Thursday 28 July 2011

Ready for the Annual Rollover

The Wolsey Summer Plan is progressing well, we are on schedule to have everything completed for the deadline of Monday 1st August.

Tomorrow, Friday 29th will see us start the process of importing all new 2011/12 moules in to Wolsey, we will then run the final process of the staff enrolment rollover, automatically adding lecturers to their new modules.  We have some new challenges this year as we are losing the Content Collection later in the year, we are making this document store read-only from Monday, saving any new modules from being populated with Content Collection items.

We have so far managed to train half of the Course Admin Team, the others are booked in for 4th August, to allow us to complete the Wolsey Devolution of administrative tasks.  This training allows Course Admin Teams to manage the enrolments on the module that they administer.  This in turn allows them to dip in and out to add announcements rather than being enrolled on hundreds of modules.

We have also created new forms allowing easy management of staff enrolments on different modules, as well creating a new read-only view of the Custom Course database, allowing Course Admin teams to search the database for course IDs.

I will update more on Monday :-)


Tuesday 19 July 2011

Elevate Team and Student Induction for specific courses

We'll be providing a slightly different approach to student induction to e-learning tools at the individual programme or module level for the 2011/12 academic year. One of the key reasons for this is effectiveness. Generic inductions offer little engagement to students, and are difficult for central teams to provide as we don't know the specifics of the course, it's delivery or assessment strategies. Therefore, the focus will be on working very closely with lecturers staff to ensure they are able to provide their own student induction. This will include, ensuring there are appropriate exit strategies to more help.

A typical example would be to develop a 30 minute session which a member of the course team can deliver, which includes video (screencasts), and is mapped closely to what the student will be using over the first few months of the course.

Outside of the staff controlled tools (Wolsey) we'll also be providing a number of video based introductions for students on tools they might wish to use as part of their own, personalised learning network.

For student induction we are offering the following service;


We'll support lecturer staff to design their Wolsey specific induction sessions (but we do not run them ourselves) - we'll direct staff to appropriate student support material (video based how to guides) which they might use, and to enhance effectiveness we'll encourage staff to make them very specific on actual uses within the first month of starting the course. The design will be dependent on the type of tools they'll be using in the short term. Therefore, a generic provision of Wolsey induction is not likely to be effective. In some cases, staff might want to provide an online induction in the initial period.

Mahara (e-Portfolio)

Given the Mahara service is a pilot, we'll be more hands on in terms of our support for student inductions for this tool, through the provision of a 20 minute taster session

Student "owned" e-learning tools

The Elevate Team will be providing a number video tasters around using key technologies which could add value to the student experience. These technology tasters will include;

  • enhancing your learning and personal learning network through Twitter

  • opening up opportunities for collaboration using Google Docs

  • social bookmarking using Diigo


Great Yarmouth: Technology enhanced feedback and assessment workshop

As part of Great Yarmouth's HE Conference, I ran a workshop (18th July) on using technology to enhance feedback and assessment workshop. The slides are linked below. I thought the session went well, and let them decide on the focus. They decided to spend the time looking at e-submission, e-grading/e-return and e-feedback. We did spend a few minutes on objective testing using Blackboard.

We'd be very happy to run similar workshops for staff within UCS Schools and across the Learning Network.

Friday 15 July 2011

Wolsey Summer Plan

2011/12 will see a number of changes to the way Wolsey is used at UCS.  Wolsey is built upon the Blackboard Learn platform and UCS currently has the complete suite of 3 systems, they are:

  • Learning

  • Community

  • Content Collection

We will be moving to an installation of just the Learning system, removing the Community and Content systems.

This means we will be losing some functionality, listed below:

  • Communities

    • Intranet

  • Documents tab

    • Shared content

    • Version Control

  • System-wide Discussion Boards

    • The Wall etc.

  • Domains

    • Module/Community Organisation

    • Module/Community Permissions

  • Work Flows

  • Applicant Portal

  • Alumni Portal

The two biggest losses of functionality to users are the Communities and Documents.  Although this functionality is being removed from Wolsey, a new Intranet is under development with an “Intranet Group” being setup and looking at what UCS requires from an Intranet.

The other big loss is the “Content Collection” which handles and controls all of the content stored within the “Documents” tab.

We will be making the “Documents” tab read-only from Monday 1st August 2011, this means you will not be able to upload any new documents to the content area, you will also not be able to link your course/module or community to any documents already stored in this area.

This does not however stop documents being uploaded into Wolsey.  We have created an FAQ to help users remove their documents and how to upload using the “Local Attach” option.

These FAQs can be found here:

2011/12 Module Access

All 2011/12 modules will be available in Wolsey on the 1st August 2011.

We will be using a 'rollover' technique that will copy lecturer enrolments from 2010/11 modules on to the new modules.

Any modules that you have a lecturer role on, on the  29th July 2010, you will be a lecturer on on the 2011/12 version.  If you require access to any modules that you current are not enrolled on, you will need to request access via a form at the following address:

Add lecturer form

This year we will not be rolling over the custom courses, if you require the amalgamation of modules to create a single area containing more that one module you will need to request this via the following form:

Add custom course form

Please make sure you use the two forms linked above, as we will be unable to respond to individual emails during this busy period.

Course Admin Teams

We are also working on improving the process of adding lecturers to modules, the first step is the creation of the forms above and how these forms will be handled.  We have created new roles within Wolsey allowing Course Admin teams to have a system role allowing them to control access to modules they have responsibility for.  This new process will remove the Elevate Team from becoming a bottle neck.

We are creating a new Module Template this year, including more online support for students submitting work online, this support will be available directly from the “Assessments” folder within all modules.

Online Submissions

The Elevate Team are currently running a pilot with a groups of students to try and improve the online submission process for both staff and students.

UCS has experienced a number of problems with the use of SafeAssign as its online submission point, from work being lost to the student’s receiving incorrect feedback.

This streamlining of the online submission process uses the resources in Academic Services to have a more constant application of the system as well as saving lecturers a number of additional tasks.

New Login Page

We are working on redesigning the Wolsey login page, this page is only visible when access Wolsey from outside of the Ipswich campus.  We will be displaying RSS feeds from both the Elevate blog and from the FAQ system.

The idea behind the redesign is to make more relevant information more visible from the login screen, using RSS feeds means that the information will always be up to date as it will load the latest posts and FAQs from the relevant sites dynamically.

Other Summer Works

Along with the above programme of works we will also be undertaking an annual “spring clean”, truncating and clearing out a number bloated database and log files.

This work will be completed during a normal “Patch Friday” system downtime period, meaning there will be no additional downtime.


Wednesday 13 July 2011

Multimedia creation and support at UCS

We've been pushing the creation of video and audio for feedback and other educational benefits at various events at UCS recently, and we get lots of questions about "how do I do it". The following starts to unpack the different approaches in terms of what you might use, and the level of support. If you have any questions, please contact the Elevate Team (

Group (round table) Audio: Creation and Editing

Video / Film Work

  • Mic >> lapel, table or directional based from Camera

  • Hardware >> Camera, Tripod from Arts (History) organised via the Elevate Team

  • Software >> Edited using iMovie by Elevate Team

  • Room >> Recommend .. iLab

  • Support >> Support Level 1 (design, record and edit): Elevate Team

  • Online Support >> n/a

Lecture Recording / Talk Over Powerpoint

  • Mic >> Lapel, UCS Mic (purchase your own, advice from Elevate and IT Helpdesk)

  • Hardware >> UCS PC, Visualisers and Sympodium (if appropriate)

  • Software >> Debut Screen Recorder & Video Editor

  • Room >> Any

  • Support >> Support Level 2 (advice): Elevate Team

  • Online Support >> FAQs (