Case study – creating presentations using prezi instead of powerpoint

Professor Suzanne Franks presenting at the symposium

Professor Suzanne Franks, Head of Undergraduate Journalism at City University London, wanted a more innovative way to present at the International Symposium on “China as a Development Aid Actor: Rethinking Development Assistance and its Implications for Africa and the West”  hosted by the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford. We discussed the options and she decided to try to use Prezi is an online, cloud-based tool for creating presentations, exploring ideas and storytelling. Prezis can be played on a computer with internet access, downloaded for playing offline or played on an ipad by downloading a free app.

Professor Franks’ presentation was about the influence of China in Africa, particular in the media and media training. She decided she wanted to use images with no words and wanted to position the images/photos in the correct part of the country. She also used a map of Africa overlaid with the flag of the People’s Republic of China. You can see an image of this to the left (see the full prezi here).

Prezi is a really innovative presentation tool that can be used in many different ways. Here are some reasons to try prezi

1. Prezi moves slickly between images, graphics, text, video and audio so is very flexible

2. A prezi can be linear but is best utilised to introduce concepts or projects

3. Prezi allows you to zoom in and out of a bigger picture

4. Prezi is free for educators to use, just sign up with your university email account

I recommend that you take a look at their popular and award winning prezi presentations to give you an idea of how versatile the tool is and this blog post for tutorial videos

Video in Education SIG – First Webinar Event 22/11/12

City’s new Video in Education SIG – a special interest group – invites you to grab a coffee and share best practice at our first webinar.

Formed in summer 2012, this group’s focus is on sharing practice within the schools, and gathering examples from other institutions, in: production and publishing of video for education; engaging staff in use of video for teaching and learning; and pedagogical principles behind video for education.

Video in Education SIG at City University London

Webinar – Thursday 22nd November 2012 –1pm to 1.30pm

Event Details

Introduction – Mo Pamplin
School of Law – Scenario-based learning video portfolios – Sophie Paluch
Cass Business School – Dubai MBA student research presentations – Luis Balseca
School of Health Science – Blood pressure self-assessment videos – Natasa Perovic

Moderators on the day, Stef Smith and Steve McCombe at the MILL

Instructions for participants:

There is no need to book a place, all City staff are welcome as are external guests.

Join the webinar room via the link below and settle in from 12.45 pm. Participants will be able to watch and listen to the speakers, watch clips from video projects and pose questions via the chat room. We will use the Adobe Connect webinar service to host this session.

Webinar Room Link (opens at 12.45pm on the day)

It’s good to check your computer audio settings in advance, to find out more see the quick start guide.

Quick Start Guide – Participants

Any enquiries, please contact the organisers via email:

The webinar will be recorded and made available after the event.

We look forward to meeting you on the 22nd November at 1pm.

Reflections on the HEA conference 2012 – Great Expectations

I was fortunate to attend the HEA conference held in Manchester this year. The conference theme, Great Expectations, reflects the change that UK HE is experiencing. Here are a few of the things that I took away from the sessions that I attended.

Key note speaker – Martin Bean

The always entertaining and thought provoking Martin Bean, VC of the OU, provided the first key note of the conference. He titled his presentation ‘Great expectations, not a choice but a reality’ and argued a case that is close to the heart of this team; that one of the great opportunities of technology is to enable relevant, engaged, personalised learning with the focus on good teaching. I highly recommend that you watch the key note that is available to view for free here.



Innovation zone

Innovation zone, HEA conference 2012

Innovation zone, HEA conference 2012

This year the conference also had an innovation zone, featuring the work of one of the team, Kate Reader. Her paper an investigation into academic use of iPads to enhance the student learning experience was part of the video presentations that were on a loop during the conference.


At City University London academics in the School of Arts and Social Sciences were issues with iPads in order to support teaching and learning. This was to enable them to explore the role of mobile devices in the classroom and better understand students’ informal use of mobile technologies to support their learning. Effective use of mobile technologies in the classroom have been shown to support effective use of resources, provide students with new skill sets for employability and create flexible, learner-centred and personalised learning environments. The project was evaluated with a series of semi-structured interviews with academic staff one year on. The video provides an overviews of the results, highlighting both the ways in which academics are using iPads to support teaching and the impact on their understanding of student use of mobile devices.

Kate will be writing a blog post on this project soon.

Parallel sessions

Inspirational teachers wordleWhat makes an inspirational teacher? Dr Sally Bradfield and colleagues, Sheffield Hallam University

Sheffield Hallam have an inspirational teachers award scheme. Nominations came through their student barometer survey where students were asked to name an inspirational teacher and/or someone who has inspired them outside the classroom. They were also asked to write up to 200 words. The comments made by the students were anonymised and the data was analysed using Nvivo.

The wordle shows the words that the students wrote about their nominees. Sally concluded that what the students appreciated was being challenged to ensure that they were a different person when they finished their degree. She also noted that the word ‘always’ appeared as many times as the word ‘students’ suggesting that the students were the centre focus of these staff and that they were consistent in their interactions with students.

Transitions to postgraduate study

I went to an interesting talk about transitioning to postgraduate study- Facilitating transitions to Masters-level learning through improving formative assessment and feedback. It was a very comprehensive talk so I recommend having a look at this resource.

A couple of thoughts that I took away were

Studies of PG students find that they aren’t as different from UG students as we believe them to be

Interviews with students at the beginning of the course found them confident but later interviews found that they were confused about the assessment frameworks at M level

Part time students make large sacrifices for their studies and plan their time in advance. They find changes to the expected programme (e.g. change in lecture times, tutorial times etc) more difficult to accommodate and are negative about them

All students should be required to attend at least one writing skills workshop. Students that did attend found it very valuable but said that they would not have attended if it hadn’t been mandatory – they felt it was only for International students

PG students don’t just want feedback about how to improve, they need to know why those improvements in order to conceptualise what they’re being asked to change


The conference was a great opportunity to reflect and plan for our changing landscape. Many of the sessions were recorded and are available to view free here. I’d recommend that you have a look and see if anything catches your eye.

Creating interactive conference posters

I was pleased to have a poster accepted at the EDEN (European Distance and E-Learning Network) conference in Porto, Portugal this year. I have written a blog post about the content of the poster which you can find here.

Being in Education Technology I did feel the need to add a bit extra to the poster! So, alongside a QR code that links to the blog post I also used layar, an augmented reality app. On the poster there was a screenshot from a youtube video of my colleague and co-author Evelyn Reisinger speaking about setting up the course on Moodle (seen at the bottom left of the above image). To view it you needed the layar app on an apple or android device. My colleague Farzana Latif has been doing some work with augmented reality and set this up for me, so thanks Farzana!

By scanning the screenshot using the layar app the video of Evelyn started to play. It went down very well at the conference so I would recommend it. It’s great to be able to make a one dimensional poster more interactive.

EDEN conference poster presentation

We have a poster presentation at the EDEN conference in Porto, Portugal next week. The conference theme is ‘Closing the gap from Generation Y to the mature lifelong learner’. Our poster is a case study of a distance learning course, the PGCert in the Principles and Practices of Translation. The vast majority of courses at City University are blended learning courses (using a mix of face to face and online resources) so we were interested to see how the students on a distance learning course utilsed the tools made available to them in Moodle. The poster outlines how mature students from two cohorts on this course, with different levels of technical experience, have utilised the online resources, focussing on the use of discussion forums and Adobe Connect.

Discussion forums

Evelyn Reisinger, Course Director, set up a news forum and discussion forums in Moodle. These were designed to encourage the students to raise and discuss their own issues as they felt appropriate with minimal interference from university staff. I was interested in whether the students utilised these discussion forums to create a community of practice (or communities of practice as there are a number of language combinations available within the programme). This draws from the work of Etienne Wenger (2006).

I completed a content analysis of the discussion forum postings for each year group. I did this by reading through each post and categorising it in terms of its content.

The contributions on the discussion forums specifically relate to some of the criteria for communities of practice as outlined by Wenger (2006). These include problem solving, requests for information, coordination and synergy and discussing developments (see the percentage interaction for each cohort below).









Adobe Connect

The academic staff were keen to have some face to face tutorial time with the students. This was done using Adobe Connect (AC) web conference software already in use at the university. The sessions were specifically designed to answer student questions just after they had received assessment feedback. The students sent in their questions before the session and the course lecturers answered them in text form on Moodle and through AC.


  • AC live sessions were not well attended
  • Some students suggested that the time of the session wasn’t convenient
  • Some students are studying from different countries so the time zone may have been a factor
  • The sessions were held in the afternoons when many of the distance learning students may have been at work or had childcare issues
  • Students that didn’t attend did access and view the tutorial recordings so the sessions were perceived as worthwhile


From analysis of the usage of the tools, feedback from students, lecturers and the administrator we concluded that
  • Students did use the discussion forums to communicate on many levels and did create communities of practice. In 2009/10 they were focused on the course but in 2011/12 a German to English mothers forum was set up and this includes personal interactions about their lives and similarities. The staff on the course are actively encouraging use of the discussion forums in this way
  • Students were willing to use the online resources made available to them. They had signed up for a distance learning course and were made aware that resources were shared online so this could have led to a self selected IT-confident group
  • Students used discussion forums for a number of different interactions, mostly related to the course but including some personal interaction
  • Age of student was no predictor of their use of the technology
  • Adobe Connect recorded tutorials were accessed if students could not virtually attend at the time of the tutorial so proved a valuable resource type

Interview with Course Director Evelyn Reisinger on using Moodle (recorded during the first year of the programme)

Learning at City Conference – still time to book

Learning at City 2012 banner

Each member of the Education Support Team is speaking at the  Learning at City Conference on Wednesday 13th June. With a keynote from Professor Graham Gibbs it looks to be a worthwhile event to attend.

Our sessions

1.20-2.05 Making assessment count project with Kate Reader and Professor Gunther Saunders

2.15-3 Constructing online assessment with Anna Campbell, Isabelle Marcoul and Svenja Erich

2.15 -3 Students use of lecture capture for revision with Mo Pamplin and Kate Reader

Click here for the full programme for the day

There is still time to register for this event if you are City University London staff. Click here to register

Echo360 Community Conference Europe 2012

On 2nd May I attended the Echo360 Community Conference, held at UCL’s Institute of Child Health. This event was organised to bring together people from institutions using Echo360 in the region, although there were also some delegates from further afield, including Finland and the USA.

Sessions at the conference covered updates and product details about Echo360, and case studies of institutions who have used it successfully.

In the afternoon Ilkka Kukkonen from the University of Eastern Finland gave a presentation on student perception of lecture capture. At the Aducate Centre for Teaching and Development (websites are in Finnish – English translations available), Ilkka and his colleagues have been investigating how students use the resource in their studies. They are also conducting a usability study of the Echo360 player using a Tobii eyetracker. One of the most interesting things about Ilkka’s presentation was his conclusion that students don’t yet have full mastery of how to use lecture capture recordings to support their studies, and that use of lecture capture needs to be more fully integrated into teaching. While their study supports many other studies which have investigated students’ use of lecture capture, it also suggests that there is more to implementing lecture capture than just giving students access to the recordings.

I couldn’t attend the whole day, and parallel sessions meant that it was not possible to watch every presentation, but many of them were recorded so if you are interested in watching any of the presentations, keep an eye on the conference webpage.