Press "Enter" to skip to content

Category: 2014

SoDash Demonstration

Now that WaLTS are on Twitter, we found out on the grapevine that the University’s Marketing department had a tool called SoDash for collating all of our various accounts across different departments and social media outlets. We asked for a demonstration to see how it could be of use to us and this session was the result.

SoDash collates both incoming and outgoing social media activity on Twitter, FaceBook, Linkedin, YouTube and Instagram. The ability to include Google+ was mentioned too, but I didn’t see it in any of the dashboard and it’s dying anyway. SoDash has some really useful functionality such as the ability to tag and add notes to posts and people, create live activity dashboards, and most useful for us it can do wide-ranging searches for keywords to help catch posts which are for our attention but which don’t mention our handles directly. Many students won’t necessarily know ‘Web and Learning Technology Services’, or ‘UoS_WaLTS’, but they will tweet about SunSpace and My Sunderland problems which we may miss.

http://www.soda.sh/

Leave a Comment

Recruitment and Selection

Attended a one day training course run by our Human Resources department which covered all aspects of the University’s policies and legal obligations in regards to the entire recruitment and selection process, from identifying the need for a new post, to advertisement, shortlisting, interviewing and following through to appointment, induction, probation and long term embedding into the team and the University.

It was a very illuminating session where I learned more about the University’s ‘Two Tick’ guaranteed interview scheme for anyone who has declared a disability and meets the essential criteria for the position, the circumstances in which recruitment can be extended abroad and market uplifts can be applied, about a range of services HR offers to assist such as providing psychometric and personality tests for applicable roles, and much more.

This was a following on from my involvement with recruiting our new intern. For that I had a very quick informal run through of everything but with emphasis on the interview as that was what was immediately required. The session today has given me a lot to think about in terms of how to make our new team member fit in and happy to work with us.

Leave a Comment

New Lecturers Programme

Attended the New Lecturers Programme as an interloper, or mole, in order to meet the latest batch of academics and to try and inculcate a close working relationship between themselves and WaLTS. Also, still being new, it was a useful opportunity for me to learn more about the academic side of the university. Particularly enlightening was Iain Rowan and Fiona Jackson’s session which covered a broad range of academic policies and procedures including valid grounds of appeal for students and how honours degrees are calculated (more complex, if possible, than the OU’s with which I am well versed!). The course carried over to Friday morning which was given over to Student and Learning Support, my directorate. Familiar territory, though I still learned about some services the Library and Sunderland Futures offer that I wasn’t aware of. There is always something new to learn!

Leave a Comment

WaLTS Web Pages Revamp

The team’s web pages on the University’s website were pretty out of date when I started, though I actually first noticed a few weeks beforehand when doing some research on the department and found some broken links. After I started I soon learned that the pages were actually much worse, with many having gone without revision for over two years. It turns out that it was my predecessor who primarily took responsibility for these, so I was happy to adopt the responsibility myself.

I thought it would be a nice, quick and easy job. I was mistaken. Once I delved into them I found that there were many more pages than I realised, going as deep as four nested levels in some places. I have flattened this structure right out, reducing it to two levels at most and standardising the template, entirely removed around half of the pages – most of which related to the 2012 project to transition the VLE from WebCT to Learning Studio – re-wrote many other pages, tidying things up and making the language more professional and affirmative, and of course fixed all broken links and email addresses.

Finally I created a banner in the style of other departments within SLS and added a sidebar on the right for a Twitter widget and a feedback button, replacing the old link on the left which was out of place as it links to another system.

http://sls.sunderland.ac.uk/walts/

Leave a Comment

Jisc OER Project Submissions

Jisc are soliciting for project submissions with regards to interactive learning resources. From their email:

Jisc is seeking to expand its offer to learners in the further education and skills sector. It is inviting project submissions for the creation of open-access learning resources aimed at apprentices funded by the Skills Funding Agency and based primarily in the workplace. Our invitation for interactive learning resources provides the perfect opportunity for the skills sector in England to move towards one of FELTAG’s recommendations for ‘blended learning’.

Consultation with practitioners, managers and students shows that teacher-generated learning content is widely used in the sector, but is not widely shared. By sharing open educational resources online, teachers can save preparation time, they can create bespoke learning content for their learners’ specific needs, and they can learn from their peers about how to integrate e-learning into their practice. Through the creation and sharing of high-quality learning content, teachers can also help raise the profile of their organisations.

Full details are available on their website: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/fundingopportunities.

Leave a Comment

Careers Induction

careers_induction

Further to the video walkthrough, I have now been able to integrate Careers’ PowerPoint presentation into this Storyline item to create a more seamless experience for students. It has been well received and the customer has been impressed by what Storyline can do, so there is almost certainly going to lead onto more work in the future which will enhance the online material which our Careers and Employment service provides.

http://solar.sunderland.ac.uk/solar/file/b4f2b022-1c23-4ae5-bb80-c9f71f13ac93/1/story.html

1 Comment

You’re Hired

An interesting first for me today, I hired someone. We had an intern vacancy in the team for the next six months to assist with customer support during our busy period and then to help with the upgrades to Mahara and Equella. This was all approved and most of the paperwork done some time ago, before I was even in post, but the final tasks were assigned to me which included liaising with the Intern Factory, advertising, selection and defining the interview questions and procedures.

I had a crash course on recruitment and selection on Thursday in time for the interviews on Friday afternoon. We interviewed three people, all of whom could have done the job, but one who had just a bit more experience and gave a slightly better interview, so I feel really sorry for the other two.

This will also be my first official experience with line managing someone, as opposed to just supervising, though I was responsible for an agency worker we had in for three weeks last month for a specific task.

Leave a Comment

Opportunities Online Demonstration

opps_online_demo

Another quick Storyline presentation, this time a video walkthrough of how to access and use a vacancy search tool provided by our Careers and Employment Service. This will be used in the next couple of weeks as part of their induction for new students and is, presently, just a link on their PowerPoint, though I have suggested to them that their PowerPoint could be imported into Storyline and integrated with this video to make it all seamless.

http://solar.sunderland.ac.uk/solar/file/b9713cd7-2038-461e-99ab-3c6c4f5d1819/1/story.html

1 Comment

WaLTS on Twitter

One pithy definition of madness is that it is the act of repeating the same action over and over and expecting different results. So it was that back in April I was asked to create a Twitter account for the team which, having done so, was promptly ignored and left to languish. To this day all six glorious tweets from that account were made by your humble author. Today, or rather spread over the past couple of days as a ‘bitty’ job, I have resurrected the old ‘LDS’* Twitter account and renamed, revamped and brought it back into use.

So, am I mad? My intention behind this is to have a more informal avenue of communication between the team and our customers, but to be a success it will require active engagement and relevant content. UoS_WaLTS has one thing going for it that NorthumbriaTEL didn’t: me, enthusiastic and not going anywhere anytime soon this time.

Another little job I’ve been doing for similar reasons of engagement is improving the announcements page on SunSpace, which was just dull black on white text, trying to make it look nice and keeping the content current so that it isn’t reduced to just annoying wallpaper which people scroll over to get to their courses, to which end I have also embedded a widget for our Twitter feed into the announcements for all users section.

* Learning Development Services, the old name for my team before merging with Web Services.

https://twitter.com/UoS_WaLTS

Leave a Comment

VLE Platform Survey From 2011

vle_platform_2011

A little while ago I posted a survey of VLE usage, and today I stumbled upon this survey result set from 2011:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Au_thP0JDFvidHA4WGYwbFpUTmh4Z3RjSVQzQTViaGc&hl=en_US#gid=2

I don’t know much about the context of this, other than that it was created by Matt Lingard.

I consolidated the data from 'Pivot Table 2' and turned it into a helpful pie chart. Chamilo was a new one to me, but seems to be very popular in South America with some pockets of adoption in Belgium and France, in 2011 at least.

I’d like to see or conduct a similar survey to assess the situation now, but don’t really have any justification beyond curiosity. Maybe next time I’m involved in a VLE review.

Leave a Comment