Welcome to the Digital Transformation blog

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Digital is the convergence of a variety of technologies and social changes that have led to a new way of living our lives. Our students are the epitome of this new digital reality – they create and consume content in a very different way to previous generations.

But what exactly is a digital transformation? The Enterprisers Project define it as:

“The integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers.

Beyond that, it’s a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment often, and get comfortable with failure.

Digital transformation is not solely about technology. In fact technology is only one part of the puzzle. Digital transformation is about meeting the needs of the new digital consumer – be they staff or student. It involves new understanding and cultural change. For more on this see Paul Boag’s Digital Transformation: The six questions you need to answer.

At the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) we are at the beginning of this transformation process. There is a commitment to develop and a will to act, but so far efforts have not been as co-ordinated as they could be.

However this is about change. We are working on a new digital-focused strategic approach to be integrated in our IT strategy and Learning and Teaching strategy.  It will form the backbone of our digital activity and allow progress to be made in a comprehensive and integrated manner.

We want to share our transformation with you and intend to blog about the journey, bumps and all.

New Learning Technologist needed!

Would you like to join our merry team? Fancy working in a small specialist institution where you can make a huge amount of difference and get involved in lots of interesting areas of work? Are you a creative, team player who is interested in course design, multimedia and all things learning tech?

RAU in daffodils

RAU in the spring

The Royal Agricultural University have a vacancy for a new Learning Technologist to work on development of the Catalyst programme of blended learning courses.

If you are interested take a look at the key responsibilities and person specification in the briefing pack.

Closing date for applications is 12th November 2019 with interviews on 20th November 2019.

Farewell Aurelie!

We are hugely sad to say that our lovely Learning Technologist Aurelie Soulier will be leaving us at the end of today. Aurelie is taking up a position at Catalyst IT supporting Moodle implementation across the HE sector.

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During her far too brief time at RAU Aurelie has been instrumental in helping us progress many areas of work including:

Not only that she has been a truly great colleague to work with. We are all going to miss her!

Pictures of Aurelie in action

Pictures of Aurelie in action

We wish Aurelie all the best with her new role and hope she keeps in touch. (We know she will – she can’t keep off social media!)

Aurelie's leaving drinks

Aurelie’s leaving drinks

Mahara ePortfolio Assessments

This year we are using Mahara ePortfolios as the main assessment tool for several  of our modules (- predominantly first year and integrated foundation year modules). Mahara use at this scale hasn’t happened before at the RAU and we have been carrying out a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure a smooth roll out.

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Training  – We have run Mahara training for our staff on the following areas:

  • ePortfolios: What are they and what’s in it for me and my students?
  • Introducing Mahara: a basic introduction to editing
  • Using Mahara: Designing learning activities and assessment, and using groups
  • Advanced Mahara: Using competency frameworks
  • Mahara for Dissertation management
  • Mahara as a CV builder
Mahara digital badge

Mahara digital badge

We plan to also run some training on marking ePortfolios just before the assessments are due in. As a team we have been working to improve our own Mahara skills and recently had Sam Taylor from Catalyst in to help us prepare for the recent upgrade to 19.04. Aurelie has visited the early lecture sessions for the modules using an ePortfolio assessment and has given the students an overview of the system. Students have been encouraged to carry out the induction activity available to all RAU Mahara users – they are awarded with a digital badge for doing so. We will be revisiting the lecture sessions just before the assignment is due to check that there are no issues and the students are happy to submit their assignments.

Batch loading users on to Mahara – In order to set up groups we needed to make sure that the right students were in Mahara. Our system is set up to authenticate through Moodle and users are only created at the moment they access the Mahara site, adding users by CSV file helped us to ensure everyone was already on the site.

Setting up the groups for modules – Groups were set up using admin accounts and students on those modules were batch loaded into the groups.

Designing ePortfolio templates

Designing ePortfolio templates

Creating templates for the assessments – we decided to use templates for all this year’s ePortfolio assessments. This has allowed us to control the layout of the Mahara pages by locking blocks and should help with consistency when marking the assessments. Some of the templates are individual pages while others are collections of pages. The templates were designed in collaboration with the module lead and were created in the relevant group and shared with the existing group members. Comments were turned off for all templates.

Template for ePortfolio assessment for module 1400

Template for ePortfolio assessment for module 1400

Adding assessment points to the relevant modules – this has been done using a Mahoodle link in Mahara assignment. Students will go to their assignment submission portal and will be given the option to submit any of their Mahara ePortfolios – most will only have the templated assessment available. Once an ePortfolio has been submitted it will be locked until it has been marked.

Marking – we intend to use a rubric for marking of the ePotfolios and as mentioned earlier will be training our academics in how to mark to make sure the marking is consistent and fair.

There is still quite a bit of work to do before the end of the semester and assessments are done and dusted. We have agreed that we would like to have a retrospective with the academics once the ePortfolio assessments are all in and marked to see how things have gone and decide if we would like to go full steam ahead with more complex and student-developed ePortfolios for other higher level modules.

Panopto UK HE User Group meeting – UWE

Earlier this week I attended the Panopto UK HE User Group meeting hosted by University of West England (UWE) at their new Frenchay business school. The day consisted of some interesting case study presentations and really helpful discussions from both the AV and learning/teaching perspective.

UWE business school
UWE business school

Discussion areas and questions included:

  • Student assignments – UWE presented on work they have been doing to create a workflow on student assessment that ensures GDPR compliance. Antoine Rivoire talked about how Ulster University students have been creating videos on placements and submitting them through Panopto – 72% said the availability of blogs would help them to choose placements. Roberta Bernabei and Matt Hope presented remotely on how they have been using video to improve student digital and presentation skills including editing. Qs – Even though videos are date stamped Panopto does not lock down submission dates and students can still submit after a date. How should institutions deal with this?
Antoine Rivoire from Ulster University shows their One click recording room

Antoine Rivoire from Ulster University shows their One click recording room

  • Students opting out of being captured on video – How can this be managed? Ideas include: sitting in a certain area, capturing audio only, having a flag for students to hold up and pause recording, 24 hour release window, ensuring use of mics to stop recording people’s private conversations.
  • Video rooms – Dealing with the challenge of achieving high quality audio and video in a restricted space and small budget Antoine Rivoire showed how they have set up a one click video recording studio at Ulster University. Freddie Bujko from Oxford University demoed their one button studio which uses green screen and cost around £10,000 to set up.
  • Subtitling and transcription – UWE shared their experiments with Microsoft Translator for creating subtitles on the fly.
Freddie Bujko from Oxford University shows their one button studio

Freddie Bujko from Oxford University shows their one button studio

After lunch there was presentation from Matt Turner from Birmingham University  on their VLE integration and their changes to folder structure. All access to recordings is through Canvas but some recordings are embedded in pages.  Folders are provisioned in bulk at the beginning of each Semester and Panopto is added to VLE course menu.

We then ended the day with a on overview of last year’s Panopto survey and a Panopto update from Pete Gervaise-Jones.

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Panopto upgrades have now  moved to larger numbers 6 (last winter) > 7 (this summer), with decimal points only used for minor updates. As part of their 12 month product roadmap Panopto are working on video content workflows, integration with webinar software like Zoom, and an online recorder.

The next user group meeting is likely to be in Scotland in April next year.

Gromit in the UWE Business school

Gromit in the UWE Business school

Staff digital insights surveys

Earlier this year we ran two RAU staff digital insights surveys – one for academic staff and one for professional service staff. The surveys were managed by Jisc and are part of an annual survey programme. They complement the student digital survey that we ran last year. The academic staff survey asks teaching staff across higher (HE) and further education (FE) about their experiences of digital in their institution and in their teaching practice. This year the Professional Services staff survey ran as a pilot and the RAU was part of the pilot group. The results from the surveys are benchmarked and compared with other institutions in the sector.

Jisc survey

Below are some of our key findings.

Response rates

Academic staff Professional services
Response number 24 67
Percentage of staff ~ 50% ~ 25%
Time at RAU Even split between ‘4 years or more’ and ‘less than 4 years’ Even split between ‘4 years or more’ and ‘less than 4 years’
Department From all four schools
2 from Capel
Operations (43%) Student services (31%) Commercial and Business Development (21%) & others

Key metrics: Academic staff

  • 21% rate the quality of their digital provision (software, hardware, learning environment) as good or above
  • 92% can access reliable Wi-Fi whenever they need it
  • 50% agree it is easy to design & organise their course materials in the VLE (Gateway)
  • 54% rate the support they get to develop their digital role as good or above
  • 21% agree software for teaching is industry standard and up-to-date
  • 8% agree they are informed about ensuring students behave safely online

Key metrics: Professional services staff

  • 58% rate the quality of their digital provision (software, hardware, learning environment) as good or above
  • 87% can access reliable Wi-Fi whenever they need it
  • 27% agree that our online systems support working as a team
  • 34% rate the support they get to develop their digital role as good or above
  • 43% agree systems are up to date
  • 72% agree systems are reliable

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It appears that academics are more unhappy about the quality of the digital provision but happier about the support they receive to develop digital aspects of their jobs. While for professional services it is the other way round. This may be to do with the lack of support for professional services staff training and the requirement for fit for purpose pedagogic tools

Benchmark comparisons: Academic staff

Question Our data UK data
Quality of digital provision 21% 58%
Reliable Wi-Fi 92% 85%
Support to develop digital role 54% 36%
Software for teaching is industry standard and up-to-date 21% 35%
Easy to design & organise course materials in VLE 55% 48%
Are informed about ensuring students behave safely online 8% 18%

The areas in red are below the sector and the areas in green are above.

Benchmark comparisons: Professional services staff

Question Our data UK data
Quality of digital provision 58% 68%
Reliable Wi-Fi 87% 85%
Support to develop digital role 35% 56%
Systems are reliable 72% 67%
Systems are up to date 43% 46%
Our online systems support working as a team 27% 46%

The areas in red are below the sector and the areas in green are above.

As you can see there is still lots to be done!

What can we do to help? Academic staff

  • Increased recognition by senior management of the importance of supporting innovative and good quality teaching (both digital and non-digital)
  • Better celebration of good practice
  • Support for a culture where experimentation is accepted and time/resource is allocated to it
  • More CPD in digital skills
  • Better digital teaching rooms
  • Further investment in academic and industry-standard digital tools
  • Improvements to Turnitin and integration with Quercus

What can we do to help? Professional services staff

  • Better support for flexible and remote working
  • More accessible training – from a more formal training structure to informal lunchtime drop-in training, at all levels (beginners to expert), and for new staff
  • More guidance, support and videos
  • Improve labs set up
  • Provide a list of systems with an outline of what they do
  • Better equipment – headsets for making calls, AV equipment, laptops for all

The recently developed IT and Digital strategy and action plan addresses the vast majority of these areas including:

  1. Work to establish a cross-functional group to produce an action plan for developing our student and staff digital capabilities,
  2. Help to define a set of activities and processes that directly encourage and support staff digital capability e.g: recruitment requirements, appraisals, promotions  etc.

Huge thanks to everyone who participated in either of the surveys!

These results were presented to the RAU senior managers by Alun Dawes (Head of IT) on the 10th September. Going forward we hope to run the staff surveys and the student survey on alternate years. If you have any comments on the survey results please do get in touch with IT Services.

ALT 2019 – Time to take back control…

Written around the inside of the dome in the awe-inspiring McEwan hall is proverb 4:7 from the bible:

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

However if we, the 471 delegates attending the Association of Learning Technologists conference 2019, were to feel concerned by the pressure that this pursuit of wisdom might put us under then we were not to worry. As co-chair Melissa Highton (Digital Learning, Teaching & Web and Assistant Principal, University of Edinburgh) explained it’s not just the big stuff that matters, it is the day to day too. She pointed to Susan Collins art for inspiration: a series of bronze circular drops entitled The Next Big Thing is a Series of Little Things (see the feature image for this post). And as Learning Technologists it is in the day to day that we can make a difference.

The McEwan Hall

The McEwan Hall

This year’s conference hosted by the University of Edinburgh offered up its usual incredibly large number of diverse parallel sessions, workshops, keynotes, sponsor slots, lightening talks and social events. Naturally I couldn’t attend everything – though the live streaming, photos and Twitter feed help – but have jotted down some of my key takeaways:-

We need to think about the tools we use – While Sue Beckingham’s keynote was incredibly content heavy I found it a fantastic reusable resource that looks back over our recent history and considers the affordances and sometimes negative consequences of digital interconnectedness and socially mediated publicness. Sue reminded us that the internet and social media are just tools and it is up to us to really own them.

Jesse Sommel suggests we play ed tech celebrity death match!!

Jesse Sommel suggests we play ed tech celebrity death match!!

We need to think about the tools we buy – Jesse Sommel’s  (Executive Director of the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies at University of Mary Washington) keynote on Critical Pedagogy, Civil Disobedience and Edtech was really well received. He spent time looking at some fundamental questions on what learning should be (fluid? Student-led? Questioning? With agency?) and asked to think about how critical pedagogy translates into digital space and the tools we use. He pointed out that digital technologies have values coded into them in advance (“Some tools have bad pedagogy baked in”) and that these values may not align well with what is right for our students. The outgoing message is that we need to be considering these points in our procurement processes and ensure we invest in teachers (not just more tech). As Susanne Hardy (Newcastle University) explained in her Gasta talk, the feedback from the academics was “we don’t need more technology.” Frameworks like the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) – presented by Suzanne Stone (Dublin City University) could help here. See Teresa Mackinnon’s Wakelet for more on critical digital literacy

We need to understand how education is changing – I’m still not entirely sure what Blockchain is but the workshop by Alexander Mikroyannidis (the Open University) from the Qualichain project started to unveil the potential it could have for education through validation of qualifications, micro-credentials, transcripts (see the HEAR record) transparency and security of data, smart badges and personalised job offers. See https://blockchain.open.ac.uk/ for webinars and further information.  I also attended a workshop on Education 4.0  led by Gilly Salmon (Swinburne University of Technology) and John Brindle (University of Liverpool) in which we talked about future trends such as the symbiotic web leading to big changes in curricula, and applied the 6 thinking hats to them.

Ollie Bray had us building a lego duck during the plenary

Ollie Bray had us building a lego duck during the plenary

We need to redefine play and reimagine learning – at least that is what lego is doing. Ollie Bray, Global Director at the Lego foundation had us think about the spectrum of practice and remember that play is timeless, chaotic, risky, child-led,  while school is timetables, orderly, safe, adult-led (echoing Jesse Sommels earlier observations). Ollie made some interesting points about the need for creativity (note that it is not the same as imagination) and the benefits of children and adults working together in co-creative teams – working on something new together.

Digital literacy is still a biggie – There were a lot of great sessions on building student digital capability, for example by using the Digital Creative Attributes Framework (DCAF), a shared language around digital. I was also pleased to see quite a few sessions on Wikipedia and how we should be pushing it as a tool to support good quality scholarship – don’t just use Wikipedia, write it! I picked up a few new podcasts along the way (ALT mentions) and some tips on how to make them. And I think I will broadening the places I look for training and CPD to include OERu, e.g. their course on learning in a digital age and some autoethnocity (a great session by Daniel Clark from BPP on identity in relation to technology).

We are getting better at video – ALT had quite a few sessions on lecture capture, 360 video, immersive video and other related areas. I managed to get along to the Edinburgh University DIY film school which was fun, their guide book is really helpful. The team have used Office 365 to set up a kit booking process too – something we could possibly do at the RAU. I am a little jealous of how they store their media- in the Edinburgh Media Hopper portal.

Oh, and I gave a presentation about the work we have been doing at RAU on the myRAU app – Making our students ‘appy – how we successfully rolled out our student mobile app. There was also a very tasty Scottish gala dinner, a ceilidh, an awards ceremony, too many lunch-time food bowls (what’s wrong with plates??), holograms, a very unpleasant 2am fire alarm in the halls and some great networking,

So with the back drop of ministers in Westminster arguing (again) about how we should go about ‘taking back control of our country’ whilst concurrently spiraling out of control, it seemed fitting that ALT challenged us to take back control of the technology we use, the data we create and the career paths we choose.

Alt delegates, Picture by Chris Bull for Association for Learning Technology www.chrisbullphotographer.com

ALT delegates, Picture by Chris Bull for Association for Learning Technology http://www.chrisbullphotographer.com

Creating 360˚ virtual tours

Using H5P, one of the tools available on Gateway (Moodle, our VLE), you can easily create 360˚ virtual tours: a collection of 360˚ photos, which you can add texts, videos, pictures, links and multiple choice questions to. A 360˚ photo is a photograph which allows you to look in each direction.


Virtual soil, air and water tour

virtual tour

An example 360˚ virtual tour, developed by Dr. Felicity Crotty and Chantal Schipper for Catalyst module “4410 Making a positive impact on the natural environment and rural economy”, can be tried out via the link below:

Creating a virtual tour is surprisingly easy to do. All you need is:

  • A smartphone with the free Google Streetview app installed
  • A tripod with smartphone grip (can be borrowed from ITS if needed)
  • The H5P virtual tour content builder, which is already available on Gateway (our Moodle Virtual Learning Environment – VLE)

Check out the steps below to learn how to create a virtual tour.


Step 1: Planning your virtual tour

Before you go out and take photos, take a moment to think about:

  • What do you want the students to learn from this?
  • What 360˚ photos will you need to take?
  • What information (text, images, videos or links) will you need to give students to be able to achieve the learning outcomes?
  • What questions could you ask to allow students to check their learning?

Check your diary to select a time when you want to take the photo(s) and ask a Learning Technologist if the kit is available. A Learning Technologist may also be able to take the photo(s) for you. If you’re taking photographs outside, check the weather beforehand so it’s not raining.


Step 2: Taking the photographs

streetview

Once you are on location to take your photo(s), set up the tripod with the smartphone rig and insert your smartphone. Note that your smartphone must be kept in portrait mode (upright) for it to work in H5P.

Open up the Google Streetview app and click on the Camera icon on the bottom-right. Follow the instructions on the screen – you will be asked to point the camera at a collection of dots on the screen. Make sure you do not move the tripod until the 360˚ photo is complete, as this may cause odd seams in your 360˚ view.

Once the icon at the bottom turns green, click on it to save your 360˚ photo to your smartphone. You will be able to check your 360˚ photo once it has finished processing. There is no need to upload the photo to Google Maps – just save it on your smartphone.

You are able to combine multiple 360˚ photos together to create a tour of an area.

A video tutorial on using Google Streetview to create 360˚ photos can be viewed below:


Step 3: Creating your tour with information and questions

Before opening up Gateway, hook up your phone to your computer to copy the 360˚ photo(s) from your phone’s photo album (most modern phones have a USB plug in the charger). Alternatively, you could email the photo(s) to yourself from the phone’s photo album, then save them on your computer.

Then, log in to Gateway and go to the module you want to add your virtual tour to. Click on “Turn editing on”, then “Add an Activity or Resource”. Select “Interactive content” (black H5P icon) and click “Add”.

From this step, you will be able to follow the instructions on the H5P Virtual tour tutorial available here:

Once you have finished creating your virtual tour, scroll down to the bottom of the page and select “Save and display”. Do a run-through of your virtual tour to check for any mistakes. If you need to edit your virtual tour, go to the Administration block on the right and select “H5P > Edit settings”,

For any support, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the RAU Learning Technologists (Chantal Schipper, Aurelie Soulier or Marieke Guy).

Summer refresh

This summer we are having a refresh of many of our teaching rooms. Quite a few will be getting new projectors, display screens, white boards and lecterns. In addition some rooms will  receive new sound systems with wall-mounted speakers. In our labs the existing projectors and screens will be replaced by two new projectors and screens and we will be improving interconnectivity between the projectors, screens and other devices.

However from a Learning Technology point of view our most exciting purchase is of five new CleverTouch Plus screens (a mix of 55″ and 65″ screens). CleverTouch are digital touch screens that allow the teacher to deliver more interactive and engaging lessons using a variety of different tools. The CleverTouch Plus LUX screen incorporates an android module and uses android apps alongside annotation tools.

Our academics were very impressed with the screen when it was demoed back in March.

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Over the next few weeks the Learning Technologists will be getting familiar with the screens and delivering basic and advanced training to our academics.

clever

Shiny new tools

We are introducing a couple of new digital tools for the start of the new academic year. Note that all tools still need to be set up, tested and piloted.

Sim Venture Evolution

We already use Sim Venture Classic on some of our business modules but will now be adding in Evolution for our blended and distance learning students. Evolution is a business strategy simulation that is highly aligned with pedagogic approaches and subject-based learning. We have already written about our recent Evolution training day.

SimVenture-Evolution-JPeg-image-HighRes

Zoom

ZoomZoom is a video conferencing and webinar tool.

We will be using it primarily on our Catalyst programmes but also hope to run some other webinars relevant to prospective students or industry partners.

We will be integrating Zoom with Gateway (our VLE) and Panopto to support sign on and storage.

Browsealoud

Browsealoud is an additional tool from texthelp who make Read&Write. We are considering adding it to the portfolio – no definite decision yet.

It is a plug in that we will be adding to Gateway to help users with accessibility and productivity. It allows users have web pages read to them and converted to MP3 files.

Browsealoud

So what new tools is your Learning Tech team introducing? Do share!