Friday, 26 October 2012

Diigo Announcement

To all those who are currently using Diigo to share or group your bookmarks, Diigo's Domain has been breached and is redirecting users to various different sites. Please read the following Diigo announcement about the situation and how to bypass it until the issue is resolved.


Thursday, 25 October 2012

UCS Learning & Teaching Materials Repository

The latest development sprint from the Elevate Team was to look at OER (Open Educational Resources) Repositories.  A number of other institutions use OER Repositories to store learning & teaching materials, these repositories aim to have a user friendly web interface allowing other users to easily navigate and search for those materials.

Another driver for this development sprint was an encouraging chat with Chris Cobb, a Radiography lecturer within the School of Science, Technology and Health who was looking for somewhere to store his and his colleagues materials.  The Division of Health use Clinical Lecturers from Practice and finding ways for them to access additional materials was also key.

The development sprint took the specifications that were agreed and we set about building a repository.  We decided on using the Joomla content management system (CMS) as the base tool, this CMS allows for really fast agile developments, but also has a number of fantastic features.  On top of Joomla we used the Warp Framework for its tool set and feature rich theme development and the Zoo content application builder.

Using Joomla with the Warp frame work allows for a fully responsive system, meaning that the repository can be viewed on any size screen.  The responsive system will resize the content and move the columns under each others, so all are viewable.  This means that the look and feel of the repository is the same, whatever device you are using, previously you would need a "mobile theme", which potentially would look quite different.

Below are some examples of how the repository looks on different devices.

Screen Shot from a PC

oer screenshot

Screen Shot from a Tablet (landscape)

OER Screen Shot Tablet

Screen Shot from a Smart Phone (Portrait)

As you can see the responsive nature of the repository allows for the look and feel to have a consistency, which in turns allows the usability to stay the same.

We were very keen for the system to be very user friendly, both for the submitting of resources and for the searching and viewing.  We have made a number of routes for finding materials, again all these routes work from any device.  To find materials you can:

  • Browse by Subject

  • Browse by Alpha Index  (will display by Division Title, Subject Title, Material Title)

  • Free Text Search

  • By Highest Ranked Material

  • By Tag Cloud

  • By Comments

We believe this makes the repository very easy to find any available materials.

Below is an image showing the free text search in use on a tablet device.  As you can see the text search starts searching as you type.

Free Text Search - Tablet

Below is a view of the repository on a smart phone, you can see recent comments and the tag cloud, the larger the word in the cloud, the more materials have that keyword associated with it.  So, clicking on "nervous system" would display all materials that have a tag of "nervous system".

Comments and Tags - Smart Phone

As mentioned above we wanted to make adding materials as easy as possible too.  We have added the specification as a templated web form, requiring the user to simply fill in the boxes to submit to the repository.  Again, due to the responsive system, this can be done from any device, even a smart phone.

There are two ways of adding materials, they can either be linked to, if the materials/resource is stored elsewhere, or any files can be added directly to the repository.

Below is the screen showing the start of the submission process:

Screen Shot Adding Materials1

Below is a screen shot showing the second part of the form, this shows at the top of the screen an area for the resource URI to be typed/pasted or even to be embed (Video etc.).  Below that is where a document/resource can be uploaded, a teaser image (file type) can be selected from the next drop down box and any keyword tags can then be added.   A simple submit button allows the user to submit this to the repository.


Screen Shot Adding Materials

An email is then sent to the Elevate Team to notify that the submission has been made, this is then approved and is available in the repository.  It is also possible for user to comment on materials, something we hope will not be abused, also it is possible to rate materials, we will need to see how this progresses and revisit their effectiveness once the repository is being used more.

As a result of the sprint we have a working repository that we are now piloting with the Radiography Team, once we are all happy with the way the system works we will open it up to allow others to use.  All materials are being added using a Creative Commons license it will be interesting to see how other academic staff feel about making materials available via this type of license once we open the system to a wider audience.

We feel this is a very valuable tool and one we hope will grow quickly, the Elevate Team are all for being open and sharing resources, as we hope our academic friends will be.

If you have any questions, please email the Elevate Team (

Friday, 19 October 2012

Using your Ipad to record student presentations for formative feedback

A quick question for staff with iPads.

Do you want to record student presentations, group work etc., to provide formative feedback?

If the answer is yes, the following describes a simple way of achieving this with the technology in you pocket (ish).

The Elevate Team have tested the following in a couple of different scenarios, and it works really well.

  • Samson Meteor USB Microphone – £64.61 - href=""

  • Adjustable Tablet Tripod - £40.00-ish -"

  • Apple iPad Connection Kit - £22.00 -

The photo illustrates how it all connects (excluding the tripod, and a USB extension cable).

When testing we were seeking a system which had:

  • Minimal work for the person recording (so the lecturer could click the button and continue with the other things they needed to do).

  • The audio quality was good.

  • The presenter was not surrounded by technology, or had software running in the background which conflicted with what they wanted to use.

  • The recording could be quickly uploaded, edited and available to discuss with the student.

  • The technology meet these requirements, and we've had positive feedback from the staff we tested this on.

  • The workflow included using the camera app on the iPad so we can upload directly to our YouTube (unlisted) account. Meaning they could quickly edit using YouTube (if required) and provide the URLs on the individual recording.

From our perspective the upload and distribution is really important. This has been a big stumbling block with other workflows involving camcorders. Therefore, by empowering the staff to be able to do this in the room is a very important motivator.

So, what problems did we encounter? Well, firstly, storage on the iPad (you will need to clear some space for the files), and secondly a wi-fi problem meaning the upload to YouTube needed to be done when we where back in the office. So we'd suggest no significant problems.

Where next for us? We are looking at connecting a USB hub to allow more than one mic to be included, and will look for other software to see if we can reduce the size of the video file.

If you have any questions, please email the Elevate Team (

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Gathering evidence in the Lab and uploading it into LearnUCS using Mobile LearnUCS

We (the Elevate team) are starting to author a number of FAQs around using Mobile LearnUCS (this is the mobile app supplied by Blackboard).

The following FAQ / Guide is tackling a request we have had from Staff who are using iPads in the Lab. A request is they occasionally collect evidence from lab sessions as photos or completed datasheets. Afterwards, these are made available in LearnUCS for all students to access. The question is, will the Mobile LearnUCS app reduce the workflow?

The answer is yes :-)

Mobile LearnUCS will allow you to add content from your Tablet. This can be as an item with an attachment. This can be a very useful tool. For instance, in the following example I have created a content area on my course (called iPad Examples) and within this area I created a content folder called Photo Evidence: Experiment 1. The intention is to upload all the photos for Experiment 1 into this folder.

The following screen shot illustrates the approach. I navigate to the correct folder (iPad Examples >> Photo Evidence: Experiment 1), and click Add Content.

A new window will open, which allows you to add the subject, the text, and (click on attachment) a photo (live capture of still image or video), a photo from the local collect, or an document from Dropbox.

Therefore, if you want to share experimental results / data or outcomes of class discussions you could create a spreadsheet or doc on the iPad, enter the data, upload to your Dropbox account, and then upload into LearnUCS using the Mobile LearnUCS app.


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Mahara after student inductions.

Well, after the recent influx of new students and us showing Mahara as part of our student inductions, the visits by users to Mahara have risen quite dramatically after quite a lull in activity.

We have re-shifted some focus onto Mahara for reflective journalling at the beginning of our student inductions and give it as an option for students to select as an option to talk about later.

Also, we have had some communication from a couple of lecturers who have been approached by their students about the use of Mahara, not for their module but for more of the personal development aspects of having an e-portfolio.

I will keep an eye on the statistics and when things level out I will post and compare to last years stats.

Friday, 5 October 2012

LearnUCS - The Numbers

With the introduction of LearnUCS we will be publishing a set of monthly statistics, this is the first month, post the migration.  The numbers are relatively low as it is a new system and not all students are enrolled, so we hope to see a steady growth over the coming months.

LearnUCS Statistics for September 2012

Application Insight

(Course views are all pages within a course, non course page views are pages outside of courses, such as the LearnUCS home page, announcements page)

Total Monthly Logins7646
Total Page Views1,234,484
Average Page Views Per DayNon course - 32,365
Course - 10,203
Most Active DateNon Course - 51,280 - 18 September 2012
Course - 17,875 - 29 September 2012
Total Number of Courses5922 (including historical courses form 10/11 and 11/12)
Total Number of Active Courses2272

September Page Views

Mobile LearnUCS Statistics for 5th September 2012 to 5th October 2012

The mobile app was only released on an end user licence basis in mid September, this allows students and staff to use the mobile app even though UCS doesn’t licence the service directly.  Users are now able to download and pay a small fee to use the application themselves.

Total unqiue logins for the period was 131.

The iOS platform has had the most downloads, 111 compared to 20 for Android.

September Mobile Stats

September Mobile Stats 1

September Mobile Stats 2

It will be very interesting to see how the numbers add up next month.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

How many of the 100 top tools for learning do you use?

The question is .... how many of the top 100 tools for learning do you use?

Jane Hart compiles an annual survey of the top 100 tools for learning. The list and the methodology is available from

Interestingly, the Elevate Team are supporting five out of the top ten, including, Twitter, YouTube, Google Docs/Drive, Wordpress, and Dropbox.

If you'd like to discuss how you might use these in your learning and teaching, simply email us, to arrange a quick catch up.