For the past three years now I’ve been running Google Analytics on Blackboard and compiling a monthly report for senior management and steering groups. A standard was agreed for what this should contain by consensus fairly early on and it has changed little since, until a couple of months ago when, due to the changes in management, I was asked to revamp the report to remove some things which weren’t required any more and to report on anything new which I thought pertinent. The biggest change was the request for a ‘commentary’ on each page explaining some meanings and trends. I have also integrated the PebblePad usage by Faculty report I wrote last month into this, as PebblePad has a tendency to be overlooked and almost forgotten about.
TEL Sonya Posts
From a student:
“Excellent, it’s there! thank you so so much for this! I’m so grateful honestly! Thank you so much for helping me :)”
She had lost some work from PebblePad which I was able to recover from the server, with some difficulty. Feedback like this reminds why I love my work; it’s wonderful to be able to help people.
After receiving confirmation that what I had done worked I did a little more experimentation and worked out exactly how and where the backups were being created and then wrote a short procedure on how to recover documents for future reference.
Today I created a Twitter account for the team and styled the pages in line with the University’s new corporate blue and orange style. I got the ball rolling by posting some tweets, following some interesting TEL people and companies we have relationships with, and created a couple of widgets to post our tweets and a list into a Blackboard course site, just as a proof of concept really, to demonstrate that it can be done and looks pretty. In due course the idea is to have a public organisation for the team where we will have a blog and news, and a page for our Twitter feeds.
Well, it is now officially official. Everyone who needs to know now knows so I am free to tell the world. After six and a half years, next month I will be leaving Northumbria University to join Web and Learning Technology Services at the University of Sunderland as a Senior Learning Technologist. Happy days.
A complex report for a simple request – how many people are using PebblePad per faculty? Complex because the user data in PebblePad doesn’t contain any information beyond key, username, forename, surname, email and a few other non-pertinent bits and bobs. But I am not easily daunted.
One of these ‘non-pertinent’ bits of information is a ‘last login’ date so I was able to restrict the report to people who had logged in during the past thirty days. I ran a query on the PebblePad database to get all relevant username data for this time period, and then ran a query in Blackboard to get all user data full stop. Why? Because the ‘user’ table in Blackboard does have a field for Faculty. Well, actually it is in a different field because of the way the user accounts are imported from Active Directory, but it was sufficient. Then it was simply a case of importing both resulting CSV files into an Access database and running a join on the username.
Unsurprisingly our Faculty of Health, Community and Education Studies were the biggest users, but it wasn’t as clear cut as I had suspected. They accounted for just under half of all usage, with Engineering and Environment accounting for around a quarter, and the remaining two faculties and service departments sharing the remainder.
The wonderful, magnificent, brilliant Alan gave me a demonstration of PebblePad 3 today using his private account – it looks great but retains all the same functionality. This is a long overdue update, the old Flash interface was okay five years ago when we first got PebblePad, but technology has moved on so much it’s a bit embarrassing now, and of course doesn’t work on tablets.
I wasn’t able to see ATLAS though as you need at least two accounts and Alan is the only person I know who has one on account of his special relationship with Pebble Learning (or he just paid for one in an act of admirable selflessness). ATLAS will be the stumbling block for us as it is such a big change for our academics; the students, with the exception of a few areas, will be just fine with the new interface I’m sure.
Hopefully we can upgrade this summer.
In preparation for my official* move to TEL Support my two bosses wanted to know more about the quantity and type of customer support Blackboard and PebblePad require, as I will be transferring the bulk of this work to the Senior Helpline to concentrate on technical admin and content development in TEL Support.
Creating a suitable report was an interesting challenge as there was nothing in SupportWorks, our call logging system, that quite did what was required.
The closest was a report on the number of calls resolved by category and person but it was all in code so I had to combine this with data from other sources, using Access and some joins, to turn the username code in an actual person’s name along with the team there were in, and another data set to convert the category code into the actual human-readable category, ‘INCI-BB00-BB01-BB14’ turns into ‘Incident > Blackboard/eLP > System Issues > Site/Module Content’ for example. Finally I turned the data into a pretty pie chart showing number of calls resolved by team.
The results of this exercise were fascinating. I now know that while I resolved 180 calls during February, which feels about right, our front line Helpline combined resolved a massive 481! I had no idea our front line were fielding and resolving so many calls at the first point of contact – it just goes to show what a great service we have.
* Bureaucracy is a magnificent beast is is not? Almost a month since I got the news no-one is sure if my secondment has actually started yet, though the bulk of my time is now spent doing work either directly for TEL Support or preparing documentation for the Senior Helpline. It also means I have two line managers.
Delivered a training session to a cohort of around a dozen nursing students today who had been having multiple problems completing and submitting a particular portfolio. I had been working with one of their tutors on this for some time but wasn’t really getting anywhere as the portfolio was set up correctly and working for a test student account I put on the Gateway. In the end it was, essentially, a training issues as the student’s didn’t realise that they couldn’t just upload a Word document and submit to the Gateway, but had to complete the portfolio or copy and paste anything they had written in Word into it, and it was then the portfolio itself which has to be submitted to the Gateway.
It was a very useful and successful session. I not only cleared this long-outstanding problem, resolving three calls in the process, but was able to fix a number of more general issues too.
Greetings, and welcome to my fifth blog, if memory serves me correctly. My first was a personal blog, written entirely in code as I used it as an exercise to teach myself HTML and CSS. This was probably around ten years ago now. I was proud of this one, but posting anything was cumbersome and after a while I transferred it all to WordPress. The third was just a revamp, a new theme and ‘relaunch’, but Twitter came along in between times and took over, so all these sites are gone now, like tears… in rain. Still going strong though is the fourth blog I created – http://www.attackhamster.co.uk – which is dedicated to my furry little friends. This is still WordPress, but now it’s hosted on my own web space as I wanted to learn more about WordPress, how to install from scratch and customise. There’s a story behind that domain name of course, but I’ll save that for another time.
This blog is a little different as it’s purpose is largely to provide me with a platform where I can talk about my work as a learning technologist and reflect on what I’ve learned in order to keep improving. I have also now reached a point in my career where I feel a certain responsibility to contribute more and give back to the learning technology community which has taught me so much over the past few years.
Another reason for starting this blog now is because a couple of weeks ago I was given the very happy news that I was going to be seconded into the University’s new TEL Support team, initially for three months but the indications are that it will be made permanent. It’s no secret that I was really disappointed by the decision to effectively disband the former LTech team last year, and with it my transfer onto the Senior Helpline, so this secondment is great news for me and it will be wonderful to get back to being a full time learning technologist again.
Finally, and with an eye on my CMALT renewal next year, this blog is providing me with a space where I can host a portfolio to showcase some of the things which I have created and am proud of, and to give me a smarter, better way of recording all of the CPD training I do and events I attend.
Note that while I am styling this as a professional blog, I fully reserve the right to delve into other areas of interest to me, technology in general, philosophy and literature for example. My Twitter on the other hand is the other way around, in that it exists mostly for personal use, but I do use it for work too sometimes.