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Computing and Information Services

ITS news: complete issue

ITS

ADI

With Microsoft Office 2003, users of ADI need to install and use a new theme, mitre5.exe.

This theme has been automatically installed on MDS machines. Non supported users can obtain it from http://mitreweb/oracle/oracledownloads/index.htm

(29 Jan 2005)


AV Equipment Update

During the course of Epiphany Term several rooms in Elvet Riverside will undergo an AV equipment upgrade.

The rooms concerned are ER143, ER145, ER147, ER149 and ER157.

After the upgrade each room will have a ceiling mounted projector, display screen, combined DVD/VHS player, NPCS computer, provision to use a laptop and OHP. It will therefore be possible to display on the screen, a combination of NPCS or laptop computer, DVD or VHS tape output or standard OHP.

It is hoped members of staff will take advantage of these new facilities in their delivery of material to students.

We plan to phase in the use of each room during the term and information concerning which one and when it is available will be publicised via
'Message of the Day' and e-mail.

Instructions concerning the operation of the equipment will be available in each room. They will also be available on the ITS web site along with documentation about the other rooms fitted with similar equipment. Please see:
http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/services/computing/npcs/theatres/

In addition to all of the above, in the Sir James Knott Hall, there is a NPCS machine connected to a projector together with provision to use a
laptop.

Should anyone have any questions/queries concerning any of the above please contact clive.bowery@durham.ac.uk

(29 Jan 2005)


BUFVC

BUFVC logo

The British Universities Film and Video Council will be holding the 'Learning on-Screen Conference 2005' from March 20th - 22nd at the National Museum of Photography Film and Television, Bradford.
The main themes of the event are:
Making Moving Pictures Available
In-house Production
Technology - What Next?
Access to Archives for Teaching and Learning.

In addition, Professor Laurie Taylor will chair a conference debate and present the 'Learning on Screen Awards 2005'.

For further information see:
http://www.bufvc.ac.uk/conferences/learningonscreen/

(29 Jan 2005)


Campus Vision in Durham

Picture of computer screen

Information on a project due to be launched in 2005

ITS have spearheaded a communications system project that will see the installation of twenty 42" plasma screens in various locations around the University.

Campus Vision delivers a unique multi-channelled, split-screen digital broadcast medium which displays information and announcements at prime locations to a specifically targeted audience of students and staff.

British Telecom is providing a professional installation of the network and servers, and the screens and cabling are provided by Campus Vision.

The project is near completion with installation expected over the Easter vacation.

How does it work?

Each plasma screen has a split-screen display populated with variable data on an independent transmission loop, providing a unique source of the most up-to-date University information.

The screens are divided into four sections:
The main section is an amalgamation of external (University vetted) advertising and Durham University information, student, college and departmental announcements.
There is an individual branded area for each screen location. This can show logos, campus landmarks and images, and information relevant only to that specific location on a separate rotating loop with a slower cycle change than the other screen area loops.
A scrolling message section for urgent notices.
Breaking national and regional news headlines including specially compiled student news headlines. This may be interspersed with local student news, and press releases, specific to individual requirements.

What are the benefits?

With Campus Vision, students are educated to use the screens to find out information about what's going on around the campus, the latest details about their lectures, local student news, holiday dates, faculty updates, today's menu at the cafeteria, exam timetables etc.
The screens become integral to every-day campus life for students and staff, and they learn to value the bulletin zone as a key communicator of the University's most up-to-date information and announcements.
Students should benefit from reduced stress in Freshers' week – it helps students find their way around and alerts them to 'what's where when'.
Student support services can be advertised.
The screens become a quality medium to contribute to conferences and Estates' strategy - during summer vacations, the University will be able to use the screens for conference and tourism, visitor information, and for announcing building or refurbishment projects.
Campus Vision is a revenue generator. There is commission on advertising secured by the University for the system, or from conference sponsorship over the summer vacation.
The system is a very powerful communications tool. Messages can be directed to individual screens or across campus.
Increased communications between Durham and Queen’s Campus, Stockton-on-Tees.

Durham Locations

Archaeology
Biological Sciences
Careers
DSU - Chemistry Cafe
Earth Sciences
Elvet Riverside
Geography
Graham Sports Centre
Grey College
Hatfield
ITS
Physics
St Cuthbert’s
Ustinov

Queen’s Campus Locations

Ebsworth Building
Holliday Building
Waterside Room

For more information on Campus Vision see:
http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/services/campusvision/

(29 Jan 2005)


EndNote 8.0.2 for Windows update

EndNote 8.0.2 update is currently available to existing users of EndNote 8.0.0 or 8.0.1 for Windows from within the software via the Help, EndNote Program Updates menu command.

The EndNote 8.0.2 update resolves a number of issues including:

Ambiguous citations. You can now enter citations in the text as Jones (1990a) and Jones (1990b) where the same author has written more than one paper in the same year.
Default reference type. When you create a new reference, EndNote will now remember the default reference type, e.g. Book.
Print Preview now displays references correctly.
Plus other miscellaneous bugs.

Endnote(Windows/Mac) can be purchased from the ITS Helpdesk.(£85)

(29 Jan 2005)


EnSuite Online

Since its introduction in August 2004 the new automated registration system has authorised over 5300 student machines to use the EnSuite Online network.
Users have benefited from a much simpler and faster registration process through the automatic capture of the machine's physical address and the elimination of registration delays associated with overnight processing.

Following a substantial programme of work to cable out more college accommodation during the 2004 summer vacation, the EnSuite Online network now extends to 5853 network points.

Further information about the EnSuite Online service can be found online at:

http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/services/ensuite/

(29 Jan 2005)


Getting data from the University Student Records System

If you need to view the data for current students, or create customised reports based on selections of current students, or generate lists of your own students (perhaps to feed into other applications, spreadsheets etc.), then you may find the ITS version of Banner Reporting helpful.

ITS Banner Reporting is a special version of the Banner Reporting Microsoft Access database (provided by Unisys) that can be used to retrieve data from Banner, the University Student Records system. It includes some additional features, developed by the ITS, which it is hoped will make it easier to retrieve information about current students.

Using ITS Banner Reporting, people with limited expertise in the use of Microsoft Access can obtain data on current students, can view details of particular groups of students or individuals, and can generate a variety of lists and reports. ITS Banner Reporting can also be used as a stepping stone for those with Access expertise to help them to develop their own applications.

You will need to be registered as a Banner user in order to use Banner Reporting. If you do not already have a Banner username and password, then you will need to apply to the Unisys Helpdesk for one. Your application will need to be approved by your department.

ITS Banner Reporting is available from the ITS web page (see http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/software/download ) – then under ITS utilities select ITS Banner Reporting Tool. The file is in Access 2000 format, and may used with Access 2000, XP or 2003. It has been designed for use with the computer's screen resolution set to 1024 X 768. If you use a lower resolution you will find that you have to use the scroll bars to see parts of the various screens.

To run ITS Banner Reporting you must first start up Access using the special icon on your desktop labelled Banner Reporting. Then click on File | Open and select the ITS_BR database file. If you don’t have this icon on your desktop then it may be that you need to install the Banner software. This can be obtained from the Unisys mitre web site: http://mitreweb/banner/downloads/index.htm If you need help with this, please contact Unisys.

For more information about how to use ITS Banner Reporting click the button ITS Notes on the main control form.

Training in the use of ITS Banner Reporting is now available though not normally scheduled as part of the regular programme of courses offered by the ITS. If you are interested please contact the ITS Helpdesk.

A Special Interest Group for users of Banner Reporting has been set up to facilitate and encourage users of Banner Reporting to share ideas, problems, solutions etc. To join this group, please send a message to "majordomo@durham.ac.uk" containing the line: subscribe sigbanner

(29 Jan 2005)


Graphics Software

Graphics

ITS has installed a number of photo editing packages to help you to manage, alter and develop your digital photographs. These packages can also be used to improve the quality of scanned photographs or slides.

Microsoft Picture Manager, Adobe PhotoShop and Paint Shop Pro are available from all NPCS machines as well as the Graphics PC in CM131 (Computing and Maths building). They can be launched from the Start menu under Programs | Graphics.

Microsoft Picture Manager

Microsoft Picture Manager can be used for basic photo editing such as altering brightness and contrast and red eye removal. Picture Manager’s main advantage is that it is very quick and easy to use. It's an ideal option if time is limited. It is also useful for the batch printing of images to the colour printers.

Adobe PhotoShop

Adobe PhotoShop is a more advanced image-editing software with a useful file browser facility that allows you to visually browse and retrieve images. By using PhotoShop in conjunction with Adobe Image Ready, which is also installed on NPCS machines, you can access a range of features that allow images to be exported much more easily to the web. You can also create rollovers and navigation bars by using the Rollovers palette.

One of Photoshop's many strengths is the versatility of its tools and the variety of effects you can add to your photographs. The options range from simulating painting effects such as charcoal, pastel or dry brush, to adding shadows, bevels, lighting effects and patterns.

PaintShop Pro

PaintShop Pro is also widely used for editing photographs either through adding special effects to images, increasing clarity and sharpness, removing artefacts or altering colours and brightness. It also has an excellent range of drawing tools which can be used to either create your own images or add lines, shapes and text to existing photographs.

Most users find the clone tool and the Picture Tube Tool extremely useful as well as fun to use.
Using the JPEG or GIF Optimizer, images can be expored “web ready”.

(29 Jan 2005)


How computers have changed since 1968

Picture of computer at Durham in 1968

We recently unearthed a short publication from 1968, which described the inauguration of N.U.M.A.C. The Northumbrian Universities Multiple Access Computer (N.U.M.A.C.) was the name given to a system installed to serve computing needs of the Universities of Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne.
N.U.M.A.C. was hailed as the first computing system in the UK to be jointly owned and operated by two universities. Such co-operation enabled a much more powerful system to be made available than could have been purchased by either University acting alone.

"The computer chosen was the IBM system 360, Model 67. Situated in the University of Newcastle upon Tyne Computing Laboratory are the central processor unit, the core store of 512 K bytes, a drum of 4 million bytes, a multiple disc unit capable of holding 233 million bytes available for access on eight replaceable discs, magnetic tape drives, appropriate selector and multiplexor channels controlling the flow of information and peripheral devices including printing, card and paper tape equipment and graph plotters.

A small on-line satellite computer, the IBM 1130, also with printer, plotter, card and paper equipment, has been placed in Durham. Typewriter terminals have been installed in both Durham and Newcastle. A wide range of data preparation equipment for both cards and tape is available in both Universities.

When the Model 67 is operated in time-sharing mode, several users in Newcastle and Durham will be working simultaneously at typewriter terminals under the experimental time-sharing system TSS/360. The users will be able to employ a conversational approach, entering modifications to programs or data through the keyboard and receiving information from the typed output. Initially six terminals in the Newcastle laboratory and two in Durham will be connected, followed shortly by five more at different places in Newcastle and Durham......

The majority of the demand on the computing system will arise from research workers in science, engineering and medicine, although workers, especially in the bibliographic and social science fields, will make substantial demands. Although the needs for computer time for each student example are slight, the numbers involved produce an apppreciable demand from this source also.'

(29 Jan 2005)


Improvements to the Snapshot System

Many customers may not be aware that we take regular snapshots of the files on their J: drives. These may be used to recover old versions of files, in the cases where you have either deleted them, or damaged them with inappropriate edits etc.

We have recently made some improvements to this system, which we hope will be appreciated both by regular users of the snapshots, and also by those who have never used them before.

We intend to keep two sets of snapshots. The first set is taken hourly, during working hours. These will appear on users’ J: drives, and can be accessed using Windows Explorer, by looking in the ~snapshot folder of your J: drive (this is not displayed by default; you need to type in ~snapshot on the end of the directory shown in the top window of explorer to display it). The snapshots have names like 09.00.hourly, 10.00.hourly, 11.00.hourly, etc. You can navigate through these to display complete saved copies of your files, and then simply drag-and-drop files back to your current J: drive. During the course of the day, nine of these snapshots are allowed to accumulate, and they are all deleted at 2:30 a.m. the next day, ready for the start of a new set.

The second set is taken daily, and appear (for users of MDS and NPCS) on your R: drive. The R: drive snapshots are taken at 4 a.m. daily.

The snapshots taken on a Sunday morning are labelled as weekly snapshots.
The snapshots taken on the first of the month are labelled as monthly snapshots.
All other snapshots are labelled as daily snapshots.

They have names like 050116.weekly, 050201.monthly, 050118.daily etc., and we keep the 6 most recent daily snapshots, 4 most recent weekly snapshots, and several (depending on available space) most recent monthly snapshots on the R: drive.

We believe that this system gives you valuable (but not absolute) protection against the usual patterns of file editing and accidental deletion – for important work you should still periodically back up a file you are editing to one of a different name.

Note that the method of storing the snapshots means that the older the file you wish to retrieve, the fewer copies that exist. In the case of a 3-month old file, for example, you have only the monthly snapshots from which to extract a version (the daily and weekly snapshots would have been deleted for a file this old), and you may have done some considerable editing after the file was saved in a monthly snapshot. So you cannot guarantee an up-to-date version of a particular file. Also, it is always possible that you create and delete a file which is never saved in a snapshot.

Existing users of the system should note that, from February 1st, we will drop the daily and weekly snapshots from your J: drive as these are duplicated on the R: drive.

Further information can be obtained from:
http://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/its/info/infosheets/177snapshots.pdf

(29 Jan 2005)


ITS Course Schedule

The following courses are scheduled to take place this term:

Staff and Postgraduate

IT23: Creating WWW pages
IT07: Creating a longer document in Word 2003
IT43: Creating your duo course
IT12: Excel 2003: Creating and using macros
IT47: Introduction to databases using Access 2003
IT16: Introduction to Endnote
IT18: Introduction to PowerPoint 2003
IT22: Introduction to SPSS for Windows
IT31: Using ArcGIS - an introduction
IT13: Writing Accessible Websites

Undergraduate Courses

UG06: Calculations and charts in Excel 2003
UG01: Creating Web pages
UG02: Introduction to PowerPoint 2003

How to Book a Course

To book a place on one of these courses, please fill in the online form at:
http://www.dur.ac.uk/training.course/

Full information about the courses are available from these web pages. Please make sure you have read the course synopsis and pre-requisites before booking a place.

When we receive your booking, we will send you a confirmation of your place via email.

If you are unable to attend a course on which you have booked a place, you can cancel your booking online. If you fail to attend a course for which you have a firm booking, without letting us know in advance, we reserve the right to amend your booking status and/or withdraw your place on future courses.

(29 Jan 2005)


ITS Training Statistics

During the Michaelmas 2004 term, 461 firm bookings for ITS courses were made.

Of these 232 (50.33% of total) attended courses for which they had a firm booking, whilst 229 (49.67% of total) did not attend. There were 416 requests for places held on waiting lists.

Courses bookings per status group are as follows:
UG students: 195 records (42.30% of total)
PG students: 205 records (44.47% of total)
Staff: 61 records (13.23% of total).

Non-attendance per status group was as follows:
UG students*: 126 records (55.02% of total)
PG students: 92 records (40.17% of total)
Staff: 11 records (4.80% of total).

* UG student courses are over booked with 40 firm bookings taken for 30 places.

(29 Jan 2005)


Landmark historical maps

EDINA Digimap are planning to offer access to Landmark historical maps of Great Britain.

The Landmark historic map data are digital scans of Ordnance Survey paper maps and include:
all available County Series maps at 1:2,500 and 1:10560 scales published between 1843 and 1939
all available National Grid maps at 1:1,250, 1:2,500 and 1:10560/10,000 scales published from 1945 and before the introduction of the Ordnance Survey’s digital Land-Line product.

Users will be able to view maps online, save maps for printing, and download the historic map data. There will be an institutional subscription charge for this service. A pilot service will be made available during March 2005 and if you would like to be involved in this please contact Karl Pedersen (k.j.pedersen@durham.ac.uk).

(29 Jan 2005)


Mailbox recovery system

There is now a facility on NPCS and MDS machines that allows users to recover their email Inbox.
This may be used to recover old emails or perhaps emails deleted accidentally.

To access this recovery tool Select Start | ITS Utilities | Mailbox Recovery.

Backups or snapshots of the Inbox are taken on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Therefore the user is likely to see at any one time 6 daily snapshots, 4 weekly snapshots and 4 monthly snapshots.

The recovery tool uses the same snapshot system described in the article about Improved Snapshots, but does not reference the hourly snapshot.

An Information sheet about this topic is available at:
http://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/its/info/infosheets/176emailrestore.pdf

Further information can also be obtained from:
http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/services/email/restore/

(28 Jan 2005)


McAfee anti-virus software

It was agreed by IT Strategy Committee on 2 November 2004 that the installation of anti-virus software be made compulsory for any machine connecting to the Durham network.

http://www.dur.ac.uk/Committees/IT-Strategy-Committee/2004-11-02m.pdf

The ITS recommended and supported anti virus products are McAfee VirusScan 4.5.1 for Windows 95/98/ME and McAfee VirusScan Enterprise 8.0i for Windows NT/2000/XP.

McAfee 4.5.1 offers anti-virus protection only. McAfee 8.0i offers, anti-virus protection, port blocking and protection from unwanted programs.

To improve anti-virus protection, the ITS requests that all machines running Microsoft Windows Operating Systems have McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator (ePO) installed. ePO is a management solution that keeps your McAfee software (VirusScan 4.5.1 and VirusScan Enterprise 8.0i) up-to-date. It also enables the ITS to monitor infection levels, checking for system compliance and to effectively deploy solutions for infection outbreaks and to deploy new software when it becomes available.

Logs show that since October 2004, of the 5000 machines using the ePO service to automatically manage their anti-virus protection, over 2000 machines were exposed to real virus and worm attempts. These infections were successfully quarantined or removed by the underlying McAfee anti-virus product deployed and continually updated by the ePO management agent.

For ePO installation instructions, please see the URL below for details.

http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/software/antivirus/software/epo/

Please note: ePO is installed on all MDS and NPCS machines and the majority of ESOL machines. Mitre machines have anti-virus software installed and configured for automatic update of DAT files.

ePO is intended for machines connected directly to the University LAN and IS NOT for home use. McAfee 4.5.1 and 8.0i should be used in standalone mode on home machines. Both versions of McAfee can be found on the ITS Software CD which is available to borrow from the ITS Helpdesk. They can also be downloaded via the URL below.

http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/software/antivirus/software/

You should also note that the ITS intends to withdraw the current McAfee update service on Harvey. You should configure McAfee to download DAT files from the McAfee ftp repository or do manual updates. Instructions on how to do this will be posted on the URL below in due course.

http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/software/antivirus/protection/

In addition to providing anti-virus software, the ITS passively scans for machines that are showing characteristic signs which indicate that they may be infected with one or more viruses. Suspect machines are not permitted browse off-site websites, the exceptions being Microsoft and McAfee sites. Users whose machines have been blocked from web browsing are required to clean and patch their machines.

(11 Jan 2005)


MDS

Office 2003 has now been installed on MDS, bringing it in line with NPCS.
A full collection of Office 2003 guides can be obtained from the Helpdesk or located at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/info/guides/

(11 Jan 2005)


Microsoft Windows Updates

You can dramatically reduce the possibility of your machine becoming infected with viruses and/or worms if you keep Windows up-to-date.
ITS have an internal Software Update Server (SUS), which allows workstations to be kept up-to-date with the necessary Microsoft security patches. For more information visit:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/sus/default.mspx

All NPCS and MDS machines use this as a means of updating by default.

Non ITS managed machines (standalone) can make use of the update server by downloading and installing the sus.exe setup file (save the file to a temporary location and double-click the self extracting file to install).

The internal software update server is designed for campus use only. Home computers may be kept up-to-date using the Windows Update utility available in Windows 2000 and above.

For further information, please visit:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/downloads/default.mspx

Internet Explorer users can also visit http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com to check for updates.

To be notified right away of important security updates please visit the URL below to subscribe to a Microsoft mailing list.

http://www.microsoft.com/security/bulletins/alerts.mspx

(11 Jan 2005)


Protection from ad/spyware

The ITS recommends and supports Spybot for detection and removal of ad/spyware from your computer.

Please note: all MDS machines will have Spybot installed and configured by the end of January 2005.

For installation and configuration instructions, please see the URL below.

http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/software/antivirus/software/spybot/

What is spyware?

Spyware is any software that collects user information through your Internet connection without your knowledge.

What is adware?

Adware is any software application in which advertising banners are displayed while the program is running.

How does spy/adware get on your machine?

Both ad/spyware are generally installed without your knowledge, typically bundled as part of freeware or shareware application you have downloaded and installed.

As a general rule, you should be wary of installing any software unless you have checked that the software is not malware i.e. software designed specifically to damage or disrupt a system.

There are lots of applications which claim to make using your PC easier. Home Search Assistant is one such application. However, this 'helpful' application is a browser hijacker which is very difficult to remove from an infected PC. A search on Google for Home Search Assistant returns 16,600,000 results - the first 10 of which clearly show that this application is malware and should not be installed.

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=Home+Search+Assistant

Finally, there are a number of basic rules to follow to reduce the possibility of infection from viruses, worms, ad/spyware

1. Do keep your machine up-to-date with the latest Microsoft Windows patches and service packs
2. Do install ePO on your networked machines - this will ensure McAfee is kept up-to-date
3. Download files from the Web with caution and always scan them for viruses
4. Do not install any software on your machine without first checking that it does not contain malware. Do a Search on Google, if the results look dubious, do not install the application.

(11 Jan 2005)


Purchase Printer Credits at a Cash Machine

A cash machine has been installed outside the Helpdesk, opposite the output racks. This will enable users to purchase printer credits by cash (pound coins only), as an alternative to buying them at the Helpdesk.

This is a trial system and if successful could be extended to other locations.

For further information see:
http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/password/printunits/purchase/

(11 Jan 2005)


Vending Machine for Computer Consumables

We have had a vending machine installed in the Red Greenhouse to dispense computer consumables such as CDs, DVDs, disks, cables, mice, printer cartridges, pens, CD marker pens, batteries, phone cards and earphones.

This is a mark 1 version of the machine and takes COINS ONLY. The maximum price of any item is £7, therefore the range of products is currently a little limited. In the near future it is anticipated that a card reader will be installed enabling credit and debit card usage with 'chip and pin'. Then the range of products can be more extensive.

The vending machine is there to provide customers with an improved service, particularly out of hours. However, ITS are not responsible for stocking, refunding or fixing faults. There is a phone number and email address on the machine that customers can use to report faults.

ITS will monitor how successful this is and could possibly install other vending machines in other suitable locations.

For further information see:
http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/helpdesk/vending_machine/

(11 Jan 2005)


5th Annual Durham Blackboard Conference, ‘Interactive Blackboards’

Image shows from left to right - H  Pavey., Lord Dearing and K Boardman at the Blackboard conference in December 2004

December 16th and 17th 2004 saw over a hundred and forty delegates attend the Blackboard UK Users conference for the fifth year running at Durham, held this year at Elvet. The conference was opened by Professor Alan Bilsborough and began with a retrospective of previous conferences, highlighting some themes which have remained current over the years. Many delegates were familiar faces, and afterwards one wrote, “I have had the pleasure of attending all 5 conferences and this ranks as one of the best and most comprehensive in its coverage of academic and practical matters”.
However, a number of institutions sent newly-appointed staff to their first event to support their e-learning development, which elicited from one the comment, “an excellent event - good blend of practice developments, software and opportunity for networking”.

The conference covered a number of topics, concentrating on the embedded use of Blackboard within institutions around the country - particularly highlighting the opportunities for staff and students to interact with each other and with the technology in order to enhance the learning process. Some presentations also examined the integration of Blackboard with other software products to produce powerful and flexible cross-campus solutions. As well as six papers by Durham staff including the LTT, twenty-four high-quality presentations were chosen representing HE, FE and Library staff from across the UK and two from the Netherlands. The LTT will make resources from the conference (for example PowerPoint slides) available from the instructors tab in Duo.

Programme strands were as follows:

Strategy

A range of presentations examining the methods of implementing e-learning and Blackboard in FE, HE and the movement of students between them. There was also a round-table discussion on the resourcing issues of maintaining supported e-learning systems beyond the implementation phase.

Getting Started

Papers in this section covered the induction of staff and students (on-campus and distance), resources for academics new to e-learning and making the most of the library staff as e-resource experts.

Interactive Content

Papers here examined different software for the production of exciting learning content. These included Viewlet Builder, used by ITS and the Library at Durham for animated tutorials (see http://www.dur.ac.uk/duo.help/viewlets/quizzes/discussion.swf).

There were also presentations here on the development of industry standards to ensure portability of content between and outside of virtual learning environments.

Assessment

In this strand, there were case studies and evaluations of using Blackboard for formative and summative assessment, and the potential benefits of electronic plagiarism detection.

Extending Interactivity

A number of institutions, including Durham, have staff who have built specific tools to service particular needs of staff or students. Malcolm Murray of the LTT launched a new JISCmail list for fellow developers to share best practice in this area and extend the functionality available to everyone.

Blackboard Content System

These papers looked at the potential for Personal Development Planning (PDPs) to be undertaken in Blackboard and compared example portfolios that can be produced, not only for a student’s own learning log, but to offer a space for content creation, group work and peer review.

Representatives from Blackboard introduced a new community initiative and funding opportunities for case studies of e-learning excellence – contact LTT for more information.

A general session on Friday 17th showcased some Durham practice, firstly with a general overview of duo following four years of evaluation by Hetty Pavey. This led into a presentation by Dr Jo Fox on the introductory use of interactive whiteboards in History tutorial sessions and how they link into the encouragement of extended student discussions via the asynchronous tools in duo. Dr Pam Knights completed the session talking about the Duologue project which was an LTSN funded project examining the implementation of a VLE across a number of modules in the English department.

The conference closed with a thought-provoking and fascinating keynote by Lord Dearing on the future of the university, entitled “The role of the University: Serving the Student and Society, and ‘Truth speaking to Power’”. The Learning Technologies Team is very grateful to Lord Dearing for finding time to attend the conference, and can provide copies of his slides if members of staff would like them. We are also grateful to Professor Bob Allison for introducing him. The LTT would like to thank all those who helped to make the event the success that it was, particularly colleagues from ITS who provided much ‘behind the scenes’ support both technically and administratively.

*The Image at the top of the page shows two of the Learning Technologies Team, Kate Boardman and Hetty Pavey meeting with Lord R Dearing at the Blackboard UK Users conference, which was held in Durham in December 2004. The image was provided by Gilbert Mackay.

(6 Jan 2005)