Digi Know – Module Evaluation Surveys now accessible from Course Resources

With the EvaSys evaluation system successfully talking to Blackboard, students can now access module evaluation links to online surveys via Course Resources. Any available surveys will be displayed in the section called My Surveys which can be seen when they log into Course Resources.

If there are no surveys or once they have taken surveys, a message will be displayed advising that there are no surveys as shown below.

Once the students complete the surveys, their responses are registered into the EvaSys evaluation system ready for reporting.

Handy PowerPoint Tips

PowerPoint does not have to be boring

1. Shift + F5 —- Start slideshow from the slide you have currently selected shift f5

2. Slide Jump — In slideshow mode, type the number of a slide you want to go to and press Enter


3. Hide slides — you can hide a slide in slideshow settings by selecting it and clicking hide slide. It will be skipped in presentation mode. When needed, just do the slide jump as described in tip 2 above.


4. You can also hide / blank slides — during the presentation by pressing b for a black  screen or w for a white screen. To go back to the slide, just press again either b or w

5. Cropping — you can crop an image in a slide and keep just the bit you want to show your audience.

6. Arrange & Align — highlight all the objects including text scattered on your slide then choose Arrange, then Align and select the alignment required e.g. center, left, right etc.

7. Compress graphics — before you share your slides e.g. sending by email, compress images in your slides by selecting the image and from the Format tab, choose Compress Pictures.


8. Embed a web page in a slide — From the Insert tab, click on Store and search for web viewer and click Add. Type in the website you want to embed in your website. Preview it to make sure it opens ok.


9. Hyperlink — Write some text on your slide, highlight it and from the Insert tab, click on Hyperlink and choose to link to a section in your presentation, to a document or to a web page. Images can also be used as hyperlinks instead of text.


Courtesy of MeeToo

Digi Know: Engaging students in the classroom


It can be difficult for students to stay engaged in a lecture especially if it is long or towards the end of the day. One of the easy ways you can break the session is by getting the students to participate using quiz tools. You can pop questions of different types like Multiple Choice, True/False or even Text Response.

Here are some of the tools:

Students are given the TurningPoint handsets to use for the selection of their answers during the class quiz. Handsets can be borrowed from the library. Book well in advance of your session to ensure they will be available on the day.

Students use their own mobile devices to select the answers. The tool can be freely used from the internet. Tutor needs to create an account so that they can create the quiz questions. Socrative can bring competitiveness to the lecture making learning fun for students.

Like Socrative, students use their own mobile devices to select their answers and the tutor needs to create an account. PollEverywhere has an additional question type that allows students to click on an area on a given image. The tutor is able to see the different areas students were clicking on.

Also have a look at our Help Guides and the Ideas Factory for other ideas. For help with any of these tools, contact tel@derby.ac.uk. If you are using or have used any other quiz tool you found useful, could you please let us know by commenting on this post.

Digi Know: Structuring your content using Blackboard Learning Elements

Blackboard Learning Elements provide a neat way of presenting content in Course Resources in a way that is easy for students to navigate. Content items are presented as pages such that students can go directly to a particular page they want and they can also use the arrows to move from one page to the next. Sequential viewing can be enforced if necessary from the options e.g. if students have to complete a particular activity before they move on to the next resource.

Learning Elements
Fig 1. 2 Learning Elements

Fig 2. Table of Contents of the Learning Element with page 1 displayed showing an Item

LE img
Fig 3. Page 4 of the Learning Element showing an Image

Creating Learning Elements can easily be done in Course Resources (Blackboard) via Build Content and selecting Learning Element.

Fig 4. How to create a Learning Element in Course Resources (Blackboard)

Once the Learning Element has been created, click on it and add the different learning resources directly into it, e.g. items, files, images, videos, etc.

Going to the Polls

I had the opportunity to participate at a conference intended to highlight current use of Polling/Voting technology in Teaching and Learning at the University of Birmingham.

The keynote speech was given by Dr Fabio Arico, a senior lecturer in Economics at the University of East Anglia. He talked about how he uses polling data to produce learning analytics and pedagogical research. He has actively adopted the active learning approach in his practice which he says took him 3 years to get it to work. He emphasized that planning is key. The participants were able to practically participate in the demonstration of this methodology. Some Economics questions were presented on the screen and participants were given time to respond using TurningPoint / Responseware, and then the results were displayed on the screen. Then participants were given the opportunity to discuss their responses with their peers or neighbours in the conference room then the same question was asked and participants selected the answers again this time influenced by their discussions. It was interesting to notice the change in results graph with more participants actually getting the answers right after the discussions. Dr Fabio Arico has been able to successfully influence more than 50% of his colleagues to use the peer learning approach. He uses the students’ feedback to improve his teaching.

Another very interesting presentation was given by Professor Prem Kumar, Professor of Physiological Science at the University of Birmingham. He talked about his journey from traditional teaching to using the flipping approach hence the title of his presentation: ‘If in doubt, try, try and then try again: the very real perils and pleasures of adopting a flipped approach’. He particularly mentioned his use of this approach with medical students. Some of the key points from his talk included the fact that, to successfully use the flipped approach, a lot of preparation has to be invested before the session and that the lecturer has to be self-confident and believe in the methodology and be very knowledgeable of their subject. He also advised to ensure there is value added to the session after students have already seen the Panopto videos in their own time.

Other contributors included Bob Ridge-Stearn from Newman University who talked about their attempt to use OMBEA voting tool to run exams of which they experienced some challenges. David Mathew from the University of Berdfordshire talked about using TexWall to help shy students to participate. Annette Margolis from the University of Birmingham talked about her use of Socrative in her classes to provoke debate and to get students’ feedback. I presented on a few quick case studies to highlight the different ways technology is used here at Derby and that includes for: recapping, revision, mock tests, to provoke discussion and to get feedback among other uses. Both TurningPoint and Socrative are popularly used at the University of Derby. Socrative has also been used with collaborative partners in Malaysia.

Those who are using voting technology are clearly seeing the benefits of it in helping students to learn and engage with learning material. While flipping approach is upheld, a point was also raised that different learning styles should be considered as some people still preferred the traditional approach.

Appy Monday – PicCollage

Banner showing Digital Derby and Appy Monday: Exploring mobile apps for learning and teaching

What is PicCollage?

Pic Collage is a free photo editor and free-form collage maker app that’s available from iTunes, Google Play, and the Microsoft windows store. It’s such fun to play with and it makes great collages.

What can it do?

  • Import photos from your device, Facebook or Instagram.
  • Resize, rotate, create cutouts, add borders or special effects.
  • Combine with other images, gifs and YouTube videos.
  • Select different backgrounds or add text using different fonts and colour.
  • Share your creation on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, or via email, or download it as an image.

Download it now

You can access it on the web or via the mobile app on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire or any Windows device.
Download it from: http://pic-collage.com/

How could it be used for learning, teaching and assessment?

  • Create an infographic about a given topic – add text headings or draw and write on the photos to explain connections.
  • Create a collage of photos taken on a field trip and use the text and drawing options to mark points of importance.
  • Illustrate design concepts.
  • Create really interesting conference/seminar posters.

Short task:

  • Create an account for PicCollage or use your Facebook account to login.
  • Tap to create a collage.
  • Add pictures from your device and from the web.
  • Choose a frame for the pictures.
  • Add some text.
  • Change the background.
  • Save your collage and share it via e-mail (or any other way of your choice).

Important note

Before using any mobile application or online service please check the terms and conditions to ensure you are aware of the implications of using the service. In particular, look out for items covering data security, ownership of content and public/private sharing options.

Further support

If you would like further support to get an idea of how you could use PiCollage within learning and teaching, please contact the Technology Enhanced Learning team on tel@derby.ac.uk or ext 1865.

Useful resources

PicCollage blog
PicCollage FAQs

Digi Know: Turnitin for iPad app



Marking time again! Did you know you can actually mark students’ work from your iPad.

Turnitin has an app for iPad which can be downloaded from the App Store. This will enable you to mark on the go using lightweight technology. You get all the marking features available from the desktop version.

For more information on Turnitin for iPad app click on this link: http://turnitin.com/en_us/what-we-offer/ipad

EvaSys International Conference

Here is a summary of selected topics covered at the EvaSys International Conference held in London in May (5-6).


EvaSys is an evaluation system, developed by Electric Paper Ltd, that the University of Derby chose to use in order to get student feedback on their learning experiences per module. It was previously difficult to get this feedback. EvaSys questionnaires are printed and given to the students to complete in class thus raising chances of getting the feedback. The completed questionnaires are then scanned using EvaSys Scanstations and the results are stored on the system and reports are generated and sent to various stakeholders e.g. module leaders or deans etc. This system also has the online survey option which UDOL uses. It was noted that more feedback is attained via paper based surveys than online. University of Derby also uses EvaExam system for administration of exams at the partner college in Malaysia. Currently 54 UK and Ireland universities use EvaSys.


Electric Paper Ltd. plans to release the next version of EvaSys (v7.0) in January 2016. With regards reporting and statistics, improvements include 20 custom fields for Courses and Participants; complex filters for Report Creator; and merged PDF reports show table of sources. Customer-driven improvements include, hiding answers to open questions; improved categorization, flexible naming of reports; improved maintenance mode; as well as ability to export statistical data via CSV (DAL Light) among other improvements. There are also improvements to the EvaExam system in v7.0 and they include two-column layout; reduction of paper consumption (up to 50%); Intelligence Character Recognition (ICR) for calculations and fill-in-the-gap questions; Formula Editor (MathML, LATEX);


images as background for open questions; and also adjustments clause for grading scales; etc.


Other improved services include updated online support system. Via the Extras tab, users can get live content directly from Electric Paper and also direct access to webinars and newsletters. Updates are highlighted with a + symbol.

The Enterprise Option

Electric Paper is offering The Enterprise Option which is useful for trying the latest release without interfering with production environment, conducting staged updates and developer license to programme Web Services (SOAP API). The Enterprise Option consists of Test License and Software Development Kit (SDK) which is free, 6h Developer Support for 795 € per year, and operation of Electric Paper Developer Network (EPDN) solutions. EPDN comprises of Electric Paper, Customer internal IT and 3rd Party Provider.

EvaSys Dashboard

The EvaSys system can be embedded with Intuitive Business Intelligence Dashboards which provide detailed visual data for reporting purposes. The Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has been using the dashboards since 2011 and the users have found the dashboards to be useful for supporting a range of monitoring at various levels. Dashboards provide quick and easy access to real time data. Reporting can be on anything including VLE, attendance, timetabling etc.


NTU dashboard

Module Benchmarking by EvaSys Governance

Electric Paper is in the process of establishing sector-wide Module Benchmarking using questions that are similar to those used in the NSS survey. As there are now more than 50 universities in the UK using EvaSys, institutions will be able to compare their evaluations with other institutions using the same questions. Each institution will have access to its own data and just aggregate data for benchmark questions of other participants. Benchmark outputs from pilot participants are expected in October.

Learning Analytics

There was also a panel discussion on learning analytics which is thought to be relatively new in the UK but is becoming topical. Dublin City University is looking at engagement with the VLE to predict future performance. It is hoped that library usage and attendance among other areas will be included. University of Surrey switched to online surveys and got 60% response rate. Professor John Taylor from the University of Liverpool said that data collected should be more attention directing than an end in itself.

Electric Paper Research

Here are some of the key outcomes from research that was recently conducted by Electric Paper on how to deliver best practice in course evaluation.

  • HE providers require central visibility to drive teaching quality and enhancement. Course evaluation is tied to the NSS used as an early warning mechanism
  • Survey fatigue is one of the main concerns regarding participation. In-class evaluation gives the best response rates as compared to online evaluation.
  • Regarding staff development, course and module evaluation is about supporting and enhancing academic achievement, not meant to highlight negative results. There should be policy decisions and involvement from the departments and academics regarding the use of data.
  • Course evaluation is at the centre of student experience. Student representatives should be involved in all aspects of quality measurement and enhancement efforts.
  • Collaboration between HE providers is important. Electric Paper affords this via user conferences and regional group meetings etc.

Assessment and Feedback Notes from a Keynote Presentation by Professor Phil Race (25/03/2015)

Here are some selected key points taken from Professor Phil Race’s Keynote presentation on Assessment and Feedback. Note that most of the bulleted points have been taken as they are from the presentation. The rest of the presentation, and more information about Professor Phil Race is found on his website.

Phil identified some of the practices that are still going on in Higher Education learning, teaching and assessment which he thinks are not working anymore hence regards them as ‘madness’. These are:

  • Lecturing in the traditional way – students don’t now expect to write notes, and often don’t come with pens.
  • Hand-writing feedback – lecturers spend hours writing comments on students work but the students take little notice and they get the feedback too late.
  • Marking Essays – reliability of essays as an assessment method is notoriously poor.
  • Marking huge piles of exam scripts – written exams only measure what comes out of pens. It is what’s in heads that needs to be tested.
  • Ignoring the fact that the students can get to some of the best ‘content’ in the world by themselves, at no charge, on their laptops, tablets and mobile phones.

He suggested that instead, staff should focus on helping students to become excellent learners, getting feedback to them in ways that work much better than written comments; and transforming assessment into something which causes learning, not just attempting to measure snapshots of what has been memorised.

Seven factors underpinning successful learning

Phil suggested that staff should be doing the following in order to make learning happen:

  1. Striving to enhance our students’ want to learn;
  2. Helping students to develop ownership of the need to learn;
  3. Keeping students learning by doing, practice, trial-and-error, repetition;
  4. Ensuring students get quick and useful feedback – from us and from each other;
  5. Helping students to make sense of what they learn.
  6. Getting students deepening their learning by coaching other students, explaining things to each other (verbalising).
  7. Allowing students to further deepen their learning by assessing their own learning, and assessing others’ learning – making informed judgements.


Is more effective when:

  • It is used to engage students in learning that is productive
  • Feedback is used to actively improve student learning.
  • Students and teachers become responsible partners in learning and assessment.
  • Students are inducted into the assessment practices and cultures of higher education.
  • Assessment for learning is placed at the centre of subject and program design.
  • Assessment for learning is a focus for staff and institutional development.
  • Assessment provides inclusive and trustworthy representation of student achievement.

The five NSS statements in the UK (to bear in mind)

  1. The criteria used in marking have been clear in advance.
  2. Assessment arrangements and marking have been fair.
  3. Feedback on my work has been prompt.
  4. I have received detailed comments on my work.
  5. Feedback on my work has helped me to clarify things I did not understand.

Students’ thoughts about assessments

Student evaluations frequently reveal poor assessment practices that:

  • Lack authenticity and relevance to real world tasks;
  • Make unreasonable demands on students;
  • Are narrow in scope;
  • Have little long-term benefit;
  • Fail to reward genuine effort;
  • Have unclear expectations and assessment criteria;
  • Fail to provide adequate feedback to students;
  • Rely heavily on factual recall rather than on higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills.

Students need assessment literacy among other things in order to succeed in Higher Education. They need to be able to do the following:

  • Make sense of key terms such as criteria, weightings, and level;
  • Handle a variety of assessment methods (e.g. presentations, portfolios, posters, assessed web participation, practicals, vivas etc) and get practice in using them;
  • Be wisely strategic in their behaviours, putting more work into aspects of an assignment with high weightings, interrogating criteria to find out what is really required and so on;
  • Gain clarity on how the assessment regulations work in their University.

Feedback and Feedforward on exams

Even good feedback on coursework does not necessarily prove much help regarding structuring exam answers. Phil suggests having typical exam answers, about 3, typed up (with students’ permission), with track changes comments added as they will be useful for future candidates. The typical answers should be made available to students in advance but not too far in advance.

Feedforward is defined as a strategy that aims to increase the value of feedback to the students by focusing comments not only on past and present, but also on the future – what the student might aim to do, or do differently in the next assignment or assessment if they are to continue to do well or to do better.

How to give feedback to a large group within 24 hours

Feedback should be timely, given to students while it matters to them and in time for them to use it towards further learning, or to receive further assistance. The following is a suggestion of how to give feedback to a large group within 24 hours. The rationale is that most students would still have been doing the work in the last 24 hours before they handed it in such that they would remember what they were doing, what they didn’t do and what they missed out because they couldn’t understand it.

An assessment deadline is set such that students hand in their work during lecture time. E.g. for a 10-11 lecture on a given day, the deadline can be set to 10:03. The lecturer hands out to the students a coloured sheet containing numbered points. Then when giving feedback, students can be referred to a particular point, e.g. ‘please see point 3, blue sheet’, etc. The coloured sheet can contain illustration of what is expected as evidence of achievement of each of the intended learning outcomes; likely mistakes; features of a good answer; frequently needed explanations; and things that the lecturer would have to write time and time again on students’ work. The students are given about 3 minutes to study the points and then the lecturer spends a few de-briefing the whole group and talking them through one point on the handout. Such feedback contains tone-of-voice, facial expression, body language, emphasis, etc. which lack in written feedback. The lecturer then takes the students’ work away to mark in less time with comments now relating more to each individual piece of work. When students get their marked work back with feedback, they are more likely to use it as it’s personal.


Adapted from Professor Phil Race’s Presentation

Feedback without marks

It is perceived that marks destroy the value of feedback to students because students may be blinded by the mark or grade they get and may not try to make sense of the feedback they receive as a result. If the mark is good, they rejoice and file the work without reading the feedback, but if it’s low they frown and bin the work. Phil suggests a way round it as giving students their work with feedback but with no marks or grades while keeping a record of their marks. Then the students are asked to work out their marks from the feedback they were given, and also from the feedback others were given. They are advised that if their self-assessment scores are within (say) 5% of their own scores, the higher number will go forward into their assessment record (this will motivate the students to assess themselves, and also that the lecturer will talk individually to those students whose score is different by more than 5% from the one they are given. The lecturer then collects the students’ marks/grades and arranges to talk to the students whose marks are more than 5%. It was observed that most students, about 9 in 10 will be within the 5%.

Students who under-estimate their grade will need their self-esteem boosted and also to be reminded about the assessment criteria, and how these illustrate the intended standards associated with the learning outcomes. Students who over-estimate their grades will require a walk through their work to find out where exactly they lost points they thought they had gained.

Turning Technologies User Conference (Manchester)

I attended the 2014 Turning Technologies User Conference on the 22nd of September at the University of Manchester’s beautiful Core Technology Facility.

My goal was to find out how other people are using TurningPoint with the hope to share with academics at the University of Derby who may want to use the software in their practices. Not only did I gain this knowledge, but in the end, it sounded like the conference was on Peer Instruction as, beginning with the keynote speech by the apparently renowned Professor Eric Mazur, almost all presenters seemed to be using TurningPoint for that pedagogy.

Peer Instruction

In case this is also new to other people, Peer Instruction (PI) is an innovative teaching method that incorporates interactive pedagogy into the classroom. It was developed by Dr. Eric Mazur, a Physics Professor at the Havard University who wrote the book: Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual in which he explains how to teach large lecture classes interactively. He had realised that his students were passing exams without having understood the fundamental concepts he was trying to teach them.

The general steps followed in the Peer Instruction methodology are as follows: Firstly, the instructor gives a brief presentation/lecture to explain the concepts that he would like the learners to learn or that they are struggling with. This is followed by a question posed by the instructor which is called a ConcepTest, carefully designed to draw out, address and resolve learners’ misunderstandings or misconceptions they may have on the topic that has been presented to them. Learners are given time to think about their answer on their own before they respond.

Next, learners’ responses are collected using classroom response devices like TurningPoint. At this stage the results are not revealed to the learners but the instructor can see them and determine how well the concept has been grasped on this front. Learners are asked to find a neighbour(s) with a different response to their own and convince them why they think their answer is correct. After the peer discussions, learners respond to the same question again committing to what they now think is the correct answer. Results are revealed only after polling is closed. The final step is an explanation of what the correct answer is and the reasoning behind it. It can be a class-wide closing discussion.


The Keynote address, emphasised the view of education NOT as mere transfer of information or getting students to do what lecturers want them to do, but getting students to actively participate in class which was deemed imperative. Transfer of knowledge was considered the easy bit which students can do on their own outside the classroom and assimilation of that knowledge was considered the hard bit and yet it is left to the student to deal with. The advice was to assign reading to the students and then teach by questioning in class. Given the role of the TurningPoint response system in PI, it is hence considered to be not just a polling tool, but an engagement tool. The presentation can be found here.

How TurningPoint voting system is being used

– To get module feedback > At Huddersfield University it is used for pre-survey before students fill in the formal paper based surveys. The process helps clarify any misconceptions students may have which potentially leads to them providing inaccurate negative feedback e.g. interpretation of timely feedback.

– For Peer Instruction

– Formative Assessment

– Pre-diagnostic testing > to find out what students already know

– Feedback on session and learning

– Basis of discussion > e.g. True/False questions which may not have a right or wrong answer.

– As Icebreakers

– To find out about class e.g. Archaeology lecturer at the University of Manchester checks how students feel or what they did after fieldwork

– For self-paced summative assessments as part of Team Based Learning > this is used at the University of Bradford within the School of Pharmacy. **Results are uploaded from TurningPoint to Blackboard VLE within 24 hours giving students timely feedback. A separate blog will be posted on how Team Based Learning is done at the University of Bradford within the School of Pharmacy.

Benefits of using TurningPoint in learning/teaching sessions

– Especially useful with large groups of students where interaction is difficult

– Creates classroom discussions -> questions and/or answers are used as a starting point of a discussion

– Students participate actively by using the clickers or their mobile devices to answer the questions

– Gives freedom during class > using Responseware, students can use their mobile devices to submit their polls

– Gives a break in session

– Gives immediate individual feedback

– Provides students’ self reflection

– Anonymous feedback hence honest responses especially on personal or sensitive questions

– Gauge opinion on taught material

– Real time student written anonymous feedback to lecturer on a learning topic or session using ResponseWare and mobile devices > e.g. a Macroeconomics student at the University of Manchester asked the lecturer to go over a particular topic again as he had not properly grasped it. As such students actively help shape courses in the future.

Other Points to Note

ResponseWare is software that enables participants to respond to interactive questions with any web-enabled device including smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktops. The responses are immediately transferred to TurningPoint polling software. You can read more information by following this link.

The provision of ResponseWare at the University of Manchester resulted in higher uptake and frequency of usage of the TurningPoint tool and this in turn has multiplied innovation and teaching impact. This was due to its ease of use. Testimonies were from use within the Humanities department. Initially they had bought 300 ResponseWare licences, but this has now increased to 1000. Sheffield University currently have 900 licences but they invested a lot in TurningPoint response cards or clickers. Some clickers have actually been securely installed in lecture theatres for each seat.  

At the University of Bradford, students are given the clickers at the beginning of the semester and they are required to bring it to class. The lecturer keeps a record of the device IDs for each student. Students sign an agreement which includes the fact that if they lose it, then they have to pay £50 for the replacement. If they come to class without it, then they get 0 in summative tests. This becomes an incentive for the students to bring the clickers. At the University of Huddersfield, they also plan to give the clickers to all Year 1 students on Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Forensic Science.

Professor Simon Lancaster from the University of East Anglia pointed out that good multiple choice questions need to be designed for a PI to work properly. The questions need to be challenging to get the students engaged in the learning process. He presented on flipping roles whereby students source both questions and answers. By doing that the students will be applying knowledge. He recommended use of Peerwise, a free online platform which students can use to compose multiple choice questions.


TurningPoint is a very useful learning tool especially in Peer Instruction. Students get engaged as they inevitably participate actively in a learning/teaching session instead of just sitting and listening to the lecturer talking. PI provides continuous formative assessment and feedback which greatly impacts on students’ deep learning. Students get better understanding of concepts from peer discussions which call for application of concepts rather than just memorizing facts that are easily forgotten. Adoption of ResponseWare can increase uptake of the TurningPoint tool as lecturers don’t need to worry about collecting all the clickers back at the end of a session. Once lecturers start using TurningPoint, they will discover various other ways they can use the tool in their own teaching practices.