It’s been another couple of busy weeks with the ET department as we prepare the new environment for testing in the coming months.
To give you an idea of the bigger picture, and what the upgrade means to you we’ll be hosting information sessions at both campuses. This will be a chance to find out your role in the project and to ask any questions you may have relating to the upgrade. We’d ask that one representative from each course attend one of the following:
Here are a few things we’ve been working on this fortnight:
Students assigned to modules
Integration work has been continuing between student records and the new environment. While this won’t affect how students access their modules within Learning Space behind the scenes the approach is now a lot more streamlined.
To simplify the login process we are utilising Office 365 as the method for signing in. This minimises the amount of clicks needed to access Learning Space, meaning staff and students can get to the content they need even quicker.
We have been busy over the last couple of weeks fine tuning permissions and settings on the new environment. We aim to ensure that when you login (and how you login) is as intuitive as it can be, and you see relevant information and links on the home page.
Here are a few of the things we’ve been working on:
Automatic module leader enrolment onto modules
As part of the integration work between SITs and Learning Space, module leaders will be added to their modules automatically. This means that as a module leader you will see all relevant modules when you first login, and you will have the ability to add colleagues to those modules.
To ensure that you are able to perform all the tasks that you are required to, and that you are not able to perform any tasks that will result in anything untoward, we have been setting up user roles. We have reduced the number of roles that exist compared to old Learning Space to tidy up procedures. This means that all staff will have the role of ‘Staff’ within course, resources and module areas regardless of job title, and all students will have the ‘Student’ role on their taught modules.
Timescales for user testing
We are working towards having the development environment to a point where we can start to implement user acceptance testing from March. This means that we will prepare the environment with some example content and liaise with a group of users to carry out a range of tasks to test real scenarios.
We have set up the integration with the Falmouth App and authentication between the two is now up and running. Courses in Learning Space will be visible from within the app also.
Welcome to the first of a series of posts to tell you about the Learning Space upgrade project. In these monthly newsletters we plan to keep you up to date on the project, how we’re doing, and any information that is relevant to you.
We’ve been working hard on the new platform since November 2017. We have taken the decision to move away from an internally hosted system (through FXPlus) and into a cloud hosted solution provided by the University of London hosting service, Bloom. By moving to the cloud we will be able to provide you and your students with a more secure, faster environment, with an improved and more resilient infrastructure.
We are holding information sessions at both campuses:
19th March, 3-4:30 in PL Lecture 3 (Penryn)
22nd March, 10:30-12 in Lecture theatre 1 (Falmouth)
In these sessions we will give an overview of the new platform, timescales for testing and access for staff, and the support that will be available to you when it comes to adding your learning materials and activities. Keep an eye on your inboxes for calendar invitations to these sessions.
So far, the new Learning Space is taking shape. We’ve spent a lot of time on it to get it to the point where we can release it to you, and we’ve still got a way to go. So far, we have spent quite a bit time on customising the terminology used across the system to be more relevant to Falmouth. We’re working with FX+ IT to set up authentication methods and integrate the student record system with Learning Space. This means that students and module leaders will automatically be added to their modules.
We will be working more with FX+ IT in the future to make improvements to these integrations so more data can be automatically transferred between the two systems.
We are currently working on getting plugins set up within new Learning Space. Activities like Turnitinand Talis Resource Lists are not part of the core product so are added and configured by us.
All this means that we will be ready for User Acceptance Testing within the next month or two.
From mid-December to mid-January we surveyed Falmouth students on the quality of their digital experience while at University. 680 students took part and the prize draw winner was Ben Watkins, who is in the final year of his BA (Hons) in Marine and Natural History Photography. Congratulations Ben!
We will publish our analysis of the results in a future post.
For a while now courses at Falmouth have been asking for a blogging/portfolio platform for students and staff to use for all sorts of reasons.
EdTech have now implemented CampusPress and are running it as a pilot this year. It’s essentially a WordPress multisite set up, with some added extras provided by EduBlogs the company behind it all. It’s called ‘Journal’ and you can access it at: http://journal.falmouth.ac.uk using your usual login credentials.
The added extras are mostly around class/cohort management and are great for keeping track of your student’s blogs or having a collaborative space where students can post to a central area, reflect and comment on each other’s ideas.
There are a few courses officially piloting it for us and we’ll be reporting back on how they get on later in the year; there is an overview of how the BA(Hons) Business Entrepreneurship course is using it in the Falmouth in Focus post about the course. In the meantime though, if you’d like to use it on your course, or you’re a student that would like to create a space where you can record and reflect on your learning or extra curricular activities then login, take a look and get in touch if you need to.
In this series of articles, the Educational Technology team will be providing an insight into existing practice using technology for learning and teaching at Falmouth University and also at projects being undertaken within the wider HE sector.
Learning technology is the broad range of communication, information and related technologies that can be used to support learning, teaching, and assessment. Learning technologists are people who are actively involved in managing, researching, supporting or enabling learning with the use of learning technology.
In UK Higher Education, there is usually a function within the institution to support this. Yet, because the practice is so broad, it could be situated anywhere from within Learning & Teaching, Library Services and IT or embedded within the faculty and that can depend on how it supports strategy and how well the function is understood. And role names could vary from Educational/Learning/Academic Technologist/Advisor/Consultant
A ‘Really Useful’ place to gain a deeper insight is The Really Useful Ed. Tech Book. In his chapter on the structure and roles of Learning Technologists, Peter Reed describes a continuum of job variation from IT focused, which might include server and web development to Education focused, which might include learning design and pedagogy and everywhere in between (Reed 2015: pp. 41 – 51).
The Really Useful Ed. Tech Book islicensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
This can make things confusing, as many understand the role of IT support and are aware of the VLE, but not always aware of the range and depth that a Learning Technology service covers. These issues are put succinctly in this timely post by Bex Ferriday, which asks how can we help people better understand the role of the Learning Technologist… not just someone who can fix computers!
At Falmouth, we provide an overview of the team on our site. The Educational Technology team operates within the wider ICT department, though we are closely aligned to both ICT and Learning, Teaching and Employability strategies. The team has a broad experience that covers Reed’s continuum of job variation and we find ourselves dealing with things like configuring authentication to the VLE to testing out new technologies with academic staff to hosting workshops in learning design for blended and online modules/courses. One of the most effective routes into working with our academic staff we have found is by working with our PGCHE. Many of our Focus On… initiatives have been born out of the PGCHE Summer School, where staff are given the space to explore and experiment with learning technology.
We pride ourselves on having an understanding of technology and being able to act as a bridge between technology and pedagogy; being able to explain things clearly to an audience with varying digital practices.
We’d love to hear how it’s approached in other UK HEIs by response to this post or on Twitter.
Once the festive season arrives thoughts in the team turn to what Santa might be bringing us in our Christmas stockings. We’ve had another busy year and hope we’re all still on the nice list, so Santa please be kind and make a little note of our tech based wishes!
Perfect for making noise on the go the Superset features synthesizer engines, punch in effects and a built in speaker. These ultra portable devices fit in the palm of your hand and allow you to create studio quality electronic beats. We’ll be keeping an eye out for Mark’s future music releases.
Adel recently got herself a bike and would like to upgrade her FitBit Charge to something that will track her cycling and swimming activity. Having shopped around she likes the look of the Moov Now. Although not able to be charged it’s got a 6 month battery which is replaceable, and won the Sports Wearable of the Year 2016 award from Wearable.com.
It’s safe to say wearable tech has come on leaps and bounds over the last year and exercise trackers and now able to monitor more than before. With the accompanying app you’re now able to track all types of fitness, whereas previously with Moov you needed a different app for every activity. It’s safe to say that fitness trackers will develop more during 2017 so who knows what might be on Adel’s list next year.
Topping Amy’s list this is year is the Sonos Play 5. Already a keen Sonos fan she would like to expand her home based music system. Not only does the Play 5 configure will the other speakers in the Play system it has a dedicated line in making it slightly more advanced than other speakers in the same range.
With it’s dedicated app and ability to stream music to all speakers in the same system it’s a really great setup for home audio.
Also keen on some new audio for Christmas is Oliver; on his wish list this year is a Kastle modular synth. Pocket sized and reprogrammable using an Arduino it has two inputs/outputs and can be combined with other modular gear such as the PO Superset mentioned on Mark’s list.
So if you could make our Ed Tech Christmas dreams come true Santa that would be great. We’d also like to take the time to wish all staff and students a Merry Christmas and we’ll see you in 2017!
Monday 5th December sees the launch of our Digital Experience tracker at Falmouth University. With Jisc, we’re joining over a hundred educational providers internationally to benchmark our student digital experience.
At Falmouth we’re also offering the opportunity to win an iPad Mini for taking part.
We’re opening the tracker until Jan 30th and will be updating the digital signage around campus with response rates and themes. In February, those wishing to continue the conversation will be invited to focus groups to discuss some of the emerging issues and plan how to tackle them.
In April we’ll get an idea of the bigger picture through a comparison with other Universities and be able to benchmark our own Digital Experience at Falmouth.
In this series of articles we’ll be casting our gaze over some examples of practice currently being undertaken at Falmouth University. We work extensively with a variety of subjects and often find that the learning experiences are as diverse as those teaching on the courses.
This month we’re focusing on Fine Art within the Falmouth School of Art. Neil Chapman and Mercedez Kemp recently chose to implement a digital feedback process for dissertation tutorials using the VLE and Google Docs.
The process makes use of the VLE as the point of reference for booking a tutorial and within each booking there is the facility to attach a link. A Google Doc is then created for each student and the notes from the tutorial are contained within. This approach borrows elements of the SAMR methodology, but instead of substituting the technology we are combining and augmenting it. We make use of the functionality of the VLE as a central resource for students and augment it with Google Docs, which has the benefit of facilitating synchronous feedback and allowing both staff and students to take notes/comment in one place.
Feedback on the use of the new method is currently being sought from the current students, but Neil added:
“For my own part, the new method has helped me to keep track of tutorial reports. Previously, I’ve found myself emailing attachments to students, sometimes receiving attachments back in return, then having to collate that material. On the cons side, students have not been as proactive using their editing rights as I would have liked.”
Trying a new technology out can be daunting and time consuming, but here the team are making the best of institutional and modern web tools to provide continuity and timeliness of feedback, aligning appropriately to the NUS charter on assessment and Feedback (2010)