Category Archives: Collaboration

Supporting the Student Support

The role of the Teaching Enhancement Unit within DCU is typically to support academics in the area of teaching and learning. While the general training and workshops that we offer are open to all staff, the majority of the training is targeted towards academics.Yesterday was more of an exception;  my colleague Dr Pip Ferguson and I delivered a workshop to staff from our Student Support and Development Unit. Based on our experience yesterday both Pip and I strongly feel that this “exception” should and will become more of the norm. Traditionally my counterparts in most universities deal solely with academics whether by direct intent or just due to lack of resources but yesterday reinforced my opinion in the absolute need for my unit to also directly help those that support students.

We ran a two hour workshop with 15 staff providing hints and tips on presenting to students and running workshops. But more importantly the workshop provided a forum where staff were able to share experiences and ask questions. The willingness of the staff to participate and generally engage with the workshop was very noticeable. Several points struck me through the morning, notably as part of an exercise participants were asked to chat to their colleagues about presenting to students. On more than one occasion I overheard people asking their colleagues “what do you actually do?”. I have no doubt that this arises from the fact that we are always chasing our tail and so busy with our own work that we don’t get the opportunity to see what our immediate colleagues do. Even though this particular unit appears very close on a personal level and I’ve always got a good vibe when I walk through their doors (it’s one of the nicest places to walk into within the college) . I believe their unit suffers from the same physical  location condition that we suffer from within the Teaching Enhancement Unit; sometimes people can be just tucked away in their offices, which despite working on the same team  they can be spread across a large area making it difficult for team members to interact and “socially” talk about work. While changing the layout of buildings and re-organising offices can be prohibitive, days like yesterday help address this type of issue. The second point of note was in addition to the very positive feedback received, there was an appetite for more – which is always. So we are following the workshop up by creating a resources page for staff containing these teaching tips/guidelines and providing staff with the opportunity to ask more questions and continue the learning beyond the 2 hours delivered yesterday. The final point that was very reassuring for me was that so many of the good points and suggestions were actually advanced by the participants themselves. To me this illustrated their belief in what they want to do and their interest in improving.

The next step following the set up of this resources page is to plan more workshops and build on the appetite that exists to learn more and to improve the student (and staff) experience



Interested in Collaborating on Moodle 2

Everybody connected in some way or another with Moodle is aware that the system has undergone significant changes when it moved from Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2. Some institutions are lucky to have significant resources at their disposal to cope with these changes – other institutions are not so lucky. Most of us have built up our training and support resources over a number of years. But the advent of Moodle 2 has put everybody onto the same starting point. To that end I have a suggestion for a collaboration. I suggest we sharing resources for Moodle 2. A logical suggestion considering the open source nature of Moodle.

We can potential share training resources i.e. training manuals and screencasts. In theory this level of collaboration is great, in practice though, there can be a great deal of difference between two different Moodle instances so my instructions on how to do x,y, or z is not applicable to your institution. That said, I do feel sharing instructional resources is a very useful idea and potentially a great starting point for collaboration between two or more institutions. However I have a specific suggestion on how to collaborate through Moodle.

I would like to collaborate on Moodle 2 orientated around an initiative led by Napier University in Scotland. This initiative is referred to as the 3E framework. The framework is based on an Enhance-Extend-Empower continuum. This was developed, with illustrative simple-but-effective examples that might be incorporated as a minimum (Enhance), through to uses of technology that give students more responsibility for key aspects of their learning (Extend), and to underpin more sophisticated, authentic activities that reflect the professional environments for which they are preparing (Empower).

The framework is best explained through examples. The link below provides such examples

I would like to support this framework by crowd-sourcing screencast examples/instructions on the various features of Moodle relevant to the example on the framework e.g. if the example under groupwork at the enhance level

  • Make the group working more manageable and ‘visible’ by having each group post a weekly update of progress to a private discussion board visible to the group and tutor” –

The relevant moodle screencasts would be how to create groups and how to post a discussion forum.

If you are interested in either of these initiatives please contact me via the comment box below or via twitter through @glynnmark

What is Diigo?

Image representing Diigo as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

This posts introduces Diigo and outlines how the social bookmarking tool, Diigo can be used in the classroom

Whiteway, A. (2009). An evaluation of using diigo.Com with students. Retrieved from

Related articles


Dropbox allows users to store and share files and folders (documents, photographs, videos, etc.) on-line

Add files to the public folder to allow other invited users to be able to view and edit them

Documents are stored online – some security issues have been raised in the past

Need to download the installation

Users do need to sign up to a Dropbox account but that is only a minor irritation

Go to Dropbox

Listen to the IT gurus talk about DropBox –

LinkedIn groups

There are  literally 1000’s of groups that you can subscribe to within LinkedIn. The group facility within LinkedIn to the power behind the network. Having access to an unlimited number of people who are interested in specific areas that you are interested in. Wether you want to get advice from other participants, answer questions they may have posted on the forums or just advertise an event that may be relevant – LinkedIn groups is a powerful tool. I subscribe to several groups that you may find interesting. In no particular order of preference: Read the rest of this entry

Student generated content as an assessment

There are a variety of tools that can be used in moodle allowing students to generate reusable learning objects. Click on each of the each on the links below to find out more and how they can be used to get students to generate content to help themselves and their peers learn a particular topic :

Moodle Glossary

The glossary activity module allows participants to create and maintain a list of definitions, like a dictionary.
Glossary can be used in many ways. The entries can be searched or browsed in different formats. A glossary can be a collaborative activity or be restricted to entries made by the teacher. Entries can be put in categories. The auto-linking feature will highlight any word in the course which is located in the glossary.

For information on how to set up a glossary please look at the video below

The wonderful Michelle Moore from Remote Learner gave a presentation at  MoodleMoot 2012 in Ireland where she highlighted the huge potential behind Glossaries

For more information on Glossaries please visit:


PBWorks allows users to capture knowledge, share files (lots of various types) and manage projects. Use PBworks to set up your own wiki. For a quick review on wikis I’d highly recommend the YouTube video produced by “CommonCraft”

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Dabbleboard – Online whiteboard for drawing & team collaboration – Interactive whiteboard software

Dabbleboard – Online whiteboard for drawing & team collaboration – Interactive whiteboard software.

Google Docs

Google Docs allows users to upload existing and to create new web-based documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and to edit them on-line

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