Looking back at TEL in 2016

As we begin the new year we wanted to take a quick look back at some of the projects the team have worked on in 2016.

elearning & TEL Help Site

In Spring 2016 the elearning and TEL help site was set up using Edublogs to provide an easily navigated and searchable collection of help materials for staff and students on the technologies, software and systems used at the University. The majority of these guides also contain a short screencast and are all downloadable in a pdf format for printing.

This has grown hugely over the last year and now contains over 130 guides covering everything from Turnitin for staff and students to setting up blogs using Edublogs and accessing the VPN.

 

The site is accessible from the homepage and top links section of LearningSpace and new support material will be added regularly throughout the year.

Marjon Mobile

In September 2016 the new Marjon Mobile app was released. This bought with it a big visual overhaul alongside new and updated features including dynamic news feeds, notifications and quick access to important sites including LearningSpace and Academic Skills.

The app allows students and staff to quickly access their customised timetable, navigate around campus with the interactive map, view library items and print credits.

The updated app has been very successful and we have received great feedback, which has allowed us to update features such as showing 4 week timetable information. If you have any feedback about the Marjon mobile app, please let us know. You can send feedback directly to us through the app itself.

If you haven’t downloaded the app or want further information please visit the elearning and TEL help site for further information.

Increased use of Socrative in Teaching

We have seen an increase in the use of tools such as Socrative in teaching at the University in 2016. This includes its use as a formative assessment tool and also as a tool for engaging students with lecture content.

Socrative is one of many tools available which can enhance learning and teaching, however, as with any tool it works best when used in a purposeful context to compliment teaching.

To try and share good practice and give examples of how tools can be used within teaching we have started getting together with academics to record short videos demonstrating how TEL tools have been used in their teaching. Have a look at our video below with Vicki from the Sports Faculty and keep an eye out for more videos in the coming months.

If you have a tool you use in your teaching we would love to hear about it, equally if you feel that an area of your teaching could be enhanced by using a new tool then we can help you achieve this.

Use of Edublogs in modules and assessment

Edublogs is a blog and web creation platform designed for education using the WordPress interface. It is hugely versatile and can be used to create anything from simple blogs to complete websites, for example our elearning & TEL help area was created using Edublogs.

Marjon gives students and staff the opportunity to create their own blogs and by using the built in Classes feature blogs can be set up for students which are private and accessible by the lecturer and other students. Edublogs can help students gain practical skills using an industry standard interface, as well as encouraging them to develop their digital presence.

During this year we have started to see Edublogs used as a tool within integral areas of modules and they are currently included as part of assessment in both Sport and Education programmes.  As a result we have been delivering sessions on the use of Edublogs for students and have also worked closely with staff members to get the sites set up for students using specific templates.

If you are interested in knowing more about the use of Edublogs in modules or are interested in setting up your own Edublogs then please have a look at our guides or get in touch with the team to discuss it.

File encryption for students on placement

In October of 2016 we were asked to look into the use of encryption for the transfer of sensitive files for students on placement. This was something a little different for our team and involved testing software and hardware based encryption methods, including encrypted USB memory sticks (which was the method finally decided upon).

During the testing stage, we came across various challenges when trying to create a robust system with few steps involved, which could also work seamlessly between student computers (including PCs and Macs) and Marjon systems.

It proved to be an interesting project for the team and included us providing support materials for students using encrypted USBs. If there is anything that you would like to achieve within your teaching using technology but aren’t sure what to use or if it can be done then please do get in touch for a chat.

Introduction of Mendeley

More recently we have helped with the introduction of Mendeley at the University. Mendeley is a web and desktop application which can help with finding and collating references, as well as correctly inputting references into documents.

It has a lot of great features and we have put together a large number of guides on the software with the help of Ben Jane from the Sports Faculty. Ben has used Mendeley within his own research and with his students. We also helped Ben put together the video below showing the main features of the software.

This is only a quick round-up of some of the projects the MeLT team worked on in 2016.  If you would like to know more about using any of the tools mentioned here (or other TEL tools you are interested in), then please get in touch. We are always keen to chat to staff about how technology can be used to enhance their teaching. 

Contact MeLT – elearning@marjon.ac.uk | ext 5673 | A Block Room 108 and keep up to date with the work of the team on this blog.

New collection of posters now displayed around campus

The team have been engaging students and staff in the use of the learning technologies at the University through a range of new posters and postcards displayed around campus.

We have put these together with the aim of raising awareness for a range of TEL tools, as well as the support provided by MeLT, through eye catching and simple posters utilising the QR reader functionality in the new Marjon mobile app.

edublogs-poster   google-postcard

This collection of posters will be continually added to throughout the year, and currently include information on REPLAY, Edublogs, Socrative and Google Slides. The most recent addition to the collection is a poster almost entirely covered in QR codes, leading students to important online resources and guides in relation to TEL.

qr-poster

This has been a really enjoyable new project for the team utilising and developing a range of skills, including design and photography skills. All our posters are also currently on display outside the MeLT office, A Block Room 108.

If you have any queries or questions relating to TEL at the University or simply want to know more, then please do pop in and say hello or contact us – elearning@marjon.ac.uk | ext. 5673.

 

Files encryption for students undertaking assessments in Speech and Language Therapy

A couple of months ago the MeLT team were approached by a member of staff from Speech and Language Therapy to create guidance on the use of PGP encryption for encrypting video files recorded by students within hospitals. These files were of a sensitive nature and needed to be transported from the hospital to Marjon securely using encryption.

PGP encryption

The team initially looked at PGP encryption, as this was already used at the University. PGP encryption is a very popular form of encryption which uses a public and private key system to ensure that it can only be opened by particular individuals. We began our investigation by using a software called GPG4USB, which is free to use and provides a high level of encryption. We did, however, hit a few barriers while looking at using this software for this specific purpose.

Mac/PC compatibility issues

Encrypted files would need to be opened on any computer system which posed a problem as the GPG4USB software was for PC only.  After further investigation we found a similar software for Mac (PGP Tools) which would encrypt using the PGP system. This software was ideal for encrypting files on a Mac and both encryption programs worked fairly seamlessly allowing files to be encrypted on a Mac and decrypted on a PC and vice versa.

File size issues

The next issue we were presented with related to file size. The files students would be encrypting were likely to be large HD video files,  but the PC version of the software would only encrypt files up to around 70mb. We found a solution for this, which would require the students to use a free file conversion software (Handbrake) to compress the original files to a size which would allow the software to process it.

File Type issues

The final hurdle we came across was the file format the HD video cameras recorded in. A large number of HD video cameras now record in a format called AVCHD, and although this can be changed it is often a default setting. This file format creates very large files which are stored within a complex file structure, some computers also struggle to read these files. Our concern was that students had already been given their cameras and that some of these would definitely record in this format. This would pose a problem when trying to encrypt these files as they would be very large and would require the entire file structure to be encrypted. Luckily handbrake and Quicktime on a Mac are able to convert these files into MP4 files, however, this could take a longtime for large files and added another step to an increasingly long and complicated process for students.

Encrypted USBs

After a lot of testing as to the feasibility of using the PGP encryption software we began to look for other alternatives which would be quicker and easier for students, this included using encrypted USBs. Chris from computer services was able to lend us a SafeXs encrypted USB and also an example of a USB encrypted using freeware software (Veracrypt). Both of these already worked much better than attempting to use PGP encryption for this purpose, as the entire file, and file structure, could be transferred to the USB with no need for compression or conversion.

The freeware version, although still pretty good, had issues with compatibility across Mac and PC, with a Mac requiring software installed on the computer to open it. It also required a more complicated start up procedure and also struggled with some large files. The SafeXs USB in comparison to all the other options we had tried for encryption was a breeze to use, the software opened as soon as you plugged it into a Mac or PC and simply required a password to access the USB and use it as you would any normal storage device. We also discovered that the SafeXs encrypted USBs were actually used within the NHS for storing and transferring sensitive files, and as a result it was agreed that this would be the best option to go with for the students and staff.

The lovely new USBs have now arrived handsomely decorated with Marjon engraving and we have put together supporting material on how to use them and this has been distributed to the current placement students.

If anyone would like any further information on the using encryption software or the SafeXs USBs please do get in touch with MeLT: elearning@marjon.ac.uk | ext 5673

Finishing ADP online resources

The MeLT team are finishing off the final elements for ADP resources.

As part of the Academic Development Programme, the MeLT team are developing online resources for Panopto Content Capture, Turnitin and Learning Space.  These resources will be placed on Learning Space and made available for staff to view.

ls-grab

The resources have been developed using the Storyline Articulate 2 package.  If you can see a use for resources like this in your teaching, please contact elearning@marjon.ac.uk.

We have also filmed elements of the resources.  We have found that adding video to learning resources offers a rich media experience and adds a great deal of value and a personal touch to TEL (technology enhanced learning).

image1

 

Academic Development Programme

As part of the Marjon Academic Development Programme, the MeLT team will be providing resources and sessions to support the TEL areas.

It is important to stress that the team are always available for support and development across the institution, but these are aimed at providing recognition that the subject has been covered.

Using the latest software and techniques, the online RLOs (reusable learning objects) will be available to complete at the leisure of the academic.  Sessions and workshops will be arranged at times that are more convenient for teaching staff to attend.

The MeLT areas currently planned for ADP are:

Title Sub area Type
Clevertouch NA Session
Replay (panopto) NA RLO
Turnitin Submission

Marking

RLO
TEL Tools NA Session
Moodle Forums

Groups

Quizzes

Images

Video embedding

Layout and topic boxes

RLO – Workshops
Google Apps Google docs

Google Sheets

Google forms

Google drive

Hangouts (possible)

RLO

Welcome to the new MeLT EduBlog!

Hello and welcome to the new Marjon eLearning Team Blog

We have created this blog using the Edublog platform.  This platform is available to all staff and students at Marjon.  Want to know more? Email us and arrange a chat!

This blog is aimed at showcasing TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) across the institution.  We also want to share news of projects and new tools that we think could benefit the Marjon experience.

The team are:

Also in the eLearning office is Tony Atkin (tatkin@marjon.ac.uk) who is the VLE and software administrator.