Category: ucs

Mock up of online taster course: It is developing staff capacity :-)

As discussed in previous posts, we (UCS) are developing a number of online taster courses with course teams. The aims of these are numerous, however, from my perspective a key aim is drive a more cross team collaborative development model, where the e-learning developers work closer with the academics to develop appropriate and effective learning activities.

Aaron will be writing a more detailed, reflective evaluation of the first course which will be published via our Elevate Team blog (

The underpinning aim from a staff capacity perspective is, will it enable the effective diffusion of a technology innovation through working effectively with opinion leaders. The challenge from the e-learning team perspective is identifying who are the opinion leaders for academic teams? However, I digress … the embedded video illustrates the first draft of the online course.

So, how will we use it? The simplest model will be to present it at the next course meeting, which will include all Module Leaders.

Reflecting on the current design, I’d argue this will introduced a large number of ideas the course team in an easily digestible, authentic approach;

  1. the use of objective testing within the learning design using the Blackboard quiz tool
  2. integration of learning logs within learning design using the Blackboard Journal tool
  3. ownership and chunking of learning tasks through the been reviewed function
  4. learning from others through the discussion tool
  5. multimedia intensive delivery with the use of third party and home grown videos

Another key observation is the course team will get exposure to a more integrated learning design, which uses the appropriate tool for the job. This is really important as it will allow members of the course team to internalise how they might use similar approaches within their learning activities, while also reassuring them of the cross team commitment from the Elevate Team.

The video illustrates the emerging product for the initial xMOOC-esk course. The follow up course for those registering will be a second course which is designed more as a cMOOC.

Design considerations for open online taster courses

The following discusses a few ideas around the design and development of open online courses for the use of marketing and recruitment to face to face taught courses at UCS. These will be piloted with the BA SENDS programme in April / May.

The first question is why?

There are two reasons, firstly to help recruitment to the course. The idea being an individual can complete a short course (5 hours) which gives them two authenticate learning experiences inline with the learning and assessment model. This course would also steer the prospective student to how to find more information and start the registration process. Therefore, it will complement the existing model. Secondly, it will encourage the course team to engage with the Elevate Team and LIbrary Team to develop two “flipped classroom” online activities. This will act as a staff development opportunity, and to re-enforce the cross team development culture we are trying to encourage. Therefore, it should enhance the TEL agenda within curriculum design, without making it a “big scary exercise”

Remember our design principles

When developing these courses we need to ensure, where possible to include our Elevate Team design principles, the learning should be;

  1. active
  2. collaborative
  3. feedback / feedforward centric

How might it work and what are the key questions we’d like answered?

A good place to start would be to discuss the expected role of the course team once it is deployed. For instance, there are two models we might adopt.

  1. The course is designed with no planned interaction from the course team once deployed. It is more designed around the behavouralist and cognitive constructivist characteristics. So all front loaded in terms of effort, lots of multimedia and diagnostic quizzes. This model would allow us to create a course area on Blackboard, use the quiz tool for formative feedback.
  2. The alternative approach would be release the materials as a course, with set course dates allowing the course team to run synchronous (via Google Hangouts) and asynchronous activities. This will be more designed around a social constructivist model.

In my opinion, if this is about increasing the “stickiness” of potential students, through giving them an excellent learning opportunity to inform them if UCS is the place for them, then we should design an open course with set dates, ie., runs for two weeks, provide a certificate of attendance (mozilla badge).

This would give us an excellent opportunity to add value as they start to make connections with staff (and prospective students). The design would be very simple (and traditional);

  1. diagnostic quiz around some of the key issues covered within a module. This will include a few short answer questions. A nice approach would be to set this around a case study or problem. Given there are a few subjective questions being asked, the lecturer would be expected to read and comment on these.
  2. use some of the formative feedback exercises around literature reviews or within tutorials. This would be the basis of a flipped classroom model. Where they’d be some multimedia material or short piece of literature, followed up with a discussion board or blog exercise. The lecturer would be expected to manage this, and feedback. It would be suggest to divide this activity into small chunks to make it more accessible, and provide the appropriate scaffolding. There could be an opportunity to use final year students within the division to help facilitate this activity.
  3. get them to mark a piece of work. Provide a short piece of work, with a detailed mark scheme to encourage the student to mark a piece of work. The hints within the marking schemes will give them a sense of what is involved on the course.

What generic information might we include?

It would be useful to include a self-assessment survey around how they might use technology to enhance their learning. This could be based on the self assessment from the University of Exeter’s iTest.

This self-assessment will reveal a personalised profile spanning six different genres. So how to do you score in terms of being a digital dodger, a career builder, a digital guru, media mogul, information junkie or online networker?

This would add value to the individual, and help seed these ideas.


Why aren’t course teams adopting more innovative technologies: Some new year reflections

The Elevate Team have been reflecting on the potential reasons why course teams have not consistently and effectively been designing and deploying technology enhanced learning into their learning, teaching and assessment models.

The supporting evidence is from the LearnUCS review (Blackboard VLE at UCS). This identifies the majority of uses of LearnUCS (the primary e-learning delivery software at UCS) has been used to achieve e-administration tasks

There are a number of factors which determine the effective adoption of TEL within a course team. Therefore, I’ll try to make the discussion manageable by considering those which the Elevate Team have direct influence over.

The first step is to apply the Collis 4 E’s model (framework) to the activities of the Elevate Team and see the likely impact of an individual lecturer adopting technology enhanced learning in their teaching, learning and assessment models.

For those not familiar with the Collis 4 E model, it focuses on reducing actual and perceived barriers to adoption and influencing an individual’s motivations to engage.

Figure 1 illustrates the type of activity the Elevate Team provide by factor. It illustrates a very active level of potential involvement with an individual lecturer.

Figure 1:

reflections figure 1

However, if we assume this interaction with the individual is effective, how come this isn’t leading to a change in behaviour within course delivery? This can be answered through a number of reasons, in particular,

  • perhaps the Elevate Team are not connecting with enough individuals to create a critical mass for change to occur when course teams design their learning, teaching and assessment model.
  • the current formal interface with the course team is relatively low. See Figure 2 which illustrates the type of activity at the course team level

Figure 2:

reflections figure 2

So, what can we do about this? How might we increase the likelihood of embedding TEL effectively at the course team level?

The following provides a few simple approaches which are resource low, easy to implement, and should result in more conversations between the course leaders, course teams and Elevate Team. The expectation would be these conversations will open doors to allow curriculum design workshops and staff development & support.

The emphasis is to continue with our approaches at the individual and also profile the Elevate Team much earlier in the formal processes. For instance, with the course validation and re-validation process.

CAT 1 & CAT 1R Form

Include with in the form, a comment box, with sign off for the e-Learning Development Manager that the requirements are supported. This would be similar to the sign off by the Head of Library & Learning Development.

Course Design Document provided by Academic Development

Section 4: Teaching and Learning

In the guidance advice box (red text), add “The provision of technology enhanced learning activities”

Section 5: Assessment

In the guidance advice box (red text), add “Strategies to effectively adopt technology enhanced assessment activities”

Course Approvals Group

Invite the e-Learning Development Manager to be a member of the Course Approvals Group

UCS Validation / Re-approval: Gantt chart outlining key responsibilities

Currently, there is no technology enhanced learning input to the discussions and feedback on drafts. So include on e-Learning Development Manager in draft document reviews. Change the text to include Head of Quality Enhancement/Education Developer, Registry and e-Learning Development Manager for reviews of drafts.

Annual Health Check

A requirement for an annual review / update with individual Course Leaders with the e-Learning Development Manager

If you needed to write a paper on what MOOCs offer in HE to Uni task group … would you put the following in it?

This is my crowd sourcing phase of developing a short (6 side) briefing paper for a University task and finish group on what roles might MOOCs play at our University. The following paper aims to give the background information and set the context for a further discussion. The intended audience is members of UCS’s Open and Distance Learning Group. The aims will be achieved through answering;

  1. what are the key characteristics of a MOOC?
  2. why offer a MOOC?
  3. what is the MOOC assessment model?
  4. what is a typical student profile on a MOOC?
  5. what is the student learning experience of a MOOC?
  6. what are the resource requirements for developing MOOCs?
  7. is FutureLearn the future of UK HE MOOCs?
  8. what might a UCS MOOC Strategy look like?

My first stab is available from the link below, and I’d love any comments, pointers or steers 🙂

I’ll be keeping edit options open until the 17th July, 2013.


Elevate Team: App Off

The Elevate Team are starting to work up an idea of an “App Off” – where the three team members each take an app to test / demo (5 minutes) each to achieve a specific task.

The first task is to use an iPad 3 to annotate a PDF document (student submission) – this document will need to include an image, a chart, text and data table.

I will generate a generic document which we all need to use.

The annotation should include:

  • text box (including the use of generic feedback statements)
  • free hand writing (including maths notation)
  • audio

The session will focus on how to achieve these tasks, we will also include information around developing a workflow to achieve scenario of e-submission, e-feedback and e-return.

This will also allow us to demo some of the stylus input devices we have been testing

This will be an open to all event (staff and students).


Emerging ideas for English – google educational apps … would be perfect

Just had a good chat with English who are looking at the idea of developing an outward looking learning resource which covers critiques of key authors.

This resource will require a web space, to include images, videos, links, audio etc., as well as text. The work will be group created, as students will need to review their individual pieces to create a groups resource. There will be some marks allocated to the exercise. Therefore, the course team will need to monitor contribution.

The activity will also need some student support material created (online FAQs – how to videos).

Given these requirements, it sounds like a Google Site would be perfect, as they can use templates etc., develop it in private and change the hare options when they wish for a public resource / re-use for the next cohort.

I was wondering, if we might take it a step further and look at using google educational apps under the domain. We need to start exploring this space, and this might be a very good pilot – media rich, small numbers, low stake.


How might technology help your teaching and learning?

The Elevate Team will be running a number of 30 minute taster sessions (introductions) to a number of technologies you might be interested in using in your learning and teaching. These are open sessions, so anyone can attend, both staff and students. They will start promptly at the time stated, and all sessions will leave plenty of opportunity for you to ask us questions, and share ideas.

The aim is to focus on the task we are trying to achieve and work through a technology which will let use easily complete the task. So they will cover defining the tasks, illustrating how the technology can be effectively used, and raising some of the issues around their use.

The sessions are;

  • Working effectively in groups using Google Docs (Monday 5th Dec 12.00 to 12.30 & Thursday 8th Dec, 1.00 to 1.30)
  • Developing your subject knowledge through creating a private learning network (Tuesday 6th Dec, 12.00 to 12.30)
  • Managing all your web links using Diigo (Wednesday 7th Dec, 12.30 to 1.00)

If you’d like more information please email


Thoughts on session for the Infozone

I ran a session for the Infozone yesterday on all things learning technology. An interesting need came from the session, they are very keen to be empowered to be able to answer learning technology questions (Blackboard & Mahara). This need raises a great opportunity, where we can run a number of short training sessions for the Infozone team and IT help desk on approaches to manage student queries. This might involve reviewing their rights access, as working through a number of typical students questions, ie., how do I ….

A suggestion would be those two teams become a special interest group, to mirror the sys admin group, with there own regular meetings / training sessions.

Using GoTo Meeting in an e-conference at UCS

The following describes how we’d like to use GoTo Meeting in a forthcoming e-conference / e-workshop for Health

The online conference will be hosted in Google Sites, taking advantage of all google apps to provide content, (docs, video uploaded via YouTube), conference announcements and provide a discussion space.

The emerging model is to use a certain amount of pre-created content (learning paths) which introduce the topic and on a few occasions finish in a panel discussion or Q&A session. These session would involve the use of a desktop conference tool. We would need this to be able to provide a web cam feed, and text space for asking and answering question etc., The numbers would be a max of about 35 people in a session.

All one to one, unplanned discussions would be encouraged through Google Chat (includes video).


QR Code part of JISC workshop at ALT-C 11

Right … I’ve 20-25 minutes of a workshop session to institutional approaches to changing practice 🙂

The plan for my slot will be to answer the following questions …

1. where does UCS want to be w.r.t mobile learning? (evidence drawn from L&T Strategy, Elevate SARE, My JD)

2. why QR Codes … low threshold technology, the perfect bouncing board

get to use them for meaningful tasks …

need >>> develop a couple of QR Code Quiz Questions … make formative so don’t need to have group titles, but I would like to have the scoreboard >> deployment model >> similar to Clicker sequence

need >>> proof of concept for wet dock, ie., picture now in Description with reflective question, and scan for youtube video >> deployment model feedback loop closed in class

need >>> hand out on how to find, download and install QR Code, links to our generators

task – in groups;

  • install reader on device
  • complete quiz
  • complete wet dock
  • complete learning design template on how you would use QR Codes in T&L

3. UCS implementation model … based on lessons from Collis & Moonen, Salmon, and mobile learning is niche, against background of conditions on ground. What we did, and how it went