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

 

 

Ed Tech at Digifest 2019

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 accessibility regulations: what they mean for Learning Space

What’s occurring?

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?

They include:

  • 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.

Journal, a shiny new thing

For a while now courses at Falmouth have been asking for a blogging/portfolio platform for students and staff to use for all sorts of reasons.

image

EdTech have now implemented CampusPress and are running it as a pilot this year. It’s essentially a WordPress multisite set up, with some added extras provided by EduBlogs the company behind it all. It’s called ‘Journal’ and you can access it at: http://journal.falmouth.ac.uk using your usual login credentials.

The added extras are mostly around class/cohort management and are great for keeping track of your student’s blogs or having a collaborative space where students can post to a central area, reflect and comment on each other’s ideas.

There are a few courses officially piloting it for us and we’ll be reporting back on how they get on later in the year; there is an overview of how the BA(Hons) Business Entrepreneurship course is using it in the Falmouth in Focus post about the course. In the meantime though, if you’d like to use it on your course, or you’re a student that would like to create a space where you can record and reflect on your learning or extra curricular activities then login, take a look and get in touch if you need to.