V-L-Easy! Day 10 – Weblearn Resources for Students

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We have come to the end of our fortnight of blog posts about simple tools or techniques for simplifying teaching and learning. Although we will not be continuing to blog each day about ways to make life easier for you and your students, there are still many other useful resources created by the Weblearn team and CPED that you can continue to use all through the year; these are the topic of our concluding post.
Today we look at a tool that can be used to record lectures, but also to generate rich media for sharing via Weblearn

 We appreciate that creating online resources can be time-consuming, and the outcome can be short-lived if the content goes out of date quickly.

That is why using a centrally managed resource can take the pressure off academics. It means you direct your students to it in the knowledge that you don’t need to verify, maintain or update the content. Weblearn plays host to a number of student resources which can be repurposed within your learning and teaching.

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V-L-Easy! Day 8 – Weblearn Tools for learning and assessment

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As part of the countdown to the festive season, the VLE team and CPED are sharing their ideas for simple tools or techniques that can make life easier for lecturers and their students. So far, we have explored CollaborateAlly, Student Preview,  Grade Centre Smart ViewsNureva SpanCourse Sites and Weblearn Groups.
Today, we explore a feature which may be a crucial part of your assessment design, but is also a quick and simple way to manage your assessment, marking and communication with students.

Weblearn Tools for learning and assessment

Essays, presentations and tests are not the only way for your students to communicate what they have learned. Weblearn has several alternative tools that student can use to document or construct their knowledge: blogs, journals, discussion boards, wikis, and portfolios. These are perfectly suited to continuous assessment, and can be used for either formative or summative assessment.

Diagram matching Weblearn tools to types of thinking

For each type of intellectual activity, there is a corresponding tool in Weblearn.

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V-L-Easy! Day 7 – Groups

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As part of the countdown to the festive season, the VLE team and CPED are sharing their ideas for simple tools or techniques that can make life easier for lecturers and their students. Last week, we explored CollaborateAlly, Student Preview,  Grade Centre Smart Views, and Nureva Span. Yesterday, we revisited Course SitesToday, we explore a feature which may be a crucial part of your assessment design, but is also a quick and simple way to manage your assessment, marking and communication with students.

Groups

An important aspect of learning in higher education is working in groups.  Group work can improve critical thinking problem-solving, collaboration and communication skills.

Creating groups in Weblearn allows students to work on projects together, where they can communicate via group discussion boards and blogs or use other tools, such as Wiki’s, so  students can on collaboratively.

Groups in Weblearn are often used when there is a group assignment for students.  In such cases, a group is created which allows for the group to submit one assignment for the whole group.  When creating these groups, they are made visible to the students so they can see who else is in their group and collaborate accordingly.

Links to group videoHowever, groups can be created and utilised by staff as a student management tool, where students are unaware that the groups have been created. For example, groups can be created that match seminar classes, research partners, peer groups etc. Watch the video to find out more.

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V-L-Easy! Day 6 – Course Sites

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As part of the countdown to the festive season, the VLE team and CPED are sharing their ideas for simple tools or techniques that can make life easier for lecturers and their students. So far, we’ve explored some of the extra functionality of Weblearn: CollaborateAlly, Student Preview, and Grade Centre Smart Views. We also demonstrated some software suitable for classroom use: Nureva Span.

Today, we consider how you already have a platform at your disposal to increase course cohesion, and minimise repetitive publishing of material across Modules.

Course Sites

Weblearn is not just host to Module areas for distributing learning materials, or receiving electronic submission of assignments. Weblearn is also host to Course Sites –areas dedicated to each London Met course. Membership of the Course Site encompasses all students in all levels of your course. In addition, staff involved in delivering or supporting the course can be added. This means that Course Sites are the perfect channel for communicating with all the course stakeholders.

If you have procedures or guidelines that are common to many modules on the course, you can post these on the Course Site instead of repeatedly uploading them to separate module spaces. You may wish to promote an event or opportunity to all students. Alternatively, you can publish information about careers on the Course Site; it may be of particular interest to finalists. However first and second years can preview this in readiness for later in the course.

By default, Course Sites also include several Help and Support pages that gather the latest advice and guidance for all students. You will never need to investigate the Academic Regulations, or library opening hours, or the contact details of the gym in order to share this with your students, because the information is maintained centrally.

A Course Site can be used to forge a sense of shared identity that extends beyond the level of the module-lecture or seminar-group. It can be used to celebrate the achievements of continuing students and set expectations for new students.

If you would like more information on how to get the most out of your Course Site, please contact vletraining@londonmet.ac.uk .

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V-L-Easy! Day 4 – Smart Views

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As part of the countdown to the festive season, the VLE team and CPED are sharing their ideas for simple tools or techniques that can make life easier for lecturers and their students. So far, we’ve posted suggestions about Collaborate, Ally, and Student Preview. Today, the spotlight is on a little-used feature of the Weblearn Grade Centre.

Smart Views

On some modules, there are a large number of students together with multiple assessment points.  This can make the Grade Centre in Weblearn difficult to navigate. A Smart View in Weblearn can be created to display a subset of the Grade Centre The Smart View focuses on students and/or assessments results that meet certain criteria.

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V-L-Easy! Day 3 – Ally

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As part of the countdown to the festive season, the VLE team and CPED team are sharing their ideas for simple tools or techniques that can make life easier for lecturers and their students. Each day, we are posting a blog entry with some brief tips for lecturers together with links to further information including video guides or web-based resources.Yesterday, we showed how ‘Collaborate’ can be used for virtual meetings or classes. Today, we focus on another tool that is already integrated directly into Weblearn, but which may be under your radar.

Ally

Ally is an accessibility tool that enables barrier-free learning for all students not just those with recognised additional needs. Ally provides students with more opportunities to engage through being able to download additional alternative accessible versions of Weblearn course documents.

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V-L-Easy! Day 2 – Collaborate

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As part of the countdown to the festive season, the Weblearn team and CPED are sharing their ideas for simple tools or techniques that can make life easier for lecturers and their students.
Each day, we are posting a blog entry with some brief tips for lecturers together with links to further information including video guides or web-based resources.Yesterday, we showed how ‘Student Preview’ can imitate the student experience of your Weblearn module. Today, we remind you of a web-conferencing tool that is integrated directly into Weblearn.

Collaborate

As a busy lecturer, you might like to travel less between campuses to attend meetings. You may also like to provide contact-time for students without involving a commute for either party. Collaborate can help with these scenarios and others.

Collaborate is a real-time video conferencing tool that is part of Weblearn. It can be used like FaceTime or Skype: for one-to-one conversations. However, Collaborate can also accommodate many dozens – even hundreds – of simultaneous participants. This makes it ideal for larger virtual meetings, web-conferences, or other online teaching and learning activities. It is not exclusively designed for distance learning. Collaborate can extend your face-to-face delivery as a cloud-based environment for hosting seminars, revision sessions or ‘drop-in’ office hours.

Link to video of a Collaborate MeetingWatch this video (12m30s) of setting-up a Collaborate Meeting, using the chat panel and sharing files on-screen.

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V-L-Easy! Day 1 – Student Preview

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As part of the countdown to the festive season, the Weblearn team and CPED are sharing ideas for simple tools or techniques that can make life easier for lecturers and their students.
Each day for the next two weeks, we are posting a blog entry with some brief tips for lecturers, with links to further information including video guides or web-based resources.
Today we remind lecturers of the ‘Student Preview’ feature of Weblearn, which can be enabled by clicking on the icon at the top-right area of the Weblearn Page, and show how browser tools can also emulate the student view of Weblearn.

Student Preview

Weblearn appears differently to staff and students. You will appreciate this if you are a lecturer who has published some timely content or prompt feedback on Weblearn, only for students to report that they can’t find it.

However, there are a couple of ways in which you can verify that your Weblearn Module is appearing to students as desired, and that content can be accessed.

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Weblearn Migration: date confirmed

From Thursday 21 June at 5pm there will be temporary disruption to the normal Weblearn service as we begin the move to managed hosting from our current self-hosted provision.

Managed hosting will give Weblearn the higher performance and reliability that is associated with powerful cloud computing. In addition, we will benefit from round-the-clock technical monitoring and support from Blackboard, and upgrades to Weblearn will subsequently occur immediately, resulting in minimal downtime for London Met users. The migration will coincide with an upgrade to the latest software version of Blackboard Learn.

All content and data will be transferred to the managed hosting version of Weblearn which will take a few days. During this time period Weblearn will become read only. This means that you will be able to view and access Weblearn content but if you make any changes during the ‘read only’ period all changes will be lost and will not be recoverable.

What can I do during ‘Read Only’ access?

Do: access existing content and feedback
Do not: make any changes to content or assessments and feedback because these changes will be lost

Arrangements for online submission

All assessments scheduled during the migration period have been moved or paper submission has been agreed.

Key dates to remember:

  • Thursday 21 June at 5pm: Weblearn will be completely unavailable as data is transferred.
  • Friday 22 June: Unavailable then read only access to Weblearn from approx 5pm
  • Monday 25 or 26 June: Weblearn will become unavailable for 3-4 hours for further configuration
  •  If the migration goes smoothly, Weblearn will be fully available after 5pm on 26 June. If the downtime period needs to be extended further announcements will be posted.
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Weblearn Migration

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This summer, Weblearn will migrate to a managed hosting arrangement with Blackboard, the company who provide the VLE software.This means that Weblearn will no longer run from our local servers, but instead will run directly from Blackboard’s servers. 

When will the migration take place?

The migration will take place from 22nd – 29th of June, 2018.

What are the benefits of managed hosting?

Managed hosting will give us the higher performance and reliability that is associated with powerful cloud computing. In addition, we will benefit from round-the-clock technical monitoring and support from Blackboard, and upgrades to Weblearn will subsequently occur immediately, resulting in minimal downtime for London Met users. The migration will coincide with an upgrade to the latest software version of Blackboard Learn.

How will the migration affect me?

The switch from a self-hosted VLE to a managed-hosted VLE will inevitably mean a temporary suspension of normal Weblearn service. From Friday 22nd June 2018, Weblearn will be completely unavailable for a day-or-two as data is transferred. Weblearn will return in a read-only state for the remainder of the week; during this time, no new content can be uploaded, and user data is not recorded, but users can view and download existing Weblearn content as normal.  Weblearn will return to full access from Friday 29th June 2018. 

There may be occasional down-time prior to the migration to test the transfer will run smoothly. Keep an eye on the Weblearn homepage for news about the migration project.

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