Wednesday 29 February 2012

Students embracing Web 2 Social tools for Learning

Just a small post to mention more good feedback regarding our (Elevate) Student Induction sessions, the session has been rolled out this year to try and empower students to think about some web 2 tools and how they could use them for their studies. The big hitters that always come up in the sessions are Twitter and the use of Google Docs for collaborative group work, although sometimes we do go into the use of Diigo for social bookmarking and Wordpress for reflective blogging. The use of Clickers or audience response system lets the students in the session decide what we put the emphasis on.

Although it has been hard to judge any sort of uptake for Google Docs, Twitter has been great in the fact after our sessions, we are getting students follow not only ourselves but the Elevate Twitter as well.

Here are a couple of examples from our/their public Twitter accounts:

At one session, the students were so enthusiastic asking so many questions that the session ran into their coffee break!

We had multiple students add us on Twitter..

We do have more in depth feedback from a student who after attending one of our sessions, embraced the use of Twitter as a Personal Learning Network. You can read the students here -->

We'll be using this feedback to help inform the role of the Elevate Team with respect to digital literacies at UCS.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Thoughts from author of interactive poster #aurasma

As mentioned in a previous post, we have been working with Sam Chenery-Morris (Midwifery) to add an extra dimension to her Conference Poster. As the feedback indicates below, Sam perceives this as a great opportunity and plans to be using it in the future. If you'd like to find out how we might be able to work with you on your interactive posters just email us (

The following responses are from Sam.

What is the background?

Here's my story. I submitted an abstract for a concurrent session to the RCN Education conference in Harrogate. I was offered a poster presentation instead. I was delighted when Aaron mentioned the technology that could be embedded as the whole point of the presentation was about the student voices, which obviously came out on the poster with Aaron's help.

What value do you think this adds to the conference poster?

The addition of the audio and video clips was a brilliant addition to the poster. It adds value because delegates can interact as opposed to just glance/ read the words, they can hear and see the effects which enhance this poster.

Would you recommend this to a colleague?

I would recommend this to colleagues as it starts a dialogue, it encourages interaction at conferences and anything that helps delegates talk and network is a good thing. The posters were judged and again, had I been there on the first day and shown the judges I feel this may have been considered for a prize, not only was it innovative it was academic and fulfilled the judging brief.

Would you use this again?

I have already submitted an abstract for NET2012, and if it were accepted I would use the poster or the Youtube links to hear the student voices during the concurrent session and encourage delegates to try on their own devices.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Interactive Poster Prototype #UCSConnect #aurasma

The Elevate Team have been working with Sam Chenery-Morris, a lecturer within the School of Nursing and Midwifery.  Sam is presenting a poster at the RCN Education Forum Conference titled "Evaluating Midwifery Practice ".

The Elevate picked up on this poster during a chat with Sam as part of the "Learning Technologist for a day" model, where one of the team is based within the School of Nursing and Midwifery.  Sam has designed the poster and we thought it would be a good test to see how well we could embed some digital material into the printed poster.  Sam had some audio material that had been recorded with the students, so we set about creating the "auras" that would trigger the audio files using the Aurasma Development Studio.

As I type this we are awaiting approval of our UCS Connect app, a re-skinned version of the Aurasma app, as mentioned here.  The way Aurasma works means we are able to access our own content via their "Aurasma Lite" app, if that app is subscribed to one of our UCS channels.

To improve the experience of the audio we quickly added some images and some key text/subtitles thoughout the audio.  The "auras" are much more impressive if images/video is used.

Below is an image showing Sam's poster, including David to give a sense of scale :-)

Interactive Poster Prototype

We have used images that Sam had already added to her poster as triggers, these are the images that the mobile device will recognise and then complete the action that we have developed.  We have used the Aurasma icon to identify the images that have an action associated with it, as well as a small guide showing what to do in the bottom right of the poster.

You will see in the image below, that we have also included QR Codes to the same video content, these just link to the video in Youtube, this gives alternative access to the video content, for users without the app.

Showing the QR Code

Normally we would also include a short url giving another route to the material, but we chose this time to not include that manual route, just to see how users would interact with the poster.  Below you will see David demonstrating the poster using an Android device, this application is available to both iOS and Android devices.


You will notice on the second "aura" that David is able to double tap the screen to make the video play in fullscreen mode, meaning that the device can be moved away for the poster, especially helpful when the digital content is a few minutes in length.

Apologies for the audio quality in the video as it was recorded in an open plan office, and the speaker on the Asus Transformers isn't the best.

We really are starting to see a buzz around this work, only today our Office of Research and Enterprise and shown an interest in working with us.  And we mustn't forget the UCS 2013 Undergraduate Publication that will have "auras" embedded within it, a sneaky peak of a page can be seen below:


The Elevate Team will be running a workshop on Interactive Posters at the next JISC RSC Eastern e-Fair.

Getting started with e-books: Online Surgery & UCS involvement

JISC Digital Media are running an online surgery on the topic of getting started with e-books ( on the 22nd January, 1.00 to 2.00.

I will be presenting at this session, on e-books & e-learning: trying to bring them together - the slides are available below.

The thrust of the session will outline a collaborative task I've been trying to achieve for the last 5 years with e-books and seeing if we are a step closer when we use the Kindle hardware and software. The outcome is the not really, these devices are still designed as personal, and do not easily share content (notes) between people. However, it also notes, with the emergence of the media tablet and the use of web 2.0 software (Google Docs) there are options to better leverage the personal with the collaborative learning opportunities compared to anything we've previously been able to do.

The slides are available from:







Thursday 16 February 2012

Using live conference tools in teaching and learning: JISC guide

The JISC have recently updated their Elluminate Live Good Practice guide ( This focuses on exploring how to use the Elluminate Live Conference tool in teaching and learning. At UCS we use GoTo Meeting, which offers a very similar feature set. I would recommend you spend 15 minutes, with a hot drink and read section 3: designing for participant engagement. This outlines lots of potential ways of enhancing teaching and learning, and works through a number of case studies and work flows.

If you'd like to discuss how to transfer these ideas into your teaching, please email the Elevate Team (

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Upcoming e-assessment events in Eastern Region

The following are a number of e-assessment events provided through JISC RSC Eastern, which you might be interested in over the next few weeks. e-Portfolios to support assessment and feedback

Free Webinars

e-Portfolios to support assessment and feedback
Friday 17th Feb 1-2pm
Presenters: Emma Purnell (University of Wolverhampton) and Geoff Rebbeck
Further info and to register:

Digitally-Enhanced Patchwork Text Assessment (DePTA)
Friday 24th February 2012 1-2pm
Presenter: Caroline Macangelo (University of Cumbria)
Further info and to register:

Both sessions are free and will be hosted in Blackboard Collaborate.

On 30th March RSC Eastern are offering a free e-Assessment Showcase hosted by Hertford Regional College this event will showcase best practice in the Eastern Region, topics covered will include, Screencasting for Assessment , Enhancing the e-assessment processes in a mobile world, Verbal Tagging in assessment, paperless formative assessment design for BTEC courses, for the full programme and to book go to

Thursday 9 February 2012

Creating your presentation on the iPad (Keynote)

Based on a train trip home, and watching over someones shoulder as they create a presentation on the iPad using keynote, I thought, I should really try this, why am I creating on a desktop, and uploading to dropbox when I could use my iPad?

The Elevate Team were recently invited to talk at a Suffok Digital event around what we are up to with QR Codes ( Hence, I needed to create a presentation to cover this 10 minute session. Although I didn't use it on the day, as I used a flip chart, some of my thoughts are below;

The presentation is available from:

As you can see, it includes all the general requirements for a presentation;

  • text, images, links

It was very easy to author through the Keynote on the iPad. For screenshots, and web images I simply screen grabbed on the iPad (on/off and navigation square), and edited on my iPad using the Chop Suey HD App.

The only disappointment is the difficulty of displaying video on the iPad, for instance, I was very keen to include the following YouTube Video. This could not be embedded in my presentation, so I'd need to bookmark it in my YouTube App and present through this, so toggling between apps in a presentation - what could go wrong :-)

The other drawback is, it will not allow you (or if it does, I've missed it) to upload to Dropbox from my KeyNote app. So I am having to email it to myself to get hold of the file to upload !!

That aside, I enjoyed it, so I've another couple of workshops next week so I'll create and present from my iPad, using my iPod as a remote control.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Positive feedback from Elevate's student induction sessions.

The latest intake of students at UCS were graced with the Elevate Team's presence during the student inductions, to not only go over our current institution services such as the VLE and the E-portfolio system but to empower students to look at personal learning networks and other Web 2 tools outside of UCS. Demonstrating the benefits of such tools as twitter, diigo etc

This has changed greatly from our old student induction approach which was very point and click orientated mainly focusing around the VLE.

It seems as though our new approach has certainly guided some students into trying some of the tools we suggested, below is a comment from a student who decided to have a play with twitter.
Further to our conversation earlier today, I write to continue my eulogising about Twitter as a resource which has helped me immensely with my post-grad studies. As a mature student, many of the social networking sites have passed me by, but following your presentation to the MACYS group in October, I promptly signed up for a Twitter account and it has been transformational in providing me with links to websites, reports, research documents, policies, headlines, and an e-streamed conference.

Despite living in a home environment where there is more modern technology than Dixons, my comfort zone was purely email and online shopping. However, discovering Twitter has been a revelation. Before your talk, I assumed it was a social space for people to detail the minutiae of their lives in 140 characters, but it would seem I assumed wrong!

To begin with I searched for St Elizabeth Hospice, an organisation for which I currently work on a voluntary basis. From finding them, I was able to link to other hospices, and through them, I have been able to access research, grief counselling resources, and sibling programmes, enabling me to use these resources within my assignments, and also in providing a wider snapshot of hospice provision. My links led me to ACT – an overarching organisation for Hospice Care, for both parents and professionals, and an e-stream of their recent Rights of The Child conference. I am now following numerous child cancer charities, such as Clic Sargent and Be Child Cancer Aware to name only 2, and have requested hardcopies of publications I have come across on such sites.

I feel that Twitter has brought to my pc information and resources that I may not have come across through searching library database journals, catalogues, and Google. Additionally, I am following a few people who are terminally ill children, and this has added another, more human dimension to my theoretical studies. Admittedly, I am lurking on Twitter, and never contribute to anything as I am unsure how, but I check my tweets daily and it is now a starting point for the day, to see what has been released since I looked last.

I thought I would be the last person to be singing Twitter’s praises, but your enthusiasm encouraged us to venture forth into territories unknown and it has been worthwhile. My husband used to refer to me as a technical luddite, but no more….

What a phenomenal tool requiring few skills but yielding such fascinating outcomes. I wish someone had espoused its benefits years ago. Thank you!!

This has been fantastic feedback for our team, demonstrating a need for students to be made aware of Web 2.0 technologies and how they can be used to enhance their learning outside of what the institution provides. We make sure that in our demonstrations, we don't push or set objectives for students to complete any tasks, but simply sell the benefits of the tools, it's then up to the students to pursue further if they feel it will benefit them.

As the student comment above shows, there maybe a lot of students who know about tools such as twitter and diigo, however not know how best to use them in a learning context.

Monday 6 February 2012

iPad Use in Science - Using Apps to Supplement Teaching

Last week, I covered electrocardiography (ECG) with a group of my students. In addition to some 'lecture' based material, and some practical use of ECG measurement and recording in the laboratory, the students had a play with the Nova Professional Series Heart Pro III app on the iPad.

The app is developed in collaboration with Stanford University School of Medicine and East Tennessee Cardiovascular Surgery Group, and is certainly highly credible in terms of accuracy of content. The Nova 3D4Medical series offer a range of anatomical and physiological apps, that may well be worth a look for other relevant courses/departments at UCS. Certainly, I've seen software at 100 times the cost that is far less informative (and certainly less intuitive) - this app was approx. £13.

In more general terms, and perhaps more widely relevant, was how how much the students enjoyed using such tools to supplement their learning. Whilst dissecting a heart can be an excellent learning experience, you can't make an inert piece of dead tissue 'jump to your tune', and watch/re-watch simulation models of it's function. The students reported that the exploring nature of using the app was a real plus (there's a learning style definition here isn't there - help me people!). We all know the old saying of a picture can be worth 1000 words. Well in these apps, you have motion videos, created/developed by world class experts. If a picture is worth 1000 words ---- we need a new colloquialism!

Lastly, so as not to get carried away, I don't think these types of learning tools replace the need for structured learning, I think they complement it. Whilst the students were left at times to go and explore and play with it, the app was also used at key stages to visually demonstrate certain key bits of theory in a more formal/structured way. That still needs the human being to dictate that part.

Anyway, for those working in similar fields, you'll also be aware of the exorbitant costs of most educational software. This was a brilliant learning tool - and it cost less than £15 (no conflict of interest here - commission etc. :-). Any further info' wanted like specific app use during this ECG session etc., please get in touch/reply.


Thursday 2 February 2012

How've Elevate been helping staff at UCS in Jan 2012?

A question I’m often asked is … so, how have the Elevate Team been helping staff at UCS to design, develop and deliver technology enhanced teaching and learning opportunities? So the following should highlight a few approaches, and I challenge to contact the Elevate Team to see how we could help you employ these in your teaching.


Andy has been working with a number of staff across UCS on the use of the Optical Mark Reader software for multiple choice exams. The lecturers have wanted to run summative MCQ exams for students. The approach is we use the OMR, the discipline expert writes the questions, we create the exam answer sheets, the students complete the paper, we scan them and send the lecturer the results as a CSV file. We supported Dr Kulbir Singh Birak roll out a 60 question exam for 93 students, all went smoothly.

This could be perfect for also running small but regular tests through a semester where you get track student understanding of key concepts as the course developments.


Aaron has been working with Rachel Heathershaw in Nursery & Midwifery to help design and support the e-conference. The e-conference covered three days of activities including accessing pre-recorded presentations, and a real time video conference for a panel discussion, an online form was used to capture the evaluation feedback.

The software included GoTo Meeting, Google Sites, Google Forms, Debut Video Recorder and YouTube. All of these are available to you use.

We also provided advice around how you might design the learning activities to enhance effectiveness.

Capturing the student experience

David has been working with Allison Boggis to record student voices for e-Feedback using basic network software called Audacity.

Meanwhile, the team have been working with a number of staff in course teams, including the course administrators to identify how to enhance the quality of their e-feedback processes to students. This has included process review on how to most efficiently transfer student work for marking and exploring how we could enhance the e-feedback experience for staff. This uses media tablets to challenge the way staff create electronic feedback, both text and multimedia.

So, the challenge is set for you … how can the Elevate Team help you enhance the learning experience through using appropriate technologies? Please contact us to arrange a discussion.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Using QR Codes in Higher Education

I was recently an invited speaker at a Higher Education Academy sponsored workshop run by a team at Bournemouth University (a big thank you to David Hopkins – I was there to share our experiences of QR Code based location aware learning activities, and talk through some of the developments at UCS.

The event blurb is available from:

There were a couple of points to transfer back to our practice at UCS.

Firstly, the Business School at Bournemouth University developed a Toolkit for creating, embedding, and monitoring the use of QR Codes. I’ll happily share this with people at UCS, and give this a slight UCS lens, ie., the way we can further support you. For a copy of the toolkit, please email.

Secondly, why not give UniTag ( a try to generate QR Codes which are more visually striking QR Codes (different colours, designs, inclusion of images etc.,)

The session slides from me are linked below:

If you have any questions or thoughts about how you might use QR Codes within your teaching, learning and assessment then please email the Elevate Team.