Category Archives: MOOC

iPads, Pebblepad & cafe style learning

At last, staged roll outs of iPads to staff using meraki as a management tool. Starting with our Legal Practice Course staff. It all went well till they started using facetime and syncing contacts to the iCloud (which to be honest we thought we had removed) Cue much removal of  iCloud from the devices that still had it on. Anyway 20 done, 55 to go

First full week of students using the pebblepad workbooks for EU law and the interface has caused some  confusion, not just for the students as it sometimes gives us a hard time. At least one student complete the whole thing in one sitting though!

50 laptops setup for the cafe style learning event the first years are taking part in over in the octagon. In the days of BYOD im not sure how many of the 50 we provided were actually used

And over in MOOC / futurelearn world sign ups are now over 6000

Intro week

The end of a hectic intro week for the undergraduates and also the week when several off my friends and family took their children to their new Universities.

My TEL intro talk concentrated on mobile apps for blackboard and the  iSheffield app plus a quick demo of the MOOC (close to 5000 learners now). To think in my first TEL intro lecture at Law in 2002 I was telling them not to rely on floppy disks for saving their essays and showing them how to access their 20mb of file server space.

The pebblepad work book has seen its first few entries from students and so far no queries, possibly because its bamboozled them.

Finally by Thursday we had enough time to look at Meraki and this afternoon (Friday) ive finally started the iPad roll out . Made slower by the ios 9 update.

Time for home….

TELFEST, Norfolk &the Big Walk

So much went on this week so I’ll say it with  pictures.

TELFEST came and went and I attended as many sessions as I could given that it was the week before student intro week.

The pic below? Well Tim Herrick used a metaphor for the capability of our VLE during a round-table discussion . he said it was OK but not brilliant, a bit like a holiday in Norfolk. So the picture below is actually from my recent holiday in Norfolk. I don’t think it’s too bad…Norfolk that is, the VLE is for a different discussionNorfolk

Then Thursday I walked 19.5 miles (the fitbit said 21) from Edale to Sheffield for the big walk charity event

I ended up walking with Laura from our MOOC team so there was much talk of the future of MOOCs and how our own criminology MOOC will take off

Here is our small group on the approach to Sheffield with about 6 miles to go


And finally, as they say. Introductions from the educators on our MOOC


Summer Catchup

It’s an odd time of the year for the educational technologist. There is an awful amount of preparation and build up for the new semester, to do, but the reality is that many staff are away making tasks difficult then suddenly September is upon us and its all hands to the pumps.

The White Rose Learning Technology group met up in Leeds and our main discussions were around professional accreditation. My CMALT portfolio is still ongoing and to add to the pressure I’ve started my portfolio for fellowship of the HEA.

I managed to get 2 very cheap licences for Respondus and ran a session with the LPC staff to show hem how they could use responds to modify and create new MCQs in Blackboard. We also covered some area of the Blackboard gradebook which I blogged about here.

As I write this work on building the MOOC is still in full swing and we have just short of 4000 learners enrolled.





CMALT – specialisation

CMALT meeting on Thursday 23rd we each had to do a 5 minute presentation on our chosen specialism for section 5 of the portfolio.

I’m  choosing open learning, MOOCs and working with the Futurelearn platform

In particular I highlighted difference between working with Furturelearn and within our own blackboard VLE.
The MOOC platform is quite simple and offers 4 basic tools in  Article (around about 500 words)
Multiple Choice Quiz – both for self test and grading


Higher production quality of material for free (BBC4 documentary standard).

Compare that with content our  students actually pay for

Issues to consider

The key learning objectives of the MOOC should be achievable  without accessing any extra materials or buying books.

We can’t reference digital material held in the university of Sheffield Library as this is only available with a University login. We can only reference any open source material freely available, or through the white rose repository.

Raises discussions about moving our academic content into an open source environment


Copyright issues – its open platform so much tighter control than blackboard

Music and Video (TV clips) have such complicated and expensive copyright issues that it’s almost impossible to use them .

Learner Background, Demographic & Location

age of learners  14  years and upwards
huge numbers of learners 20,000 plus
country of origin – play MOOC map shows pins from all over the world