On the 11th December Turnitin are proposing to introduce the following changes:
The ability for instructors and administrators to create marking forms in the rubric manager. Marking forms are rubrics with a list of criterion with the ability to leave a comment and a score for each criterion. When grading papers, instructors can attach marking forms to the assignment just like any rubric, and type in the editable text field for each criteria in the marking form and add a score.
Protect the access to assignments and marking via iPad App
For the new Turnitin iPad App, the common concern we have is unauthorised access to assignment and marking when iPad device is used by another user. I know the ”unlink” feature can be used to remove the access, but it will probably often be forgotten and it will cause long delay when remaking the link. If the App allows the user to set a protection code/password locally and is prompted each time when the user accesses the App, this potential issue of unauthorised access can be resolved.
Yesterday Malcolm and I attended the IAS’s seminar on MOOCs given by Prof. Glen Brock. He gave an interesting talk exploring his experiences with running MOOCs and his involvement in the Big History project ( harnessing MOOCs as a method of delivering high quality content from a wide spectrum of areas to high school students, to support, enthuse and engage learners. Sponsored and supported by the Bill Gates foundation it aims to bring high quality content in exciting and blended formats to high school students).
Aside from exploring his own experiences he posed a number of poignant questions about how MOOCs are impacting upon the landscape of higher education. Some of these questions concerned how technology is fundamentally reshaping how we understand what constitutes education. Whilst personally I’d disagree with the polarisation of views, first of education as content delivery with the final goal of accreditation – in which case it is perfectly feasible to deliver this wholly online - or if viewed as a transformative, and as one seminar participant pointed out as a ‘highly complex anthropological process’, that online delivery simply isn’t possible. The point that was raised however was that the approach to education is indicative of the shared understood purpose. What Glen did suggest and what was picked up in the following discussion was a diversification of incentives for undertaking higher education studies and the potential that MOOCs of fulfilling these differing expectations as, dare I say it, higher education in its current guise, may not be the one size that fits all.
The demographic of MOOC students was also discussed in this seminar with Glen highlighting some (albeit restricted to US) information. From this data it appears that the majority of participants already have higher degrees many at Masters level. The motivations of these students for undertaking a MOOC centre around continued professional development and are seen as adding value to existing qualifications.
For me though what came through from this thought provoking talk and ensuing discussion was that there are different modalities of MOOC, purposes and perceptions. This is something that Jeremy Knox covered in our conference last year in his discussion of the human element behind the mass interactions online. The question that I came away pondering though was, how do we interpret MOOCs at Durham and what is our response? Is it something that we wish to engage with and if so, and more importantly, why? To give MOOCs their due, they are now something that we cannot and should not ignore but should formulate a thoughtful response both in our understandings and motivations for, or not engaging.
If the reason for our engagement is to democratize education, is doing so on a ‘Massive’ ‘Course’ level the best approach for us? What is the appetite for this approach and what are the resource implications for the university and individuals involved? Given the low completion rates of many courses, perhaps ‘Open’ and ‘Online’ are the areas in which we should really invest our focus – putting aside the content, accepting that we live in a world where information is freely and openly available, and focusing on what has been highlighted time and again as being the unique characteristic of Durham being its focus on developing individuals both inside the university and outside in the local community. Perhaps events such as the Castle lecture series, Languages for all programme and engagement with the Durham book festival, are some illustrations of this work in online, blended and face to face formats and achieve a more convincing democratization of education than providing further higher education to the already highly educated? This brings me back full circle to Glen’s opening remarks about outreach teaching during his talk, that there is a very large difference between reaching and educating. What the discussion around MOOCs offers and prompts is an opportunity for reflection on ideas of the purpose of education and if our current methods and means are still the most effective way of achieving these desired outcomes.
Having problems with duo? Simply want to discuss some ideas that you have but aren’t really sure about how to make happen? Want to know what the whiteboard in your classroom actually does or think you’d like to explore audience response systems? Simply haven’t got the time to go an a full training course or can’t find one that suits you but you’d still like some help.
On the 29th October we’re running a duo drop in session in the Palatine Centre PC001 and will available all day if you wish to pop in at any time.
Some of the things you may want to ask us about
New features of duo
Creating and using video with your students
Using Interactive Whiteboards
Setting up online assessments – quizzes and tests
Online marking and feedback
Blogs, wikis and collaborative tools
No need to book, just show up with your questions; and cake, we like cake (only joking about the cake)
On 15th October Turnitin made an alteration to the student upload view to enable students to select files from their computer, dropbox or Google drive. The rest of the upload process remains unchanged. Click the image below for a larger view.
Future Developments (dates may change)
On 13th November 2013 Turnitin are proposing to make a change to the PDF that is created when a user selects to print or download the Originality Report or GradeMark file from the document viewer. These reports are currently available in grayscale only. This would allow for the colours of the marks and highlights to be preserved and displayed in the PDF.
Also on the 13th November 2013 they are proposing to implement a feature which would allow PowerPoint files to be submitted and marked in Turnitin.
The recording of “TechDis Tuesday: Copyright considerations for learning and teaching” is now available. This online presentation was about UK copyright in the context of teaching and learning in higher education and was delivered by John X. Kelly from JISC Legal. The presentation is collection of issues and questions raised by the sector and addressed by JISC Legal recently. Areas covered include the difference between consent and permission with regard to video recordings of students, copyright of images downloaded from Internet search engines, using YouTube, converting analogue teaching materials to digital. Also highlighted are the danger areas of copyright law and help judging the varying degrees of risk you are likely to breach copyright.
It is Blackboard Collaborate session and will take some time to load. You will be required to allow the software to ‘RUN’.
There is more information about legal issues in learning and teaching at the JISC Legal web site.
TechDis Tuesday are a weekly event on a range of topics related to higher education and accessibility you can find out more information and explore upcoming talks here.
Last night I attended the first session of a MOOC exploring OpenBadges, led by Erin Knight from Mozilla and Cable Green from Creative Commons. Erin spoke about a fresh approach to recognising an individual’s formal and informal skills, which has the advantage of exposing other people’s training paths to both students and employers. E.g. a student can look at an individual in a job they would like and say – how did they get there? This could be gleaned by comparing the practitioner’s badges with that held by the student. Similarly potential employers could look at the badges held by an applicant and get a much fuller picture of their abilities than just from a degree. A key point of the OpenBadges philosophy is that it is free and open to anyone (fear not – there are tools to validate and endorse particular achievements).
The first steps in making this happen have been taken by the Mozilla Foundation by establishing the core infrastructure. As people and organisations embrace the technology more issues are emerging. This course will explore these and look at the progress of pilots so far. If you want to know more have a look at these three items:
This paper by Doug Belshaw (a Durham graduate) uses a series of case studies to explore the problem that OpenBadges is trying to address and the possibilities that a truly connected open badge ecosystem provides: http://bit.ly/13zyk7L.
This week some members of the LTT have been looking at the Goals and Alignment features in Blackboard. This allows you to define a hierarchy of attributes (these can be skills, learning outcomes, etc.) and then associate (Blackboard call this align – but it is really mapping) these goals with individual content items in courses (be these documents, assignments, individual questions in tests or surveys, etc.).
This will not be a task that we expect every department to immediately want to do. For some it will probably look like too much effort. We will be running a few pilots of the system over this coming year. We expect it may appeal to accredited courses, or ones which want to make explicit their alignment with particular frameworks or University initiatives – e.g. the employability and skills agenda. We are currently working with the School of Pharmacy as they build out their new programme, helping them to map the content to the General Pharmacy Council Standards and also key skills and subject-specific skills and knowledge that they have identified.
The mapping can be displayed to students or hidden from them as staff see fit. We can see justifications for both approaches. The real value of the mapping comes when you run reports. This allows you to see where the online component of your course is teaching and assessing these skills. From the Grade Centre you can see which skills the students are finding easiest and hardest to master. This sort of information should prove very useful when you come to review a programme, or need to demonstrate the mapping to external bodies.
If you want to know more please get in touch with any member of the LTT.
Well as of Wednesday this week, we’ve moved from our current home in the Arthur Holmes building up the hill to Rowan House. We’re taking up residence with the rest of CIS in one (shiny and refurbished ) building which should be an excellent way of increasing our communication with our fellow “IT bod” colleagues and generally making the current running back and forth between offices we do a lot easier!
We’ve come across a few relics in the midst of our packing including one very basic “guide to getting started online” (a book that from a quick flick through details a comprehensive list of search engines), several VHSs, bumpf for the 6th Annual Blackboard Conference (we’re now on the 14th!) bits of hardware and old, or dare I say it “retro” operating system discs. We’re not at the stage of commodore 64s but I’m pretty sure Stephen went a little misty eyed when I handed him an unopened copy of Windows 95…
Having spent a few days sorting and packing, unpacking and sorting, with debates on what to keep what to chuck, it’s made me reflect on what we’ve achieved in the past few years and also what has passed on both in terms of projects we’ve completed, the members of staff we’ve worked with and how e-learning has moved on and developed. Since moving into this office we’ve had 3 upgrades of duo, 5 conferences, undertaken several projects both internal and external, delivered multiple workshops and worked with dozens of staff. There’s definitely been an observable and increased uptake of technology in teaching in the past few years with staff both new and established; committed to their teaching, seeking to explore with us the affordances that technology can offer to support their practice.
So as I take down my posters removing all the blu tac I can, tie up another bag and wonder how on earth we have managed to accumulate so much stuff (!) I remind myself that having the odd clear out, be that of approaches, ideas or simply outmoded kit is what we ask of our staff on a daily basis. This process is something that requires effort and reflection, weighing up what is working and what should be set aside.
So when we finish our clear out and get settled, feel free to come and drop in, in our new home.
Last week I was invited to a meeting in York, where senior Blackboard staff wanted to talk to staff in UK and Irish institutions about our assessment process (double-marking, anonymity, moderated marking, etc. etc.)
There were about 10 institutions represented around the table and we were joined by four staff from Blackboard – Matt Small, President International; Brad Koch, VP Product Management; Demetra Katsifli, Senior Director International Project Management and Louise Thorpe, Programme Manager EMEA Blackboard Consulting. Remember the shorter the title the more senior the post – it always helps me to think about The Librarian job title in this context.
The meeting was interesting for three reasons:
It became clear that as part of the restructuring and changes in leadership, Blackboard appear to be focussing on and investing heavily in clients beyond North America. They have a new ‘International’ HQ in London headed up by Matt Small. Matt spoke passionately about the changes he hopes to make – he has held very senior roles within the company for over 10 years and moved from the US to take up his new role, with a budget. I think that’s a very optimistic sign for UK clients, and indeed all clients outside the USA and Canada.
We discussed new features and redesigns that we can expect to see in versions of Blackboard to be released in the next 12 months. Obviously that presentation began with the usual legal disclaimers, but seemed to combine a rapid rate of change with real thought about the effects of these on students and lecturers. Julie has already discussed many of these in her BbWorld 2013 posting – see it for more information. Brad emphasized 5 strategic directions that drive their innovation: educator efficiency, digital content solutions, data-driven insight, student engagement & retention, user experience. The examples chosen were interesting – when looking at digital content solutions, Blackboard discusses a new single integration that will make it easier for publishers to integrate with Blackboard. Having only one building block to test and deploy will obviously please system administrators, but there’s a bigger issue here. By getting Blackboard to do most of the integration work and asking publishers to only provide a set of web services to connect, the development costs are much lower for publishers. Hopefully that means that future integrations could involve smaller, specialist publishers, not just the big names like Pearson and McGraw Hill.
There was also genuine interest in our assessment processes and a desire to try and find a way to accommodate them within the core product. Sorry Louise, whilst Blackboard Global Services can provide bespoke solutions for an institution if needed (or you can write your own as many clients do) the message was clear – assessment and feedback are core parts of the education process and so should be core parts of the Blackboard product. It is nice to hear senior staff say that. The conversation then turned to anonymous marking. I must confess that personally, I am not a fan of anonymous marking. In reality I feel it offers little safeguard and robs the student of the potential for much richer, more informed feedback, but I know that many students and institutions do not share this view (including Durham where it is used extensively for summative submissions). We worked through a range of scenarios and surprised Blackboard by the key role that administrative staff play in the process (yes marking is only one part of it!) One of the actions from this meeting is to try and facilitate greater communication between Blackboard and these key admin staff. There was also a lot of discussion about which was the single point of truth regarding marks. It seems in the US this is often Blackboard, but in the UK, it is almost universally the student record system (Banner, SITS, PeopleSoft, etc). That poses some interesting questions about displaying tentative and final marks.
We didn’t solve all the issues, but there was considerable consensus as to the solution we were working towards. A good start and hopefully just the start of a discussion (anonymous or otherwise).
Last week I had the privilege of being able to represent the Learning Technologies Team at the Blackboard World 2013 conference held in the Sands Conference Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada. This annual conference attracts between 2,500 and 3,000 delegates from across the globe.
It is a great opportunity to
learn about the future product development of the software that runs our own Durham University Online (duo)
find out about the pedagogical applications of technology from other institutions by attending a range of different presentations,
interact with vendors and partners and to meet and to have an opportunity to expand the Blackboard user community.
On day one, new Blackboard CIO Jay Bhatt, at his first BB World Conference, kicked off the proceedings by introducing opening keynote Clay Shirky author of “Here Comes Everybody”. You can view his keynote below:
I also attended was a session on “Learning Content in the Cloud: An introduction to xpLor, a cross platform learning object repository and authoring environment”. This is free to clients on Blackboard Learn, Community & Content – which we have here in Durham so am looking forward to having a look at this feature over the summer, (though we would have to further upgrade duo to use this).
On day two Blackboard delivered their corporate keynote introduced again by Jay Bhatt, followed by Blackboard President Ray Henderson delivering their future roadmap. This session was not recorded but take it from me the audience appreciated most of what was said. Planned new features included: Attendance tracking tool, Test Availability Exceptions, Test deployment by Location (IP Address), Test Access Log, Blackboard Meeting Rooms (free to all users), Poll tools, Grade Centre simplification (no scrolling, grid or list view, search, batch changes), Open Badges, xpLor (Content authoring) and much more. Watch this blog for announcements if and when these tools become available.
To finish off, Katie Blot President of Education Services announced that Blackboard would be offering a free, flexible option for running MOOCs in a hosted instance of Blackboard Learn. This platform will allow MOOCs to be run by Blackboard clients free of charge. [Press Release]
I also attended a session on “Enterprise Surveys: Features and Considerations for Institutional Adoption” – very useful with regard to our own roll-out of this tool over the summer. As well as a session on “Blackboard Collaborate Roadmap” which, if Durham adds to its suite of Blackboard tools, would integrate an online classroom in every module and give office hours to every instructor – all of which can be recorded and played back later.
On day three, the final day, I attended the closing keynote given by Sugata Mitra from Newcastle University in the North East of England. Sugata Mitra, who is a 2013 TED prize winner, took the audience through his “Hole in the Wall” experiment and afterwards received a standing ovation. If you haven’t heard this talk before then I would suggest you take the time to listen to what Sugata has to say – keynote video below:
I attended a session on “If you Building it, will they Come?” a session on delivering online staff training from University of North Florida. I thought this very interesting in terms of how they developed this site but also the support from the institution to make this a mandatory module. I also attended a sesson on “Taking Control of Online Distance Learning” where every distance module is taught through the Distance Learning team rather than through Schools or Departments. A lot of what was discussed, to a certain extent, was being replicated within our own Durham Business School but not across the institution.
I was also invited to take part in a Blackboard Leaders User Group meeting and spent a lunch time persuading delegates to sign up for a user group community (I have the t-Shirt!).
I met lots of people whilst at BBWorld and have followed up conversations with many since my return. The networking opportunities that this type of conference offers is as rewarding as attending the presentations and am sure it will lead to the continued expansion of the Blackboard user community.
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