Eclectic Dreams

A Web Design and Development Blog

Posts Tagged ‘higher education’

Why are VLE Interfaces so poor? What can be done about it?

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Part of my old job was helping people to use a virtual learning environment (VLE). I’d spend much of my time warning about the gotchas. Except, of course, that most of these were entirely avoidable user interface issues. Here’s an example:

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Liveblogging : Encouraging Student Centred Interaction Online

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

I’m at this wonderful event. For more information see the wiki. My commentary is in brackets tagged – MM.

10:15 – Ruth on Facebook for induction, social cohesion
10: 22 – Perceived Benefits – meeting people before it started. Managing expectations.

“Talking to people makes it more real…”

10:25 – Know the students before they arrive, they’re not brand new. Additional level of contact.
10:26 – “I don’t like facebook”, not everybody wants to join. Not an academic space. How much intervention?
10:28 – Served a very specific purpose. Use stopped after induction. (Task focused? – MM)
10:29 – More next time. Multimedia competition. More detail, understanding student unfamiliarity.

10:30 – Charlotte Carey on Twitter and Delicious.
10:21 – The great migration.
10:32 – What are you doing? Had only met Jon via Twitter, now they’re writing a paper.
10:34 – Following small business network. Giving students access to role models. Getting them into social circles.
10:37 – Student to Alumni to Professional. Feeding in.

Chris Ringrose on blogging in children’s literature course.

10:45 – Blog space on Blackboard (not sterling interface design – MM). Students are talking about their reading and research.
10:48 – Using audio feedback. (Very interesting idea – MM)
10:49 – Prompts, exercises. (Seeding the conversation, very wise – MM)
10:50 – Assessed blogs. Engaging with material over course. Writing and feedback on how they write. Time consuming to mark. Needs assessment as stick to make students do it.
10:53 – Word limit? Blog overload? Not scholarly?

Matt Gee on Webcorp’s new annotation wiki.
Derek Littlewood on Using it.

10:59 – Used in Irish writing module. Annotating interesting language use, highlighting elements.
11:03 – Pink tags for questions. (Accessibility issue? Wonder what fallbacks? – MM)
11:05 – Linking to audio.

Sonya Andermahr – Blogging

11:10 – Prompts. Choose which they use. 6 tasks to get students writing. (Avoiding the tyranny of the blank page – MM)
11:13 – Design to develop a particular skill. (Very good, task-focused interaction design approach, work back from the aim to the tasks you create. – MM)
11:14 – Again, work intensive marking as a downside. 40 students x 6 blogs, can be work. editing tool not ideal (Again, institutional choices of VLE can be a big interaction problem – MM)
11:15 – Issues. Level of formality. Academic writing difficult in blogs? (Maybe move to Wiki and get others to edit posts with regard to academic style? – MM) . Word pasting problems. Missed deadlines.
11:17 – Source + Referencing improvements.

Ruby Renning- Second Life.
11:18 – MSc eLearning. Second life “It’s the one most people know about”.
11:20 – Virtual Campus. Bringing staff together.
11:22 – Avatars and chat. Savable. Authenticity.
11:26 – Chat room…
11:27 – Identity. Potential of Roleplay to address. (Should show them the Steal Away Jordan Storygame if they’re interested in this – MM)
11:30 – Interlopers. Being polite.

Talking of Blogging

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

Wednesday saw me extolling the virtues of blogging to academics in the University. Which went quite successfully, given that even after five years interacting with academics, I’m still learning how best to pitch web stuff in a relevant, non-techy and useful way. I seem to be getting better at it. ;)

This all came about as part of an ongoing project to redesign the old business school site. We’d talked about how to get staff involved and onboard, and a blog was suggested as a way of bringing in fresh, relevant content that showed what the School was all about. People wanted to know the hows, whys and whatfors.

So we organised a small seminar… and things spiralled. People took interest. We ended up with close to thirty academics and support staff, all in a room, setting up their own blogs, discussing issues and techniques, ideas and opportunities. Great stuff.

We did some presenting too. I talked about this very blog, and its highs and lows, the link economy and building your audience. Kathleen Dixon Donnelly talked about her blog and how she’d turned her posts into self-published books. John Colby talked about maths, pass grades and pictures of dogs, and which one helped him dine out for a year. Andy Hollyhead talked about how he’d used blogs in teaching for reflective practice, and key things like students not necessarily calling what they do online blogging. Ruth Page talked about how she’s used Digital Narratives to enhance her work and research. Charlotte Carey talked about why she blogs and what she gains (see her blog post for more). She also showed people twitter.

All in all a very positive experience, that I hope to see a few blogs appear from. Also great for reminding people there is a web team and we don’t bite!