Tuesday 26 June 2012

What are we doing with Media Tablets in 2012/13?

We are drawing up the project plans for the next academic year. One area we'll be looking at is the use of media tablets (mainly iPads) in teaching, learning and assessment. The emerging plan is as follows. This is still under some discussion.



The following outlines the ideas for the iPad project plan for 2012/13. This is document is a work in progress and will be finalised by the start of September 2012.


During 2011/12 the Elevate Team have been supporting a number of staff on using iPads in their teaching, learning and assessment. This support has been through the long and short term loan of iPads (purchased by ILTS money). A recent Gartner Hype Cycle identified Media Tablets would have mainstream adoption in the next 5 years. Therefore, the broad questions we’d like answered are:

Broad questions

  • what do they offer teaching staff as a learning technology?

  • do they offer affordances over existing technology within teaching, learning and assessment?

Specific question

  • can the use of media tablets enhance the e-feedback process?

There have been a number of outcomes from the 2011/12 project. Including,

  1. Reflective blog comments on using the iPads (http://wolseyweb.ucs.ac.uk/blogs/elevate/?tag=ipad)

  2. Report: An iPad in the hands of lecturer: An e-feedback pilot study at UCS (bit.ly/HNZH0i)

  3. Aims of the project 2012/13: A community of practice

The broad focus for 2012/13 is to develop a community of practice for staff who are using media tablets within Teaching, Learning and Assessment. This community of practice will helo us better answer the broad questions outlined at the start.

In terms of the deployment of media tablets at an institutional level, there are a number of other drivers which have influenced our implementation. Firstly, the cost of supplying and supporting Media Tablets means we are not proposing a media tablet for every member of staff. Secondly, media tablets are personal devices, and the likely use will be influenced by other emerging practices, such as bring your own device policies. Thirdly, a number of Schools, Divisions and Learning Networks have already, or are purchasing Media tablets to share or for staff.

Given the above, our approach is to help facilitate a community of practice within UCS around their use in teaching, learning and assessment. The primary aim of the community is to allow staff to make connections and share experiences. This will feed into wider discussions around implementation.

Pilot methodology

The project methodology will focus on support either 1-2-1 initiatives and course team deployments.

Loan of devices

  • 5 iPad 3’s - Short term loans, including focus on e-feedback

  • 3 iPad 2’s  - Long term loans to individual teaching staff

  • 2 iPad 1’s - Long term loan to Student Union

We are supporting the iPad 3’s with high quality stylus / pens, and will be looking to support who use them within presentations with VGA connectors and Apple TV.

Support of your own device

The Elevate Team will be supplying iTunes Vouchers (£15), upto a maximum of £260 spend for 2012/13. Staff can request these on a first come, first served basis. The requirement will be they write a number of blog posts around their experiences and they use at least one of our supported iPad applications:

  • GoodNotes

  • Explain Everything

  • Keynote

  • iThoughts

  • Outcomes

The outcomes from the project will be shared via the Elevate Team blog, and we’ll arrange a dissemination event in the summer term 2013.


The emerging doc is available at the following location and will be updated to our projects page at the start of September 2012: http://bit.ly/KK5Jog


Thursday 21 June 2012

What learning technologies are we supporting in 2012/13?

The Elevate Team have nearly completed the list of software we will be supporting during the 2012/13 academic year. This list has evolved over the last academic year. The list is available from the following link.

We feel group of tools will meet your key needs. If you have any questions, comments or requests with respect to learning technologies, please email us to discuss your needs (elevate@ucs.ac.uk).

We will also be supporting some specific hardware during the period which will be managed through the Hub & Spoke model on a short term, project basis. This includes: media tablets, microphones, and video creation / editing.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Kurogo - Mobile Framework Middleware

Due to some of the developments that the Elevate Team are working on, we were looking for a platform that would allow for easy, but fully functional creation of a mobile friendly system.  What we want to do is capture what device/system the end user is using to access the site/page, and then display the content in a friendly/relevant style.

If a user accesses a site from their mobile phone, they don't want to have to zoom in/out and scroll around a small screen trying to click on menus designed for full screen desktop browsers.  Equally, a desktop users doesn't want to access a mobile themed site from their desktop, as a content producer you wouldn't want to have to manually intervene and create multiple versions of the same content.

During a period of research, David came across the Kurogo Mobile Platform, Kurogo describes itself as:
Kurogo is open-source Mobile Optimized Middleware™ for developing content-rich mobile websites and iOS and Android apps. Created by Modo Labs, Kurogo emphasizes extensibility, clean integration, and exceptional UX. It powers the mobile presence of a broad range of institutions, from top universities to Fortune 500 companies.

As mentioned above, Kurogo is an open-source platform, we have downloaded the source code and are in the process of installing on a test server.  Modo Labs, the creators, do allow for a trial installation on their servers, allowing you to see the power and potential of the platform.  We set up a quick demo site to allow us to explore the system, and to also run a quick "heads-up" with other teams within UCS.

The platform is incredibly easy to author with, simply requiring RSS feeds to allow it to display news and events, as well as being able to link it to a Youtube account.  Below are two screen shots, one from an iPhone and one from an iPad, this is showing the system recognising the device and displaying a "different" view to each.

[caption id="attachment_78938" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="iPhone screenshot"]Kurogo iPhone Screenshot[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_78939" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="iPad screenshot"]Kurogo iPad Screenshot[/caption]

As you can see from the iPad screenshot we have "Top News", "Videos", "Today's Events" etc.   The top news item is pulled directly from our blog via RSS, the videos are pulled directly from Youtube via the account name.  This approach makes the platform very quick to author with, and means we can still use current systems that are fit for purpose and we are not required to change how we work.

Below is a screenshot of the Kurogo admin panel, showing the simple controls.

[caption id="attachment_78942" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Kurogo admin panel"]Kurogo admin panel[/caption]

The admin panel allows you to choose which built-in content types you want to enable, whether they are on the homescreen and whether you want them included in the federated search.

Once those options are set you simply add the appropraite RSS feeds and account to get Kurogo to populate your mobile site.  You are also able to set the desktop website URL and Kurogo will autofoward and access via a desktop browser to this site.

A very interesting feature is the ability to pull in web pages from existing websites, and to make these mobile friendly.  The feature allows you to add custom tags to websites that you own, so you can even pull out parts of pages, again, the ability to use existing systems and to pull our parts of those is very appealing.

Our initial thoughts on the platform are very promising, the ability to have a platform that aggregates information from existing fit-for-purpose systems means we can carry on as we are, no need to change systems to incorporate a new mobile friendly authoring tool, this allows us to be very agile and to customise our content to all users.  When we should the potential of the system to other UCS teams, there was lots of interest, especially from the Library, who, like us, use different systems for different tasks, they liked the ability to be able to pull all those sources together into a mobile friend site.

The next step for us is to complete the local test installation, to allow us to look deeper and to really test the platform, initially we will use it to aggregate our current services into one mobile friendly site.

Friday 15 June 2012

Do you use wikis, blogs or podcasts in Wolsey? If yes, read this about LearnUCS (BUMP 5)

As you are aware we'll be upgrading to a new version of Blackboard (LearnUCS) at the start of August. As part of this upgrade we will be simplifying the way we provide and support Wikis, Blogs and Podcasts within your Blackboard courses. At the moment we support both the Blackboard and Learning Object tool sets. This is for historic reasons, including functionality.

However, given the improvements in the Blackboard wiki and blog tool set we will not be providing the Learning Object tools when we upgrade. This will reduce a potential confusion for users. The upgraded Blackboard wiki and blog tool sets will provide the ability to grade the work within the wiki and blog (as opposed to having to go into the gradebook), and we will be providing the paste from word feature. There are two pieces of functionality you will lose; the ability to push your posts out of the system via RSS feeds, the ability to use a blog or wiki outside of a course. However, if you need a personal reflective space, we would strongly recommend you contact the Elevate Team about using the Mahara e-Portfolio software.

So what should you do next? If you use these tools we suggest you contact the Elevate Team (elevate@ucs.ac.uk) to arrange a 1-2-1 meeting to talk trough the opportunities the new version offers. We will be providing a number of video guides around the upgraded wiki and blog.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Limited Elevate Support - Friday 8th June

The Elevate Team will be running a limited support structure on Friday the 8th June, due to annual leave and visits to the Higher Education Academy workshop around managing the online assessment and feedback process from an institutional perspective, support will be limited to E-Mails only.

We will endeavour to pick up any urgent support requests on the day, however, this may roll over the weekend into Monday when the team are back in the office.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Ever thought of using a text wall in your face to face teaching?

The Elevate Team have purchased a text wall service (www.polleverywhere.com) for those who would like to pilot the use of free text interaction in the classroom. The service will allow you to gather student free text response via them texting, completing an online form or using Twitter.

We used it to gather audience thoughts during a JISC RSC Eastern VLE Forum meeting which we hosted at UCS.

This technology has offers significant potential to allow you to design more active learning activities within your classroom teaching, and complements the increasing interest in clicker technology. So, why don't you come and talk to the Elevate Team to discuss the opportunity to use this technology in your teaching.