Tag Archives: eResources

Naughty Kids

A collection of VLE or learning ‘bad’ practices, pt.1 – Comments welcome

Naughty Kids

What are your pet-peeves about how your VLE is used – are you the culprit or is this what you see others do? Is it the technology at fault or how we / you / ‘they’ use it?

Come on, let’s have your examples of the things you’ve seen in your VLE that leave you in despair. Please leave your examples as comments below … we’ll see what we get.

Here’s a couple of examples I’ve seen over the past 5 years or so …

  • Learning resources and files loaded as simply ‘click here’ or ‘week one’ without any explanation. Try introducing the file with an appropriate name (‘Week one resources: [topic title]’) as well as some brief text about what the file is and what it contains, how the student should use it (read, discuss, activity, wider research, etc.), and what the learning outcome is – put the resource in the context of the learning and / or subject and / or timetable.
  • Well structured and detailed navigation … but empty folders. Even if you are using ‘adaptive release’ and the materials are loaded but not available yet, you could at least put a ‘holding’ message to say the materials will be available on or after specific dates – if it’s empty the student thinks you’ve either not done anything or it’s something they’ve done wrong.
  • Announcements on the home page / welcome screen … but there haven’t been any, either use it or don’t display it, an empty area can only cause confusion for students (see above).

I plan to collate the responses and comments into a fuller list (that’ll be part 2) which I’ll blog about in a month or two or when there’s a good range of comments. If you’d rather remain anonymous then please email me (‘david’ at ‘this website address’) and I’ll publish it minus your name.

Image Source: Naughty Funny Kids

Presentation to eAssessment Scotland (@eassessscotland) #eas11

Today I confirmed the abstract of my presentation to the eAssessment Scotland Conference, hosted by the  University of Dundee, on August 25/26, 2011 – www.e-assessment-scotland.org.

Here is what I will be delivering to the distinguished delegates:

Title: “24-hour Papers: the Open-Book Alternative to Exams for Online Assessment”

Abstract: “Common unit specifications covering delivery of subject-identical units across different courses, often with different delivery methods, are increasingly being implemented. The inclusion of a ‘coursework’ element of assessment allows for flexibility. This is different when an ‘exam’ is required; with students on a fully-online course, unable to attend an exam centre, due to differences in time zones and/or locations, the concept of an open-book exam is used. The exam paper is released to students through our VLE (Blackboard) at a time that is agreed and broadcast to students in advance. Submission of their work is required within a 24-hour window via an upload of their files to the VLE (using either the standard submission tool or Turnitin).”

“This presentation will draw upon the Bournemouth University’s substantial experience of presenting ‘Time-Constrained Papers’ to students studying at a distance and will consider the issues surrounding this approach. Particular consideration will be given to the importance of question design to limit scope for academic dishonesty and the University’s plans to modify this approach in the forthcoming academic year.”

I will be following Dr. Sharon Flynn on Friday morning (Parallel session A), where I will also talk about the use of Turnitin with distant learners within the scope of Time-Constrained Papers. I hope you can join us there.

Building Educational Confidence and Affinity Through Online Induction Activities

Poster: Building Educational Confidence and Affinity Through Online Induction Activities

Today I am presenting the following poster at the Bournemouth University Enhancing Education 2011 Conference “Excellent education: the heart of the student experience” with two colleagues from the Business School, and wanted to share our work.

The poster, titled “Building Educational Confidence and Affinity Through Online Induction Activities” builds on previous work by the team to introduce and encourage our online an distant learners to engage with their studies, with us, and with each other.

The poster;

“… demonstrates the development and support taken throughout a week-long online Induction for geographically-disparate Business School students studying the fully-online BA (Hons) International Business & Management degree.

“From application through to enrolment and becoming an online student our students are likely to experience many emotions over this period. We recognise the different key foundation areas required to strengthen personal confidence and determination as an individual remote student. The intention is to help students overcome their initial personal apprehension by building intrinsic trust in the capabilities of the Business School from all standpoints including technical, educational and pastoral.

“By the end of this induction week students have the opportunity to formulate a clear picture of the environment in which they will be learning, establish an initial impression of degree level study, recognise the levels of support available to them, and begin to identify their own personal resolve and how to make this work for them whilst studying from a remote location.

“Through the induction programme we firmly believe that building strong roots empowers students to maximise their potential during the full course of their study.”

You can view and download the poster, in full, from SlideShare: Building Educational Confidence and Affinity Through Online Induction Activities.

If you are going to quote or cite this in any work please use the following details (in the style of Harvard Referencing):

Hopkins, D., Wincott, M. and Hutchings, L., 2011. Building educational confidence and affinity through Online Induction Activities. In: Bournemouth University Education Enhancement Conference 2011, 4 May 2011, Bournemouth University, Poole, England. Available from: http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/17715/

Infographic: Technology Enhances Learning #eLearning

Many thanks to Brian Knotts (@briankotts) for linking to this Infographic on “how teachers think technology works best in the classroom”.

“Todays students are technologically savvy and spend hours a day online. Why are we still trying to teach them with textbooks when we have a wealth of digital options? These are teachers’ responses after being asked to gauge the effectiveness of various forms of education materials.”

Click to view full version


Induction Activity

Induction Activity – “in 100 words or less …”

Induction week, for campus-based students is all about getting to know each other, getting to know the programme team, and socialising. This is also true for online students, although it is not always easy to forge the same kind of understanding, relationships and outcome; but it’s not impossible.

Working online is not often a natural feeling for students, whatever their age. To this end we, the facilitators, need to carefully design the Induction programme and activities to make the students feel at home, comfortable in the online environment, and able to comment in a risk- and blame-free environment.

This makes it all the more important to carefully design and implement the introduction, the learning environment, and the online activities you expect them to participate in. Last year I wrote about five such activities in my post Online Induction: Icebreaker Activities.

Here is another one, modified from  Ryan Watkins’ book “75 eLearning Activities – making online learning interactive” (Amazon link);

Objective: This gives the students the opportunity to share their thoughts on a  topic (decided by the activity moderator) in the VLE to encourage a reflective process about themselves and their colleagues.

This can be used with either a Discussion Board or a Blog, depending on the preference and confidence of the moderator and expected technical competencies of the student cohort.

Process: The moderator provides the topic, usually something topical to current news, the programme content or learning style (eLearning), and encourages the students to initially post their responses (100 words or less). Once all students have responded the moderator encourages further posts replying to at least 3 entries made by their colleagues, also in 100 words or less.

Additional Information: If students are new to the technology (blog, discussion board) then appropriate training material is needed.

Ideally the kind of Induction Activity you use ought to be a mixture of reflective and collaborative styles in order to get the students engaged and comfortable with each other, with you (the moderator), and in working online in what many may find a new and alien environment.

What kind of activity do you use, is it specifically designed for online students or one that can be used for campus-based as well as online students?

Twitter Search

Searching Twitter

So, it has come to this. I wanted to find some tweets I made a while ago; I can’t remember when but I can remember it was a re-tweet of someone else’s work.

I asked around last night on Twitter and had some good replies and these are a selection of the options I have found and been directed to.  Thanks go out to the following for their quality replies and help in putting this list together;

And here comes the conundrum … do I keep clicking the ‘More’ button at the page of my latest tweets to go back and back through my tweets, or do I use another service to find what I’m after?

Enter the choices … some are for searching Twitter, others are to backup your Twitter data.

Twitter Search

Search Twitter with the proper and official search tool, but it won’t go back very far or take into account your messages or favourites (like other services do).


Using the Twitter API you can backup a variety of your own data, from followers, favorites, DMs, friends, tweets, or just plain everything!


Here you have the ability to search than just your own timeline; search messages you have received and sent, search someone else’s timeline (not just your own), someone else’s tweets as well as tweets that mention you. Oh, and it searched further back than the basic (or advanced) Twitter search.


Backup a limited number of tweets (3,200, it’s still quite a few though), and al list of friends.

Google Site Search

This was a good one pointed out to me last night by @kiwicarol – enter a term like “site:twitter.com hopkinsdavid #BB9” will search all of Google’s archive (as they have been archiving tweets for a while now) that contain my Twitter name and the hashtag #BB9. The results aren’t pretty and takes a while to get your eye in to visually filter out RTs and stuff, but still very useful.

I think I’m going to use SnapBird for the moment as, on the face of it, looks like it’ll give me more opportunity to search back through my timeline to find the links and posts I retweeted (and should’ve made a note of at the time!). I’ll let you know how I get on.

As always please share your experience of any of the above techniques or if I’ve missed on you like/hate, please tell us what and why.

Apple iPad

Reading “The iPad for Academics”

This article, by Inside Higher Ed called ‘The iPad for Academics” is a good read, and followers neatly on from my previous posts.

I want to draw attention to the following statements, but I’m no going to say why; just that they struck a chord with me (either positively or negatively);

“The iPad represents the genuine retailization of academic content.”

“… publishers might object that piracy would be a concern, but honestly: If you’re selling content to universities that license it to tens of thousands of students living in highly-networked dorm rooms, is an app store really going to make the problem worse?”

“A key feature of the retailization of scholarly content is that it be reasonably free of digital rights management — and here academic publishing should learn from the music industry’s failed attempts to sell copy-protected music. The more open and reusable academic content is, the more reasons people will have to buy it. The great thing about PDFs is that, like MP3s, they are not copy-protected.”

“Overall by splitting the difference between dedicated devices and genuine computers, the iPad doesn’t show a lot of promise as a mobile platform for research and teaching. Of course if everyone is always carrying around an iPad already then they might start replacing voice recorders. It’s hard to tell.”

“While I can imagine some innovative pedagogic uses of the device, what academics do is still narrowly defined — and tied to institutional, political, and economic imperatives. Some imagined the Internet would cause us to rethink what it meant for a text to be coherent — and it has, to a certain extent. The academy might be too obdurate to be easily transformable.”

“Ultimately, academics need a world full of devices they can pour information in and out of. The more open and interoperable our new ecology of applications, devices, and content providers are, the more our learning will enrich human life — whether the people selling us our readers, software, and content are Apple, Amazon, or someone else entirely.”

I have also read through the current responses to the article, and there are some choice examples of people on both sides of the iPad and Apple love/hate divide. I recommend taking five minutes or so and scanning through them as there are some valid points.

If you have a iPad (yes, I’m ever so slightly jealous) and have been using it as part of your academic work, then please let me know how you find it, what apps your using, etc.

Augmented Reality on campus

There are many uses for Augmented Reality systems and applications already out there, but most I come across are for more generic “find a hotel” or “find a wifi spot”. These are great, but not really pushing the boundaries of what the technology can do.

I’ve read a little about how AR is being used in Education, which is good and I’ve spoken of these before – “Augmented Reality: does it have a place/future in education?”  and will continue to again as I find the links and research. But what about the other side of the education … not only in and out of the classroom, but to help the students around the Institution?

What about these ideas?

  • Student Orientation: What’s the worst part of being in a new place? For me it’s not knowing where anything is. You may have a room number, or even a building name, but where is that? If an Institution were to develop something that covered the whole campus (buildings, rooms, facilities, lecture theatres, etc) then the students could use it to find directions to the right place. You could use this to show the student how the campus used to look 10, 15 or even 20 years ago, as well as the history of the Institution and it’s previous staff and students?
  • Student Induction: Take the above one step further, the whole Induction process and programme could be incorporated (via QR Codes even?) into the app then the student could use the Induction programme to find their next session, the QR Code (placed outside the door to the /building room their about to enter?) to find out more about why they are there?
  • Library: Why not have an Augmented Reality app for the Library? Search online for the book/journal you want and AR can direct you to the floor and even to the exact shelf where the book or journal is? That would save some time, even more if it could tell you if the book was already out on loan.

These thoughts came about from watching this video on YouTube; created for the Junaio iPhone app, it worked in this example in the indoor 2010 Kiosk Europe Expo to guide visitors around and to help them decide where to go, and when.

If you know of somewhere that is already doing this then please let me know, I’d be happy to know that my thoughts and ideas were already being put into practice.

Also, if you’re interested in developing something like this I’d love to be involved in whatever capacity I could help with! Drop me a line or a comment below

QR Code: Bit.ly web address

QR Codes: In the Classroom

I’ve written previously about QR Codes, what they are, and how we might use them. I’ve met and chatted with Andy Ramsden of Bath University and seen how they have integrated them into the assignment and feedback process.

I saw two links this morning on Twitter that sparked my interest again, both from @psychemedia which has made me realise that I need to brain-dump my thoughts on how these wonderful little codes can be utilised in the classroom.

But first … I have found that there is something about the QR Code generation we ought to know about; this is

Using a QR Code Generator (like qrcode.kaywa.com) means you can have the code store either a short URL or your contact details as text. Be warned: the more data you ask it to store the larger the final QR Code will be.

Example: The BIT.LY address for my blog is http://bit.ly/9iO6xz. The QR Code for this is:

If I used the whole address of http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk then I get this QR Code (ahh, it’s bigger!):

If I wanted to store my Bournemouth contact details (from my email signature) then it looks like this (click to enlarge … but ouch, that’s too big! Use your code reader to find out what it has stored):

So, you see, you have to be careful about, not only, what information you store, but how you generate the information BEFORE you convert it into a QR Code. I strongly recommend that, wherever possible you use limited amount of text/content when you generate your code. If you have access to your own webspace, blog, etc then create a page/post that will contain all the information you want to make available, then use a URL shortening service to generate the shortest possible link to use for the code (see first example above).

So, with that out of the way, I get on with my thoughts about using QR Codes.

How can we use them? They are an excellent way of directing students to content. Whether the content is a book in the Library, a YouTube video, a seminar room at a given time, it doesn’t matter. What matters is working out an appropriate use. So, where can we use them?

I know the limitations of these codes are highlighted if students don’t have smart phones, or a mobile device without a camera, but I’m not dealing with limitations here, I’ll cover that in another post.

Lecture Theatre and/or Presentation

  • Place the QR Code in a slide that links to a YouTube video you want the students to watch, but you don’t want them to take up your valuable time in your lecture by showing them there and then.
  • Generate QR Codes that refer to materials the students may want to explore, but you haven’t time to show them in the limited lecture/seminar times.
  • Place the QR Code in your slides that links to the information about the core text for the lecture, details of what it is and where in the Library it can be found (floor, section, shelf details, etc, or even link to eBook version if it’s available?).
  • Generate a QR Code that links to an online survey or question you want them to answer while they’re with you, and show them the results (like a CPS system?)
  • Put the QR Code at the end or your presentation for the students to scan as they exit the theatre, that links to an audio copy of the lecture, or to the activity you’ve asked them to do.

Books & Textbooks

  • As these wonderful codes are being used more and more, how about the publishers using them in their printed versions to link to publisher-generated, and user-generated, content? This opens up so much more content than a CD in the back cover could ever do! The following YouTube clip demonstrates how this is already being done.


  • Not every classroom has posters and things stuck to the wall, but what if you and your students worked on a poster about, for example, the San Andreas fault line? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to include audio and visual content in the 2-dimensional presentation? While we wait for video paper to come of age and be affordable, the inclusion of a QR Code on the poster means the person viewing it can still access the video content without typing a long complicated link.
  • If you have a name-plate why not put a QR Code on it which links to your online profile page on the Institutions website? Why not get your business card printed with one it the back; you can then put so much more on it (contact details, publications, research, readings, RSS feed, etc).


  • I originally found information on QR Codes last year when it was blogged about in relation to the codes being placed on conference badges and a useful way for people to collect and share contact details.


  • As I’ve already mentioned, Andy Ramsden and his team at Bath University are leading the way in this field and application of QR Codes, and he recently tweeted that they’d catalogued 1384 assignments. Please read about his work as it is not only a good example of using this technology, it is also a beacon for all of us learn from about bringing the various different departments and interested parties together to develop the system and working practice to make it work.

(finally) Blogging

  • I found this plugin for WordPress recently that sits as a widget in the side-bar that auto-generates a QR Code for each individual page/post. So now you can use a QR Code to save a link as well as browser systems like Delicious.

Video: Sir Ken Robinson “Bring on the learning revolution!”

This is a follow on, from Sir Ken Robinson’s 2006 talk at TED ,where he “makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning – creating conditions where kids’ natural talents can flourish.”