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.

Interactive Content with H5P

Introducing H5P in Canvas (5 min video tour)

Adding engaging and interactive content to your online course materials just got easier with H5P.  

This new online tool allows you to create custom learning resources such as branching scenarios, accordions, interactive images and videos, 360 degree virtual tours, simple formative quizzes, and so much more.   

The feedback we have from colleagues is that it is easy to use and that the built-in tutorials walk you through what to do.  No coding or software is required – all you need is a web browser.   

In Canvas you can work with H5P from the Rich Content Editor. 

H5P icon on the Canvas editing toolbar

MLE and blog authors can create H5P content to embed in pages and posts. 

Try it out 

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

NU Reflect: engaging with reflective practice

ePortfolio is being redeveloped and relaunched as NU Reflect for September 2021 to help support personal, professional, and academic reflection in both modular and non-modular contexts. For improved functionality and ease of use, the system will be split into two landing pages in Canvas:

The NU Reflect landing page will provide the opportunity to record and share reflections, recognise and categorise personal skills being developed, e.g., against the Graduate Framework, and to participate in Groups and collaborate with other students in Communities.

The Personal Tutoring and Support landing page will provide options to engage with tutors/tutees, create and manage individual and group meetings, and for students to access School specific and global support and guidance materials.

The benefits of reflective practice

Incorporating reflection in programmes and modules provides an effective way to support students to understand their own learning processes, and to develop their awareness of their own skills and abilities and evidence these, applying theoretical knowledge to real experiences and supporting employability. Guidance and case studies on how colleagues at the University have incorporated reflective practice are available.

If you have any questions regarding NU Reflect, please contact ltds@newcastle.ac.uk

Coming Soon: Interactive Content Made Easy with H5P

Example H5P Hotspot item – click the + to try it out

Adding engaging and interactive content to your online course materials will get easier very soon.  The University has bought an enterprise licence for H5P for use by colleagues for a year.  Towards the end of August we’ll be making it available to all Canvas and MLE Teachers giving them the ability to make accessible interactive widgets, like the ones on this post. H5P isn’t just restricted to Canvas and MLE, it can be used on web sites too. 

We’re particularly excited about H5P!  Once it is turned on there will no longer be a need to be an HTML guru to do things like: 

  • Add accordions 
  • Add single question formative quiz questions 
  • Generate branching scenarios 
  • Create 360 degree virtual tours … and much more 

H5P has been successfully used by our friends in other universities– it’s very well documented and each content type has its own tutorial. 

We will be using the fully supported (H5P.com) version of H5P and, while we are plumbing this in, if you would like to have a peek at what is in store do check out H5Ps web pages for their documentation.  We would recommend holding fire on creating accounts on H5P.org and wait instead until we have our Newcastle H5P site up and running. It won’t be long! 

How you can help us? 

We have H5P for a one-year pilot initially – so we will need feedback on how you are using it, how your students are finding it, and how you would like our H5P support to develop. 

If you would like to get early access to H5P, receive updates, or help our evaluation please  JOIN OUR H5P COMMUNITY by filling out this form.

Sample H5P Course Presentation – try moving between the slides and answering the questions

Conversations about Canvas Commons

Canvas Commons

All colleagues who have a Teacher role in Canvas can access and contribute to a huge repository of content in Canvas Commons.  You can use Commons to share content with the global Canvas community or choose to restrict its visibility to teachers at Newcastle University.  You can also share content with yourself!

For the Art of the Possible we hosted workshops to explore Commons with Colleagues.  Our participants got stuck in enthusiastically.

What we liked:  

  • Commons is a great way to access generic content e.g. getting started with the library, or to share content across programmes.  (Our induction project team are using Commons to share induction materials with schools this year.)
  • Even if you don’t want to use the content it’s helpful to see how others have approached teaching your subject – it can give ideas and inspiration
  • The ability to gather quiz questions to adapt
  • It could help improve consistency between modules / courses
  • Commons is a good way to hold content that needs to be included in all/some courses – assignment templates, school policies, supports consistency.
  • You can use Commons to hold content that is private to you – making it easy to add content into multiple courses.
  • It makes it easy share content across the institution – rather than importing/exporting or adding permissions
Commons example

Why would you share content to Commons?

  • A way of sharing effective practice, building your reputation, and that of the University
  • Evidence your impact / influence for promotion
  • Building in consistency
  • When you don’t know who specifically will need to access the content
  • By sharing you are contributing to the educational community
  • To share knowledge and expertise

Some Cautions

Several participants commented on the huge amount of material in Commons, we saw how we could filter this by stage (UG/PG) or restrict our searches to content shared just with the Newcastle University.   We saw how we could share permalinks to content elements in Commons to make finding resources easier.

Canvas Commons content isn’t policed so we had good discussions about the need to check content for accuracy, and also to look out for international differences (eg prescribing guidance, legal regulations etc…).  We spoke about how different creative commons licenses could be added to support reuse and about how to give attribution to Commons Content shared with CC licenses.

Coming soon: NU Reflect

Man working on laptop

Driven by a need to engage better with reflective practice, a strategic review of the University’s current ePortfolio system has taken place. In line with the outcomes of the review, and feedback from colleagues and students, the system will be redeveloped and relaunched as NU Reflect for September 2021.

NU Reflect will be relevant to all students and provide the tools to support personal, professional, and academic reflection in both modular and non-modular contexts, as well as providing opportunities for students to discuss their personal development.

Incorporating reflection in programmes and modules provides an effective way to support students to understand their own learning processes, and to develop their awareness of their own skills and abilities and evidence these, applying theoretical knowledge to real experiences and supporting employability.

NU Reflect will also support Personal Tutoring as colleagues can use the system to create and record meetings with any student. Meetings can take place in a variety of contexts, such as Personal Tutor meetings or group meetings for student projects. It will also offer access to individual records of all tutees including their UCAS Personal Statements, assessment marks through NESS, timetable, and student information from SAP.

Guidance and case studies on the use of reflective practice are available, and further information about NU Reflect will follow soon.

If you have any questions regarding NU Reflect, please contact ltds@newcastle.ac.uk

Eportfolio redevelopment workshops

The ePortfolio system is being redeveloped and relaunched for academic year 2021/22 and we would like your feedback. We aim to develop a system that emphasises reflection and supports students to capture and develop their learning activities whilst at Newcastle University, supporting employability in the future.

After consultation with colleagues and students, prototype designs have been created to show how the key tools within ePortfolio will appear in Canvas.

The ePortfolio team will be holding 30-minute workshops for colleagues on Thursday 20 May to explore the prototype designs and to answer any other questions. To sign up, please declare your interest in this sign-up sheet.

Workshop times:

  • 09:00 – 09:30
  • 09:30 – 10:00
  • 12:00 – 12:30
  • 12:30 – 13:00
  • 16:00 – 16:30
  • 16:30 – 17:00

Your feedback is valuable in helping us to redevelop the system to support student reflection and enhance skills development.

If you have any questions regarding ePortfolio, please contact ltds@newcastle.ac.uk

E-ASsessment in mathematical sciences conference (EAMS) 2021

The fourth international conference on E-Assessment in Mathematical Sciences (EAMS) takes place between 21st June and 2nd July 2021. The conference brings together researchers and practitioners with an interest in e-assessment for mathematics and science. 

EAMS 2021 will again be an entirely online conference, following last year’s successful move to a fully virtual format. The conference will feature a mix of live sessions and web-based activities, with plenty of opportunity for discussion and collaboration. 

As many of us have spent much of the last year delivering teaching and assessment online, EAMS 2021 presents an opportunity to share best practice, for experts in the field to present the latest developments, and for those new to e-assessment to get hands-on with software. 

Live talks will take place over Zoom at 9am or 4pm BST (UTC +1) each day, with recordings available later. We hope that the online format and longer timescale will allow participants to engage more deeply with the material presented. 

The call for talk and workshop proposals is currently open. If you have some research or an innovative technique related to mathematical e-assessment that you would like to present, then please submit an abstract at eams.ncl.ac.uk/call-for-speakers

To attend the conference, please register for free at eams.ncl.ac.uk/register

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.