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!

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.

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

Flipping the Classroom on BA(Hons) Creative Advertising

Overview

This case study exhibits an innovate flipped classroom approach used by Lucy Cokes, Senior Lecturer for BA(Hons) Creative Advertising as part of a final year module. A flipped classroom reverses the traditional teaching structure by asking students to learn material outside of the classroom in exchange for more meaningful face-to-face activities. Through careful planning and maximising the potential of features available in Learning Space, students found the new approach to be an engaging way to learn.

Flipping the Class

Lucy’s flipped approach focused on teaching students the laws and regulations that marketing campaigns must adhere to. Traditionally this was delivered via a 2-hour lecture with no time to put the knowledge into practice inside the classroom. By swapping the lecture with an online series of short video lectures, students could instead use the 2-hour class time to apply the knowledge using interesting small group activities.

 Is the traditional lecture on the way out? | © Arabelle Zhuang/Mayn Creative

An Innovative Strategy for Teaching and Learning

To help the students adapt, Lucy was clear in outlining her expectations of the students on the Learning Space. With the learning resources hosted online, students could access them anywhere at any time. Students could pause, speed-up or slow-down video lectures to meet their individual learning needs and then test their knowledge using a multiple-choice quiz activity and immediately receive feedback.

“The use of audio as opposed to reading is particularly helpful for students with dyslexia, of which we have a significant number in our cohort. I was touched when some of my students made a point of thanking me for producing these online resources as they found it really helpful compared to attending lectures.”

– Lucy Cokes

You may be wondering how can staff be sure that students are participating with the online resources… The activity completion setting is a handy tool built into Learning Space which can be used to track student progress. Checkboxes appear next to each activity which can either be ticked off by students, or automatically triggered when certain conditions are met, such as by completing a quiz. Staff can then view an activity report which provides an overview of where each student is at.

A challenge when using a flipped approach is ensuring that not only students are on board but also that staff are fully invested too. To sell the benefits of the approach, Lucy piloted a flipped session with the course team as part of her PGCHE with Falmouth Flexible, to great success. One colleague noted that ‘all students could benefit from a flipped class structure’.

 A flipped classroom accommodates multiple learning styles. | © Ignas Vincerzevkis

Opportunities

Lucy has already applied what she has learnt from her first flipped classroom to a first-year module. Although by her own admission, it can take some time to initially create the online resources – the benefits to the students however, is invaluable. From a pedagogical perspective, the approach is forward thinking, as higher education continues to adopt blended learning.

Further Support

Thinking about incorporating a flipped classroom within your own module? Get in touch with the Educational Technology team using etsupport@falmouth.ac.uk. We can help support you find the right technologies and provide top tips for incorporating them within a flipped classroom.