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

Lecture capture conference report

Photo taken on iPad

Lecture capture conference

On 16th June I attended a Lecture capture conference organised by ALT and hosted at Queen Mary University, London. In the School of Arts and Social Sciences at City University London we currently do not have a lecture capture system. Well, we do; his name is Mo Pamplin! If someone wants a lecture to be recorded for any reason lecture staff contact Mo who is able to video the session and put the video onto our streaming server. This has worked well but we have an increasing number of people interested in having their lectures recorded because the university is on iTunes U and the ability to embed media into our VLE (Moodle) more readily.  So I was interested to hear about the experiences of other universities both in terms of implementation and the technology they are employing to automate the process.

Here are some of my thoughts from the sessions that I attended.

Anxiety of exposure. How lecture capture brings everything out for everyone to see presented by Eoin McDonnell from Queen Mary University London

Queen Mary (QM) use a lecture capture system called Echo360 with recordings accessed through virtual learning environment, Blackboard. Echo 360 at QM records automatically via a timetabling system so it is unobtrusive and means the lecturer doesn’t need to do anything extra.
Eoin talked very frankly about the ‘deeply entrenched naked hostility of academics to this project’
and interference with microphones, absenteeism from recorded lectures etc. It was very useful to hear about this as it is a concern generally about lecture capture. People tend not to like the idea of being videoed and for it to happen automatically can cause anxiety. There was also a fear that the videos would be used for performance management.
Eoin also said that the Echo 360 application failed ‘semi-regularly’ which is another concern. If we are relying on a lecture recording, as part of a series for example, this would be a problem, especially if we had advertised the series as being available from iTunes U. However, Eoin did say that their technical team was poorly resourced, they did not get any extra staff to look after this project meaning that everyone was stretched.

Advice from QM on implementing lecture capture

  • Build a team that covers all departments e.g. Av, IS, learning technologists etc
  • To be effective you need universal coverage – recording in all rooms. Staff wanted all or nothing
  • You have to deal with staff anxiety about being recorded
  • Students want it
  • The technology needs to work first time every time
  • Set up a community of practice who can act as ‘myth busters’
  • Lecture capture must be explicitly ‘opt in’

Enhancing student learning, providing recordings of chemistry teaching- an  HEA project
presented by Neil Berry, University of Liverpool

Neil talked about a project that was run in the Chemistry department. Their lecture capture system recorded what happened on the screen alongside audio so it didn’t record the lecturer visually.

Importantly they found no difference in student attendance for an UG lecture, comparing one lecturer who recorded to another that didn’t.  This research was great to see as it is the most cited reason for lecturers reluctance and yet time and again the data doesn’t back this up.  The access statistics (number of times a student accessed the recording) were very interesting. There was inital uptake which dropped off but access at revision time showed a dramatic increase.

Liverpool are now discussing whether they change what lecture time is used for e.g. workshops, tutorials etc

Supporting lecture capture – University of Coventry

ELTAC (Enhancing Lecture Through Automated Capture) is a JISC funded lecture capture project being run at the University of Coventry.  There are some excellent resources here:

Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights
The thread of copyright and ipr ran through the majority of the talks.  Issues include that staff may talk about current research before it has been published. Students attend university in order to be exposed to the work of their lecturers so this should still be encouraged but may need to be edited from publicly broadcast podcasts. Also, lecturers may want to use images or music in their sessions which they can do but which cannot then be distributed.


Run workshops on ipr and copyright for all those that are having their lectures recorded
Practical and conceptual
Exemplars – authentupic, contextualised
Site. one stop shop, academically focussed

General thoughts

I’m glad that I went to this conference. It was very worthwhile and thought-provoking


The recordings from the day are now available to view here

Reflections on MoodleMootUK 11

Photo from MoodleMootUK11


I attended MoodleMoot this year and last year and would recommend it to all those working with Moodle or considering moving to Moodle. It attracts people from different sectors including schools, FE, HE, business, charities, police, public sector etc. It is a great place to network and find out about new innovations.

What I enjoyed this year was:

  •  the knowledge cafe section. On the second day we were split into groups based on our first name and we discussed different topics in our groups. Some colleagues of mine didn’t find this a very useful session but I met some interesting people from different sectors and was able to get a good understanding of their issues with Moodle (although we set our agenda and didn’t merely talk about the designated topics which probably helped).
  •  It’s always good to hear from Martin Dougiamas (via Skype this year)
  • Thought-provoking sessions. I did manage to pick some good ones which was helpful!
  • The MoodleMoot app was very handy (although the programme was a little small). I think it was worthwhile and I would recommend that it was used each year
  • The twitter stream was very interesting and I would encourage more people to tweet during the conference

My suggested improvements for next year

I have already completed my feedback form including these suggestions

Knowledge cafe sessions

The Knowledge cafe sessions should be on the first day and should be streamed more effectively. It would be useful to talk to people in the same boat e.g. those that are considering moving to Moodle, those that currently have Moodle 1.9 and are evaluating Moodle 2, different sectors etc. Having these sessions on the first day would allow people to continue to network and discuss during the breaks.

One keynote per day

One of the grumbles on twitter was that there were two keynotes per day and, with the exception of Martin Dougiamas, three of them didn’t talk about Moodle at all. As it is a Moodle conference I think the focus should be on Moodle. If there was one keynote per day it would allow for two extra workshop or discussion sessions which I would have found more valuable. I must say though that, on the whole, I did enjoy the keynotes and Sugata Mitra was a highlight last year.


The abstracts for the sessions were not available to look at before the conference. This would have been helpful as I went to one session on a tool and it turned out that I had used it more than the presenter! This was a waste of my time but I could have found this out if I’d had time to look at the abstract.

Streamed workshops

One of the workshop sessions that I attended had two very different topics. I think it would be helpful to have streams e.g. sector based, innovations/tools etc. This would help when choosing which sessions to attend and would stop the need to sneak out of one room and into another in order to see the talks that you want.

MoodleMoot app

The app was very useful and I hope that it is developed for next year. I would prefer the programme to launch in a full screen as it was hard to read all the text without a lot of scrolling. It would also be very handy to have the abstracts and room numbers updated.

On the whole, I am glad that I attended MoodleMoot. I look forward to attending next year, perhaps somewhere other than London!