifi as many staff were unsure of using it, they were joining the network, but not being prompted to authenticate before loading their reader app.  This then stopped the pages loading, once we’d talked/shown people what to do they went off happy.  One exception was a Blackberry owner who was unable to get their phone onto the wireless at all.

A way around the majority of these initial problems would be to have an open unauthenticated wireless network, even if it was heavily firewalled.

Once people were out and about David and I had a quick walk along the route, solving a couple of small niggles, one attendee had 3G switched off on her phone, making loading very, very slow.  Another’s device was connecting to a random wifi which we told the device to “forget”, and things were all good after that.


We have Google Analytics active on the individual answer pages, we also have Percent Mobile statistics running across the same pages – hopefully giving us more detailed mobile analysis.    Below are a quick overview of the stats from today:

[caption id="attachment_806" align="alignnone" width="254" caption="Usage"]Usage[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_807" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Accesses by Question"]Accesses by Question[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_808" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Access by browser type"]Access by browser type[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_833" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Accesses by device"]Accesses by device[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_828" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Most used devices"]Most used devices[/caption]

You can see from the “Accesses by browser type” that a number of readers had their own built-in browser, rather than opening up the native device browser.

Today really has shown the potential of what we could create and achieve with this technology.  Being able to track and capture statistics really does make this technology much more appealing to other staff around UCS and the wider field.

We will be adding a few questions to the event organisers evaluation, which we will help them create and distribute using Google Docs, we will update the blog once the evaluation forms have been sunmitted.

A good day all round :-)






Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Advanced e-Skills Workshop: Design effective e-learning activites

On Monday, I ran our second workshop in the advanced e-skills programme. This session focussed on how to design more effective e-learning activities. This workshop is one I particularly like as it turns the conversation upside down by identifying the factors which are likely to lead to poor e-learning design, and pushes the need for practitioners to adopt an action research approach and away from a technology driven silver bullet.

The session explores the various areas around the design, development, implementation and evaluation process.  It draws  on the work of JISC publication, Effective Practice in a Digital Age ( to give a context. The we worked through a number of activities (as individuals and in groups) and a particular learning context (the capture context template), the learning design sequence and evaluation frameworks. We also took the opportunity of developing some material using Xerte which is an e-learning tutorial authoring tool, and is available on the UCS Ipswich hub network (

A resource I promised to share was on effective uses of discussion boards as a synchronous tool for virtual seminars - case study by John Sloman >>

The presentation is available from