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.

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!