Category: LET Projects

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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Flash apocalypse

(image credit: http://catayst.net.nz/flashapocalypse)

Flash

Flash in all its forms will no longer be supported by Adobe or any internet browsers by the end of 2020. This has prompted a clean-up of any Flash files on our own Moodle system. For years Adobe Flash was considered state-of-the-art for interactive web content. As time goes by new standards like html5 and webGL have been established and the Flash technology was shown to be vulnerable to attacks. Therefore it was not surprising that about two years ago Adobe announced the end of Flash by 2020.

Since this announcement, all the big and important webservices like YouTube and Facebook have updated their websites using html5 and other technologies. Therefore, it is likely that in the coming months the newest browser versions will prohibit using Flash by default and some of them will kick this functionality out completely. (Microsoft announcement, Google announcement, Mozilla announcement)

Apocalypse?

Just as most other universities did, we at ETH have seen a lot of project developed in recent years. Flash has been used to display movies, present animations or create interactive objects and simulations. Latest by the end of 2020, (but probably earlier) these will no longer work.

In the spring of 2019 we had a look at all ETH Moodle courses and contacted teachers who were still using Flash in its various forms. We have found individual solutions for each case and Flash will vanish on our Moodle server in the next weeks. ETH lecturers who use Moodle who have not been contacted by us, should not have any problem with the end of Flash in your Moodle courses. When in doubt please contact us.

If you are using flash in other websites, we recommend following the “three f”-model presented by Nikki Sinclair from Catalyst: https://catalyst.net.nz/blog/3fs-surviving-flash-apocalypse

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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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Using Polybook to create interactive lecture notes together

As a depository of digital lecture notes the Polybook has been popular among ETH teaching staff for some time. In Polybook instructors can enrich conventional lecture material with interactive elements such as quizzes and videos, and question students on particularly important material. This increases student engagement with the material and improves knowledge uptake.

From Data Collection to finished Excursion Report

The very name “Polybook” is an indication of this tool’s many functions and the large number of books and lecture notes which are stored there.

Using Polybook it is possible to work together on lecture notes or documents and to give them an ordered structure and presentation. Access to individual books is steered via a Moodle link, ensuring that all students in a course have access to its books.

The Polybook is part of LET’s eCollab Service, and can be used in a number of collaborative scenarios. These include:

  • Author and publish texts collaboratively: In Polybook students can author texts from group or project work either alone or collaboratively, and then make them accessible to others. These texts can be augmented with images or interactive elements such as quizzes and videos. Polybook can also be deployed for preparation or wrap-up of lectures and seminars.
  • Peer review / peer assessment: Student or working group texts or projects can be exchanged with other student groups and assessed. The results can be used for revision purposes.
  • Learning journal: Learning processes can be published by students or student groups for purposes of self-reflection or the evaluation of a group process.
  • Interactive lecture notes: Polybook can be deployed in place of conventional lecture notes, with additional possibilities: students can use interactive elements, or create them themselves; and they can discuss the material via the comments function.

Do you teach at ETH? Have we sparked your interest? How to Polybook contains comprehensive instructions on how you, as teaching faculty, can set up Polybook in Moodle and take the first steps towards collaborative or interactive lecture notes. We would also be happy to provide personal guidance on implementing a collaborative scenario or using Polybook: please contact Melanie Walter, the person responsible for the eCollaboration service. We look forward to working with you.

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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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ETHZ & WSL announce first MOOC on Landscape Ecology

What is a landscape? How has it evolved? How do we perceive landscapes?

In this MOOC participants learn theory, methods and tools to understand the landscapes we live in and to solve landscape-related environmental problems.  Leading landscape ecologists present case studies from around the world, where research in landscape ecology is needed, both to improve our understanding of land-use systems and to guide land managers in their decisions.

Join us at https://www.edx.org/course/landscape-ecology.

Course start Sep 10, 2018, by Prof. Felix Kienast and Dr. Gregor Martius

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Ausbau der Raumkapazitäten für Online-Prüfungen: Rückblick und Ausblick

Die ETH Zürich lancierte 2007 das Projekt «Online-Prüfungen an der ETH Zürich», welches 2010 in eine hochschulweite Dienstleistung für die Durchführung von Online-Prüfungen mündete. Zunächst konnten Online-Prüfungen allein in den Computerräumen des ETH Hauptgebäudes mit maximal gut 130 Studierenden gleichzeitig durchgeführt werden. 2012 wurde mit dem HG G 1 ein erster grosser Raum für Online-Prüfungen in Betrieb genommen, welcher Platz für weitere 160 Studierende bietet. Das HG G 1 wird während der Semester vom D-MAVT für Lehrveranstaltungen, Innovationsprojekte sowie als Lernraum genutzt und für die Sessionen dem Rektorat zur Nutzung übergeben. Zweimal jährlich wird das HG G 1 für die Nutzung als Online-Prüfungsraum während der Sessionen umgebaut. Mit dem HG G 1 konnten die Kapazitäten für Online-Prüfungen mehr als verdoppelt werden, sodass schon bald um die 100 Online-Prüfungen mit rund 10’000 Kandidaten jährlich durchgeführt werden konnten.

 

ETH Online Pruefung im HG am 25.1.2018. (ETH/Alessandro Della Bella)

Per Wintersession 2017/2018 hat die Abteilung LET in Zusammenarbeit mit den Informatikdiensten sowie der Abteilung Immobilien einen weiteren grossen Raum für Online-Prüfungen erfolgreich in Betrieb nehmen können. Nach dem Modell des HG G 1 stellt das D-ARCH dem Rektorat die Fokushalle ONA E 7 in Zürich-Oerlikon für die Durchführung von Online-Prüfungen zur Verfügung. Dank den Erfahrungswerten aus Inbetriebnahme und Betrieb des HG G 1 konnte das Projekt zur Instandsetzung des ONA E 7 für Online-Prüfungen in kurzer Zeit zwischen Sommer 2017 und Wintersession 2017/2018 erfolgreich umgesetzt werden. Die Fokushalle bietet Platz für bis zu 240 Studierende. Damit konnte die Warteliste für Online-Prüfungen in den Sessionen erfolgreich abgebaut und die Anzahl Prüfungen von gut 50 Online-Prüfungen mit knapp 5’000 Kandidat/innen im FS2017 auf über 90 geplante Online-Prüfungen mit insgesamt knapp 9’000 Kandidat/innen im FS2018 innert eines Jahres beinahe verdoppelt werden.

ETH Online Pruefung im ONA Oerlikon am 5.2.2018. (ETH/Alessandro Della Bella)

Mit diesen Massnahmen zum Ausbau der Rauminfrastrukturkapazitäten kann die Anzahl Online-Prüfungen auch nach FS2018 weiter gesteigert und der grossen Nachfrage besser begegnet werden. Mit dem derzeit in Bau befindlichen GLC-Gebäude ist voraussichtlich ab 2021 ein weiterer Ausbau der Infrastrukturkapazität für Online-Prüfungen geplant. Parallel zum Ausbau der Rauminfrastrukturkapazitäten wurde Anfang 2017 das Projekt «Prüfen mit mobilen Geräten» gestartet, welches Online-Prüfungen in bestehenden Räumlichkeiten ermöglicht. Mit Abschluss des Projekts und Übergang zum Service Ende 2018/Anfang 2019 werden so weiter Kapazitäten für Online-Prüfungen entstehen.

ETH Online Pruefung im HG am 25.1.2018. (ETH/Alessandro Della Bella)

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eCollaboration @ ETH

Das eCollaboration Projekt soll das kollaborative Lernen und Zusammenarbeiten im Lehrkontext an der ETH für Studierende und Dozierende einfacher gestalten. Dazu wurden zwei digitale Werkzeuge evaluiert (Pressbooks und PolyboxEdu) und in die bestehende Servicelandschaft der ETH eingefügt.

Das Projekt gründet auf dem Konzept des Lernens als sozialen Prozess. Dabei geht man davon aus, dass die Beteiligten gemeinsam einen von allen getragenen Konsens zu einem bestimmten Thema entwickeln oder ein Produkt erarbeiten. Daraus resultiert ein höheres Niveau an Denkprozessen und die Informationen werden von den einzelnen im Vergleich zum individuellen Lernen länger abgespeichert. Soziale Impulsen wie z.B. Dialoge, Diskussionen, verschiedene Sichtweisen oder Meinungsverschiedenheiten wirken sich generell positiv auf den Lernprozess aus.

Bei Studierenden und Dozierenden wurde als grosser Bedarf das gemeinsame Erstellen und gleichzeitige Bearbeiten von Texten und Dokumenten sowie eine Diskussions- und Kommentarfunktion identifiziert. Diese Bedürfnisse werden durch eine Kombination der folgenden Tools abgedeckt.

Pressbooks bietet die Möglichkeit digitale Bücher zu erstellen. Dies erfolgt direkt im Learning Management System Moodle der ETH. Die Studierenden können darin gemeinsam an umfangreichen Dokumenten arbeiten, welche am Ende ein digitales Buch ergeben. Längere Dokumente können attraktiv dargestellt und doch flexibel bearbeitet werden.

Mögliche Einsatzszenarien sind:

  • gemeinsames Erstellen und Überarbeiten von Skripten/Zusammenfassungen
  • Reviewen von Dokumenten

 

FOCUS PRESSBOOKS

Urs Brändle vom D-Usys hat dieses Semester Pressbooks genutzt um die Datenauswertung für die Biodiversitätsexkursion aus dem FS 2018 zusammen mit seinen Studierenden zu dokumentieren.

Die Exkursionsgruppen schreiben jeweils ein Kapitel des eBooks, zum Beispiel zu Wasservögeln im Zürcher Seebecken, Flechten auf Stadtbäumen oder Makroinvertebraten in Fliessgewässern. Über die Revisionshistorie lässt sich genau nachvollziehen, wer was geschrieben hat. Kommentare ermöglichen Diskussionen oder Hinweise für Verbesserungen. Die Arbeitsprozesse sind somit transparent und ermöglichen den Studierenden den Vergleich und das Betrachten der Inhalte der jeweils anderen Exkursionsgruppen.

 

PolyboxEdu basiert auf dem etablierten Cloudspeicherdienst der ETH Polybox. PolyboxEdu bietet das gemeinsame synchrone Bearbeiten von Dokumenten in gängigen Office-Formaten. Diese können innerhalb der ETH geteilt und bearbeitet werden. Gleichzeitig kann die PolyboxEdu als Dateiablage (Repository) in Moodle genutzt werden (Anleitung).

Da die Studierenden auf PolyboxEdu auch selbst Arbeitsgruppen bilden können bietet es sich ideal für Formen von Student Directed Learning an, bei denen der Dozent nicht direkt Einfluss auf die Lerninhalte nimmt.

 

Mögliche Einsatzszenarien sind:

  • Ablage umfangreicherer Dateien direkt aus Moodle
  • Synchrones Zusammenarbeiten an Dokumenten (Versuchsprotkolle, Seminararbeiten, Ideensammlung etc.)

Geplant ist ausserdem ein Online Annotationstool um Zusammenarbeit, Kommunikation und kritisches Denken zu unterstützen. Geplant ist die Einführung im vierten Quartal 2018.

Für konkrete technische Hilfe und Umsetzung von eCollaboration Formaten steht Ihnen das Beratungsteam oder Melanie Walter (Projektleitung eCollaboration) gerne zur Verfügung.

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