Module design on the Catalyst project

Background

2½ years ago the RAU, in collaboration with UCEM and CCRI, started on the development of four new postgraduate and undergraduate programmes in what’s called the “Catalyst project”. The new programmes are designed to stimulate and support enhanced leadership in the land management and agri-food sectors, especially suited to the post-Brexit era that meets the unprecedented combination of challenges posed by the rapidly changing political, economic and natural environments.

The first stage of the Catalyst project was to write the programme and module specifications. The programmes have been created in conjunction with CCRI and RAU’s industry partners, including the National Trust, Waitrose and National Farmers’ Union, to carefully tailor the programmes to meet skills gaps and respond to changes in industry trends.

Once the specifications were in place, the Learning technology team worked on developing processes for the pedagogical and technical design and development of the programmes and modules.

 

Development of processes

Prior to starting module development we worked with UCEM, who specialise in online education, to develop processes for the design of our modules, taking best practices in pedagogy and online learning into account. Extensive research and conversations with other education organisations has gone into the development of module templates, design processes and academic training.

 

Postgraduate programmes development process

During the second stage of the Catalyst project, we developed two online postgraduate programmes: MBA Innovation in Sustainable Food and Agriculture and MSc Sustainable Food and Agriculture Policy.

We designed a 12-week module design process, with “on-time” training sessions to support the academics in their design and development. This process has been adapted from UCEM’s module development processes and works in stages.

This process uses UCEM’s model named “Student Outcome Led Design (SOLD)”; meaning that the final assessment is designed first, focusing on assessing the module learning outcomes, and the module is designed to develop the skills the students need to complete the assessment.

To kick off the design and development of the modules, the Learning technology team hosts a “Start-up day”, a day-long workshop consisting of multiple stages:

  1. Introductory training in module design, accessibility, design processes, online learning tools.
  2. Module conversations based on question cards designed to stimulate the thought process and familiarisation with the module
  3. Assessment design based on the module’s learning outcomes
  4. Planning “themes” based on the learning outcomes and final assessment
  5. Planning formative assessments – working towards the final assessment
  6. Planning weekly “learning points” i.e. what will the students learn this week?

The Start-up day is hosted with around 6-7 module leads and two Learning technologists in a room to allow for easy sharing of ideas and experiences.

startup day

After the start-up day, the academics go and speak to colleagues, library etc. to gather ideas and resources for their module, prior to a 1-1 design & planning session with a Learning technologist to flesh out the content further into learning activities and to write an action plan for development. This module design is written out into a templated sheet for a Quality review meeting with the programme lead, an additional academic with an interest in the subject and where possible one of our external partners. This meeting is an open discussion to discuss the module design prior to its development.

Once the module design has gone through the Quality review, the module lead, contributors and the Learning technologists develop the online learning activities over the next 10 weeks. The Learning technology team provides academics with templated sheets to write their content in, so it’s ready to be turned into online learning activities and consistent with other modules on the programme. These templates have clear instructions for the academics and links to short training pages. During the whole process, each module has a lead Learning technologist the academics are able to contact when they get stuck, need guidance or would like to brainstorm ideas for an activity. The learning technologists will also create the activities on the VLE.

The full design templates document consists of five steps:

  1. Learning outcomes and questions to think about
  2. Summative assessment(s)
  3. Themes: plan topics and put them in a logical order
  4. Learning points and activities: what will the students learn each week? What activities can be created for the students to learn that and how can they check their learning?
  5. Full activities: write out the content and gather resources and media, to be provided to a Learning technologist using a templated sheet.

During week 7 of the development stage, the Learning technology team hosts an informal “Show & Tell session”, where the module leads get to show off what they’ve done so far and share ideas with other academics going through the process.

Show and tell

In the final week of development, the Quality review team for the module comes together again to discuss the final result.

This process has been repeated twice to develop all modules on the post-graduate Catalyst programmes within an academic year. These programmes have now successfully run for their first year and the programme team has received great feedback from the students.

 

Adapting the process to development of new Undergraduate Catalyst programmes

The third stage of the Catalyst project consists of developing two Undergraduate programmes: BSc Rural Entrepreneurship and Enterprise and BSc Environment, Food and Society. These programmes are more campus-based and focus on innovative teaching methods as well as a proportion of online learning.

For this stage, we used the previous processes and adapted them based on lessons learned, as well as redesigning the templates to work for campus-based teaching. Additionally, we combined our previous processes with UCL’s ABC Learning design methods.

To adapt to the Covid-19 situation, we’ve had to scrap our Start-up days and are now using an online version of UCEM’s Design jam model on a module-by-module basis. For each module, we schedule in an initial three-hour Design jam with two Learning technologists, the module lead and one or two academics with an interest in the subject. As we are all currently working from home, we are using MS Teams and Sharepoint to facilitate the Design Jams: we use a Teams call to be able to discuss and share ideas as a group, while we all have a synchronously updated Word template opened up on Sharepoint to write out the ideas we have for the module design.

The Design Jam consists of a few stages:

  1. Introduction to the process by a Learning technologist
  2. Module basics: Learning outcomes and questions to think about before designing your module
    Module basics
  3. Writing the summative assessment task(s)
  4. Learning overview: weekly topics, learning points (what will the students learn this week) and opportunities to check student learning. Academics are asked to highlight the relevant learning outcomes for each week.
  5. Learning design: the activities, media and resources to be used or created for each week. Activities are designed within four to five weekly stages: Online introduction, Online lecture, Online activities, Face-to-face seminar and Online knowledge check (optional). UCL’s ABC learning design method is used at this stage to provide an even balance of activity types: Acquisition, Collaboration, Discussion, Investigation, Practice and Production.
    ABC
  6. Action planning: an action register is created for the development of the module.

After the Design jam, the academics have some time to discuss their ideas with colleagues, library etc. The module lead, collaborators and Learning technologists work according to the action plan to develop their content. The programme team regularly comes together to check progress and quality of each module.

These programmes will run starting from September ’20.

 

The future

Over the last two years, academics and Learning technologists have learned a lot about online teaching & learning and learning design. A lot of the lessons we have learned during the project have been heavily used during the pivot to online for all RAU programmes when the Covid lockdown started.

Academics who have taken part in the Catalyst project are already using what they’ve learned and the design processes for the modules they run on other programmes. We plan on further expanding the use of the processes to all new and old RAU programmes.

VLE Accessibility statement

This Thursday (May 21st) was the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

global accessibility awareness day 2020

Unfortunately we weren’t able to run any events but as a team we did attend many of the interesting webinars that took place, including the all-day event run by the Government Digital Service. One of their sessions was on ‘How to avoid common accessibility statement fails’ and considered the public sector accessibility statements that need to be online by September this year in order to comply with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations 2018. The event provided a final check list for the VLE statement that we have been working on.

We are now excited to be be able to launch our VLE Accessibility Statement. on Gateway.

The statement considers:

  • the overall accessibility of our site
  • any problem areas and how we are addressing them
  • contact details for those experiencing accessibility issues
  • associated services
  • Our recent accessibility audit and the Jisc accessibility audit that took place in 2018

The statement is one of many measures we are taking to ensure we comply with the digital accessibility regulations. This summer we plan to have a comprehensive training programme for our academics and accessibility will be one of the core areas we cover. We will also be promoting the great accessibility tools that we already have as an institution (SensusAccess, Read&Write, Office 365 tools, MindGenius). Currently we are carrying out a lot of work looking at our pre-recorded video captioning, this will be using Panopto Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and other captioning services. There is a lot going on!

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.

 

 

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!

H5P – Everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask

Yesterday the RAU Learning technologists participated in an all-day training session on H5P led by moodle and H5P expert Dan Jeffries.

H5P is a free and open-source content collaboration framework based on JavaScript. H5P is an abbreviation for HTML5 Package, and enables users to create, share and reuse interactive HTML5 content. It integrates well with our moodle VLE and Chantal and Aurelie have been using it to build activities for the Catalyst Programme.

Dan Jeffries and our LTs

Dan Jeffries and our LTs

Due to our differing ability levels in using H5P Dan started off with a general intro to the tool and then focused on a couple of activities that will have maximum impact.

We spent time looking at:

  • Course presentation – an activity that comprises of many other smaller activities and with some skill could result in development of complete online learning course. Some of our key learnings here are:
    • Make the most of templates and copying content.
    • Use active surface mode for jumping around a presentation (be careful to not accidentally turn this on as you will have to rebuild content).
    • Create layers for putting over images and setting up hotspots.
    • The image background uses a 2:1 ratio – avoid stretching.
    • Hide the toolbar to avoid confusion to users.
    • End with a summary slide (or set of statements to chose from).
  • Interactive video – an interactive video content type which allows you to add things like multiple choice and fill in the blank questions and pop-up text to your videos. Some of our key learnings here are:
    • We need to look at if it is possible to get Panopto to work with H5P.
    • Title screens don’t work on YouTube.
    • Grades go to the moodle gradebook automatically.
    • Crossroads allows branching.
  • Documentation tool – allows you to create form wizards and outputs a document when the user has reach the end of the wizard. Some of our key learnings here are:
    • There is a lot of potential use for reflection but the goals pages are a little odd as they ask you to come up with goals and then think about how you have achieved them. Needs to be used at the end of a task.
    • Links with gradebook but unless there is a grade it can be difficult to see if the student has completed. Maybe better to use with activity completion.
    • You can export documents and get students to submit through Turnitin.
  • Speak the words – a fun test activity that uses voice recognition – teachers ask a question that can be answered with the user’s own voice.
Dan Jeffries demonstrating interactive video

Dan Jeffries demonstrating interactive video

Other useful tips from the day:

  • You can store all your H5P activities in wordpress and then link directly to them. This really helps with centralising and reusing activities.
  • Use the reuse option and download and import content.
  • Get snippet on your moodle site – great for reusing code.
  • Lots of other moodle tips that we are going to have a think about for our site!

Thanks to Dan for sharing his wisdom with us. Lots of fodder for our Friday TEL tips.

Rollover, rollover..

In the summer holidays we will be ‘rolling over’ our moodle site (Gateway). This process involves some key activities. Firstly we will be upgrading moodle itself and all connected services. Then we will be creating new blank module pages and new blank programme pages. There will also be some minor changes to the look and feel of Gateway.

I thought it might be useful to explain what is involved in the process.

Some background

The RAU has used moodle as its main Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) software for 7 years now. The service is known by staff and students as Gateway and is used for all taught courses with on-site teaching. Gateway consists of a main live site and a demo site, both run on a university server. The service is supported with consultancy effort from VLE Middleware, part of The Development Manager (TDM).

In the past, updates to the version of moodle used have been inconsistent and only made when absolutely necessary. Teaching staff were given little guidance on the layout and content required for their module and course pages.

At the start of the 2017/18 academic year, in an attempt to apply a level of consistency, a new tabbed template was released for all module pages. At the same time it was also decided that students would in future be able to access previous years’ module pages to help them with their academic studies and revision. Both changes have been (on the whole) well-received by staff and students.

gateway-home

One of our proposed layouts for the front page of Gateway

A new Gateway maintenance plan

We are now planning a more systematic and strategic approach to the use and development of Gateway.

The proposed approach has a number of elements

1. Gateway maintenance week

This will be an annual week of maintenance to take place after the end of the summer term, post results. It will involve an upgrade of moodle to the most recent Long Term Stable Release (LTSR). Note that LTSR versions are designed to be supported for a longer than normal period. Upgrades will also be carried out (if required) on services that integrate with moodle, such as Turnitin, Panopto and Talis Aspire.

2. Introduce a standard format for programme pages

For 2018-19, a new, standard format for course pages is to be introduced.

3. Preparation for Gateway rollover.

Prior to rollover, all recommended changes to module and course page templates will be agreed with Registry and academic staff, as will any changes to the Gateway Baseline (see below) and support and guidance for the new templates will be developed.

4. Gateway Baseline

The Gateway Baseline establishes the minimum standards expected of taught courses with a VLE presence. The Baseline is intended to ensure consistent course structure and navigation; consistent content location and format; effective communication and clear guidance for electronic submission, assessment and feedback. It is supported with online resources and an exemplar Gateway page.

5. Gateway rollover

At the end of Gateway maintenance week, a rollover process will be carried out. This process involves rolling over all the previous year’s pages into an archive folder and creating the new pages for the new academic year. The process will take place once all final changes to modules have been agreed by AQSC.

6. Page update by academics

After Gateway rollover has taken place academics will be in a position to update their new module and course pages in preparation for the new academic year. They will also be required to update their RAU Resource Lists and create their online assessments. Training and support will be provided. A rationale for the use of blank templates is provided at the end of this post.

7. Monitoring of page updates

Prior to the start of the academic year reports will be run to indicate new Gateway pages for the academic year that have yet to be updated. Teaching staff who have not updated their page content will be given extra support.

Each year a calendar will be provided detailing the time frame for all the above elements.

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Mahoodle for digital assessment

Today Rachael Foy (senior lecturer, RAU) and I attended the Mahoodle for digital assessment one-day conference at Cranfield Defence and Security (CDS), part of Cranfield University, based at the Ministry of Defence establishment at Shrivenham.

Cranfield University, along with Southampton Solent University, have been a little like RAU’s big sibling in our VLE transformation process. They have been metaphorically holding our hand, inspiring us and offering us support and guidance throughout – for which we are very grateful. This one-day event looking at moodle and Mahara, both open-source tools that we use at RAU, was something weren’t going to miss.

The day comprised of a good mix of plenaries, show and tells and workshops.

Keynote: Overview of the Erasmus-funded Academic Integrity project

Dr Mark Glynn (Dublin City University) gave us an overview of the 12 principles that they have established as part of their Academic integrity project. The principles will lead in to development of a toolkit which will include Case studies, self-assessment checklist, collation of resources.

Dr Mark Glynn, DCU

Mark also shared a whole heap of ‘giveaways’ including a rubric giveaway and an ebook on eportfolios.

Show and Tell Session 1

Aimee Helliker (Lecturer in Military Engineering Weapon & Vehicle Systems, Cranfield University) explained how she has managed to get students engaged prior to the start of their module using a few minor tweaks. She has change the term ‘pre-reading’ to ‘pre-work’ and explains that the student needs to dedicate time to the module before they start. She has also been more explicit about the reading required and gives clearly directed reading which involves identification of chapters considered using formative assessment consisting of a pre-work quiz and pre-work reflective question given within the opening lecture.

Roger Emery (Head of Learning Technologies, Southampton Solent University) and Edd Bolton (Learning Technologist, Southampton Solent University) provided an overview of their recent work on their myportfolio Mahara system. SmartEvidence allows you to work with competency frameworks in Mahara and associate them automatically with an evidence map for a visualisation of the competencies already gained, in progress, and not yet started. At Solent they have created templates for Competency based frameworks developed with JSON files.

Jane Watts and Mike Wadley from the Defence Academy elearning team talked about some of the security challenges of working in the MOD in relation to their Virtual Learning Environment. So for example they can’t allow upload of materials by students or marking online and assessments need to be locked down. The site also needs to pass penetration tests. This year’s approach has been implementation of an assessor role which will ensure that all assignments are classified officially.

Steve Powell (e-learning team leader, Lancaster University) presented their new approved policy of 100% online submission and paperless feedback. The policy is supported by a move to Moodle assignments away from use of Turnitin.

Steve Powell, Lancaster University

Steve Powell, Lancaster University

Bob Ridge-Stearn (head of e-learning, Newman University) gave an overview of how Newman have applied a lock down approach to their moodle assignments – they all have the same settings. Academics can flag that they would like assignments to be set up different but this is controlled centrally by elearning.

Portfolio Assessment Workshop

Portfolio Assessment Workshop

After lunch and an amazing tour of the Technology School (think big tanks, helicopters and guns!) Aurélie Soulier and Sam Taylor (Learning Technologists, Cranfield University) ran their Portfolio Assessment Workshop. They had us designing an assessment that could be used to road test their Evaluation Checklist.

Assessment toolkit

Joey Murison (Catalyst IT Europe) then gave a demonstration of the key new features in moodle 3.5 and Mahara 18.04. He wins the award for the best analogy of the day: “open source is free, like a puppy – it needs food and water and love”. Joey’s main suggestion was that we aim to go for Long Term Stable Releases (LTSR) if possible, these versions are designed to be supported for a longer than normal period. The next LTSR of moodle is 3.5, which is out fairly soon. The recent versions of moodle have had relatively few additions due to the main focus being on GDPR compliance.

Show and Tell Session 2

Richard Oelmann (Senior System Developer, University of Gloucestershire) demonstrated their progress in SITS and moodle integration and Submission from Mahara into moodle.

Dan Jefferies (Improve International) gave a whirlwind demo of user tours, which allows administrators to create visual and positional step by step guides of moodle. He also showed us snippets, a plugin which allows administrators to add text, layouts, buttons and other content from templates directly into moodle HTML areas.

Andrew Field (e-learning manager, Cambridge Assessment International Education) talked about rubrics, badges and their custom plugin team project which allows team submissions. They will be releasing later on in the year.

Gill Ritchie (Learning Technologist, Queen Mary University of London) gave an honest account of her experiences in using Mahoodle for assessment. They have been using it on the PGCAP they run which is attended by Learning Technologists. They’ve had mixed results and many people have found Mahara hardgoing. The single column view use (see below) being a good example of a fail.

IMG_3795

Gill Ritchie, QM

Brett Lucas (e-learning Policy and Change Manager, Queen Mary University of London) and Rumi Begum (Learning Technologist, Queen Mary University of London) shared their QMUL Model which is an initiative to broaden opportunities for Queen Mary undergraduates within by allowing them to study modules outside of their main curriculum. The model is built around networking; multi- and inter-disciplinarity; international/global perspectives and enterprising perspectives. They are using Mahara as the main portfolio tool.

The final session of the day was the Mahoodle Clinic facilitated by Roger Emery (Southampton Solent University). The questions are all available on Padlet.

A great day with lots of ideas to keep us busy!

moodlemoot 2018

I’ve just returned from the Ireland and UK Moodle Moot held in Glasgow, Scotland. moodle is our virtual learning environment and as I’ve explained in previous posts we are keen to make better and more effective use of it. This means moving from its use as a repository of learning materials to an engaging learning tool that effectively facilitates student interaction and allows delivery of our blended learning courses. Moodle does seem to be up for the job. As a well-established open source tool it has a large community of developers and users all working towards it’s goal: “to give the world the most effective platform for learning”.

Martin Dougiamas opens the moot

Martin Dougiamas opens the moot

Martin Dougiamas, moodle founder and CEO delivered the opening plenary (and facilitated quite a lot of the sessions). He covered how moodle is focused on supporting the Sustainable development Goals, a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. Goal 4 covers Quality Education. Martin explained how moodle has been at an inflection point (the increased uptake of other VLEs may be a contributing factor here) leading the team to talk to investors. They have finally opted to partner with Education for the many, an investment company owned by the Decathlon sports store who have invested 6 million dollars in the company.

This further investment is allowing Moodle to work on two key areas:

  • The Learn moodle project – building a curriculum to aid users (teachers, lecturers etc.) in learning to teach online delivered in mulltilingual courses with certifications and accreditation. Learn moodle will be aligned under DigCompEdu, a European commission digital competencies framework.
  • The moodlenet project – building an online community around moodle that will replace the moodle.org forums and will be the place in which to share all moodle resources, ideas and developed tools. Moodlenet will sit between tech and pedagogy and will unite developers and users.
The venue for moodlemoot: Technology and Innovation Centre, Strathclyde University

The venue for moodlemoot: Technology and Innovation Centre, Strathclyde University

The moot covered many important areas but the key takeaways for me were:

GDPR – Moodle 3.5 out in May 2018 will bring new security features for GDPR compliance. In the meantime there are two plugins that will help with ensuring that the VLE and its users offer clarity on how user data is used. At RAU we are in the process of upgrading Moodle and will have these plugins working soon. However creating more online content brings more GDPR considerations such as video rights, discussion forum content etc.

Plugins – so many to choose from and many interesting ideas to help us deliver our blended learning courses. The ones I hope we will look at soon are: BigBlueButton (for communication with remote users), Intelliboard (for analytics), H5P (see below) and Lifecycle (to organise courses).

H5P is where it is at! – H5P allows you to create, share and reuse interactive HTML5 content in your browser. Although its intergration with Moodle isn’t perfect (for example you can’t link it to moodle quizzes so some data can be lost) it is a very powerful interactive tool for video, quizzes etc.

Look and Feel – Moodle can look incredibly slick if you have the know how: themes, CSS and the rest. We also need to investigate user tours, tags, global search and quite a lot of other things. A version upgrade will help here.

Good practice – Moodlers like to share and there are a lot of course sites that we can look at (e.g. Orange county) and demo sites we can explore (thanks to DCU here). The 3E framework for moodle is a good place to start. Learn moodle is a FutureLearn MOOC that runs every 6 months – next one starts in June.

Accessibility – moodle is accessible by default (the Atto editor brought in a few years ago has an inbuilt accessibility checker) but we could be better. This may mean better support for those creating content, creating subtitles on videos or making more use of timing overrides for special needs students.

IMG_3341

All in all it was a great conference. Some really interesting sessions on gamification, blended learning, learning analytics and accessibility. I also met lots of moodlers who were very keen to help us with specific issues – now or in the future – I’m definitely going to take them up on that offer!

moodle

Focusing on the VLE

As discussed before on this blog Jisc have been conducting a light-touch review of our Virtual Learning Environment (Gateway). The review has looked at areas including student engagement, curriculum delivery and accessibility.

Last week Zac Gribble and John Sumpter from Jisc visited the campus to run a series of focus groups with staff and students looking at what works and what could be improved with our digital delivery. The will be delivering a report with recommendations for improvements.

Students talking to the Jisc team about Gateway

Students talking to the Jisc team about Gateway

The Jisc team enjoyed meeting the focus group attendees and were impressed with our Gateway content.

John Sumpter commented that: “RAU are in a good starting position for taking things forward” and that “reviewing your VLE use is an ongoing activity that compliments your digital strategy”.

Staff in the VLE focus group session

Staff in the VLE focus group session