Learning Technology

Peer Assessment Seminar, Wed Nov 5th at 12.30

October 31st, 2014

Now the start of term rush is subsiding (a little), it is time to look to the year ahead and the start of a new series of e-learning community events.

The e-Learning Community sessions have been organised for several years on the first Wednesdays of the month from November to June are now being run alongside the wider Teaching and Learning seminar series within the University. As such, we will still be using the first Wednesdays as before, but also other dates, and seminars will continue to feature academic use of learning technologies.

The first in the new series will be held on Wednesday, November 5th in Room A48, Sir Clive Granger Building, University Park. The subject is Peer assessment in large groups.

Peer assessment is a technique to enhance student engagement with assessment and has a broad range of applications. It has been shown to support students’ understanding of the expectations of assessment. In summative contexts, peer assessment can also help to reduce the marker’s assessment load. This seminar will focus on peer assessment in both formative and summative contexts. The two speakers use peer assessment with large student groups and for a variety of assessment types.

Dr Susan Anderson (Graduate Entry Medicine) presents an example of the use of peer assessment with large groups (n=90) in Medical Education. Susan uses peer assessment in the context of formative assessment as a means of providing immediate feedback to students. She will also present some exploratory data on the accuracy of students’ judgements.

Dr Kay Bond (Faculty of Engineering) will present two distinct examples of peer assessment in a summative context and with large groups.  Kay uses peer assessment and guides students through the marking criteria (n=260, Year 1). In Year 3, she organises independent peer assessment of video presentations (n=160).

There will also be a brief introduction to Turnitin’s Peermark which is available through Moodle. We invite colleagues to help us evaluate Peermark’s potential.

Date: Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Time: 12.30 p.m. with hot drinks from 12.15 p.m.

Location: A48, Sir Clive Granger Building, University Park

A case study of Socrative: Employing students’ smartphones/tablets to create an interactive lecture

October 30th, 2014

There’s a useful case study on the University of Nottingham  TELiMed blog of the free online student response system Socrative on “Employing students’ smartphones/tablets to create an interactive lecture”. Lisa Szatkowski, an Associate Professor in Medical Statistics (School of Medicine Division of Epidemiology and Public Health), aimed to bring an interactive element to her large group lectures (to approximately 250 first year medical students), that would help keep students engaged and provide instant feedback, enabling her to identify and immediately address any problems in comprehension.

Benefits for students included:

  • Students can check whether they have understood a topic correctly, and receive instant feedback
  • The technology might help increase students’ confidence in their own abilities, particularly where they see that they can in fact correctly answer difficult questions
Read the whole case study

Self enrolment from start of term is expiring

October 22nd, 2014

Students’ self enrolment from the start of term is expiring this week, but this does NOT mean that students will be unenrolled.

At the start of term many modules allowed students to self-enrol while their module choices were being processed.  In most cases this enrolment will have been superceded by the official enrolment from SATURN.  This means that although the self-enrolment will cease, the student will continue to have access to the module without interruption.

The only users affected may be those who self-enrolled on a module and never registered for it officially. In most cases this is because they changed their mind, so it is appropriate that they are now unenrolled from modules they are not taking.

Sometimes students are not enrolled via SATURN but are enrolled via self-enrolment, particularly in non-SATURN modules. In these cases we usually ensure that the self enrolment does not expire, so they won’t be affected either.

In occasional cases you may find that:

Postgraduate observers or others enrolled as “extra” students may lose their access to SATURN modules. Convenors should get in touch with local Moodle support or learning-technologies@nottingham.ac.uk and give approval for the enrolment to continue for these persons.

Non-SATURN modules have self enrolment expire – in this case simply set self enrolment to never expire.

New Moodle feature: Pop-out button

October 17th, 2014

In response to a number of comments that it can be difficult to work in the central column as it’s not quite wide enough, even with all blocks docked, we have implemented a one-click solution.

If you find the module middle column width too narrow, try the new pop-out button. It’s at the top right of the central column on most pages (see right).

Click it again to return to the view with left and right columns.

Enabling popups to use Turnitin

October 16th, 2014

Turnitin have recently made a change to their End User Licence Agreement and require all staff and students using Turnitin to agree to Turnitin’s conditions before their submission can be accepted. These conditions may appear as a pop-up window – if you are having problems, check that popups are enabled.  On University computers as well as on your own machines, popups may be disabled by default.

We recommend that students use Chrome (or Firefox) to submit to Turnitin.

To allow popups in Chrome

To see blocked pop-ups for a site, follow the steps listed below:

  1. If pop-ups have been blocked, you’ll see the blocked pop-up alert icon in the address bar. Click the icon to see a list of the blocked pop-ups.
  2. Click the link for the pop-up window that you’d like to see (Turnitin is submit.ac.uk).
  3. To always see pop-ups for the site, select “Always show pop-ups from submit.ac.uk.” The site will be added to the exceptions list, which you can manage in the Content Settings dialogue.

More information on managing popups in Chrome.

You may need to do this for a University computer each time you log on.

To allow popups in Firefox

If pop ups are blocked then a yellow bar will appear with instructions.

To access the pop-up blocker settings:

  1. Click the menu button New Fx Menu and choose Options

  2. Select the Content panel.

  3. In the content panel: select Exceptions: This is a list of sites that you want to allow to display pop-ups.
  4. Click Allow to add a website – submit.ac.uk – to the exceptions list.

More information on popups in Firefox

To allow popups in Internet Explorer

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Click the Tools Tools button, then click ‘Internet options’.
  3. Choose the Privacy tab
  4. Under Popup blocker click Settings
  5. Add www.submit.ac.uk and moodle.nottingham.ac.uk to the list of exceptions
  6. Click Close, then click OK.

More on Popups in IE


The Xerte Project and the Apereo Foundation

September 23rd, 2014

I am really excited to be able to announce that The Xerte Project has been accepted as an incubating project at The Apereo Foundation (https://www.apereo.org/). This is a fantastic opportunity for the project – as you know, The University of Nottingham has led the developments over the years. Recently, with increasing contributions from a growing community of developers it is fair to say that Nottingham’s contribution is now a much smaller percentage of the total than it once was. This reflects the growing volume of work, rather than a dwindling commitment on our part, and we remain dedicated to the project as an important platform for innovation, and for the creation and delivery of high quality content to learners here at the University.

As the project has grown, we have turned to questions around its sustainability. We have spent a lot of time over the last eighteen months or so exploring various options: we know that sustainability is a key issue for those looking to adopt the technology in other organisations and we understand that the current situation raises some questions for potential adopters: there is a sense that the project has a single point of failure. As priorities have changed here at the University, and the shape of my team has changed over the years, we do have fewer resources to put into the project than we used to have. We also appreciate that the current situation makes it hard for the project to achieve its full potential. As the only open source tool in its class it really deserves to increase its reach into new sectors and to find ways to generate and use revenue. Also, as the developer community has grown, it is increasingly important to ensure that the project continues to develop within a rigorous framework.

Over the last 18 months we have carefully explored all the options available to us, and we have chosen Apereo for its solid presence in educational technology and its excellent cultural fit with The Xerte Project. I’m really excited about this opportunity, and I’m really looking forward to working with Apereo through the incubation process.

My thanks go to all our users, contributors and developers, without whom the project could not have reached this significant milestone.

I’d like my students to vote in a poll – to add a bit of interactivity

September 21st, 2014

Although there is a feature called Vote within Moodle, that’s really intended for a full voting solution for class reps and so on. If you want to poll your students for opinions, then the best solution is to set up a Choice activity – it’s quick and simple to set up and allows you to ask a single question and offer a selection of possible responses.  Here’s an example:

Often, as in our example, the results of the poll can be used to stimulate thinking about a topic and then developed in discussions. You might also use it to quickly test students’ understanding or to facilitate student decision-making, for example allowing students to vote on a direction for the course or to choose which revision topic to focus on in the last lecture of the year.

Choice results may be published after students have answered, after a certain date, or not at all. Results may be published with student names or anonymously.

How do I do it? Add a resource / activity  and select Choice.  For more information:

What’s happened to Moodle?

September 10th, 2014

We’ve made a video for staff showing the main changes in the recent Moodle upgrade.

Setting up your reading list and adding it to Moodle

September 8th, 2014

Libraries, Research and Learning Resources (LRLR) are offering training sessions to any member of staff who would like to learn to use the online reading list system.

The system offers easy-to-maintain reading lists, the ability to collate resources and put an automatic link in Moodle, providing a clear interface for students.

You can see a list of training sessions on the library website. To book a place, please contact ua-collections@exmail.nottingham.ac.uk.

To add a link to your reading list in Moodle which automatically finds your list:

  1. Add the Module Resources block (if not already in your module)
  2. Check that Reading lists are configured to be visible.

More information: How to add a reading list to your module

Note that this block is only suitable for SATURN-based modules. In any other module simply create a Web link (URL) to your reading list page.


After the upgrade: Preparing your module for 14-15

September 5th, 2014

As staff prepare your modules for the new academic year here are some hints and tips on getting modules ready:

  • check you can see all the modules you expect to see (Here’s what to do if you can’t)
  • update your module content. If you wanted to start with your content from 13-14 and it isn’t in your 14-15 module, then get in touch with us to ask us to move it or import it yourself (info here)
  • check and update your assignments, quizzes and Rogo assessments, create new Assignments or Turnitin assignments;
  • edit the dates of any materials you want to release on a specific date – note that in the new Moodle you can release whole sections on a specific date or according to other release criteria
  • enrol other staff on your module as editing teachers, teachers, observers, etc.
  • increase or decrease the number of topics on your module (much easier in Moodle 2.6  See How to change the number of topics in my module)
  • update your contact details
  • set up your reading list via Aspire and link it into your module – if a SATURN module – automatically via the Module Resources block. (Note: this does not link in parent modules or non-SATURN modules) How to add a reading list automatically to your module.