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E-learning Unit Newsletter – August 2013

29 August 2013 Posted in: Uncategorized Tagged: By: Technology Enhanced Learning Team

Dear colleague,

Thank you for subscribing to the E-learning Unit’s Newsletter. We hope you enjoy this month’s articles. If you have any ideas or suggestions for topics you’d like us to cover or examples of good practice in e-learning you feel we should be sharing with our colleagues, please email If you have received this as an email, please feel free to pass it on to any of your colleagues who may also be interested.

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Blackboard to be Switched off

Following the transition last summer to QMUL’s new online learning environment, QMplus, the E-learning Unit is completing the final phase of migrating material from Blackboard to QMplus for a few remaining courses. This work is due to be completed over summer. Blackboard will then be permanently switched off in September 2013 as the E-Learning Unit and IT Services focus on upgrading and enhancing QMplus for staff and students.

It is important that you use these next few weeks to retrieve any content (documentation, assignment submissions, etc.) that you need from Blackboard, as the system will no longer be accessible and content will no longer be retrievable. The last day that you will have access to Blackboard will be on Friday, the 20th of September.

For more information about Blackboard being switched off, look on the ELU website.


E-learning Unit Training Sessions for 2013/14

The 2013/14 schedule of courses from the E-Learning Development Programme is currently being added to The Learning Institute’s Course Bookings website. This year there are plenty of opportunities for new starters as well as a wider programme of training for those keen to enhance their teaching with technology. You’ll shortly be able to see the full list of courses we’re offering during 2013/14 by visiting the Learning Institute’s Course Bookings site and selecting the date range that you are interested in, so you can start planning your professional development for the year ahead.

Over the next few weeks, the e-learning unit has the following opportunities for you to develop your skills in e-learning. What would you like to learn more about? If you don’t see a course listed that covers what you want to know, click here and leave a comment at the end of the page or email:

Both of these courses are ideal for those who have little or no prior experience of using QMplus. They will cover the basic skills of using QMplus although in different contexts, the former is aimed at academics, and is focused on using QMplus for teaching whilst the latter is tailored for those working in a support or administrative role that does not involve teaching.

Read more about these courses on the ELU website or by clicking on the titles above to see more about a specific course.


QMplus Phase 2 Project Update

The QMplus Phase 2 Project to complete the migration to QMplus for the five schools in Science and Engineering and the MBBS undergraduate medicine programme in the School of Medicine & Dentistry from Blackboard or their own bespoke systems is taking place throughout the spring and summer of 2013. Further support for academics migrating to QMplus is available throughout August and September, including an online version of the training for those who want to recap on something they learnt during the session or who have not been able to attend a session in person.

There are currently drop-in sessions most working days during August and September at either the Mile End or the Whitechapel campus. The E-learning Assistants are also available to help members of staff who have ideas for small projects that will result in a more interactive experience for students using their module area and which can be written up as a case study to provide ideas for other colleagues.

On Tuesday 27th August, an update to the site took place, which has made a number of new activity types and features available:

  • OU Blog is new activity type added to QMplus. It does not replace the existing QMplus blog, but operates alongside it and can be used to allow everyone in a course to post to the same blog, groups of people to share a blog, or individuals to keep a personal blog.
  • OU Wiki is new activity type added to QMplus. Like the OU Blog, it does not replace the standard QMplus wiki. It can be used to allow everyone in the course to contribute to a series of linked pages around a central theme.
  • Automated generation of certificates is an additional feature, which enables teachers and course leaders to set up  a customised certificate which is released to their students on completion of specified activities.
  • Turnitin Assignment is another new activity type added to QMplus this month. This assignment type allows improved access to the Turnitin options, blind marking and emailing a submission receipt to students. Grades entered on Turnitin can be fed through to the QMplus gradebook.
  • A new “Logged in as” block is being added. This is a customised block that incorporates QMUL’s SMART timetable link and may be used on the new school and faculty landing pages
  • The “Rollover” block is being updated to improve the order of the codes in the dropdown box for selecting a module’s new code.
  • The ability to redirect users to a school’s landing page is being enabled so that when a user logs in they will view their own school’s landing page if one has been set up.
  • The QMplus theme is being updated to align with a recent update to the appearance of Queen Mary websites
  • QMplus is being configured to prevent course leaders from selecting non-QM themes for modules on QMplus as this is confusing to users viewing the module.

More information about this update and the July update along with some screenshots of the new features can be seen on the ELU website.


July Meeting of the Learning Technologist Group

The Learning Technologist Group is for Queen Mary staff whose work centres on using technology to enhance learning. The group enables them to share information, ideas and good practice between all schools and departments of the college. It meets monthly in The Learning Institute and uses a networking group on QMplus Groups and Portfolios to communicate between meetings.

July’s meeting was the busiest meeting so far and allowed for a lot of helpful and interesting group discussion:

  • Jess Hewson, an e-learning assistant from The Learning Institute talked about the Turnitin assignment submission with email acknowledgement
  • Brett Lucas, of The Learning Institute talked about the updated Module Info Block, Currently in development but to be released end of August
  • Group discussion: QMPlus on phones and tablets, including CampusM (name is yet to be finalised), the new QMUL student mobile app.
  • Brett Lucas, of The Learning Institute talked about the new Landing pages, currently in development but to be released end of August

The August meeting will take place on Thursday 29th August 2013 and will feature the new enhancements to QMplus that are scheduled to be added at the end of August.

You can read more about the meeting on the ELU website.


CAPD Rebrand for Learning Institute

The E-learning Unit is part of The Learning Institute, which has recently undergone a restructure and has also been renamed the Centre for Academic & Professional Development (CAPD). The E-learning unit will be working closely with other colleagues from the CAPD to support the development of Queen Mary staff and students. The Learning Institute website will also be updated shortly to ensure that those wishing to access the Centre for Academic & Professional Development’s services and support are more easily able to find information that is relevant to their role.

The E-learning Unit permanent team is as follows:

  • Head of E-learning: Stella Ekebuisi
  • Senior Learning Technologist: Alysa Bramble
  • Senior Learning Technologist: Brett Lucas
  • Learning Technologist: Gill Ritchie
  • Learning Technologist: Manoj Singh
  • Learning Technology Officer: Christina Mairs
  • E-Learning Application Support Analyst: recruitment in progress

Other members of the OLE project team remain in post until the end of September, supporting those moving to QMplus this year and are then moving on to other roles at Queen Mary:

  • Senior E-learning Adviser: Joanne-Marie Mackinnon
  • E-learning Adviser: Tim Morgan

Q-Review Upgrade and Archiving

If you are a Q-Review user, you may be interested to know that we have upgraded Q-Review to a newer version, which resolves some of the outstanding issues (such as publishing only an audio file with Personal Capture) and also adds some interesting long awaited features, such as the new cleaner interface without any clutter, enhanced security features, improved mobile access and old usernames being replaced by central College usernames. Lecture recordings can also now be made available or unavailable without logging into Q-Review. We will also be archiving old recordings around the end of September.

You can read more about the changes by clicking on the links below to identify how they will affect you:

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