Posts Tagged ‘top tips’

7 things you should know about Lecture Capture

January 11, 2013 Leave a comment

OTLTWhat is it?

Lecture Capture includes a range of technologies used for digitally recording and distributing lectures. These recordings involve some combination of text, audio and video. The video could be of the lecturer, a whiteboard, a chalkboard, a screencast or any combination of video feeds available (Dey et al., 2009; Gosper, et al., 2008).

Who’s doing it?

Lecture Capture, though still a relatively young research area, continues to gain momentum across the globe. In London, Institutions such as LSE,UCL, Queen Mary and Imperial seem to be leading the way.

What are the Benefits?

While not intended as a replacement for in-class instruction, lecture capture offers three important benefits: an alternative when students miss class; an opportunity for content review, particularly when abstruse topics are introduced or detailed procedures are performed; and content for online course development.

What does the research say about lecture capture usage?

Pennsylvania State University reports on trends in lecture capture research and provides some common reasons for leveraging lecture capture. These include convenience for students, reviewing for exams, enhancing students understanding of concepts from class, note taking and reviewing materials if students miss classes. More studies as well as insights into other universities usage of lecture capture are now being conducted across the board on lecture capture and can be viewed here.

In a recent small scale study of lecture capture of 1,000 students run by the School of Arts and Social Sciences; results showed that 91% of students used lecture recordings and 93% of students said lecture recordings helped their exam revision and assignment preparation.

Why is Lecture Capture important?

Students generally value lecture capture because it gives them the ability to go back and review lecture materials in their own time at their own pace.  This is particularly useful for revision. Through some of the studies reported above, lecture capture may offer additional support for students who speak English as a second language as well as students who may have learning difficulties.

Lecturers value the recording of their lectures because it gives them the ability to help students grasp difficult concepts and provide revision opportunities. Some lecturers worry that students may cut classes in favour of viewing captured lectures.  However recorded lectures are being seen as an opportunity by some lecturers to flip the classroom i.e use class time to conduct group activities to supplement the lecture material.

How does it work?

At City University London, the lecture capture system being used is Echo360. This system is integrated into AV Pods in a few rooms. More information on rooms that contain lecture capture are listed below. Pushing a single button is normally enough to activate the system and begin capturing a lecture. Recordings can be viewed on the web or in formats compatible with MP3 players and portable video devices.

Which learning spaces can I use to record lectures?

The lecture capture working group have enabled the system in several spaces across the Institution. This group intends to expand lecture capture next academic year.  The lecture theatres and other rooms that currently hold the equipment for staff to record material for students are:

Oakden, Geary,Oliver Thompson and ELG19 lecture theatre  and The Mill, Goswell Place.

If you have any further thoughts on lecture capture, please do raise under comments. If you’d like to be part of the lecture capture ‘revolution’ please do  contact your ed. tech team.

Personal Response Systems: Review of the Turning Technologies User Conference 2012, Aarhus University, Denmark

August 17, 2012 4 comments

Two months ago I attended the Turning Technologies User Conference 2012 at Aarhus University, Denmark, the first of its kind in Continental Europe (following the success of last year’s UK conference, reviewed here). Turning Technologies manufactures the electronic Personal Response Systems (PRS) or ‘classroom clickers’ that we use at City University London to poll students’ responses to specific questions posed during lectures, so I was keen to learn more about how other users internationally deploy this technology in their teaching.

A brief outline of each of the sessions is given below. The conference agenda, including abstracts for each of the presentations, is available here and the full conference programme (which was combined with Aarhus University’s ‘Frontiers in Science Teaching’ conference to create a two-day event) may be downloaded here.

Keynote – ‘Turning Lectures into Learning’ (Eric Mazur, Harvard University)

Following a welcome from Michael Broderik, CEO of Turning Technologies, the day opened with a keynote presentation by Professor Eric Mazur, whose ground-breaking teaching method of ‘peer instruction’ has brought him international recognition. He discussed how he developed peer instruction during the early 1990s as a response to the problem of the transmissive nature of traditional lectures, making lectures more interactive by placing students at the centre of their learning and thereby fostering a deeper level of understanding. In brief, the process is that a key conceptual question is posed; without conferring, the students vote for the answer they believe to be correct; they are then invited to discuss their answer amongst themselves in small groups; finally, the poll is taken again to see if more students have been persuaded towards the correct answer by their peers’ explanations. Professor Mazur illustrated his method with several worked examples, including, towards the end of his presentation, one from his teaching in ethics to demonstrate that peer instruction was not applicable exclusively within pedagogical contexts in which there is a definitive answer.

‘Writing good great Exceptional Clicker Questions’ (Siara Isaac, EPFL, Lausanne)

‘Museum Studies Using TurningPoint’ (Mikel Asensio, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and Elena Pol, Interpretart)

Then followed the first of three parallel breakout sessions. In an interactive presentation, Siara Isaac invited the audience to write and revise PRS questions to turn them progressively from good, to great, to exceptional questions that nurtured deep-level understanding. Her discussion was informed by common mistakes in the authorship of multiple choice questions, but she also argued that to write exceptional (rather than merely good or great) PRS questions, a more creative approach may be necessary. Meanwhile, in the room next door, Professor Mikel Asensio and Dr Elena Pol discussed their use of personal response systems within museum studies. They noted that the information traditionally provided in museums was often quite weighty (for example, large amounts of printed text mounted on walls) and that this is not particularly engaging or interactive for visitors. As a solution, their institution has taken to using personal response systems to stimulate their guests’ interest in their collections as well as to gather important demographic information about them.

Interaction in Lectures with Mobile Devices (Will Moindrot, University of Manchester)

Using Electronic Voting Systems in the Arts and Humanities (Christopher Wiley, City University London)

After lunch, Will Moindrot discussed the logistical challenges presented by the use of personal response systems in lectures involving large numbers of students (it was particularly interesting to have considered this perspective given that personal response systems are often cited as being a means of dealing effectively with large-group teaching). He reported back on the students’ experiences of the solution implemented at the University of Manchester, namely the use of ResponseWare technology (a good explanation for which is to be found here) to enable students to vote using their own mobile devices without the need to be supplied with a bespoke handset. The concurrent session was my own presentation on using personal response systems in the arts and humanities. I (Dr Christopher Wiley) argued for the potential of PRS to enhance teaching in areas other than the traditional sciences, for instance, by soliciting audience opinion on a contentious point (with the aim of nurturing debate and generating arguments for and against prior to a repoll), or asking ‘subjective’ questions that stimulate discussion among students in that there may be more than one valid or correct answer. My presentation was illustrated by examples drawn from my teaching as a music lecturer who has used PRS for the past four years, as well as feedback received from my students.

‘Diagnostic Processes In General Practice’ (Lars Bjerrum, Copenhagen University)

‘Improving Practice and Addressing Practicalities: Embedding Audience Response Systems at the University of Kent’ (Daniel Clark, University of Kent)

In the final breakout session of the day, Professor Lars Bjerrum explained how personal response systems may be used to illustrate different approaches to the diagnostic process in general practice (as distinct from the diagnostic process within the context of a hospital). Such approaches include pattern recognition and deductive reasoning, and his presentation referred specifically to patients in primary care. Next door, Daniel Clark discussed e-learning strategy at the University of Kent in relation to the use of personal response system technology, which was piloted there five years ago. He spoke about positive feedback received from staff about the pedagogical value of PRS, current practices at the university (for instance, using PRS to facilitate revision sessions), the challenges posed by the embedment of this new technology in teaching and the solutions that were implemented, and the means by which PRS is promoted to staff on a continuing basis through training sessions (see here for further information). His presentation yielded an insight into the strategy of a single higher education institution as well as offering helpful guidance to others seeking to implement similar initiatives within their own contexts.

‘Turning to Your Neighbour’ (Julie Schnell, Harvard University)

The day concluded with a follow-up session exploring peer instruction, led by Dr Julie Schnell, who amplified the specific concept of ‘turning to your neighbour’ which is at the heart of the method. Through worked examples, she discussed the benefits and drawbacks of two fundamental questions relating to its implementation: whether or not to take an initial vote before inviting the students to discuss a given question with their neighbour; and at what stage in the peer instruction process to display the poll results to the audience. Professor Mazur’s opening keynote had already given us experience of some of these different approaches, for instance, revealing the results of the initial poll to us immediately for one question but withholding them for another.

The conference also benefitted from a number of poster presentations, including ‘Adding Value To Your Handsets – Making Video Interactive’ (Sue Palmer, Empowering Confidence) and ‘Clicking Your Way to Research Data’ (Sue McMillen, Buffalo State College). All in all, it was a highly informative event and a valuable opportunity to network with people implementing personal response systems in a variety of technology-enabled teaching settings, and to share thoughts, practices, and solutions.

Turning Technologies User Conference 2012, Aarhus University, Denmark

A day in the life of a Teaching Pod

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Its been an interesting journey for the Pod.

It all started way back in 2006 when a Classroom Experience initiative brought in over £1.4M to purchase over 80 Pods for the Northampton Square campus!

Over the years, these pods became problematic and a number of issues were being reported through the Classroom Experience Steering Group.  The group at that time, consisted of a range of mainly IT staff and so a re-haul of the group was put into action. In addition, a Pod Evaluation was undertaken in 2011. The aim of the evaluation was to demonstrate what our staff use and their experiences. The evaluation was also connected to the Strategic Learning Environment(SLE)  & has been used to help inform the design of learning environment at City in the future.

Meanwhile the Classroom Experience Steering group had been renamed to Learning Spaces group which now consists of academic staff from all schools, students, Student Union, IT senior members for eg IS and AV Support. The Pod Evaluation ran between Feb. – Mar. 2011. and included a mixed method approach. This consisted of a survey followed by semi-structured Interviews with a number of staff.

The areas identified as problematic within the Pod Evaluation were speed of the Pods, poorly maintained equipment or insufficient knowledge.  The recommendations that followed were:

  1. to establish the reasons behind the slow speed of Pods and to assess whether it’s down to old equipment or configuration problems.
  2. to put in place a strategy to ensure all Pods remain up to date with software versions and working hardware.
  3. to develop a strategy for raising awareness on what the Pod can do through the school liaison model.  The support available needs to be joined up between schools, the Learning Development Centre and the AV Support.

The evaluation was raised at all the formal committees including Strategy & Governance and wheels were set into motion for ensuring we develop the recommendations via the Learning Spaces group. The Learning Spaces Group (LSG) have since then developed & tested the Pod to make it faster, more intuitive and help staff get to grips with the changes.  The Teaching Pod has two guides:

  1. Pod1Pager
  2. PodGuide

Oh my Pod sessions have been run across the Northampton Square site in Sep. & Oct 2011 to ensure staff are being trained on the pods.  This evaluation has led to a business case to review the current offering for not only teaching equipment but also to think more widely about our learning spaces within the campus to ensure a consistent teaching and learning experience for all staff and students.

If you’d like to know more about this project, please contact the ldc.

Tips for writing student facing module and programme specifications

May 30, 2011 Leave a comment

At City University London all our programme and module specifications are written so they are aimed at the students. In order for these to be clear for students here are some tips to making these clear.

10 Tips for writing student facing documents

The purpose of writing student facing documents is to ensure the students are clear about their programme and modules, what they can expect from them and what their role and contribution will be.

  •  Make the module and programme sound interesting and tell them what they will gain from the module and programme.
  •  If you have elective modules ensure the students know what their choices are and they choose the right one for them.
  • Tell them what they will be able to do and what they will have achieved by the end of the module/programme in terms of knowledge and understanding, skills and values and attitudes
  •  You need to tell them how they learn, the strategies you use and why, such as lectures, seminars, laboratory sessions and tutorials and what they need to do in each
  •  Where on line tools are used make sure they know if they have to use these and why it will enhance their learning.
  •  There are students directed hours in your module and programme but students need to know what they should do in this time and how this will help them learn.
  •  All your students will be assessed during their module and programme and they need to know what formative opportunities there are for them to practice for their summative assessment and how they will get feedback.
  •  Tell students what the summative assessments require them to do, what they need to do to pass in terms of the criteria and marks and how and when they will get feedback.
  •  Guide the students to resources such as books, journals and websites that will help them learn.
  •  Ensure the students know about any professional accreditation for the programme and the sorts of career they can pursue with their degree.


Surveys in Sixty Minutes

Focusing on a popular tool in the HE researcher’s toolkit – the survey

Sian Lindsay, Lecturer in Learning Development

Ajmal Sultany, Research Assistant

Learning Development Centre, City University London

What we did in a nutshell

For one of the LDC’s monthly research and journal club meetings, we decided to present on what we have learnt from carrying out several surveys in our own research in the LDC. Survey design is a bit of a minefield for newer researchers and we have found the literature explaining ‘how to do surveys’ pretty mind-numbing to say the least! Some of the literature explaining survey design can also be unnecessarily complex. So we wanted to provide our participants with a condensed, simple and interesting journey through the world of surveys in Higher Education, in other words, surveys in sixty minutes!


We used Prezi to present with, combining this with diagrams made using PowerPoint, to create a “PowerPrezi” (a term coined by Ajmal) – please access our PowerPrezi here

In the beginning there was… Higher Education Research

We kicked off our presentation with a discussion about the field of Higher Education (HE) research; this led onto us saying how important the use of surveys are within this field. So what do we mean by HE research? Well:

  • It’s a relatively ‘new’ field, being defended as a “valid a field of intellectual inquiry as any specialised discipline” by Studies in Higher Education Editor-at-the-time Tony Becher in 1976
  • We discussed the field as having little or no ‘border control’, permitting access into it from a variety of other academic fields, using Bruce MacFarlane’s 2010 refugee/nomad/tourist/native analogy to describe who HE researchers today are

What are surveys?

We like Creswell’s 2009 definition of a survey as “a quantitative or numeric description of trends, attitudes or opinions of a population by studying a sample of that population”. Ajmal explained how surveys have evolved over time, with Charles Booth’s “Inquiry into Life and Labour in London (1886-1903)” providing an early example of social cartography, where using surveys each street in London was categorized to indicate the income and social class of the people living there

We described why we used surveys and described how effective survey design should follow a process of exploring the literature relevant to the research question first of all – this would not only help in question design, but would also allow you to discover whether similar surveys had been carried out around the topic you were researching – so avoiding reinvention of the wheel. We then discussed how survey design was also underpinned by theory, and finally how the questionnaire itself was at the heart of survey design.

It all boils down to three things

Toward the end of our presentation we focused on three key aspect of survey design:

1.       What are you going to ask? (the questionnaire) – we’ll talk more on this below

2.       Who are you going to ask? (survey sampling) – this is always tricky to explain, and in our session we still struggled. A great guidance on this can be found on the Qualtrics website, on their Sample Size, What’s the Deal? page

3.       How are you going to ask them? (different survey modes)

11 top tips for writing effective questionnaire questions

Here’s our 11 top tips for writing good questions for surveys, we based some of these using guidance from Cohen et al (2007) – please click on the image below to see a larger and more readable version of it:

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