Iain Keenan presented this lightning talk at the Newcastle University Learning and Teaching Conference 2023. He presented the MOOC we have been working on for some time, and shared insights about MOOC development. The talk is available for Newcastle staff to watch via ReCap.
As well as sharing the course content, structure and research behind the approaches involved, Iain also highlighted how helpful it has been to work alongside FMS TEL to bring the course to life.
To find out more about the course, take a look at the trailer below.
Some of these characters may look more like colour emojis to you – this is because different browsers and devices sometimes read and display the characters slightly differently.
Alternatively you can quickly select emojis in Windows using the following key combination:
Windows Key + . (windows dot)
You will see a popup box with lots of different symbols. Just select the symbol you require. You can also type to filter or search for the one you want. Try Americanisms (such as ‘check’ for ‘tick’) if you can’t find something.
This works in Microsoft apps and some other text input areas, such as the Canvas Rich Text Editor. Screenreaders will read out the emoji’s name, so don’t put them at the start of sentences or titles. Adding emojis like this can help add a splash of colour, or you can use them to visually distinguish types of task or information.
Key codes on a Mac are a little more complex, but this guide can take you through it.
Problems with special characters
Sometimes special characters can cause issues if the document you are creating is being used as a source of data for another platform. Not everything will correctly translate the character outside MS Word. This is to do with how some datasets store the character information, older standards like ASCII do not have a wide selection of special characters available.
A real world example of this would be the uploading of core skill to the MLE (Medical Learning Environment) website. The MLE itself may choose to ignore any characters it cannot translate, which although not ideal, is not a major issue. Unfortunately those core skills are also used in a mobile app that students can record against. The app will simply refuse to display the information. Currently there are processes in place to identify and replace these characters, ideally we would update all our platforms to use Unicodes instead of the older ASCII standard.
Emojis, symbols and special characters might be needed in your content, or you might choose to use them to add extra meaning to your course pages or documents. Sometimes they will display slightly differently on different devices or in different apps. If your content is to be used as a source of data for another program, or copied to other platforms, please try to avoid using them, as sometimes they can cause issues. 🙂
We have a few different Virtual Learning Environments in FMS. You may be familiar with Canvas or the Medical Learning Environment (MLE), but you may not be familiar with Ngage.
Ngage was used in tandem with Blackboard, but since the move to Canvas in 2020 the system has slowly been phased out and will be decommissioned in the next academic year.
A feature used quite extensively in Ngage were the activity elements. These elements were styled blocks which highlighted an actions was required.
We did not want to lose these call to action blocks when we moved to Canvas so we recreated the most popular elements using the HTML editor in Canvas. We built on the original idea by using different colours and styles to represent different tasks or actions. By using the same styled blocks across all courses and modules students can navigate the content with ease, and at a quick glace know what is expected of them. They also help to make the content more visually appealing.
To add even more colour and visual interest we agreed on an emoji for each task and added them to the blocks as well.
Watch a Video
Listen to a Podcast
Q&A or Quiz
Our chosen Emojis
We decided to use emojis instead of icons as emojis can be placed in page titles as well. Adding emojis to page titles gives students a broad idea of what is to be expected that week.
Having the emojis in the titles also allows Instructional Designers and Module Leaders to view the distribution of tasks throughout a course, and quickly know which pages may need updated for the following year. Padlets, for example, need to be remade each year and a quick scroll through the modules area is all that is required to locate all the pages that contain padlets.
Want to make your own blocks?
You may first want to speak with your School or Programme team to come up with a shared theme or design. The blocks work best when used over multiple modules.
Easily add emojis by right clicking in chrome and opening the Emoji window
Recently the FMS TEL Team have been wondering how to keep tabs on events we’re not attending, without confusing the meeting organiser (or yourself!) by accepting them to keep them in your calendar. As Outlook takes a ‘decline’ response as an instruction to delete the event, this can be tricky.
For example, you may be part of a team running a series of demos or teaching, but you have split the delivery between you. It’s useful to know when the events are on, but you don’t need to go to them. Alternatively, you can use this to keep track of meetings happening when you are out of the office, in case you need to check on results, or in case your own plans change and you decide to attend.
We thought there must be a better way to decline a meeting but keep it in your calendar. We searched online and found these instructions.
In your calendar, decline the meeting request as you normally would. Then, you can go into your ‘deleted items’ folder in the mail tab and open up the meeting request again. Next, select ‘accept’ or ‘tentative’ at the dropdown arrow, choosing not to send a reply to the meeting organiser.
Doing this puts the meeting back in your calendar, but you still show as ‘declined’ in the meeting organiser’s tracking. I tend to choose ‘tentative’ so that the meetings look visually different to my other events.
Keeping your calendar full of tentative meetings may make you look more unavailable than you are. You can adjust the settings of the events to say you’re free. That way if anyone needs you, they can see that you’re available. Open up the meeting, and select Show As: Free.
This tip should help you manage complex calendars or use cases. To give your calendaring another boost, consider filtering your invitations and responses into a favourited folder using a rule.
This will let you keep on top of your availability, replies to your invitations and any changes without hunting through your inbox. Instructions on filtering with rules can be found here. You can set a rule to filter based on a ‘type’ of email, which includes calendar updates. We also have a post about email management you may find useful.
Michelle Miller shared her work in digital skills and accessibility at the Learning and Teaching Conference in March this year. This poster shows how you can improve your PDFs’ accessibility using Adobe Acrobat Pro, including common issues flagged by Ally, the accessibility checker in Canvas. All colleagues have access to this software.