Digital playground

Moodle for summative assessments to reduce marking time, minimise selective learning, and provide timely feedback

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📥  Event Review

Dr Momna Hejmadi, Department of Biology & Biochemistry, gave a presentation on the topic of using multiple choice questions (MCQs) in Moodle for summative assessment, with many tips and points to consider. Momna's experience comes from having been involved with a TDF project to investigate the use of Moodle quizzes for assessment across multiple departments.

Read Momna's case study including: context; how it was set up; benefits; and points to consider when trying this yourself

Watch a full recording of the event (27 minutes plus discussion)

The main drivers for moving towards using Moodle MCQs for asssessment were:

  • NSS/PTES scores
  • Students prefer timely feedback rather than quality feedback#1
  • Increasing student numbers (349 cohort in 2015/16)
  • Time pressures on staff in enhancing research metrics
  • Selective/Strategic learning in years 1 and 2.

The first year in which Momna trailed this new system ran smoothly, however the second year with an even further increased cohort size did not. At this point the contingency plan was used, which is why Momna stressed that involving AV, registry and e-learning at all stages of design and implementation was necessary.

If you are interesting in using MCQs in your teaching, read the case study on using Peerwise which allows students to create and answer their own MCQs across the cohort.



Peer evaluation: Moodle Workshop Tool and Web PA

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📥  Event Review

This session was jointly ran by Jeff Barrie, Department of Mechanical Engineering, who presented WebPA for peer moderated marking, and Dr Richard Kamm, School of Management, who presented Moodle Workshop for peer evaluation on essay proposals.

You can watch back a recording of the full session on Panopto for a presentation on WebPA, Moodle Workshop, and a discussion at the end.



Reflecting on the TDF Public Engagement & Technology project so far...


📥  LITEbox Development

Just over a month ago I was fortunate enough to be recruited onto a TDF project investigating how staff use technology in their teaching to connect their students to external ‘publics’ (essentially any person or group external to the University). In a whirlwind month we are now submerged into phase one; mapping how staff across the University may be tapping into these aspects and to use technology to capture snippets of their experiences.

Back in February, our first team meeting was a quick-fire brainstorming session to give us some leads, followed by a mass-email sending session. Surprisingly speedy replies in tow, we arranged meetings with the respondents; a lesson in how difficult it is to get academics in a room at the same time. Clashing calendars aside, we successfully managed to arrange a series of coffee meetings. We entered the meetings with vague ideas of how staff might be using technology to connect their students to people outside of the University, but we had no idea just how interesting, exciting, and inspiring each of the individuals would be. The project has allowed me to connect with academics across the University with backgrounds completely different to mine, and given me an insight to perspectives other than my own. The range and variety of experiences we have had recounted to us is extraordinary, who knew it was all happening under our noses here at the University of Bath?

Admittedly not everyone met the full criteria of using technology to connect students to external publics, but that’s not to say these people were in any way less useful, interesting, or informative. The reasons provided for neglecting certain aspects of the project were intriguing and fascinating. Going into the meetings we had expected the main barrier to be lack of time, and indeed this was the case for some. But the meetings took us down paths we had never even considered; the appropriateness of technology use and the ethics of connecting with certain publics, just to name a few.

Although it is still early days in the project, there are already some important themes emerging. The first concerns the appropriateness of using technology in teaching and engaging with people external to the University. Several individuals have spoken about not just using technology for the sake of it. Technology should be used to enhance the process, which requires analysing each individual situation, thinking about what you would like to achieve, and asking the question: is technology beneficial, or even necessary?

Another important theme is discipline-specific issues and barriers. Again linking in to the above point, certain fields may be reluctant to use technologies due to their implicit and longstanding value of face to face interaction. When working with vulnerable publics, it is of utmost importance to maintain close and personal interactions, and so you have to be cautious when attempting to integrate technology into this dynamic. Equally, one must consider the public with which they may be potentially engaging, and question if it is appropriate to connect their students to such external groups. Many of the conversations we have had highlighted the importance of considering the ethics and politics surrounding connecting your students to certain publics, and what potential consequences there may be.

As phase one is drawing to a close, I’ve taken some time to reflect on my experiences of the project so far, and I have to say it’s been incredibly rewarding. The people we’ve met have been passionate and inspiring, and the knowledge and ideas they have contributed have been invaluable. Phase one has been an absolute pleasure, and I look forward to the experiences yet to come.


LITEbox event: Making the most of student authored online presentations

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📥  LITEbox Event

Date: Thursday 21st April 2016
Time: 1.15pm - 2.05pm
Venue: 8W 2.34

Please confirm attendance by emailing

Student presentations provide excellent learning opportunities for helping synthesise course concepts and succinctly communicating ideas to an audience. Online presentations expand these learning opportunities by offering the potential to reach new audiences, gain richer feedback as well as freeing up seminar time for more in depth face to face activities. This workshop explores different ways in which student generated online presentations can be used to enhance teaching and learning in different contexts.

During the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to experiment with using Voicethread and work together to design learning activities pertinent to their students’ needs that embed an online presentations in order to collectively appraise and establish contexts of use for student authored online presentations.

The workshop will be facilitated by the following staff:

  • Dr Felia Allum, Lecturer, Dept of Politics, Languages & International Studies, has been using student authored online presentations as a precursor to highly interactive and engaging undergraduate and postgraduate seminars. She has recently successfully completed a teaching development funded project designing and implementing role-play games to stimulate deep learning.
  • Dr Rita Chawla-Duggan, Lecturer, Department of Education, is interested in using rich media (images, film and audio podcasts) in her teaching. She encourages undergraduate students to create and share online presentations that document a mini placement experience. In this way students learn from each other about a wide variety of school settings.
  • Geraldine Jones, e-learning development officer, H&SS, supports staff in H&SS in developing technology enabled learning activities that are tailored to specific learning and teaching needs. She has worked closely with academic staff in the faculty on several successful teaching development projects.


Automatic marking of code to reduce time and pressure on marking


📥  Case Studies

Staff involved
Rachid Hourizi, Dept of Computer Science
Julian Padget, Dept of Computer Science
Marina De Vos, Dept of Computer Science
Alan Hayes, Dept of Computer Science

What problem did you hope to solve?
With increasing cohort sizes each year there is increasing pressure on marking for both academic staff and PhD students who help with marking. Students also enjoy knowing that their marking is standardised, so developing an approach to marking that could incorporate more standardisation was of interest.

What was done and what technology was used?
Software was developed under a TDF project to facilitate automatic marking of computer code. Code marking can be split into code that is marked subjectively, and code that is marked objectively. Subjective marking would include readability, comments, stylisation, etc., and objective marking would be checking for specific outputs compared to various different inputs. It is the objective marking which has been automated.

Students upload their data to Moodle from where it is automatically retrieved and processed, then code for each student is automatically ran through a small series of tests and feedback given to the marker. The marker still has to mark the subjective aspects of the code and provide this feedback on Moodle.

Next steps of this project are to develop the software further to release formative information to the students, so that they can have feedback on their assignments before submission deadlines and without and input from staff.


If you would like to know more about automatic marking, or would like to trial it within your department, please contact Rachid Hourizi:


LITEbox event: Copyright


📥  LITEbox Event

Date: Tuesday 26th April 2016
Time: 2.15pm - 3.05pm
Venue: CB 1.12

Please confirm attendance by emailing

During and after the Technology Panel Debate last semester, there was a keen interest from staff to know more about copyright.

In April, Lisa Slater, Legal Adviser from the Office of the University Secretary, will be joined by Caroline Brooks from Abel & Imray, and Simon Clegg from Battens Solicitors who will present a talk on copyright issues for all staff on campus.

The session will cover the following topics:

  • Copyright essentials: trademark basics; what attracts copyright; how long copyright lasts; and when you can use other people's work
  • Using different media for teaching & research, including Box of Broadcasts, and YouTube in lectures
  • Support that the library can offer, by Claire Tylee and Hannah South
  • Question & answer session with the audience to the above presenters, plus Rob Hyde, Service Manager, Audio Visual.

If you have any specific copyright questions which you know about now, please include them in your email RSVP and we will try to ensure these topics are covered in the session.

The Office of the University Secretary has recently released new information on copyright, please have a look to find out more information.

Sign up for this session now to reserve yourself a space, as places are limited for this talk on such a hot topic.


Using Peerwise (MCQ software) to encourage a deeper understanding

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📥  Case Studies

Staff involved
Amanda Mackenzie, Dept of Pharmacy and Pharmacology
Christine Edmead, Dept of Pharmacy and Pharmacology

What was done and what technology was used?
Peerwise is free online software which supports students in the creation, sharing, evaluation and discussion of assessment questions. We have been using this technology on a flipped unit with around 180 students for the last two years, and have had a great success.

Peerwise takes a few minutes to set up, and can be done via Moodle enrolment. Once it has been set up it is very self-sustaining and doesn't need much input from ourselves, however we can moderate if needed.

What are the benefits to staff?
This unit has 60% of marks assigned from a multiple choice paper, but we do not release past papers. Students have always asked for practice questions and with Peerwise they can write their own questions and then practice on questions which other students have created. There is also a competitive element as students gain points from writing, answering and commenting on questions. This saves us a lot of time not having to write practice questions each year and provides the students with a broader question bank. We can also look to see which topics students are finding harder and may need to revisit in lectures.

What are the benefits to students?
Students generally will deepen their knowledge by needing to think of appropriate questions and answers to these questions, as well as having access to a fantastic resource for revision for their exams which is added to throughout the semester. Around 60% of students in the cohort actively engage with Peerwise throughout the semester, and while no part of this is assessed, two questions selected from those submitted, are included in each years' exam as an incentive to engage.


An online tutorial for evaluating scientific research literature

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📥  Case Studies

Staff involved
Dr Julie Letchford, Dept of Pharmacy and Pharmacology
Dr Hazel Corradi, Dept of Biology and Biochemistry
Dr Bridgette Duncombe, Dept of Chemistry
Tom Rogers, Library
Trevor Davies, External

What problem was trying to be solved?
It was found that third year students often were at various levels of ability when faced with the challenge of evaluating literature, and it was decided to develop an online tutorial in order to give all students a common grounding.

What was done and what technology was used?
The team involved developed an interactive online resource, called Evaluating Scientific Research Literature tutorial available on Moodle.

The course consists of four modules to help undergraduates in Pharmacy & Pharmacology, Biology & Biochemistry, Natural Sciences, and Chemistry. The first module is an introductory module explaining the different sections of research papers as well as general tips, and the other three are specific for each discipline, explaining how to begin to evaluate a paper and critique data and findings.

Pharmacy & Pharmacology students use the introductory module as part of a mandatory unit in year 1 and the subject-specific module for formative assessment in year 2. Biology & Biochemistry students use it to help them with practical write ups. Overall the students enjoy this resource and find it very helpful.


How to manage your online profile

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📥  Event Review, Students' Union

Another successful event ran by the Students' Union Skills Training team took place recently, on the topic of managing your online profile. Topics include social media, privacy, and tips for the perfect LinkedIn profile. The event can be viewed back at any time, although if you attend the sessions there are some beneficial interactive group activities.

Check out Skills Training's up to date list of skills training activities.

online profile


Using tablets and other technology in research-inspired teaching

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📥  Event Review

Dr Kit Yates shared his experiences of using the media to publicise research, research inspired teaching, and also using iPads in class for teaching. A brief write up is below, and you can also download the full presentation for more detail. A recording is available to watch now.

Public engagement

Public engagement focused on your own specific research has the benefits of allowing you to:

  • become more familiar with your own research and being able to explain it engagingly and in an easy to understand way
  • think about impact and then generate grant applications
  • generate publicity for your work and get the recognition you deserve.

When entering into public engagement for the first time you should consider starting off small, such as Ignite Talks, Bath Taps into Science, Pint of Science, etc.

Kit spoke about his experiences of writing for The Conversation (a news site written by academics from around the world, to which the University of Bath pays a subscription), having his work covered by various journalists for different publications and even speaking on BBC radio 4’s Today programme

For more information, read a research marketing blog post titled Making headlines with research, visit the public engagement website, or talk to the press office.

Research inspired teaching

Research inspired teaching in beneficial for both students and teachers. Students have some real world context of what they are learning, begin to think like experts and develop a deeper knowledge rather than rope learning. Staff can then give more engaging and interactive lectures, while also being able to reflect further on their own research while learning from students.

Flipping the problem class

Intended learning outcomes of the unit were out of line with what was actually being delivered, and the material taught didn't fully align with summative assessment.

Rather than running through problems and pre-written code in class, pre-recorded solutions with audio feedback were recorded with an iPad were put onto panopto/Moodle for students to learn in their own time. This then allowed Kit to construct code from scratch in the face to face sessions, in a much more engaging and useful way to teach the students coding.

Dr Kit Yates discusses how and why he changed his mathematical biology problem classes to focus more on the act of coding, inspired by a combination of flipping and apprentice model approaches.

Dr Kit Yates describes how he recorded his working through problem solutions on a tablet as an online resource to replicate some of the advantages of the live session over the solution sheet.


Lecturing with an iPad

Lecturing with an iPad is the alternative to using white/blackboards, visualisers or slides, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Dr Kit Yates reflects on his experience of using iPads in mathematics lectures as part of a trial to provide his pros and cons for their use.

Advantages of lecturing with an iPad:

  • Lectures can be uploaded quickly
  • Can efficiently switch between media
  • Can quickly back reference previous sections or lectures
  • Great for large lecture theatres as the text is always readable
  • No focussing problems which can occur on visualisers
  • No moving sheets up and down, so students can follow easily
  • Facilitates flipping
  • All the features of pen and paper, and many more (colours, highlighters, etc.)

Disadvantages of lecturing with an iPad:

  • Requires (lots of practice)
  • Set up is difficult and requires time each lecture
  • Lots of gear needed: iPad, HDMI/VGA adapters, styles, case, etc.)
  • Doesn't get significantly better feedback from students
  • Need a special pen/stylus for optimum writing

Kit uses an app called GoodNotes to write on. His iPad is connected to the first projector, and then also syncs the document to his laptop which projects the previous page onto a second projector. This means students can see the current page which Kit is writing as well as the previous page. In University Hall there is Apple TV which means he can wirelessly connect his iPad allowing him more mobility in lectures.

Kit's setup for using an iPad in class

Kit's setup for using an iPad in lectures

Student feedback on the use of the iPad is varied, but the iPad is generally considered to be no worse than black/whiteboards or visualisers. A selection of feedback received is given below:

“I don't think the use of the iPad enhanced learning.”
“I like the iPad with the two screens showing old and new material.”
“I prefer the iPad/visualiser as white board pens are usually quite low on ink.”
“No preference.”
“Prefer whiteboards – if I fall behind I know it will still be somewhere on the boards.”
“Standing up and writing on the board is more engaging.”