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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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).
The Electronic Management of Assessment project ran an informative pilot in Study Block 2 of last year with a small pilot over Study Block 3. The outcomes were not as conclusive as we would have hoped so we are running a larger, but more focused pilot over the 19/20 academic year.
The focus is concerned with the constructive alignment between the learning outcomes and assessment criteria., but with a larger set of tools to work with. The Assignment tool within Learning Space gives the option of including a rubric however through the pilot in SB2 we found that it is not fit for Falmouth’s purpose. Therefore, we have changed the use of the Assignment tool to attaching feedback sheets to the feedback area; the caveat is that the feedback file needs to contain a rubric which displays the learning outcomes aligned with assessment criteria, with a clear identification of the student’s level of achievement of the learning outcomes. This means that where subjects have an effective way of creating feedback for their students currently, you can utilise the centralised tools to disseminate the feedback to your students without having to use email or other non-supported methods.
During this period of the pilot we will be analysing the various methods you currently use across the institution and determining the best template to provide for a supported process going forward.
The aim of the pilot running in this study block is to ensure that the tools are fit for purpose within the remit of Falmouth’s requirements. We are also piloting assessment feedback principles and guidelines to support this process. We will be gathering feedback from staff and students to determine their appropriateness and how they will fit into the future of EMA.
In the background we are in preparations to start development work on automating the process of submission link creation. We are really grateful for your help with ensuring a more robust and consistent experience for the students by creating submission links within your modules according to the guidance being sent out from SPA. This really helps the students to identify the correct submission areas, and it helps professional services staff to support both students and academic staff when enquiries are made.
The new Learning Space plugin, My Feedback (going live in November) will give students and staff a new way to access feedback and assessments (respectively from Turnitin and Assignment). Students and staff will be able to get an overview of assessments on all their modules with direct access to each assessment from one screen. This will cut out clicks that mean having to navigate through each module page first.
The My Feedback plugin will also give staff an overview of the number of online submissions to an assessment, the number of non-submissions, and the number of late submissions. It can also give an overview of the marks that have been entered for the assessment once they’re marked. This, of course, only applies to online submissions, however online feedback can still be given for studio/physical submissions through these links.
On the mock-up image of the tool below you can see 3 second year TV modules with assessments on those modules listed under each module heading. The links take you straight to the assessments’ inboxes where you can then access the student’s work. You can see clearly, because of the new naming conventions, which is the EC/REFER and which is the standard submission link.
If you’d like an overview of the tool let us know and we can run you through it.
This study block sees the first phase of the Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA) project having been kicked off. The Educational Technology Team are working closely with Quality Assurance and Enhancement (QAE) and SPA, this phase of the project focuses on improving clarity of grading and summative assessment feedback.
It was clearly highlighted in the last NSS that students have significant challenges in terms of understanding marking criteria, and from that the fairness of marking. Over 600 responses on the ROS (reps online system) suggested that this area is not working as well as it could do, and they see and feel there are big differences in assessment feedback practice.
A study block 2 pilot is underway involving fourteen modules across five academic departments. This involves the use of learning space submission and feedback tools, working to a new set of assessment feedback principles, and marking against an assessment rubric. A review of this pilot, and engagement from a new EMA Academic working group will help shape an approach for an institutional wide rollout. Assessment Rubrics are already widely used at Falmouth and across academia, each one is unique to the assessment element. Using the learning space submission and feedback tools academic staff can visually represent students’ achievement (and therefore mark) in relation to their assessments. Essentially, laid out in a table format, rows display the learning outcomes being assessed, and the columns show the level to which the student is, isn’t and could be working to. See the example below:
Some comments from academics that have experience of using rubrics like the one above:
Rubrics develop/drives a level of professionalism and enables me to provide more timely feedback
Rubrics give the marker confidence that they can be more objective than subjective
Rubrics let students know how their grade was calculated and where they could improve their work
Rubrics set out expectations to aid the student to understand what they’re being graded against
Determining a consistent approach to providing summative assessment feedback to students at Falmouth will enable them to be supported centrally more effectively, and for us to measure and enhance feedback practice. The mix of practice within courses and schools causes challenges when students seek support from central services, can create a disjointed experience for both the students and staff. As we move towards more trans-disciplinarity and grow our online delivery, these challenges are worsened.
The platform for this will be Learning Space, it has submission and feedback tools available that are widely used across the HE and FE sector.
Students will receive summative assessment feedback and provisional marks for their work (ratified marks will still be available through MyFalmouth) regardless of the type of submission (artefact, performance, essay, image etc) online through Learning Space. This creates a standard process and it is one that can be centrally supported, understood, measured and enhanced.
We will be continuing and expanding the pilot to ensure that courses that have been through the new Curriculum Management process are trialling these new methods in Study Block 3.
If you’d like to get involved, or have any questions about EMA in general, please get in touch at: email@example.com
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.
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
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.
For help with creating an archive of valuable course content, please get in touch with the Educational Technology team using firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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’.
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.
Thinking about incorporating a flipped classroom within your own module? Get in touch with the Educational Technology team using email@example.com. We can help support you find the right technologies and provide top tips for incorporating them within a flipped classroom.
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.
Workshop sessions attended by Ed Tech included:
- learning analytics (benefits, implementation practicalities, side-effects and ethical issues);
- digital literacy (of staff, of students, in curriculum design, organisational approaches).
Finally, there was an excellent simulation of a day in the life of Natalie, an undergraduate student in 2029 whose learning is via VR.
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.
Today sees the end of the project! 🍾
We have successfully upgraded Learning Space to the latest version, moved from an internally hosted system to a cloud hosted platform, re-designed the theme to ensure branding is appropriate, completed 363 user stories over the past 11 months, and made 2,238 changes within the system to ensure that it is running smoothly and in line with our requirements; amongst other things:
We’ve run 81 training sessions with you since the launch of the live system in May 2018 between the 4 of us, plus hundreds of email support inquiries and hours of phone calls.
Collaboration with various teams across the institution has seen the project delivered successfully on time to provide a reliable and up to date service to you and your students, over the last 11 months some of the teams we’ve worked with have included:
- FXPlus IT – supported the project and successfully integrated University systems with Learning Space
- Communications – advice on branding guidelines
- Student Programmes and Achievement – supporting refer/defer work and decisions about setting up online hand-ins
- Information Governance – Compliance and GDPR guidance
- Library – Talis integration and testing
- Quality Assurance and Enhancement/SITs – central module details and student enrolments
We are now moving the project into ‘Business as Usual’ which means that we will start to work on user stories that were not in scope for the main project, and on improvements to the system. Please get in touch if you have any ideas or requirements.