September 18, 2013

Introduction to Wikis

What is a wiki?

A wiki is a website where users can easily add, edit and delete content without specialist software or technical knowledge. Users can create new wiki pages and link them to others, and they can edit or existing pages, including those created by other learners.

  • A website (the wiki) with an unlimited number of web pages (wiki pages).
  • A collaborative tool that allows many people to create, edit and link content easily.
  • Includes a text-based asynchronous discussion area on each wiki page.
  • Chronological history of page changes can be seen and one revert to previous page versions.
  • Restricted access to view and/or edit content is possible.

There are many providers of wiki systems. The image below shows the main features of PBworks wikis and Blackboard wikis.

Main features of wikis

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September 18, 2013

Introduction to Blogging

What is a blog?

A blog is an easily editable website. Being a form of social media, blogs, like wikis, are ideal for collaboration and communication between users, and as a result they are widely used in education today.

Blogs tend to have just one author (unlike wikis, which usually have many) and content (text and multimedia) is added at intervals in the form of blog ‘posts’, relatively short articles containing text, images and/or multimedia.  Posts are usually organised in reverse chronological order on the front page of the blog (newest posts at the top, older ones below)  but they can also, usually, be assigned to one or more ‘categories’ or ‘tags’ so that related posts can be easily found together.

One of the key features enabling collaboration and communication is the ability to leave ‘comments’ at the foot of blog posts. Learners and tutors can engage and interact with each other’s content by leaving and responding to comments.

The term blog comes from ‘web log’: a kind of online journal or diary. But the use of blogs in the field of education is not limited to keeping a journal, useful as this may be. Starting with diaries and journals, a number of uses of blogs for learning are outlined below. Continue reading

September 18, 2013

Introduction to Adobe Presenter 8

Adobe Presenter 8 (AP8) is a tool for enhancing presentations and creating e-learning content. Starting with a PowerPoint presentation, you can quickly create web-friendly content that includes slides with audio narration, interactive quizzing, and video. It can be used to make presentations more engaging, accessible and understandable for learners and can help provide a richer experience for both attending and distance learners.

Once AP8 is installed, all of its functions are reached using the new tab named ‘Adobe Presenter’ at the top of the PowerPoint window.

Adobe Presenter ribbon

After enhancing your presentation (with audio, quiz, video etc.), Adobe Presenter’s enables you to publish your PowerPoint format ready for upload to Blackboard or exported as PDF documents for other methods of delivery.

For those familiar with PowerPoint already, learning how to make and publish rich multimedia presentations in Adobe Presenter is only a small step. Continue reading

September 18, 2013

Introduction to TurningPoint

USB receiver & 'clicker'

TurningPoint is an Electronic Voting System (aka Audience Response System) that enables an audience to respond to questions via hand-held ‘clickers’. It is good for making classrooms and lecture theatres more interactive and can be used, for example, to survey views, assess understanding, group revision, and to give learners more control of the content or pace of lectures.

TurningPoint is used with PowerPoint (called PowerPoint Polling) or over the top of any other application, document or web page (called Anywhere Polling).

Equipment needed

  • To create and run a presentation the instructor requires TurningPoint software, a USB receiver; and each participant needs a ‘clicker’.
  • TurningPoint (2008 version) software should already be installed on classroom computers.
  • The software (latest version is TurningPoint 5) is free to download for both PC and Mac.
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September 18, 2013

Blackboard Collaborate


Blackboard Collaborate is a system that allows participants to collaborate online in real-time (synchronously). It is available through the module and programme coursesites on the Blackboard VLE (virtual learning environment). For information on how to access it, see Blackboard Support’s Web Conferencing page.

It is particularly useful for delivering online (or virtual) classroom sessions (also called webinars) to distance and work-based learning students. It is being deployed by a number of programmes across UWE, including the distance learning MSc Real Estate Management, which started in September 2013.

Blackboard Collaborate works on desktop PCs and Macs, as well as mobile devices such as iPads, iPhones and Android tablets and phones. Once logged in to your Collaborate session you will have access to a range of tools to support your learners including:

  • An interactive white board
  • Communication tools, including voice and video over the internet, chat rooms and breakout areas
  • Session recording for students to watch and review again
  • Integration with PowerPoint

Figure 1 is a screenshot of the Blackboard Collaborate interface showing the different components of the online classroom.

Figure 1: Screenshot of the Blackboard Collaborate interface

Please watch this short demonstration to see the main functions of Blackboard Collaborate.

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September 18, 2013

Classroom Response Systems (“Clickers”) | Center for Teaching | Vanderbilt University

via Classroom Response Systems (“Clickers”) | Center for Teaching | Vanderbilt University.

Types of Questions

Many instructors see multiple-choice questions as limited to testing students’ recall of facts. However, multiple-choice clicker questions can actually serve many other purposes in the class, including assessing students’ higher-order thinking skills. Since clicker questions can be used not only to assess students but to engage them, some very effective clicker questions are quite different than multiple-choice questions that might appear on exams.

Here are a few types of clicker questions.

Recall Questions: These questions ask students to recall facts, concepts, or techniques relevant to class. They are often used to see if students did the reading, remember important points from prior classes, or have memorized key facts. They rarely generate discussion, however, and don’t require higher-order thinking skills. Continue reading

September 17, 2013

How Slideshare spoiled my post on Social Media

I’ve been meaning to complete an article about social media and learning for ages. I’d planned to hold forth on the benefits of wikis for collaborative group tasks; the joys of reflecting on one’s own learning with blogs; the ease with which we can share and discuss on social networks; and the plethora of still and moving imagery available on sites such as Flickr and YouTube. I was intending to demistify the world of social media for our avid readers. Instead I will simply link to a presentation about social media by Sarah Stewart.

Sarah is Professional Development Officer at Australian College of Midwives and she spoke to us a while ago about social media in higher education. She kindly and very sensibly (because her work and enthusiasm is made available to a far wider audience) puts her presentations on Slideshare.

I can view lots of Sarah’s presentations on Slideshare – she has 67 on there at the moment. On each one I can leave a comment, if I feel so inclined, or I can respond to someone else’s comments. By clicking on the ‘Share’ button on any presentation I can easily email the URL of the presentation to anyone and can share it on any Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts I may have.Sarah Stewart's profile page on Slideshare

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August 6, 2013

Adobe Presenter 8 is out – here’s a quick demo

The new Adobe Presenter 8 was recently launched. Having recommended and trained several lecturers in the use of Adobe Presenter 7 I thought I would have a quick look at this latest release to see what else it offers, to see if it’s worth recommending we upgrade.

AP7 provides the possibility to record narration over PowerPoint slides and to include SCORM compatible quizzes. The major enhancement that AP8 brings is being able to create interactive diagrams and new ways to present information. As with AP 7 the output can be published as Flash or as an interactive PDF.

I played with it for about an hour and this is what I came up with, published as PDF:

Adobe Presenter 8 test

September 11, 2012

Make Learning Objects with Xerte Online Toolkit

What is Xerte?

Xerte Online Toolkits (XOT) is currently being installed and configured for FET staff to use and will (hopefully!) be available in FET shortly.

XOT is for creating rich, interactive, accessible learning objects that can be created using just a web browser and delivered to all devices, including smartphones and desktop computers. Learning materials are created in XOT by populating pages with content and interactions via a web form.

An example of the different page types available in XOT can be seen by clicking the picture below and this quick reference guide to the page templates is handy when choosing what pages to use.

XOT Page Types

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September 7, 2012

UChoose – Interactive Case Based Learning

UChoose logo

UChoose enables you make scenarios relevant to your own discipline and to your learners’ needs. The scenarios are ideal for Interactive Case-Based Learning and are ‘played’ by learners to develop higher order thinking skills.

UChoose is available for use by all academic staff in the Faculty of Health & Life Sciences. Contact the TEL Developers if you would like to know more about using UChoose for learning.

September 2, 2012

Student blogging – ways to use blogs

I was recently contacted by a UWE lecturer who has been doing some great blogging work with his students. This has spurred me on to share a few of my own thoughts about blogging.

Firstly, a blog is simply a website that is easy to edit and to add content (text, images etc.) to. The content is usually organised in reverse chronological order on the home page, so the most recently added content (called a ‘post‘ in the blogging jargon) is displayed at the top of the home page and earlier posts are below. Posts can be placed into one or more categories and can be tagged (‘category‘ and ‘tag‘ are bits of jargon worth remembering) so that related posts can be easily found together. You, and if your blog is public, others too, can also leave ‘comments‘ (more jargon) at the foot of posts.

The term blog comes from ‘web log’: a kind of online journal or diary. But the use of blogs in the field of education is not limited to keeping a journal, useful as this may be. Starting with diaries and journals I will briefly outline a few of the many uses of blogs in education. Continue reading

September 1, 2012

‘Authentic’ learning explained

Authentic learning goes beyond content by intentionally incorporating multiple disciplines, multiple  perspectives, ways of working, habits of mind, and community. Authentic learning puts the focus back on the learner in an effort to improve the way students absorb, retain, and transfer knowledge.