UK TEL Innovations

The Heads of E-Learning Forum (HeLF) met at the University of Sheffield on 27 February. The theme of the Spring meeting was TEL Innovations and it included a visit to to two innovative spaces in the University of Sheffield’s Diamond Building: their Virtual Reality Suite and the iForge Makerspace.

The Diamond, University of Sheffield on Flickr

There were several short presentations and lots of networking opportunities as well as a panel discussion. In no particular order, some nuggets from the day:

  • AmIHired? – Andy Beggan introduced a great social media awareness tool from University of Lincoln. This simple tool is worth a look. It produces an online CV of your publicly available social media activity: tweets, Facebook profile, Instagram pics, YouTube likes etc. A great tool to get students thinking about what they share and how they are presenting themselves to the world including potential employers.
  • iForge is a student-run, engineering Makerspace at the University of Sheffield. Peter Mylon explained that iForge is run by a group of 25 students and is available to all students for extra curricular projects, to prototype ideas as well as working on academic coursework. Read about the iForge.
  • VLE Learning Analytics  – Phil Rothwell from LJMU explained how they are using Microsoft Power BI to extract data from their VLE to produce reports on usage of different tools. Power BI allows you to run reports without the need for much knowledge of computer programming. We have been doing something similar with Blackboard but via Tableau. It’s an area we hope to develop over the coming months , so Power BI will be worth a look.
  • Bluetooth Beacons – Brian Irwin from SHU showed how Bluetooth beacons have been used at their Institute of Arts. The beacons allow information to be highlighted to staff/students based on location. The beacon sends a signal to an App on your phone, allowing location-specific information to be flagged to students.
  • Nursing virtual reality simulations – At the University of Lincoln they are using a 360 camera to record scenarios in their clinical suites. The videos are available on YouTube but are primarily designed be watched on a VR headset by students taking on the role of patient in the clinical suites.
  • Loopd – although not demo’d the founder of Loopd, Jonny Driscoll, was a member of the discussion panel. I took a look and chatted with Jonny after the panel. He developed and launched Loopd following his frustration with traditional VLEs while studying as an undergraduate. It’s essentially a private social network. I’ve set one up to try out – just need someone to talk to… let me know if you want to join ( On a related note ALT published its Edtech Start Up guide earlier this month.

Image credit: Diamond, University of Sheffield on Flickr

This post was first published as UK TEL Innovations on the UWL Teaching Hub.


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