As the new 2023-24 academic year begins, we’d like to introduce the Digital Exams Team here in LTDS, who lead on the University’s Digital Exams via Inspera. A team of Learning Enhancement and Technology Advisers work together to facilitate digital exams through Inspera Assessment. Inspera Assessment is the University’s Digital Exam system used for present-in-person secure online assessments.
Meet the Team
First up we’ve got Maddie Kinnair who is one of our two Inspera Co-Leads. Maddie joined the team in September 2022 and has worked within the area of Learning and Teaching for 6 years. Maddie first joined HE in 2014 and has previously worked in the School of Computing, HaSS Faculty and within Central Services.
Maddie is also the lead for our peer assessment and feedback tool Buddycheck.
Next up, we’ve got Kimberly May-O’Brien, our second Inspera Co-Lead. Kimberly joined the team in July 2023, having worked at the University since 2019. Kimberly previously worked in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, as well as the central Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team.
Finally, we have Susan Barfield who started working at the University 13 years ago, initially in NUIT as part of the ReCap team, she then joined LTDS in 2019 as lead on online marking and feedback using Canvas and Turnitin, whilst also supporting digital exams.
You can find out more about Inspera and the training webinars and videos available to colleagues via the LTDS website.
LTDS are running an online workshop Evidencing Teaching Excellence for Promotion on 7th September from 2-3pm.
This workshop is for any member of academic staff thinking of applying for promotion in whole, or in part on the basis of their teaching (whether they are on Teaching and Research or Teaching and Scholarship contracts).
The workshop is likely to be of particular interest to academic staff who are, or may be, intending to make an application to the 2023-24 or 2025-26 promotion rounds.
Following a period of evaluation and testing by colleagues from across the University, Vevox is replacing Ombea as the University’s centrally supported audience interaction system from 1 September 2023. Vevox was selected as the preferred replacement for Ombea as it provides additional functionality and an improved user experience.
Some of the benefits of Vevox:
Integration with PowerPoint or standalone web-based software – choose what works best for you
‘Convert to poll’ button in the PowerPoint add-in enabling easy conversion of Ombea slides to Vevox polls
Integration with single-sign-on (SSO) technology to avoid the need for a separate username and password
Integrations with Canvas and Teams
From September 2023, Ombea will no longer be centrally supported by LTDS and NUIT and the software will no longer function in teaching spaces.
Training is available for colleagues who are new to Vevox and audience interaction systems. Initial training sessions will be delivered by Vevox and will begin on 12th September. An additional session is also scheduled for current users of Ombea who need to convert their Ombea slides to the new Vevox format (please note: existing Ombea presentations are not compatible with Vevox). Please click on the links below to sign up to a session:
Yulia Dzenkovska is a Lecturer in Marketing (NUBS) specialising in services marketing and service innovation. Her interest in design thinking dates from her time here as a PhD student when she took part in a careers service design thinking event (EIT Health Innovation Competition) and won first prize! Since then, she has developed her interest in this approach and incorporated it into her module “New Product and Service Development” with great success. She is also the Employability Lead for her Subject Group.
Lucy Hatt is a Senior Lecturer in Leadership Development and Entrepreneurship (NUBS), with a particular interest in the value of the threshold concept approach for entrepreneurship, enterprise and employability educators. She is the DPD for the MBA and leads modules on Innovation, Change and Enterprise which incorporate Design Thinking approaches.
upgrade and move to cloud hosting – amended date for planned downtime
As previously communicated, the University will upgrade the ReCap service to the latest version of Panopto (the software that powers ReCap) and transition the service to being cloud hosted for academic year 2023/24.
In preparation for this transition the University IT Team are working closely with Panopto to transfer our recordings to the cloud and ensure that all existing integrations with other University systems (e.g. Canvas and timetabling) continue to work correctly.
To complete this work a period of system downtime is required and this will take place later than initially planned due to the transfer of existing recordings taking longer than Panopto anticipated.
The downtime will now take place during early September (likely to be week commencing 4 September, the exact date to be confirmed when available) and the impact will be as follows:
Viewing of recordings – during the downtime recordings will continue to be available for viewing although users may experience short outage periods of a few minutes.
Creation and editing of recordings – the following activities should not be attempted during the downtime as they will not be transferred to the upgraded system:
creation of new recordings
copying of existing recordings
editing of existing recordings
interactions with recordings (e.g. taking a quiz, making a note, subscribing to a playlist, adding a bookmark)
We are aware that some teaching is due to take place during the downtime and plans have been made to ensure that these sessions can still be recorded using ReCap. Those with teaching sessions scheduled during the downtime will be contacted directly with information about the plans. This will not involve any changes to what presenters are required to do but will mean recordings will not be available as quickly as they normally would.
The call for nominations for the 2024 National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) and Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) is now open and the deadline for nominations is 12 noon on Friday 3 November 2023.
The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) is a highly prestigious award which celebrates excellent practice and outstanding achievement in learning and teaching in higher education.
The awards support individuals’ professional development in learning and teaching and provides a national focus for institutional teaching and learning excellence schemes.
The Collaborative Awards for Teaching Excellence (CATE) celebrate collaborative work that has had a demonstrable impact on teaching and learning.
For more information about the awards, including eligibility and the application criteria, please visit the information pages on the Learning and Teaching website:
Digital Exam Support Assistants (DESAs) are PGR students who support invigilators in digital exam venues to help students troubleshoot any technical issues using the safe exam browser software. Safe Exam Browser is software which works alongside Inspera offering a secure ‘locked down’ digital exam. Inspera Assessment is the University’s Digital Exam system used for present-in-person, secure online assessments.
How do DESAs support exam invigilators in digital exams?
DESAs are on-hand to support students and invigilators to troubleshoot issues faced when accessing Inspera for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) exams. Exam invigilators have reported that the presence of DESAs makes them feel more confident in digital exam venues. Feedback has stated that DESAs have been a ‘confidence booster’ and that invigilators ‘couldn’t do it without them’. Invigilators reported that the DESAs were responding to queries quickly which has also been stated by students who had DESA support.
How do students find the DESA support?
39 students submitted their feedback on their Semester 1 22/23 BYOD exam. When asked how satisfied they were with the technical support available in their exam, two thirds of students (67%) reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied.
Students reported that ‘those who requested support were dealt with quickly and there was little hassle.’
How did the DESAs find their experience?
We asked some of our DESAs how they found their experience in the role this year. Check out some of the quotes below:
“I had a wonderful experience with the team. Enough training was given to staff. Would like to work with the team again. Thanks for giving me the opportunity.”
“Regarding my experience in the DESA role this academic year, it provided me with a valuable opportunity to contribute to the Digital Assessment Office and engage with fellow students. The role not only enhanced my understanding of digital assessment practices but also allowed me to develop essential skills in communication and collaboration. I am grateful for the experience and the chance to be a part of improving the assessment process at Newcastle University.”
We are pleased to report that the DESA role will be returning in the 2023/24 academic year. This support provision has been crucial in supporting our students with any troubleshooting during their BYOD digital exams. For more information you can email the Digital Assessment Team.
The Vice-Chancellor’s Education Excellence Awards aim to raise the status of education at Newcastle University by rewarding individuals and teams who have made a marked impact on the student educational experience.
The 2023 winners of the Vice-Chancellor’s Education Excellence Awards have now been announced, with two winning submissions out of a very competitive field of nominations:
Dr Carys Watts School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sport Sciences
Dr Watts receives her award for her sustained, and much valued, record of achievement and dedication to student learning and support. She is commended for her excellent work on the Support to Study, Virtual Exchange and Study Abroad initiatives, and more generally for her collegiality and passion for teaching.
Carys commented “I am delighted to receive this award and to be recognised for progressing student mobility, co-creativity and enterprise activities. Working with some incredible colleagues and teaching a diverse student community keeps me motivated, reflective and innovative in my approach to education”.
Rosalind Beaumont School X
Rosalind receives her award for her record of innovation and creativity in support of student learning and staff development, both within her School and Faculty and more widely across the University. She is praised for her teaching excellence, dedication to sustainability, and for her support and contributions to the University’s Professional Standards Framework scheme.
Rosalind remarked “It’s an honour to be recognised by my peers for my work with both students and staff in different educational contexts at Newcastle over the last 15+ years. I’m here through a lot of determination, luck, and the countless conversations with colleagues and students which have helped shape me into the educator and colleague I am today. Thank you to all of you who have been part of my development so far – there’s always more to do, so let’s get on with it!”
The panel, chaired by Ruth Valentine (Interim PVC Education), were extremely impressed with the scale of impact, breadth of activity, and the creative approaches to education and student support demonstrated by all awardees.
We’ve refreshed our Inspera support guidance materials on the Learning and Teaching site, where you will now find links to our new range of webinars and marking how-to videos. We will continue to expand our online guidance resources over the summer.