I have found that Falmouth’s MA Fine Art online is always a fascinating concept to anyone unfamiliar with online learning. The common depiction of Fine Art students at HE level is so entwined with the idea of the paint-smeared physical studio, where every wall is plastered with sketches hung from masking tape, that the transposition of this discipline to an online space always makes for an interesting conversation about online pedagogies and digital tools.
As well as a carefully crafted course taught through Falmouth’s online platform Canvas, MA Fine Art online makes use of a range of other digital tools to facilitate sharing work and communication between staff and students. One of these tools is Falmouth Journal, which grants every MA Fine Art student an online Critical Reflective Journal to share work-in-progress and experiments throughout their course. Falmouth’s use of blogs for fully online courses is discussed in more detail in a previous post called Educational blogging for Falmouth’s fully online Students.
Falmouth Journal also hosts MA Fine Art online’s Graduate Showcase, now in its second gradating cohort. Lighting the Beacons showcases work from students studying all around the world, demonstrating persuasively why the course is a success. Lighting the Beacons is not just an online exhibition of student work, it is an impressive record of a number of physical and digital exhibitions which students have created and curated around the world as part of this course.
“This graduate group have made projects and built connections across multiple time-spaces; their work has been shown and situated in sites that include galleries, libraries, community centres, beaches and mountains in places across the world, including Sussex, Somerset, London and Leeds, UK; along with Tromsø, Norway; the Gold Coast, Australia; and in online spaces.” – Kate Fahey, Final Major Project Lead
I’m confident that MA Fine Art online will continue to generate interesting conversations about how Fine Art can be successfully taught online, and I’m pleased that when I’m asked how it works, I’m able to point to artefacts like Lighting the Beacons and say “This is how”.
This year was my first time reviewing National Teaching Fellow (NTF) applications. I have previously reviewed the Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) awards, which celebrates teamwork and collaboration, whilst the NTF celebrates sustained professional practice in learning and teaching.
The purpose of the National teaching fellow scheme is to recognise, reward and celebrate individuals who have made an outstanding impact on student outcomes in the learning and teaching profession. The award is organised by Advance HE (Higher Education).
Source: National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) 2023, Guidance for Reviewers, Advance HE, National Teaching Fellowship Scheme.
NTFS is open to both Academic and Professional Services staff working in Higher Education.
The Role of Reviewer
In my role as a reviewer, I assess NTF applications to enable Advance HE to recommend who will be selected winners.
Reviewers provide a score and feedback on each section of the application as well as providing overall feedback to the applicant and summary feedback to Advance HE.
As a reviewer you look at the 3 criteria to assess the evidence against:
Reach: the scale of influence
Value: the benefits derived for students and staff
Impact: the difference that has been made to policy, practice, or student outcomes.
As well as the demonstration of individual excellence, raising the profile of excellence and developing excellence.
My experience as a reviewer
I took part this year as a self-development activity and to appreciate the distinct types of practice that are being used as evidence. I found the experience really rewarding, being able to read about the applicants’ contributions to learning and teaching over a sustained period of time, seeing how applicants had developed, changed practice, and adapted to changing situations for the benefit of their learners was interesting to read.
My batch of applicants to review included a mix of men and women which was great to see.
Even though it would have been valuable to have reviewed applications from Professional Services staff, on this occasion they were all full time Academic Staff who highlighted their inspiring practice.
I queried this with Advance HE, and they explained there is a severe shortage of Professional Services staff applying for the National Teaching Fellow scheme. Advance HE has previously tried to encourage applications from underrepresented groups for NTF and this has made a difference to the range of applicants.
Underrepresentation of the following groups in comparison to the UK HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency) Staff Data:
Staff from UK minority ethnic groups defined within HESA as Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic
Professional Services Staff
Staff on fractional and part-time contracts
Staff working in HE in FE (Further Education)
Source: National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) 2023, Guidance for Reviewers, Advance HE, National Teaching Fellowship Scheme.
When reviewing applications.
As with all reviewing the scoring is sometimes the most difficult part so I am looking forward to seeing how my scores aligned to the other reviewers. Reviewers score in isolation of other reviewers so there is no chance for reviewers to be influenced by others. Whilst it can be difficult for reviewers this practice of independent reviewing results in consistently reviewing applicants’ evidence in line with the scoring rubric that is issued alongside the guidance documents.
The application window for NTF is from October through to early March, but preparation and planning applications like this starts much sooner and it is a chance to gather feedback on learning and teaching approaches and to consider what your application will be framed on, examples I have reviewed have included:
Digitally enhanced learning
Innovation in Science Teaching
Alongside the application applicants are required to include a supporting statement. This is to be composed by a colleague working in a senior role at DVC/PVC or equivalent who is familiar with the applicants teaching and learning practice. It is then signed off by the institutes VC for formal institution endorsement.
If you are interested in finding out more about the scheme. Advance HE has information on their website:
Welcome to the new Academic year. We will be doing regular posts to bring you updates on our staff, our technologies, upcoming workshops and resources and key themes from the digital technologies sector.
Our team is made up of Learning Designers, Learning Technologists, Learning Resource Designers and Digital Interns. The majority of our teams work is focused on supporting Falmouth Online course development and delivery working in collaboration with the course teams. We manage the learn.falmouth.ac.uk environment as part of this work.
Following an update by Talis to the resource/reading list deployment tool for all virtual learning environments, Digital Learning have recently updated the Talis Aspire Resource Management deployment tool within Learning Space. How you add your resource lists in Learning Space for Study Block 1 23/24 onwards has changed.
The update does not affect new or existing resource lists created in Talis and will not alter the student user experience when using resource lists in Learning Space.
As a result of the update there is now a new Talis resource list deployment tool within Learning Space that you will need to use to add your existing lists to modules for Study Block 1 23/24 onwards. The update includes a small change to how staff add lists, with an updated setup menu and a change of icon.
What about lists in previous modules?
The old Talis resource list deployment tool will remain, this will allow access to lists within previous modules as normal, no action is necessary. However, lists added using the old deployment tool should not be imported into any modules for Study Block 1 23/24 onwards.
Within your module; in the top-right of the screen toggle on editing.
Within a section click ‘Add an activity or resource’.
Select ‘New Talis Resource List’ from the activity and resource selection menu.
Click the ‘Select content’ button. The list for the module should automatically appear but if it doesn’t you can use the Talis search facility to find it.
Once you have the correct list click the ‘Embed List’ button to the right of the list to add it within your module. If you are embedding sections from the list, for example weekly reading, you can do that by clicking ‘Select Section’ then embed the section you need.
Click ‘Save and return to module’ once you are done.
Importing old lists
You shouldn’t import lists from older modules. If you wish to reuse content you still can, there are two options when importing:
Select only the elements you need when exporting and exclude the old Talis resource list. This is the recommend method if you don’t need everything in the module.
Import everything and selectively delete any activities or resources you don’t need including the old Talis resource list.
For further support with Learning Space, please get in touch with the Digital Learning Team via firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, please refer to the numerous help guides found on our Knowledge Base.
It’s been great getting feedback on the new Learning Space design since we upgraded on the 4th. We’ve been taking on board any feedback and answering questions where they’ve arisen. As a result we figured it could be useful to share some tips and tricks.
Customising your view of modules
Following the recent upgrade to Learning Space the guidance below shows you how to access, organise and sort your modules for easy access.
Access my modules
To access your modules, click the Learning Spacelogo (top left).
This will take you to My Modules which is effectively the new home page.
Once on your My Modules page there are a number of filters that you can use to find the modules you are looking for.
The default view in My Modules displays ‘All’ courses that you are subscribed on but can easily be filtered to show courses that are ‘In progress’, ‘Future’, ‘Past’ or ‘Starred’.
To apply a filter, click ‘All’ and select the option you want. This will filter out other courses making it easy to locate the courses you are looking for.
Search for a module
Enter the name of a course into the Search box to retrieve it.
You have the option to sort courses on your My Modules page by name or last accessed.
If you are enrolled on lots of courses the ‘Star’ option is a great feature to use to reduce the number of courses displayed on your My Modules page. You can ‘Star’ any courses that you are enrolled on regardless of whether they are in progress, future or past, so it’s a useful option if you need regular access to specific courses.
To ‘star’ a course, click the 3-dot icon and select ‘star this course’.
Note: If your courses are displayed in Card view, the icon will be in the bottom right corner of the tile, if in List view it will be at the end of the row.
An important thing to point out if you do use the ‘Star’ option, is that you will need to ‘Star’ all courses that you want to appear in my Modules as only ‘Starred’ courses will be displayed.
Customise your module thumbnail image
Learning Space now allows you to set images that are visible in staff and student My Module pages.
Style of Image We suggest that you avoid any busy images – simpler images will often be more effective.
Copyright Ensure you own copyright for the image you use or that it is available under a suitable licence e.g. Creative Commons.
Relevance Make sure the image is relevant to your module so as not to confuse staff or students.
File Size Ensure your image isn’t too large in terms of file size or resolution and is appropriate for your module. Images should have a minimum width of 1024 pixels but no more than 2000 pixels
Aspect Ratio Images should have a 2.7 : 1 aspect ratio. The width of the image should be about 2.7 times the height. You can achieve this using the ‘crop’ tool using photoshop or similar applications. If your image is taller or shorter it might get cut off at the bottom or side.
How to change the thumbnail
If you are a member of staff and wish to do this follow this steps
Go into one of your modules and turn edit mode on
Go to settings
Upload an image in the Module Summary Files section under Description.
Sample thumbnail image
You can use the following image as a template / guide for size and dimensions from which to create your own module thumbnail. Right click to save a copy of it. The size is 1350px x 500px
On July 10th 2023, Panopto will go live for Falmouth University.
At Falmouth we have had a long-running gap in our digital toolset for a dedicated video and audio hosting platform that provides proper integration with Learning Space and Falmouth Learn, and can facilitate student submissions without resorting to external tools
Panopto is the market leading platform in this space, serving around 80% of universities in the UK. You may know it from other institutions as a lecture capture solution, but Falmouth will not be implementing lecture capture. We are adopting it purely as a video hosting platform to replace (and upgrade) Microsoft Stream, and to reduce reliance on external tools like Youtube and Vimeo.
For everyday users
Everyday users will benefit from Panopto’s simple, educationally-focussed user interface.
All Falmouth and FXPlus staff and Falmouth students will have a ‘My Folder’, a private folder to upload content. From here, videos can be dragged and dropped to module folders, added to playlists, or shared directly within and outside of the university.
Panopto integrates fully with the VLEs, so each module in Learning Space generates a module folder in Panopto which grants access to only the staff and students on that module. These folders inherit permissions from the VLEs, so no admin burden of asking to have staff added, and no hassle of setting sharing permissions for huge groups of students.
But don’t worry, if you need to every video, folder, playlist, and even a randomly selected group of your videos can be shared with specific users.
Panopto has an incredible search function which not only returns video titles and playlists, but also searches through the captions of every video that a user has access to and returns these results with timestamps for where the keyword has been mentioned. It even recognises written words on Powerpoint slides and automatically generates video chapters which are also returned in searches.
Panopto has far superior built-in editing capabilities than Microsoft Stream. Videos can be top-and-tailed, middle sections can be ‘removed’, and additional videos can be inserted. All from within Panopto.
All editing is non-destructive, so the original video remains intact behind the scenes even when your edited video is live. This allows you to make different edits each year that you deliver content, or just acts peace of mind if you want to see how a video cuts together without committing to permanent damage.
Panopto offers us a great new feature where you can add quizzes to a videos -these are visible when viewed in Panopto.
The quiz options include
Multiple Choice (one correct answer)
Fill In the Blank.
These quizzes are configurable, so you can choose whether students have to get the correct answer to progress in the video, or whether you’re just gathering data on how fully they understand a concept.
Embedding Links or YouTube Videos
Panopto allows you to add links to external content through URLs at certain points through the video / audio. It is also possible to embed YouTube videos as part of your own content – something that could be useful if you wish to provide some related information.
Panopto shines in its accessibility features. Every video is automatically machine-captioned (to a higher level of accuracy than Stream) and has a much more stable interface for manually editing captions. Existing caption files can be uploaded to videos for anyone who’s already put in the work of manually correcting hours of existing content.
Custom dictionaries can be added to Panopto to recognise commonly used words, and although this will not be configured for launch, it will be investigated going forwards by the Digital Learning team.
Caption display can be adapted by end users to suit their own needs (size/colour/position of captions) and when videos are opened within Panopto captions are displayed as a transcript to the left of the video.
Panopto accepts a huge range of file formats including audio-only files which can be uploaded directly in exactly the same way as videos.
This is great news for anyone wanting to create podcast lectures (a huge time saver, and good if you don’t like to see your face) over videos, not to mention for music staff and students who can use the platform to host and share music files in exactly the same way as video, or even a combination of the two.
There is great potential for Panopto to be used at Falmouth for sharing of audio recordings and discussions / analysis to take place through the use of timestamped discussions, bookmarks or notes, a bit like often takes place on services such as SoundCloud.
Panopto isn’t just a video hosting platform, it comes complete with its own recording apps, including a downloadable app for Windows and Mac (which will be added to the Self Service Portal), as well as the browser-based Panopto Capture to bypass downloading anything at all.
These capture apps are powerful enough to record cameras, screen, microphones, computer audio, and can record multiple cameras at once if you’ve got a complex hardware setup. For any multi-input capture, end users can toggle between screens, cameras and slides while viewing the end video.
For Falmouth Online
As well as everything above, staff working on Falmouth Online courses will benefit from improved workflows with the Digital Learning team through Panopto. Videos will be added to Panopto and all work can be done on them in situ. Panopto Capture can simplify recording workflows, and the built in editing functionality (not to mention quizzes) means that most editing can be performed within Panopto.
Core course content will still be delivered inline with the production schedule and embedded into Canvas by Learning Technologists, offering all of the benefits of Panopto to your students. But Panopto’s integration with Canvas means that staff and students can share videos within Canvas forums or announcements.
It also means that amended videos could be delivered to students without involving the Digital Learning Team if a critical change needed to be made outside of enhancement windows.
Panopto for Assessment
At the time of launch Panopto will be able to facilitate student submissions, and provide a safer, more secure platform for video and audio submissions than Falmouth has had access to before.
Much like they do now with other platforms, students will be able to upload content to their ‘My Folder’ and share a link in a word/PDF document to submit to a Learning Space/Falmouth Learn assessment. In truth the greatest benefit will be when things go wrong, with better data on when videos were submitted, and the Digital Learning team will have access to students’ videos to fix issues, instead of assessed work being hidden in external tools like Youtube.
This also raises the important point of retention of student work, which will finally be possible within a unified platform instead of needing to download and store video and audio content elsewhere to conform to University regulations.
Understand how your videos are used
Panopto provides powerful statistics that can be used to better understand how and when your videos are being watched / interacted with. This provides further opportunities to improve your video content should you notice that for example all views drop off after a certain period of time – perhaps the video could be shorter or split into smaller bitesize chunks.
In a previous post, we explored the benefits of ThingLink – a very handy application available to staff at Falmouth University. It supports course teams in creating learning resources with interactive images, videos and 360° media. In this post, Digital Learning’s Hamish Adams meets Jill Weeks from the Fashion and Textiles Institute who has been using the tool to create a series of interactive workshops.
Jill is the senior technician for garment construction and has been working with students to develop their solid technical grounding in the key skills, professional practice and knowledge required for entering the fashion industry. These key skills involve nothing short of sewing machine mastery, and the motivation to use ThingLink came from the sheer size of her workload. There are seven workshops in garment creation – shirt, swimsuit, soft tailoring jacket, ski jacket, shirt dress, denim jeans and men’s tailored trousers. Each workshop can be broken down into a multitude of detailed steps that need to be executed safely and correctly by a cohort of roughly 60 students each year. And there’s only one Jill!
To tackle this, Jill has developed a set of ThingLink resources which students have been able to refer back to, again-and-again throughout their studies for the last 10 years.
What exactly are the FTI ThingLink resources?
The FTI resources are the equivalent online versions of the garment construction workshops. Each one is a series of instructional videos embedded into an image of the finished garment.
In the ThingLink below you can see the example for the Men’s Tailored Trousers. The numbered tags 1 – 10 relate to each step of the garment construction. These tags are interactive and when clicked on, play an instructional video on how to create that part of the trousers. Very simple and effective.
Jill created the videos over the course of two days using a basic point and shoot camera. She created a chart of what sequence the videos should go in and then embedded them in the background image in ThingLink. The background images of the garments were drawn up by the FTI CAD technicians so they were accurate representations of the kinds of patterns the students come across in the classroom-based workshops.
These resources have been used regularly by FTI students for the past 8 years and post-pandemic have become even more useful for students.
“They can be used as a stand-alone resource, for students to learn at their own pace or as a step-by-step aid to work alongside if they are in the workshops in person,” says Jill “and this year some students are choosing to learn some elements just from this resource alone. This just goes to show how useful they’ve been.”
The reason they work? They’re simple. Jill has taken the core skills that make up the foundation of practical knowledge for fashion students and used ThingLink to organise them in a clear and accessible way.
How do I use ThingLink?
If you are a member of staff at Falmouth University and would like to see how ThingLink can support your teaching, please get in touch with Digital Learning email@example.com We can set you up with ThingLink and provide any support you might need with media creation or utilising existing learning content.
In this article Digital Learning’s Hamish Adams takes a good look into how ThingLink can be used to organise your existing learning content, improve interactivity, extend its lifespan, free up your time AND improve student engagement. Tall order? Not at all.
Since 2020 there has been a plethora of educational technologies that claims to make things simpler and more interactive for students. A limiting factor has always been the time to learn new technologies to create resources. Bearing this in mind, ThingLink is a great user-friendly tool for easily transforming your existing learning content into long lasting, interactive resources. The platform is user-friendly enough not to eat up valuable time nor induce any tech-related anxieties. Before looking at some examples from around Falmouth University and other HE institutes, here’s a summary of what ThingLink can offer both staff and students:
What is ThingLink?
ThingLink is a web application available to staff at Falmouth University. It allows individuals to create learning resources with interactive images, videos and 360° media.
What kind of content can I create with ThingLink?
You can place tags in images, videos, 360° images and 360° videos. These tags can contain a wide range of text and media, so pretty much any existing resource you may have. A good example would be an image of a physical space that is regularly used in teaching. Insert tags with text or video guidance explaining any processes or equipment. This can then be embedded into a course module page for students to access anytime they need.
The example below was made using existing Fashion Institute resources embedded into a series of 360° images. If you wanted to try creating a similar image, basic 360° cameras are available to book from Falmouth Stores. A great starting point would be the GoPro Max. It’s easy and fun to use.
What are the benefits of using ThingLink over other tools?
ThingLink learning objects are fully responsive and work well on all devices, from small phones to large touch screens. ThingLink makes it possible for academics and support staff to offer their students engaging learning experiences outside of their physical facilities. Virtual learning spaces can be shared to Learning Space or Learn, viewed on desktop, touch screens, or VR headsets.
The platform is also flexible enough that new resources can also easily be developed using the ThingLink app on a mobile device so you can create and share resources wherever works best for you. They also provide you with a simple Statistics feature to help you understand how students interact with your resource – which tags have been accessed the most, overall views and time spent on the resource. Very handy.
Are ThingLinks accessible?
Yes. ThingLink is integrated with Microsoft’s Immersive Reader, which means all text descriptions, lessons, virtual tours, infographics, and videos created with ThingLink’s new editor now come with an integrated reading tool and automatic language translation capability. As a bonus, each ThingLink created comes with an additional version called the Accessibility Player – see the link underneath the ThingLink example on this page. This is a special viewing mode for all ThingLink resources designed to better meet WCAG web accessibility standard.
How do I use ThingLink?
If you’re a member of staff at Falmouth University and would like to see how ThingLink can support your teaching, please get in touch with Digital Learning firstname.lastname@example.org We can set you up with ThingLink and provide any support you might need with media creation or utilising existing learning content.
Thursday 18th May 2023 13:00 – 13:30 join Digital Learning for a demonstration of how ThingLink can be used and a chance to ask any questions. Register for the webinar here: An introduction to ThingLink
In response to multiple requests during the pandemic the Digital Learning Team developed a reusable template to facilitate exhibitions which has continued to be popular with staff and students thanks to its clean layout and simple use. One fantastic example, now entering its third consecutive year is the Miniatures showcase, an extra-curricular exhibition run both physically and digitally for Fine Art students and staff by Senior Lecturer Simon Clark.
This article aims to highlight the good practise of the Miniatures showcase journal and inspire future use of the Journal exhibition template in other disciplines. Journal is Falmouth University’s blogging platform, powered by an educational instance of WordPress called CampusPress. Journal is used for a variety of learning and teaching purposes across different disciplines in the University including personal scrapbooks, online portfolios, and multimedia forums.
In Simon’s own words “The Miniatures showcase is a virtual gallery featuring miniature artworks by fine art students across all 3 years (and some staff too). It supports a physical exhibition that is currently taking place in Grays Wharf gallery in Penryn.
It came about because the first miniatures exhibition we organised was postponed due to the pandemic. We decided to proceed with the exhibition virtually so that we could still celebrate the students’ work remotely during lockdown.”
Simon reflects on the benefits of continuing to run the digital showcase in parallel with the physical exhibition, now that the exhibition is in its third year and lockdown restrictions have lifted.
“…the first miniatures exhibition we organised was postponed due to the pandemic. We decided to proceed with the exhibition virtually so that we could still celebrate the students’ work remotely during lockdown.”
“We’ve continued to use the showcase to support the physical exhibition for a number of reasons.
The showcase gives students a chance to see each other’s work in the build-up to the physical exhibition. I encourage students to upload their projects before the deadline so that they can start having critical conversations about their work before it goes on public display.
The showcase also cultivates a sense of community/participation. Students can be intimidated to submit work for a public facing show, but once they see their peers uploading work, they are more inclined to want to get involved.
The showcase also allows the curators to gather all the essential info about the artworks featured in the exhibition: names, titles, materials etc…
Finally, the showcase functions as a website for the exhibition. It allows students to provide links to social media and personal websites etc, and they can also share artist statements and further information about their specific projects.
We link to the showcase via a QR code on display at the physical exhibition. Members of the public have used this to get in touch with the artists directly, and a number of sales have been agreed in this way. And once the exhibition is over, the showcase holds all the documentation of the exhibition in one place. Each year the project comes around, I use the previous year’s showcase to promote the exhibition to students.”
“We link to the showcase via a QR code on display at the physical exhibition. Members of the public have used this to get in touch with the artists directly, and a number of sales have been agreed in this way.“
It would have been easy to treat the digital showcase as a temporary solution during the pandemic, and return exclusively to the traditional physical exhibition when lockdown restrictions were lifted. But by evaluating and identifying the benefits of the showcase and continuing to run it in parallel, the digital showcase improves many aspects of the exhibition experience for organisers, artists and attendees.
Miniatures is a great example of Falmouth University’s blended approach to teaching, where successful online practises which were devised and piloted during the pandemic have been combined with traditional teaching to improve experiences for everyone involved.
The Exhibition Journal template is currently used in a number of Fine Art and Architecture courses for internal exhibitions and shows, providing an online space where finished or in progress work can be shared or displayed within a class, a course or beyond.
Get in touch with the Digital Learning Team if you’re keen to learn more or incorporate an online exhibition into your teaching.