Join us for a “collabo-break”, 12 October

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We are delighted that Allan Thomson (Lecturer, Podiatry) is going to take the lead in our inaugural online “collabo-break”next Thursday (12 October) at 12.30pm. Alan will be sharing  how he is using the Collaborate Ultra web conferencing system with his on campus and distance students and when students are on placement.

These sessions are the successor to our face to face coffee club meetings and we will be using Collaborate Ultra, so you can join us from anywhere.  If you can’t make the session we’ll be sharing a recording very shortly afterwards via edShare.

This is the first of series of online sessions to share practice and also to provide an opportunity for staff to experience the Collaborate Ultra web conferencing system which is now fully integrated into GCULearn.

To join the session simply click on this link.

NB To get the best user experience of Collaborate Ultra, take a few minutes before the session starts to ensure that you have the most up to date version of either the Chrome or Firefox web browsers,  and that you have headphones/mic/speakers so you can hear and contribute to the session.  More information and guidance about using Collaborate Ultra is available here.



Quick Guides to setting up and using Collaborate Ultra in GCULearn

The Collaborate Ultra web conferencing system is now fully integrated into GCULearn. That means that all teaching staff attached to modules can easily set up  and run online web conferences within their modules.

To help get you started we’ve produced two new quick start guides which take you through the step up process in GCU Learn and give a quick overview of the main features and functions of the Collaborate Ultra Interface.

Click on the image below to access an interactive version with guidance.

Collated assessment and feedback policy and guidance

Following our last posts on collated resources and guidance for curriculum/module design and GCU Learn, we how have another collection of collated resources around assessment and feedback. This guide includes GCU policies, including our new Digital Assessment Policy, guides for Turnitin and GCULearn.

You can view the resource in full screen by clicking on the arrow  Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.17.53 icon at the top right hand side of the wall or by following this link.

Made with Padlet

Getting back into GCULearn

Have you forgotten everything where some things are in GCULearn over the summer?  Following our last post about curriculum design guides, we’ve also collated some basic guidance and getting started resources for GCULearn.  As ever if you have any suggestions that you would like added, then please let us know in the comments.

You can view in full screen by clicking on the arrow  Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.17.53 icon at the top right hand side of the wall or by following this link.

Made with Padlet

Collated Curriculum Design Resources

With the new semester fast approaching we know many colleagues are looking at refreshing and revising modules.   As you know Padlet is one of our favourite tools and over the summer we’ve been exploring some of the new layout features which give some really useful additional ways of sharing and curating resources.

We’ve also produced an overview Module Design Guide which covers all the basics from setting objectives, writing learning outcomes to constructive alignment.  This resource has been designed to be used either in a facilitated groups setting or individually.

We’ve collated this along with our other curriculum design related resources into the padlet wall below using the canvas template which allows you to make links between resources, kind of like a mind map.

You can view in full screen by clicking on the arrow  Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.17.53 icon at the top right hand side of the wall, or by using this link.

Made with Padlet

Turnitin Feedback Studio – now available in GCULearn

Turnitin has released a major product upgrade.  The new version of the service, called Turnitin Feedback Studio or TFS offers all the functionalities of Turnitin, but with a simplified, more intuitive interface.  This should improve the user experience of the service. TFS is now fully integrated into GCULearn.

The short video below gives an overview of  the old and new versions.


More information and guidance is available from the following links:

Update on our data extraction experiences #jiscanlytics

With the upcoming Jisc Learning Analytics Network meeting next week I though it would be useful to share a little bit of our experiences so far with extracting data from our student records system into the Jisc LRW (learning records warehouse).  Ken Fraser, Business Intelligence Analyst, in our IS department has been leading the work on this. He took 10 minutes out of his schedule to share with me how things have been working so far, in terms of getting set up and using Pentaho Kettle for data extraction and validation in the LRW.

GCU Data Extraction Update, April 2017 (MP3, 7.5 minutes)

We are still waiting for our VLE data extraction – hopefully that will be happening in May, and we can start to really explore the data and share some more of our findings.

Open voices, art, inclusion and the common good #oer17

This week I attended the #OER17 conference in London. It was an inspiring event with practitioners from across the globe sharing how they have been using and developing both open educational resources (OER) and open educational practice.

One key theme that ran throughout the conference from the keynotes to the paper presentations and panels was the need for clearer articulation of open education. There is still a lack of mainstream knowledge and understanding of open education and the benefits it can bring to both individuals and institutions.

I was struck, once again by how much some of our GCU strategies, practice and activities align with open education, but how we don’t actually use “open” to explicitly define and share them. e.g. our mission “for the common good” and the developing Common Good Curriculum. They are are fundamentally about working with, and for the benefit of the wider community, which aligns perfectly with open educational practice.   We already have some very good foundations in place with our OER guidance from the library and edShare.

The keynotes this year were all excellent. Maha Bali (Associate Professor of Practice at the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo), highlighted the need and nuances of inclusion and diversity.  Artist/activist Diana Acre, reminded us of the power of social art, of creating art activism within communities to bring about change at a community level and to help us create meaningful interactions and understanding to and with our wider community. Lucy Compton-Reid (Chief Executive, Wikimedia UK) highlighted the powerful ways in which incorporating  wikimedia into the classroom can bring about  extension of knowledge, contributions to “real world problems”, internationalization, working for the common good, and develop crucial digital literacy skills.  I will be writing a longer reflection on the conference on my own blog, but in the meantime I would encourage you to watch the keynotes, and share any of your thoughts in the comments.

Learning Spaces Inspiration

Last week I attended a Heads of eLearning Forum (HeLF) event on Learning Spaces at Birmingham University.  It was good timing, as GCU is planning to transform a floor in the Hamish Wood Building with state of the art teaching spaces, as well as refurbishing a number of lecture theatres.  Learning from the experiences of others who are further down the road with these changes is really inspiring.

We heard first of all about past and future developments in teaching rooms and study spaces at the University of Birmingham, guided by their Learning Spaces Strategy. It’s interesting to note that Learning Spaces projects come under the wing of the Centre for Learning and Academic Development and Learning Spaces, where they have a Learning Spaces Development Officer.

Caroline Pepper from Loughborough reminded us of the UK Higher Education Learning Space Toolkit produced jointly by UCISA, SCHOMS and AUDE, which is a practical guide and another source of inspiration. I like the fact that the toolkit focuses very much on facilitating learning. It emphasises the diverse range of stakeholders who should be involved from the outset, including students and teaching staff.  The fdevelopments at Loughborough are based around a set of key principles.  Useful practical advice included the importance of flexibility to allow spaces, technology and learning to evolve over time, and the importance of natural light, especially in IT labs where it is often forgotten. Establishing an evaluation baseline early on against which success can be measured is vital.

We were also reminded that when new active learning classrooms are established, academic development is key to ensuring lecturers are prepared for making best use of the spaces with their students.

Peter Ryan of Canterbury Christchurch University shared experiences of the development of a new state of the art library building in its Canterbury campus as a learning space, including ‘maker spaces’ to encourage collaboration and co-creation among students.

We also heard from Paul Burt of UCL, who outlined the highly ambitious programme of teaching space upgrades that is taking place across UCL’s London campuses. It was interesting to hear that they have created new specialist AV/Learning Spaces posts (4 in all) rather than employing external consultants. This is allowing them to build up in-house expertise resulting in speedier start-ups and greater success for new projects.  UCL are sharing their experiences with the sector and have produced their own learning spaces and AV guide.

All in all, the day allowed a really useful exchange of experiences and ideas. There was also some future-gazing into a shift away from fixed lectern equipment and the standard ‘teaching wall’ at the front of a room.  Wifi capacity is key. As one participant put it, ‘If I can connect my iPad easily to my TV at home, why is it still so difficult to enable that for students and staff using their own devices in a teaching space?’ Why indeed.

UCISA Learning Spaces Toolkit

Developing digital capability through flexible curriculum design

We are delighted that GCU features as one of a number of new case studies launched by Jisc last week at #digifest as part of their growing set of resources around building staff digital capabilities.  Our case study, titled Developing digital capability through flexible curriculum design focuses on our recent developments in curriculum design and supporting staff for more fully online delivery.

You can download and read the case study here.


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