5 Things We Learned From Meeting MURAL

Overview

A few weeks ago we invited all of our colleagues at Falmouth University to an event presented by the team behind MURAL. For those not in the know, MURAL is a digital tool that enables collaboration online between staff and students. It allows users to easily share ideas, images and designs for brainstorming and teaching purposes!

When our account manager from MURAL, Sasha, offered to run a session with Falmouth it was too good of an opportunity to turn down! In this post we want to share five things we learned from the session which may also help take your facilitation to the next level!

 

1. Keep Things Simple

Whether academic staff are working with Learning Space, Journal or MURAL we always strongly advise that they keep things simple. In MURAL sticky notes are the simplest item users can use to interact with a canvas, so simple in fact that you can add one by just double-clicking. So how can they be used more powerfully?

One idea that really struck us is the concept of using different shaped sticky notes to represent different things. For example you could use square sticky notes to present famous artists, and circular sticky notes to present notable artworks. If you decide that you want to group all of these together then you can easily do this in MURAL by selecting all sticky notes and categorising by group.

 

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2. Moving on from Sticky Notes

Sticky notes are often the seed of an idea and the starting point for some longer piece of text. Rectangular sticky notes are perfect for several sentences of text and by default the font size of a sticky note will also decrease as as more text is typed. But if you’re finding that you’re writing a lot of text then you may want to quickly turn your sticky note into a text box!

Rather than drag in a new text box and copy and paste text into it, MURAL allows you to easily transform any sticky note into a text box. The added benefit here is that you can change the font colour as well as the background colour. You can also change the type of font, make it bold or italic and even transform it into a hyperlink!

 

 

3. Making the Canvas Look Great with Gifs and PNGs

MURAL is a great tool for collaborating using images, gifs and other media. This can be uploaded directly from your computer or by simply copying an image from a Google Image search and pasting right into your Canvas. However, MURAL provides an even better way to find that perfect image!

Looking in the left-hand toolbar, MURAL provides an image search that is powered by Microsoft Bing. What’s neat about that is that you can search for a picture such as a cute cat, but if you want something extra special you can search for a cat.gif which will provide you with a number of gifs to add to your canvas!

 

 

4. Saving time by Using the Content Library

By following tip number 1 of keeping things simple, you will generally save yourself a lot of time as a creator. MURAL has other excellent time-saving tips such as the ability to duplicate your canvas’s. This can be perfect if you’re planning to use the same canvas again with another group of participants. But what about when you want to save specific components of a canvas for later use?

MURAL allows you to reuse chunks of content by giving you the ability to save to your own content library. Simply create your content, group it together, right click and save to the content library. You’ll be able to access this content on other canvas’s by using the left-hand menu.

 

 

5. Keeping Focused with the Laser Pointer

When using MURAL, there’ll be times when you want to draw everyone’s attention to specific areas of the board.  To guide your users around the canvas you might consider using the outline tool or display your board in presentation mode, perhaps you’ll even summon your students to a specific location using the ‘summon’ button. But is there something even simpler?

For when you really want to focus on an aspect of the canvas you can use the laser pointer by pressing ‘H’ on your keyboard. This feature can be used to highlight a specific area of an image, a location for where users should be participating or an area, or element, that might be being discussed.

 

 

Conclusion

Although we’ve been avid users of MURAL since Falmouth procured the tool in October 2020, as you can see from the above we’re still learning lots!  If you have an idea for how you could use it for your course you can fill in a request form too. If you’ve been using at Falmouth for some time and have a case study you’d be happy to share with us we’d love to find out more, we have a form for that too! If you have any other questions about MURAL then please contact the Digital Learning team via dlsupport@falmouth.ac.uk.

An Exciting Opportunity to Meet MURAL

In this post we’d like to bring your attention to an exciting MURAL opportunity available to all Falmouth University staff.

It’s been over 4 months since the Digital Learning team first introduced MURAL as a teaching and learning tool to staff at Falmouth. With the move to blended-delivery, MURAL was identified as an excellent tool for facilitating collaboration between staff and students. In a nutshell, MURAL provides a blank canvas for users to brainstorm ideas, sketch prototypes and source responses as a group around particular themes. If you’d like to know more about the tool, we have an excellent MURAL for Teaching Purposes guide to get you started.

At the time of writing we have a massive 62 modules using MURAL. For almost all of these modules, a member of the Digital Learning team has met with the module leader to discuss the proposed use of MURAL and offer ongoing training and support. If you’re interested in using MURAL for your module, please register your interest using our Additional T&L Tools request form.

We’re committed to helping staff to continue to get the most out of MURAL, and now we are very excited to announce that MURAL’s Transformation Manager for Education, Sasha Rappaport – will be joining us on Wednesday 14th April for a MURAL workshop and surgery session! This is an amazing opportunity to speak with MURAL themselves and receive training and support as well as to ask any questions.

In the first half of the session 2-3pm, Sasha will be running a workshop perfect for beginners or those who’d like a refresher on MURAL’s basics. This will give you the confidence to use MURAL to support your own modules as well as for personal productivity purposes. We understand that this is an incredibly busy time for everyone so the second segment of the session 3-4pm is optional, but it will be a great chance to ask any specific question or ideas you have.

To book your slot in the workshop please use our workshop booking form. We can’t wait to see you there!

What does a Learning Designer actually do?

The Learning Designer is a relatively new role at Falmouth and is often referred to as an academic developer’ in our community. Our responsibilities mostly involve being the voice of the intended person a learning activity is being delivered to. Through our experiences and research, we advocate for good practice, proven pedagogical practices, and the learner’s motivations. 

A large part of our role involves… designing! We focus on meeting the needs of a learning opportunity and use our creative problemsolving skills to put a solution in place using the resources and time available. We co-ordinate the development of the solutions to these problems making sure to draw on expertise from within and outside of the Digital Learning team, and learn from wherever we can to adapt and apply effective practice to learning opportunities. 

We’re here to help you put that good practice into your teaching. Through evidencebased research we can advise on practice that actually worksthe kind of practice that students engage with. Having everything in a module ‘designed’ means that we can provide a rationale for why something is placed within in a certain activity, why it is put in at a particular point in a sequence, all backed up with evidence as to why this is the most effective way for learning. 

We will also work with you to ‘prototype’ content. This means that we discuss the subject matter, the assessment, the context and create structured learning activities and content that most effectively deliver key concepts, and ultimately the learning outcomes. We don’t have all the answers here though, so we will all also work with the Learning Technologists and Learning Resource Designers to pull together the best tools and look and feel for the job. We will also draw on other teams at Falmouth (eg. Library, ASK, Inclusivity) to use their expertise. 

So, you could think of us as a project manager (although I prefer ‘coordinator) of sorts. We are responsible for the development of your module in terms of ensuring deadlines are met, all the components of the module make sense and have the student experience at the heart, and everyone that needs to be involved in the development of your module is involved. We will be with you all through the Academic Approval process from course design right through to release. Plus, we will work with you on enhancements to your module on Learning Space or Canvas once we’ve learned from its first iteration. 

Any questions, just give us a shout. To book in a session with one of us please use our booking form.

Additional Learning & Teaching Applications Now Available to Staff!

Overview

We’re now 8 weeks into the study block, and from all of us here at the Digital Learning team, we hope that the year has got off to a great start for all of our colleagues. This is just a quick blog post to remind you that we have some excellent additional learning & teaching applications available for you to use in your teaching. These tools are MURAL and ThingLink, and both offer an extra level of interactivity to further enhance engagement between staff and students.

Introducing MURAL

Example of A mural CANVAS

MURAL is an online application that allows staff and students to collaborate visually on a digital canvas in real-time. A variety of media can be added to the canvas including text, sticky notes and images, making MURAL suitable for a variety of applications. You may for example use MURAL to create a mood board around a particular topic, or you could ask students to upload images of something they’re working on as part of a peer review activity. The possibilities are endless!

Don’t forget, all staff from the university can gain access to MURAL, so whether you’re from Student Administration or the Digital Experience team, you can use MURAL to support your day-to-day work.

Introducing ThingLink

ThingLink is a powerful tool that can be used to create unique experiences with interactive images, videos and 360° media. Imagine creating an online tour around a technical facility or studio, or perhaps explaining to students how a specific piece of machinery works, ThingLink can make this a reality! Spend some time looking at some of ThingLink’s own recommended examples for ideas.

Similar to MURAL, any member of staff at the university can use ThingLink. Note, that whilst creating ThingLinks can be incredibly fun – they can take some time to put together, so please be sure to factor this into your planning.

How to Gain Access to these Tools

Unlike most of the tools the university provides, access to MURAL and ThingLink is achieved via completing our very short L&T Application Access Request Form. Completing this form allows a learning designer to review your requirements and share good practice with you from across the institution. From an administrative perspective, the form helps the Digital Learning team ensure you’re set up correctly and have a great understanding about how to get the most out of the tools.

Further Support & Resources

If you’re thinking about using one or more of these tools, we advise reviewing our guidance on MURAL and ThingLink. If you’re still unsure whether MURAL or ThingLink are the right tools for you, we are more than happy to book an informal chat with one of our learning designers by contacting dlsupport@falmouth.ac.uk.

Learning Space Upgrade and Forum improvements

On Thursday 6th August the Digital Learning team released a significant Learning Space upgrade. The new version brings improvements to existing features as well as new functionality to support blended delivery in study block 1.

New Group Choice Plugin

Following requests from academic staff, we have added an a new activity which allows students to divide themselves into groups. Grouping students has a range of applications, from restricting access to content, to splitting students into teaching groups. Please remember to add empty groups to your module before using the group choice activity.

Weekly Sections Collapsed by Default

Following advice from our Learning Designers about cognitive overload and scrolling fatigue, all weekly sections will now appear collapsed by default. With the increased emphasis of Learning Space in our blended delivery model for 2020/21, we anticipate that this will improve the student experience of navigating their module content and emphasise their weekly activities.

Improved look and function of Forums

One running theme of CATT Week 2020 was the opportunity to use Learning Space Forums to engage students in asynchronous learning. The latest Learning Space update brings improvements to forums including:

  • Visual improvements to the Forum activity.
  • The ability to grade a students contribution to a forum
  • Exporting the content of an entire forum, or a single student’s contribution.
  • View a summary of each student’s contribution to a forum.

Removal of Chat activity

With the rapid rise of Microsoft Teams as a teaching tool at Falmouth, we have made the decision to remove the Chat activity from Learning Space. This decision recognises that Teams replicates and improves the functionality of chat, and minimises the duplication of spaces for academic discussion. You will no longer be able to add a new Chat activity but you will be able to access existing activities until study block 3 (19/20) closes.

If you’ve got questions or want to know more about anything covered in this blog, please get in touch at: dlsupport@falmouth.ac.uk

Learning Space Upgrade and Changes to Staff Permissions

Upgrade

We have upgraded Learning Space to version 3.7.3 of Moodle. There are some improvements to Forums including private replies and the ability to lock discussions, but no major new features.

Adding staff to module areas: a change in process

The process for adding staff to any module or course area now needs to be performed by Educational Technology. Should you or a member of the staff team wish to have staff access to an area you need to get in touch using the email address etsupport@falmouth.ac.uk.

Previously staff were able to add staff to areas themselves and this update means a change in the current process of staff access to Learning Space.

Adding audio or video directly

This is an opportunity to remind you of an existing feature that appeared 6 months ago: you can record sound or video directly into any editing box (e.g. in labels or forum posts).

Moodle editor showing location of buttons for recording audio and video

 

 

Electronic Management of Assessment update

The Electronic Management of Assessment project ran an informative pilot in Study Block 2 of last year with a small pilot over Study Block 3. The outcomes were not as conclusive as we would have hoped so we are running a larger, but more focused pilot over the 19/20 academic year. 

The focus is concerned with the constructive alignment between the learning outcomes and assessment criteria., but with a larger set of tools to work with. The Assignment tool within Learning Space gives the option of including a rubric however through the pilot in SB2 we found that it is not fit for Falmouth’s purpose. Therefore, we have changed the use of the Assignment tool to attaching feedback sheets to the feedback area; the caveat is that the feedback file needs to contain a rubric which displays the learning outcomes aligned with assessment criteria, with a clear identification of the student’s level of achievement of the learning outcomes. This means that where subjects have an effective way of creating feedback for their students currently, you can utilise the centralised tools to disseminate the feedback to your students without having to use email or other non-supported methods.  

During this period of the pilot we will be analysing the various methods you currently use across the institution and determining the best template to provide for a supported process going forward. 

The aim of the pilot running in this study block is to ensure that the tools are fit for purpose within the remit of Falmouth’s requirements. We are also piloting assessment feedback principles and guidelines to support this process. We will be gathering feedback from staff and students to determine their appropriateness and how they will fit into the future of EMA. 

In the background we are in preparations to start development work on automating the process of submission link creation. We are really grateful for your help with ensuring a more robust and consistent experience for the students by creating submission links within your modules according to the guidance being sent out from SPA. This really helps the students to identify the correct submission areas, and it helps professional services staff to support both students and academic staff when enquiries are made.  

New Feedback feature in Learning Space – Launching Nov 2019!

The new Learning Space plugin, My Feedback (going live in November) will give students and staff a new way to access feedback and assessments (respectively from Turnitin and Assignment). Students and staff will be able to get an overview of assessments on all their modules with direct access to each assessment from one screen. This will cut out clicks that mean having to navigate through each module page first.

The My Feedback plugin will also give staff an overview of the number of online submissions to an assessment, the number of non-submissions, and the number of late submissions. It can also give an overview of the marks that have been entered for the assessment once they’re marked. This, of course, only applies to online submissions, however online feedback can still be given for studio/physical submissions through these links.

On the mock-up image of the tool below you can see 3 second year TV modules with assessments on those modules listed under each module heading. The links take you straight to the assessments’ inboxes where you can then access the student’s work. You can see clearly, because of the new naming conventions, which is the EC/REFER and which is the standard submission link.

If you’d like an overview of the tool let us know and we can run you through it.

Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA)

This study block sees the first phase of the Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA) project having been kicked off. The Educational Technology Team are working closely with Quality Assurance and Enhancement (QAE) and SPA, this phase of the project focuses on improving clarity of grading and summative assessment feedback.  

It was clearly highlighted in the last NSS that students have significant challenges in terms of understanding marking criteria, and from that the fairness of marking.  Over 600 responses on the ROS (reps online system) suggested that this area is not working as well as it could do, and they see and feel there are big differences in assessment feedback practice. 

A study block 2 pilot is underway involving fourteen modules across five academic departments.  This involves the use of learning space submission and feedback tools, working to a new set of assessment feedback principles, and marking against an assessment rubric A review of this pilot, and engagement from a new EMA Academic working group will help shape an approach for an institutional wide rollout. Assessment Rubrics are already widely used at Falmouth and across academia, each one is unique to the assessment element.   Using the learning space submission and feedback tools academic staff can visually represent students’ achievement (and therefore mark) in relation to their assessments. Essentially, laid out in a table format, rows display the learning outcomes being assessed, and the columns show the level to which the student is, isn’t and could be working to. See the example below: 

Example rubric

Some comments from academics that have experience of using rubrics like the one above: 

Rubrics develop/drives a level of professionalism and enables me to provide more timely feedback 

Rubrics give the marker confidence that they can be more objective than subjective 

Rubrics let students know how their grade was calculated and where they could improve their work 

Rubrics set out expectations to aid the student to understand what they’re being graded against 

Determining a consistent approach to providing summative assessment feedback to students at Falmouth will enable them to be supported centrally more effectively, and for us to measure and enhance feedback practice. The mix of practice within courses and schools causes challenges when students seek support from central services, can create a disjointed experience for both the students and staff. As we move towards more trans-disciplinarity and grow our online delivery, these challenges are worsened.    

The platform for this will be Learning Space, it has submission and feedback tools available that are widely used across the HE and FE sector.   

Students will receive summative assessment feedback and provisional marks for their work (ratified marks will still be available through MyFalmouth) regardless of the type of submission (artefact, performance, essay, image etc) online through Learning Space. This creates a standard process and it is one that can be centrally supportedunderstood, measured and enhanced.

We will be continuing and expanding the pilot to ensure that courses that have been through the new Curriculum Management process are trialling these new methods in Study Block 3.

If you’d like to get involved, or have any questions about EMA in general, please get in touch at: etsupport@falmouth.ac.uk

Preserving Guest Lectures on MA Illustration: Authorial Practice

Overview

This case study looks at one way in which guest lectures are being preserved by Steve Braund, course coordinator for MA Illustration: Authorial Practice. By using tools available to all members of staff, Steve, working with the Educational Technology team, is able to offer students 24-hour access to valuable course materials from experts in the world of illustration.

The Absurd Event: Approaches to Absurdity in Illustration, 2012

Bringing Experts Together

Steve and his colleagues have organised the MA Illustration: Authorial Practice annual Illustration Forum since 2003. The event brings together world-renowned illustrators & publishers that speak to an Authorial Illustration Practice. Famous names from past events include, Lorenzo Mattotti, Audrey Niffenegger and Sara Fanelli.

Unlike a conference, the Forum’s speakers are hand selected, which allows the team to create an interesting mix of voices and opinions around each year’s particular theme. This has unintentionally led to picking up on many very early career practitioners who have gone on to become stars of the illustration discipline including; Laura Carlin and Anna Bhushan – the forum archive offering retrospectively, rare, and fascinating insights into an artist’s early practice.

2009 Forum: Under the Covers: a one-day forum
exploring convergences in illustration, literature and design.
Left to right: Prof. John Vernon Lord, Sara Fanelli, Dr. Leo de Frietas,Viviane
Schwarz, Steve Braund and Audrey Niffenegger.

The Challenge & Solution

Initially each forum event was captured by audio only, with video being adopted later on. Over the years these have been hosted on various technologies e.g. Echo360 and Falmouth OnAir – but as technologies change, content was at risk of being lost. There was also an important extra requirement that content should be restricted to Falmouth students only and not accessible by the general public.

To solve this, the Educational Technology team worked with Steve to create a Forum archive on the Learning Space. It was advised that all video files should be retrieved, backed up and uploaded to a password protected Vimeo account. Then, the Learning Space Forum activity was used to organise the videos and audio into a catalogue of content on the MA Illustration course page. This allows the students to search and find videos by year, presenter and theme.

The university has so many renowned guest speakers that it makes sense to build archives of these, as they make such a rich resource for future students and staff and, as with our Illustration Forum, they eventually take on historical significance too. Much thanks to the Educational Technology team.

– Steve Braund

Opportunities

The solution is scalable as the technology is secure and new videos can easily be added at any time by a member of staff. It could also be used to build repositories of example dissertations, internship opportunities and other collections of useful resources. Steve is now looking even further to the future by live-streaming the most recent Forum so that the Falmouth Flexible MA Illustration students can also participate.

Further Support

For help with creating an archive of valuable course content, please get in touch with the Educational Technology team using etsupport@falmouth.ac.uk