Learning Communities Toolkit

Students around a table

Working alongside student interns, Newcastle University HaSS colleagues have developed a new Learning Communities toolkit – a range of accessible and reusable ice-breaker and community-building resources. Available via Canvas Commons, this toolkit is ideal for educators looking for ways to encourage and facilitate effective learning communities within their module groups.

Why is a learning community needed?
Developing a learning community amongst a group of students can be hugely beneficial. Not only does it provide students with the opportunity to come together in a safe place to share opinions and ask questions, but it also allows them to feel a sense of belonging and connection with other students (this is particularly useful where minority groups are concerned). Learning communities also provide academic benefits: encouraging attendance at lectures, active engagement, and group collaboration. This toolkit provides a range of ideas to get you started and support you along the way in the development of your learning community.

How to use this toolkit
We’ve published our Learning Communities toolkit on Canvas Commons to make it easy to find, download and reuse in your own courses. To help you find activities quickly, we have organised them into three separate categories: Icebreakers, Building Community Activities, and Maintaining Community Activities.

You can preview and download the toolkit here:

https://lor.instructure.com/resources/bb4c049eeff34e15b2091c6fd4755651?shared

Outstanding Contribution to Feedback

Group of students

Dr Michael Waugh from the School or Arts and Cultures recently won Outstanding Contribution to Feedback at The Education Awards run by Newcastle University Students’ Union. Michael shares his approach below.

When I was contacted about producing a piece for the Learning and Teaching @ Newcastle University Blog, a result of my two recent TEAs for Outstanding Contribution to Feedback, I was quite apprehensive. Reading through previous posts and case studies on the topic, I found a lot of emphasis on strategy, curricular design, formalised processes – none of which I felt reflected my own practice. I wouldn’t say I do anything particularly innovative or have an especially unique approach to providing feedback, and I was surprised (not to mention incredibly honoured) to be awarded in such a category.

Instead, I have always operated in a more personable and individualised manner, a recurring theme in students’ nomination comments for my TEAs. I never feel like I’m doing anything out of the ordinary; I just try to take the time to get to know my students, even on big modules and programmes, making it easier to respond to the specific needs of each person I teach. Universities have a tendency to split the academic and pastoral aspects of student life too much, with students being allocated to personal tutors that they might never meet in a lecture or seminar room and learning from lecturers that refuse or neglect to discuss any issues that don’t pertain to their module and its assessments.

Continue reading “Outstanding Contribution to Feedback”

Canvas & Turnitin Assignments: Key Issues

LTDS have offered each School the opportunity to receive a presentation ahead of the new academic year highlighting the key issues that should be considered when deciding how to implement coursework submission and marking procedures.​

For Schools and subject areas who are not able to take up this offer, or as a refresher for those who have been able to, a recording of the presentation and the presentation slides are now available.

​The presentation includes issues that have occurred across the last academic year that have caused extra workload for colleagues and impacted the student experience​, including:

Assignment Types

Canvas or Turnitin Assignment?

Using Similarity Checking 

Online assignment submission principles

Assessment and Feedback Procedure​

Avoiding common issues

Assignment, online marking and feedback guides

Student assignment submission guidance (ASK Website)

​Delegated Marking​

Canvas Delegated Marking

Turnitin delegated marking

Moderated Marking​

Moderated grading and double blind marking

Where to find help

Canvas orientation

All L&T Workshops and webinars

To discuss any of the issues raised further, or if are any issues that we have not captured, please contact LTDS@ncl.ac.uk

Authentic Assessment with Professor Tina Overton

Tina Overton

SAgE Faculty presentation on Authentic Assessment with Professor Tina Overton

Conversations about more authentic forms of assessment have proliferated of late, as Universities everywhere had to rethink assessment formats at short notice.

We are delighted and honoured that Professor Tina Overton has kindly agreed to work with the SAgE Faculty to help us examine how we currently think about assessment in STEM disciplines.

In this one-hour online session, Tina will share her experiences of implementing authentic assessment in Chemistry at Monash University, drawing from her distinguished career in STEM education.

A presentation will be followed by a Q&A session where you can raise issues of interest or concern about assessment in STEM subjects with Tina.

The session will be recorded and made available afterwards.

Time: Sep 15, 2021, 14:00 London

Colleagues can sign up here.

SAgE Faculty workshops on Authentic Assessment with Professor Tina Overton

In this one-hour online workshop, presented twice, Tina will encourage you to rethink your approach to assessment, to consider where you might already be providing authentic assessments, and to reflect on where and how you might want to do more in your programmes/modules. Supported by colleagues in LTDS, the session will be recorded and made available afterwards.

Workshop 1

Time: Sep 30, 2021 13:00-14:00 London.

Or Workshop 2

Time: Oct 4, 2021 13:00-14:00 London

Colleagues can sign up for either workshop here.

Biography: Professor Tina Overton

Tina was until recently Director of the Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence, having previously been Distinguished Professor at Monash University where she successfully implemented large scale moves to active and context-based learning and authentic assessment in Chemistry. She has a 20 year plus track record in STEM education and is passionate about improving the student learning experience.

If you have any queries about these events please get in touch with LTDS@ncl.ac.uk

You might also be interested in other upcoming learning and teaching events and webinars.

Getting ready for the new academic year

Colleague typing on a laptop

With the new academic year fast approaching, we at LTDS are offering a week of online interactive learning sessions to help you get ready for the new academic year.

Here are more details about the new and exciting sessions. You can enrol on each of the six sessions below.

Learning from strategic digital education projects 

This session will take place on Thursday 9 September, 12.00 – 13.00.

This session will outline the achievements made in three strategic blended learning projects in the School of Engineering, Newcastle University Business School and the School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Sciences. It will demonstrate the changes made to programmes and provide an opportunity to ask how it was done in a Q & A.

Sign up to the session through elements.

How to Make a Podcast

This session will take place on Friday 10 September, 13.00 – 14.00.

Newcastle University Learning and Teaching podcast was launched recently. The appetite for podcasting in education is going through a surge in interest in using this engaging medium with students. This workshop will take you through everything you need to know to feel confident and capable to make your own podcast.  

Sign up to the session through elements.

Saving time and enriching your courses with Canvas Commons  

There are two sessions available on Tuesday 7 September, 14:00 – 15:00 and Thursday 9 September, 11:00 -12:00.

Canvas Commons gives us a really easy way of sharing, finding and importing course content into Canvas courses.  We can use Commons to share a whole range of content types including, assignments, pages, quizzes, images as well as entire modules.      

This hands-on webinar provides an opportunity to explore  Canvas  Commons.  You’ll add content from Commons to your sandbox course.  We will consider what you need to do before sharing content and  discuss  examples of how sharing content can save time and enrich your courses. 

Sign up to the session through elements.

Getting your Canvas course ready for next year  

There is a session taking place on Monday 6 September, 15.00 – 16.00 and you can find further dates here.

The aim of this short webinar is to support you while you create your new Canvas courses for the 2021/22 academic year.   You will learn the process for new course creation, how to build your canvas course, and how to check your content is accessible.

The topics that are covered include, blueprints, content and assignment import from the previous year’s course. As well as homepage, curse navigation menu, accessibility, and publishing your content and your canvas course.

Sign up to the session through elements.

Using H5P to create engaging digital content

There are three H5P sessions over the course of this week. Monday 6 September at 13.00, Wednesday 8  September at 9.00, and Thursday 9 September at 14.00.

What is H5P? H5P is a resource that lets you create simple interactive content like interactive videos, quizzes, games, presentations, and more.

This training webinar offers a 30-minute introduction to H5P looking at some of the benefits in using this tool, followed by an optional 30-minute task where you can try creating some H5P content, with guidance.

Sign up to the session through elements.

Digital assessment – outlining the possibilities and processes

This session will take place on Thursday 9 September, 15.00 -16.00.

Assessing students in new ways and delivering feedback remotely during the pandemic has given us as a community of educators and learners a wealth of new experiences and ideas.  As we begin to return to campus, further digital assessment opportunities open up with the introduction of the Unversity’s new digital exam system Inspera Assessment

This session will share some of these new possibilities and provide an opportunity to reflect on what to retain from our recent experiences, as well as exploring how digital assessment can further enhance authentic assessment and ensure it is accessible to all our students. 

Sign up to the session through elements.

If you have any questions please get in touch with LTDS@ncl.ac.uk.

Announcing the University’s new Digital Exam System: Inspera Assessment

In September 2021 we will be launching a new system for centrally supported digital exams, called Inspera Assessment. Implementing the system will enable the Digital Exam Service to: 

  • Deliver secure locked down present-in-person exams on University computers and students’ own laptops, monitored by University invigilators 
  • Ensure that digital exams are accessible to all our students, and enhance the student experience of exams 
  • Increase the University’s digital exam capacity in the long term 
  • Enable more authentic exams by introducing new functionality

New exam types possible with Inspera will include:  

  • Students taking written exams online, by typing their answers on computer, and incorporating drawings or written calculations done on paper into their online answers where needed. 
  • Allowing access to specific online resources or applications during a secure exam, using allow listing functionality. 

Introducing Inspera is a big step forward for education, assessment and feedback at Newcastle University.  Adopting a specialist digital exam system allows us to do much more than would be possible if we continued to use the Virtual Learning Environment for digital exams.

Choosing a digital exam system 

Inspera has been selected as our digital exam system following a rigorous procurement process, which began with requirements mapping workshops in February 2020, attended by over 60 academic and professional services staff.  The procurement was postponed for a year as a result of the global pandemic, and restarted in semester 2 2020/21 when colleagues had the opportunity to feed in any new or updated requirements via an online survey.   

Once the tender was issued key digital exams stakeholders contributed to a rigorous evaluation process to decide on the system that best fit our requirements.  Students and staff were invited to volunteer for usability testing in each system that met the mandatory technical requirements. The team are very grateful to the 36 colleagues, and 13 undergraduate and postgraduate students, who completed a total of approximately 150 hours of usability testing between them! 

Inspera scored the highest overall for both usability, and for technical and functional requirements. 

Rolling out Inspera 

As standard all 2021/22 modules that have a present-in-person digital exam in MOFS will use Inspera.  If the public health situation requires, it will be possible for these modules to use the system for open book take home exams.

Numbas maths assessment system remains an option digital exams that need specialist mathematics functionality.

The system will be available for additional new digital exams from 2022/23 onwards.  There will be opportunities in the coming months to see demonstrations of the software, and learn more about the new types of assessment that it makes possible.  If you would like to learn more now, please contact digital.exams@newcastle.ac.uk

How to get started  

The Digital Exams Service team will contact all 2021/22 module teams with a digital exam in their MOF at the beginning of September, with details of the process for preparing their exam. 

Training will also launch in September 2021, and all colleagues who will be using Inspera in the new academic year are encouraged to sign up.   

Online resources to help students prepare for a digital exam will be published in September, and students will also be able to try out a demo exam in Inspera to help familiarise themselves with the system. 

If you are interested in introducing a new digital exam using Inspera in future, or if you have any queries about a 2021/22 digital exam, please contact digital.exams@newcastle.ac.uk

Learning Analytics

Woman with data in her head

Do you know how analytics might help you in your teaching? 

There are lots of definitions of learning analytics but the most widely cited definition that aligns with Newcastle University’s approach is what Siemens and Gašević’s describe as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about students and their contexts to help institutions understand and optimise educational processes, learning and the environments in which it occurs.” 

With this in mind, colleagues came together at the latest NUTELA session to explore analytics and share what worked for them. We’ve included videos and some key ideas from each of our presenters below: 

Using analytics to gain insights into students’ access. 

Rachelle Maddison, INTO  

Rachelle used analytics with a small group of international students during the lockdown to check if they could access resources on Canvas. Rachelle’s transparency about the purpose of using Canvas New Analytics promoted trust and partnership with students.  

In this video, Rachelle explains how this helped her to make changes to her course content early in the academic year. 

Using Canvas New Analytics for Course Review 

Danny Homer, LTDS 

Danny employed his analytics expertise using Canvas New Analytics reports with Power BI for in-depth analysis and visualisations of course participants’ online interactions. Danny explains how he was able to overcome the limitations of the available analytics interfaces using New Analytics reports. 

ReCap Analytics as an insight into the instructional and content redesign for Executive MBA at NUBS 

David Grundy, Newcastle University Business School 

David used ReCap analytics with a small group of 15 students and a larger group of 220 students. See how David worked around video parameters to review the content and format and make ReCap videos more digestible to students. 

How to use ReCap Analytics 

Carol Summerside, LTDS 

Carol introduces ReCap analytics which give insights into viewer interactions with recordings. She demonstrates how to access analytics and shares some practical tips for getting started.  

To find out more about analytics, visit the Digital Learning website or sign up for a Canvas Analytics webinar

Get involved in NUTELA  

NUTELA is a group of academics, professional service staff, and technicians who care about improving learning and teaching at Newcastle University. 

Our termly sessions focus on technology in and for teaching. They’ve been a bit different this year but usually involve some pizza, pop and a chance to practice. 

Microsoft Team 

Join the NUTELA Team to continue the conversation about using technology in your teaching.  The Team includes resources, upcoming events and the chance to connect with colleagues across the University. NUTELA advocates are also on hand to answer any NUTELA related questions you might have. 

Students: Have your say about digital exam software

Four students accessing electronic resources together

At Newcastle University we are choosing new software for students to take digital exams.  The exams will include auto-marked questions like multiple choice or fill in the blank, and written exams that you can take online.  Students will be able to use the software on their own laptops, or use university computers.  

The software we choose must be user friendly.  That’s why we’re inviting students to volunteer for usability testing.  Your input will be key in determining the software that students will use in the future at Newcastle. 

What’s usability testing and how can I get involved? 

  • Complete the testing online any time that suits you, between Monday 26 April 2021 and Friday 21 May 2021 
  • You need a computer connected to the internet 
  • You will be given login details, and a series of tasks to do in each system 
  • When you finish the tasks in each system, complete a survey about how user friendly it is  
  • You may need to install some software on your computer.  You can uninstall it when you’ve finished testing 
  • You will need to test up to 4 software systems.  Testing each one will take approximately 1 hour, and you can split the time up however you want, to fit your schedule 

Why take part? 

Sign up 

Complete this form by 12 noon on Wednesday 21 April 2021 to volunteer. 

You will receive further details when you sign up.  If you have any questions, please contact digital.exams@newcastle.ac.uk.   

Sharing video – ReCap or Stream?

In an earlier post we showed demonstrated how to host videos on ReCap and Stream and then add them to Canvas.  But how do they compare?

Let’s take a student perspective what are the differences between these two as a consumer?  If you are making notes from video you’ll value things like variable playback speed, the ability to view full screen and the option of viewing or searching the caption/transcript — all of these are easy to find whether video is hosted on Stream or ReCap.

ReCap

ReCap has a handy rewind facility – if you miss something you can go back 10 seconds with one click. It also lets you make private timestamped notes on the video – so you can mark places you want to go back to.  If the video is long you can help students find their way around by adding Content items.

Stream

Stream videos can be added to a watchlist, they can be liked and, if you permit it, students can add comments to the videos.  These will be visible by anyone with permissions to view the video.  Stream helps you find your way around content by converting any timestamps you put in comments or the video description into clickable links.

There are good reasons to turn comments for particular circumstsances – eg are providing feedback, pointing out helpful sections or taking part in peer review.

Permissions

Stream videos are only available to people with @newcastle.ac.uk email addresses, so you’ll need to sign in to view the content above. ReCap videos are normally shared with those on a particular course, but you can make them public as we have done with the first video here.

Digital Residence

The blog post was written by Dr Lucy Hatt, Senior Lecturer in Leadership at Newcastle University Business School.

Have you ever wondered how many places you can be at once?  Before Covid19 lockdown homeworking, the most places we could manage to be at once was two.   Unless we happened to be a Time Lord, most of us could only be in one place physically, and perhaps another place mentally, at the same time. 

However, online learning requires us to inhabit a third space – the digital space.  As well as the incongruence and mental stress that’s created by being physically at home and mentally at work, we need to be present on-line in the digital space too.  And, in order for our students to engage fully in on-line learning, we need to support and encourage every student to establish a digital residence as well as a physical residence.

Dave White, Head of Digital Learning at the University of Arts, London, researches the phenomenon of digital residency and came up with a framework to describe and analyse people’s approach to online spaces.  In this framework, we can choose to be present professionally and personally online across a continuum that ranges from visitor to resident.

Digital residency quadrants

Take Gemma, a fictional student of a post-graduate executive education programme.  In her professional role as marketing manager, Gemma is a visitor of the digital space, seeing it as a collection of tools she can use to gather information useful to get a particular job done.   However, in her personal life, she has created a digital residence in the form of her Facebook and Twitter posts and in Zoom calls with her friends and family.  In her personal life, Gemma sees the web as a series of spaces or places where she chooses to be present with other people.

When we are in the digital space in “visitor mode”, we leave no deliberate social trace of ourselves.  We might be searching for information on Google, reading product reviews, watching videos, shopping, or “lurking” on social media reading the posts of other people.   When we are in the digital space “in resident mode” we are living out a portion of our lives online.  We leave a social trace, which remains when we go offline.  To be a digital resident requires a digital identity, which we create and develop by making social media posts, participating in discussion boards, making comments, giving reviews and feedback and responding quickly to direct messages.

In order for our students to engage fully in the learning experience, as educators we need to engage with them in all four quadrants of the framework.   In order to encourage digital visitors, our digital learning platforms need to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate, so our visitors can easily gather the information they need.   In the past, we have contented ourselves with students who are digital visitors, because we have been able to engage more fully with them when we have shared the physical space of the classroom. 

However, now Covid19 has restricted that possibility at least in the short to medium term, we need understand how to encourage and support our students to be digital residents too.  If our students only “visit” online learning spaces rather than residing in them, we are failing to engage them fully. Learning is likely to be more superficial and less transformational – and altogether less satisfactory.  We need to find ways to allow and encourage our learners to develop a digital identity in which they feel safe to integrate their “shoes-off” self and establish digital residency.

We can do this by such behaviours as acknowledging, sharing and relating to domestic intrusions, encouraging “off grid” student WhatsApp groups, having regular check-ins at the start and end of synchronous teaching sessions, using music and ambient sounds, integrating wellbeing activities, incorporating playful tasks and maintaining a sense of humour.  In order for professional learners to integrate their work identities, its important to design activities that require the integration of theory and practice, perhaps reflecting on how theory has informed practice encouraging students to identify opportunities to use practice to develop their theoretical understanding.

As with many of the ways that Covid19 has forced us to change our educational practices; being aware of the various ways our learners engage with the digital space will benefits that will last long after we get back into the classroom.  Recognising and valuing the “reality” of the digital space will enable us all to establish our own digital residence more consciously, and in doing so, we will encourage more learner engagement and become better educators.  

Read our Case Study to find out how we applied the Digital Residency Framework to the design and development of the online spaces for learners on the Executive Education Programmes.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Dr Helen Webster, Head of the Writing Development Centre, Newcastle University, whose presentation in the HaSS Education Community Room, introduced us to the work of Dave White on Digital Residence, and to Rosalind Beaumont and Dr Tracy Scurry who lead the HaSS Education Community Room.