E-portfolio and Identity Conference (Open Badges)


CC by-sa-nc Luigi Anzivino

CC by-sa-nc Luigi Anzivino

The Palazzo Gnudi within the university town of Bologna, Italy, was the picturesque setting for the e-portfolio and identity conference.  This meeting brought together academics, educationalists, higher education institutions and companies to discuss digital badges currently and beyond.  Home to the world’s oldest university, Bologna was the ideal venue to discuss this recent approach to recognising education and skill development in a classic case of old meets new.

My own presentation on behalf of the University of Derby was based on our badges validation process and I showcased how badges have been implemented at the university.  In particular, the university’s distribution of badges in our series of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) was discussed with regards to recognising ranging degrees of learning and engagement.  However, it was our validation process for badge implementation that attracted significant attention and interest from other higher education institutions, particularly from within Europe, as did the differing and interesting designs of our badges.  It became apparent that compared to other higher education institutions and industry, the University of Derby was working in the right direction for badge design and implementation.

Many in attendance presented their own badge designs and how these had been used in practice.  However, a particular focus, and arguably issue, was based on what can be done to increase their worth and recognition beyond the institution in which they are awarded.  Most were in agreement that learners accessing education believe that badges will showcase their achievements and enhance their training and qualifications repertoire.  Yet, the current reality is that badges are unrecognised by employers.  Moreover, many raised the point that whilst institutions are looking to issue badges, they themselves will not accept/recognise badges as credible receipt of educational qualification from other institutions.  Indeed, the learners who achieve a badge from an institution may be hard pressed to get that same institution to value the badge if they applied for a vacancy there.  Essentially, it is left up to the learner to sell the credibility of their badge to employers and this is perhaps the biggest challenge facing their wider application.

Inside Palazzo Gnudi - Courtesy of the author

Inside Palazzo Gnudi – Courtesy of the author

There was agreement that progression was needed in order to change the current situation, but what exactly can be done?   A discussion emerged that was based on education providers using badges to bridge the gap between learners and potential relevant employers, thus giving worth to badges whilst simultaneously creating career pathways.  ‘Endorsement’ soon became the buzzword in the room that I now associate with the conference and it encouraged me to think a little deeper about how this could be achieved.

As an example of possible practice, learners may need to compete for a limited number of recognised industry badges by producing projects that reflect some elements of priority areas that have been agreed to by a cluster of key employers.  This would add value to the achievement of badges and also create career pathways that are of benefit to students and employers.  If employers had a platform to enable learners to work towards areas that are of priority to them, they would effectively be promoting the necessary skillset and knowledge in potential new recruits.  This would be a key benefit of their involvement with badges and can be likened to a PhD student starting a research project and being regarded as an expert in that area on completion.

As with so many theories and ideas that sound entirely feasible and limitless on paper, the reality of this process may take somewhat longer than one might anticipate.  It seems inevitable that external companies will need to be convinced of the viable nature of badges and that requires extensive piloting and implementation.  Moreover, there also needs to be a relatively large shift in how educational institutions award educational development and other, perhaps unrecognised skills.

'Due Torri' (The Towers of Bologna) - Courtesy of the author

‘Due Torri’ (The Towers of Bologna) – Courtesy of the author

Nonetheless, supporting badges will encourage a move towards hybrid curriculum vitaes of which the inclusion of badges will enable employers to link back to the evidence of achievement, criteria and authenticity.  In this way, employers can have more confidence in the abilities of candidates and be more certain that they meet their essential and desirable requirements.

Following on from conversations with colleagues and others in attendance at the e-portfolio and identity conference, it seems safe to assume that there is a future for badges, and potentially, a star studded and celebrated one at that.  Yet, as we still negotiate their foundations, there will need to be a degree of forcing the issue through trialling and trialling again.  Finally, this leads to the consideration of something that only time will answer:

“Change is not always growth, just as movement is not always progress” – William Pollard 

Dr Dominic Petronzi
Innovation Hub Researcher & Associate Academic
University of Derby
Enterprise Centre

Courtesy of the Academic Innovation Hub

Courtesy of the Academic Innovation Hub



Digi Know: You can see what student’s see

A tip that a few people have found useful recently is using Edit Mode in Course Resources to check what students can see in modules. This has come in handy when academics have been told by students they can’t see some content.

Simply by turning Edit Mode off, you’ll be able to have a student eye view of a module area. Here’s the difference it makes to the module menu:

Edit Button in Course Resources

JISC Student Digital Experience Tracker

We would like to understand how students view their ‘digital experience’ at the University, so we are asking students to take part in a short survey. The JISC Student Digital Experience Tracker survey was launched via Student Experience on the 1st December. The survey is being promoted to students until the 15th December. Please could you encourage students to complete the survey, so we can get a fair reflection of the student digital experience.


Appy Monday: Dysh

How many times have you heard people say ‘why do I need to see on Instagram or Twitter what someone’s eaten for breakfast?’ If like me you might also be guilty of posting your dinner and then met with a barrage of abuse from friends and followers.

There is no question that Social Media is awesome, it allows us to connect with people instantly. From an educational point of view it opens up discussion, debate and sharing in a 24/7 culture, the perfect platform for engaging the millennials andyshlogod Generation Z.

In 2014 Dysh was developed as a ‘Free app that merges user-generated content and technology to create a conversation around food.’ Until this year the app was and some may argue still is relatively unknown, I could not find any usage stats. The app did received a boost in February of 2016 by re-launching and enlisting some well-known YouTube stars, Hannah Hart, Mamrie Hart, Grace Helbig and Ingrid Nilsen who all dysh3own equity shares in the app. Collectively they bring with them nearly 20 Million fans from a wide range of sources including Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Tumbler along with TV, Films and book deals.

So how does Dysh work?

Dysh has four key functions. The main social feed, which acts similarly to your Instagram feed, lets you catch up on anyone you follow on the app and see what they’ve been eating, where they ate it, and what they rated it.

Then there’s the utility function of it: based on your location, you can see restaurants in your area and the dishes other Dysh users have enjoyed (or not). Next is the Explore tab, which acts as a collection of community-based photos surrounding a certain themed hashtag. The fourth area of the app is your own personal profile, where you can post your own food photography, and “no one can give you crap about it.”

Every time you post and connect with your followers and receive likes you earn points and can move up in the rankings of ‘Taste Buds’, raising your status and the company themselves have committed donating meals to charity each time a user ranks up!

The important bit: How could it be used for learning and teaching?

This could be a fantastic resource for a wide array of subjects:

  • Food and Hospitality – portfolio of dishes made by students #tastyderby
  • Sports Nutrition and Health – promoting a healthy diet #healthyderby
  • Art and Photography – portfolio of food based photography #foodstylingderby

Unfortunately Dysh just doesn’t have that wide spread appeal yet and if you like to look at pictures of food in LA and Brooklyn then you have found the right app.

However, I did a local search to the University and see that there are a lots of Derby restaurants to follow and hundreds of posts in a 20 mile radius, so maybe it’s worth a little look then next time you don’t know what you want to make for dinner!










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 Dysh within learning and teaching, please contact the Technology Enhanced Learning team on tel@derby.ac.uk or ext 1865



Using Blackboard Tests to record student performance in the field (Replacing a paper based review/assessment form)

Are you still using paper based forms to record a student’s performance?  Are you still standing next to the student recording for example their conduct and competence when collecting evidence at a crime scene or using a microscope in a laboratory? Perhaps you assess student presentations against certain criteria stated on a tick box form?


© 2016 Mark Anderson

And then? You drop them in a puddle in the car park?. They get lost in the mire that is your office?. Your young child draws all over them because they thing its scrap paper?. Etc etc etc.

I got asked if there was a way of doing all this online and within the VLE and it got me thinking. Whilst there are commercial systems that we could use and can offer more than the solution discussed below, I realised that actually Blackboard Tests and the Student Preview mode and a bit of cleverness can answer the question raised.

Build an online version of the form as a test. TEL can assist if you need our assistance.

Create a folder in Assessments and set it so students cannot see it. Inside this folder deploy the “Test” that has just been created.

Now create your student preview user account by pressing the student preview button. When this has been created you will see that you can’t see the folder. Leave the student preview and state that you DO NOT want to delete the account. This will create an account that will allow you to use the “test” and record attempts. Your normal tutor account will not store attempts.

Now, relocate the recently created folder and set up adaptive release to your student preview account. When this is done, amend the settings on the folder so that it will be visible to students. As there is an adaptive release already on the folder, it will only be available to your student preview account.

Set up the “test” so that it is multiple attempts and “all at once”.

Now return to the student preview and select the “test”. Complete it and save and submit

Exit Student preview mode. Go to the Grade Center and look for your preview user account. It will look something like xxxx_previewuser.

You will notice that this is the same as when you are doing a normal blackboard test. You can now get access to these forms in the same way you would for student tests. Contact TEL on 1865 for further assistance with this

Social Media – Beginners Guide

The Academic Practice Programme at the University, today welcomes a guest speaker, Eric Stoller. Eric will be delivering a lecture called “Why Educators Can’t Live Without Social Media”/ (Places are still available)

I saw these images, used recently and thought I would share them here. They make a good beginners guide!

Vintage Social Networking

Wrong Hands (2013) Vintage Social Networking https://wronghands1.com/2013/03/31/vintage-social-networking/ (Accessed 21/11/2016


Social Media Explained.

Humphries, M. 2012. Media Explained by Donuts (online). Available at http://www.geek.com/geek-cetera/social-media-explained-with-donuts-1466613/ (Accessed 21/11/2016


Digi Know You can use Rubrics with Turnitin

What is a Rubric

A rubric is a guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, or tests to ensure uniform marking. Online rubrics are normally set out in a grid showing criteria down the side and attainment level across the top.


Importing Turnitin Rubrics

Digi you know that Turnitin has prebuilt rubrics that you can down load and either use straightaway with one of your assignment, or use as a starting point when creating your own rubrics.

Download Turnitin rubrics here: http://turnitin.com/en_us/community/teaching-tools/rubrics

You can also download an excel template for creating rubrics off line from the import page.

Once you have imported a rubric you will be able apply it to any of your assignments. You will also be able to duplicate it and edit it to create new rubrics.


The above picture is the rubric section of a Turnitin assignment.

At the moment the feature to show which rubric is applied to an assignment is broken. If someone else has applied a rubric to a test you won’t be able to see the rubric here, you will just see the “No rubric/form” option. This does not mean that there is no rubric attached to this assignment. You will be able to see the rubric while marking a paper.

Want to know more

If you want to know more about how you use rubrics with either Turnitin assignments or Blackboard assignments please take a look at our help guides http://www.derby.ac.uk/about/learning-enhancement/learning-teaching/technology-media/helpguides/esubmissionturnitin/ or contact the TEL team at TEL@Derby.ac.uk

Digi Know: Battle of the Forms – Google V Office 365


So, back in June Microsoft released Forms in Office 365 for Education, which fulfilled a gap in the Microsoft product range that Google had been offering since 2012. Using forms is a quick and easy way to create a survey or quiz and be able to analyse and evaluate responses almost immediately.

Microsoft are still relatively behind in developing this technology and currently only provide it for education, not the general public or for enterprise. However on the plus side one can fully integrate all Microsoft products now without relying on external sources such as Google Forms or Surveymonkey, this is a big plus where consistency is essential.

Let’s compare the 2 products:


In my experience of using forms (Google) in the classroom, being able to provide a visual alongside a Question has been vital in providing test questions and so Microsoft not offering this simple option in their forms product is a big oversight and something that I hope will be added soon. The possibilities that Forms opens up in a classroom setting, alongside other Office 365 products such as OneNote and the Class Notebook is encouraging to a more dynamic approach providing a synergism between the Tutor and the Student.

I did experience some further frustration the other day when a colleague asked me to share with her a form I had created in Office 365 Forms. After about 5 minutes of clicking (and swearing) I Googled (Oh…the irony) the problem. You cannot have a co-author or collaborate on one form in Office 365 forms, hmmm bit of a problem when collaboration is key to good academic practice!

The ability to Upload Files in Google Forms is, in my opinion, a massive game changer. As a long time user of the Google for Education suite this feature embodies what Google Apps for Education is about and that’s a seamless integration of the products into a student’s user experience.

Come on Microsoft, I’m batting for your team now!

An Industry View of Virtual and Augmented Reality

The recent VR & AR World event in London provided an overview of the current state of Virtual and Augmented Reality.  Part conference, part trade-show, the event provided some visions of the future (such as the market being worth $120 Billion by 2020); but mostly provided an opportunity to see products and companies that had already launched.

Two presentations that stood out from an education and training point of view were from Boeing and the company Ubimax.  Both provided case studies that showed augmented reality guidance/instruction could reduce the time taken to complete tasks, while at the same time improving the accuracy of those tasks.

Ubimax have a number of augmented reality supported applications for manufacture and maintenance; but the application demonstrated was to support picking items in warehouses (you can see a demonstration video here).  The most beneficial aspect seemed to be the timely presentation of context-specific information – particularly in highlighting errors.

The Boeing presentation described a study comparing different ways of presenting information.  Participants were tasked with assembling part of an aeroplane wing using instructions either on a desktop screen, a mobile tablet, or through augmented reality.  The content was roughly similar to this published recording, and summarised in this online article.

Something that came through from the variety of things on show was how broad the definitions of virtual and augmented reality have become.  Two products under the same label could have substantially different features; whereas something labelled as augmented reality could have very similar characteristics to something else labelled as virtual reality.  I’ve produced a summary of the different attributes that either might have, and included it below.

Infographic defining the categories of mixed realities as content, level of activity, presentation, viewpoint, relation to place, connection to place and perception.The main distinguishing characteristic between augmented and virtual reality is the perception – with VR enclosed and AR transparent.  It is also the characteristic that by far has the biggest impact on the user’s experience.  Are they separated from their physical environment and transported somewhere else, or is data brought in and added to their surroundings?

With current technology levels many AR projects demonstrated had relation to place (e.g. guidance on a task that the user is currently engaged in); but the information was detached and free-floating in the display.  In contrast there were HTC Vive demos that included physical objects (e.g. a car seat) that did have a connection to place – with the virtual car and seat perfectly aligned with the virtual environment.

Photograph of car seat in the centre of an open space, with a person using a HTC Vive.

Virtual Reality Demo where a virtual car is align to a physical car seat. The participant is to the right of the image (partly obscured by the pole)

The VR content that people are most likely to be exposed to are recorded real-world content, where the viewer is mostly passive.  Whereas VR games would generally need to use computer graphics in order to allow interactivity.

It was widely acknowledged that virtual reality in particular had been around for over 30 years in various forms; but that it was the new wave of technology (arguably reignited by the Oculus Rift) that is starting to allow actual experiences to meet user expectations.  However, there were also warnings that poor experiences (with low-budget equipment and/or badly designed environments) could still give people bad impressions; and so there was a responsibility to make each individual’s first use of the technology as positive as possible.

Digi Know: Group Spaces in Course Resources

Did you know that Course Resources has a range of tools available that can support student group work?

Using the Groups facility in Course Resources means that you can randomly assign students to a group, or specifically add students to groups for practicals/tutorial work or for group projects. The group space then gives that group of students a private group area to collaborate in.

The Blackboard Groups can be set up either as a single one off-group (this may be for a special project), or you can create multiple groups using the Group Set option (this might be useful if setting a group assignment for the whole class).

create_groupsUnder these two types you then have the option to manually enrol the students, students can self-sign up to a group depending on a topic/interest/friends, or for group sets you can set Blackboard to randomly assign the groups for you.

Group tools

groupsOnce the students are allocated to groups, they can have access to a range of tools (you decide the tools they need access to), and these are accessed through a new link called My Groups that appears under the left hand menu. This is only visible to people allocated to a group, so as a staff member you won’t see this.

The tools they have access to include blogs, discussion boards, email, a file area, tasks and wikis.  All of these tools can be accessed by everyone in their group, and any staff enrolled as Instructors on the module.

Students can begin to use this space to record discussions that have taken place in group meetings, any actions that are assigned, and upload documents. All documents, discussion board posts and blog entries are time stamped, so can be used to help the students track and monitor group project work.

Group Assignments

Once a group has been created, you can then create a group assignment.  This will only work with the Blackboard assignment tool, (not Turnitin), but once created, one member of the group will submit the assignment on behalf of all the group members.  This means that when they then give feedback on that once piece of work, all group members will receive it. Blackboard help pages provide more information on Group Assignments.

The Blog and Wiki tools can also be setup as a group assignment meaning grades/feedback can allocated to any work done in the area.

Releasing specific material to different groups

Once your groups have been created and students assigned, you can use another Blackboard tool called “Adaptive Release” to make different content available to various groups. This could be useful when creating you’re setting up some classroom debates or activities and want to provide the different groups with different information to prepare for the session.

Further help

For support on using the Groups Spaces, see Blackboard’s help guides on Users and Groups.

If you would like to investigate using groups in your own Blackboard modules and have more questions, then you can contact the Learning Technologists on tel@derby.ac.uk or call us on x1865