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.
H5P, the Canvas-integrated tool, allows you to create more interactive course materials. From simple formative quizzes to complex branching scenarios, H5P is an easy to use, but powerful tool to enhance students learning.
Why should you consider using H5P?
As a busy academic, it can be challenging to find the time and resources to enhance your teaching methods. However, H5P is a powerful tool that can significantly benefit your teaching, even amidst a busy schedule. Here’s why:
Interactive and Engaging Content: H5P allows you to create interactive and engaging content easily, allowing you to increase students’ attention, their engagement, and make the learning experience more enjoyable.
Time Efficiency: H5P provides a user-friendly interface and a wide range of pre-designed templates, making it easy to create interactive content quickly. Once you become familiar with the tool, you can save time by reusing templates, clone and modifying existing content (created by you or shared with colleagues) to suit different topics or courses.
Versatility: H5P offers a variety of activity types, including interactive videos, presentations, quizzes, games, timelines, and more. This versatility allows you to cater to different learning styles and adapt your teaching methods to meet the needs of diverse student groups. Whether you want to assess knowledge, reinforce concepts, or promote critical thinking, H5P provides a wide range of options.
Seamless Integration: H5P is compatible with our learning management systems, Canvas. You don’t even need to leave your Canvas page to create your content, and minimises the need for students to navigate between multiple tools.
Help and support is at hand available: All content types have built-in tutorials. To support colleagues, we are also running additional workshops on using H5P.
Using H5P to Enhance Learning and Teaching Webinar
H5P is a tool integrated into canvas that allows users to easily create, share, and reuse interactive and multimedia content. H5P offers a wide range of content types, such as quizzes, interactive videos, games, and presentations. With H5P, users do not need to have advanced programming skills to create engaging and interactive content, as the tool provides a simple and intuitive user interface that allows them to add multimedia elements, interactions, and assessments to their content with ease.
Using H5P to Enhance Learning and Teaching: Advanced Webinar
A session on more advanced tips on working with H5P – for users who would like to explore more advanced content types. This session is designed to empower educators with the skills and knowledge to harness the full potential of H5P in their teaching practices. This workshop is specifically tailored for academics who are already familiar with the basics of H5P and want to explore advanced features and functionalities. Through hands-on exercises and guided demonstrations, you will learn how to integrate H5P content seamlessly into your existing course materials. The workshop will also provide a platform for collaboration and sharing of best practices, allowing you to network with peers and gain inspiration from real-world examples. By the end of the workshop, participants will have the tools and expertise to create engaging learning experiences using H5P, thereby enhancing their teaching methods and fostering a more interactive and impactful classroom environment.
In learning and teaching, it’s crucial to ensure that everyone can access and engage with the materials we share. In this post, we’ll guide you through the fundamentals of document design that apply to various platforms such as Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, and even Canvas pages.
Document Design Fundamentals
There are some key points of accessible document design that are true across all platforms, be it Microsoft Word, Adobe PDF, and even Canvas pages.
1. Text Headings
Use a hierarchy of headings such as:
Heading 3 etc.
This enables ease of navigation for all users, as well as allowing screen readers to identify and describe the structure of a document.
2. Font and text
Use a minimum of font size 12 and 1.5 line spacing for Microsoft Word documents. When using lists use bullet points for items that aren’t sequential or numbered lists for sequential items.
Use Sans Serif fonts (e.g. Arial, Calibri) as they are more accessible. These fonts are well defined and regular in shape and size and display better on computers and mobile devices. Most popular font styles, like Tahoma or Arial, are accessible; opt for the most popular fonts rather than decorative ones.
It’s also best to keep your use of bold and italic text to a minimum.
3. Colour and Contrast
Do not use colour alone to convey meaning. If someone has a visual impairment, including colour blindness, the emphasis you’re trying to create by using colour will be lost. Additionally, when you use colours, please be mindful of the colour contrast. This means the colour contrast between background and foreground content should be great enough to ensure it is legible.
Always use alternative text (or ‘alt text’) to provide a meaningful description of an image. Alt text allows screen readers and text-to-speech tools to read aloud the content of an image to the user.
Alt text should be clear and concise (1-2 sentences) and explain the relevant content of an image. Alt text is limited to 125 characters, so use that wisely and try to describe the key elements of the image.
If your graphic has text in it, this should be added to the alt text also.
If an image is there only for appearance, you can mark it as decorative. For example, In Microsoft Word, select the “Mark as decorative box” when the image is selected.
5. Use Tables for Data – Never for Layout
Tables can be great for organising information. However, if used incorrectly, they can be difficult for people to navigate using assistive technologies.
If you add a table to your document, be sure to use it for data and not for layout or document design.
It’s important to ensure that your table has a header row that repeats itself when the table extends beyond a single page. When deciding on a structure for tables, remember they are read from left to right and top to bottom.
Use hyperlinks to describe where the link will take the user. It is recommended that you create descriptive text about where the URL will take the user so it can be easily read by a screen reader. For example, the “Semester 1 – Assignment Brief” details can be found in the Assignments section of Canvas, where “Semester 1 – Assignment Brief” is the hyperlink. Avoid using ‘click here’, ‘read more’ or ‘for more info’. Also avoid underlining text for emphasis, but rather use the bold function.
For printed documents, it’s advised to use the full URL or you can use bit.ly or other link shortener if the hyperlink is very long
7. Use an Accessibility Checker
Use built-in accessibility checkers to identify any accessibility issues in a document. Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat and Canvas all have built-in accessibility checkers. These tools can help identify any accessibility issues in your documents, ensuring they meet the necessary standards. They will guide you, step by step, on how to make your document more accessible.
By implementing the strategies and recommendations outlined in this article, we can collectively make a significant impact on the accessibility of our documents, creating an inclusive environment for all students and educators.
Let’s get started!
Visit our blog tomorrow for more tips on digital accessibility.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is an international event intended to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility and inclusion. This year the event will be held on 18 May 2023, but in the run up to the big day, we’ll be posting tips and techniques to help you improve the accessibility of your own teaching materials.
Every user deserves a first-rate digital experience on the web. Someone with a disability must be able to experience web-based services, content and other digital products with the same successful outcome as those without disabilities. This awareness and commitment to inclusion is the goal of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, a global event that shines a light on digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities (from https://accessibility.day).
In a nutshell, it’s our collective responsibility to design out any barriers to engagement that may occur in our digital content, teaching materials, learning activities and assessments. Fortunately, it’s quite easy to do, and we have a range of resources, guides and tools to help.
To mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we will be posting a series of daily articles here on the LTDS blog covering a wide range of topics related to digital accessibility and inclusion:
Day 1 – An introduction to accessibility and inclusion Day 2 – Creating accessible files (including PDFs, Word and PowerPoint) Day 3 – Creating accessible pages in Canvas Day 4 – Creating accessible videos in Panopto Day 5 – Using Ally in Canvas
On the 24th of March 2023, Teesside University hosted a meeting for ALT North East where attendees discussed the latest developments in education technology. The event was well attended by various institutions in the region, namely the 5 Universities, Middlesbrough College, and the Workers’ Education Association.
The meeting began with a welcome and introduction from the host. 4 of the Universities presented slides that demonstrated the way their teams are organised with Durham’s model of technologists based both centrally and in Faculty sparking discussion.
The first topic discussed was Turnitin, a plagiarism detection software that helps educators check the authenticity of student submissions. Dr Malcolm Murray facilitated a discussion about the quality of the support provided by Turnitin with quite a lot of dissatisfaction voiced, particularly with the proposed launch of their AI checker on the 4th of April.
The next topic covered was the Adobe Creative Campus program. Teesside University is an Adobe Creative Campus. This program offers students and educators access to a range of Adobe Creative Cloud tools, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Teesside discussed how these tools could be used to enhance teaching and learning, as well as to develop students’ digital literacy skills. Problems (sorry, opportunities) were highlighted where Adobe products were encouraged to be used where a more appropriate technology may be available that has a lower learning curve.
The third topic discussed was student feedback, an essential component of the education process. Sunderland University discussed their use of Qualtrix within Canvas through which student module feedback can be collected and analysed to improve the teaching and learning experience.
After lunch, the attendees discussed AI technologies such as CoPilot and OpenChat GPT, a language model trained by OpenAI. Chat GPT is a sophisticated AI tool that can respond to text-based questions and generate coherent responses. Teesside University led a discussion on how institutions were responding to AI technologies, what was the policy taken at each institution, what sessions were being developed, what resources, etc. It was a very useful and lively discussion regarding the various approaches.
The day finished with an enjoyable tour of the beautiful Teesside University campus.
In conclusion, the meeting of ALT North East held at Teesside University was a valuable platform for learning technologists and educators in the region to share ideas, discuss the latest developments in education technology and explore potential use cases for emerging technologies such as Chat GPT. The event was a success, and we hope attendees left with new insights and ideas to improve teaching and learning in their respective institutions. Thank you to Teesside University for being excellent hosts, and we look forward to reconvening on the 9th of June at Durham University.
Please note – AI technologies were used in the creation of this blog post 🙂
The Jisc Digifest 2023 was held on 7-8 March at Birmingham ICC (it was also online) and I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s event.
According the Digifest website Digifest is:
‘a celebration of the creative minds who think differently, who introduce new ideas and technologies to their organisations. Whether it’s the researcher at the cutting edge of vaccine development, the lecturer inspiring the next generation or the manager leading digital transformation, Digifest is for the innovators of tomorrow.’
The two days both had a packed agenda of exciting talks, presentations, discussions, and great catering. The agenda was based around celebrating innovation in all its forms using three key tracks:
Learning, teaching, and resources
Leadership and culture
The agenda was so packed, you couldn’t get around everything. Here are some of my highlights from the event and some useful links to follow up if you wanted to know more.
The event started on the Tuesday with Heidi Fraser-Krauss, chief executive of Jisc, welcoming everyone to Digifest 2023.
This was followed by a great keynote presentation from Inma Martinez, a digital pioneer and AI scientist, and a leading authority in the sectors of digital technology and machine intelligence. Since the 1990s, Inma has been a revolutionary figure within the technology industry and has become well known for her talent to create social engagement through technology. She’s been recognised as one of the top 50 AI influencers to follow on Twitter and one of the top 20 women changing the landscape of data.
Inma’s session was called ‘How artificial intelligence will ignite human creativity and help pave the way to human and machine innovation’: AI is making incredible (and fast) inroads into the innovation processes of many creative industries. This session explored how education will benefit from an AI that enhances human creativity, and how the future of innovation is a collaborative sandbox for humans and machine intelligence. The key takeaway from Inma’s session was not to panic. Although Open AI is here and it’s probably not going anywhere, the question is, how we can use it, rather than how is it going to change everything. AI can’t replicate our own imagination and emotional intelligence. Neoteny (a new word for me) is something that only we as humans go through and this how we can use AI to our advantage rather than panicking about how AI might change our industry.
Before lunch (which was very good), I managed to catch three further sessions.
Firstly, a lightning talk called ‘Fostering authentic assessment and feedback to hone 21st-century skills’. In this session, Abdulla Dilimi showcased how TU Dublin, OsloMet, and Deakin University cultivated high-quality feedback and authentic assessment with the help of pedagogical technology. The session was very good. As you’d expect, it was giving high praise to authentic assessment, focusing on how authentic assessment could combat some of the negative aspects of open AI technology; and how personalised feedback is a key benefit to authentic assessment.
The second session was called ‘How green is your campus? Supporting a student friendly, sustainable hybrid campus’. In this 30-minute session Anne Robertson, head of EDINA services, University of Edinburgh, gave a presentation of simple and fast location data solutions that:
Support students to find their way around campus, highlighting sustainable travel solutions and helping them find and book study spaces.
Enable estates colleagues to sustainably and safely manage the physical estate.
Assist with effective energy management, in a hybrid working world.
With the use of campus maps and real time analysis, University of Edinburgh helped students to become greener and get the best out of their time on campus. To maximise the use of university spaces and ensure that students could find a space to study with friends or individually across their vast campus.
The final session before lunch was a session about using virtual reality in teaching and learning practical skills. Josephine Grech, biology lecturer and digital excellence leader from Cardiff and Vale College gave a demonstration of how virtual reality is used in training learners for WorldSkills competitions, but also how it is applied in the classroom to increase engagement and learning outcomes. This was really engaging as a viewer and clearly engaging for the students. It is also student-led and student-developed to enhance the learning for others.
The first session in the afternoon was a keynote panel discussion with:
Paul Burne, customer success/service lead – hybrid edge, Amazon Web Services (AWS);
Karen Cooper, senior director – offer management, Honeywell;
Gareth Piggott, major accounts manager, Fortinet;
Richard Jackson, lead cloud security specialist, Jisc.
The title for the panel was called ‘On the Edge’ and was about a cloud-based programme called Edge Computing. This session was quite interesting and went through the benefits of this product.
The final session of the day was around Micro Credentials and how these have been utilised at Abertay University. They have seemed to get the best out of micro credentials using them across multiple courses in stage one and providing students with skills outside of their discipline.
The second day opened with a truly inspiring keynote presentation by Dr Sue Black, entitled ‘If I can Do It, So Can You’. Sue told the story of her life and career, the ups, the downs, and how by putting herself out of comfort zone, she was able to achieve so much and support so many other women.
Sue talked about her passion for getting everyone excited about the opportunities that technology offers, how she brought her family out of poverty and built a successful career through education, and a determination to succeed.
This was a great way to start day two of the conference on International Women’s Day.
Here are some links to find out more about Sue, her work and how she saved Bletchley Park:
Tech Up – retraining women from underserved communities into technology careers.
#Techmums – #techmums is here to take the mystery out of technology. Whether it’s helping you to reconnect with old friends via social media, chatting to your child about online safety or finding out how to use technology to help you at work, #techmums can help!
The rest of day two I managed to take in these sessions.
Firstly, Richard Buckley and Kate Whyles from Nottingham College delivered a session called ‘What does that button do?’ Shifting digital culture and growing innovation, engagement, and attainment at Nottingham College. The presentation went through how a small but perfectly formed team of six is at the forefront of developing and promoting a culture of digital curiosity, innovation, and increased collaboration to help drive up standards in teaching, learning and assessment in one of the UK’s largest FE colleges. My key takeaway was the phrase Positive Nuisance, I like that concept. How can you be a nuisance to others but in a way that will positively affect our students.
The second session was about how good AI and using things like the WHO5 can be for supporting students with their mental health and allow us to safeguard our students. Professor Peter Francis, deputy vice-chancellor (academic), Birmingham City University, took us through how their project developed a ‘predictive analytic system’ that integrates data from across university sectors and generates a predicted likelihood score for students experiencing poor wellbeing in the following month.
Implementing a model of student consent for this system, approximately 70% of the student population consented and this predictive system has shown over 80% accuracy in identifying students at risk of poor mental wellbeing. Through this identification they were able to intervene proactively through tailored messages to students that highlight wellbeing services that are proportionate to their level of risk.
The final session before I braved the snow and the long train journey home was about why you should consider student-led learning for your future education.
The session focussed on four key areas to fuel activity and deepen learning for our students. These were:
This will help students to develop job-readiness and learn to take responsibility themselves.
Digifest 2023 was a fantastic conference, and I would recommend getting along next year if you can. Please get in touch if you would like to know more, and thank you for reading.
In the fifth sprint of the Assessment and Feedback Sprint Series a small team of students and colleagues, from across the university, worked collaboratively for three weeks to investigate and design resources that would help answer the question:
How do we articulate a meaningful programme experience that ensures a cohesive assessment journey for all our students?
The initial discovery phase of the sprint revealed that students often struggle to see the ‘big picture’ of their programme and how their assessments relate to and are informed by one another within a modularised system. Rather than understanding their assessments as a journey that is an integral part of their learning, students chiefly viewed them as standalone, disconnected instances that are ‘tacked on’ to the end of a module with the sole purpose being to assess. Rarely were assessments recognised by students as a part of their continued learning and development of skills.
With this in mind, we have created an assessment and feedback planner. The aim of which is to provide students with a resource where they can collate all of their assessment information, across a stage of their programme, so that this can be easily visualised and stored in a single place. More importantly, however, the planner’s primary function is to encourage students to consider the skills that their assessments are designed to develop. This allows students to critically reflect on how these skills are transferable across their modules and the stages of their degree, and how to carry their feedback forward, thereby building a clearer picture of their programme as a whole.
The assessment planner is operated through OneNote, a platform available to all students as part of their Microsoft package. The planner can be used to both type and handwrite information, as well as providing space to import or jot down any key notes. We have provided two links, one to a blank template, and one to a mock-up of a completed planner so you can visualise the planner in action. You can use the tabs to navigate through the planner and for more information we will be creating a ‘getting started’ video soon that offers a guide on using the planner. One of the key benefits of the planner is that it is fully editable so that students on any course can customise it to fit their specific programme’s needs and goals.
In the version we have created, we have decided to use a Stage One template, as student validation suggested that receiving the planner in stage one would be most useful to reinforce assessment reflection across all stages in a programme.
“This would have greatly helped me in Stage One”- Student, HaSS
The most important feature of the planner is the reflective output. We have included a “My Feedback” page for every module, a “Semester Reflection” to act as a bridge across semesters, and a “Thinking Back, Looking Forward” section to reflect on the stage as a whole and to feed forward into the next stage or into the post-degree future. All reflective sections offer students the opportunity to think critically on their assessment goals and knowledge, with questions such as “what assessment skills/knowledge have you developed since starting at Newcastle/since your previous years of study?” and “thinking back, how do you feel about the goals you set at the start of the year? (What progress have you made? Have your goals changed at all?)”. By having open-ended questions that require detailed answers, students can reflect on their educational assessment journey and feed this forward. A link is embedded into the last section of the planner to encourage students to create a new planner for the next year of study, if applicable.
We see the “My Assessment Planner” potentially being used as an active tool that students could work through with their Peer Mentor and discuss with their Personal Tutors. This is because when validating the planner with students it was suggested that they would find this most useful if they had the opportunity to review the completed planner with peers or staff.
“I would want this to be a resource facilitated in partnership with staff”- Student, HaSS
The overarching aim of the planner is to provide more cohesion across assessments to enable students to better understand the links between stages and their overall programme.
Try out the Assessment Planner
We have two versions of the assessment planner available for download. These are “packaged” versions of the workbook – simply download them and click to open them in OneNote.
As part of our Assessment and Feedback Sprint Series. A small team of students and colleagues have been investigating the question:
How do we articulate a meaningful programme experience that ensures a cohesive assessment journey for all of our students?
Feedback (Stage Surveys, NSS etc.,) tells us that students and colleagues struggle to see assessments from a programme perspective and this disconnection can lead students to feel like assessment isn’t part of a wider programme and that their skills/feedback don’t link across modules and assessments.
Being able to visualise the assessment journey across a stage or programme is important because, as one colleague said,
“An assessment journey builds confidence in the education (and the education provider) and underscores the importance of each individual assessment towards an overarching goal. Articulation of assessment journeys allows for broader reflection and helps explain the skill development (rather than focussing on siloed, module specific content).”
An overview of some of the visuals we found from within Newcastle University and other HE Institutions are shown below. In summary, we found a range of approaches, often highlighting the ‘journey’ through the stage or programme, making it easier for students to reflect on progress.
What have we created?
Using these findings, we created some template visuals which were then validated by colleagues and students along with feedback incorporated from our first showcase.
We decided to create a variety of templates to reflect diverse practices/skillsets across programmes and areas. Some are more suitable for Semester-based programmes and others for block-taught programmes.
We started by looking at a standard linear stage one programme – V400 BA Archaeology. We initially had a large amount of text on the visual explaining each assessment and how it aligned to the wider programme learning objectives. However, it quickly began to look overwhelming.
We then started to explore using H5P as a way to keep the visual relatively simple but incorporate pop up boxes to make it more interactive and engaging. The version below has dummy text – click on the questionmarks to see how it would work.
We also considered how to visually represent a block-taught postgraduate programme and incorporated feedback from a Degree Programme Director (DPD) to represent larger-weighted modules with bigger circles. The DPD said this would be a useful tool for both staff and students including at recruitment and Induction events.
The intention is that these editable templates will be useful for both students and programme teams to visualise assessment across a programme or stage. The visual could be produced as part of a workshop reviewing programme level assessment or could be a standalone tool designed to be student-facing.
Find out more about our Sprint
We presented our Sprint adventures at the Sprint Showcase event on Friday 10 March, and you can watch the recording here:
To find out more about the Assessment and Feedback Sprint Programme contact Conny.Zelic@ncl.ac.uk in the Strategic Projects and Change Team.
Inspera Assessment (the university system for centrally supported digital exams) is supported by the Learning and Teaching Development Service with a range of training options open to all staff. We now have a new training session aimed at Professional Service colleagues due to run on March 9 from 3-4pm. You can sign up via Elements.
This session will introduce the digital exam platform Inspera, and how to support an Inspera digital exam.
Introduction to Inspera
Creating an account
Reviewing crated questions and question sets
Basic functionality including randomisation and question choice options
Allow listing and adding resources
Checking the student view
Entering or amending question marks
Inspera Scan sheets
Who should attend?
This webinar is suitable for any professional services colleague supporting an Inspera digital exam.