Author: Karin Brown

Dashboard-Bilder in Moodle anpassen

(English below) Lehrende können die Dashboard-Bilder ihrer eigenen Kurse selber ändern. Dies lässt sich einfach umsetzen und hilft Studierenden und Lehrenden, ihre Kurse schneller zu finden. Darüber hinaus wird das Dashboard durch individuelle Bilder visuell ansprechender.

Vorgehen

  1. Wählen Sie ein Bild, für welches Sie die Copyright-Rechte besitzen oder eines das frei verfügbar ist. Bitte beachten Sie ausserdem, dass die Bilder auf unterschiedlichen Geräten unterschiedlich dargestellt werden. Wählen Sie also ein passendes Motiv.
  2. Ändern Sie die Dateigrösse des Bildes auf ca. 100 KB. Ideal ist das png-Format.
  3. Stellen Sie sicher, dass die Höhe des Bildes 112 Pixel und die Breite nicht mehr als 350 Pixel betragen.
  4. Laden Sie das Bild hoch, indem Sie beim Zahnradsymbol «Einstellungen» wählen, scrollen Sie runter bis zum Feld «Kursbild». Laden Sie die Bilddatei hoch und speichern Sie danach Ihre Änderungen.

Das Bild wird nun im Dashboard und in den Kursinfos angezeigt.

Demo video

Customise dashboard images in Moodle

Teachers can change the dashboard pictures of their own Moodle courses. This is quick to do, helps students as well as teachers find their courses faster and brightens up the dashboards with individualised images.

Steps

  1. Select a picture for which you own the copyright, or which is publicly available. (Please keep in mind, pictures are displayed differently on every screen, therefore consider selecting an abstract picture).
  2. Resize the image so that it is roughly 100 KB. Ideally use png format.
  3. Ensure the dimensions of your picture are 112 px tall by no more than 350 pixels wide.  
  4. Upload the picture by selecting the cogwheel in your course, select “edit settings”, then scroll down until you see the field for “course image”. Upload your file and save.

It will now be displayed on the dashboard of everyone who is enrolled in this course.  Watch the video above to see the steps in action.

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Student Innovedum inspires deeper student engagement

It was some years ago, that the Teaching Commission asked LET (the unit for Educational Development and Technology at ETH) to consider ways to involve student in teaching and learning innovation.

In response, the programme “Student Innovedum” was specifically developed. Students were invited to develop prototypes of their own ideas over the duration of a semester. It ran for three years and the results of the student projects were presented each year at the annual Innovedum event and the Learning and Teaching Fair.

A group of students stand facing the camera.
2019 Participants. Photo by Heidi Hofstettler

While this did increase awareness of the potential of involving students in educational innovation and sparked valuable discussions at ETH, the actual projects and ideas of students did not come to fruition as had originally been hoped. Supporting the students would have required more resources than were available and placed a high burden of work on the (already very busy) students.

Therefore it was decided not to continue Student Innovedum in 2019. Instead, it is our intention to continue the discussion with students, the Teaching Commission and the Rector of ETH in order to decide how to best honour the original request of integrating students in educational innovation.

A working group will be looking at the latest literature and other inspiring examples from around the world to consider ways of engaging students more deeply and in more meaningful ways in funded educational innovation projects at ETH.

We are still at the beginning of this process but would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who helped make Student Innovedum happen. This includes the wonderful staff at the Student Project House, the Rector Prof. Dr. Sarah Springmann, Vice-rector Prof. Dr. Andreas Vaterlaus, the members of the Teaching Commission, staff at LET and of course all the students who participated and poured so much passion into the process. Thank you to all and watch this space! 

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100 Days at ETH. An interview with Dr. Gerd Kortemeyer

The new Director of LET, the unit for Educational Development and Technology at ETH, has been at his post for 100 days. We sat down with Dr. Gerd Kortemeyer to find out more about him as a person and his first impressions of Switzerland, ETH and his new role.

We have read your official profile of course, but what would you like to tell us about yourself that might not have been in the profile?  How do you spend your time outside of work?

At the moment: watching too much TV and communicating with my family back in the States and in Munich. As I am still starting out here, I am usually exhausted at the end of a work day. What I would like to do is spend more time in nature and taking photos – photography has been my hobby ever since the days of darkrooms. I have nice photo gear (Nikon if anybody cares) which currently just sits around collecting dust. In the States, I used to volunteer for homeless charities by documenting fundraising events and doing keepsake portraiture for homeless families. I was also active in our church, taking care of the audiovisual equipment. Lastly, I started a collaboration with a Tanzanian university of science and technology, and I would like to pick that up again when I have more time and energy.

Gerd looks into the camera smiling, pointing to his coffee cup. On his cup are the words "without coffee, without me" in German.

What small things make your day better?

Coffee. Good food. Walking. I am not an athlete, but I like walking long distances in nature or around a beautiful city like Zurich. I like living within walking distance of my workplace and enjoy the time walking to and from work for processing my day.

What do you wish your brain was better at doing?

Sitting in one place and thinking. I am more of a “migrant worker with a laptop.” When I have a big project, I often have to walk around while thinking. I camp out at random desks or coffee shops – I work well on the road traveling, but cannot think well sitting at my desk.

What has been both positive and challenging about your move to Switzerland?

Where do I start with positive impressions; there have been so many. I love how friendly people are. Zurich is both very Swiss and internationally colorful, a large city that feels like a village – just an amazing mixture. And nature is incredible. Even after 100 days in Zurich, every time when I come off Seilbahn Rigiblick and see the panorama, I still go “wow!”.

My greatest challenge is clearly the language! I am not very good with languages, as failed attempts learning French, Russian, and Hebrew prove. Even in English, after 25 years in the USA, I have such a strong German accent that people recognise where I am from after hearing three words. I hope to be able to understand Swiss German more in the foreseeable future.

Tell us about your first impressions of ETH and LET?

Immediate impressions: It’s large and confusing but my colleagues are very welcoming (thank you!) and are clearly educators at heart. They immediately took it upon themselves to spend a lot of time and effort educating me through a whole curriculum of introductions to the wide spectrum of LET’s activities.

How has your understanding of LET deepened over the last few months?

My impressions after 100 days: it’s still large and confusing. No, seriously, the thing I most had to wrap my mind around is the unique “matrix structure” at LET which enables collaboration across the various teams. Many of my colleagues have told me that they enjoy the variety of their tasks and the collaborative spirit that exists here to solve problems. I came to appreciate how people just work together across the different groups. I also appreciate the level of professionalism and expertise; it’s humbling, and I can only hope to be a good enabler.

What is LET good at and you hope will never change?

The work of LET is not easy. Due to the wide spectrum of activities, it is hard to communicate to the outside what we do and what expertise we have. Outside stresses could easily lead to internal problems, but I have the impression that that’s not the case. I am so glad that we seem to have a genuine collaborative spirit, which I hope never changes.

What do you see as areas of great potential?

We need to be out there at ETH and find more ways of working alongside all groups of stakeholders. LET can walk with different groups of stakeholders and facilitate connections between them.

I make the assumption that across the institution all of us deeply care about student learning, or we would work elsewhere. We might disagree how to best accomplish that, but this is where systematic research and gathering of evidence come into play. How? We also deeply care about facts and data, or, again, we would work elsewhere. Fostering the scholarship of teaching and learning is very high on my agenda as is working with faculty and other stakeholders across the institution. LET is a service unit, and this service should include guidance, assistance, and facilitation of educational research within the departments, including the dissemination of those results.

In addition to the strong expertise we have in the science of learning, we have a strong IT group with creative people, and we are dedicated to fostering innovation. The synergy among them enables practical and applied initiatives as well as the implementation of evidence-based solutions and products. We have the right people and are at the right institution to be a global leader in the systemic approach to the development of next generation tools for teaching and learning. These initiatives can include collaborators all across ETH, and in its unique position, LET can facilitate collaboration.

What observations have you been able to make about the field of educational development and technology in Switzerland as compared to the USA?

As you know, I come from a background of physics education research. In the States, Discipline-Based Educational Research (“DBER”) has turned into a “thing.” This “thing” does not really exist in Europe, partly due to a fundamentally different understanding of what university education is about, as well as different understandings of the roles of students and instructors. A lot of what we teach in our workshops in terms of teaching strategies thus far has been imported from the States, and I believe it’s time to develop our own European variety of DBER.

Educational Technology plays in a central role in teaching and learning in the States, as flipped, blended, hybrid, and online teaching venues have become mainstream. Thus, technology platforms have become mission-critical. We are not yet at that point in Europe (online exams being a big exception where we are at the cutting edge), but I would like to work on next-generation platforms to scale our efforts and keep up with the inevitable digitalisation of teaching and learning.

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Conference: What works in teaching and why

ETH will host this year’s Swiss Faculty Development Network’s (SFDN) annual conference on 22 February 2019. SFDN is the professional association of faculty developers in Switzerland. Its main objective is to “build up the teaching and learning capacity in higher education institutions in Switzerland.” LET, the ETH unit for Educational Development and Technology, has been a member for many years.

SFDN Logo. A red sillouette of Switzerland with a white cross where the words SFDN Swiss Faculty Development Network appear.

The SFDN annual conference is where people involved in higher education from all around the country meet, present examples of their practice and discuss their conclusions for student learning. The title of this year’s conference is “How research on learning contributes to university teaching practice” and is intended to stimulate discussion on how robust investigations are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching practices.

Prof. Dr. Springman, ETH Rector will welcome participants and Prof. Dr. Manu Kapur, Chair of Learning Sciences and Higher Education at ETH Zurich will present the keynote address on the topic of: “From the Science of Learning to the Design of Learning ”.

For a fuller description please see the conference website.

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Impartial group assessment. Using peer review and economic theory to grade groups fairly.

In a clear case of practicing what he preaches, Dr. Heinrich Nax has applied game theory to his teaching practice. After lecturing on game theory for several years, he realised that his methods for teaching, more specifically, for assessing did not follow the very theories he was espousing and so he set out to correct this incongruence.

In his course «Controversies in Game Theory» students work in groups and are assessed based on a group project. Social tensions can develop between individual and collective interests in group interactions. One such tension, free-riding, when one person rides the coat-tails of other hard-working group members is well known. There are however additional potential problems when assessing group work such as collusion on grades in cases of peer review. To eliminate these tensions, Dr. Nax decided to implement a mechanism from economic theory to his assessments.

What triggered this approach?

Previously Dr. Nax gave the same final mark to everybody in a particular group regardless of their individual efforts as these could not reliably be assessed. From a game theory perspective this constituted a big temptation for free-riding and Dr. Nax decided to devise something that would incentivize individual efforts but without giving up the benefits of group work altogether. 

What exactly did he do?

Influenced by the article Impartial division of a dollar by Clippel, G., Moulin, H., and Tideman, N. (2008), Dr. Nax and his colleague Sven Seuken implemented the article’s mechanism in a blockchain start-up company. The mechanism enables a group to split their financial earnings through peer review between the group members. Group members decide internally what a fair allocation of earnings should be. So he decided to try the mechanism in an educational setting where the “earnings” become the finite amount of points the group works towards, the total of which is determined by the grade he allocates to the group’s total project.

The key idea of the mechanism is that individual group members don’t evaluate their own performance and therefore don’t decide how many points they themselves have “earned”. Instead they allocate relative contributions to the other group members. So in a group of three, if student A thinks group member B did twice as much work as fellow group member C, then B should receive twice as many points as C. Using a specific formula (described in the paper) all three group members reports are then aggregated anonymously to make sure the resulting grades cannot be manipulated. In other words, student A only receives the (aggregated) amount of points, that their colleagues think student A deserves.

Courtesy of Spliddit

What were the results (for student learning)?

Not only was Dr. Nax convinced that the quality of the group projects improved, but the students were happier as well. They believed that the marking was much more fair. It is unclear if this grading method decreased free-riding, however students felt that freeriders did receive lower grades, thus increasing student satisfaction in comparison to grading methods where all members of the group receive the same grade, regardless of effort or contribution.

To see this mechanism in action, visit the Spliddit website which features a demonstration tool. Those interested in learning more should read the original paper or this second (less math-based) follow-up paper or contact Dr. Nax for further information. Dr. Nax is working on a tool to make his grading plan available to other professors.

 

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New design for Moodle in January 2019

On January 8, 2019, the ETH Moodle system will be updated to a newer version as well as receive a fresh new look. It aligns more strongly with the ETH corporate design and offers a modernized framework that better supports current browsers and devices.

Moodle is the Learning Management System (LMS) of ETH. The open source online learning platform supports the development, distribution and administration of webbased learning environments thereby promoting interactive learning.

The most important improvements in a nutshell

Once the Moodle webpage is opened, all users will find themselves on the newly designed login page.

 

After logging in via AAI all users will land on the page called Site Home. Here people are presented with relevant information that is updated from time to time. Examples of such information are improvements to Moodle, important update or maintenance announcements, and links to various LET-Blog entries.

 

One click on the new «navigation icon» in the top left corner (framed in red) opens and closes the navigation at any point and any location in Moodle. This will help save space, especially on small screens.

 

On the Dashboard both students and teachers will see all the courses in which they are currently enrolled. Course teachers are able (and encouraged) to set a picture of choice which is then displayed on the dashboard. Courses without their own unique picture will display the default picture, which currently is the ETH main building. The Dashboard is also where urgent messages (such as maintenance announcements) for all users may be displayed.

 

Inside courses, people with the role of «teacher» will see a cogwheel icon in the top right corner, just under their own names. Selecting this cogwheel will open all the editing and settings functions for the course, including “turn editing on”. In the navigation on the left, teachers can see their list of enrolled course participants under the newly renamed “participants” instead.

 

An final important note: The Exam Moodle will likely be updated to the new design in April 2019.

Find out more about Moodle at ETH.

 

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Neues Moodle-Design ab Januar 2019

Am 8. Januar 2019 erhält die ETH Moodle Plattform ein frisches und modernisiertes Design. Es orientiert sich am Corporate Design der ETH Zürich und bietet einen modernen «Unterbau», der die Darstellung in allen aktuellen Browsern, Tablets und Smartphones unterstützt.

Moodle ist das Learning Management System der ETH. Die Open Source Lernplattform dient der Komposition, Distribution und Administration von webbasierten Unterrichtsumgebungen und fördert interaktive Lehr-/Lernszenarien.

Die wichtigsten Neuerungen des Designs

Beim Aufruf von Moodle werden alle NutzerInnen auf die neugestaltete Login-Seite geleitet.

 

Nach dem Login über AAI gelangen die NutzerInnen auf die Startseite von Moodle. Sie verfügt über wechselnde Inhalte. Beispiele sind Neuerungen von Moodle, Ankündigungen von Wartungsarbeiten oder Link zu Blog-Beiträgen der Abteilung LET.

 

Mit einem Klick auf das «Navigations-Icon» oben links (rot umrandet) kann die Navigation jederzeit und an jedem Ort von Moodle ein- und ausgeblendet werden – dies spart insbesondere auf kleinen Bildschirmen Platz.

 

Auf dem Dashboard finden die NutzerInnen alle Kurse, in denen sie eingeschrieben sind. Dozierende haben die Möglichkeit, das Symbolbildes ihres Kurses individuell auszuwählen. Wird kein eigenes Bild ausgewählt, erscheint das Standard-Bild (aktuell das Bild des ETH-Hauptgebäudes). Auf dem Dashboard finden sich zudem, wenn nötig, wichtige Informationen zum Betrieb von Moodle (z.B. geplante Wartungsarbeiten / Unterbrüche).

 

DozentInnen finden im Moodle-Kurs unterhalb Ihres Namens im Header das «Zahnrad-Icon». Mit einem Klick darauf öffnen sich alle Bearbeitungs- und Einstellungsoptionen für den Kurs – hinter dem «Zahnrad-Icon» versteckt sich neu das «Bearbeiten einschalten». Links in der Navigation erscheinen bei «Participants» bzw. «Teilnehmer/innen» die im Kurs eingeschriebenen NutzerInnen.

 

Ein wichtiger Hinweis zum Schluss: Die für Online-Prüfungen genutzte Moodle-Instanz erhält voraussichtlich im April 2019 das neue Moodle-Design.

Wer mehr über Moodle erfahren möchte kann hier weiterlesen.

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Innovation in Learning – Powered by students

For several years, the team in the unit of Educational Development and technology (LET) has been inviting and supporting ETH students to share their ideas for enhancing learning here at our institution. Specifically, this has been orchestrated through the annual Student Innovedum programme, where students can develop the seeds of their own ideas into prototypes and fruitful initiatives. Their projects have contributed to discussion all over ETH. This includes within the Students’ Association (VSETH) and the library.

One observation we have made over the years, is that students are incredibly generous with their energy and are willing to make a contribution to the wider learning environment, if they are given space and time to make themselves heard. Therefore, we ask that lecturers considering raising their students’ awareness of the upcoming kick-off event of Student Innovedum on October 3rd, 2018.

At this year’s Student Innovedum, we are asking students to focus on the very learning spaces where they spend so much of their time. Reimagining learning spaces has shown to be of central importance to students. Therefore, we are inviting them to use their experience, perspectives and ideas to develop concrete projects for enhancing learning spaces. These projects can then be shared with the wider ETH community and internal stakeholders at this year’s inaugural Learning and Teaching Fair.

Engaging students actively within and beyond the classroom is an important topic. In a conversation with Polykum, the ETH student magazine, Prof. Dr. Sarah Springman explicitly stated that students should not be shy about sharing their ideas, that they should contribute actively to the campus dialogue. This means that those of us working with students need to continue to open up opportunities for students to become part of meaning discussion. Student Innovedum is one opportunity for ETH to recognise the potential in their ideas and to value their contributions to our community beyond their role as learners, however there is always room for more such spaces.

 

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Flipped learning helps evaluation of health delivery systems

When it comes to medical device and health services development, it is essential to conduct a rigorous analysis and propose fitting solutions. These should cover the specific situations that impact the user and the country’s system within which they are delivered. This not only requires knowledge in medical device evaluation and regulation, but also “soft” skills such as empathy. In order to maximise opportunities for his students to develop these competences, Prof. Dr. Walter Karlen flipped his class so that his students could practice the skills he intends for them to learn. The course in question is called Appropriate Health System Design, an elective course open to all master students of ETH.

What triggered this approach?

Comprehensive analysis and human centred design are very important competences in Dr. Karlen’s field. Encouraged and informed by what he learned in the didactic course Teaching at ETH: Committed and skilled, he adjusted his course design to become almost entirely flipped.

What exactly did he do?

Students work in groups to work their way through the challenges he sets for them every week. Readings assigned as homework prepare students to solve problems together during class time, while he is there to advise and support them. Using the principles learned during the didactic course, he ensures that he consolidates the results of their group activities and are shared in an online book so all students can benefit. This also means he can provide feedback on their progress towards the learning objectives.

Students attempt to improve existing devices (such as a standard asthma inhaler or an x-ray machine) or systems within which these devices are delivered. They do this according to the unique needs of fictional personas they collectively developed in the first weeks of the course. Then, they develop prototypes and evaluate them for appropriateness. They present their results in a final graded poster presentation to their peers and a panel of experts.

What were the results?

The response of the students has been very positive. They complimented the interactive course design and rated the course highly in the most recent evaluation. “I believe the students are inspired more. They will certainly remember this course next time they see a medical device. Even though adjusting the course plan has taken time, the effort was well worth it.”

 

Read more about Flipped Classroom

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Virtual field trips enhance Production Management classes

Using factory-visit apps and affordable cardboard viewers, Professor Torbjørn Netland and his team innovate how production management can be taught.  By integrating Virtual Reality (VR) technology in the spring term course Global Operations Strategy at ETH Zurich, the teaching team provided students rare access to multiple factory sites and their inner workings. The students used VR apps in order to help them complete graded course assignments.

What triggered this experiment?


A student using the cardboard viewer

“Production and operations management is an applied field, but it is difficult to teach all the inner workings of a factory in a classroom. Because I cannot always bring students to the field, I wanted to bring the factory to the students. VR now offers unprecedented opportunities for doing so, and ABB had the app I needed. My impression is that students generally enjoyed this teaching innovation” –  Prof. Dr. Netland

In optimal class conditions, students may be able to visit one factory in order to see how the concepts they are learning in class relate to the real world. However, field trips are resource intensive to organise and they have limitations. Not all students may be able to attend and they usually rely on their memory (or written notes) to recall relevant information later.

The use of the VR app enables students not only to revisit the factory as often as they would like, it also gives them access to spaces they may not have previously been able to see, such as a close-up view of a milling machine in action, or entry to a dust-free zone. Since the apps enable students to visit multiple company sites with a minuscule time and resource investment, the value of the virtual tours becomes very clear.

What exactly did they do?

With the help of two research associates, Oliver Flaeschner and Omid Maghazei, Prof. Netland compared the learning objectives of his course to the information already contained in the virtual tour apps produced by the ABB group. By adjusting their assignment questions for their teaching case, they created alignment between the content provided in the apps and the students’ assignment questions. With the help of the apps, their own smartphones and cardboard VR viewers, students navigated their way around five different factories in three countries, observed machinery and people in action and gathered information relevant to their assignments.

What were the results?

The teaching team conducted an evaluation survey, two focus groups and collected additional written feedback. The Faculty Development staff from the Educational Development and Technology unit (LET) provided support to ensure that student anonymity was preserved. The results showed that students initially found the opportunity to use VR fun and motivating. While there were some technical difficulties and temporary negative physical side-effects such as dizziness and headaches, in general students stated they enjoyed the opportunity to explore the virtual factory as often as they would like, and at their own pace and availability.

They also reported feeling a high degree of autonomy as they actively engaged with the information. The teaching team did not attempt to measure a learning gain this time, but are encouraged by this pilot project and are planning further development and evaluation of this teaching innovation.  In the meantime, the results of the research have been written up and will be presented at the EurOMA Conference in Hungary in June this year.

 

Should readers wish to find out more, they are welcome to contact Prof. Dr. Netland directly for more information.

Oliver Flaeschner, Torbjorn Netland and Omid Maghazei

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