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TEL Sonya Posts

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

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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

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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.

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Quick, Someone Google the URL for Bing!

google_down

So Google was very briefly down this morning. I’ve heard of it happening before, whispers in dim, smokey corridors, but never experienced it personally so I thought it worth recording for posterity. That and because the little robot on the error page is cute.

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Jisc Legal Copyright Course

I’ll quote the blurb from Jisc’s email:

Jisc Legal now provides a ‘need to know’ online training course in copyright law – designed to bring academic staff and those supporting academic staff up to speed on legally using other people’s materials in teaching and learning.

It is a standalone learning module which takes about an hour to complete and consists of some video, some audio segments, some animations and some text pages. The course is free to use and is available to HE institutions in the UK to train staff on how to use other people’s work in their own lecturing resources and academic work.

To register or find out more about the short practical online course please visit – http://jiscleg.al/copyrightcourse

Looks like another great free resource from Jisc.

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Flubaroo

Have discovered Flubaroo today. Well, I can’t really lay claim to the ‘discovery’, I’m sure other people knew about it, but it was new to me. Flubaroo is a plugin for Google Docs Spreadsheets that can automatically grade the submissions from the corresponding Form and email the students their grade, turning Forms into a very useful quiz tool.

The background to this was an academic who wanted to transition from paper based assignments, for a cohort of around 300, to online submission. The easy option, use the Exam tool in the VLE, was not suitable as it does not have a calculated numeric question type. There are many, many quiz tools out there with similar functionality, but I suggested adapting Google Forms because the results would go straight into a spreadsheet and he was already having to use an Excel spreadsheet because of the complex formulas in question (entering the student’s work manually, time consuming and introducing a source of error).

Looking for a way to automatically send students their marks led me to Flubaroo that can not only do this, but can also automatically grade responses based on a specified answer row. Usage is straightforward: set up the form as normal, complete the form yourself entering all the correct answers (this is an important step, you’ll see why in a moment…) and then in the responses Spreadsheet find and install Flubaroo from the Add-ons menu. You run the tool from the same menu, so Add-ons > Flubaroo > Grade Assignment and then you will be asked to first assign points, or not, to each column, and secondly to specify a row to use as the ‘correct answers’ row, which is why it is important to take the quiz yourself first.

There are a few points to note. First, it will not allow you to grade an assignment until there have been at least two submissions, which is logical when you think about it, one to be assigned as the answer row, and at least one to actually grade. If you want to re-grade an assignment you have to go through the set-up process of assigning points and correct answers again, and similarly there is no option to simply grade new submissions to catch the stragglers or anyone with dispensation to submit late. Finally, the ‘Grade’ sheet which is produced is not live-updating, so if you want to manually grade some questions or award extra points you need to update the column in question and then the Total Points and Percent columns manually as well, it’s a shame those two columns are not formulas instead, but these minor quibbles do not mar an excellent little tool.

http://www.flubaroo.com/
http://www.edcode.org/home

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The Future of the VLE

A colleague (thanks James) sent me this article on the The Post-LMS LMS which makes for an interesting read, but it made me curious to see if there was any hard data out there to support the speculation and I came across this analysis of relative market share of various VLEs up to 2013. Of note is the continuing rise of Moodle, Desire2Learn and the ‘Homegrown Systems’ category which includes the various MOOC platforms, and of particular interest to me was the realisation that eCollege was one of the first, but never seems to have taken off, although it is reassuring to see a little rise since Pearson’s acquisition and the quality of the platform has, according to my colleagues, noticeable improved in the past couple of years that we have been using it.

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Sunderland Storyline Template

storyline-template-3

This is the third, and hopefully final version of the Sunderland branded Storyline template I have been working on. All colours and styles used are now in-line with the official branding guidelines from our Marketing department, and indeed this template has been approved by them. The only thing I am really unhappy with is the logo. You are restricted to a bitmap image with a maximum width of 200 pixels, anything larger is scaled down. I’d love to be able to pop a nice clear SVG in there instead.

http://solar.sunderland.ac.uk/solar/file/505bcff3-44ac-41f2-a2d2-b406c5dccd18/1/story.html

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WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool

Not quite sure how I stumbled down this particular rabbit hole, but I have just discovered the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool made by WebAIM, and what a wonderful tool it is. Like the W3C’s HTML and CSS validators, WAVE evaluates a given web page for conformity with the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, identifies errors, warnings and suggests solutions.

Yes, I ran it on this site, and no it doesn’t score well in the contrast section due to all the shades of grey. I’m going to shuffle responsibility down to the person who designed the theme, but in due course I would like to look at customising the CSS a little. I’ve already had to make one change to fix a glaring bug in the calendar widget (white on off-white). My other sites do very well I’m pleased to say. For fun, run it on the home page of the university or company you work for…

http://wave.webaim.org/
http://webaim.org/
http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/

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