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 email@example.com.
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).
Ed Tech attended Digifest 2019 this week. Run by JISC, this HE/FE conference aimed to “explore the power of digital and look in detail at what next-generation digital students need to thrive”.
The impact of machine learning was a recurring theme in the keynote speeches and take-home messages included:
- to avoid bias, we need to ensure that data sets used in machined learning are explicitly inclusive;
- today’s graduates will have multiple careers, mostly in jobs that do not currently exist;
- to be employable in a world where machine learning/artificial intelligence is ubiquitous, humans will need three key skills: creativity, empathy, accountability.
Liz Sproat, Google’s head of education for Europe
Workshop sessions attended by Ed Tech included:
Th University of Essex’s student data dashboard
JISC’s digital literacy framework
Finally, there was an excellent simulation of a day in the life of Natalie, an undergraduate student in 2029 whose learning is via VR.
Nathalie, student 4.0
We look forward to Digifest 2020!
New UK regulations on accessibility became law in 2018 and content made available on Learning Space needs to be compliant by September 2020.
What does it mean for Falmouth teaching staff?
You will be responsible for making your Learning Space compliant by 2020. You will need to
- become familiar with the regulations;
- learn and apply relevant practical IT skills.
What are some of those practical skills?
- structuring Word documents using Word’s heading styles (NOT by formatting text as large and bold);
- using meaningful headings on every PowerPoint slide (even if they are hidden behind an image);
- tagging (in the correct way) all images with a meaningful alternative text description;
- using descriptive text for links (NOT ‘click here’).
What help will I get with this?
As well as offering training and guidance, we are looking at procuring an “accessibility checker” for staff, to be embedded in Learning Space. When you upload a document, it would:
- tell you how accessible your content is;
- highlight where you need to fix things by hand.
It would also provide management information on how accessible each module area is.
Do I need to do anything right now?
For now, do your best to make any new materials accessible and inclusive (a) using accessibility checkers built into Microsoft Office and (b) following accessibility guidance from gov.uk. We will be in touch regarding training and content-wide compliance later this year.
With the first term underway and Learning Space in daily use by most students and teaching staff, the upgrade project is nearing its end. We have been responding to user queries and feedback, some of which have led us to tweak the system settings. We have also been supporting students, particularly in the use of the university’s e-portfolio tool. Other behind-the-scenes work has included expansion of our guidance notes (see below) and work on improving business analytics. Over the next fortnight, the upgrade project will formally end, and maintenance and further development of the system will become “business as usual”.
Guidance for Staff
Here is a reminder that there are comprehensive yet accessible notes for staff and students. Among the 38 topics you will find:
Staff workshops coming soon!
Following this Summer’s successful training sessions, we are planning a series of short staff workshops covering e-feedback, online peer review, tips and tricks and accessibility. We’ll be in touch with all courses at a later date to explain more.
Updating your module areas – Audit #2
The new Learning Space will go live on 3rd September, and on that date students will have access to the 18/19 module areas. With this in mind, this week we carried out a second audit of content in module areas. We found there has been a lot of work over the past month, with some subject areas well on course to be ready for 3rd September. In other areas work has not yet started – staff who require advice or training should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Module leads and Heads of School have been contacted with the results of the audit. If you are a module lead who has not been contacted, or you were contacted about modules for which you are no longer the lead, please contact both email@example.com (so we can send you the correct results) and also firstname.lastname@example.org (so the record in SITS can be updated).
What staff need to do by September is documented here:
You can find comprehensive (but brief!) documentation on other aspects of Learning Space here:
Through the last week of August and the first week of September we will be available at drop-in days. Do come along, either for a brief one-to-one session or to sit and work on Learning Space while someone is on hand with help if or when you need it. The dates are:
- Tue 28th, 9:00 – 17:00 – Penryn – TH Seminar W
- Wed 29th, 9:00 – 17:00 – Penryn – TH Seminar W
- Thurs 30th, 9:00 – 17:00 – Falmouth – Seminar F (Treetops)
- Tue 4th, 9:00 – 17:00 – Penryn – Exchange Blue
- Wed 5th, 9:00 – 17:00 – Falmouth – Seminar F (Treetops)
- Thurs 6th, 9:00 – 17:00 – Penryn – Exchange Blue
If you cannot make any of these days we are happy to arrange sessions for groups or one-to-one. Again, please contact email@example.com.
Positive feedback on the makeover!
We have received a lot of positive comments since a new theme was deployed on Learning Space. Our user experience designer is still making minor amendments and we welcome further feedback!