About Pete Roberts

By day I work as an Academic Developer / Learning Technologist in the Teaching & Learning Innovation Centre at Goldsmiths, University of London. By night I'm an electronic musician. Views expressed here are my own.

British Pathé news archive

Not exactly news, as this happened about a year ago, but I noticed an advert this mornig on Facebook advertising that the Pathé news archive is on YouTube, so I took another look. This collection of newsreels and documentaries offers a chance to experience news coverage in an early 20th century style. Running from 1910 to 1970, these were shown in cinemas before the main feature.

It’s another useful source of material for a range of subjects and you can embed the content in your VLE content to give it some context.

Flying car anyone?

Wikipedia entry for Pathé

Getting stats on links to web sites from Moodle – an adhoc database query

We wanted to find how many people are linking to our institution’s reading list system via URLs in learn.gold (our Moodle VLE) and how many clicks there have been. It struck me this was a job for the adhoc database query – and there was scope to make it flexible, so I wrote a query to find instances of links to specific domains and how many times they’ve been clicked on. If you have the adhoc database query plugin, you may find it useful.

When you run it, it prompts you to enter some text (eg: vimeo) and then finds all instances of URLs containing that, the clickthroughs and for good measure gives you a link direct to the course.

If you use it and/or improve it, let us know!

SELECT count( l.id ) AS total, u.externalurl,
concat('<a id=",c.id," href="," 
target="_blank">view course</a>') as 'view',
cc.name as 'category',
c.shortname,
c.fullname,
c.visible,
cc.id as catid,
from_unixtime(c.timemodified) as 'course last modified',
concat('%%WWWROOT%%','/course/view.php',CHAR(63),'id=',c.id)
as link

FROM prefix_course c,
prefix_course_categories cc,
prefix_log l,
prefix_url u

WHERE c.category=cc.id
AND l.action = 'view'
AND l.module = 'url'
AND u.id = l.info
AND l.course = c.id
AND u.externalurl LIKE  CONCAT('%',:urlstring1,'%')
group by c.id
order by total desc

The second Goldsmiths TOOC kicks off today

I’ve just started our TOOC going (Tiny Open Online Course) which is open to all staff at Goldsmiths and covers how to use a VLE to support face to face teaching. It’s a distance learning course and uses techniques that are equally useful in a campus environment.

Participants receive two emails a week with instructions – usually a link to an activity in which they participate. Help and support is provided by email. It’s also social – with forums used to facilitate discussion and for some of the activities. It lasts four weeks.

Yes, the name is a cynical attempt to continue to cash in on what’s left of the MOOC hype – but it is quite a useful model as staff can do the activities when it suits them. It’s quite difficult to get 30 staff together twice a week in a room for half an hour – but online, much easier.

What’s your experience of staff workshops and development? How do you use your VLE?

Worth reading: Innovating Pedagogy 2014

Here’s a really nice report from the OU that I’d managed to miss until now – Innovating Pedagogy 2014 – where they look at ten innovations that are bubbling under the surface or already making an impact. Some topics you might expect to see, but with an interesting and informed twist. Also look out for Pressey’s Automatic Teacher (around 1929).

http://www.open.ac.uk/blogs/innovating/ (small blog with downloadable PDF report)

You can’t beat a MUGGL part 1: Turnitin

The Moodle Users Group for Greater London (MUGGL) meet roughly every term somewhere around London, as you might expect.

Greenwich University

A drizzly day down the old Naval college

This Wednesday it was at the University of Greenwich, which I walk past every day so it seemed a chance to have a proper look around the place. I also then walk past Rhodes bakers on the corner of Greenwich market every day – tho’ that’s more a case of walking in. Their Chelsea buns are the stuff of legend. I digress.

The MUGGL is a nice mix of pedagogy and technology and is always crammed with useful, practical stuff and useful, practical, nice people. This one was themed around assessment and Turnitin UK were present, which was quite brave of them.

Gary Finnegan (Integrations Solutions manager) outlined their new direction regarding VLE integration. Basically their next generation offering will use an LTI plugin and replace all the other integrations in time. This approach is more like the old Basic integration, with content loaded from them in an iframe but with a local stylesheet to enable some branding. There will also be an easy upgrade path from Basic to their ‘Next gen’. This much we knew already and is why we took the strategic decision to stick with Turnitin basic at Goldsmiths for another year. We felt it made more sense to wait, rather than have a painful upgrade to something that was itself doomed. Still, it was nice to hear it was progressing along. We expect to be able to start testing it out in ‘Q2’.

I’ll post some other stuff over the next few days. Big thanks to the MUGGL organisers and Greenwich.

Mahara UK 2014

Last week I packed my bucket and spade and headed off to thunderstorm-struck Brighton for Mahara UK 2014 – not much use on a pebble beach as it happens.

Two day conferences can be a bit thin on compelling content, but fortunately not in this case. Before we went m’colleague Tina and I were getting a bit jaded about Mahara – we’ve had mixed success I think it’s fair to say – some inspiring, enthusiastic adopters and a fair amount of polite disinterest or people put off by the learning curve.

By the end of the first day I was convinced again – Mahara rocks. It was inspiring to see and meet people with so many great ideas describing how they’d used Mahara. Also nice to meet the developers themselves – and later on meet some sea life at the evening event.

By the second day I had a notebook full of spontaneous ideas about using it here at Goldsmiths – I won’t bore you with them here, I’ll blog again as and when we try things out and describe how it goes.

Here’s the Twitterings about it all: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23MaharaUK14

Roll on 2015 and a big thanks to Brighton Uni and Catalyst! And the people at the UMI hotel were really nice too.