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.

Buddycheck Updates

There has been a system update to Buddycheck which alongside some improvements to the student view has opened up some new functionality when creating evaluations. The major changes that users will notice are described below. User guidance available on the Digital Learning webpages has been updated to reflect these changes.

Creating an evaluation and reusing questions

When creating a new evaluation you will now be asked to add a title before moving to the full evaluation set up page. There is now the option to use a previous evaluation as a template. To use existing questions in a new evaluation you now need to select an old evaluation as a template.

Buddycheck create evaluation screen with title entry and template selection hihglighted

Student introduction

There is now an option to add in an introduction to the evaluation for students. This will appear to students before they begin an evaluation alongside some new additional guidance on the question types included in the Buddycheck evaluation.

Student introduction test entry

Question ordering

Question order can now be updated by using drag and drop. You can preview, edit or remove questions from an evaluation using the appropriate icon.

question ordering alongside edit, preview and delete icons

Adjustment factor cap

It is now possible to set a minimum and maximum value adjustment factor cap for an individual evaluation.

The adjustment Factor is the average rating of the student divided by the overall average rating for all members of the team. This is used to adjust the individual student mark

It is possible to use either the capped adjustment factor or the original factor with no cap applied when deciding final marks.

For more information on how the adjustment factor may impact marks see the adjustment factor guidance and the adjustment factor excel example.

adjustment factor amendment options

Adding team questions

Alongside the existing ability to create scored questions, it is now possible to create team questions that ask students to answer a 5-scale question about the team as a whole (strongly agree to strongly disagree). Team questions do not contribute to the adjustment factor. 

Team question creation screen

Option to ask students to ‘motivate’ peer question score

When creating a peer question it is now possible to ask students to optionally motivate  scores, i.e. provide a comment as to why they have selected a score for their peer. This is now possible as part of the question rather than through the use of open questions at the end of the evaluation.

For any queries on these changes please contact LTDS@ncl.ac.uk or see the guidance at the Digital Learning webpages.

Getting ready for semester 2

Books and a computer screen

We’ve pulled together a helpful list of new and existing resources for colleagues preparing for semester 2. There are lots of quick tips, ideas from colleagues as well as guides, courses and webinars.

Getting ready for semester 2 digest

An easily skimmable digest of ideas, resources and useful links covering Canvas, assessment, synchronous online sessions and more.

What works?

Get ideas and inspiration from colleagues who have generously shared how they redesigned and delivered teaching in Semester 1.  You can read about what has worked in their short accounts on our effective practice database

See how modules have been redesigned, how fieldtrips have gone virtual and how lots of achievable ideas have kept students engaged.

Webinars

View and book onto available webinars.  We know time is short, so we are adding digests to the webinar listings to make it easy for you to pick up key messages from the sessions.  New webinars include Digital Polling  and NUIT will be offering some revamped Zoom sessions. 

Canvas

We have an ongoing programme of Canvas webinars and have updated and extended the Canvas Orientation course.  These will be vital for colleagues new to teaching this year.  Remember too that all staff and students can pose questions to Canvas 24/7 support.  

Flexible Learning Online Course

All colleagues also have access to the Flexible Learning 2020 Canvas course which articulates changes needed under the Education Resilience Framework.   

Join a Community

Share ideas, ask questions and find out more from your colleagues

You might be interested in the Zoom CommunityTeams CommunityCanvas Community and Numbas Users.  

NUTELA (Newcastle University Technology Enhanced Learning Advoates) and Newcastle Educators also run regular practice sharing sessions and have Teams sites that you can join.   

Visit the Digital Learning Site

We continue to improve the guides and resources on the Digital Learning Site and have noted important changes in the site’s newsfeed.

Get in touch

Let us know if there are any other resources you would find helpful or if you would like to share some of your teaching practice. You can get in touch at LTDS@ncl.ac.uk .

Guiding students through your Course

When you are working remotely it is really easy for students to be confused about what needs to be done and what’s important week by week.

Here are 3 simple ideas to help.

1. A module “roadmap”

Here are examples of roadmaps from a number of modules – they show what is happening week by week and help make connections between what is happening.

View examples from Law, NUBS and HaSS PGCert in more detail or read the case study from Ros Beaumont to find out more.

2. Use Canvas modules to set a flow through your course

Use your Canvas modules to direct student’s activity week by week or topic by topic. Every Canvas course has a sample structure that you can adapt to match your teaching pattern. You can hide or lock materials that aren’t yet relevant and even set requirements so that student need to view or complete certain conditions before they can move on.

See our updated information on Canvas modules in the Canvas Orientation course.

3. Suggest timings for activities

Without the normal structure of face to face time on campus it’s harder for many students to structure their time.

HSS8007 indicationg timings on activities

Add a weekly overview to give students an idea of your expectations for how much time to spend on the activities for a given week. This will help them plan their time, and make sure they give their attention to the things that you signpost as being most important.

From overwhelmed to ordered

It will take a bit of time to consider ordering, signposting, and setting a flow in your modules, but this need not be onerous and it’s one way you can help your students feel less overwhelmed in these strange times.

Learning and Teaching, New ideas and resources

Ideas and Inspiration, Flexible Learning 2020

Find out more about what colleagues and students have been working on in some of the Flexible Learning case studies and resources.

Social spaces for students

This online resource will provide you with examples of how to use social spaces for students in a digital virtual environment. The resource includes documents highlighting examples of practice and how to use them. As well as cases studies from our university and other institutions taking you through what has worked well and what to maybe avoid.

Canvas tips and favourite features

Hear from academic and professional services colleagues who share some of their Canvas tips, favourite features and positive feedback from students.

Read more on the Digital Learning website

Synchronous online sessions

Top tips from the Academic Practice Team.

The team cover how they planned synchronous sessions, how they used them to build community, and what they did to keep these Zoom teaching sessions engaging and accessible.

Peer assisted learning

Carrie, a peer assisted learning leader, chats with Zoe, a student, to share the challenges and successes of moving to online learning. 

Hear more about the Language Resource Centre PAL Scheme.

New resources and support for teaching online

Maintaining Student Engagement Workshop

In this 60-minute workshop, we will explore together ideas for how you can engage students in online learning including:
• Some dos and don’ts of online learning;
• Methods for setting expectations;
• Alternatives to lectures;
• Keeping students engaging with you and each other;
• Keeping students involved week-to-week.


View dates and book your place.

Considerations for teaching and studying with poor internet

Colleagues and students alike may well be affected by slow or variable internet connections which in turn will make many aspects of online teaching and learning troublesome.

Some helpful strategies to help minimize difficulties.

More control over your content in Microsoft 365

We’ve just rolled out a new way you can control how your students and colleagues interact with content stored in Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365). Module and community enrolments now appear as Security Groups in Microsoft 365. You can use these groups to apply permissions to content or add members to a Microsoft Team.

Find out more about these updates to Microsoft 365.

New Online Training Course for Personal Tutors

A new online course, An Introduction to Personal Tutoring​, is now available on Canvas.

Existing webinars and resources

Colleagues have been taking part in webinars and online courses over the last few months and we are continuing to run a lot of our more popular sessions. Find out more about webinars, drop-ins and online courses.

Guides

An extensive range of guides and further resources are available on the Digital Learning site.