E-learning Support for Learning and Teaching Activities

The E-learning Group hope you had an enjoyable break over holiday period. As we begin to enter into the examination period, we thought that it would be useful for us to identify what support is on offer for colleagues who provide administrative support for learning and teaching activities.

Our FAQ, What FAQs are useful for providing administrative support for E-learning systems?, might be a good starting point. This is a FAQ designed specifically to bring all our FAQs pertaining to administrative support together so that you are able to find an answer to your question as quickly as possible.

In addition to our FAQs, we also have E-learning Guides available on our webpages. These guides are designed to guide you through the entirety of a process from beginning to end and are useful for those who would like to gain an understanding for a whole process. We’re also happy to meet you face-to-face and of course we provide help and support over the phone and via email. We’re also happy to provide training to yourself and your colleagues. If you and your colleagues would like to request a training session, just get in touch. There may also be some training sessions that you will find useful. Our full training programme for 2018/19 can be found on our webpages.

elearning@aber.ac.uk

01970 62 2472

www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/it-services/elearning

E-learning Blog

 

Equipment Available to Hire from Information Services

Information Services has equipment that’s available to hire to support learning and teaching. A full list of equipment that is available to be borrowed from Information Services is available here.  To book the equipment, contact is@aber.ac.uk / 01970 62 2400 with your requirements

Below are a few items that might be of particular interest.

Lego

Coventry Disruptive Media Learning Lab were our keynote speakers at last year’s annual Learning and Teaching Conference. In addition to their keynote talk, they also offered attendees a couple of workshops. One of these workshops was led by Oliver Wood, a community producer at DMLL and focused on Playing with LEGO to Enhance Learning.

Their methods build on LEGO’s Serious Play methodology and adapts it for Learning and Teaching Activities. Further information on how they use LEGO can be found on their webpages.

A recording of the workshop from the conference can be found here.

The session built on last year’s mini conference, Serious Play for Learning which showcased how LEGO was being used in a variety of disciplines across the University. Information Services has 4 large boxes and 1 smaller box of LEGO available for hire

Virtual Reality Headsets and 3D Camera

There are a number of Virtual Reality Headsets and a 3D Camera available to be borrowed from Information Services. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen the increased use of VR in Learning and Teaching. Dr Steve Atherton, Lecturer in the Department of Education uses VR to immerse students in different environments and experience childhood and education from different contexts. Find out more about how Steve is using Virtual Reality by watching this video.

You might also find this blogpost,

At last year’s annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Joe Smith and Aled John from the Marketing Team gave a workshop on using a 3D Camera and also VR goggles. A recording of the workshop can be found here.

Jabra Speakers

Speakers are also able to be hired from Information Services for Skype for Business sessions. Skype for Business is available as part of the University’s Office 365 subscription. You can install and use Skype for Business from the comfort of your own office.

We’ve seen colleagues across the University use Skype for Business for webinar sessions for students who are out on placement and also to offer students revision sessions in preparation for their exams. Skype for Business might be useful for those who are working with Distance Learning students to provide virtual classroom environments. Skype for Business also has some interactive features, such as live polling, that will help enhance the online session.

A guide on how to use Skype for Business for learning and teaching activities is available on our webpages. If you are interested in using Skype for Business and would like to discuss further or need any support, contact the E-learning Group (elearning@aber.ac.uk / 01970 62 2472).

Using Skype for Business for Learning and Teaching Activities

The E-learning Group have been supporting colleagues in the Education Department to use Skype for Business for a webinar for PGCE students who are currently out on placement in schools. The webinar offered support to students regarding their upcoming assignments.

Skype for Business is available to all members of the University as part of Office 365 package. In addition to creating virtual meetings, it also gives you the ability to deliver virtual classrooms from the comfort of your own office at a time that is convenient to you. It’s straight forward for students to sign in to the webinar – all they need to do is be connected to the Internet.

In addition to creating an online classroom, Skype for Business also has some additional features that might be of use. Skype for Business meetings can be recorded and then uploaded to Panopto. In addition to this, it has interactive features that can be used by participants in the actual session. These features include polling software:

Skype for Business also has an Instant Messenger service built in so webinar participants can ask questions and respond to queries throughout the session.

Plans are already afoot to look into different learning and teaching activities that Skype for Business can support, including being used for a special revision session.

If you’re interested in using Skype for Business for learning and teaching activities, including webinars, then the E-learning Group are running a training session on 18 December, 3pm-4pm in E3, E-learning Training Room. The session will cover how to set up a Skype for Business meeting, how to load a presentation, how to use the interactive features of the software and also how to record the session. You can book to attend the session online here.

If you are interested in using Skype for Business and are unable to attend the training session, drop the E-learning Group an email and we will be more than happy to arrange a consultation. Our Skype for Business Guide is available on our webpages.

 

Submit your Blackboard Module for an Exemplary Course Award

Applications for the Exemplary Course Award are now open. The closing date for applications is 12pm, 1st February 2019. To submit an application, download the application form here and consult the guidance available on our webpages.

The Exemplary Course Award is designed to recognise exemplary practice in Blackboard modules. Since its launch in 2013, the Exemplary Course award has awarded 5 exemplary modules, 8 highly commended and 3 commended awards.

This year’s awards are slightly different. Although the Exemplary Course Award is still based on Blackboard’s Exemplary Course Program Rubric, we have made some adjustments to emphasise the interactive uses of Blackboard to provide a blended learning environment for students. In addition to this, extra weighting has been given to the accessibility criteria to ensure that the Blackboard modules are accessible for all learners.

We will be running a training session for those of you who are considering submitting an application for the ECA on Wednesday 12th December, 3pm-4pm in E3, E-learning Training Room and also on Tuesday 8th January, 3pm-4pm. You can book onto these sessions by going onto the CDSAP book a course pages.

Academy Forum 2018/19

This year’s Academy Forums are now well underway. This year, our Academy Forums are structured around themes that emerged from the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference and were put forward by conference delegates.

The Academy Forums for the year are:

  • 03.10.2018, 3pm-4pm: Introduction to Academy Forum
  • 11.10.2018, 10am-11am: JISC’s Student Digital Tracker
  • 16.11.2018, 11am-12pm: Students as Partners
  • 17.12.2018, 1pm-2pm: Innovative approaches to feedbacl
  • 21.01.2019, 12pm-1pm: Learning Design
  • 28.02.2019, 3pm-4pm: Research-Led Teaching
  • 01.04.2019, 12pm-1pm: Instilling self-regulation in learners
  • 09.05.2019, 11am-12pm: How do we know our teaching is working?
  • 12.06.2019, 2pm-4pm: Using Learning Analytics, Summary and Close

You can book onto the Academy Forums via the CDASP booking pages.

Our Academy Forums provide an informal space for members of the University community to come together and discuss matters relating to learning and teaching and technology-enhanced learning.

Last year’s Academy Forums were based on JISC’s Enhancing the Digital Experience for Students’ Cards. Some of the discussions that we had last year. Within the E-learning Group, we started to develop our own Student Engagement Strategy and started to think about how we might work more closely with our student partners. In addition to this, we also started working with colleagues in the Careers service to talk about the digital skills that were required in the workplace.

The Academy Forums are held in E3, the E-learning Training Room. To access E3, you will need your Aber Card. Enter the Hugh Owen building via the Language Labs and proceed up the stairs to Level E. Swipe your Aber Card and E3 Training Room is just around the corner on the right hand side.

If you wish to join the Academy Forum mailing list, email elearning@aber.ac.uk. Notes from previous Academy Forums are available on the Academy Forum wiki.

Training and Support

This year’s E-learning Training programme is well underway. You can book onto our training sessions via the CDSAP booking pages. This year, our training is split into 3 different levels so that the training that we are offering you meets your needs.

Our first level is E-learning Essentials. These sessions are aimed at people who have not used the systems before or who would like a refresher. A key aim of these sessions is to ensure that participants are able to adhere to the University’s policies. Whilst these sessions are technical, we ensure that there is always a view as to the pedagogical rationale surrounding them. Following this, our next level is E-learning Enhanced. The idea of these sessions is to begin to explore innovative ways in which you can use the E-learning software to support your learning and teaching. Our final level is E-learning Excellence. These sessions support the development of innovative approaches to technology-enhanced learning.

There are a couple of new sessions that we would like to draw your attention to:

  • What can I do with my Blackboard course? In this session, we will be looking at the interactive tools that can be used in Blackboard to enhance learning and teaching. There’s a special version of this session on 13th December specifically looking at how Blackboard can be used for Distance Learners.
  • Introduction to Skype for Business. This session will look at Skype for Business and how you can make use of it to create a virtual classroom. We will go through setting up the Skype for Business meeting and the interactive
  • Using Panopto for Assessments. Panopto is the University’s Lecture Capture Software. In addition to recording lectures, Panopto can also be used for assessments. This session will look at how you might use Panopto for student assessments.
  • Teaching with Mobile Devices. We will look at how you might use mobile devices in your teaching. As well as using mobile devices to teach, we will also look at ways in which you can use polling software to increase interactivity in your teaching sessions.

We’ll also be running sessions on the Component Marks Transfer tool that allows marks to automatically feed through from Blackboard into AStRA which may be of use to those who manage this process.

Our sessions are participatory and interactive. If you would prefer a one-on-one version of our sessions, or if you have any specific requirements, then please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

Access to E3 Aber Academy has also changed. In order to access the E-learning Training Room, enter the Hugh Owen Building via the Language Labs on Level B. Proceed up the stairs until you reach Level E. You will need your Aber Card to swipe to let you in. E3, the E-learning Training Room, is just down the corridor on the right hand side.

6th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

This year’s annual Learning and Teaching Conference saw a range of students, academic and support staff come together from across the University to showcase their innovative practice. This year’s conference theme, Stepping up Students Learning, aimed to showcase and celebrate the areas of best practice in teaching and learning happening at Aberystwyth. Hot off the heels from recent accolades for the University, including being named University of the Year for Teaching Quality and also achieving TEF Gold, there has been much innovative practice to celebrate and share. One of the strengths of the conference is providing a space in which colleagues can come together and discuss their learning and teaching.

This year’s keynote was given by Professor Jonathan Shaw from Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab. Jonathan discussed how the lab focuses on mainstream and alternative approaches to using technology to foster amore hybrid and open approach to teaching and learning.

In addition to the keynote, two of Jonathan’s colleagues, Oliver Wood and Thamu Dube, offered workshops to conference participants. Oliver’s workshop focused on LEGO as a teaching tool – participants were tasked with using the LEGO to discuss ideas. Colleagues were equipped with strategies as to how they could use LEGO in the classroom as part of a learning activity. The LEGO is now available in loan stock. If you wish to make a booking for the LEGO, email is@aber.ac.uk with your requirements.

The most beneficial part of the conference was listening to and hearing about the innovative approaches to learning and teaching that are happening across the University. It’s difficult to pick out particular high points, but some of the messages that we will taking away from the conference include:

  • Using technology to enhance feedback
  • The Video Essay as a method of assessment – you can view that here
  • Students as Partners in learning design
  • What not to learn from bad gym coaches

Recordings from the conference will be available on our webpages so if you missed a session, or you’d like to hear more about a particular topic, click here.

We will begin organising next year’s annual learning and teaching conference shortly. If you’d like to propose an idea or suggest a keynote, then get in touch with us (elearning@aber.ac.uk).

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.