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So far Geraldine Foley has created 68 entries.

Designing quick and effective games for learning

Workshop on game based learning in HE
Wednesday 26 April 14:15-16:15
Led by Alex Moseley, National Teaching Fellow, University of Leicester
This workshop is open to LSE academics, students and external participants: Book a place

Simulations and complex digital games need time, money and design/technical expertise to develop. Many educators have great ideas for games yet lack the resources to put them into practice (either technically or in game design terms).

Alex Moseley and Nicola Whitton have therefore created a fast, fun, ten-step workshop for educators, built around the same design process that games designers use, to allow small teams to quickly develop games for learning: either as fully-fledged traditional games, or as prototypes for simple digital games.

Workshop participants will leave with a skill set for identifying, applying and designing games for learning; and with ideas to apply to their own subject areas.

Book a place 


Ahead of the workshop we interviewed Alex to find out more information about his experience with games

1.How/why did you first become interested/involved in games based learning?

It all started when a card dropped out of my Sunday newspaper. On it was a slightly cryptic, but interesting puzzle – that led me into the centre of an alternate reality game (ARG) called Perplex City. A few months later, I found myself fully immersed (spending hours researching naval signalling flags, and other odd behaviour) and also noticed that many others were as immersed in the game as me, many even more so. Comparing this to the interest shown by my students in my History 101 class, I decided it was worth finding out what engaged the Perplex City players so completely in learning-related tasks. I interviewed the 50 most engaged players, and from that developed a set of key features that I thought could work in education to increase engagement with learning.

2. What type of games have you used in your own teaching?

My first games-based teaching flowed directly from this. I applied the key features from ARGs to my History module, developing an online problem solving game that kept students fed with a constant supply of new challenges, was wrapped in a ‘mystery’ narrative, and saw students battling with each other on a public leader board to win one of a number of prizes. Eight years on, the game still runs each year, and sees students work far more than they need to, pass with an average 2:1 mark, and develop key skills and make key friendship groups to last them for their whole programme.

I have since developed versions of the game for Archaeology and English, and also regularly run workshops with Museum Studies Masters students who develop games for museum education contexts. My latest work is in medical education: working with the Wellcome Collection and healthcare departments internationally to develop simple card games to help medical students to apply knowledge and develop narrative skills in a fun, creative way.

In staff training contexts, I have developed a board game to help programme teams test curriculum designs, and for many years now have been developing play- and game-based approaches to engage conference attendees with the themes or aims of events (running increasingly more encompassing activities for up to 600 participants at ALT-C, Museums and the Web, FOTE, etc.).

3. Gamification and game based learning seems to becoming more popular in higher education, why do you think this is?  What do games do that is different to traditional teaching formats?

Games appear to offer a solution to two of the most recurring themes in higher education: student engagement and teaching innovation. Sadly, this often leads to an assumption that any game-like activity will be both engaging and innovative – whereas of course games are just like an academic course: if they’ve been designed well for that context, there’s a chance that students will engage with them. In recent years, it’s been great to see an increase in simple, traditional or low-fi web games for learning; or playful activities that promote creativity and exploration. It’s much easier for a lecturer to see someone use Playdoh in their teaching and think “I could do that!”; or play a card game and then have a go at creating their own.

4. What advice would you give to teachers thinking about introducing games into their teaching?

Think small, cheap, and fun. The most difficult part is deciding what you’d like your game or playful activity to cover: is it a key concept, or a set of ‘knowledge’? Then draw on your own experience of games/sports etc. to see if there are elements that work particularly well with this chosen theme: simple examples might be to use a dice roll to represent randomness in genetics; or top trumps to compare characteristics of chemical compounds, or representing creative writing through a piece of folded paper (write one line, and the starting word on the next, then fold and pass on to the next student)…

Then try it. It probably won’t work too well the first time, but you’ll get ideas of how to improve it (often from the students themselves). Add depth or complexity as needed over time, but keep that core simplicity at its heart.


Those interested in gaming may also be interested to know about two other events

17-18 November  Playful learning Special Interest Group meeting – This group is Chaired by Alex and hosts meetings around the country with the upcoming event being hosted in London.  It’s free to attend, whether a member of the group or not, simply apply on the event page.

30 November Copyright Community of Practice – The monthly meeting for November will be a chance to play several copyright games.  The Copyright Community of Practice group is an informal forum for LSE staff interested in discussing copyright matters for more information go to the Staff training and development system.

November 3rd, 2016|Announcements, Events & Workshops (LTI), games, LTI Grants, Projects, Teaching & Learning, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Designing quick and effective games for learning|

New learning spaces in Clement House

LTI have been working with LSE Estates and AV to improve teaching and learning spaces at LSE, our most recent project has been to revamp some spaces over 6 floors in Clement House.

Students have made it clear that they don’t have enough spaces around the campus for independent study, for collaborative work, to power their devices or to simply sit between classes (especially where they don’t have to pay for food and drink, or share the space with the public). Our aim was to design spaces in Clement House that are flexible and fulfil a variety of functions; allow students to own and shape the space, to provide and support social interactions and engagement (conversations and community), to offer personal spaces with no distractions (retreat) and to provide resources (power, natural light, work spaces). We want these spaces to represent what it means to study at the LSE. These spaces are an opportunity to bring society and London into the School environment. To inspire curiosity and creativity in students. To offer students space to develop the trans-disciplinary skills of collaboration and communications. To enhance the community feel of LSE informal learning spaces.

Each floor has its own world city theme, (as IR is the home department in the building) with corresponding artwork and technology (including Apple iMac, Mac mini, Smart Kapp board, collaborative tables) and furniture to enable different types of learning activities.

Floor 2 - Rio de Janeiro
Creative, maker space, that is flexible with emphasis on writing. Contains one whiteboard and one interactive smart board to share ideas direct from the board to your devices
Floor 3 - New York
Cafe style break space, wooden bench for individual work & laptop use, an Apple iMac is available for use
Floor 4 - London
Conversation space, informal meeting layout to encourage discussion
Floor 5 - Sydney
Collaborative space - standing height seating and writing with white board
Floor 6 - Tokyo
Connectivity and team working - technology to facilitate sharing, can plug devices into screen and a Mac Mini available for use
Floor 7 - Cape Town
Comfortable quiet reading quiet space, with comfy chairs and plants for a more homely feel

We also commissioned some original digital artwork to be displayed on screens outside of classrooms on two of the floors. Entitled ‘What are we Thinking?’ the animation by local artist Isabel Garrett interprets the brief of bringing London and the world back into the spaces at LSE. You can see the video (with sound) online

In a few weeks we will be adding all of the first year IR318 videos to the screens (with subtitles) in order to celebrate the students work from the innovative project delivered by IR with the support of LTI.

In addition to feedback from students we will be conducting observations of how people use the spaces.  Let us know what you think of the spaces, all completed surveys will be entered into a draw to win Amazon vouchers.



October 26th, 2016|Learning Spaces, Projects, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on New learning spaces in Clement House|

Successfully implementing Ed Tech

Reflections from an EDx course

I recently undertook a Mooc (Massive Open Online Course) hosted by EDx and accredited by MIT on the Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology.  Although I was very much a lurker rather than an active participant on the course (one of the main criticisms of Mooc’s), I did find some of the resources useful, particularly the video interviews with individuals mentioned in this blog post.  More importantly it made me reflect on the processes that we carry out here in LTI when evaluating and piloting the use of educational technology.

As learning technologists we constantly test out, explore and critically evaluate educational technology but perhaps we don’t always communicate the specifics of this activity to colleagues.  Different tools have various benefits and constraints which must be taken into consideration including; the scalability, accessibility, associated pedagogy and use, data privacy and storage issues, costs and potential training or support required.  The same tool will have different considerations in different contexts and as technology is always changing and updating this is an ongoing process.  It is also vital to remember that Educational technology does not operate in a vacuum see Tim Monreal’s article which calls for critical digital pedagogical approach.

Pedagogy is always fundamental to the process, (hence the Learning in LTI).  When LTI are contacted by a department or individual with a request for a new technology or tool the question we always ask is ‘what are you trying to do with this tool?’.  What are your learning goals and then we can look into the possible technology and pedagogy to support them.Tools by Yamanaka Tamaki on Flickr_z
One of the key readings on the implementation of ed technology section of the MOOC was Jennifer Groff’s (Groff, 2008) work on developing a framework to identify different barriers to using technology or innovation in the classroom.  Groff points out you can’t just pick a technology and expect the learning environment to change.  Work has to be put into ensuring that staff and students are supported in the use of technology and the teaching and assessment methods suit the learning outcomes.  This resonated with me as I have experienced projects where time poor academics have added the technology but not changed their teaching leading to disappointing results.

Groff identified that lack of innovation (introducing new curricula, new types of assessment or new pedagogy) in education can be due to multiple factors including the structural policies and practices of learning environments, school culture, personal beliefs and attitudes, students expectations and beliefs about learning and teaching and lack of research or the suitability of technology.  Although these barriers can be extremely frustrating being aware of them is half the battle.  LTI are currently working on various projects to listen to the various stakeholders involved in education in order explore possibilities for the future including:

2020Vision; involved speaking to LSE students about their current experience of technology in education and what they would like to see going forward.

SADL; project to work with students to better understand their existing digital and information literacies, share good practice and develop peer support.

NetworkED; seminar series invites speakers from education, computing and related fields to discuss how technology is shaping the world of education.

SparkGrants: provide an opportunity for Academic departments to gain funding and work in collaboration with LTI on projects that innovate teaching and learning.

In a short video interview as part of the course the Executive Director of MIT Justin Reich pointed out that often professional development is just as important as the technology itself and this is something that everyone here in LTI is very much aware of.  Although we have always provided research and training around using educational technology we are now investigating ways to further embed training into projects and how to better communicate the necessity of devoting time not only to learn the practicalities of how to use particular technology but how to use it well in an educational context.  This usually requires taking time to change teaching and learning practices so they embed the technology.  As a team we work with small scale projects to try out new approaches to teaching, learning, assessment and feedback.  Taking part in and evaluating each project allows us to find the tools and teaching methods that can be scaled up and applied to other areas.

Those colleagues that work with us here in LTI are often innovators who should be celebrated and praised for leading the way for others. Integrating change to enhance the student experience, involves renewing your teaching practice, requires dedication and is courageous.  The very nature of technology is that it is constantly changing and it does fail.  As learning technologists we do not know how to use all the tools that are out there and can’t be expected to, what we can do and what we can try and teach others (staff and students), is to learn and adapt as you go.  To realise that it is about developing your own digital literacy so that you have the confidence to give things a go, to try things out and not be afraid to fail.  Innovation and change gets messy (loud and chaotic) and can be hard work (technology may need adapting and usually requires more planning particularly when trialling new things) but the reward is that everyone involved is learning from the process, even more so if you involve your students and enable them to be part of the dialogue.

Successful implementation of educational technology is not only down to the personal development of staff but also students Dr Halverson, Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin Madison was a talking head on the Mooc who raised the issue of the ‘digital divide’.  Dr Halverson argued that rather than discouraging the use of technology in classes we should be educating students to take advantage of the technology they have and use it to amplify their academic experience, to explore and use tools to create their own shared learning environments.

Finally course contributor Jeff Mao, (currently at Common sense Media, previously Policy Director of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative) pointed out that when you are considering implementing technology there is no point reinventing the wheel.  If you are going to use technology it should do more than substitute your current practice, while it is often useful to digitise processes, technology allows you to redefine and do things you couldn’t do before.  This is an important point and I think that staff and students are only just starting to explore the new possibilities for teaching and learning.  Technology enables students to connect with each other but to connect with their community.  It provides the opportunity to build things and make things within your institution but also with collaborators around the world providing the social context of learning. While the beauty of creating online resources is that they can be built on year on year and shared with the wider world.   For example asking students to write a 1,500 word private blog post that is only read and marked by the teacher is not that far removed from asking students to write an essay.  But if students are asked to publish a 500 word blog post which includes; linking to and commenting on a relevant news article or resource, reading two other students blog posts and adding comments and feedback to their peers work then the assessment and learning that is taking place is significantly different.

As my first experience of participating in a MOOC my overall impressions were mixed.  Although I did engage with the material and ideas presented in the course I did not carry out the assessments as I felt that the activities were aimed more at those working in schools rather than higher education.  I also found that there was a US bias to the discussions.  However both these factors highlighted that despite the differences some of the big issues surrounding the implementation and evaluation of educational technology are common throughout the education sector.

Course content from EDx MITx: 11.133x_2 Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology including video interviews with Jennifer Groff, Justin Reich, Jess Mao and Dr Halverson.

Groff, Jennifer, and Chrystalla Mouza. 2008. “A Framework for Addressing Challenges to Classroom Technology Use.” AACE Journal 16 (1): 21-46.

Monreal, Tim 2016, ‘Beyond Surface-Level Digital Pedagogy’ published on Hybrid Pedagogy 23 August 216

Beyond Surface-Level Digital Pedagogy


October 18th, 2016|Digital Literacy, LTI Grants, Projects, Reports & Papers, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Successfully implementing Ed Tech|

Research in the age of Wikipedia

Copyright and Digital literacy advisor Jane Secker reports live from Prague on her recent work on information and digital literacy.

I’m really excited to be prejane-in-praguesenting at the European Conference on Information Literacy which this year is being held in Prague from 10th -14th October. This is the fourth conference and I’ve been lucky enough to attend every year since the conference started in 2013 in Istanbul. I went to Dubrovnik in 2014, Tallinn in 2015 and this year I am in Prague. The focus of the conference is information literacy, and many papers address issues related to digital literacy as well. It’s a European conference but in fact people come from all over the world, so it’s a fantastic place to get a global perspective on the work I do at LSE to support staff and students develop their digital literacy. The conference also has a strong link with the work I do to provide support and education in copyright matters. This year there are nearly 300 delegates from over 50 countries with just 19 from the UK. The conference theme is about information literacy in the inclusive society and we’ve had keynotes from Tara Brabazon and Jan Van Dijk.

I am presenting twice at the conference, firstly in a panel session that was held on Monday, based on outreach and advocacy work I do as Chair of the CILIP Information Literacy Group (ILG). My co-presenters were Sharon Wagg from the Tinder Foundation, who are a charity who work to promote digital inclusion, and Stephane Goldstein, who as well as being a freelance consultant, is the Advocacy and Outreach Officer for the ILG. In our panel we discussed some recent collaborations between librarians in academic sector with those in public libraries, to share their experiences of helping to develop digital literacies and promote digital inclusion. The TeachMeet events ILG and Tinder Foundation organised earlier in the year were a great way that academic and public librarians could share ideas and experience. I was delighted that two colleagues from LSE Library, Andra Fry and Sonia Gomes, attended one of these events in February to share our experiences from the Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy (SADL) programme we were running for three years, to support LSE undergraduates.  The panel discussion encouraged participants to share any digital inclusion initiatives they were involved in around the world.  We also discussed what made these collaborations successful and why there might be problems and challenges working in this space. Sharon highlighted the Tinder Foundation’s work with libraries through their digital inclusion fund and it was inspiring to hear about work to support the most vulnerable in society, such as the elderly, job seekers and refugees develop basic and more advanced digital skills.

ECIL is also the spiritual home of copyright literacy, as this was where I first heard about the work of Tania Todorova and her colleagues to survey librarians on a country basis about their knowledge of copyright and requirements for education in this field. This was back in 2014 in Dubrovnik and last year Chris Morrison from the University of Kent and I presented the UK survey results in Tallinn. This year I’m returning to present our latest research, exploring the experiences of UK librarians of copyright, using a research method used in education and information literacy called phenomenography. It’s still early days – we carried out 3 focus groups in higher education and have been juggling work and some pretty intensive data analysis. As neither of us had used phenomenography before we are grateful to the help and advice we received from Emma Coonan and Lauren Smith, as well as several very useful articles they pointed us to. I’m sharing our slides from the ECIL presentation which I delivered on Tuesday morning. It has also been great to catch up with Tania, Serap, Joumana and several of the people who undertook the copyright literacy survey in their own country. Part of what motivated Chris and I to do this research was to understand the fear and anxiety that copyright can create, to look at why it’s a topic many in higher education shy away from learning more about, and use this data to better inform how we develop copyright education. I was struck once again by how important it is to get an international perspective on the work we do, and to see in many cases there are so many things we can learn from others experiences and so much that unites us in our work.

The research and collaboration with Chris has informed my thinking about the best way to provide support for others with copyright queries at LSE. For example, I now use a Copyright Card Game in my workshops, which are a fun and engaging way to learn about copyright. However, being seen as ‘the copyright expert’ can be quite a lonely place, and for me it is important that everyone learns a bit about copyright. This is partly what has motivated me to set up a Copyright Community of Practice at LSE (admittedly I did borrow this idea from Chris who set one up at Kent over the summer). The next session is going to be on the 4th November and it is open to any member of staff at LSE! Meanwhile I will enjoy a few more days in beautiful Prague and return to LSE full of more ideas and possibilities to enhance the support that we provide!


Are you interested in developing students digital and information literacies on your courses?  Jane is co-running a workshop with TLC and the library on Thursday 20 October 14:00-15:30



Using good practice and examples from the LSE and elsewhere, this session will focus on how to integrate digital and information literacies into the courses and programmes that you teach.

Book a place via the training and develop system:

See our website for more information and guides on digital and information literacy

Maths quizzes in Moodle using Maple TA

maths-by-ajc1-on-flickrLTI have a one year site licence for Maple TA for this academic year.

Maple TA is an online testing and assessment software designed especially for quantitative disciplines that involve the use of maths and statistics.  It has many features including:

  • integration with Moodle;
  • visualisation of mathematical problems;
  • automatically generating questions;
  • free response answers for questions that have more than one correct answer;
  • automatic marking and the provision of instant feedback;
  • adaptive testing with individualised question paths.

If you are interested in using MapleTA for your course or just want to find out more email

October 11th, 2016|Announcements, eAssessment News, Moodle, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Maths quizzes in Moodle using Maple TA|

Musings on Moodle part 3 – Embedding Moodle activities into your face to face teaching

light_cmyk by Helen Page for LTI

Light for LTI by Helen Page

Students are expected to do a substantial amount of their learning outside of the classroom and technology such as Moodle can be used to engage with resources and carry out active learning.  All too often staff and students use Moodle to simply access and download material.  However good use of the different activities and features can enable more interaction outside of class in order prepare students for in class activities and support students to develop peer learning.

Embedding Moodle activities into your face to face teaching can be aided by introducing them at the outset and referring to activities in lectures and classes.  Student engagement can be encouraged by ensuring that activities relate to course content, referring to readings, lecture content and seminar discussions.  Participation should be expected (set out as a course requirement) and contributions should be encouraged and supported through teacher engagement.  Some examples of successful activities used at LSE include;

Pre-course discussion activities:

These help start to develop a learning community but also get students used to contributing and participating online.

Ice breaker
Students are asked to introduce themselves and say a bit about their background and why they are interested in studying the topic.

Resource discussion
Students are required to watch a short film clip or other relevant resource and post some thoughts about it onto a group discussion forum before the first lecture.

Preparation for lectures and seminars:

These encourage early engagement with course readings and help students to be more prepared for face to face discussions and activities.  Participation can be encouraged by making contributions count towards assessment.

Blog posts
Students have to write one blog post in response to the allocated week’s readings.  All students should visit the blog before coming to class and make a comment on the entry posted for that week.  The blog entries are then viewed at the start of the seminar each week before moving on to a more general discussion of the week’s topic.

Require students to post or even record presentations before class. Other students must come ready with questions.

Discussion forums
Teachers can post answers to common queries and reach the entire cohort or class rather than having to send multiple individual emails.  Relevant items of interest can be posted by teachers, talks, news items, interviews and students can be encouraged to share their own questions and discussion topics.

Collaborative (students as producers) activities:

These encourage students to apply their learning to create and collaborate.  Asking students to re-contextualise or critically evaluate theory and concepts develops deep learning skills.     

Students work in groups or individually to write wiki entries.

Students are asked to add glossary entries.  These can be definitions of key concepts or relevant images, videos or news stories.

Assessment and feedback:

the majority of activities already mentioned can be used as part of a formative or summative assessment but there are also specific activities that enable e-assessment.

These can be used to diagnostic purposes before courses start or to test understanding of key concepts at various stages throughout a course.  Feedback can be given immediately within Moodle so students can complete at their own pace and reassess understanding as many times as they want. Common areas of misunderstanding can be reviewed in seminars and lectures.

Peer assessment and feedback
Students are required to submit an assignment online and then use marking guidelines and or rubrics to grade and give feedback to a peer. Teachers review the work and feedback.  Final marks take into account the peer feedback and the peer marking activity.  Students gain a greater understanding of the marking process and find marking another’s work allows them to reflect on their own assessment.

Collective feedback
Teachers provide collective feedback for the cohort/class that goes over some common mistakes and provides model answers.  Feedback can be given via video, audio, or text.  Model answers can be annotated to illustrate links to marking guidelines or learning outcomes.

Course evaluation and student feedback:

Allows teachers to find out what students views on what worked and what can be improved.  Activities can be used in conjunction with course restrictions to ensure engagement, for example students cannot upload an assignment until they have completed the activity.

These can be used to gain feedback on your own teaching.  Responses from students can be anonymous.

Quick poll
These can be used to answer one specific question.  Students can only see the overall responses once they have submitted their individual answer.

Hot topic
Students can post questions for lectures and rate each other’s questions.

To see more examples of embedding Moodle activities into face to face teaching see our Moodle portal.  If you have any queries or questions about how you can use Moodle in your teaching see our Moodle guides, book a training session or contact;


October 4th, 2016|Assessment, Moodle, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Musings on Moodle part 3 – Embedding Moodle activities into your face to face teaching|

Musings on Moodle part 2 – layout and design

Computer_CMYK design for LTI by Helen PageAs the previous blog post in this series indicated students often experience dissatisfaction with inconsistencies among layouts and types of information provided on Moodle courses.  With over 1,307 standard Moodle courses and an additional 172 Summer School courses on Moodle there is a huge variety in approaches to using Moodle.  The most common complaint that students have is not being able to find material.  Setting up a well structured course design can avoid this problem.



Clear signposting

Your course should have an intuitive logical structure, this can be linked to the course structure (course topics) or face to face teaching (week 1,week 2) but it should be consistent and easy to navigate.  Keep assessment information in one place and use clear titles and labels (see more on labels below).   You may want to include a simple statement on how students are expected to use the course or particular resources and activities.

Avoid the ‘scroll of death’

Moodle courses can all too often develop into extremely long page of resources and activities with users finding they have to scroll down and endlessly search to find anything.  Several of the new themes such as ‘collapsed topics’ or ‘grid’ format help to signpost and divide up your Moodle course in easy to navigate sections.  (A guide to different Moodle formats can be found on our Moodle portal).

Use labels
It is always worth using labels to identify different aspects of your course.  Labels can be images as well as text, remember to use creative commons images and attribute appropriately.  When providing titles for resources and activities make sure they are clear, consistent and work out of context, generic titles like ‘summative assessment’ can cause confusion.

Make it accessible

Any images should contain a description for screen readers.  Different colours and fonts can be useful to make distinctions between information but make sure they can be read clearly and will work on all devices.  Check out the Government Digital Service guide on the ‘Dos and don’ts on designing for accessibility’. When adding files or links make sure that you select ‘automatic’ for the display option under appearance settings to allow for pop up blockers or devices that will not download files.

Remove clutter

A cluttered course can be difficult to navigate.  You may want to use the book or lesson activities to group resources together.  Make sure that you update your course each year, are the resources from 3 years ago still relevant?  Do the links to external resources still work?

Apply restrictions

Access restrictions can hide and then reveal activities so students cannot progress until they have met certain requirements.

Groups and groupings can ensure that students only see material that is relevant to them.  Class groups are created automatically from timetable information so using the groups option in activities allows teachers to view student participation by each of their class group.

Activity completion
One way signpost the suggested or compulsory activities on your course is to use the activity completion feature.  If you can combine this with course completion it provides students with a clear indication of how they are progressing on the course and can give you a quick snapshot of how students are engaging on the course.

Mix it up

Using a variety of resources; images, video, tv, web, audio, can keep students interested and engaged in course content.  Alternative formats can allow for different approaches to study (listening to a podcast on the commute) and help students to apply concepts and theories from classes and lectures to real world case studies and develop critical thinking skills.

Similarly a mixture of activities can develop students understanding and indicate that they are expected to be active learners. See post 3 for more details on how to embed moodle activities into your face to face teaching.

To see some examples of good Moodle design see our Moodle portal.

September 27th, 2016|Moodle, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Musings on Moodle part 2 – layout and design|

Musings on Moodle Part 1 – the standardisation or baseline debate

Over the Summer LTI had a lively email discussion on the pros and cons of Moodle baselines and the issues raised prompted this series of blog posts on making more of Moodle.

I've got a clan of gingerbread men by Poppy on Flickr_z Ways to standardise the VLE

Some institutions use a baseline or template to ensure that all courses have a bare minimum of features and some degree of consistency on the layout and content.  For example, UCL introduced a baseline in 2011 after consultation with students indicated that they found inconsistencies with layout, navigation and types of information available on Moodle.  York St John University introduced University wide minimum expectations in 2015.  Research into sector wide opinions and approaches to baselines carried out by Peter Reed at Liverpool University indicated that there are three common approaches to creating standardised VLE’s (simple checklists, detailed checklists, and detailed rubrics).

What to include?

Peter Reed’s (2015) research indicates a growing number of UK HE institutions have opted for some kind of standardisation of the VLE (of the 24 institutions that responded 75% already had some form of minimum standard and 25% were looking to introduce some minimum standards 21 March 2014,  But then the obvious question is what a best practice VLE should look like?  Internal surveys at Liverpool indicated that while staff and students often favoured the introduction of minimum standards there was some inconsistency regarding what should be included in a course.  Students appeared to be most interested in accessing quite practical course information and resources (Lecture Notes (95%); Past Exam Papers (93%); Further Reading (88%); Timetables (86%); Module Leader Contact Details (83%)) rather than learning activities.  However analysis of what students do on the VLE has indicated that when such material are available they are not always accessed.  Which brings us neatly to the main issue that LTI have with introducing a baseline or checklist at LSE;

Simply including certain tools or resources on a Moodle course does not guarantee that they will be used, either by students or staff.  

Every Moodle course could be automatically set up with a discussion forum (just as the course announcements feature is a default in all courses) but simply having a discussion forum available does not mean that it will be used well or at all.  Measuring how well tools are used is fairly difficult to ascertain but analysis of how much tools are used indicates that currently discussion forums are often set up and then remain empty.


Improving the learning experience

Over the years LTI have debated the pros and cons of developing a template or best practice for Moodle courses and have researched the differencing opinions across the sector.  As learning technologists the LTI team are most interested in using technology to enhance teaching and learning.  Devising a long list of requirements for every course can easily turn into a bureaucratic tick box exercise that adds more to teachers workloads than improving students experience of Moodle.  A good learning experience needs to consider the design of the course i.e. navigation, usability, consistency etc. (see post 2) and how activities can be used to contribute to the learning objectives (see post 3).

Although a baseline can be useful, especially for online only courses, LSE Moodle editors currently have the freedom to choose the structure and content of their Moodle courses and LTI encourage best practice and offer training, advice and guides on using Moodle.  The best way to ensure that a Moodle course is well used is for the teacher to be engaged with the editing to ensure that it is relevant and useful for students.

See our guides on how to use Moodle for teaching and book a one to one training session via the training and development system.


Peter Reed Staff & student perspectives on introducing minimum standards VLE, November 12 2013
‘Hygiene factors: Using VLE minimum standards to avoid student dissatisfaction’ Peter Reed and Simon Watmough E-Learning and Digital Media, January 2015 vol. 12 no. 1 68-89.  Published online January 29, 2015, doi: 10.1177/2042753014558379



September 20th, 2016|Moodle, Reports & Papers, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Musings on Moodle Part 1 – the standardisation or baseline debate|

Making more of Moodle

Education Reform by on Flickr_zHere within LTI and in the wider learning technology community there has been a longstanding debate on how to make more of Moodle and ensure that it is used to it’s full potential as a learning tool.  In an ideal world the VLE(1), in our case Moodle, plays an essential part in the learning process, allowing students to go at their own pace through material, test their understanding of key concepts or theories, work with others to develop and produce content, gain feedback on their progress and build a learning community.  Online course features should interweave with face to face teaching, link to the course learning outcomes and follow a clear sequence of activities which build on each other and are referred to in lectures and classes.  That is how it could be used, but how is it currently used at LSE and what can we do to improve things?

In these three blog posts I have explored the issue of how we can make more of Moodle.  These short Musings on Moodle are grouped under the three themes of standardisation, layout and design and embedding Moodle activities into face to face teaching. 

Part 1 – the standardisation or baseline debate

Part 2 – layout and design

Part 3 – embedding Moodle activities into face to face teaching


(1) Virtual learning environments (VLE’s) are online interactive platforms that are designed to support educational courses, by providing a consistent way for staff and students to store and access resources and tools.  These online learning spaces allow teachers and students flexible access to material and provide ways of communicating and assessing collaboratively and individually.  Here at LSE we use Moodle as our VLE with the aim that it will support ‘blended learning’, (a combination of online and face to face learning).

September 20th, 2016|Moodle, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Making more of Moodle|

Changes to turning point

TurninPointThe voting software Turning Point is being upgraded and the clickers will no longer be compatible or supported by turning point.  This means that if you want to use voting activities in your teaching you will have to ask students to bring their own internet enabled devices.

The new software is currently being tested by IMT and will be moved onto the school build shortly.  In the meantime the old version of Turning Point is still on school pc’s and will continue to work until the upgrade takes place.

More information on how to get an account and guides on how to use Turning point to effectively will be available on our website soon.  If you have any queries please email

September 9th, 2016|Announcements, Teaching & Learning, Tools & Technologies|Comments Off on Changes to turning point|