Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Bloomsbury Learning Environment Contribute to Sector-Wide Conversation on Technology in Education

Educators will now have a valuable insight into the way technology can enhance assessment and feedback thanks to a new e-book from the Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE).

Sarah Sherman of the BLE Consortium and Leo Havemann of Birkbeck, University of London, have co-edited the e-book which explores the findings of a wide ranging two-year research and dissemination project. The project focused on the ways in which technology improves the assessment and feedback process, feeding into the education sector’s widening conversation about the use of technology.
 The e-book contains three research papers which capture snapshots of current practice and include specific examples of practice at the BLE partner institutions from which broad recommendations have been drawn to help inform wider practice. These papers focus on:

  • The use of technology across the assessment lifecycle
  • The roles played by administrative staff in assessment processes
  • Technology-supported assessment in distance learning
The e-book also contains 21 case studies of digital assessment and feedback practices from across the consortium to give insight into the adoption of particular tools, and the associated benefits and challenges. These are complimented by three further case studies outlining technical development, which have been undertaken locally to support or enhance aspects of practice.

Sarah Sherman, BLE Service Manager, said: “We are delighted to have published the results of this excellent joint research project conducted between the BLE and its partners. We believe this research will provide extensive insight into how new technologies can help to build upon current practices of assessment and feedback.”

The e-book will be formally launched at a special event on Thursday 26th October, but is now available for download from Further information about the project can be found on

Twitter: @SOASBLETech

Monday, 14 August 2017

Certified Membership by the Association for Learning Technology (CMALT)

Working with learning technologies may mean that you have come across CMALT (Certified Membership of ALT), which is a portfolio-based professional accreditation scheme, usually completed within three to six months of registration. CMALT enables people whose work involves learning technology to:
  • have their experience and capabilities certified by peers
  • demonstrate that they are taking a committed and serious approach to their professional development.

More and more employers are now making the accreditation an essential or desirable criteria for learning technologist job specifications, since it demonstrates an individual is committed and places importance on his or her development as a learning technologist. It’s important however to note that the accreditation is not limited to learning technologists as the current cohort of CMALT candidates includes school teachers, researchers, technical support and teaching staff, administrators, managers, trainers, students, Further Education practitioners, consultants and lecturers from across the UK and a growing number of countries worldwide. You can find the list of current CMALT holders here.

As the E-Learning Officer at SOAS, I viewed the accreditation as a way to enhance my career prospects as well as gaining recognition of the work I have completed over a number of years across a number of universities. I was fortunate being part of a unique partnership to complete my portfolio with a cohort of colleagues from the local Bloomsbury Colleges (learn more). The Bloomsbury cohort was set up to assist and guide colleagues through each section over the course of six months from the initial introduction session.

Plan and set deadlines
During the six months, I worked through each section and collated as many examples as possible to provide evidence in each area. I aimed to have a draft ready to discuss with colleagues during our monthly face-to-face meetings, which helped to provide me with a set of mini deadlines.
Tip: don’t rush to submit your portfolio otherwise the assessors will just ask you to resubmit if sections are unclear or incomplete. Give yourself time to understand what is required using the guidelines, then collate evidence, write the sections and check your work.

Originally, I started by writing each section individually and then searched for examples to provide evidence of my practices however I found this method time consuming and tedious. So I decided to locate all the various pieces of evidence first and then brainstorm how each of them would fit into each section, which I found made it much easier. One of the areas that I remember struggling with at times is the reflection part which we all often neglect in this busy working life, so it was quite rewarding to take a step back and reflect how your practices have had an impact on teaching and learning.

Tip: go through your emails or ask people to send you a message as evidence if required. Provide screenshots, links to webpages, photos, videos etc. Ensure whatever you upload has the sufficient access privileges, i.e. not password protected.

Google sites and Google Docs
Although the guidance stresses that you can submit your portfolio in a number of forms ranging from Word document to a website; I found a useful Google sites CMALT template. I decided to use Google sites to present my portfolio as it was easy to use and I could utilise Google Docs to upload my evidence.

Tip: don’t spend all your time making your portfolio look nice as the assessor’s main marking criteria is the content. Make sure the sections are clearly labelled and navigation between them is obvious.

The future
I received my CMALT award on 5th August 2016; read my portfolio here.

CMALT registration remains valid for two years. After this point you will have to re-register if you wish to submit your portfolio. I have started collecting evidence in preparation for the validation of continuous professional development, which takes place three years after accreditation is awarded.
Tip: create a folder and save emails, screenshots etc so when you need to update your portfolio it will be much easier to draw upon the evidence contained here rather than having to search from scratch.

Twitter: @SOASBLETech 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Padlet (UPDATE) - create an online virtual wall, where students and teachers can collaborate

Padlet is an Internet application that allows people to express their thoughts on a common topic easily. It works like an online sheet of paper where people can put any content (e.g. images, videos, documents, text) anywhere on the page, together with anyone, from any device. 
Think of it like a multimedia friendly, free-form, real-time wiki.
Padlet is a web application that consists of a web page “wall” where content can be posted, viewed and commented on by multiple people. The function of your wall depends entirely on what you create; you can make a wall where students come to view content uploaded and managed by an instructor, or create a wall that is used as an open forum where anyone can post and discuss content. Padlet is incredibly easy to use and a great way to share and manage content with others in an intuitive and fun way. To get some good ideas on using Padlet, visit to see other example walls.

1. Create an account
Go to and click the Sign-up button in the top right corner and enter your account details.
Padlet home page

Once logged in you will be taken to the Padlet home page whereby you have the following menus:
  • Dashboard – displays any recent activity and any updates on new or existing Padlets. 
  • Padlets - displays all the Padlet walls you have created. 
  • Activity – lists all the creations, edits and deletions that have taken place in your walls. 
  • Attachments – see a list of files and links that are associated with your walls. 
  • Collaborators – displays all the people who have contributed to your Padlet walls. 
  • Settings – change your avatar, name, email, username, language as well as adding some information about yourself.

3. Create new Padlet WallIn the top right corner click New button to start creating a new Padlet wall.
3.1 Select your layout
Padlet has five types of layouts that you can set your wall to:

Posts appear in a random order. The administrator of the wall can rearrange the posts to any order or location they wish.
Ideal for pinboards, bookmarking, photo albums and file sharing for example when order is not important.


The most flexible layout allowing you to insert connectors to connect posts. This is good useful option for brainstorming, process flows, flowcharts, organisation charts or to create a mindmap.


Posts are arranged in a vertical stream in chronological order (newest at the top and oldest at the bottom) similar to how you view posts on various social media platforms.
This layout is good for blog posts, websites, video/music playlists or gathering feedback.


Posts are arranged in boxes of equal width and space apart to make them more organised.
Grid is useful when you want to post visual content in a particular order such as for digital storytelling, story boarding and noticeboards.


Allows you to stack your content in a series of columns. This layout is ideal for when you need to organise posts into sections, such as a weekly planner or to do list.

Please note that you can change the wall layout unlimited number of times retrospectively.

In addition to the blank layouts you also have the choice to select from a range templates that you can customise:
3.2 Modify your wall
Once you have selected the layout your wall is created and you are automatically taken to the Modify wall menu. Here you will be able to amend the following:
Title – name of your Padlet
Description – provide information or instructions about your Padlet.
Icon – select an icon or upload your own to symbolise what this Padlet is about.
Posting – decide if you wish to display the contributors' names above each post, allow viewers to respond to posts and where you would like new posts to appear.
Tags – make the Padlet easier to search for.
Address – either use the auto created URL for your Padlet or create your own URL link (recommended).

Once you have updated the options as required click the Next button:
3.3 Privacy settings
Under the People and Privacy menu you have the following options for your wall:
3.3.1 Privacy - select from four options:
Private – only you and any contributors you add to the wall can access the Padlet.
Password protected – in order to access your Padlet wall the visitor will need to enter your password.
Secret – not visible in search engines or public areas and can only be accessed by those who have the link.
Public – anyone can access your wall and it will appear in searches.

Under the above options you have another setting to specify what level of access visitors have once they navigate to your wall.  By default this is set to Can write.

3.3.2 Add contributors – send a link to your Padlet wall by entering an email or Padlet username.

3.3.3 Advanced – allows you to specify if you want to moderate posts to your wall and allow other users to be able to copy your wall as a template.
Once you have set your privacy settings click Next to finish and start posting to your wall.

4. Add content
To add content double click anywhere on the wall. Within the text box enter a title and message. The message box also allows you to add a web URL, upload content from your computer or take a picture from your webcam. 

Click anywhere outside the text box to save your post.

5. Additional optionsClick on the three dots in the top right corner to view more options for your wall:
Click on the three dots to see all available options including the ability to change the wall layout (Change format):
6. Share options
Along the top right of your window will find the SHARE option:
This allows you to review your privacy settings again (see 3.3) as well as offering you options to share, export and embed your wall:
7 Embed your Padlet wall into a Moodle course
From the SHARE menu select the Embed in your blog or your website option (see above)
This will display the HTML code you will need to copy:

7.1 Embed your Padlet wall into Moodle
In this following example we will add the Padlet wall to a label.

Navigate to your course that you wish to insert the Padlet wall into and click on Turn on editing on.

Click on the Add an activity or resource under the section you wish to insert your Padlet wall. Then select Label, and click Add.

7.3 From the text editor toolbar click on the HTML icon:
7.4 Paste the embed code you copied earlier and then click Save and return to course button to finish.
7.5 You Padlet wall will now appear within your course.
Ideas for using a Padlet on your course
  1. Icebreakers – post an icebreaker question on a wall and invite students to get to know one another and build community.
  2. Inquiry – before starting course, ask students to post questions they have about the topic.
  3. Previous knowledge – ask students to brainstorm everything they know about a topic before they begin studying it.
  4. Predictions – allow students to predict the outcome of something, e.g. an election outcome.
  5. Context clues – post a picture of a person, culturally significant scene or moment from history and ask students to explore and discuss context clues.
  6. Vocabulary development – post words on the wall and ask students to collaboratively add definitions, synonyms and pictures to help all students better understand the vocabulary.
  7. Label – post a picture of a cell, piece of art work, or map and ask students to label the parts with names and information.
  8. Exit– find out what students learned and what areas they are unsure about.
  9. Brainstorming – a class can be asked to collect and share ideas about a given topic.
  10. Portfolio - students can use it as portfolio where they display their best work.
Twitter: @SOASBLETech 

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Referencing with Microsoft Word (Updated 25.09.17)

We may all know Microsoft Word as a graphical word processor but how many are aware that the software includes referencing tools? 
Whether you are writing an essay or dissertation you are likely to encounter stages of brainstorming, drafting, researching, and referencing which sometimes can be unmanageable.
With Microsoft Word (2010 onward) reference feature we are presented with a good productivity tool to manage citations and bibliography.

Download additional referencing style
If your version of Microsoft Word is 2007, 2011 or 2013 you may notice that the default reference styles does not include all the popular styles such as Harvard, therefore you have to add this style into Word yourself.

1. Click here to download the file, which contains 22 additional referencing styles including Harvard:

2. Extract the files contained in the zip file on your computer after which you can either copy all the styles or if you just want the Harvard style copy the Anglia or Exeter Harvard file.

3. Please ensure Microsoft Word is not currently open before you carry out the next step.
Next you will need to paste the file(s) copied from the extracted zipped zip file to the style folder in Word. To locate the style folder depends on which version of Word you have installed on your computer. Open file explorer or my computer to find the relevant folder:

Office 2007 on Windows 32bit:
Your Computer→ Disk C → Program Files → Microsoft Office → Office12 → Bibliography → Style
Office 2007 on Windows 64bit:
Your Computer→ Disk C → Program Files (x86) → Microsoft Office → Office12 → Bibliography → Style
Office 2010 on Windows 32bit:
Your Computer → Disk C → Program Files → Microsoft Office → Office14 → Bibliography → Style
Office 2010 on Windows 64bit:
Your Computer → Disk C → Program Files (x86) → Microsoft Office → Office14 → Bibliography → Style
Office 2015:
Your Computer → Disk C: → Program Files x86→ Microsoft Office → Office 12 → Bibliography → Style
Office 2016
not possible to add Harvard referencing to Word 2016

If you are a Mac user please follow this guide to add your additional referencing style.

Create a citation and source

Before you start creating your bibliography you will need to at least have one citation or source in your document which will appear in your bibliography.

1. Within your Word document click the References tab and then select the referencing style you wish to use for citations and sources from the Style drop down menu (located in the Citations & Bibliography group):
2. Click at the end of the sentence or phrase that you wish to cite and then from the References tab click Insert Citation:
Clicking the Insert Citation will provide you with two options to either Add new Source or Add New place placeholder.

4. Click Add a new source and fill in all the relevant fields for the source, for example:

Click ok to finish entering your resource. Continue repeating the process for the remaining resources you wish to use for your document.

5. If you wish to create a citation for that you do not have all the required information you can choose to Add new placeholder from the Insert Citation option and enter a tag name for the source so you can locate it later:

Within the document the following will appear for the above example:

6. Once you have obtained all the information for the source you can update the details by clicking the Manage Sources:
7. Select the placeholder (question mark next to the tag name) from the Current List and click the Edit button:
8. Update the fields for the source necessary and click the Show All Bibliography Fields (bottom left) check box to additional information about a source. Click OK button to finish:

Create your bibliography

Now you have added your sources you can now create your bibliography in your document.
1. Navigate and click the point in the document where you intend to insert the bibliography (usually at the end of the document).

2. Click the Bibliography option (found under References tab) and select the bibliography style that you would like inserted in the document:

3. Your bibliography is now inserted in your desired location. If you add further sources to your document you will need to manually update your bibliography. Simply click anywhere in the bibliography section and click the Update Citations and Bibliography option:

Manage your sources

Review, add, edit and delete references from Manage Sources (under the References tab):

This displays all the references contained in your document, in addition to this you can: 

- Search through your references
- Sort your references
- Copy references into another document using the Master List option
- Delete references you no longer need
- Edit existing references
- Create a new reference

Twitter: @SOASBLETech