Innovation in learning technologies is happening across the campus, with several ‘Proof of Concept’ projects planned for 2017. Here are some of the learning technologies being piloted this year to improve the student experience, as well the key steps involved in a proof of concept project if you are thinking about trialling a new learning technology yourself.
Brightspace is a Learning Management System, similar to Moodle (iLearn) and is being trialled across two faculties.
The Faculty of Human Sciences will be using D2L Brightspace to facilitate the new Professional Development Program for teachers in schools. Several courses will be offered online using the Brightspace platform selected for its professional look, ability for external users to access it and in-built ePortfolio.
The Faculty of Business and Economics Applied Finance Centre will also be evaluating whether Brightspace would be a preferred alternative to Moodle to deliver four of their online courses.
YourTutor after-hours online writing skills help
YourTutor provides an after-hours online writing support service for students. The type of support provided by YourTutor includes essay and report writing, assignment research, basic English, Maths and Science. The service will be piloted with selected students in Macquarie University International College (MUIC) and the Widening Participation Initiative where staff hope students will benefit from additional help with their academic writing.
The Examity online proctoring service allows students to take exams at an external location while still being fully invigilated. The Faculty of Business and Economics are interested in exploring the concept of online exam proctoring and are planning to trial Examity as an exam alternative for students in one unit.
The Faculty of Business and Economics also have plans underway to trial the YouSeeU platform to allow students to submit video assignments. (There is currently no capability for this in iLearn or Echo360.) In this pilot project, students will be asked to video their tutorial presentation and submit it to iLearn, rather than presenting in front of the class. The initial idea was to free up valuable tutorial time for other learning activities, but this proof of concept also seeks to look at whether students prepare more thoroughly and produce a higher quality result, as well as any other benefits or disadvantages for students and staff.
Thinking of trialling a new learning technology in your area? Get your planning started here!
If you’re thinking of piloting a new technology to enhance learning and teaching in your area, talk to the Learning Innovation Hub team for help and guidance. For example, you may have applied for a grant to cover the cost of purchasing the system or licence, but there are some key steps along the way that we can help you with to make sure things get up and running smoothly.
You’ll first need to negotiate and sign the vendor’s contact or agreement before they will start setting anything up for you. Allow plenty of time to do this properly. The main checks are:
- Macquarie’s legal requirements – The LIH can help put you in touch with MQ’s fabulous Office of General Counsel legal team who know exactly what needs to be included to make sure the university, you and your students are protected while using the technology.
- What the vendor is offering – Make sure everything you were promised by the salesperson in written down, and includes things like plenty of technical support, training and security.
- Who will sign it? Identify the executive or head in your area who will sign the contract. Keep them included and updated so the ink can hit the paper as soon as possible.
The Tech stuff
How will staff and students access the system? Do you want to be able to login with your MQ OneID or even more directly, by linking through iLearn? It takes a fair bit of technical work behind the scenes to make this magic happen, so work with the LIH and the vendor to investigate available options early.
Help! How do I use this thing?!
Work out how and who will provide support if there are technical issues. Find out what training options are available from the vendor so that staff and students can learn how to use the system. There is often a range of online resources, webinars or sometimes a trainer will come on campus (for a price) and run a face to face session. You will also need to communicate to your students that you are using this new tool, why it will benefit them and how to use it.
Is this system any good? Should we keep using it?
Don’t forget evaluation! You probably embarked on this project to improve the learning experience for your students, make your teaching more engaging or maybe to make a process more efficient or secure. Make a plan from the beginning on how you will measure if this was actually achieved and whether you’ll continue using it or go back to the drawing board.
For more information about the learning technology proof of concept projects, or how the Learning Innovation Hub can assist you in your own project, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org .