The FMS Technology Enhanced Learning Conference 2022 will run in the week beginning 7th November. We would like to invite all members of staff – Professional Services, Clinical, Teaching and Research – in FMS and NUMed to showcase their work in teaching and learning, whether this is in the classroom, online, or managing things behind the scenes.
Conference themes include:
Video and Beyond – Virtual and Augmented Reality, Animations, 3D Scanning and Printing
Work Smarter – Improving our workflows, shortcuts, efficiency in processes.
Continuous Professional Development – Developing and implementing CPD
Submissions close at the beginning of October. Please check out the Conference Page for full details.
In addition to the FMS TEL Team, confirmed speakers and events include…
Prof Ruth Valentine, Dean of Education, FMS
Dr David Kennedy, Dean of Digital Education
Dr Paul Hubbard, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, NUMed
This post covers the pros and cons of different ways to upload and manage files in Canvas
As the e-learning modules in FMS are now going live, the team have been looking at ways to manage uploaded files in Canvas.
There are two main ways to add files to your module flow in Canvas:
Directly into the module flow
This method is by far the easiest and quickest way to add a file to your course, and is a great choice if the file will not require updates.
If you need to replace the file with an updated version, it is best practice to upload the new version directly to the files area and replace the original file. The file names need to be identical and uploaded to the same folder for the “replace” option to appear. Updating the file this way means any links to the file within the content will not need updated.
In the files area you also have the option to adjust the availability of files, including adding available from and until dates.
Inserted into a page
This is my preferred method for adding a file to a course. You can use ‘Link Options’ to make the file open a preview by default so the page has the appearance of a directly added file but you have the following benefits over adding the file directly:
Able to add notes or comments above or below the file
The page title does not have to be the file name
Any links will be directed to this page so you can update the file/page as many times as needed and links to the content will still work
You can create an archive at the bottom of the page for previous file versions
Canvas can notify students of changes to the page/file
You have access to the page history so you can roll back to previous versions
You can add multiple files to one location
You can add a to-do deadline to the students to do lists and calendars
If you choose to use the file availability options mentioned in the previous method you may want to add a message on the page stating when the file will be available as the message canvas provides is not very informative:
Keeping track of your files and file names within your module helps you save time and avoid confusion later.
Quick wins in accessibility by using Adobe Acrobat Pro’s built-in tool.
In FMS TEL we are currently working on accessibility as new module materials are being prepared for release. Did you know that Adobe Acrobat Pro has a built in Accessibility tool that not only checks your document’s accessibility, but helps you improve accessibility with the click of a few buttons?
If you find that your PDFs are receiving low accessibility scores in Canvas, you can use Adobe Acrobat to improve their scores quickly and efficiently. Simply open the file in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Then select the Accessibility tool from the Tools options. (Click on More Tools then scroll down to the Protect and Standardize section.)
Begin by selecting the Accessibility Check. This will tell you what can be improved in your document.
Next you can use the Autotag tool if your document is missing tags such as headings.
You can choose Set Alternative Text to add alt text to your images.
If necessary use the Reading Order tool to set the order in which the document should be read by a screen reader.
With these three easy steps you have vastly improved the accessibility of your document! Try adding it back into Canvas and you will be surprised by the results you get.
When creating a transcript, you will need to decide a few things before you start.
Are timings important, and if so, what level of accuracy do you need? Does every utterance need a time, or would it suffice to signal timing points at the start of each slide, for example?
Is it important to know who is speaking? Training videos may not need this.
The first step is to download your caption file and copy and paste the text into Word. Then, transform your lines of text into a table using ‘convert text to table‘ and setting the number of columns to 4.
Copy your table from Word and paste it into Excel. Once this is done, you can use Excel to trim down your times and make them more human-friendly, using the MID function in a new column. Copy the formula down the whole row to quickly tidy all of the timestamps. This example trims the hours from the start time, and gets rid of the milliseconds and the end time completely.
Pasting the resultant data back into Word means you can then use Word’s formatting tools to shape your transcript, adding columns as needed to denote speakers or other important information, and removing columns that contain redundant data.
Cutting and pasting the individual cells containing speakers’ words into a single cell will help improve the look of the document. Paste without formatting to combine the cells into one. Spare rows can then be deleted. Using Find and Replace to get rid of line breaks (search for ^p) and replacing them with spaces further tidies this up. You can then delete the redundant rows.
If you like, you can then remove the borders from your table. You could also set a bottom cell margin to automatically space out each row.
It is important to check your resulting transcript’s accessibility. As this method uses a table, make sure that a screen reader can read it in the correct order. You can do this by clicking into the first cell of your table and then pressing the tab key to move between cells – this is the order most screen readers will relay the text, so check it makes sense.
You can also choose to add a header row to your table to give each column a title. After adding this, highlight the row, click ‘table properties‘ and in ‘row‘ select ‘repeat as header row’. Ally in Canvas will not give a 100% score without this.
Once your transcript is formatted correctly, you can correct your text and fix mistakes in the usual way if you have not already done so for captions. The previous post on Faster Captioning has some tips and tricks to speed this up.
We are delighted to announce that the FMS TEL Conference will run again this year in the week beginning 7th November 2022!
The conference team are in the process of putting together an exciting programme with something for everyone, whatever your role in FMS or NUMed. Colleagues in FMS and NUMed will receive further information by email in due course, and all colleagues are welcome to attend.
I recently noticed a few pages in my content in Canvas had developed scroll bars at the bottom. The bars were greyed out and had no function.
I started to notice a pattern. Any content which took up the whole width of the page (100%) was triggering the scroll bars. It could be any type of content; a banner image, an embedded padlet, or like in my example progress bars.
Canvas must have changed the HTML “overflow” settings somewhere on their end. An easy fix is to adjust any 100% width content to be 99% instead. This can be done in the HTML editor area accessed by this icon in the edit screen: </>
This brief guide discusses some of tips and tricks for creating successful documentation for systems, software, or processes.
I recently had the opportunity to create some guidance packages for the new FMS Workplace Reporting System and FMS Personal Tutoring Allocation Database, and I wanted to share my insights and experience of what creating documentation entails.
The first step in the process is to gain knowledge of the ins and outs of the software, system, or process you are documenting. In my case this required a walk-through of the WRS and PTAS led by members of the respective development teams. But it could be through experiencing the process yourself and taking notes. You should have some confidence in the process or system prior to beginning documentation. Once I had a working knowledge of the systems and was given access to them, I was ready to begin.
The next step is to plan out the structure of the guidance. Determine what area or process should be discussed first, next, etc. It is useful to outline these steps in a Word document or on a scrap piece of paper. This structure should give your documentation natural flow. It is the flow that will make your documentation stand out as an easy-to-use guide.
Clear and Concise
Choose language that is clear and concise to detail the steps and processes covered in your documentation. There is no need to be overly descriptive, but at the same time you want to ensure that all the necessary detail is included. For example, if a button is a specific colour this detail could help users locate it. However, if all the buttons on the page are the same colour, there is no need to specify this information.
Writing documentation is all about the process. And there may be several processes covered in a single guidance. So, it is important to compartmentalise these as much as possible to avoid overwhelming your user. Approach the project in parts. Provide an introduction, themes, and a summary. This will help the user understand what is being addressed and how to work through your process or system.
Images or Video
Including images and/or video in your documentation is a great way to make useful and helpful guidance. Images and video can do in a few seconds what paragraphs of text would take to explain. However, you should always make sure your images and videos are clear and consistent. Use the same software to generate images and video and make sure the quality is high. There is not much worse in the field of documentation than an image or video that is not high enough resolution to see what exactly is being described. Also, make sure your images show the specific item or area in context. This will help the user locate what they are looking for easily. Note however, that text should always accompany an image to facilitate use by visually or otherwise limited users. The combination of text and image makes for clear guidance.
Another great feature of images and video is that they can be annotated. Use software like PowerPoint to add arrows, circles, and even text to images. This will point out precisely what you are referring to in your guidance. You can use Adobe Animate or Camtasia to annotate videos. This increases the impact of a video or image.
Using precise language is necessary in creating guidance. Identifying processes and functions is critical to the reader, so you need to be very specific about what you say. For example, if a button is in the top right corner of the screen, don’t say “at the top of the screen”. Tell your user exactly where to look. At the same time, if the user needs to drag an item, click on a button, or even scroll up or down the page – make that clear in your text. Both what to do, and when to do it. Use numbered lists when possible to make the order of a process transparent.
Repetition/Highlighting Important Bits
When a specific task is important it may be worth repeating or emphasising the related information. For example, if a user needs to press a save button one or more times in a process, you can emphasis this by repeating the instructions, using bold text (Note: using only coloured text disadvantages colourblind individuals), or setting the instructions apart in a box or larger text. Making the most important tasks hard to miss in your documentation is always a good idea. You can achieve this through a combination of repetition and emphasis.
The process of creating documentation or guidance for a system or process can be a really rewarding experience. You will get practice teaching by giving clear, concise instructions. You will have the opportunity to work with colleagues when learning about the process or system – or testing your work on someone unfamiliar with the system or process. Finally, you will develop a greater understanding of the system or process itself. I really enjoy creating documentation, and I hope if you get the opportunity to create guidance – large or small – in the future, you will take it.
We recently delivered a quick Canvas Booster session for Population Health Sciences Institute, which covered Quizzes, Discussion Boards, Accessibility and H5P. You can find the recording and resources for this session in our Canvas Community.
FMS TEL recently delivered a quick Canvas Booster session for Population Health Sciences Institute, which covered the themes below. You can find the recording for this session in our Canvas Community. Other resources are shared below – you may need to log in to Canvas to access these.
I only have 1 screen, can I view my notes while sharing my screen?
Whether you are creating a pre-recorded presentation or delivering live on zoom/teams, having only one screen can be quite limiting.
Delivering my FMS TEL webinars in the office was easy with my two monitor set up but when working from home I struggled with only my laptop. I prefer to have notes to keep me on track and to make sure I cover everything I want to say. I knew there must be a way to access my notes while presenting.
Below are step by step instructions on how I shared my presentation with my audience while viewing my notes, all done using only a laptop!
Practice the steps before your session (you may want to open this post on a second device so you can access the instructions while you practice)
Add a blank slide or holding slide at the start of your presentation, especially if your first slide contains animations or slide transitions
Add a finishing slide, when your presentation ends the screen will stop sharing automatically (Zoom will display a pop up message to confirm this has happened)
Collecting and monitoring data relating to academic workloads
Universities have a responsibility to ensure that the workload allocations in their units are consistent and in line with their policies on workload allocation.
To achieve this there needs to be an accessible tool that can the capture agreed academic activities carried out on behalf of the University.
The FMS Workload Recording System (WRS) has been developed to allow staff to self-report their workload through a more transparent, equitable and collaborative process.
It is anticipated that this will lead to more informed PDR conversations, improved support around career development & wellbeing issues and allow equality diversity & inclusion considerations to be part of workload planning.
So, what does the system collect?
Previous work on collecting information around teaching activities highlighted the following key points:
The scope of the system needs to be wider than just teaching related activities
The auto population of activities through mining existing data sources was not always reliable
Self-reporting is essential to ensure accuracy of the data collected
Each activity needs to be standardised using its own tariff formulae, for example: tutees reported hours = no of tutees x 5 PARTNERS summer school lead hours = (no of students x 0.1) + 10
A working group was set up to specify what activities were to be recorded, each with its own tariff formulae to convert that activity into hours. These activities when they grouped into three distinct areas:
Teaching & Assessment
Assessment & Feedback
Tutees & Projects
Research & Innovation
Management, Administration & Citizenship
The system was developed in phases:
Phase I (4 months)
Develop the website with an individuals summary view and a collection of self-reporting forms, all driven by a database of workload questions and augmented by data from existing sources.
Phase II (one month)
Release website to a small pilot group of users to collect user feedback. Development of basic reporting tools (user activities, evaluation reports and cohort workload summaries).
Phase III (4 months)
Refine any existing usability issues raised by pilot group and develop the advanced reporting & administration tools required for full release.
Full release of the system.
So where are we now ?
The FMS Workload Recording System (WRS) went live in July 2022 to a pilot group of 158 academics.
The next stage (PHASE III) is to review what additional features or changes to the system are required and then prepare the system for its release to the whole Faculty.