Monday 30 April 2012

Recording student presentations: Do you need to do this?

Over the last few weeks the Elevate Team have been involved in recording a number of student presentations for staff at UCS Ipswich. These have been for various reasons, for instance, enabling access for External Examiners or Second markers, or provide formative feedback on presentational technique. Our approach depends on need, however, we tend to screencast the student work. For instance, we provide a lapel mic and use Debut software to make a video of the screen and sync'd voice. The recording is then made available to staff to share with external examiners, their students etc., The important point for staff is, if this is for a summative assessment, we (Elevate) will capture this for you.

If the assessment (summative or formative) involves assessing the presentational style, we us a camera on a tripod to capture the actual presenter.

The workflow is available from:

If you are interested in taking advantage of this service, please contact us via


Friday 27 April 2012

Video conferencing from the iPad using GoTo Meeting

As part of a trial for an invited speaker into a lecture at UCS the Elevate Team explored the use of an iPad 3 using the GoTo Meeting application. The link below walks through the version which uses audio only. However, the latest version includes video conferencing using the camera. Initial thoughts findings were very impressive in terms of the speed of the connection and the quality of the audio and video. The web cam worked well, the audio was good as was the text chat area.

This type of technology offers great potential in teaching and learning. A recent JISC Good Practice Guide ( identified the benefits as including;

  • It can be used to support a wide range of teaching/learning methods and styles, potentially in highly engaging and collaborative forms

  • It allows external participants to cost-effectively participate live in sessions e.g. external experts, external examiners, mentors, supervisors, assessors and interviewees

The benefit of using the iPad is the ease of use. Within the current version, there are some feature limitations, for instance, you can start (host) a meeting from the iPad, you need to set up the meeting on a computer, also, you can't share you desktop (present from the iPad using keynote) or interact with the hosts computer when they share the mouse. Still, for a first go, very impressive.

The following video by GoTo Meeting gives you a sense of how it displays, and the interactivity on the iPad. Note it does not include the video component. See >>>



Tuesday 24 April 2012

Smarter Lectures – making learning happen in large-group settings

Did you know ... about the forth coming workshop >>> Wednesday 2 May 2102, 9:30-12:30, W413 UCS Waterfront Building

It is well established that just sitting in traditional lectures is not the best way for students to achieve high learning payoff. This workshop will explore how we can refresh the teaching approaches we use in large-group contexts, to maximise students’ learning then and there, rather than merely hope that they will go away and learn later from our handouts and their notes.

We will look creatively at what we can get students to do even in crowded lecture theatres or large classrooms, to keep them learning actively. We will also look at how to address the physical constraints of the learning environment in lecture theatres or large classrooms, and how we can get students to work participatively even in large groups. We will analyse some of the most prevalent problems we have when working with large groups, and seek creative solutions to the most common of these problems.

For more information, contact Rik Bond, in HR (Corporate Development)

Blackboard upgrade and migration project: announcement 2

I’d just like to update you on progress with the Blackboard Upgrade and Migration Project. In the last few weeks we’ve achieved a number of milestones. These include;

  1. IT Services working with The Elevate Team at UCS and Blackboard to enable authenticated sign-on using UCS username and password.

  2. Successful tests of uploading course, individual and enrollment data into Blackboard (module IDs and student enrollments based on UCS data)

  3. Test migrations of course content to identify migration routes (how to get course content into the system)

We have also started to update various staff groups, course teams and committees about the project, the timelines and milestones.

The three key areas we are working at the moment are liaising with Blackboard to test the most effective way of migrating courses to the new system, consulting with Academic Services to finalise a date for migration which has the least impact on exam boards, re-submissions etc., and working with IT Services to automate the course and enrollment data.

So what do you, the individual staff member, need to do? The answer is to make sure your course is up to date.

We’ll be announcing a number of mechanisms to start exploring the new software at the start of May. However, if you have any questions, please email the Elevate Team (

Monday 16 April 2012

All seems fine with My UCS ...

It appears the initial problems with MyUCS have been solved :-) Therefore, access to the Blackboard VLE will be fine.

Intermittent Access to My UCS - will effect your access to Blackboard VLE

Just to keep you informed, we have been told that My UCS is encountering intermittent access problems. This means your access to the LearnUCS (Wolsey VLE) will be impacted as you need to log in via MyUCS. We have been informed by the IT Helpdesk who manage MyUCS they are looking into the problem. We'll update when they tell us more - further update planned at 12.00.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Assessment Marking and Feedback using iPad, iAnnotate, and Dropbox

An addition to the more substantial report already posted ( about marking student work using the iPad, iAnnotate and Dropbox combo'...

Having now marked different assessments using these tools, I have to say I'm 100% supportive of developing the use of this method of assessment. Yes there are going to be a few teething problems, but on the whole I think it's a huge step forward in modernising the way we assess student work.

In terms of the teething issues, the first version of iAnnotate we used wasn't quite so easy to use as the latest version. And, there were a few issues surrounding batch file conversion into PDF documents (missing images/figures after conversion). But, this latter issue can be solved (relatively easily I believe) moving forward.

From a markers' point of view, I found the use of technology made the process of marking more enjoyable! The ability to neatly make use of different annotation tools gave great flexibility in how you present information back to the student. I think everyone wins really. The students don't need to get to the Assessment Office in person, the Assessment Office staff don't need to worry about collecting the work (and storing it), and teaching staff don't have to worry about huge piles of paperwork either. Just think of the amount of work, paper and space that it takes to get the paper copy to the marker, from the point when a student finally finishes a piece of coursework and hits save on a computer. Why not use that electronic document as it is? It's a bit like sending a telegram in the early 20th century isn't it - or at least I presume it is :-).

FYI - we've had different formats of documents submitted during this trial; it's definitely not limited to Word processed documents.

A huge thanks to the Elevate team and our course administration team in helping us start this process!


Friday 13 April 2012

Learn UCS (Wolsey VLE) Summer Upgrade 2012 (No.1)

This is the first announcement about the planned upgrade of Learn UCS (Wolsey VLE) during the summer 2012, to Blackboard 9.1 and changing the management to an external hosting model.

We are currently finalising the date of the migration to accommodate exam boards, and minimise disruption. So more details to follow. However, the upgrade will be complete by the start of the new academic year.

At the moment, our advice to staff is to start to ensure your courses are up to date, and for you to look out for later updates about staff briefings, staff development sessions, online guides and FAQs. We will also be arranging session around themes and tools. For instance, Mastering the Blackboard Wiki, Managing multimedia in my course, or Getting to grips with the Blackboard Gradebook.

The new version and hosting arrangement offer many benefits to staff and students at UCS. In my opinion one of the most important is the new arrangements allow the Elevate Team to re-allocate its resources to better support of staff on using technology to enhance teaching, and less on maintaining the system. In terms of the software itself, there are significant enhancements, including,

  • Modern, user friendly interface, keeping similar processes to previous versions for adding content, announcements etc.,

  • Email Notifications

  • Latest software and hardware, upgraded as required

  • More robust gradebook with added anonymous marking and quick ‘Needs Marking’ option

  • New Wiki and Blog tools built in, allowing direct grading from the tool itself

  • New “Mashup” tool to allow quick and easy adding of multimedia from sites such as Youtube and Flickr

To stay informed about the status of the upgrade and the opportunities this software offers you and your teaching we will be making status updates in the Elevate Area (under Professional Services) in MyUCS.

If you have any questions, please email the Elevate Team (

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Using an iPad with iAnnotate for e-feedback - proof of concept study shows promise

Over the 2011/12 academic year, the Elevate Team have been working with School of Science Technology & Health, and Academic Services to explore the use of media tablets (mainly iPads) with staff.

The small scale pilot focused on identifying the role of the Media Tablet (mainly iPad) in enhancing current practice around e-feedback. The initial pilot explores identifying appropriate processes in the management of e-submission, e-feedback and e-return, and if the hardware and software are fit for purpose.

The findings would suggest with appropriate support, and well defined processes this technology offers exciting potential for enhancing the e-feedback and e-return process. Therefore, the key recommendations are to widen the pilot study from the current proof of concept stage.

The full report is available from:

If you would like to discuss the opportunities of technology to enhance your feedback processes, please email the Elevate Team at

Monday 2 April 2012

HEA Event: New places to learn: Flexible learning and online residency

The following event might be of interest to teaching staff. The Higher Education Academy are running an event in Oxford (also being live streamed) on the 19th April.

This one-day symposium will explore how technologies and the internet have opened up new ‘places’ in which learning can happen, and consider questions such as: How do students learn in these ‘places’? In what ways might, or should, institutions respond? What opportunities does ‘online residency’ offer in the sector’s increasing move towards flexible provision?

The symposium aims to:

  • consider ways in which students learn when they use the web as a ‘place’ in which they ‘reside’ both socially and academically;

  • consider the significance of this virtual ‘place’ for the HE sector as it seeks to move towards greater flexibility of pace, place and mode of delivery.

This event is free, and more information is available from the following link

If you'd like to discuss these ideas further, please email the Elevate Team (

What happened at JISC RSC Eastern's e-assessment showcase?

I attended (and presented) at the JISC RSC Eastern e-assessment showcase on Friday 30th April, at Hertford Regional College.

My session was entitled "Enhancing the e-assessment process in a mobile world: Some developments from University Campus Suffolk", where I talked through a number of pilot studies from the iPad in the hands of the lecturer project, and the proof of concept from the QR Code Formative Quiz Engine. The session seemed to go down well, and there has already been follow up in terms of other people exploring the technologies discussed in their teaching. The slides are available from:

The main point I took from the day was informed by a really interesting presentation from CCN. They used a learning styles (VARK) approach to evidence the majority of students on the course had a preference for visual and audio learning styles, and the least common was reading. The lecture rolled in the concept of e-feedback being ineffective because it was in written format, as students didn't engage with what he wrote. This upset him as we was spending 15-20 minutes annotating each script. Therefore, he changed approach, and started using video feedback (including a talking head, displaying the script he was annotating, and the marking criteria which he cross referenced when marking). The outcome was the students level of engagement with the feedback increased and he felt the feedback process had a higher impact.

He did admit it took time, and he'd yet found economies of scale. This made me think, what would we need to do to ensure this worked in a scaleable, low level way at UCS?

  1. a room to create the video feedback (we have one coming)

  2. software to create the video feedback (got ... debut with a visualiser - this will not include a talking head. However, we might be able to use Camtasia)

  3. hardware (might need a tablet input device)

  4. a video (streaming) distribution system (we haven't got one)

  5. staff development (provided by the Elevate Team)

So, where next for you? Why not get your students to complete a VARK questionnaire, or contact the Elevate Team to discuss the role of multimedia based feedback.