Changes to Video Conferencing

Information Services is changing its Video Conferencing provision to Skype for Business. The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit have been working with colleagues across Information Services on the change to this provision.

Skype for Business has the capability to have up to 250 participants attend the webinar. You can attach documents for participants to review beforehand. In addition to this, you can choose the content that you display to your participants, from just audio calls, through to screen casts and PowerPoint presentations. Skype for Business is fully integrated with Office 365 and conference attendees only need an Internet connection to participate in the meeting.

Current Video Conference suites will be updated with new equipment for Skype for Business. You can already download Skype for Business. We’ve got further advice available here.

We will be offering 2 different training sessions on using Skype for Business and you can sign up here.

  • Skype for Business for Meeting Organisers

This session is for those who arrange and set up meetings. We will be looking at how to arrange a meeting using Outlook, how to send the meeting request to participants, control participant interaction, and share documents with participants before the meeting.

  • Skype for Business for Teaching Activities

In addition to covering the above, we will also look at the interactive features of Skype for Business that can enhance Learning and Teaching. We will give advice on strategies you can use for teaching virtually.

Webinars can enhance learning and teaching provision, particularly for students who aren’t studying on campus. JISC have got some guidance on using Webinars in education which you can access here.

We’ve helped the Department of Education run a couple of webinars which you can find out more about here. In addition to this, we’ve also run a couple of webinars on E-learning tools and provision.

2019/2020 Modules now available (staff)

Modules for the academic year 2019/20 are now available for staff teaching on modules. You may have noticed that a new tab has appeared on the top menu of your Blackboard screen:

If you’re enrolled as a staff member on the module in Astra then you should be able to view your modules for next academic year. If you’re not able to see a module that you are enrolled on then contact your Departmental Administrator. Students won’t be enrolled on the module until registration is complete.

We’ve created 2019/20 modules earlier this year in order to assist staff in getting their modules ready following the second phase of Blank Course Copy, following last year’s Blank Course Copy for all Year 1 on campus modules.

This year, Blank Course Copy applies to all on-campus Year 2 and Year 3 modules. Year 2 and 3 modules created blank last year with your Departmental Template will be copied over into this year’s module.

We’ve got the following support available to help with Blank Course Copy:

If you have any queries regarding Blank Course Copy, or need further assistance, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

A reminder, that Blackboard will be unavailable on Thursday 29th August, 09:30-12:30 and will be at risk until 14:00 whilst we complete our work to migrate to SaaS. Blackboard will then be read only until Monday 2nd September.

Exemplary Course Award: Winners

We are pleased to announce this year’s recipient of the Exemplary Course Award run by the E-learning Group. Come and see the winners present their modules at next week’s Learning and Teaching Conference. Further information here.

Alison Pierse, Lifelong Learning Tutor in Art, has been awarded the Exemplary Course Award for the module XA15220 Figuratively Speaking: The History of Western Figurative Sculpture. The panel commended this module for its innovative approach to co-design with students as well as its ability to create a 3 dimensional learning experience for students who might not be studying on campus, in addition to ensuring all aspects of this module was fully accessible.

In addition to the winner, the following modules achieved Highly Commended:

  • IBERS Distance Learning Team for BDM0120 Research Methods
  • Stephen Chapman for BDM1320 The Future of Packaging
  • Alexandros Koutsoukis for IP12620 Behind the Headlines
  • Jennifer Wood for SP10740 Spanish Language (Beginners)

The diverse range of teaching and learning styles evidenced in this year’s applications reflects the innovative work that is taking place across the institution.

The aim of the Exemplary Course Award, now in its sixth year, is to recognise the very best learning and teaching practices by giving staff members the opportunity to share their work with colleagues, enhance their current modules in Blackboard, and receive feedback on their modules. Modules are assessed across 4 areas: course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support. The self-assessed nature of the award gives staff the opportunity to reflect on their course and enhance aspects of their module before a panel assesses each application against the rubric.

The panel and the E-learning Group would like to thank all of the applicants for the time and effort that they have put into their applications and modules this year.

We’re looking forward to receiving more applications next year and many congratulations to the recipients of this year’s award.

Spellcheck your feedback in Turnitin

If you’re anything like us, we have been a little bit obsessed with Line of Duty recently (no spoilers here) and understand how the misspelling of the word ‘definately’ can have potentially catastrophic consequences and we wouldn’t want anyone to be accused of being in league with OCGs.

We’ve found a way in which you can add a dictionary to spellcheck your feedback to the browser that you use to mark. We’ve got step by step instructions below for Chrome and Firefox (as you know, we recommend that you use these browsers to access our E-learning tools).

Install the Spell Checker Add-on in Chrome

If your preferred browser of choice is Chrome, install the spellchecker:

  1. Launch Chrome
  2. Click on the three dots in the top right hand corner of the screen:
  3. Select Settings and a new window will open
  4. Click on the three lines in the top left hand corner of the browser next to Settings
  5. Expand Advanced and select Languages
  6. You can add languages (Welsh-Cymraeg and English UK) by clicking on Add languages
  7. You can then choose which languages you’d like to Spellcheck by turning them on so they are blue
  8. You’ll then be good to go

Install the Spell Checker Add-on in Firefox

If your preferred browser of choice is Firefox, install the spellchecker:

  1. Launch Firefox
  2. Click on the three lines in the top right hand corner of the screen:
  3. Select Add-ons
  4. Select Get Add-ons
  5. In the search box enter Geiriadur Cymraeg or British English Dictionary and select the relevant dictionary
  6. Click Add to Firefox
  7. You’ll then be good to do

As these are browser based, you’ll have to add these onto each browser that you use to mark, but once you’re up and running there’ll be no suspicion cast on being ‘H’.

Annual Learning and Teaching Conference Keynote Announcement: Helen Beetham

We are very excited to announce that this year’s keynote for the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference will be Helen Beetham.

Helen is an education consultant, researcher, writer, and digital project leader, with a particular focus on learners’ digital literacies. Recently, Helen helped to develop the Jisc Digital Insights survey. Aberystwyth University was one of the Universities that took part in this project (you can read more about the digital insights findings and the project on our blog).

The third edition of Helen’s co-edited collection with Rhona Sharpe is due to be published in July this year and happens to coincide with the dates of the conference. The book, entitled Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age, brings together recent developments and critical theories on designing learning activities that are learner-focused and accessible, and incorporates case studies and research from across the sector.

In addition to delivering a keynote on the topic of curriculum development and digital learning, Helen will also be offering a workshop to delegates so that they can apply what they have learnt to their own specific contexts and curriculum. We will be using the data and findings from the Digital Insights project to support this work.

The conference is running 8th-10th July 2019 and delegates can book onto the conference here.

A draft conference timetable will be available on our webpages shortly.

Helen tweets at @helenbeetham and blogs (sometimes) at digitalthinking.org.uk.

Conference Registration now open

Registration for the seventh annual Learning and Teaching conference is now open. This year’s Learning and Teaching conference has the theme Learning from Excellence: Innvate, Collaborate, Participate! and will be taking place between Monday 8th and Wednesday 10th July 2019.

You can register for the conference by filling in this online form: https://aber.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/7th-annual-learning-and-teaching-conference-registration

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 will be available on our webpages shortly.

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

E-learning Group’s Reflections on the recent Mini Conference

E-learning Group

Following the recent Mini Conference on Inclusive Education, we have been reflecting on our experience of the event. Each member of the E-learning Group has written a short piece on one aspect of the Mini Conference.

Neurodiversity

Janet and Caroline’s session was interesting both in terms of the subject matter and the way it was presented. As a trainer, I’m always looking for new ideas and new ways of presenting information, and this session had lots of those. From matching exercises to group work, this was an incredibly active presentation.

As well as helping understand the human brains work very differently, and that those with neuro-diverse conditions often have to work very hard to achieve tasks that those who are neuro-typical take for granted. Whilst this has the potential for increasing stress and workload, its flipside is that those with neurodiversity can be resilient, creative and find new and innovative ways to work achieve their outcomes.

The session highlighted that may of the outward signs of neurodiversity are very similar, and small changes to the way in which we teach can help.

Janet and Caroline presented their session in an engaging and interactive way – and I shall certainly remember the exercise where we tried to explain a holiday without using the letter e! Try it … it will give you a very quick idea of how working around something that everyone takes for granted leads to very hard-work, a lot of false starts – but also a new and different way of expressing yourself.

Accessibility Checker

I have taken away a new attitude and approach to the tools I use and the materials I produce for my students as an educator.
I will endeavour to stop thinking about students with specific learning differences as individuals to whom I have to tailor my materials on a case by case basis. Students with specific learning difficulties do not have a unique learning style. They have a preference that is shared with the rest of the student body to some extent. It is better to think that their particular learning styles or preferences can benefit the student body as a whole.

I will utilise built in tools such as accessibility checker in word. I don’t need to send my work off to a specialist or use elaborate programs. Indeed, the simpler the materials I produce the more compatible they are with assistive technology. Accessibility does not mean I have to use comic sans for everything. Simple things like adding alternative text to an image, using titles and headers correctly rather than messing around with fonts. Everything I produce does not have to resemble a gilded manuscript. It just needs to be functional to serve its purpose of conveying information which is what my teaching is all about anyway.

What do you hope to do differently (part 1)?

Using Blackboard Tests to widen access to learning

Blackboard Tests are a great way to create a learning resource for students. As a learning technologist and someone who often only sees the technical side of tests, it was really useful to hear Jennifer Wood giving a first-hand account of the many benefits of using this tool. Jennifer teaches Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and using tests has allowed Jennifer to free up precious class time to focus on more useful discussions. Before using Blackboard Tests, students would spend a portion of their class time being tested. Now students are able to test their knowledge and learning outside of class time in an environment in which they feel comfortable. Depending on the question type you select (there are many types of questions), means that the tests can be marked automatically and that feedback be released to the student after they have taken the test. Of course, tests do require some work and you need to be sure what you wish to use the test for to make it useful for yourself and students.

Just like most content in Blackboard, there are many settings that you can use to match the test to your learning need and requirement. The E-learning Group are always happy to check a test, run through settings or also assist in choosing the right type of question for your learning activity. Why not create a test to help your students with revision activities?

What are you going to do differently (part 2)?

Public Speaking and access to core skills

Rob Grieve’s talk helped me to appreciate how big of an issue public speaking can be for some individuals. I found the advice to be a ‘genuine speaker’ particularly useful. Not prioritising style of over substance, focusing on the information I want to convey and trying to speak in a natural for me way are strategies which I am planning to use to enhance my public speaking abilities.

I was also inspired by Debra Croft’s presentation on the Summer University. It is a project giving an invaluable opportunity to young people participating in it. I was particularly impressed with the variety of subjects covered during only 6-weeks, including not only academic subjects but also life skills. The flexible and creative design of the activities and assessment tailored to students’ needs was equally impressive. This presentation really showed how accommodating the differences can make a significant impact on peoples’ lives.

Submit a proposal for this year’s Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

There were so many useful tips and reflections that choosing one for each of us was quite a task! You can see a full report on the mini conference which is split into two blog posts (Part 1 and Part 2). A reminder that we currently have an open Call for Proposals for our main Learning and Teaching Conference. 

What are you going to do differently (part 3)? 

Academy Forum: Instilling Self-Regulation in Learners

The E-learning Group host several Academy Forums across the academic year. The aim of the Academy Forums is to bring together members from across the University to discuss a matter related to Learning and Teaching. Our last Academy Forum focused on Instilling Self-Regulation in Learners. This topic was suggested following last year’s Annual Learning and Teaching Conference. At the conference, Dr Simon Payne, Liz Titley, and Liam Knox gave a presentation based on Self-Regulation. In addition to this, the E-learning Group ran an Academy Showcase where Simon presented strategies for instilling self-regulation.

As always, our full notes from the Academy Forums can be found on a dedicated Wiki which can be found in the Enhancing Learning with Technology module which all staff have access to.

A summary of our discussions can be found below:

  • Strategies for encouraging self-regulation in learning and teaching activities
  • Students spend more time learning outside of class time so we should be teaching them how to learn
  • What skills do students arrive with and what do we need to teach them in order to be self-regulated learners
  • How might we emphasise and measure improvement

If you would like to explore self-regulation in further detail then you are able to view the recording from Simon’s recent Academy Showcase. In addition to this, the following articles might be of interest:

Our next Academy Forum is on 9th May at 11am and is focused on the topic ‘How do I know my teaching is working?’ The forums are a great way to share your experiences and learn from others whilst also reflecting on your own approach to the topic. If you’d like to suggest a topic for an Academy Forum next year then do get in touch with us. You can sign up to the Academy Forum by booking online.

Dr Rob Grieve – Mini Conference Presentation

The E-learning Group are hosting a mini conference on Inclusive Education on Wednesday 10th April at 1pm in E3, E-learning Training Room, Aber Academy. In addition to our previous blogpost announcing the line-up for the mini conference, we’re also pleased to announce that Dr Rob Grieve will be giving a recorded presentation entitled Stand Up and Be Heard: Student Fear of Public Speaking.

Rob is a Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy in the Allied Health Professions Department at the University of the West of England (UWE). In addition to his main research area and teaching activities, Rob is also a trustee of the British Stammer Association. As such, he has spoken at several events about the use of presentations as a form of assessment and equipping students with the skills necessary for public speaking. In this introduction, Rob will be drawing on a couple of his recent presentations that he has given at Advance Higher Education. Rob will also be reflecting on Stand Up and Be Heard workshops that he has been running for students with a fear of public speaking. The aim of the workshops was to support learning and teaching related to presentations and public speaking through specific strategies and a review of the overall benefits of public speaking as a transferable skill for university, life, and future employment. Rob builds on a survey conducted in 2012 which evidenced that 80% of students identified that they experienced social anxiety as part of assignments that involved public speaking (Russell and Topham, 2012). In addition to this, a further study (Marinho et al, 2017) identified that 64% of students had a fear of public speaking whilst 89% would have liked their undergraduate programme to include classes on improving public speaking. Further information on Rob’s work can be found on this blogpost. His Twitter handle is @robgrieve17.

We hope that you’re able to join us at the mini conference. There are still a couple of places remaining. You can book onto these online.

References

Marinho, ACF., de Madeiros, AM., Gama, AC., & Teixeir, LC. 2017. Fear of Public Speaking: Perception of College Students and Correlates. Journal of Voice. 31:1 DOI: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2015.12.012

Russell, G. and Topham, P. 2012. The impact of social anxiety on student learning and wellbeing in higher education. Journal of Mental Health 21:4. Pp. 375-385. https://doi.org/10.3109/09638237.2012.694505

 

Mini Conference: Inclusive Education, Wednesday 10th April, 1pm

Cynhadledd Fer Mini Conference

On Wednesday 10th April, at 2pm, the E-learning Group will be hosting this year’s Academy Mini Conference. The Mini Conference is a smaller version of our Annual Learning and Teaching Conference which allows us to pull together a series of presentations and workshops around a particular learning and teaching topic. This year the Mini Conference has the theme of Inclusive Education.

We’re excited to confirm our programme for the afternoon:

These presentations will offer a series of practical tips and tricks that will help make your learning environments and documents more inclusive. In addition to this, we’ll be looking at how these strategies might be used in practice and within a teaching context.

We hope that you’ll be able to join us for this event. Places at the Mini Conference are limited so please book your place via this booking page.