Dissertation supervision using Moodle (Gateway) Database

For our distance learning programmes (Catalyst), we have designed a database to allow the students and supervisors to track their progress for their Dissertation or Applied project. Using this system, they can upload meeting records, draft (sections of) their dissertation for feedback, monthly progress logs, notes and comments. The supervisors will be able to comment on each record or edit the record to add feedback in uploaded files.

The reason for this database is to keep all records regarding students’ Dissertations or Applied projects in one place. This database has been added to the same area as the Dissertation & Applied project guides and the portal for submitting their final Dissertation. Having this system means that supervisors and students don’t have to search through their email for records. In addition, if a supervisor goes off on long-term leave or resigns, a newly assigned supervisor will have access to all the information they need.

At the moment, supervisors do not get notified from the database when a student uploads something; students are asked to ping a quick email to their supervisor to let them know to have a look. In the future, we may look into whether Event monitoring may be an option to assist with this.

Some basic CSS and HTML table styling has been used in the Templates to organise and improve the look of the database records.

We have tried to keep the database as simple as possible. Let me run you through the system:

 

Instructions

Above the database records, the students will be able to find instructions for how to use it, as well as download templates for any forms they may need to fill out and upload. In addition, we have added the supervisors’ email addresses to enable the students to plan meetings with them.

Supervision database image1

To access different areas, there are tabs at the top of the database:

Supervision database image5

  • “View list” means showing all records’ basic information in a list
  • “View single” means showing one full record at a time
  • “Search” can be used to find certain records with extended search options
  • “Add entry” is where students can add a new entry to their records.

Let’s run through each option:

 

List view and basic search

The main overview for the database is a list of records. Students will only be able to see their own records, which is achieved by requiring approval by a “Teacher” role and removing the “Approve” button. Records are sorted in order of “Time added” / “Descending”, meaning that the last added record will always be listed first. Supervisors can see all records from all students in the same order.

At the top, there is a basic search function, so supervisors can add their name to the search to list all their students or add a specific student’s name to the search function to find all records for one student. This search function can also be used to search for particular types of entries (i.e. meeting record forms, dissertation uploads etc.) or to search for a particular word in a comment.

The list view has an incomplete record view, showing only the student’s name, the supervisor’s name, the entry type and when it was last added or modified. There is a link to show the full entry.

Using the “Edit” cog on the right, students and supervisors can edit the corresponding record to update information or to add feedback within a form.

Using the selection box, they can delete an entry if they have uploaded incorrect information. To prevent mistakes, we removed the standard “Delete” button and made it a multi-step process of selecting a record, then clicking “Delete selected” at the bottom of the page. A confirmation box will also appear before a record is permanently deleted.

Supervision database image2

 

Single view

In the single view of a record, students and supervisors can find the full details of a record. They will see the basic information as displayed in the list view, as well as the full record including the uploaded file, notes and any comments as added by the student and/or the supervisor(s).

Supervision database image3

 

Search

Using the search tab, students and supervisors can use extended options to search for records:

Supervision database image6

 

Add entry view

In the “Add entry” view, students can add new records. This has been designed as a simple form to fill in. The students are asked to:

  • Select their supervisor from a drop-down menu
  • Select their entry type from a drop-down menu:
    Supervision database image7
  • Upload a file; students can upload files such as meeting record forms, monthly progress logs as well as (parts of) their dissertation for feedback. As a standard in the Moodle Database system, only one file can be uploaded at a time, which is why the students are told to create a separate record for each file.
  • Add any comments or notes in a text box.
  • Click either “Save and view” or “Save and add another”, based on their needs.

Once the form has been saved, their completed details will be instantly saved to the “List view” and “Single view”, where it can be edited and commented on.

Supervision database image4

This concludes our tour of the Supervision database. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with RAU Learning Technologist Chantal Schipper.

 

 

Bett 2020 – Day 3

On Friday the 24th of January, I attended the Bett Show conference. Bett is one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, with over 800 leading companies, 103 EdTech startups and 34,000 attendees [1]. Not only is there a large exhibition of many eLearning technology providers, you can also attend useful seminars hosted by leaders in the field.

Marieke had attended the Bett show as well on Wednesday the 22nd of January; have a read of her blog post here.

IMG_20200124_111555

Welcome to the Bett show

Upon arrival to the Bett show, I had a quick orientation walk around of the conference, where I came upon Clevertouch (the provider of the touchscreens RAU is currently rolling out) hosting a session on how to use their touchscreens in creative ways in the classroom and how to use the connectivity options to get students to play an active role in learning.

IMG_20200124_112432

Clevertouch’s session on using their screens in the classroom

After the Clevertouch session, I made my way to the HE/FE theatre for a talk by Simon Kay from South Gloucestershire and Stroud Colleges, who spoke about how they have successfully rolled out MS Teams across their campuses and the creative ways in which they are using MS Teams for teaching & learning, as well as communication.

As RAU is currently in the process of rolling out MS Office (which Teams is a part of), it was very useful to see how they went about designing their platform and providing support and training for their students and staff.

IMG_20200124_114615

Simon Kay explaining how they launched their MS Teams platform amongst the students and staff

Straight after the session by Simon Kay, I remained in the HE/FE theatre for a talk on Smart campuses and how Universities in the USA are using technology to improve:

  • student learning, for example being able to check from anywhere on the campus which study spaces have computers available
  • student on campus living, for example being able to check on your phone whether there’s equipment available in the gym or what’s available for lunch
  • sustainability and cost reduction, for example lighting that turns on and off automatically
  • security, for example unlocking doors with your badge, CCTV and even an AI system that can identify the sound and location of gunfire and trigger a response plan accordingly
IMG_20200124_124222

Richard Nedwich explaining the different elements of a Smart campus and how they link together via cloud technologies

The next seminar I attended was by Abi James of AbilityNet, who explained what accessibility means and what public bodies (including Universities) need to do to adhere to new accessibility regulations. Part of this is ensuring that your websites and VLE’s are easy to use by people with a range of SEND (Special Education Needs and Disabilities). Abi went on to explain how you can test and improve your webpages for this purpose and spoke about what writing a mandatory accessibility statement entails.

IMG_20200124_132547

Abi James explaining the principles of Accessibility

After a little break, I had a walk around the exhibition. It was very interesting to see the diverse range of eLearning tools that are available and what they are used for. Some of the tools on display included:

  • Software, such as VLE’s, e-learning tools, apps, communication platforms, student registration tools, learning management solutions etc.
  • Learning materials, such as e-books, publishers and learning programmes
  • Hardware, such as learning robots, virtual reality kits, touch screens, interactive projectors and other devices
  • Furniture for creating smart classrooms and huddle spaces, as well as laptop/tablet safes

There was also a large section of the exhibition dedicated to a “Global Showcase” where people from different countries such as Norway, Korea, Saudi Arabia and France showed how they use technology for teaching and learning. In addition, there was a strong focus on SEND and student wellbeing, with Friday being dubbed “SEND Friday”.

As my last seminar of the day, I attended “Unified communication via the Cloud”, where Scott Somenthal spoke about how Universities can use “the Cloud” to connect different communication tools, after which it was time to make the trek back to Cirencester.

During the Bett show, I have gained many new insights and ideas, which are now to be digested and used in the RAU LT team’s work.

Resource Review workshop

As part of the design process for the new BSc (Hons) Rural Entrepreneurship & Enterprise, one of the new Catalyst programme courses, we were involved in a Resource Review workshop. The workshop was facilitated by Kate Lindsay, Damien Turner, Sue Lowe and Sandra Scalzavara from the University College of Estate Management (UCEM) who are supporting us with the development of the Catalyst programmes.

A team working on the marketing module

A team of academics working on the marketing module

During the workshop the academics were asked to consider resources (text, audio, video, image, hyperlink, interactive activities, artefacts etc.) that already exist and think about repurposing them for programme modules using some different techniques.

For example they were asked to consider:

  • Is the resource relevant?
  • Is the resource available?
  • Is the resource reliable?
  • Is the resource current?
  • Is the resource scaffolded?

img_2484.jpgThe programme academics broke into teams and worked on an individual module with a Learning Technologist from UCEM. They were asked to place their suggested resources on a chart and consider their relevance to the module learning outcomes.

After thinking about what resources already exist, the academics used the remaining time to fill in the gaps with resources that need to be found or developed.

IMG_2488
Susan Baker, the RAU Library Operations Manager, also attended the workshop and provided an overview of the databases and e-library platforms that RAU has available for 2020. These include:

  • Business Source Premier (Ebsco)
  • Emerald Business & Management Journals
  • Science Direct
  • Other e-journal packages such as Wiley, Taylor & Francis, Sage
  • Marketline Advantage
  • Statista is a highly trustworthy source of data and statistics across a very broad range of industries. It also includes reports, dossiers, forecasts, infographics etc.

These resources can be searched via “Find It @ RAU” on the Library page on Gateway.

A team of academics working on the entrepreneurship module

A team of academics working on the entrepreneurship module

The session worked really well and by the end of the two hours we had a clear overview of what resources can be used in the to be developed modules. This overview of resources will be used in the oncoming Design Workshops to further develop these modules.

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).

Catalyst show and tell day

Yesterday was a Catalyst show and tell day looking at our second batch of modules in development.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Catalyst project it involves the development of four innovative blended learning programmes for the University. You can see our previous blog posts on work so far.

During this all day session module leaders shared their work so far, giving us a virtual tour of module content and activities.

Learning Technologist Aurelie Soulier outlines the dissertation supervision plans for Catalyst

Learning Technologist Aurelie Soulier outlines the dissertation supervision plans for Catalyst

With modules ranging from ‘Improving your financial decision-making skills’ and ‘Making sense of a changing world’, to ‘Facing the global challenges in food and agriculture’ and ‘Managing your food and agri-business supply chains’ there was some really varied and exciting content.

Interactive time line of the history of agriculture in the UK

Interactive time line of the history of agriculture in the UK

We’ve made good use of tools like H5P, Answer Garden, Mahara, Padlet, Panopto and moodle activities to ensure that the end result is a highly interactive experience for the user.

Good things happening on the Catalyst project

It’s time to announce a few good things as we approach the start of the design and development work on the two new postgraduate programmes:

  • MBA Innovation in Sustainable Food and Agriculture
  • MSc Sustainable Food and Agriculture Policy.

 

Learning technologists

Two new Learning Technologists, Chantal Schipper and Aurelie Soulier, have now both started at the RAU. They will be supporting and guiding the academics working on the Catalyst programmes in designing and developing the online modules.

 

Catalyst project guidelines

The Learning Technology team have been working hard on developing the Catalyst Project intranet pages. Here you will find:

  •  information about the programmes in development
  • details about the roles and responsibilities of the Catalyst team
  • information about teaching in HE and at the RAU that relates to Catalyst
  • professional development related to distance teaching and learning
  • guidelines on module design, the ‘assessment first’ principle, accessibility, quality enhancement etc.
  • information about the development process and our 12-week development timeline
  • the forms and templates that the Catalyst team will use during development.

The Catalyst Project pages are on the RAU staff intranet (internal only)

Catalyst project intranet

More guidance will be written, so do keep an eye on our intranet site!

 

Office 365

The IT Services team is working hard on implementing Office 365 for RAU staff. It will initially be piloted within the ITS team and the Catalyst Project will be using “MS Teams” to collaborate with each other during the Catalyst project’s module design and development stages.

To find out more about Office 365 and how you can use it, have a look at Microsoft’s online training videos available here:

Office 365 training centre

 

What is happening now?

Currently, module leaders are speaking with their specialist contributors to generate ideas for student activities and assessments. On 8 November, the Catalyst team working on the postgraduate programmes will come together for a “Start-Up day”. Supported by the Learning Technologists, the team will shape up their ideas into module designs and will write action plans to develop six modules every twelve weeks.
Meanwhile, the Learning Technology team is working on implementing tools to support eBooks, webinars, e-portfolios, data and reporting and identifying specialists for media production.

The Learning Technology team first started working on Catalyst in spring 2018. At the first workshop, some of the people involved spoke about what was ahead and how that first workshop in July had gone. To watch these short videos, click on the names below.

If you have any questions related to the Catalyst project or learning technology, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Learning Technology team.

Introducing Chantal

Hello!fbt

I am Chantal Schipper and I am one of two new Learning Technologists joining the Royal Agricultural University to primarily support the Catalyst project. We will be supporting the development and delivery of four new innovative blended programmes. The tremendous experience and knowledge the RAU will gain from this project will also be used to further enhance current programs.

Before joining the RAU, I worked as the e-Learning coordinator at one of RAU’s partners Capel Manor College. My role at Capel mainly involved supporting and training lecturing staff in using technology to enhance the quality of teaching and learning, as well as researching, assessing and implementing new technologies. Part of my role at Capel involved working as a library assistant for an hour per day. In addition, I worked as an evening IT tutor at the Adult Learning Academy. Prior to working at Capel Manor College, I have also worked as an IT teacher at a University in the Netherlands.

I have a degree in Communication & multimedia design, with a focus on educational media. I interned for an e-Learning development & consultancy company. During my last year at University, I moved to the UK to write my thesis on the use of media technologies in promoting and facilitating life-long collaborative learning.

In my spare time I love to read, listen to music and to go out hiking. Having just moved from London to Gloucestershire, I am looking forward to exploring the Cotswolds! For the past year, I have also volunteered at a dog rescue centre in London, where I walk and provide basic care to German Shepherds and other Alsatians. As it’s now quite a drive from Gloucestershire to London, I am looking for new related volunteer work in the area.

If you would like to get in touch, please feel free to contact me via email: chantal.schipper@rau.ac.uk.