Tuesday, 28 June 2016

TELFest 2016 Day 2 - Tuesday 28 June

TELFest: Lada Price explains why she uses Lecture Capture

Dr Lada Price, a university teacher at The Department of Journalism Studies, tells us why she has decided to use Lecture Capture.

She visited TELFest today to attend the session 'My Echo - Why to, and how to, record lectures' presented by Daniel Courtney (CiCS) and Suzy Stephenson (TEL Team) to learn more about Echo 360, which she plans to use from September.

Lada has used Lecture Tools in the past and told us about the main advantages and disadvantages of using such software.

Watch the video below to find out what she had to say:

What can you learn from the MOLE Exemplary Course Programme?

We spoke to lecturers to Tom Clark and Michael Livingstone as well as Danny Monaghan from the TEL Team after they presented the session 'Mole Exemplary Course Programme', which marked the start of day two of TELFest. 

Michael Livingstone, a PhD Researcher at The University of Sheffield Landscape Department, explained how he had used the programme to improve his own input into MOLE and change courses so they are more engaging and easy to use. 

He said: 'The TEL and @CiCS teams gave me loads of great ideas for how to improve our MOLE modules.'

He also praised the peer support aspect of the course, where you get paired with someone and give each other advice on how to improve your modules and also get the opportunity to present your work and get feedback from everyone on the course.

Michael said: "It was really inspiring to see what all the people had done." 

Dr Tom Clark, a lecturer in the Department of Sociological Studies, who also works for the Sheffield Methods Institute, told us how he thinks students have benefited from him attending the course. 

He said: "It allows students to take ownership over their own learning choices, they can shape their learning engagement according to their own needs."

We also spoke to Danny Monaghan from the TEL Team, who chaired the session. He explained what people can learn from attending the MOLE Exemplary Course Programme and how important it is for people to understand exactly what MOLE can do and why is it so beneficial for staff and students.

Monday, 27 June 2016

TELFest 2016 Day 1 - Monday 27 June

Five things we learnt from day one of TELFest

1.)  Make sure MOLE content is never more than three clicks away. 

In the MOLE Design Skills session, we learnt that content should never be more than three clicks away. Investing a little amount of time on your part, in making content easy to find, will hugely benefit students in the long run.

2.) Choose Twitter for your academic profile.

We learnt in the Social Media Workshop that Twitter is the preferred platform for creating an academic profile on social media. You can use your account to post relevant content before and after lectures. It is also a useful way of connecting with other academics or even journalists.

3.) When shooting video, NEVER shoot in portrait.

We learnt from the Flipped Learning Workshop that when shooting video, you should never shoot in portrait. Even though many people using smartphones have adapted the habit, the videos will be watched on horizontal computers, screens and projectors. Your eyes are horizontal, so surely it's logical to shoot in landscape?

4.) Wyn Morgan wants to put projectors that are directly behind speakers in Room 101.

The University of Sheffield's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Wyn Morgan, revealed that he would like to put projectors that are directly behind the speaker into Room 101. To find out why, check out the interview below: 

5.) And finally, sometimes, the old ways are the best.
Those who attended the Flipped Learning Workshop got to send their opinions to the front of the room by throwing paper aeroplanes.

TELFest 2016: #WYNterview - Wyn Morgan tells us why technology is important to academia

The University of Sheffield's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Wyn Morgan, had time for a quick chat to tell us why technology is important to academia and what he has been involved in at TELFest today.

What is , and why is it so important?

What about academics who are reluctant to use technology?

What’s been your involvement at TELFest today?

Which of your panel’s nominations did you put into ?
Given the chance, what would you like to put into ?

Friday, 24 June 2016

New Features in BlackBoard

The latest updates to BlackBoard include a few changes and bug fixes and some new exciting features! Here is a quick overview of a couple that we are hoping will be available for you to use very soon:

Date Management

Date Management is a tool designed to allow you to easily change the dates on your course content where they have previously had a date associated with them. You can choose to adjust the dates automatically or manually. For the manual option you can select all or just select the content that you would like to adjust.

You are able to select a number of options which will filter the course content that you are presented with which will help to manage the date changes

All course and organisation items with dates are supported in the Date Management Tool. This includes:
  • Content (items, files, audio, etc)
  • Assessments (tests, surveys, assignments,etc)
  • Tools (discussions, blogs, journals, announcements, etc)

To make these adjustments you will be presented with the option to adjust the dates using the course start date, a specific number of days or you can list all of your dated items to review.

Goal Performance Dashboard
You can use the Goal Performance Dashboard to better understand student performance in a course. The dashboard displays course goals and the assessments that map to them. Students can check to see how their grades are contributing to achieving the goals for their course. This is an alternate view of the dashboard which shows course goals and assignments that align with each goal.

For more information you can visit https://en-us.help.blackboard.com or contact us at tel@sheffield.ac.uk

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

New Features in Google Slides - Live Q&A and laser pointer

Google announced last week that it was sprucing up its features with Live Question and Answer and laser pointer functionality now added to Google Slides - is Slides now becoming a presentation heavyweight force to be reckoned with?

With Poll Everywhere functionality already available (although an account is required) and now the ability for Presenters to launch a Q&A link during a presentation, it is becoming an all-in-one presentation solution.

The Q&A feature enables the audience to submit questions anonymously or with their name attached, and then lets the other people in the audience "vote" for the questions they like the most, so the presenter gets a list of questions in order of popularity, enabling them to tackle the burning issues first. The presenter gets a notification when a question comes in, so they can choose to answer it there and then, or wait until the end. They can also share the question on the presentation screen.

Submit your questions either with your name or anonymously during a presentation. Photo - Google

Also featured in the update was a laser pointer that presenters can use their mouse to point to different aspects on the screen.

To launch a Q&A session from the Desktop App
  1. Open Google Slides 
  2. Open the presentation 
  3. Click on the down arrow next to present
  4. Select Present view
  5. Start New
  6. You Slides contain the link to the Q&A page for the audience 

    To launch a Q&A session from the Mobile App
    1. Open Google Slides App
    2. Open the presentation 
    3. Click on the Play icon
    4. Select Present to a new video call
    5. Give your meeting a name
    6. Click present
    7. You then get a view that shows you your current and next slides, along with your notes. Click on the icon at the top of the screen to launch the Q&A Session
    8. You get a short goo.gl link to share with the audience for them to contribute their questions to 

    Thursday, 21 April 2016

    PebblePad V5 demo

    Matthew Wheeler from PebblePad visited the University this week to demo the new version (v5) to users across the institution.

    The biggest change is the move from Flash to HTML5, which leads instantly to a more responsive and versatile layout, which will be fully-usable on all devices including tablets and smartphones. This has come with a fresh new design, which instantly makes the system look more visually appealing.

    As well as technical improvements, many criticisms of PebblePad have been addressed. The stark welcome screen of Pebble+ has been replaced with a more friendly dashboard, guiding users through the system much more intuitively, including a "What's Happening?" section where students will see upcoming deadlines and recently shared items. Icons have been replaced with words, and help videos and animated gifs are found throughout in sensible places, further reducing confusion that can arise in the current version.

    There is also a change in some of the language that has been known to alienate PebblePad users - "Webfolio" simply becomes "Portfolio", "Folio Page" becomes "Page". "Assets" and "Resources" remain, but are easier to locate, with the cumbersome "For Me", "By Me" and "With Me" tabs removed, replaced by a simple list with the Asset or Resources clearly labelled with their origins, uses and whether they've been shared or submitted.

    Other improvements include the ability to drag and drop multiple files, and a vastly superior Portfolio tool, both in terms of ease of use and the quality of the output, which makes this an option for students wanting to create simple webpages with a modern design. Gone also are the irritating pop-up boxes to input text, with text typed directly into the page as it will be viewed. Imminently the Workbook and Template builder will be replaced to the same standard.

    V5 uses all the same architecture under the hood as the current version, which means there is no need to recreate existing material when the new version launches. Workbooks and Templates will be carried across as they are, with the only main difference (other than a more appealing look) that side menus in Workbooks will be moved to a horizontal menu at the top of the screen. This is to allow for responsive navigation on all devices, including small screens of smartphones.

    Future improvements, likely to be available before we move to v5, include the introduction of rubrics, and a more functional progress tracker, which will tell Managers exactly where changes have been made in a Workbook. ATLAS (the part of the system where assessment and associated admin takes place) will remain the same in the short-term, eventually coming into line with the new Pebble+ in the following year. This will mean tutors will not immediately have to relearn both sides of the system.

    While maybe not addressing every issue people may have with PebblePad, v5 is certainly a great leap forward for the system, and issues I raised that aren't immediately solved in the new version were all known and on the company's roadmap. While always a powerful tool for ePortfolios and personal reflection, this has not been matched in terms of usability and design in the current version. A great many of these issues have been addressed in v5, both with the move away from a creaky Flash interface and the associated limitations, and the addition of new features and design elements that have been implemented with careful thought as to how users navigate around PebblePad.

    We will be consulting with current users on the exact timing of the change to V5, and how we can manage any conflicts caused by existing assessments running outside regular term-time. Anyone who has any queries or comments is encouraged to get in touch on the usual email address - tel@sheffield.ac.uk.

    Tuesday, 19 April 2016

    Blackboard Drive

    Blackboard Drive

    A quick post in praise of the little used blackboard drive connect tool.

    As many of you may know, this allows you to instantly map a network drive directly to your MOLE / BB content collection.

    This can of course be done with WebDAV but BB drive is much more consistent, less flaky in use and allows you to map and un-map multiple volume connections with one click.

    E.g. I have Architecture and Law as separate connections. I can map both or chose to have either disconnected.

    For my own use the drive tool helps in several ways.

    Firstly, being able to sort and tidy the content collection of an unruly module, especially after several years of roll over with staff uploading material into the root of the content collection.

    Now isn’t this tidier?

    Overwriting content 

    The next is the relatively simple process of overwriting old content without even having to open the  Blackboard VLE on the web.

    As long as the file names don’t change it’s a simple drag and drop file copy / replace to update material.

    Uploading multiple files & folders 

    Lastly, with the increasing difficulty of using the java applet for multiple file uploads (especially in chrome) it’s a must have tool for uploading and deploying our articulate screencast output, which comes in the form of multiple files in nested folders.

    I find it easier to control using drive rather than uploading and extracting a zip archive in the content collection.

    So how do I get hold of drive connect.

    The most recent install files are, located in “instructional content” in your content collection


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