Coordination of Re-validation through Moodle

Far from rocket science, but really useful!  The use of Moodle for Coordinating the re-validation activities across the University has proved to be a significant benefit for staff in This space is open to all University of Bolton staff in providing the definitive documents and guidance for the re-validation process and is the first place to seek clarification from the team responsible for the implementation of the re-validation activities.

With 179 participants and many accesses per day, these statistics are supported by anecdotal evidence from teaching staff and senior management.

When faced with decisions about the deployment and rollout of new software to support the validation process and implications of sustainability and cost, the appropriation of existing tools looks very attractive.

A screen grab of the Revalidation site.

Evaluation of re-validation support activities

Summary report of the Professional Development for Staff (PDS) programme sessions to support the University Academic Review process 2011.  The sessions provided development activities for all staff at the University of Bolton and were a significant part of the project capacity raising activities in 2011.

Read about the academic review support evaluation.

Widget Beta (8LEM/Viewpoints & Learning Design)

Brian has been working hard and making good progress with our lightweight widget toolsets to support the pedagogic design processes associated with course development:

A web application designed to aid the development of course / lesson planning. With the goal of supporting as broad a range of tasks as possible the application tries to strike a good balance between prescriptive and open-ended use-cases.

Our ultimate ambition is to have a flexible tool that can be adapted to many different planning activities, this includes those directly aligned with the Coeducate project aims but also other activities that would benefit from a structured process supported with guidance.  Key to this will be the use of the Wookie server for collaborative work and the ability to customise the tool – we are aiming at the ‘average’ teacher/lecturer rather than developing something that requires a learning technologist or programmer to make changes.

For now, we have two examples, one based on the work undertaken by the Ulster Viewpoints programme and another developed at Bolton.  In each case, a deck of cards are used as prompts and sources of information to help practitioners plan modules.

A mechanism is in place to allow for a collection of cards to be handled as an atomic ‘deck’, with more than one deck usable simultaneously. Conversely the canvas on which they are placed allows for cards to be placed in any desired configuration, contains a simple text label that allows entry of a custom title for that period and a button to create a new entry (as many entries as desired can be created and stored).

The widget can be fond HERE, and currently the top deck  uses the  Viewpoints cards inspired by 8LEM and the second deck starts below the Meta ‘card’ and is inspired by the IMS Learning Design concepts of role, activity and environments  (resources) and designed to get staff to think about taking face-2-face modules online. For a Viewpoints workshop approach, it might be that the tool is used to record face-2-face sessions and allowing participants to take away their design at the end of the day and export the text generated into a usable format.

We have undertaken one evaluation session with PGCHE students and will undertake a series of of events throughout 2012 with the dual purpose of refining the generic tool, but also developing card sets.

Read below for technical details and our current development priorities, comments welcome!

Technical Description:

Implemented using contemporary web standards such as HTML5, DOM storage and JavaScript, the application can be run in any browser that supports the relevant standards (including Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari amongst others).

The resources used can be packaged as a w3 widget (http://www.w3.org/TR/widgets/) and hosted in any environment that supports the widgets specification; in particular we’re aiming at deploying the completed widget on a wookie server (http://getwookie.org/) which enables embedding in arbitrary applications (e.g. connectors are available for moodle, WordPress and others).

In addition to providing an application-agnostic hosting platform, wookie supports the google Wave API which will in the future enable real-time collaborative use of the application.

The current prototype supports the following features:

* Drag-and-drop interface for placing and removing cards from the canvas.
* Support for any number of time periods
* Support for the University of Ulster’s Hybrid Learning Model cards.
* Support for internally-created learning design cards.
* Support for ‘special’ cards, currently limited to a sticky note.
* Local persistence (the current browser) of card data.
* Can be packaged as a w3 widget and hosted on a wookie server and embedded in moodle.

The following features are partially implemented and will be ready in the next prototype:
* The names and roles entry should allow for the creation of as many inputs as people involved.
* Sticky notes should be available in other colours.
* Card movement – cards should be droppable the top of a container between the time period entry and the cross.

New features in the next prototype:
* Better print support: transform the data in the cards in a way that allows the results of a planning session to be printed in a more appropriate layout.

* Collaborative use of the application: Using the Wave API offered by the wookie server, a version of the tool will be created that supports real-time collaborative editing of cards from within moodle.

* Duplication of completed cards & entered data.

Future features (time-permitting):

* Export (save to disk) capability; allow for offline sharing of application data.
* Search feature?
* In-application Card and deck creation / customization: much of the code is ready to support this feature, the difficult part is UI design.

* Sharing of customised card decks.

* Customisation of time-period background (images, HTML5 canvas element for dynamic backdrops such as time-scales)
* Creation of backdrops; titled frames, graphics.
* Cards that allow for a ‘link’ to another web resource (for example YouTube, Flickr etc).
* Scalable / resizeable cards: user-testing suggests that this dimension can be used to indicate the importance of a card relative to others, indicate the duration of an activity etc.; by being non-prescriptive the hope is that we can support as many different uses as possible.

Planning and Developing Open Learning Courses: output & outcome

One of the approaches to building capacity at Bolton that we trialled in the second year of the project was to develop and run a module for staff to help them think through issues around curriculum development and come up with solutions to problems.

We had mixed results overall, possibly we had too high expectations around the short term impact that could arise.  However, this report explains an approach developed for Integrating Personal Tutoring and ePersonal Development Planning.  As the new Curriculum Framework comes into being, these ideas are receiving wider attention and stand a good chance of University wide adoption.


Revalidation of the IDIBL Framework including Learning with Technologies and Regeneration and Sustainable Communities

The IDIBL framework, validated as a key component of the Coeducate project, is like all provision at the University being re-validated and this must be done by March 2012.

The ADA(R) IDIBL 22_Nov_2011_final is part business case, part evaluation of current provision, and part demonstrating how we will meet the requirements of the new Undergraduate Curriculum.

We are requesting:

The IDIBL framework and the programmes in Learning with Technologies and Regeneration and Sustainable Communities have been grouped together for revalidation as they share modules, and are currently being delivered jointly by IEC and AES. We are requesting for revalidation of Foundation, Bachelor and Masters level courses, as it is important for the IDIBL and JISC funded Co-educate projects to continue with their strategic research for theUniversity.

Innovation Support Networks

In support of the re-validation process at the UoB, the Coeducate project has been proactive in identifying needs and implementing support activities.

It was apparent early on that there was the need to develop an online repository and information sharing portal as current practice was to use email to distribute documentations and ensuing discussion for clarification.  To this end, the simplest approach was to create a site (pdf) in Moodle:

‘This space is open to all University of Bolton staff.  It contains the definitive documents and guidance for the re-validation process and is the first place to seek clarification from the team responsible for the implementation of the re-validation activities.’

In addition, we have also developed a frequently asked questions in an attempt to reduce the workload on senior staff responsible for the validation, but also to have a common message.

Lastly, to run in parallel with the programme the Coeducate project has put in place a series of Innovation Support Networks with the aim of supporting colleagues to take advantage of the Undergraduate Curriculum Framework to improve their curriculum offerings rather than simply treating it as a tick-box exercise – that is something just to get through:

  • 9th November 12 – 2  Rethinking your Curriculum (Bill Oliver, Stephen Powell and Tracy Ellis)
  • 11th November 12 – 2 Module Specifications and Programme Design  (Jane Lovatt/Stephen  Powell)
  • 23rd November 12 – 2  Innovating around Employability (Julie Bateman/Mike Lomas)
  • 25th November 12 – 2 D1-006 Innovating around Environmental Sustainability (Ann Kolodziejski)
  • 30th November 12 – 2  Innovating around Professionals in Practice (Rob Campbell)
  • 2nd December 12 – 2 Module Specifications and Programme Design (Jane Lovatt/Stephen Powell)
  • 7th December 12 – 2 Innovating around Internationalisation (Kasey Carver/Sue Burkinshaw)
  • 9th December 12 – 2 Module Specifications and Programme Design (Jane Lovatt/ Stephen Powell)

Re-validation @ UoB

Much of the work of the Coeducate project since September has focussed on supporting the re-validation that is currently underway (all to be finished by March 2012)  for all of our Undergraduate provision inline with a new ‘Under Graduate Curriculum_Framework‘. In common with many institutions, we are seeking to simplify and rationalise our portfolio of courses and the complexity of delivery options within them.

As a project, we have had input into the decision making process, but as would be expected are one of many ‘competing’ voices although we believe that we have made a valuable contribution. Common themes that can be identified across the sector through conversations at Curriculum programme meetings and other fora include:

  1. limiting the number of learning outcomes (UoB, no more than 5)
    reducing optionality (UoB, only core modules at level 4-5 with limited optionality at level 6 & very limited use of co and pre requisites)
  2. development of cross faculty/department shared modules (UoB, typically 1 per level plus shared research methods)
  3. reduce the amount of summative assessment (UoB, no learning outcome assessed more than one and a maximum of 2 summative assessments)
  4. increase opportunities for formative assessment (UoB, new module specification requires specitivity in this respect)
  5. inclusion of core themes embedded in the curriculum (UoB, employability, internationalism, sustainability, ethical responsibility)

Against this backdrop, the Coeducate project has sought to support staff in implementing the framework, the details of which will be covered in the next post.