Digital Experience Insights 2018-19: How do you rate technology at Aberystwyth University?

For the second time Aberystwyth is taking part in the Digital Experience Insights project aiming to explore our students’ experiences of technology. The project is based on online surveys designed by Jisc and used by different institutions across UK.

It allows us to get better insights on how students use technology and benchmark our results against other HE intuitions in our sector.

We would greatly appreciate your help in promoting this survey to all students:

Jisc Digi Tracker: findings from students in UK further and higher education

Take a look at the full report of the findings from all the institutions that participated in the 2018 Digital Experience Tracker. Many of the key messages included in the report correspond to findings from Digital Tracker at Aber.

Consistency in the VLE

We have repeatedly received feedback from students asking for VLE navigation to be more intuitive and the organization of content to be more consistent across modules. Findings from the Digital Tracker at Aber and the benchmarking data from UK emphasise this issue. Students would like all the materials for their courses to be available on the VLE in a timely manner and possibly in the same location in all modules so that they can navigate easily to the content that they need.

Engage students in class using technology

Can we use technology to make lectures more engaging? Our results in the digital course activities section of the tracker were lower than the benchmarking scores. Students have also asked for their sessions to be more interactive in the open text comments:

Make lectures more interactive and able to include the students to interact more. There’s an online website where you can join to get the right answer which gets people competing and learning.’

We are happy to support any members of staff who would like to enhance their teaching with digital course activities. Contact us to discuss your ideas and possibilities or come to one of our E-learning Enhanced: What can I do with Blackboard? Sessions.

Digital skills for life

Although most students use technology on a daily basis, they are not necessarily aware what these essential digital skills are and how important digital skills are for their employability. Less than a half of AU Digital Tracker respondents don’t feel that the university prepares them for the digital workplace.

You may notice that the report is called Digital Experience Insights rather than Digital Experience Tracker. The Digital Experience Tracker 2018 was a pilot study which led to a new service now called Digital Experience Insights. We believe that the participation in this project helped us to more effectively meet digital expectations’ of our students. We hope to share examples of good practise in this area on our blog.

If you wish to share your experiences of supporting students digitally as a guest blogger, please contact us: elearning@aber.ac.uk

Read:

 

 

 

 

Aberystwyth/Bangor Academy Showcase

Academy Showcase is a space for sharing good practise among staff from Aberystwyth, Bangor and other Higher Education institutions. Every year we run two sessions with two presentations each, one from Aber and one from Bangor. Anybody can join Academy Showcase from their own machines using the link available here

We look forward this year’s presentations and we hope some of you will be able to join us.

Webinar Academi Aberystwyth/Bangor 2018/19:

 

21st November 2018 at 1pm -2pm

Using Flashcards to Encourage Student Learning by Dr Basil Wolf and Dr Ruth Wonfor (Aberystwyth)

Surveys of our students show that many of them rely heavily on rereading and exam cramming, methods that might be successful in getting them through exams, but which are suboptimal in developing long-term memory and ability to develop expertise in their subject area. There is considerable research to show that long-term memory is boosted by repeated retrieval practice that is spaced over time. Flashcards offer one method of achieving this. We will talk about our experiences and present use of Anki, a freeware flashcard programme, in teaching anatomy and physiology to first year students.

Distance Learning to promote best practices and behaviours in infection prevention: the potential of the MOOC – Using Blackboard Ultra by Lynne Wiliams (Bangor)


20th March 2019 at 1pm-2pm

Potential, (un)realised: Is self-regulation the differentiator between our students and what can we do about it? by Dr Simon Payne (Aberystwyth)

We asked AU students and staff questions such as, “Why do students underachieve or even drop out?,” “What distractions do students face that interfere with their best intentions to study and improve?,” and “What happens to ‘turn students off’ from learning and striving to achieve?” The answers were remarkably similar from both groups, suggesting agreement on the problem and potential alignment on solutions. Self-regulation is the voluntary control of impulses which can facilitate or hinder us from achieving our goals. Hence, self-regulation includes the ability to regulate cognitive processes and activities, e.g. to plan, monitor and reflect on problem solving activities. Self-regulation also includes the control of one’s competing/conflicting motivational and emotional impulses and processes, e.g., overcoming social anxiety to contribute in class. Clearly, the development of self-regulation skills will help students achieve their objectives for entering HE. This presentation will provide techniques for tutors to help their students and tutees to be better self-regulators, and introduce and rationalise an ambitious AU-wide programme of studies that target student self-regulation ability.

Second speaker to be confirmed.

Sessions will be provided in English.

 

Do you need assistance with Panopto?

Panopto is the University’s Lecture Capture software and is installed on all teaching rooms across the University. In line with the Lecture Capture policy, all lectures require to be recorded using Panopto.

The recordings are widely used and greatly appreciated by our students. In order to ensure that recordings are of the highest possible quality and audio is successfully recorded, the E-learning Group offer the following support for using the software:

  • Panopto start-offs – a member of the E-learning Group will pop in to the teaching venue before the lecture and make sure all the settings are correct, it won’t take longer than 5 minutes
  • One-to-one consultations- we can meet you at a convenient place and time and give you brief training on using Panopto
  • E-learning Essentials training sessions – the next training session on using Panopto will take place on 14th November at 4 o clock, please book via CDSAP
  • FAQs – step-by step instructions with screenshots

We are happy to assist you with using Panopto in any way convenient for you.

Please contact us on #2472 or elearning@aber.ac.uk

Jisc Digi Tracker: benefits and what to do with findings?

Read Jisc Digi Tracker and Jisc Digi Tracker: Key findings

What benefits came out from the project?

  • Clear directions for improvements.
  • The benchmarking data helped us to reflect on AU strengths and weaknesses in comparison to other institutions.
  • As a valued participant in the pilot Student Tracker we were the only Welsh university invited to take part in the pilot Staff Tracker and we’ve worked closely with JISC and the Aberystwyth University Translation Unit to provide a Welsh language version of the survey.
  • Aberystwyth was asked to be part of a series of 10 Institutional vignettes on how the digital experience tracker has supported our practice. The vignettes will be published by Jisc in September.
  • In March, we were chosen to give a presentation at the national conference, Digifest 2018.

What next:

  • Full sets of benchmarking data will be available in mid-September
  • Taking the findings to TELG
  • Consulting SU on communicating the findings to students
  • Provide training sessions that address the areas for development
  • Presenting the findings on this year’s Learning and Teaching Conference

We would like to hear your thoughts on this project and seek advice on how to best take the findings forward and communicate them to students.

Please leave a comment or contact elearning@aber.ac.uk

Next post from the series on DigiTracker:

Experience of using the tracker – Aberystwyth Univeristy vignette prepared by Jisc

Quizdom Virtual Remote (QVR) no longer available after December 2018

The licence for the Quizdom Virtual Remote (QVR) which allows students to use their own mobile devices for in-class voting expires in December 2018 and will no longer be available.

We are aware that some of you used it in your sessions, therefore we would like to encourage you to keep using interactive course activities and consider one of the options below:

  • Although it will no longer be possible to use the remote version of Quizdom allowing students to vote from their own devices, you will be able to use four sets of Qwizdom with a total of 118 handsets. Rather than using their own mobile devices students will have to vote using the handsets. If you wish to book the sets please email is@aber.ac.uk including the date(s) and time you wish to use the equipment and how many sets you wish to use.
  • The E-learning Group have been surveying the growing number of online polling tools available. Most of them are paid for services with different packages available depending on the types of tools, size of class etc. However, almost all have a free option which is a cut-down version of the paid-for service. All the services that we looked at are cloud-based – they don’t have software that you download, but you create your presentations via a web page and they are saved and run remotely.

Some of the polling software we recommend:

PollEverywhere

  • 40 participants, unlimited number of questions, 23 question types , PowerPoint integration

Mentimeter

  • unlimited number of participants, 7 questions per presentation (5 quiz and 2 other type), 10 questions types, Power Point integration

Socrative

  • 50 participants, unlimited number of questions, 3 questions types, reporting available

Please note that you will still be able to use the QVR in the first semester 2018.

Please contact the E-learning Group if you wish to get more information or training on using different classroom polling methods.

 

Jisc Digi Tracker: key findings

Read Jisc Digi Tracker

Key findings of the tracker:

What did we find particularly interesting?

We know that students use mobile devices, but the fact that nearly the same percentage of students support their learning through use of smartphones (30%) as through use of laptops (33.1%) was surprising. It is useful to have the starkness of this data to emphasise changing habits and reinforce how important it is.

62% felt they would like digital technologies to be used much the same as they are now rather than more. There is a tendency to think ‘we have done something, let’s see how we can push for next/different thing’. Perhaps we need to concentrate on things we are doing now that are really good and improve them rather than try to introduce new services.

It was also interesting to see what students considered an assistive technology. We were not sure if students didn’t understand a question or had a different understanding.  A lot of things students said we would not have considered to be an assistive technology (e.g. student app, google, end note).  We tend to think of assistive technology as something that helps you if you have a particular need – students perhaps see assistive technology as ‘something that helps me’.

Next post from the series on DigiTracker:

Benefits of running the tracker and what will we do with the findings?

How can we help you with the Blank Course Copy?

Level 0 and Level 1 Blackboard modules for 2018/19 academic year will be created with no content. Previously, year by year the content was automatically copied over for all Blackboard modules.

Preparing the Level 1 and Level 0 modules for the next year will require the module co-ordinators to copy over existing and/or upload new material into the new iteration of their module. All modules will contain an agreed departmental menu template that content will need to be organised under.

We would like to assist staff with preparing their modules as much as we can. We are happy to come to your office or for you to come and visit us. If you would like to book an appointment with a member of the E-learning Group, please let us know a convenient time and place where you would like to meet. We will also run some training sessions over the next few weeks. These can be booked via CDSAP webpages.

We have prepared these FAQs with detailed guideline on copying different elements on Blackboard and produced the information help sheet below.

We look forward to work closely with all staff and supporting you in any convenient for you way.

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.

 

Welcome to the Aber E-Learning blog!

The E-learning Group help staff and students throughout the University to use technology to enhance learning, teaching and assessment. Aberystwyth University has been recently awarded Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and the E-learning provision was mentioned as one of the institution’s strengths. For all those interested in how technology can make learning and teaching more effective please follow our blog. Each member of the E-learning Group will be writing posts about their area of expertise and interests. We welcome your comments and suggestions! 

Who are the E-learning Group at Aber? 

 

Kate Wright, E-learning Group Manager  

I am the E-learning Group Manager, and I have worked in e-learning since 2003. During this time I’ve seen a lot of changes; when I started, Blackboard was used voluntarily by interested staff and we spent a lot of time explaining to students that they couldn’t see modules in Blackboard because their lecturers weren’t using it. Since then I’ve worked on a number of change projects to increase the uptake of e-learning, including introducing the Blackboard required minimum presence, e-submission and e-feedback, and lecture capture. I have a particular interest in online assessment, and have been heavily involved in the use of Questionmark Perception at the university.  

I have been involved in a number of externally funded projects included HEA E-learning Benchmarking, HEFCW Gwella project, JISC RSC Wales Technology for Learning Small Grant, JISC Digital Student and Staff Experience Trackers. I have presented at several international conferences, I am the chair of the Blackboard Wales User Group, and have published co-authored article in the British Journal of Educational Technology. 

 

Dr. James Woolley, E-learning Enhancement & Engagement Theme Leader  

Hello, I’m Jim and I’m the E-learning Engagement and Enhancement Theme Leader. I joined the E-learning Group in February 2018 following the completion of a PhD, 3 years as a librarian and a few years before that as a Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, all here at Aberystwyth University.  

My job entails working together with academic colleagues to provide the best possible support in using our portfolio of services. I organise our E-learning training plan and the annual Learning and Teaching Conference. I really want to hear from you if you’re doing something innovative with technology and learning or if you wish to experiment with some new technology. I’m looking forward to working with staff on projects to enhance E-learning provision and learning. I have a particular interest in how E-learning provision supports more collaborative modes of learning. 

If there’s a training session that you think we should be doing or would like to meet with us, drop us an email. 

 

Robert Francis, E-learning Support Officer  

I support the practical use of a wide range of TEL tools at Aberystywth University. In addition to our Blackboard VLE this includes; Panopto, Turnitin for assessment and Questionmark for online examination. I am directly involved in providing technical support and solutions for Staff and Students using this software. I aid in the implementation of the University strategy relating to TEL, accessibility, provision of training, consultation, support materials and technical support.  

I have a background in teaching History and English in the UK and abroad.  I enjoy experimenting with new technology. I have worked in the HE sector providing technical support since 2010. 

I speak Welsh as my second language and I am passionate about its use. 

 

Susan Ferguson, E-learning and Training Assistant  

As E-learning and Training Assistant I support staff and students using e-learning tools, including supporting Blackboard, Questionmark Perception, Turnitin, Panopto, and Qwizdomamongst others, via phone, email, and face-to-face.  This includes supporting staff in using the equipment in teaching rooms, providing training sessions, investigating new equipment and software, and creating user guides. 

 

Anna Udalowska, E-learning Support Officer  

I started working with the E-learning Group in 2017 as graduate trainee. Drawn by innovative and problem-solving nature of the job I applied for the E-Learning Support Officer position which I currently hold. 

For past months I have been working on the promotional campaign and findings analysis of the Student Digital Experience Tracker which ran at Aberystwyth University for the first time. Along with the E-learning Group Manager, Kate Wright I have presented the findings of the AU Digital Tracker at the national conference DigiFest18 organized by JISC. I have been also working on implementing the Component Marks Transfer Tool.  

As part of the E-learning Group I support staff and students who use Panopto, Blackboard and Turnitin as well as oversee smooth running of the online exams using the Question Mark Perception system. I am particularly interested in how technology helps in providing alternative, dynamic and inclusive methods of communication, learning and teaching.