Thursday, 29 September 2011

iTune Vouchers for your own iPads

Just following up on the previous post about using the Elevate Team's iTune vouchers (£15.00) each enable you (UCS staff) to buy and reflect on iPad Applications to use in your teaching and learning.

The pilot will work as follows; we'll put out a call (this is the first), where we make upto 5 vouchers available. The expectation is, you will keep a log of observations (using a wordpress blog), and be prepared to present a short sessions (10 minutes, 10 slides) at an event of uses of tablet devices in learning and teaching at UCS. This will be sometime in December, 2011. There are two applications you will be expected to explore, these are the ShowMe, and Iannotate PDF. Apart from this, the rest of the voucher (about £10.00) is yours to spend on applications which are appropriate to you.

To apply, please email (assuming you are a UCS staff member, directly involved in Teaching), outlining how you are expecting to use the iPad in your teaching, which application you have identified, and agreeing to complete the reflection and observations.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Elevate supporting iPad (tablet) projects at UCS

Recently, Andrew Revitt via the ILTS fund purchased three iPad2’s for exploration in Teaching and Learning at UCS. These have been passed to the Elevate Team to manage the loan and coordinate the projects.The aims for us is to explore how the iPad can be used  to enhance the assessment and feedback process at UCS. Therefore, the support we’ll be providing will focus on promoting the use around this area.

The model will be based around using a few applications, and adopting a cloud computing approach. As opposed to a desktop replacement / extension model. So applications we’ll be supporting and recommending are;

  • File storage: Dropbox

  • Notetaking: Wordpress or Evernote

  • Word Documents: OfficeHD or Google Docs

  • Presentational: KeyNote

  • Annotation Tools: ShowMe & iAnnotate PDF

  • Mind Map: iThoughtsHD

  • Video Distribution: YouTube (unlisted channel)

A second wave of projects will be to support those who already own an iPad, but we’ll provide iTune vouchers to purchase the following software (or very similar):

  • ShowMe

  • iAnnotate PDF

The role of the Elevate Team is to support the assessment and feedback agenda and not the iPad per se. Therefore, we’ll not be over technical support, or suggesting applications outside those mentioned above.We will also run a number of session during the academic year, which will disseminate and share how people have been using tablet technology in their teaching and learning. We will also be running a number of short sessions around achieving certain common tasks.

So, what about those who are not using Apple based devices? We’ll we’ve a number of Android devices available, so please contact us about those.

To find out how you can get involved in these projects, please email us at

New students, learning technology and digital literacies

During the Student Induction period the Elevate Team have been running sessions across UCS on how technologies can enhance your learning. As part of this we have used the Clickers (Turning Point) software to gather information.The aims of using the clickers included; demonstrating a technology they will use in their learning, and a rough snapshot across the first year student on technology use, and their perceptions.

Over 11 induction sessions (UCS Ipswich only) we collected a total of 617 people (students) votes on a number of questions.

The questions focused on the following key areas;

  • what technology have you used in your learning?

  • are you registered on Web 2.0 technologies?

  • how would you rate yourself in terms of technology?

The outcomes indicate the need to develop effective student development programmes around technology based learning and digital literacies.

In terms of what tasks they have completed previously in their learning, they where asked, “previously had you completed any of the following in your studies?”a) Been told to access some web based reading resources
b) Had to submit some work electronically for marking
c) Maintain an electronic portfolio

The results (n = 590), indicated the majority of the audience had been instructed to use web based resources in their learning (45.9%, and 33% when combined with answer b). While the number who had previously been exposed to electronic portfolios was very low (1.4%).

It must be stated the question design was poor, as it did not include a not used any of these options, and the multiple answer made it difficult to identify patterns. However, it did give an indication of low awareness around what is an e-Portfolio. A message which must be taken on board when staff roll out Mahara within their teaching.

An increasing trend within teaching is the combined use of internal and externally hosted software. For instance, our Induction focused on how students could take ownership of their learning and use Web 2.0 technologies to achieve a number of learning outcomes. A simple indicator of engagement with Web 2.0 technologies was to ask, have to a facebook account? The rationale being, if yes, they must have created an account, and therefore, engaged with Web 2.0 services. The results indicated our student base has engaged with Web 2.0 technologies, as 85% have a facebook account, 10% do not, and 5% would not say (n = 599).

A limitation of this question was they might not be on Facebook, but use other Web 2.0 services. This question didn’t accommodate this scenario.

The final question focused on how students perceived their confidence with using technology. They were asked how they would rate themselves, as either a technology (software) power user, novice, happy amateur or being anxious.

The definitions were as follows:

  • I’m a power user. I’m very competent with Microsoft Word, I’m a master of the pivot table, I update blogs, I’ve added content to youtube and I use Google Docs

  • I’m a novice. I’m very good as some aspects of Microsoft Office, I read lots of material from web sites, I access multimedia (video and audio) online, and I have used skype

  • I’m a happy amateur. I tend to use UCS computers and software, and share most of my word documents as email attachments. It meets my needs

  • I’m rather stressed and anxious when it comes to technology. I don’t feel in control, and what I’m currently doing isn’t very satisfactory

The key differences (when we explained to students) was the power user was a content creator, compared to the novice. While the happy amateur tended not to use intranet based information.

The outcomes indicate the majority of students rate themselves (n = 617) as a novice (66.3%), compared to a happy amateur (17.3%), a power user (11.5%), or rather anxious (4.9%). Many observations can be drawn from this, including we tend to have a new intake who have a really good grounding in software (desktop and web based).  It also indicates the need to devote resources to a well designed student support package, as 22% are not engaging with web based material would rate themselves as anxious and stressed with respect to technologies in learning.

Overall, there are some lessons we need to take on board. Although, these are good indicators for learning technologies, there are still a large group of students, who are not confident or digitally literate, around the use of externally hosted solutions. Therefore, we do need to ensure our student support mechanisms are fit for practice.

Lastly, the ice breaker question … how did students like our shirts? This question was asked by the Elevate Team member when they ran the session. The majority didn’t care (67.9%), while 5.3% hated it! The sample was 585 people ... a lesson for use next year.

Student login problems

Just a quick post to inform everyone that student's can't currently login to the UCS network, IT Services are currently looking into this issue and we'll update when we know more.

These problems of course affect our Wolsey VLE for students.



Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Visual Browsing and Augmented Reality

An area that the Elevate Team are looking into at the moment is the overlaying of online, virtual resources with real world, physical items.  We'll be looking to work with our School of Science, Technology and Health, in particularly the division of Science and Technology where researchers are doing some very interesting work with international status in the field of regenerative medicine.  We'll be looking to take some of their data to make scientific posters come to life, with the overlaying of video and 3D graphics.

When we talk to colleagues we are currently talking about the "Harry Potter" effect, where newspapers etc. have moving pictures and stories.  We are currently working with our Marketing department to help them bring their next prospectus to life, we are hoping this will also bring the technology to the forefront and allow a wider audience to see what is possible, below is a quick demonstration showing what we doing:



The above example uses the brilliant Aurasma app, available on both iOS and Android devices, currently the iOS device is more advanced.  The app allows you to tag an image/part of an image, and the associaten a number of images/videos and actions to it.

Once the app recognises the image it plays the appropriate resource.  Currently this is all local to the device you are using when creating the "auras" via the app, but it is possible to apply for a developer's account.  We have a developer's account and this allows us to create "super auras", these are hosted on the Aurasma servers and means that any device in the world that subscribes to our channel is able to view the auras.

This is a new field for us, and one we believe it could be very exciting, we are very much looking forward to using this within the Learning and Teaching arena.

Elevate Newsletter: September 2011

Our three bullet newsletter for September 2011

  1. The Mahara e-Portfolio is available at UCS (http:/ This service was funded by ILTS money, and is being used to support the Graduate Head Start Programme. However, it is also available for those who need their students to maintain an e-portfolio for assessment purposes.

  2. GoTo Webinar is available at UCS. This service is a dedicated desktop conference tool which is externally hosted with GoTo Meeting ( This will allow you to connect people and places virtually. It is perfect for teaching, small group seminars, 1-2-1 support and meetings. This service was funded from the Elevate Team Software Budget. For more information about how you can start using this simply email

  3. Staff development - hub & spoke model. The pilot of the hub & spoke model worked really well with ECS over the summer. This involved a learning technologist being based in the Division to support staff and projects. For you book this service, Heads of Division need to email Andy Ramsden (

For more information, please email us (

*Resolved* RSS Error in Wolsey Assessments Folder

Status: Resolved

Fix: Not required, fixed at system level



We have become aware of a problem within the "Assessments" folder on all Wolsey modules.

Issue: The 2011 modules template included an RSS feed that pulls all the Online Submission FAQ information from the UCS FAQ Engine.

Description: This is a dynamic link that loads the RSS feed when the Assessments folder is viewed, we are currently experiencing an error that states there was no data found, as show below:

RSS Error Image

We believe the problem is linked to the maintenance work carried out on the FAQ Engine on Friday 16th September, when the system was offline all day for maintenance, it appears the RSS feed has been cached by Wolsey when there was no data available.

Status: Open - Elevate Investigating

Fix: Currently no fix

Work-around: Re-enter the javascript code to reload the feeds


Monday, 19 September 2011

A role for the Elevate Team within the Student Charter

The UCS Student Charter has just been released, and is available from:

Even though the Elevate Team is  focused on Staff Development, we still have an important role to play in ensuring the Student Charter is delivered at UCS. For instance, we have a direct role in;

  • regular continuing professional development for its staff. Through the provision of generic workshops, having team members based on Schools & Divisions, and the provision of online, just in time learning materials.

The focus of these will be influenced by the Student Charter, NSS actions plans etc., The topics will be around enhancing the quality of our teaching through appropriate technologies, and feedback and assessment.

In response to the Student Charter, we'll also be providing more FAQs ( around both the institutional owned software, and providing more direct student support on the effective use of non-institutional owned software, such as ways of effectively using web 2.0 technologies to assist in the promote effective independent learners.

If you'd like to discuss how the Elevate Tea can help you in terms of the Student Charter and your NSS action plans, please contact us via

Friday, 16 September 2011

Monitoring Attendance & Registers

Our Academic Services (AS) office are looking at ways they can make lecturer's life easier, especially where registers/attendance monitoring are concerned.  Our Management Information Team are looking at electronic swipe card devices in certain rooms, as well as a mobile unit, currently this is a relatively small pilot project.

We have been asked what tools are available in Wolsey to help, Blackboard doesn't come with many features for this, we do have a 3rd party building block, that does do some of what AS are looking for.  With the changes that are happening to Wolsey in the coming months and the fact that we are looking to reduce what 3rd party/undocumented building blocks we have, we have advised against the use of this tool.

After a chat between myself and Andy we decided to have a look at making a very quick, simple low risk system just using Google Docs.  Initially we have taken one module, creating a spreadsheet in Google Docs, created a form that has one "checkbox" question for each student on the module.   There are 4 options for each student/question, these give the lecturer the option to choose whether the student was:

  • P - Present

  • A - Absent

  • L - Late

  • AA - Authorised Absense

This doesn't take very long to setup, even though we are using a manual process to create the form, once you have created the first student/question you can use the "duplicate" option and just change the name for each new student.  If this pilot/idea is liked we will spend a bit more time looking at scalability and how this can be automated.

Using the form means it is a very simple process for the lecturer to take the "register", the screenshot below (student names removed) shows the form on a computer/laptop:

As you can see, a very simple form with tick boxes.  We then thought it would useful if the lecturer could take the register using their phone or tablet device, when attempting this, it became necessary to zoom in a little to make the form more user friendly.  To make this unnecessary we have created a website using Google Sites, enabling the mobile friendly option, we embedded the form into the webpage, which when accessing via a mobile device makes the form much easier to view, as shown below:

This removes the need for the lecturer to have to try and zoom in to enlarge the form.   Once the form is submitted it immediately saves the data to the spreadsheet, with each submission being a taught session/lecture having its own row in the database and the students attendance marked in their own column, as shown below:

Now using the Google Docs sharing options this document can be accessed by whoever requires access, lecturers, course administrators etc.

To improve this spreadsheet further we decided to run some very simple conditional formatting over it, it gives any viewer of the document a very quick guide to a students' attendance.  Using traffic light style colours we can now see the formatted document below:

As well as the above, we can also utilise the "Summary Responses" feature in Google Docs, this gives a long term summary of each students as seen below:

We are due to meet with Academic Services early next week to demo this concept, we already have a lecturer lined up to pilot it with one of his modules, we look forward to comments back from these potential users.

Friday, 9 September 2011

A sea change in using QR Codes

The School of Arts & Humanities have just finished the Waterline Exhibition in the UCS Waterfront Gallery (see It was very interesting to observer the extended use of QR Codes in the Exhibition Catalogue. Throughout the printed material there where a number of QR Codes linking to individual artists web sites (see below), the UCS School of Arts & Humanities and the Exhibition material.

A couple of observations for others to think about when thinking through how they would use QR Codes, are;

  1. there wasn't any QR Codes in the exhibition space, so you couldn't stand next to an exhibit and scan the code, you'd need to scan this from the catalogue.

  2. the catalogue included a section on explaining the QR Codes, however, there was no link or reference to how to install the QR Code Reader on your phone

  3. the QR Codes where very large, so it would be better to use a short url service

  4. the QR Codes linked to various web sites, some of which would display better than others

I'd suggest trying to address these for the next time would enhance the user experience, and encourage people to scan the codes. That said, there are lots of positives, this is being driven by them and not the Elevate Team, and a quick look at the logs does indicate some have been scanned :-)

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Mahara@ucs is here .... The UCS e-portfolio

I'm very glad to say we have started to roll out the Mahara e-portfolio system across UCS. The URL is

As this is a pilot project, we have implemented for students where they would use their UCS username and UCS default password. While UCS staff need to request an account via the link on the Mahara home page.

If you would like to discuss how you might use Mahara and e-portfolios in your teaching please email us at

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The start of Student Induction Season

The start of September brings with it the colder winds and rain, as well as the start of Student Induction season.

This year we have changed how we deliver our induction sessions to new students, in the past we have mainly concentrated on a basic point and click around Wolsey,  spending up to an hour showing students how to move around the VLE, what each tab does and where they can find things.  New for 2011 we are trying to incorporate a much wider area of interest, as the relatively newly formed Elevate Team, we want to show students more of what is available to them, to help them enhance their learning experience.  Not only with institutionally owned systems such as the VLE and ePortfolios, but many of the Web 2.0 technologies that they can own themselves.

Our sessions are planned around the following system/ideas

  • Welcome and aims of session

  • A simple question to get them used to the Audience Response System

  • A question asking about technology uses during previous study periods

  • A question about Facebook usage

  • A question asking how the students would categorise themselves as technology users

  • Giving information about Institutionally owned software

    • Wolsey - VLE - A 10 minute screencast is shown, showing what Wolsey is and how it can be used

    • Mahara - ePortfolio -  A short cartoon video showing what ePortfolios are

  • Information about Individually owned software

    • A vote is taken to see where we should emphasise the next part of the session, choices are:

      • Using Personal Learning Networks - Twitter

      • Social Bookmarking - Diigo

      • Reflective Blogging - WordPress

      • MindMapping and/or Google Docs

    • Depending on the result of the vote we spend time talking through them in order, showing our own examples and real time use

  • A QR Code is on the final slide that loads the presentation if scanned


To date, we have run two of these new sessions, both David and I ran one each on the first day, these were run at the same time, hopefully allowing us to demonstrate the excellent collaborative features of GoogleDocs, but unfortunately the sessions didn't run completely to plan.

The two sessions were quite different, David and around 10 students in a small teaching room, where I had around 80 in a large lecturer theatre, overall we left that our sessions both ran well, although my session probably not quite as well as David's.  The smaller more intermate nature of David's session seems to fit better with way in which we choose to run them, I find that larger groups in bigger spaces tend not to interact or take part as much as the smaller groups.  However, they all seemed to really enjoy using the "clickers", it made them feel part of the session.  We both suffered from Powerpoint crashing on the same slide, the last voting question, unfortunately losing the session data that we were hoping to use after all sessions were finished.

David's group really enjoyed the session and at the end, the students were really starting to see how they could use these Web 2.0 technologies to help in there teaching, it sounds like it was a very productive session.  My session was slightly less productive as I suffered from the previous speaker over running by some time, then finding out half way through my presentation that the students had to "get a bus in 10 minutes".  Although this wasn't ideal, overall I think the students were taking in what they were seeing and could see how these technologies could help their learning.  Unfortunately with my session starting late we were unable to demonstrate the collaborative features in GoogleDocs, but I was able to show how it works and show version/history controls in documents.


Overall I think this new format to our induction sessions really does work, it opens up students' minds to the potential solutions out there for them.  Also, the materials that we've produced to use in these sessions, can also form the basis of other sessions and FAQs.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

QR Code Quiz Engine ... Well received at ALT C

I'm currently at ALT C (association of learning technologists conference) where I was presenting as part of the JISC workshop to launch "Emerging Practice in a Digital Age - A guide to technology enhanced institutional innovation", which UCS is a case study under the theme of moving thinks forwarded.


As part of the session I ran today, I set a location aware learning activity where they would be exploring coastal processes as part of a field trip. This would involve the member of staff placing a number of QR Code around a location which linked to multiple multiple choice questions around the processes they would be seeing (long shore drift, coastal erosion, wave types). They would complete these on teams. Their responses would be stored on the server. The feedback they would get in the location would be a link to a YouTube video which explained the appropriate process.

On return to the study centre the session leader would run a feedback session, drawing upon a new reporting developed by David and Aaron. So not only can we see the total scores, but we can access a web page for the dynamic responses by question (number of correct answers, total submitted attempts). This will enable the staff member to identify and prioritise the questions teams where having wrong.


I'd suggest the inclusion of this report closes the feedback loops, and ensures the activity meets the principles of good feedback, outlined by Nicole & macFarlane-Dick (2006).

Interestingly, there was a lot of interest around the development and deployment of qr code formative assessments. The audience was particularly impressed when they released you could simply steer the QR Code to URL of quiz engine, such as quiz in Moodle or Blackboard :-)