Category Archives: News

What works? Sharing effective practice with online/blended learning

A recent DELT Forum was a great impetus for collecting some new examples of what works with online/blended learning here at Newcastle University as the current situation has meant that lots of colleagues have been doing lots of really great stuff to make student learning experiences rich and meaningful.

There are 9 new case studies to explore right now and more to come soon at the case studies site.

A team drawn from LTDS and FMS TEL drew together examples of effective practice in action on three themes:

  1. Supporting and promoting a sense of community for students in online environments.
  2. Providing pathways for students through online modules/programmes to help them structure their studies and learning.
  3. Achieving, promoting and maintaining student engagement with online learning. 

The slide deck from this event is available to all Newcastle University staff.

It contains examples from all three Faculties together with supporting resources and pointers to more developed case studies and contact details for colleagues.

If you have something you’d like to share please let us know by emailing ltds@ncl.ac.uk and we will get back to you.

Learning and Teaching Conference 2021

1 March – 5 March 2021

The Learning and Teaching Conference 2021 will showcase effective, creative and collaborative approaches to learning and teaching from across the University.

Workshops, presentations and lightning talks will be spread across the week, for our first ever fully online conference allowing you to pop along to connect with colleagues and share new ideas. We are pleased to be welcoming keynote speakers Professor Sue Rigby Vice-Chancellor, Bath Spa University and Professor Dilly Fung Pro-Director for Education, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

As the 2020 event couldn’t take place we can’t wait to see you at this year’s event. Keep a note of the date in your diaries. More information to come.

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

NUTELA 3Ps: Canvas Quick WIns and Engaging Students

NUTELA is back, with our first online 3Ps sessions of the year (this time the 3P’s stand for Practice Practice Practice – you’ll have to bring your own pizza and pop!). Please sign up for as many sessions as you like:

Canvas Quick Wins: Refreshing your Home and Module Pages – 15 December 2020, 14:00-15:00

See how to give your Canvas home and module pages a quick make-over, and create a fresh and engaging experience for students. The session will focus on building content with ideas and examples from colleagues.

Sign up to Canvas Quick Wins: Refreshing your Home and Module Pages

Canvas Quick Wins: Keeping Students Engaged – 16 December, 10:00-11:00

Colleagues will share how they have used course-requirement ‘tick lists’, quizzes and collaboration tools to keep students engaged. The approaches covered are all quick to implement, effective, and popular with students.

Sign up to Canvas Quick wins: Keeping students engaged

Tips and Tools for Cutting out Radio Silence: Engaging Students During Synchronous Sessions – 17 December, 14:00-15:00

In this session we will explore new and existing tools and strategies that colleagues are using to engage their students during synchronous online sessions.

Sign up to Tips and tools for cutting out radio silence

Making it accessible: Benefits of the Accssibility in Practice Course

The Accessibility in Practice online course is designed to provide you with some of the core skills and techniques for embedding accessibility into your teaching and learning practice, and in making your digital resources accessible to everyone.

Tom Harrison recently completed the online course. He shares the parts of the course he found most useful and how he has changed his practice resulting in real benefits to students.

Hi, I’m Tom Harrison; I work as a Student Recruitment Co-ordinator at Newcastle University and also teach English Literature. My roles involve designing lots of activities and presentations for a wide variety of students, so I was interested in using the Accessibility in Practice course to develop my awareness of how to adjust my materials to accommodate different learner needs.

Tom Harrison

One of the most revealing sections was an exercise to simulate difficulties that dyslexic students could have reading slides in lectures. The team presented a simple story (Aesop’s ‘Tortoise and the Hare’: a classic!) and changed the text a bit to give an idea of how reading speeds can differ.

Even with such a simple, familiar story I found the text difficult to read, and although I managed a couple of lines I got nowhere near finishing the full paragraph in the two minutes allotted by the presenter. The experience was confusing and frustrating, and made worse when the presenter spoke while the text was onscreen: at this point my attention was split between the audio and the visuals, which meant I wasn’t paying attention to either.

The manipulated text, the short reading time, and the over-talkative presenter were of course all part of the team’s cunning plan to show how difficult it can be for dyslexic students to read large blocks of text in a lecture setting. I have to confess that previously I’ve assumed that students can multi-task as I rattle through text-heavy lecture slides, and that highlighting key words and phrases in bold or in different colours was enough to focus students on what they need to know. Those visually-enhanced techniques work fine for some, but of course are no help at all to students who are colour blind, or who are accessing lecture materials through specialist software. I looked back over my old PowerPoints with fresh eyes and realised that, to some students, my beautifully colour-coded, quote-heavy slides would have just been a big blocky mess.

The biggest change the training has made to my practice is that I now appreciate that students need more time to process on-screen text, and that they may be accessing this text in a different way to how I’ve previously assumed. I now make a point of reading out any text that I include on slides to help keep students focused and avoid unnecessary distractions. As an added bonus, I’ve also learnt to cut down the size of my on-screen quotations: no one, not even me, wants to hear me reading out huge chunks of text!

If you are delivering information to students in any capacity I recommend having a look at this resource: the course is full of useful, practical tips that will help you modify what you already do rather than change it to something completely different. Well worth an hour of your time, I’d say, and your students will thank you for it!

All Newcastle University colleagues can complete the Accessibility in Practice online Canvas course on Canvas.

National recognition for Newcastle University’s teaching excellence

For the second year in a row, three Newcastle academics have been elected as National Teaching Fellows. 

Awarded by Advance HE, the fellowships recognise excellence in enhancing and transforming student outcomes and teaching. Newcastle University’s Dr Clare Guilding, Professor Simon Tate and Dr Iain Keenan are among this year’s 56 new National Teaching Fellows.  

In 2017, Dr Guilding took up the position of Dean of Academic Affairs in Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed), leading the development and implementation of Newcastle’s new MBBS curriculum there. She also played a key role in developing the British Pharmacological Society’s (BPS) new undergraduate pharmacology curriculum, now used to develop pharmacology curricula nationally and internationally.  

Continue reading National recognition for Newcastle University’s teaching excellence

Flexible Learning 2020 Webinars, Drop-ins and Q & A sessions

Webinars, Drop-ins and Q & A sessions are now available to support you with the planning and delivery of your modules for 2020/21. 

Webinars  

  • Rethinking your module design 
  • Make your own module intro video 
  • Canvas: Fundamentals, Professional Services, Assignments, Collaboration and Communication, Quizzes and Online Marking and Feedback 
  • Turnitin 

Q  & A sessions  

Based on the relevant sections in the Flexible Learning 2020 course that all staff have access to via Canvas (https://ncl.instructure.com/courses/28542 ), we are running Q&A sessions on the following topics: 

Rethinking Lectures, Project Supervision, Online Assessment, Seminars and Small Group Teaching, Laboratory Based Learning, Content Accessibility, Building a Learning Community and Making, Producing and Creating. 

Come along and bring your module design questions with you. We can share examples of effective practice and talk through your ideas. 

Daily Drop-ins  

You can bring any of your questions to these drop-in sessions. We also have some themed drop-ins (covering a range of topics from audio and video to Canvas, to hosting effective online discussion), but you can bring any question or issue to any drop-in session – even if it doesn’t fit with that session’s specific theme.  

View the schedule or visit the webinars and support information pages to find out more. 

Further support is available on the Flexible Learning 2020 web pages  which includes useful resources and information and all colleagues have access to the Flexible Learning 2020 Online Course in Canvas. 

Digital exam system usability testing

Are you a member of academic or professional services staff interested in digital exams?

The digital exam system procurement process is going ahead as planned, and we are making adjustments to enable staff to participate in usability testing while remote working. 

We appreciate that this is a very busy time for colleagues across the University. However, it is necessary to go ahead with usability testing now to support the digital exam system procurement process.  If you are interested and have capacity to participate in usability testing your contribution will be very valuable. 

We are looking for volunteers to test digital exam systems, to help assess how user friendly each one is.  Testers’ feedback will be a key part of the evaluation stage of the tender process, and have a direct impact on which digital exam system the University introduces from next academic year.   

Usability testing is open to all University staff.  You can choose to test from the perspective of either: 

An exam administrator testing how to create exam settings, and manage marking and moderation processes.  Approximately 90 minutes per system. 

An academic testing how to create exam questions, and carry out marking and moderation.  Approximately 2 hours per system. 

To participate you need to commit to test all of the systems that meet the University’s mandatory requirements, which we estimate may be between 2 and 4 systems.  This is required to ensure that the evaluation process is fair, and we’ll be able to confirm the number of systems being tested the week before the testing begins.   

Full instructions and video demonstrations will be provided for each testing task. You can complete the testing tasks at any time that suits your schedule over the usability testing period from Monday 1 June to Monday 15 June. 

To register your interest in doing usability testing please complete this form by 12 noon on Tuesday 26 May 2020.  Please contact digital.exams@newcastle.ac.uk with any queries. 

Latest Update on Transition to canvas

As many of you know, the University will be moving to Canvas on the 1 August 2020 and all use of Blackboard will end on the 31st July.

We know colleagues across the University are working incredibly hard at the moment to implement the remote delivery and assessment of the University’s programmes. We have therefore postponed the start of the workshops for colleagues in academic units from this week, until after the Easter break.

The way we are delivering this support is also changing. The face-to-face workshops we had intended to deliver will not now take place. These will be replaced by a programme of shorter webinars, supported by a range of online resources. We have arranged these webinars so that in total, there will be the same number of spaces available on webinars as we had planned to deliver in face-to-face workshops. As with the face-to-face workshops, there is no requirement to attend these webinars if your preference is to get familiar with Canvas via the other online resources we are providing.

We know that the demands on colleagues means that many will not be able to engage with the training opportunities at this time. We will be offering a comprehensive programme of webinars throughout the summer, so that if you wish to participate in a webinar you will be able to do so at a time that fits with all your other commitments.

If you are unable to attend a webinar, you also have access to the Canvas Online Orientation Course available on the dashboard when you log in to Canvas. This has been designed by University colleagues to support you in using the key features and tools in Canvas and there are a number of self-check quizzes for you to check your understanding as you work through each section.

If you have any queries please contact the Canvas implementation team.

 

Support for online marking

There are an extensive range of new resources available on the Digital Learning Website to support you with setting up assignments and marking online.

These include screencasts and TEL Guides that you can work through in your own time, as well as daily webinars and drop ins, if you would prefer some real time support.

A number of resources cover how to get started with Turnitin and how to get the most out of the marking tools in Turnitin Feedback Studio. There’s a summary of what’s available below.

The website also includes support for other tools including Blackboard Tests, Numbas and how to use Recap assignment folders for presentations.

Turntin

Getting started with marking online

For colleagues who want to find out:

  • How to access the Turnitin assignment
  • How to use the main marking tools including bubble comments, inline comments, feedback summary and audio feedback.

Support available


Making use of the additional tools in Turnitin

As well as the tools outlined above you might also be interested in additional marking tools including:

Quick Marks

Comment libraries that can help speed up your marking.

Support available

Rubrics

Rubrics can help the marker provide consistency in marking, and will help students clearly understand what is required to improve on future assignments.


Have a question about marking online?

Come along to an online drop in session, happening everyday, to speak to a member of the team. We can help with questions about the application of any of the tools and approaches to support remote delivery of teaching and assessment.

You can also send your questions to LTDS@ncl.ac.uk or to the IT Service Desk.