Friday, 16 September 2016

Seven new features in PebblePad v5 you may have missed

We upgraded to PebblePad to v5 in August - and all has gone well. The main difference is a change from Flash to HTML5, which has led to a much more responsive system that is more adaptable to web-browsers, and now fully-functional on mobile devices. With this has come a redesign that is both better-looking and much less confusing.

PebblePad have focused on making existing features better, and v5 does not yet have a lot of new additions. However there are some useful new features in there which make its use more flexible. Here are some you may have missed.

1. Placeholder Pages in Workbooks
Workbooks are a great way to give learners structured reflection, but there was never the ability for them to add their own assets into the page structure (this had to be done by attaching assets to evidence boxes). Now tutors can set placeholder pages - effectively a blank page in the Workbook where the learner can insert their own page, collection, blog or activity log. This allows more flexibility for the learner to pick their own material to submit as part of a structured Workbook.

2. Media Picker
Similar to the Placeholder Page, there was previously no way for a learner to embed their own media into Templates or Workbooks, and this had to be attached as assets on an evidence box for the tutor to download. Now a tutor can add a Media Picker element to a Template, allowing a learner to add their own images, audio or video directly on to the page.

3. Rubrics
Rubrics are a major new feature added in the September update. These can be added to Templates and Workbooks, and allow for learners to rate their own abilities against a rubric, with optional weighting giving a tallied score. When it comes to marking, the option to turn this into an assessor field in a Template/Workbook page isn't there yet, but the rubrics can be incorporated into Feedback Templates for tutor use in ATLAS.

4. Contents menu
One less popular element of v5 was the new horizontal menu structure on Workbooks and Portfolios, which makes great sense on mobile devices but caused a lot of scrolling if tutors had set up their asset with many menu items. The good news is the September update saw a pop-out contents icon on the far left of the menu, allowing users to view a vertical index if more convenient.

5. Page-level comments and feedback
There have been very few changes to ATLAS so far, but one useful recent feature is the ability to add page-level comments, feedback and grades in Workbooks.

6. Create subsections in Workbooks more easily
It was always possible to create subsections in Workbooks, but this was a bit fiddly in v3 - you had to create a second Workbook separately, then add this as an existing template page. Now you can create stacked Workbooks easily in the Workbook editor, by clicking on the '+' on a menu tab, and selecting 'Convert to Workbook'. This means you can create your 'Workbooks in Workbooks' in one place without going in and out of the Resource Store. (This can also be done to create subsections in in Portfolios)

7. YouTube embed in Portfolios
Finally YouTube videos can now be added to Portfolios, allowing learners to add videos hosted outside PebblePad. This isn't yet featured in Workbooks, but will hopefully be added in a future update.

If you have any questions about any of these features, or anything else about PebblePad, please get in touch at Also keep your eyes on the PebblePad Release Notes for news of future upgrades.


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

TELFest 2016 Day 2 - Tuesday 28 June

TELFest: Lada Price explains why she uses Lecture Capture

Dr Lada Price, a university teacher at The Department of Journalism Studies, tells us why she has decided to use Lecture Capture.

She visited TELFest today to attend the session 'My Echo - Why to, and how to, record lectures' presented by Daniel Courtney (CiCS) and Suzy Stephenson (TEL Team) to learn more about Echo 360, which she plans to use from September.

Lada has used Lecture Tools in the past and told us about the main advantages and disadvantages of using such software.

Watch the video below to find out what she had to say:

What can you learn from the MOLE Exemplary Course Programme?

We spoke to lecturers to Tom Clark and Michael Livingstone as well as Danny Monaghan from the TEL Team after they presented the session 'Mole Exemplary Course Programme', which marked the start of day two of TELFest. 

Michael Livingstone, a PhD Researcher at The University of Sheffield Landscape Department, explained how he had used the programme to improve his own input into MOLE and change courses so they are more engaging and easy to use. 

He said: 'The TEL and @CiCS teams gave me loads of great ideas for how to improve our MOLE modules.'

He also praised the peer support aspect of the course, where you get paired with someone and give each other advice on how to improve your modules and also get the opportunity to present your work and get feedback from everyone on the course.

Michael said: "It was really inspiring to see what all the people had done." 

Dr Tom Clark, a lecturer in the Department of Sociological Studies, who also works for the Sheffield Methods Institute, told us how he thinks students have benefited from him attending the course. 

He said: "It allows students to take ownership over their own learning choices, they can shape their learning engagement according to their own needs."

We also spoke to Danny Monaghan from the TEL Team, who chaired the session. He explained what people can learn from attending the MOLE Exemplary Course Programme and how important it is for people to understand exactly what MOLE can do and why is it so beneficial for staff and students.

Monday, 27 June 2016

TELFest 2016 Day 1 - Monday 27 June

Five things we learnt from day one of TELFest

1.)  Make sure MOLE content is never more than three clicks away. 

In the MOLE Design Skills session, we learnt that content should never be more than three clicks away. Investing a little amount of time on your part, in making content easy to find, will hugely benefit students in the long run.

2.) Choose Twitter for your academic profile.

We learnt in the Social Media Workshop that Twitter is the preferred platform for creating an academic profile on social media. You can use your account to post relevant content before and after lectures. It is also a useful way of connecting with other academics or even journalists.

3.) When shooting video, NEVER shoot in portrait.

We learnt from the Flipped Learning Workshop that when shooting video, you should never shoot in portrait. Even though many people using smartphones have adapted the habit, the videos will be watched on horizontal computers, screens and projectors. Your eyes are horizontal, so surely it's logical to shoot in landscape?

4.) Wyn Morgan wants to put projectors that are directly behind speakers in Room 101.

The University of Sheffield's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Wyn Morgan, revealed that he would like to put projectors that are directly behind the speaker into Room 101. To find out why, check out the interview below: 

5.) And finally, sometimes, the old ways are the best.
Those who attended the Flipped Learning Workshop got to send their opinions to the front of the room by throwing paper aeroplanes.

TELFest 2016: #WYNterview - Wyn Morgan tells us why technology is important to academia

The University of Sheffield's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Wyn Morgan, had time for a quick chat to tell us why technology is important to academia and what he has been involved in at TELFest today.

What is , and why is it so important?

What about academics who are reluctant to use technology?

What’s been your involvement at TELFest today?

Which of your panel’s nominations did you put into ?
Given the chance, what would you like to put into ?

Friday, 24 June 2016

New Features in BlackBoard

The latest updates to BlackBoard include a few changes and bug fixes and some new exciting features! Here is a quick overview of a couple that we are hoping will be available for you to use very soon:

Date Management

Date Management is a tool designed to allow you to easily change the dates on your course content where they have previously had a date associated with them. You can choose to adjust the dates automatically or manually. For the manual option you can select all or just select the content that you would like to adjust.

You are able to select a number of options which will filter the course content that you are presented with which will help to manage the date changes

All course and organisation items with dates are supported in the Date Management Tool. This includes:
  • Content (items, files, audio, etc)
  • Assessments (tests, surveys, assignments,etc)
  • Tools (discussions, blogs, journals, announcements, etc)

To make these adjustments you will be presented with the option to adjust the dates using the course start date, a specific number of days or you can list all of your dated items to review.

Goal Performance Dashboard
You can use the Goal Performance Dashboard to better understand student performance in a course. The dashboard displays course goals and the assessments that map to them. Students can check to see how their grades are contributing to achieving the goals for their course. This is an alternate view of the dashboard which shows course goals and assignments that align with each goal.

For more information you can visit or contact us at


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