E-Learning Newsletter – December 2021 Edition

Welcome to the December edition of our newsletter, which summarises the latest news on technology enhanced learning provision across the University. You can use the links in the contents below to navigate through the different sections of the newsletter.

You can stay up to date with us by visiting our website: https://elearningyork.wordpress.com/ or following us on Twitter: @UoY_Yorkshare (Service) & UoY_TEL (Pedagogy)

For an entry point to our key resources, please see the following pages:

Planned System Outages

VLE Mini-upgrade, 7th and 8th December 2021

Colleagues should also be advised that we will be carrying out further necessary system maintenance on the VLE in December of 2021. This Winter ‘Mini-Upgrade’ will take place over a two-day period, requiring downtime on Tuesday the 7th and Wednesday the 8th of December inclusive. As with the Summer upgrade, the VLE and Replay Lecture Capture will be unavailable to all users. This work is to ensure that the service continues to be robust and stable for the busy assessment periods in the Spring and Summer terms.

Please ensure that these dates are shared widely within your Department. If you are aware of any planned teaching, learning or assessment activities that are running during these upgrade periods, please contact the Programme Design and Learning Technology Team as early as possible at vle-support@york.ac.uk and we will endeavour to find a solution for you.

Xerte downtime, 8pm, 8 Dec 2021

After a successful transition to single sign-on for Xerte, we are upgrading to Xerte 3.10 on 8 Dec at 8pm. We hope to take no more than an hour to complete the upgrade during which time access to Xerte and Xerte learning objects will be affected.

As suggested above, please get in touch if the timing of this will affect you adversely: vle-support@york.ac.uk.

Collaborate Ultra, 9th December 2021

Collaborate Ultra is updated roughly once a month by Blackboard, which requires a four hour period of down time where users cannot use the system. The next planned update is overnight between 00:01 and 04:00 GMT on December 9th.

This is a maintenance release only, producing no movel changes to the end user experience. See Collaborate’s own Release Notes page for more information as it is released.

Remember: You can always find summary information about planned outages for all our systems on our System Availability page.

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PDLT Support During the Christmas Vacation

The PDLT will be providing our usual level of support up until Friday 24th December. Thereafter, we will only be able to respond to emergency issues up until Tuesday January 4th, when a full service will resume at 09:00 UK time. We would therefore very much appreciate it if any urgent training or support issues are communicated to us by Friday 17th December to ensure that we can guarantee our usual level of response.

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eAssignment Readiness – Guidance for Staff and Students

A reminder our support materials for staff and students around electronic assignments run via the Yorkshare VLE, both formative and summative:

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VLE Module Site Purge

A reminder that it is time to prepare for the purge (deletion or removal) of old module sites and their content from the VLE for academic years prior to 2017. The VLE Archiving Policy states that VLE module sites will be retained for 5 years only and then purged from the system. This means that module sites from the academic years prior to 2017 will be purged in the final week of January 2022 (between the 24th and 30th).

As the VLE has no notion of a single module owner, all VLE users with an Instructor role on 2016 academic year module sites will be emailed individually with:

  • a link to a VLE Self Service Dashboard report showing modules they are enrolled on as an Instructor
  • an explanation of the module purge process
  • instructions on how to preserve module content or entire module sites

Departmental coordinators will be issued with a link to a report so that they are able to view all modules that are categorised for their department which are scheduled for deletion. If you think there are any module sites, or content within them, for these academic years which you may need retaining please contact vle-support@york.ac.uk along with an explanation of why you would need to retain the sites or content. Also feel free to contact us if you have any queries about the module purge process.

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Panopto / Replay Service Information

A new blog post summarises the University’s policies and guidance for captioning educational video, including pre-recorded media and lecture-capture sessions.

What has been your experience of using lecture-capture this term? Please complete our short online survey. Your feedback will help us identify challenges and  make improvements.

The latest version of the Panopto desktop self-recorder for Mac has been updated to support MacOS Monterey.

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Update: Digital Assessment & Feedback Project: November 2021 Update – Online assessment: where are we going?

The Digital Assessment and Feedback (DA&F) project has been running for just over a year. Back in November 2020 the plan was for the project to be in place for 2 years – one year to gather requirements from departments and to trial and test a new assessment platform, and a second year to train staff and students on use of the chosen platform. In our last monthly update we announced that a decision about the future direction of the project would be taken in November 2021. So do please read the following new blog post to find out more about what the DA&F team have done and learned this past year and the decision on the future of the project:

Digital Assessment & Feedback Project: November 2021 Update

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New Mentimeter webinar recording and user groups

A new recording has been made available for staff of the recent ‘Getting started with Mentimeter’ webinar in which Julia Arvidsson from Mentimeter provided an introduction to the tool covering the basics and answering questions from participants about functionality, accessibility and options.

You can view the recording on the PDLT Webinars page.

We have also created two communication groups that are open for all staff to join if they would like to receive updates about the use of Mentimeter at the University of York. These will include, for example, updates about the Mentimeter service, information about training and resources, requests for feedback, and invitations to take part in experience sharing activities.

For email updates only: Mentimeter Users Google Group – please log in to UoY Google before clicking on the link

Slack channel: # mentimeter-york slack channel.

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New blog post: UCISA panel discussions on the impact of Covid-19

The following blog post reports on recent UCISA panel discussions focusing on the impact of Covid-19 and Technology-enhanced learning developments across the UK HE sector. The discussions centred on four key impacts:

  • Growth in the usage of TEL tools and the potential impact in the medium/long term.
  • Changes in team and organisational structures and the likely impact on the future of TEL support in HE.
  • Effects on the cultural and institutional drivers for TEL linked to the wider digital agenda in terms of topics such as digital skills development and digital accessibility.
  • Teaching models and the likely longer-term impact of changes brought about in response to the Pandemic.

UCISA panel discussions on the impact of Covid-19

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New blog post: Promoting a theory-informed, context-sensitive and reflective approach to tutoring online

In this blogpost, Nathan Page reports on a new training course which is being delivered to online tutors in the Computer Science department. It follows on from PDLT’s existing ‘Tutoring Online’ resource, using that as flipped content for its synchronous sessions and incorporating peer observation and reflective practice elements to the course:

Promoting a theory-informed, context-sensitive and reflective approach to tutoring online.

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Video of the month

In the following ‘Future Teacher’ video (11 mins 39 secs), Chris Jay and Barry Lee from the Department of Philosophy, outline their approach to diversifying assessment in the Undergraduate degree programme by introducing a group-based podcast assessment. They outline the rationale for the approach, the processes they undertook, the outcomes of consultation they carried out with students and other Departments to design the assessment, the ways in which they supported the students undertaking groupwork activities, and the outcomes of the initiative including feedback from their students.

Philosophy and Society Podcasts:  A groupwork assessment (UoY log in to Panopto required)

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PDLT/Forum session: Reflections on Learning and Teaching in the Autumn term 2021 • Tuesday December 14th 2021, online, 2-3.30pm

Organised by the Learning and Teaching Forum in collaboration with PDLT, this session follows on from last year’s Learning and Teaching @ York in the Coronavirus Pandemic workshops and aim to provide participants with an opportunity to listen to, reflect on and discuss experiences of learning and teaching this term:

How have experiences gained during the remote teaching phases of the Pandemic informed approaches? What has worked well? What has been challenging? What next?

If you would like to join us, please see the following session webpage for the programme and the sign up form.

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CMALT celebration session: Thursday 9th December, 1pm-3pm

Would you like to gain professional accreditation for your learning technology skills and experience, and hear from colleagues who have done so? We will be running a virtual CMALT celebration session on Thursday 9th December (1pm-3pm) in collaboration with Kaplan – where colleagues who have successfully submitted CMALT portfolios will reflect on their writing-up process, with tips on how to develop a portfolio. If you would like to attend the session, please contact Richard Walker

If you would like to learn more about CMALT and hear about the experience of taking part, the following blog post includes links to further information and a reflection from Sally Quinn from the Department of Psychology on her experiences of successfully completing CMALT accreditation in 2021:

Reflections on writing a CMALT portfolio

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Webinars and meetups: York, AbilityNet, Texthelp and JISC webinars

Each month, the University of York, AbilityNet, Texthelp and JISC run webinars on digital accessibility and related topics. 

View the e-accessibility calendar for these and other events.



Why not watch some recordings from previous webinars? 

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E-accessibility News

3 Dec, International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The UN established this annual day to encourage awareness-raising actions. Could you do something in your department to contribute to awareness-raising on this day? Read more about International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Join the UN event:
3 Dec, 1.00pm to 2.30pm. UN DESA: Reducing Inequalities Through Technologies: A Perspective on Disability Inclusive Development. Concept note. Registration.

Training: Creating Accessible Documents • Online using Collaborate Ultra • 10am to 12pm • 9 Dec

1420 – the number of attendees who have attended the workshop so far!

The workshop demonstrates how ‘universal design’ can help everyone, and not just those with an accessibility need. Practise creating accessible documents using your own documents or using sample documents. Find out more and sign up for the workshop. You will be sent a Zoom link to join the online training room.

Find other events at http://bit.ly/eaccess-calendar.

Accessible Documents Meetup Group • 12pm to 1pm • 16 Dec

Interested in making accessible content and resources? Join our online monthly meetup to share resources or discuss a challenge you would like help with.

Accessible Documents Meetup Group information and sign up

The Distractibles Meetup • 12.30pm to 1.30pm • 28 Jan

Finding it hard to focus and plagued by distractions? Join The Distractibles Meetup on the last Friday of each month, 12.30pm to 1.30pm. We are a support group of staff and students with small group chat and an ideas bank of things to try. Next meetup will be in January.

View the Distractibles site and sign up to get the Zoom link.

Texthelp Read&Write Meetup • 1.00pm to 2.00pm • 27 Jan

We have about 703 users of Read&Write at the university to date. 
Read&Write is a discreet toolbar that helps you to read course content and write coursework more effectively. It’s available on Campus computers and you can access it as a Chrome browser extension. Students Kaye Bennett and Rowan Casey run a meetup for all staff or students to share tips on how to use this useful toolbar. Find out more about Texthelp Read&Write and register. Next meetup will be on 27 Jan.

Bespoke training

If your department has specific questions about the kind of documents you produce and how accessible they are to users, why not book a bespoke training workshop where we go through the principles and use your documents as examples? Contact lilian.soon@york.ac.uk to make arrangements.

Blackboard Ally News

Our scores are looking great at 91.5%! We will restart our Blackboard Ally campaign in January 2022. Students can continue to create alternative formats at http://ally.ac/covid19 until the VLE upgrade on 7 and 8 Dec.

About Blackboard Ally.

Please help us find out more about how students use alternative formats by asking them to complete our survey on student use of Ally. We really appreciate it.

Texthelp Read&Write and EquatIO, OrbitDoc

We’re giving out flyers to students about Read&Write, EquatIO and OrbitNote, as well as Ally and using Alternative Formats. 

Print these off for your own distribution if you like. There are 3 flyers per A4 sheet, double-sided.

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Standing item: Future Teacher Webinars

Next webinar 26 Jan, 1pm is on Learning Analytics. 

“Learning analytics refers to the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about the progress of learners and the contexts in which learning takes place.” – JISC. In this webinar, we look at the different ways in which learning can be supported or re-designed by analysing the patterns that exist in the way students access their learning resources. How can we turn this information into a feed forward exercise for students and how will this affect their achievement?

In our usual Future Teacher style, we will look at the topic from both the pedagogic and the technical approaches. We will be joined by guest speakers who have worked with or used learning analytics. Join us with your questions, your stories and your links to further resources to enrich our understanding of this topic.

Join our speakers to discover some great practice and contribute your successes and ideas.

Future Teacher webinars have been running once a month at lunch time for over two years.  Previous sessions have featured various University of York staff or resources and covered:

  • Online learning – what works?/li>
  • The Flipped Classroom
  • Knowing what they know – getting feedback from students (Alex Reid, Psychology)
  • Collaborative teaching and learning – inside and outside the classroom
  • Strategies to support reading
  • Strategies to support writing (Lou Stringer, Learning Enhancement, Jenny Threlfall, SPSW)
  • Self-assessment and mastery learning (Stefan Wytwyckyj, IPC)
  • Using Social Media in Teaching and Learning (Glenn Hurst, Katie Lamb, Chemistry)
  • Inclusive Practice (Emily Brunsden, Physics, Penny Spikins, Archaeology)
  • Working with Rich Media – Images (Sandrine Devlin, LFA)
  • Working with Rich Media – Audio (David Beer, Sociology, Barry Lee and Chris Jay, Philosophy)
  • Working with Rich Media – Video (features our Replay guides, Martin Suckling – Music , Sally Quinn – Psychology)
  • Getting Savvy with digital tools and resources
  • Designing appropriate assessments (Scott Slorach, Law)
  • Designing for technology enhanced programmes
  • Designing and Creating Online Learning Activities and Resources (Sociology’s resource ‘The Bureau of Applied History’ was added to the inspiration board)
  • The wonderful world of webinars (Amy Eyre, PDLT)
  • Future Proofing Future Teacher – including sharing and reusing our Journeys
  • Learning Analytics (Jess Wardman, TYMS and James Youdale, PDLT)

Access previously recorded webinars and the interactive learning resources from our Future Teacher WordPress page or directly from the Future Teacher web site.

The next webinar will run on 21 October 2021 at 1pm.

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Standing Item: Departmental training sessions

As part of our remit to provide advice and support to academic Departments, we can work with you to design and deliver sessions focused on a range of programme design and learning technology matters.  

You may be planning some specific programme developments or looking to explore the potential benefits of different approaches or tools within your learning, teaching and assessment within and across modules.  Or you may want to address some particular learning, teaching and assessment challenges or opportunities within your Department. Themes that we have helped to address recently include:

  • Facilitating interactivity and engagement within large lectures using Electronic Voting Systems and synchronous discussion tools
  • Enhancing student engagement with learning outside class contact time and between scheduled sessions using the VLE

We can provide bespoke input informed by case studies on subjects such as: 

  • Learning and teaching in large groups or in small groups
  • Supporting independent study
  • Maximising the benefits of live learning and teaching activities through activities carried out in between sessions (front-loading, flipped learning, ‘blended’ learning)
  • Enhancing formative assessment
  • Enhancing feedback processes
  • Developing assessments to maximise learning (e.g. assessing process elements as well as end products; incorporating collaborative working; integrating skills)
  • Approaches to ‘engagement’ in assessment: Active learning and assessment; ‘real-world’ / authentic assessments; integrating transferable skills

You can also view a comprehensive list of the professional development opportunities that we offer for staff on our E-Learning Blog. To request a session for either yourself or to make a booking for your department, please contact us at the earliest possible convenience at: vle-support@york.ac.uk

Information on available induction information for staff and students can be found here: Induction Resources for Staff and Students.

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As always, we welcome any feedback and suggestions on how we can support e-learning and use of the VLE and other technologies within your departments. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch at vle-support@york.ac.uk.

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