Jisc Digital Tracker

This year Aberystwyth University participated for the first time in the JISC Student Digital Experience Tracker – an online survey designed by JISC to collect information about students’ expectations and experiences of technology.

Why did we decide to take part in the project?

  • The tracker is a simple and well-designed tool. It is credible across the sector and has a reliable methodology.
  • It comes with a benchmarking data from HE and FE institutions in our sector.
  • It is the only survey aimed entirely at the digital learning experience.
  • Institutions participating in the project received a great deal of support from JISC in customising, promoting and analysing the survey.
  • Hugely important- it was already translated into Welsh.

We will share the benefits of taking part in the project and some key findings from the data analysis on insitutional and on the sector level in the next few posts 🙂

Next post from the series on DigiTracker:

Key findings and what did we find particurlarly interesting.

 

Celebrating excellence in teaching: AU Blackboard Exemplary Course Awards (ECA)

We are proud to announce that the winners of this year’s AU Blackboard ECA awards are being presented with their awards during this week’s graduation ceremonies.

Adam Vellender, Catherine O’Hanlon, Daniel Low and Stephen Chapman, the winners 2017-2018 ECA winners are being presented with their awards during their department’s graduation ceremony. The winning modules all showed the high standard of learning and teaching at Aberystwyth University and inspire others to innovate and engage students in active learning and contained many exemplary practices. The winners’ modules contained many exemplary practices and received Highly Commended Awards.

Now in their fifth year, the Exemplary Course Awards recognise excellence in course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment and learner support. “The ECA provides an excellent opportunity for staff to share their work with other colleagues, refle~@ct on their use of tools such as Blackboard, and get feedback on their learning activities from their peers. We congratulate all our Highly Commended staff this year and encourage other staff to consider entering their modules in the future. The E-learning Group are happy to provide advice and support for any interested in finding out more about the ECA.” Kate Wright, E-Learning Group Manager

For further information see here.

Planning Downtime

Downtime on the systems we rely on is never popular. Making the decision about when to take Blackboard out of service is one of the hardest parts of our job. Juggling the different areas of work at the University as well as making sure that all the relevant parties are consulted takes a lot of time. We try to avoid finishing maintenance on Fridays – it’s best that problems don’t emerge over the weekend when support staff aren’t here. Equally, we don’t do work during University closed periods (it’s hard to seek assistance from software companies as they’re often on holiday too).

We try to fix a date – we crosscheck with other commitments at team, departmental and University level. There are times we have to avoid – any time during teaching (including the PGCE students who start earlier and finish later than others, as well as those doing Distance Learner or Lifelong Learning Courses). Also, any time that students need to revise or Blackboard is needed for exam purposes is out.  Once we think we’ve found a suitable date, we ask a smaller group of individuals what they think – Faculty Registars, Senior Managers, Academic Registry and other key contacts. If they spot a problem then we begin again.

When the date is confirmed, we begin advertising the downtime. We will always put a message on a banner in Blackboard, use the Weekly Email and Information Services’ Twitter and Facebook accounts.

So we don’t organise into Blackboard downtime lightly. We ask people, we tell people, we plan it and we do our best to minimise its impact. We don’t always get it right for everyone, but we do our very best to balance all the competing demands of a complex institution.

Conference Registration now open

Registration for the sixth annual Learning and Teaching conference is now open. This year’s Learning and Teaching conference has the theme Stepping up Students’ Learning and will be taking place between Tuesday 11th and Thursday 13th September 2018.

You can register for the conference online.

This year, we’ve got an exciting and varied programme with activities, workshops and presentations demonstrating the innovative teaching practices that are taking place across the University. A draft copy of the programme is available here.

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Anticipating AU’s 6th Learning and Teaching Conference: Stepping up Students’ Learning, 11 – 13 September

We’re very excited to announce that Professor Jonathan Shaw, Lauren Heywood and Oliver Wood from Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL) will be giving the keynote address and providing workshops for this year’s Learning and Teaching conference. The DMLL’s Director, Professor Jonathan Shaw, is giving the keynote, while Lauren Heywood and Oliver Wood, DMLL Innovation & Community Producer’s, will be providing interactive workshops.

Coventry’s DMLL aims to “break and remake existing ways of doing higher education” and is committed to driving innovation and the adoption of cutting-edge curricula design and practices and educational technological initiatives. They also emphasise the value of play as “an important part of learning!” They make available a toolbox of strategies that aim increase interactivity, support problem solving skills and inspire debates. You can check out their toolbox here and you can view videos of their work here.

We are eager to hear the discussions, ideas and fun that Coventry’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab will generate and hope they can offer us some innovative tactics that we can apply directly to our teaching and learning.  Register for the conference here. Keep updated via our blog for further news about the conference. A draft timetable of this year’s conference, focusing on Stepping up Students’ Learning, will be available on our webpages shortly.

Image courtesy of the Disruptive Media Learning Lab, Coventry University

DMLL’s director, Professor Jonathan Shaw, drives innovation in curricula design, learning spaces and leads the “implementation of cutting edge educational technology initiatives”

Workshops led by Coventry’s DMLL’s Innovation & Community Producers

Oliver and Lauren promote flipped and playful learning to enable rethinking of traditional modes of teaching and learning. They work with teaching staff to help them generate “new, exciting, and rich educational experiences”.