Friday, 31 January 2014

LearnUCS and Java 7 Issues - Update

We have heard back from Blackboard, they are currently working on a patch to solve the Java 7 issues.

We will update once the patch has been installed.

LearnUCS (Blackboard) Mobile Learn Access Issues - Update

This issue has now been resolved after a problem was found on the central Blackboard servers.

The Elevate Team have tested accessing LearnUCS via the mobile app.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

How do you design social learning into your e-learning activities?

The Elevate Team ran a workshop for the PGCHEP Module 2 course on how a lecturer or course team might design social learning into their e-learning activities.

In terms of impact, during the workshop we finished the curriculum design with one lecturer which focused on peer assessment and they implemented it a day later !!

The following discusses the use of the peer assessment tool, and more broadly the workshop.

Their design was relatively straightforward, it was a formative assessment, which fed into their summative work. Motivation included, if they didn’t complete this activity marks would be deducted from their final summative portfolio.

The student needed to create two CAD design activities based on some clear objectives and marking scheme. The output would be two PDF files. They need to share these with their colleagues for peer assessment and feedback against the marking criteria (quantitative and qualitative). This process would help the student reflect on their own submission. The submission and evaluation needed to complete within 7 hours (one working day). The lecturer wanted to ensure they have all done the activity, but not release the feedback. This would be undertaken on a 1-2-1 basis, and would include other comments from the lecturer and a “lay person”.

These aims were met using the LearnUCS peer assessment tool.

The following screenshot (student names and numbers removed) show the views for the lecturer. It lists the evaluator (student name and number), list of submissions evaluated (student names), the marks for individual evaluations, and the average mark the evaluator gave across all their evaluations.

Another feature is the ability to review the results by individual. This allows the lecture to see the overall result for an individual, and drill down into a specific peer assessment by an evaluator. This is illustrated in the following two screenshot

If you’d like to discuss if the Peer Assessment tool is appropriate for you and how to use it, please contact the Elevate Team (

In terms of the workshop. The broad aims of the workshop were to enable the individual to answer within their context and understanding the following questions;
  • What do we mean by social constructivism?
  • Is social constructivism a relevant approach to your learning, teaching and assessment models?
  • What are the key characteristics which would need to be designed into your e-learning activities?
  • How might these translate into meaningful learning activities?
  • How might you implement them within your e-learning activities?
The workshop was flipped, so the pre-session activity was to read the following two short articles on social constructivism. After which, they need to explain what is social constructivism, and describe two or three situations on their courses where social constructivist learning occurs (You should spend no more than one hour on the activity)
  • Powell, K. & Kalina, C. (2009) ‘Cognitive and Social Constructivism: Developing Tools for an Effective Classroom’, Education 130 (2) pp. 241-250
  • University College Dublin Teaching and Learning. (2014) Education Theory: Constructivism and Social Constructivism. Available at: (Accessed: 8th January 2014).
This meant in the session we can test this understanding, and then apply this through hands-on activities. Including the following three scenarios (using a timeline and learning design sequence framework);
  • Social learning using Clickers in the classroom (formative feedback)
  • Group project work using LearnUCS (wiki and journal)
  • Enhanced learning networks using Twitter (informal learning)
The workshop slides are available from:

LearnUCS and Java 7 Issues

We have become aware of an issue in LearnUCS that is causing issues with certain tool functionality.

The tools are:

  • Multiple Files Upload
  • Virtual Classroom
The issue concerns the use of Java, which is a software plugin that allows additional features to run in the browser.

Sun Microsystem has recently released an upgrade to Java, this update, "Java 7" now has additional security features as previous Java implementations have had security issues.  Java 7 now requires the websites that use it to have additional code to confirm that it is safe to run.

We believe that Blackboard are due to release a patch for the LearnUCS system to enable Java 7 to confirm the security checks soon.

The tools mentioned above still work if you have not upgraded your Java software from version 6.

We will update here once we here back from Blackboard.

LearnUCS (Blackboard) Mobile Learn Access Issues

The Elevate Team have become aware of an issue that is stopping the Mobile Learn app from working.

This issue is a problem with the Blackboard central service and out of our control.  The issue is affecting a number of institutions world-wide.

We will update here once we know more.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

UCS Annual Learning & Teaching Day: 13th June, 2014

The UCS Annual Learning and Teaching Day has been announced, and submissions have been opened for papers and posters. The date is 13th June, 2014, and the theme is Enhancing Teaching and Pedagogical Practice.

Please contact the Elevate Team if you'd like to discuss bounce ideas around on presenting your technology enhanced learning initiatives. The closing date for submission is 17th April, 2014.

For more information, see

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Exploring the potential use of Google Hangouts for teaching, learning and assessment.

Until recently the Elevate Team supported GoTo Meeting and GoTo Webinar for audio and video conferencing at UCS to aid in distance personal tutorial support, UCS’s Monthly open webinars (OWLET) and supporting academics who wanted to share the lecture space with external individuals or institutions.

However due to recent budget pressures and weighing up the cost against current usage, the Elevate Team have had to shift their support for web conferencing from GoTo Meeting to Google Hangouts.

The selection of Google Hangouts was not solely driven by costs. Other factors include the wide range of available features, intuitive interface and widespread adoption of Google software within the institution.

So what is Google Hangouts?

Google Hangouts is an audio and video conferencing tool available to anyone who has a Google account. If you have a Gmail, Youtube or Blogger account you will already have access to use hangouts.

Google Hangouts is split into a number of elements, including,

  • Google Hangouts - Video Call
  • Google Hangouts - On Air

Google Hangouts - Video Call

A Google Hangout is a private area where up to 10 people can come together, the people can all talk and see each other, while sharing desktops, collaborate on Google Drive documents and/or watching YouTube videos.

The creation of the Hangout (web conference) is easy to set-up and can be used on the majority of modern mobile devices meaning you could participate in a Google Hangout using an iPad, iPhone or any other compatible mobile device.

The use of Google Hangouts - Video Call is perfect for group work.

Friday, 24 January 2014

eStream - The UCS Video Streaming Solution

UCS uses the eStream solution from Planet PC to offer a video streaming service.

Use of eStream is starting to pick up amongst staff, so we thought it would be a good idea to share our thoughts on its features and workflows.

Initially the system was used for recording and playback of off air TV content.  After an upgrade individuals are able to upload their own content and then share that as required.

There are two parts to this feature, first you need to upload your multimedia file, when uploading you are able to choose if you want to restrict access to the file only to users on the UCS network in Ipswich.  To do this select "Local Content" in the publishing options.  Or select "Global" for all UCS users across the network.

Next, make sure you select "Private", this will mean only you have access to the file.  Secondly, if you want others to see the file you need to set the sharing options or you can embed the file straight in to a LearnUCS module.

When sharing, you have a number of options.  You can choose to make the file "Public", which means any UCS users - staff or student - can find the file by browsing the catalogues.   You can also choose to make the file available to only people that you share the link with.  These people will still need to be UCS users, one extra feature is that you can set how long you want that link to work for.  You can choose from the following options:

  • 3 days
  • 5 days
  • 7 days
  • 14 days
  • Always

The first process for this upload procedure is:

  1. Login to eStream
  2. Select "Add Media" from the menu
  3. Browse to the file you want to upload
  4. Complete the fields about the file
  5. Select the publishing policy you require - "Local Content" for access from UCS Ipswich computer only, or "Global" for access from any centre
  6. Make sure you select "PRIVATE" if you want this file to be unavailable to other users
  7. Click "Upload file" to start the upload process
The file will now be uploading and if you have selected "Private" it will only be available to you.

If you now wish to share the file with others, you have two options:
  1. Embed the file straight in to a LearnUCS module, this will make the file available to all users of the module (your students and fellow lectures enrolled on the module)
  2. Select the "Share" options and this will allow you to select how you want to share the file.
    1. The best option is to share the URL, this gives more control
    2. Web Links Option, select the dropdown box and you can choose the time period you would like the file to be available for:
      1. 3 days
      2. 5 days
      3. 7 days
      4. 14 days 
      5. Always
    3. If you select 3 days, the URL you can email to other UCS users would make the link and therefore the file available to them for 3 days.
The screenshot below shows the Web Links Option.

The eStream system will not be suitable for you if you need to share the files with people outside of UCS, as a UCS account is required to access.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Staff LearnUCS Welcome Back Evaluation

LearnUCS Staff Welcome Back Sessions 2013

During the summer of 2013 LearnUCS was upgraded to the then latest release of 9.1SP13. This release brought a number of changes including a new feature that would offer teaching staff a long awaited ability to mark/annotate documents online in the browser, known as “Inline Grading”.

To support the returning lecturing staff after the summer break the Elevate team planned a number of 30 minute surgeries. These drop-in sessions were planned on a number of different days and times, to catch as many staff as possible out of their teaching periods.

The link below shows the schedule of surgeries that we ran:

The main aim was to introduce staff to the new Inline Grading tool as well as a quick update on other new features and to then allow any questions.

Of the eight sessions we scheduled, four had no attendees, we had twelve lecturers attend across the other four sessions. These sessions were lively with discussion based around the new Inline Grading tool as well as other more general “how to” questions.

Feedback at the end of the sessions was all very positive in the new features, and all said they would go away and when they had time would look to use the tools and new features. The Elevate team suggest that staff try out the new tools and features as early as possible after seeing them. The thought is to keep the idea fresh in mind so there is a familiarity and less chance of forgetting how and why these features help within their teaching.

Two weeks after the sessions all attendees were sent a short survey to ask
  1. Did you take any key messages from the session?
  2. If 'Yes' please share what you took from the session
  3. Have you tried any of the tools in LearnUCS that you saw during the session?
  4. Please explain your answer
  5. To what extent do you agree the session met your requirements
We had a 16% (2 members of staff) response rate to the survey. Both attendees said they took key messages away from the event. They key messages taken away were:

  • “New systems for on-line submission of assignments and marking on-line”
  • “There is more to Learn UCS than I thought”
One of the attendees at this point managed to try the tools they had seen, the other was waiting for a student assessment period that was in 8 weeks time.

Both attendees left the session had met their requirements and left the following statements:
  • “Brief update on key features with opportunity for more detailed follow up session”
  • “I was the only one there so I could ask whatever I wanted!”
In conclusion, I feel even though the sessions were not attended by a large audience, those that did attend took away something worthwhile. In future I will continue to run this kind of welcome back session, I would also continue to schedule different dates and times to host the sessions, to try and capture as many members of staff as possible.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Web conferencing for learning and teaching: Elevate support Google Hangouts

Given the current budget pressures and current usage the Elevate Team have had to shift our support for web conferencing from GoTo Meeting to Google Hangouts.

Google Hangouts does offer some advantages over the GoTo Meeting, and we've previously blogged about the tool:
We are in the process of arranging with IT Services for browser plug-in to be installed in W407, and will be providing a range of staff and student support sessions over the next few months. 

So how do you get started? A good place to start finding out how to use it, is;
  1. Google Getting Started Guide: Hangouts
  2. Contact the Elevate Team ( to discuss your needs

Monday, 6 January 2014

LearnUCS SafeAssign - "Not Logged In" Error

We have received a few reports that staff are getting an error message when trying to access SafeAssign Reports.

SafeAssign is returning a "Not Logged In" error.  We believe this is due to local Cookie issues on some networked computer when using Internet Explorer.

Our advice is to use a different browser when accessing LearnUCS, networked computers will have either Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome installed as an alternative.