Providing students with demonstrations of technical software/computer-related tasks or broadcasting a short supplementary presentation can be useful, especially where students might need to watch the content several times to fully grasp a particularly tricky concept.
Learning resources like these will take the form of a video, generally featuring a particular piece of software (e.g. SPSS) or a fullscreen PowerPoint presentation. In both cases, recordings with a narrated voice overlay will be much more useful to students.
Capturing a software demonstration or a short PowerPoint presentation can all be achieved using 'screencasting' software. Short screencasts (i.e. less than 5mins) will likely achieve greater impact than those which contain too much content - making them hard to follow.
UCP Marjon will be running a pilot project looking at Lecture Capture solutions during 2011-12. Lecture Capture, in theory, allows staff to easily record a live lecture in a teaching room, incorporating video and audio of the lecturer – all synced with whatever is being projected onto the screen (for example, a PowerPoint presentation or software demonstration).
Note: some Lecture Capture solutions also allow staff to record post/pre lecture presentations/content in their offices using a webcam/microphone.
These recordings could be initiated by simply opening a piece of software, clicking the record button, and then stopping the capture at the end of the session. The recordings would then be automatically encoded, and uploaded, allowing them to be made available online to students within minutes.
Captured lectures could be used by students to recap parts of sessions that they might have missed or not grasped the first time around, as well as providing additional learning resources for distance learners. Captured recordings give students greater control over how, when and where they choose to learn.
Although Lecture Capture software is not currently available, you can still record additional lecture materials (such as narrated PowerPoint presentations) using screencasting software:
Reflection is seen as an important part of learning, enabling students to develop critical thinking and a questioning attitude, encourage creativity and self-expression, while at the same time allowing them to build on their analytical, metacognition and writing skills.
There are many ways to encourage reflection, but perhaps one of the most widely used practices in Higher Education today is through the use of personal reflective journals. These online tools provide a space for students to explore their relationship with the learning process, and can be kept private or shared with tutors (or peers). Journals which have a clear purpose (i.e. are tied-in with specific projects) and where students are asked to post regularly (e.g. weekly) have a greater chance for enabling effective reflective learning.
To find out how you can enable online reflective learning opportunities for your students, press the reflective journal button below.
It should never be forgotten that good teaching practice is good teaching practice, whether it occurs in the classroom or online. For most tutors then, educational technology provides a means to build upon their existing good practice by adding an extra dimension to what they are already doing well, and by providing additional opportunities for their students.
There are many avenues available for staff to create rich, engaging online learning activities. One of the best places to start is to experiment with the integrated LearningSpace tools, where you can hold discussions, create glossaries and much, much more. If you're comfortable with LS, and want to take things further, why not try creating interactive learning objects through Xerte?
What are Learning Objects? Learning objects differ to the traditional “several hour chunk” style of learning. They provide smaller, self-contained units of learning. Typically learning objects will include an array of different components; including instructional content and assessment. In most cases, learning objects will include a variety of media content and some form of interaction.
What About Reusable Learning Objects? Reusable learning objects (or RLOs), in the most basic sense, are simply learning objects that can be reused in some way. Subject-specific RLOs could be reused for different cohorts of students, or made available for the wider academic community through open repositories, such as Jorum. Generic RLOs, covering topics such as research methods, could also be shared across programmes, allowing staff to scaffold learning around them.
RLOs are often defined as needing to allow users to adapt their content, in order to re-purpose them for their own localised needs. Designing a learning object to allow for this requires careful consideration at the conception stage, and as such, should in fact, be described as a “generative learning object” (GLO).
Although you don’t need to use specialist software to create learning objects, the following tools are available if you wish to use them:
An electronic portfolio or e-Portfolio is a generic term encompassing a wide range of technologies. The simplest starting point is to consider an e-Portfolio as an extension of the paper based-portfolio, bringing with it the obvious benefit of making a portfolio of evidence portable and shareable anywhere that you have Internet access.
In fact, an e-Portfolio has a much broader scope as an online collection of reflections and digital artefacts (such as documents, images, blogs, resumés, multimedia, hyperlinks and contact information). Students and staff can use an e-Portfolio to demonstrate their learning, skills and development and record their achievements over time to a selected audience. E-Portfolios have the potential to provide a central, linking role between the more rigid, institution-led learning management system (LearningSpace) and the learners’ social online spaces.
Electronic portfolios can be used to create collections of artefacts to share with fellow students, peers, family and friends, to present to potential employers and to complement applications for research funding. To find out more, press the Mahara button below.
Getting your students to collaborate online can be difficult, especially on programmes where students may not already have bonded through face-to-face sessions. However, there are some tools and technologies that you can use to facilitate collaborative activities between your students.
Create an online space for students to collate their ideas, research and evidence. Wikis support version control, allowing you to view any changes made over a period of time – and for students to revert any changes if necessary. Wiki platforms generally allow students to hold discussions alongside any content they create.
Created directly in LearningSpace, forums provide a space for asynchronous discussion 24/7.
Encouraging discourse about subjects/topics outside of seminars can be achieved using a number of online tools/technologies. In most cases, staff need to tread carefully between providing a structure for meaningful dialogue, while ensuring they do not restrict the flow of conversation by giving students the freedom to express their ideas. Short prompts or cues can be used, however, to bring discussions back on topic if students wander off.
Consider using a range of the following tools/technologies to establish a platform for online discourse:
At some stage we have all been subjected to a presentation where our attention drifts. Lectures (generally) encourage passive, surface learning. There are a number of tools/technologies available to staff that might help increase student engagement/participation during lectures, making them an active player in their own learning experience.
Electronic voting handsets enable audience participation and can project instant results onto a whiteboard.
Provide a back-channel for questions, thoughts or access live real-world data from a global audience.
The e-Learning Team are involved in a wide-range of activities to support the development of technology enhanced learning at the University College. Specifically the e-Learning Team can offer technical and pedagogical advice in the following contexts:
Wiki users are not simply limited to adding text as content. It is also possible to add hyperlinks, images, video, audio, and even file attachments. Every time a wiki page is modified, a new version of the page is created. This means changes to a page can be tracked and rolled-back if necessary.
To find out more about how you can use wikis for learning & teaching, watch our introduction video, or click the 'email me a guide' button opposite.
Screencasting refers to the process of recording your computer’s ‘screen’ and then ‘broadcasting’ that capture over the Internet as a video. Screencasting software can therefore be helpful if you need to demonstrate how to use a piece of software (such as SPSS), carry out a process (such as editing an e-Portfolio), or to deliver a short PowerPoint presentation. Screencasting software also allows you to capture your voice, so you can provide a narration while you record.
For those staff wishing to produce short screencasts (less 5 mins) we recommend a free web-based tool called “Screenr” available from www.screenr.com. The simple to use interface, fact that it is web-based (nothing to install), and that all of your videos are stored online and are easy to share/embed in LearningSpace makes Screenr an excellent choice for staff or students alike.
To find out more about how you can use screencasting for learning & teaching, watch our introduction video, or click the 'email me a guide' button opposite.
A forum allows students and teachers to exchange ideas by posting messages asynchronously. Depending on the type of forum in use, posts can generally be read and replied to by all staff and students on a study module.
A forum can contribute significantly to successful communication and community building in an online environment, and be used to encourage discussion around learning activities or materials. They also work well as an accompaniment to collaborative tasks.
Depending on the activity it can be worthwhile to try and scaffold discussions by providing some form of prompt or questions to be answered. Staff can then facilitate discussions by steering the dialogue back on track if required.
To find out more about how you can use discussion forums for learning & teaching, watch our introduction video, or click the 'email me a guide' button opposite.
Developed by the University of Nottingham, Xerte is an easy to use tool allowing non-technical users to create rich, interactive, engaging learning objects. You can use Xerte to present information or data, using a variety of multimedia and interactive elements. Xerte also provides a suite of accessibility options built-in, allowing users to change font size, type-face and colour scheme to suit.
Xerte is available in two additions; a downloadable piece of software and as an online development tool (Xerte Online Toolkits). We suggest that you use the Institutional’s installation of Xerte Online Toolkits as it allows you to create your learning objects in a web-browser from anywhere in the world. Completed objects can be easily shared and then updated without having to re-download/upload.
To find out more about how you can use Xerte for learning & teaching, watch our introduction video, or click the 'email me a guide' button opposite.
Mahara is an e-portfolio system in which students can record ‘evidence of learning’ – such as essays, artwork or almost anything else that can be stored digitally. These things are known as artefacts in Mahara.
Mahara is, however, much more than just a place to store files. It also includes a journal tool, providing students with a platform to record and reflect on their learning experiences, and social networking facilities, allowing students to create online communities.
To find out more about how you can use Mahara for learning & teaching, watch our introduction video, or click the 'email me a guide' button opposite.
EVS provides participants in a lecture with a method of participation. Participants will generally be given an electronic handset (sometimes called a ‘clicker’), allowing them to respond to prompts from the presenter. You can, for example, test understanding with multiple choice questioning, or invite free-text answers, which work well for feedback purposes. Because EVS provides live feedback, it is possible for lecturers to act on responses, perhaps by providing more detail about a topic or explaining a concept using a different analogy.
The University College has 64 ActivExpression handsets which staff can use for audience participation during lectures/seminars. ActivExpression is designed to work with the Promethean software ‘Active Inspire’, which should be located on laptops connected to Interactive Whiteboards. Active Inspire allows staff to create presentations which include question pages, although Active Inspire also includes a lightweight program which allows for spontaneous questioning (i.e. running alongside PowerPoint slides).
To find out more about how you can use ActivExpression watch our introduction video, or click the 'email me a guide' button opposite.
Twitter is a social network built around the idea of sharing 140 character messages (known as a 'tweet') with people in your community. Although sometimes used for banal purposes by celebrities, Twitter can be used to build up networks and exchange ideas with like-minded individuals from around the world. With a little creativity, Twitter can also be used in lectures/seminars, for example:
> Why not ask students to read an article or chapter and then post their brief summary or précis of the key point(s). A limit of 140 characters demands a lot of academic discipline.
> Invite your twitter followers to provide real-world data (e.g. their location and weather) during sessions, which can be great for research.
Twitter is free to use. Although you can search public ‘tweets’ without registering, you’ll need an account in order to participate fully. You can sign up at www.twitter.com.
To find out more about how you can use Twitter for learning & teaching, watch our introduction video, or click the 'email me a guide' button opposite.
A journal provides an electronic space where students can reflect on their learning experience. A journal works in a similar way to a blog, where users 'post' messages. Posts, although generally consisting of text, can include hyperlinks, file attachments or embedding multi-media (such as a video or audio clips).
At Marjon, we suggest that staff/students use Mahara (our e-Portfolio) package as their journal platform. Journals, by default, will be private, meaning only the author (i.e. student) can view them. It is fairly straightforward to open the journal up to tutors (or wider if required). Tutors can view journal posts and provide 'comments' if appropriate.
To find out more about how you can use Journals for learning & teaching, watch our introduction video, or click the 'email me a guide' button opposite.
Adam is responsible for developing and leading e-Learning related activities & projects within the University College.
You can talk to Adam if you need advice relating to the delivery of enhanced learning practices using technology, or if you have an idea for a large project.
Emily is responsible for supporting e-Learning related activities within the University College, and is the main contact for LearningSpace queries.
You can also talk to Emily if you need help using technology in your practice.
Tony is responsible for maintaining the University College's Virtual Learning Environment - LearningSpace, which includes looking after the structure of courses & enrolments.
You can also talk to Tony if you need advice relating to LS tools and delivery of content.
There are lots of tools built in to LearningSpace that can be used to provide online student learning activities. To find out more about each of the activities, and how they can be used in Learning & Teaching, press the 'email me an information guide' button below.
The e-Learning Team hope you've enjoyed using our new touchscreen system, and have picked up a few ideas for introducing technology in to your practice. We would welcome any feedback you have, simple enter it in the space below, and hit the send email button. If you would like us to send you a response, please remember to provide your name!