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    • #38885

        OK, so now you’ve had plenty of time to look at your VLE and to think about how you might use it with your students, we’d like you to share some ideas on how you’re going to change the way you use it. Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to detail a complete overhaul of your VLE. What we’d like you to do instead is give us two or three concrete ideas for how you might use your VLE differently in the coming months. Please don’t just say the names of the tools you plan to use, but tell us how you plan to use them, e.g. if you’re going to use a discussion forum, how are you going to use it? What will students be posting on it?

        Hopefully, by sharing your ideas and then coming back to the forum, you’ll get plenty of ideas for new ways in which to use what is probably the oldest tech tool at your university.

      • #42528
        Catherine Lewis


          Here are my thoughts about using Moodle.

          When teaching face-to-face I used a booklet which was prepared by me or another member of staff. When switching to online teaching it was my aim to present the booklet in a more interactive way both asynchronously and synchronously.   In terms of asynchronous materials, I initially just put some pre-class activities in a folder in PDF/word format for students to read. So basically, if we think about the SAMR model, it would seem to be an example of substitution. Then the following year I included some video links, padlet activities, Google quizzes and more recently quizlet.

          To combine some of the above ideas, I would like to learn how to use the lesson icon on Moodle.  I would be able to create an asynchronous lesson that would be more systematic, engaging to students and more memorable. I would like to start with a (Doodle) video so that students would know the aims of the lesson and an overview of the content. Then students would be able to work through the materials in their own time. The materials could include some quizzes (multiple choice) and drag and drop activities. Using the Moodle lesson icon seems like it would be very time-consuming to set up and difficult to achieve as other Moodle icons such as H5p would also be needed. But this is my aim for the next academic year.

          However, I think it is also important not to overload students with too much information on Moodle as I think this can be very demotivating/demoralising for them. The activities need to take into account the level of the students, how much time is needed to complete the activities and what they really need to know to progress in their studies. I really think there can be a tendency to present too much information on Moodle.

          I definitely agree that change happens one step at a time.

          PS The link  ‘how to embed things in your VLE’ doesn’t seem to work.

        • #42781
          James Hanlon

            Hi everyone :)


            We have work arounds for practically everything our VLE (Blackboard) offers. We use Padlet which can be used as a file repository, a message board, a wiki, Gmail is better for mailing lists, etc. I think BB is a little too clunky to use for in class activities, but one thing I would like to try is to use it as a place to share journal articles related to our students’ courseworks. They could submit the article to me, with a brief explanation of how they plan to use the article to help them answer the question. This would ensure there was no freeloading (perhaps I could limit student access to it until they had proposed a reasonable submission).  Additionally, we could make sure they were still practising their Starplus/research skills by just giving the reference rather than the article pdf. The wiki could help the students develop a learning community (even though it could fall foul of collusion guidelines, but there would be nothing to stop them sharing research via other means and I personally would view that as a positive- sharing articles isn’t plagiarism!) So, if I could do this, I think it would help to combat a common problem that students pick irrelevant articles for their questions and can head off down unproductive paths. You only really need a couple of good, on topic and accessible articles to set you well on the way to success in the courseworks we do (for non-Sheffield participants, students on foundation and premasters years do three courseworks, a reading (research), a speaking (presentation of findings) and a writing (extended essay) all on the same question.) So it’s really good if they can get off to a good start with some relevant articles, especially as they can be hard to find. A place to share (and read!) such articles (checked by me) would really help with that and might encourage wider reading and prevent the citations being taken solely from abstracts!

            I liked the idea of a vocab repository suggested earlier, but wouldn’t a dedicated app like Quizlet be a better platform for that? Is it possible to add students to classes on the free version? I’m not sure, as I have just realised that my app version is a different account from the desktop version. I know I’ve only got one idea, so I’m looking forward to seeing other’s suggestions. Hope that’s ok!


          • #42880

              Thanks @Catherine21 & @jameshanlon

              VLEs lend themselves to a variety of useful functions and purposes in education enabling both students and teachers to extend their teaching and learning beyond the walls of the classroom. As you say @Jameshanlon they’re a good place to create online classes and add resources, VLEs can also be useful to show Ss the course/syllabus structure, and how it’s going to unfold chronologically (weekly basis) and/or thematically (topic-based). Having a VLE also facilitates signposting and communication with students via announcements, emails, staff contact pages as well as collaboration through discussion boards & forums, learning journals, blogs, wikis, etc creating in the process a community of practice amongst learners. They also allow teachers to add assignments and due dates (e.g. writing tasks, presentations, seminars, etc) and deliver good quality and timely feedback on student work.

              , you raise an interesting point about utilising VLEs for sharing articles and online sources. Clunky as it is, Blackboard has the tool that does something similar to that. The Leganto Reading Lists tool allows teachers to create reading lists for an assignment or a module. You can search for sources (from Blackboard) and add all the relevant ones accordingly. As you say, while this could, on one hand, provide ss with a number of (relevant) articles for them to choose from and explain why and how they think those sources might be used in their response or preparation for assignments, it could also mean that Ss turn away from using the library catalogue (StarPlus) altogether and keep their choices limited to the reading list they have on Blackboard.

              The gradual development of using materials and resources as we made the shift to online teaching during the pandemic i.e from substitution toward complete redesigning of courses sounds only natural and familiar @Catherine21. Giving Ts editing/administrator access to a VLE can offer a great deal of control and freedom as to how they wish to design their courses choosing between or combining low-impact (add-on exercises), medium-impact (substitution) and high-impact (course redesign from scratch) blends. Most institutions tend to dedicate staff experienced in both teaching and learning technologies to mediate this support between academic directors, teachers and students.

            • #43423
              Jamie Sullivan

                Hi everyone,

                Blackboard is used at Sheffield however my team and I do not utilise it given the nature of the support we offer. I have used Blackboard, Schoology, and Moodle in the past. Blackboard is perhaps the VLE I would have the most familiarity with and have found that it has several benefits and some clunky disadvantages.

                –          Useful platform for online content that facilitates student’s asynchronous learning

                –          Provides a platform that allows students to refer back to content

                –          Acts as a platform for live webinars

                –          Allows for easy communication between students and tutors

                –          Can be used to obtain student’s thoughts/quizzes etc.

                –          Allows for peer-to-peer discussion

                –          Allow sof the development of a learning record via journal entries etc.

                Some issues that arise and can be problematic in my experience include

                –          The app can be difficult to navigate and tends to freeze regularly

                –          Trying to find assignments and key documents can be tricky for students

                –          Replying to discussion topics on treads – I have seen students begin new threads accidently multiple times when trying to do this!

                In terms of improvements, perhaps the functionality around embedding more audio-visual content could be improved. Also I think syncing with third party programs like Quizlet or Padlet would greatly improve the interactivity and perhaps even engagement with students. I agree with earlier suggests regarding assignments and perhaps the ability to post and comment on written documents in a similar manner to ‘Google Docs’ would be beneficial for students.


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