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Moodle 2: Coming to City University in Spring 2013

December 10, 2012 1 comment
Sunrise in London

A new dawn in the City

As has already been mentioned in Educational Vignettes, City University London’s educational technologies are receiving an investment boost. Moodle, being the chief technology we use, is getting the greatest investment, with it undergoing an upgrade (to move to version 2, rather than the 1.9 we are currently on) and a a re-design with the help of City’s HCID Centre. The Moodle upgrade  will have more tools available, meant to give you more choice and flexibility when it comes to designing the electronic component of your course.

Now this sounds like a lot of change, we can hear you (and us!) saying; it should mostly translate into a lot of change behind the scenes, and a slightly different-looking but  improved system for its users. The plan is to have Moodle 2 launched from April 2013, but not used by students until the start of the 2013-2014 academic year (with the existing Moodle continuing to exist and be used as normal throughout this time). That will give the Schools and the LDC time to transfer modules (which will be done by IS after meeting with School Educational Technologists to plan which modules to make available first), showcase the system, and make training and guidance materials available to everyone before the system is used fully at the start of the 2013 term.  Different Schools will be approaching training in different ways, but every School will have a professional development programme in place; your local Educational Technologist will be contacting you with more information as the time gets nearer.

About Moodle 2
Moodle 2 works in a similar way to our current version of Moodle; there will be some changes around navigation and file management that make the system nicer to use, and as these two areas are accessed a lot when setting up a module, we are aware of the big impact this may have on users – which is why our training and guidance will pay particular attention to these areas. This release of Moodle brings with it a number of new features that we think are improvements as well:

  • a drag and drop interface to upload files
  • greater flexibility in linking to files across modules
  • an improved assignment activity which can also handle group-based assignments
  • conditional release which provides for greater control of when resources and activities are released to students
  • an improved Quiz tool with clearer navigation for staff and students and improved handling of quiz attempts not submitted to deadline.

We are finalising what exactly Moodle 2 will look like, and what additional tools it will contain, over Winter 2012-2013 in order to get it ready for its April launch. The Educational Technology Community at City have created a number of working groups to support the upgrade to Moodle 2. A series of blog posts will be provided through Educational Vignettes to keep you up-to-date on what is happening with Moodle 2 and the other educational technologies. But if in the mean time, you have any questions, please be in touch with the LDC or your School Educational Technologist, and we will do our best to help you.

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A Call for Learning Spaces Champions

November 22, 2012 Leave a comment

The Learning Spaces Group, running for the past year, brings together Academics and Central Services to discuss current and plan for future lecture room needs. We are calling for nominations for Space Champions – people who can give the topic of learning spaces greater prominence within their School, and bring their School needs to the attention of Central Services.

You can learn more about nominating yourself to be a champion by following this link.

Investment in Educational Technologies

September 25, 2012 1 comment

Many of City’s educational technologies will be getting an investment boost as part of the University’s strategic plan and funding.  Moodle will be upgraded and integrated with a repository, timetabling, and mobile delivery tools; video streaming and web conferencing tools will become more user-friendly and robust; automatic lecture capture and AV pods will be brought into more lecture rooms; and there will be changes to the back-end functioning of these technologies to make them more reliable and resilient.  These educational technology projects are being run through the Learning Development Centre and Information Services, with all School educational technology teams represented on the working groups that feed into these projects. Most of the projects are expected to be completed during the 2012-2013 academic year, meaning you will be seeing the positive effects of them before the next academic year.

 

Our intention in applying for the funding was twofold:  to improve the systems that staff and students have come to rely on so that they are as robust as possible, and to create opportunities for educational excellence by developing technologies to support good pedagogic practices and enable a positive student experience. Please be in touch with the Learning Development Centre if you would like to learn more about any of the investment projects, or if you would like to be a member of a working group – working group membership is open to anyone interested in the topic and willing to participate in discussions and decision-making.

Future Lecturing Spaces Design Forum, 20 Sept 2012

September 13, 2012 Leave a comment

The Learning Development Centre  and Property & Facilities  would like to invite staff and students to a drop in session to share ideas, thoughts and views on what you would like from future lecturing spaces at City. We want to hear from you about your lecturing, your learning, and how the spaces around you can better support you. We’re constructing the session so that people can dip in for a few minutes and give their ideas, or stay longer to talk to the architects or members of Properties and Facilities or the LDC about the wider topic of Learning Spaces.

The event will be held on Thursday 20 September 3pm – 5pm in A110 (College Building), over tea and cake. Please drop in to view the exhibition of exciting and innovative spaces from other institutions,  visuals of what some of our new spaces could look like together with  samples of furniture that may be used.  Please take the opportunity to talk to the  architect who is helping design our new spaces and talk to members of the Learning Spaces Group about the work they have done on lecture spaces and collaborative learning.   It should be a vibrant and inter-active session.

If you would like to attend for catering purposes please RSVP to Marcia Rose – Marcia.Rose.1.city.ac.uk

A New Learning Space Comes to City

As part of the ongoing Learning Spaces Project, the LDC has been working together with School of Health Sciences (SHS), Properties and Facilities, Timetabling, and Information Services to put together a new computer lab space in College Building. This new space will be a departure from labs as we know it: half of the room will feature moveable node chairs and laptop loans, while the other half will feature group computer tables with flip-top computers. Both of these spaces are being designed to give priority to group learning; SHS is putting in place a problem based learning curriculum, and students will be expected to work on computers in small groups to tackle the scenario given to them during class time.

Although designed at the request of SHS, the two rooms in AG24 aren’t just for SHS to use and will meet the needs of a broad range of lecturers and courses. A survey the LDC conducted into computer lab usage at Northampton Square showed that 44% of lectures in computer labs already contain some element of group work, and that staff have found the arrangement of large desks and close rows makes it difficult for students to cluster together, and for staff to move freely between groups to talk to or help support students. By creating new lab spaces that are geared toward making group work easier, we hope to create spaces that are not only adapt to the lecturing (rather than forcing the lecturing to adapt to the space), but also create a more positive learning experience for students and lecturers in allowing them to talk to one another without restrictions.

AG24 A&B  are set to be ready for the start of the 2012-2013 academic year. Though only two rooms at the moment, they represent a change of approach to how we build, evaluate, and think of our taught environments. So what happens next? Watch this space.

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