Here is a summary of the Moodle related changes being implemented this summer for the SLE (Strategic Learning Environment), 2013-14.
If you want to read more there is a series of Moodle 2 posts on the LDC’s Educational Vignettes blog.
The changes have been driven by three main factors:
- The necessity of switching to the latest version of Moodle (2.4).
- Introduction / expansion of available technologies due to University investment.
- Results of consultation with stakeholders – in particular User Testing run by the HCID Interaction Lab.
As this is a move from one system to another, rather than the usual ‘rollover’, the timeline is a little different to last year. The following timeline applies to the majority of modules with some variation for summer modules.
Summary of changes
- Look & Feel. The Moodle interface has been re-designed. There are some significant changes but most work flows remain the same.
- My Moodle page updated. Includes an activity stream, upcoming events and quick links to the latest information (e.g. forum posts) from across all your modules. It also includes a favourites area at the top to which you can add your frequently accessed modules.
- A Module Dashboard block is available on each module page. It organises key links to frequently used resources. A Floating menu bar at the top of the page allows quick navigation to all your other modules, sections within your current module, module settings and the Turn editing on button.
- New Functionality includes time-release and other forms of conditional access to control when and if a student has access to a particular resource or activity. Simple editing tools allow you to edit resource names directly on the module homepage and to duplicate items. There is a new Group Assignment option and negative marking is now built-in to quizzes.
- File Handling. You can now drag-and-drop files into a resource or directly into the homepage of your module. You can upload files from external repositories like Dropbox and Google Drive.
- Video. A new video platform – City Video (Kaltura) – has been launched and is fully integrated into Moodle. This makes it easier to publish your videos and record webcam video directly into Moodle.
- Mobile. Moodle 2 uses a responsive design which means the interface adjusts to screen size across desktops, tablets and smart phones.
To enable greater use of Reading Lists Online in the two Schools I will be spending time with TED over the coming weeks to work directly with staff.
Reading Lists Online provides students with quick and easy access to all the books, articles and websites they need to use and will be embedded in Moodle 2 to enhance the online learning environment. It provides a dynamic link to current library stock, enabling students to check the availability of hard copy material before visiting and link directly to electronic resources where they are available.
I will be spending one half day per week, commencing Monday 10th June, in the Schools (based with TED in A401) to work with academic staff and module leaders to input and manage their reading lists to ensure students can locate essential reading material quickly and efficiently. Please don’t hesitate to contact me via email V.Price@city.ac.uk or come and see me in A401 – I’ll be there on different days over the coming weeks and will let you know when via email.
Since 2002, the New Media Consortium (NMC) has been undertaking the Horizon Project. This involves soliciting the views of a wide range of influential people in the educational technology community (and beyond) on technologies that are likely to have a significant impact on education over the next 5 years. Each February reports are published which provide an overview of the chosen technologies, their significance to specific domains and the timescale over which it is expected adoption will take place. In advance of the main report the NMC also publishes the shortlist and a preview of the main report and the 2013 Higher Education preview is now available. What follows are some of my thoughts on the items selected for the Report.
Over the next few months, Farzana Latif (School of Health Sciences) and I will be investigating the possible uses of OpenBadges at City. OpenBadges are based on the same idea as the ones awarded to Scouts: they are a visual recognition that a person has mastered a particular skill. Skills acquisition is a very important part of learning, but formal qualifications often mask these in favour of examination results, so we want to look at whether there would be benefits in introducing a badges-based mechanism to enable students to show their skills and competencies, in addition to their grades. This project is being supported by the Learning Development Centre as one of their Learning Development Projects for 2012/13, and would be interested in hearing from City staff and students who want to give us their views.
OpenBadges been developed by the Mozilla Foundation (makers of the Firefox web browser among other things) specifically with education in mind, and so have security and verification features built into them which mean that it very difficult for a student to fake their award. They can also be set to expire automatically, so could be used for other purposes such as limited-time authorisations.
Skills are acquired in all disciplines, some of them common to most, such as academic writing, and others specific to particular ones. The following is a list of example skills that badges could be used to expose and ‘certify’, and how they might benefit students and staff:
- A nursing student is required to learn particular clinical skills, but on completion of the module the specifics skills learned become clouded by the grade for the assessments. With badges, it would be possible for the student to build a public profile that showcases the specific skills he acquired during the module.
- A mechanical engineering student needs to have undertaken general safety training and a specific training session prior to being able to use a particular piece of equipment, and needs a refresher every year. With badges, it becomes possible to check whether a student has completed the necessary training before allowing them on the equipment. The badges would automatically expire each year and so the badges would always be current.
- Two computing students are on the same programme. One takes elective modules in advanced programming and the other takes electives on systems analysis. On completion of their modules the students are awarded badges that highlight their chosen specialism.
- A student is elected president of one of the student union societies. On completion of her term of office she is awarded a badge to ‘certify’ this fact.
- A supervisor uses badges to help identify whether a particular student has the necessary skills to undertake a proposed final project.
One institution that has already implemented a badge-based recognition system is Purdue University in the US. There, students can earn badges and then produce profiles which show of different combinations of them, so that employers can see the ones that are relevant to them.
There is growing interest in the use of badges to recognise informal learning and skills acquisition, and this project should allow City to make an informed decision about whether they are right for us. So please add any comments you may have below.
Today saw the unveiling of an online tool to help teachers and learning technologists to identify software to support particular pedagogic approaches, or to highlight the pedagogic uses of specific software. It currently has only 40 or so entries, but we will be working on it to add more and to include other features, such as case studies and help guides. There are several ways to filter the list of applications according to specific requirements, and we will be adding new categories as time goes on. We also have plans to create similar pages for hardware and Moodle functionality in the near future.
The tool was developed by me and two other City colleagues, James Toner (City Law School) and Farzana Latif (School of Health Sciences). You can find it at http://www.cityunihealth.co.uk/appsSimile/web2tools.html. We hope that this will become a resource that people can use to get ideas and share feedback about how specific software can help support pedgogic activities, we would be very interested in any comments, feedback or tool suggestions you may have.
Last May we introduced our TED Projects & Funds to enable staff to experiement with technologies in teaching or develop new resources. We funded several projects and over the coming months the staff involved will be reporting back on their work they are doing on this blog. For now, here’s a summary of what we funded:
- Tablet Screencasts – a screencast is a recording of what’s taking place on a computer screen plus audio. Some staff have been using graphics tablets & tablet PCs with screen-recording software to experiment with this format. For example, Anton Cox is producing demonstrations of Excel/VBA. What is a Screencast?
- iBook development – Justin Phillips has a long-term loan of an iPad 3 to help with the writing of an iBook using iBook Author
- Presenting with Prezi – Prezi is a web-based tool for creating presentations. The PLU have been given Prezi Edu Pro licences for a year which provide additional functionality such as desktop editing.
- LaTeX for SCOF – Ian has already added LaTeX to his SCOF Feedback tool following a project request from Maud De Visscher
- Displays – we have funded some kit for the PLU to use with their students. Firstly a portable Pico Projector that staff can take on visits to placement students to project their iPad onto a wall for group viewing as well as Tablet PC plus stand for 1-2-1 work with students.
- Educational game – Daniel Nankoo has an idea for a educational game to help students understand ‘breadboards’ in his Electonic Circuit Design course. We are currently looking for a student to work on this.
- Video Projects – several staff in SEMS have been working with Victor, our E-Learning Production Assistant to create video resources for use in teaching.
It is a red-letter day for all of you mathematically-minded SCOF-watchers!
In response to a request from the Mathematics department, a new version of SCOF now features support for mathematical equations. These equations can be entered using the LaTeX mathematical typesetting language, or through clicking buttons on a graphical editor. This update should make SCOF much more useful for numerate subjects, but other updates to the system are planned and beign worked on.
Below is an example of SCOF being used with equations. These are added by click the ‘fx’ button on the bottom row of the text editor. It uses the free editor from Code Cogs.
I’ve just finished giving my presentation at Ed-media 2012 in Denver, Colorado.
Despite the time of day, the extreme heat, and the wildfires raging nearby, there was a reasonably good turnout and at least one person wants to evaluate the tool further. So not a bad result!
The vacancy is being advertised to City University London students by the university’s new Unitemps service.
Further details about the post including requirements & the application process:
- E-Learning Production Assistant details
Each year TED plans to support projects in SEMS & SoI that enable staff to introduce new practice into their teaching that makes use of educational technologies. Projects can benefit from a small amount of resourcing, in addition to our usual (high!) level of commitment & support. See TED Projects & Funds 2012 for full details & the online application form.
Your commitment – you will be required, in conjunction with TED, to disseminate the outcomes of your project.
Some indicative examples of potential projects:
- Annotating module coursework electronically using PDFs & graphics tablets
The graphics tablets could be funded
- Collecting in-class feedback from large-classes using the Polleverywhere service
Funding could be used to cover the service subscription
- Producing videos demonstrating processes
TED could provide x hours of a student assistant to film &/or edit the videos
If you have any ideas you’d like to discuss before applying please contact us.