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.

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).

Mahara: Improving the RAU ePortfolio system

Sam Taylor, eLearning Specialist at Catalyst IT, visited the Learning Technologists at the RAU on Thursday. Sam is known worldwide for her knowledge of Mahara and her positive pedagogical approaches to e-portfolios.

Mahara will play a large part of the reflective work on the newly-developed Catalyst programmes: some of the formative and summative assessment will be undertaken on Mahara. We therefore want the platform to be setup in an optimal way for all users.

The aim of the day was to get professional advice on how what is best for our Mahara platform, in terms of both technical specifications and regarding how to best structure our help and support for staff and student users.

 

Sam Taylor from Catalyst IT and the RAU Learning Technologists

Sam Taylor from Catalyst IT and the RAU Learning Technologists

Mahara Features

Thanks to Sam, we established that we might not be making full use of our current Mahara platform (18.04) due to not being familiar with the variety of features available.

As a summary, our current Mahara platform has functions such as:

  • Automatically sending notifications for changes in Terms & Conditions
  • Copying a page from other portfolio
  • Linking to another page from the user’s portfolios
  • Rotating images within Mahara
  • Linking to ‘Help’ (user manual for current version) in context (for each page)
  • Customising assessment status for Smart Evidence (competency framework)

As we discussed the options and technical support, we agreed that we would move to the latest version (19.04) of Mahara this summer, ready for the new Catalyst courses starting in October, which require Mahara for reflective activities and assessment.

This means we will benefit form a plethora of very useful new functionalities that will help us better support and manage groups and templates in Mahara. Here are some of the key improvements:

  • Timeline feature to see progress in portfolio development
  • Improved navigation
  • Improved editor for Smart Evidence (competency framework)
  • Pushing templates to groups and institutions
  • Adding a navigation block to all pages in a collection
  • Opening links in a new tab or window
  • Instructions block in pages
  • Locking blocks and stopping accidental page deletion
  • Copying blocks in context (e.g.: Journal)
  • Peer assessment (block for peers to review external activity)
  • Revoking access to page(s) in case the page is reported
  • Setting up institutional tags
  • Populating pages automatically with tag content
  • Updating a Plan directly in a page
  • Open badges

Using Templates

All templates are found under your ‘Pages and Collections’ with other portfolio pages. There are three types of templates in Mahara:

  • A page made copy-able from a user
  • Group templates – pushed to students or copied from a user
  • Institution templates that can be pushed to all users in an institution

Deep links

During the session, we found out how to create links between Gateway and Mahara so that students and staff are not forced to re-login or navigate via their dashboard to a page, from a link in Gateway.

Rubrics

We also discussed the benefits of e-portfolio rubrics for assessment and we will build a set of resources in Gateway to support our staff using rubrics.

What next?

We will carry on running workshops for staff and we will upgrade to Mahara version 19.04 this summer.

We are also planning to re-design the Mahara Support page in Gateway to include user support, academic guidance, workshops summary and notes and a series of portfolios to demonstrate good practice and the variety of uses of e-portfolios.

We would love to hear about any ideas you have for improving e-portfolio usage.

 

e-portfolios: What are they and what’s in it for me and my students?

MaharaLogo2017_300x95While the RAU has had Mahara for sometime we have unfortunately not been using it effectively as an assessment tool. Hopefully this will change soon and there are plans to use e-portfolios extensively on the new Catalyst blended-learning courses.

In order to get our academics up to speed we have launched a series of group workshops aimed at anyone interested in using an e-portfolio for student assessment. The sessions are led by Aurelie Soulier with additional support from the Learning Technology team.

Yesterday was our first session entitled e-portfolios: What are they and what’s in it for me and my students? There was some useful discussion on people’s previous experiences of using e-portfolios (not always good!) and possible uses of the tool.

Aurelie introducing ePortfolios

Aurelie introducing ePortfolios

The next sessions will be more hands on and start looking at our own e-portfolio tool in more detail.

  1. Introducing Mahara: a basic introduction to editing
    Wednesday 29th May, 3-4:30pm, Glass room, EJ
  2. Using Mahara: Designing learning activities and assessment, and using groups
    Wednesday 3rd July, 3-4:30pm, Glass room, EJ
  3. Advanced Mahara: Using competency frameworks
    Wednesday 24th July, 3-4pm, Glass room, EJ
    You will have had to attend previous workshops, or be familiar with Mahara, to attend this session
  4. Mahara for Dissertation management
    Wednesday 4th September, 3-4pm, Glass room, EJ
  5. Mahara as a CV builder
    Wednesday 18th September, 3-4pm, Glass room, EJ

All resources from the session will be available from the Mahara support page on Gateway.

Introduction to Mahara page - on Mahara

Introduction to Mahara page – on Mahara

Sim Venture Evolution – the immersive experience of running a virtual company

How can you run a company and not worry about bankruptcy? Sim Venture!

At the RAU we already use Sim Venture Classic – the server-based business simulation game from Venture Simulations. As part of the development of our Catalyst programme courses we are looking at Sim Venture Evolution – a cloud based business simulation and strategy. Earlier today we had a visit from Lesley Strachan, Learning and Development manager at SimVenture, to show us how the system can be used to support businesses courses and facilitate learning.

Lesley Strachan - Learning and Development manager SimVenture

Lesley Strachan – Learning and Development manager SimVenture

Lesley spent time showing us how the software could be used within a course to allow students to start up their own business and test out ideas.

There is quite a lot of preparatory work to be carried out by academics and facilitators and they need to think about some of the following areas:

  • Which scenario do you want to go for? Create a business from scratch, use start up (bicycle scenario), grow a business to 10 years old?
  • Should it be run weekly? As a one-day event? As a competition?
  • What about teams? Or individuals?
  • How do you assess?

In the session we were provided with user logins and Lesley gave us a couple of team tasks to work through. We began by looking at 5 core skills areas (training ground, promotions, production, pricing, borrowing) and we then set up our own companies and competed to make the most profit.

Main dashboard

Main dashboard

Sim Venture comes with a comprehensive set of resources including over 120 single page case studies. The data from student sessions can be exported into excel and used in a variety of different supplementary ways.

It’s clear that Sim Venture Evolutions could prove to be a very useful tool for the Catalyst programme. We will be investigating using it on MBA modules and during the residential session.

IMG_8929.JPG

Creating a bicycle company in Sim Venture Evolutions

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.

We’ve got the kit!

Earlier this week Helen Hyde from Hyde media joined us on campus to help us test out our new media kit. The kit has been purchased primarily to help us create video content for the catalyst programme. We are taking a mobile journalism (#mojo) approach and using phones for all filming.

Helen demonstrates our tripod and rig

Helen demonstrates our tripod and rig

Helen’s top  set up suggestions were:

  • Use a tripod for the majority of filming, gimbals are for movement and emotion
  • When you put your tripod up start from the bottom first
  • Keep your lapel mic facing down – this avoids capturing all minor sounds
  • Get your phone set up right: make sure it isn’t on silent, don’t lock in portrait mode and do put it in airplane mode
  • Make sure your phone lens it at the top when recording
  • Lighting uses a triangle – the camera, the person being filmed and the light

Our new kit comprises of:

  • Neewer Metal Smartphone Video Rig
  • RØDE SC6L 3.5 mm iOS Interface – Black
  • Neewer Professional Camera Bag Loop Backpack
  • Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum Tripod with Hybrid Head, Black
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M20X Professional Headphones
  • LaCie Copilot 2000GB Portable External Hard Drive and Backup On Set Solution (BOSS)
  • RØDE VMML Me-L Directional Microphone for iOS Devices – Black RØDE Camera and Audio VideoMic with Rycote Lyre Mount Rode VideoMicro Compact On Camera
  • Microphone
  • BOYA BY-M1 3.5mm Lavalier Condenser Microphone
  • Anker PowerCore 20100 Power bank
  • Aputure AL-M9 Amaran Lighting Up Pint-Sized LED Fill Light Mini Video Light
  • Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod with Handgrip for Compact System Cameras
  • Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer for Smartphone
  • Neewer Smartphone Rig Filmmaker Grip Tripod Mount with Cold Shoe Mount
  • Neewer Handheld Stabilizer Multi-use Ergonomic Hand Shape Grip
  • Neewer 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflector
  • Neewer Background Support System with Three 6x 9ft/1.8×2.8M Backdrop Lighting Kit
Microphone set up

Microphone set up

We will be using new kit over the next few months and experimenting with editing and multimedia techniques.

Making MoJo Movies

In order to develop really great blended learning courses for the Catalyst Programme we will be relying heavily on a variety of multimedia content. Creation and use of relevant, good quality video resources is probably top of our list. However within our Learning Tech team we have varying levels of ability when it comes to video filming and editing skills so it makes sense to get some support from the experts.

Using a hand held rig

Using a hand held rig

Yesterday we had a visit from Cassius Rayner, award winning film maker and media training expert. Cassius spent the day showing us how to use our phones like pros (we are pretty much an all iphone house) and master the art of mobile film making and mojo.

It was a really fun day and we are far from experts but there were some very clear tips that we will be sharing with our wider academic community.

Cassius Rayner setting up a tripo

Cassius Rayner setting up a tripod

General phone filming tips

  1. Always film in landscape – 16×9 is the standard option here.
  2. Don’t zoom on a phone – zooming is a lie, you are just reducing the quality of your video. If you want to be nearer get up and walk, or if your phone has a second telephoto lens use it!
  3. Newer iphones have 2 lenses (tele and wide angle) – if you want to zoom this is one option but be careful about getting in too close and your picture distorting.
  4. Iphones need lots of light so if you can pick light locations. If not there are some features (the AE/AF lock) which can help.
  5. Using a hand held rig can be a huge help in stabalising your phone and connecting it to other kit (like a tripod).
  6. Add a grid to your camera (Settings > Camera > grid) so you can line things up. Use the rule of thirds for interviews (interviewee eyes should be at the intersection of the first square.
  7. When you film an interview always film a cut away shot (like footage of their hands), you never know when you might need it. Extra cutaway shots can also include recorded interviewer questions, nodding, someone thinking, walking etc.
  8. Get good at gliding along as you film people walking. Bend your knees and walk whilst keeping the upper part of your body stable.
  9. Buy some core kit. You can bring in extra light using a reflector. A gimbal is great for counteracting shaky hands. A back screen will allow you to film great interviews with no distracting background and a microphone is essential in noisy areas as a the smart phone mics are normally not great.
  10. Keep your phone charged up and ready to go. Filming will drain your battery. Take a portable charger.
A hand held rig with mic and flash

A hand held rig with mic and flash

Just before lunch we had a break from the hands-on work and were visited by Ben McCammick-Copley, media production manager from UCEM. Ben spent time talking to our academics about the video opportunities that are out there and will support their modules.

Interview filming - photo courtesy of Madeline Paterson

Interview filming – photo courtesy of Madeline Paterson

Filmic pro filming tips

In the afternoon we spent time using the Filmic pro app. which gives you lots more control over your phone camera than your standard set up.

  1. The usual number of frames is 24 frames per second for film and 25 frames per second for video.
  2. Set your white balance – you can use auto but also do manually. Click to lock.
  3. Set your presets in advance. We went for 16.9, HD 2K, filmic pro for standard filming, and also created a slo-mo setting.
  4. Don’t save your videos to the photo gallery as this will cause loss of quality – load them directly on to your computer for editing.
  5. If you want to learn about more ways to use FilmicPro, you will find detailed tutorials on the Filmic pro website.

We ended the day by creating our own little promo and editing it on iMovie.

I think we are feeling a lot more confident about our filming ability, now we just need something to film!

Aurelie works the slider

Aurelie works the slider

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.

Cracking on with the Catalyst Project

Last week was an incredibly busy one for the Catalyst project.

On Tuesday we had our Catalyst Startup and Staff Development workshop for all academic staff who will be involved in development and delivery of the four new programmes.  Professor David Main, Director of Educational Enhancement at the RAU, led the morning sessions which looked at a review of future skills requirements, draft competency statements and assessment methods for competencies. In some very interactive sessions David had us thinking about the type of students we hope to create through our programmes.

Post it notes and discussions

Post it notes and discussions

In the afternoon we got more digital.

The sessions were led by Madeline Paterson from UCEM, the Catalyst project’s Digital Project Manager. Fiona Harvey, Head of Digital Education at UCEM talked to the academics about their web life so far and how they are already more digital than they realise.

Madeline Paterson and Fiona Harvey ask us about our digital life

Madeline Paterson and Fiona Harvey ask us about our digital life

I presented on the RAU’s digital transformation and reflected on the evidence we have so far (Jisc tracker survey, our VLE review, NSS, LEO, SSS, module feedback) and the current digital landscape. A few stats that provide food for thought:

  • More than a quarter of higher education students are enrolled in least one online course (Babson survey)
  • Today you need to plan for five careers in a lifetime (LinkedIn and Ivestec surveys)
  • Students in England now graduate with average debts of £50,800 (IFS)
  • Only 32% of students in England thought their courses were good value for money (Student Academic Experience Survey)
  • Over the last two years 90% existing data in the world was generated (Science daily)
  • Cheating at UK universities has increased by a third in the last three years (Guardian)

Lynne Downey, VP Online Education at UCEM followed on with an introduction to student experience and student success in the digital arena.

ucem - 9

Her slides covered the three agendas for Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) and how they can all be achieved through intelligent design:

  • Evangelical: Efficiency and flexibility, as determined by administrators/managers
  • Academic: Expression and freedom, as an extension of the traditional teacher role
  • Designed: Effectiveness and focus, as instruments of student achievement

evan.jpg

Harmonising these approaches is one of the foundations of the UCEM online pedagogical approach. RAU will be using these as part of the Student Outcome Led Design (SOLD) methodology that we plan to adopt for the design of the four courses.

We started to think in a more concrete way about the potential for the courses in activity that had us considering that ‘Teaching online is not the same as teaching face to face, but blended learning is the best of both worlds’. I felt like this activity was a crunch point for the day, the moment when the academics stopped worrying about online and learned to love blended learning. There is so much potential for our courses, it really is very exciting.

After this Fiona Harvey and Peter Stone, Technology Innovation Manager at UCEM gave us a taste of the tools that will form the Learning technology toolset here at RAU. Madeline concluded the day with an overview of guidelines, process, plan and partnership working.

I think our academics were left a little dazed, slightly confused but definitely inspired and enthused about what is to come.

The later part of the week involved interviewing our potential new Learning Technologist. We had a very high caliber of applicants and some difficult decisions had to be made, but luckily the interview team were unanimous on choices. You will be hearing more from our new LTs when they are in post.