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Tag: Portfolio

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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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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How to Mark an Assignment – Storyline Presentation

mark_assignment

The presentation I put together for student submission was well received and it has led to others. This one is for markers where there is only a single marker. The tool that the team is developing has the ability to accommodate multiple independent markers. The player is looking a little better now and I added the video in a different way with better results, more like an actual video than a series of screenshots.

Making these has been a little difficult as Storyline kept crashing on me when I was using the precision timing editor. Upon investigation I found that this was because I was running Storyline on a Windows 7 virtual machine in Parallels and had all my files on the desktop of my computer. Parallels has a nice little feature whereby it links the desktop on the host Mac with that on the Windows client, but it does so by making the drives on the Mac a pseudo-network drive in Windows. I discovered on Articulate’s forums that working on, and saving files to a network drive can cause various performance problems, and when I moved my files to the actual C drive it solved all of my problems.

http://solar.sunderland.ac.uk/solar/file/eee5d915-96c4-41bd-95d1-e6e6695969a2/1/story.html

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How to Submit an Assignment – Storyline Presentation

submit_assignment

We have been developing a new online submission, feedback and marking tool for one of our faculties and I was asked for advice on creating an interactive guide for students on how to submit to the system. I recommended Storyline for which we had just purchased a few licenses on my recommendation, and this is the result. I actually recommended Storyline for another project which is further down the line so I ended up having to put this together at very short notice, it is consequently a little rough around the edges. I will develop a proper template in due course.

http://solar.sunderland.ac.uk/solar/file/c3d36172-54b2-4456-bf4b-4c63bc05f4dd/1/story.html

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New Analytics Report

analytics_report

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.

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Twitter Account

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.

https://twitter.com/NorthumbriaTEL

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New Help Guide Interface – Simple Menu

Our Blackboard help guides have always been hosted on their own little mini-website hosted in a Blackboard organisation, but set to public availability. You can see them here: http://northumbria.ac.uk/elphelp for the student guides, and here: http://northumbria.ac.uk/elphelp for the staff guides. These were created a couple of years ago by the awesome Chris, but with his departure from LTech last year I was tasked with updating or replacing these websites to bring them into line with the university’s new colour scheme and style. I took the originals as a starting point but pared them back to just the essentials (there were lots of extraneous files and code), implemented the new branding, and took the opportunity to make a few improvements.

One of the best improvements I have made is the implementation of media queries in the CSS to automatically adjust the height of the iframe to best match the user’s screen resolution. I did get to a point where I was able to automatically adjust its size to 100%, it worked a treat in Firefox and I was really pleased, until I tested in other browsers and got tiny little windows. I hate iframes. If I had more time I would have created something completely new and truly responsive, but I had to get this done quickly as the eSAF help guides were ready to go live and we have so much other work to do with the upgrade.

Another improvement I have been able to make is to implement Google Analytics tracking code across all of the guides. Previously this was only on the home, or landing page. What I have been able to do this time around is to separate out the tracking code into it’s own javascript file which each one of the help guide pages calls, so that the code only needs to be inserted into the one place.

The eSAF guides have all now been transferred into this template – http://elp.northumbria.ac.uk/bbcswebdav/orgs/ORG1/help-esaf/index.html* – and the Analytics works as I had hoped allowing us to track which guides are being most read. The template can easily be applied to the student guides now, but the content of those all needs to be revised for Service Pack 16, or ‘April Release’, or whatever Blackboard decide the new naming scheme will be, and that will be a massive task.

Still on my to-do list is getting the nested menu working which will be required for the staff guides.

* I know what you’re thinking, and yup we could use a short URL for this one too.

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Hello World

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.

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