Eastleigh College’s Computer Sciences lecturing team wanted to provide an up-to-date and highly vocational experience to their students, whilst having an easy solution for sharing notes and PowerPoint slides to the class. Microsoft OneNote and the Microsoft Interactive Classroom add-in for PowerPoint were found to be a very beneficial system for the staffand students to easily collaborate on work. A combination of Office Web Apps and SkyDrive, a set of services and software that enables users to manage their files online in a simple yet secure repository for resources, was chosen for its level of integration with other Microsoft products.
Eastleigh College, based in Hampshire on the south coast of England, is a Further Education (FE) college which provides post school education in a wide range of vocational areas.
In 2010, the Computer Science department were using Moodle, a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which is used throughout the college. Moodle provided a system that enabled resources to be shared with learners both in college and from home, a facility the college makes great use of. However, the Computer Science staff found Moodle 1.9 to be limited in some respects and in particular the work flows for assessment were causing problems for staff and students. Under the old department system, a learner would submit written assessments by uploading them into Moodle. The lecturer would assess, mark and provide feedback via a form on Moodle, which the learner could then read to gain feedback. If, however, the lecturer asked for changes or additional evidence to be submitted, the student had to upload a completely new document and the lecturer had to complete the feedback form again. In some cases this destroyed the previous still relevant valuable feedback.
So although many of the features of Moodle are valuable to Eastleigh College, the Computer Science department were looking for an easy solution to improve the ease of use and comprehensiveness of assessing, allowing the Lecturers to share notes and PowerPoint slides to the class.
Microsoft OneNote was chosen by the department as an electronic portfolio system. OneNote 2010 notebooks, shared via SkyDrive, enabled learners to organise their notes, embed evidence files, including video and other formats, all in one central location. When this was shared with the lecturer, comments and feedback could be written directly onto the OneNote document adjacent to the evidence. The learner would then see these comments as soon as they opened their OneNote portfolio, and the feedback would be in context with their supplied evidence. Students could therefore adjust their work immediately as directed, without having to re-share or upload a new submission.
The Computer Science department trialled a number of systems with students, including Google Docs, SkyDrive, iCloud and Ubuntu One, but ultimately made the decision to go with SkyDrive due to its level of integration with a range of Microsoft products. The college found that SkyDrive provided a simple yet secure repository for resources that could be shared to both individual students and whole groups with ease. The students could share their documents with one or more lecturers or even other students when group work was required.
OneNote provided Eastleigh College with the ability to submit evidence in an electronic portfolio, as is required by the new level 2 BTEC Diplomas. This made the process of OFSTED easier for the department, with the college recently receiving an outstanding from the authority. On occasion, outside authorities like examination bodies ask for samples of student’s work which has been assessed. This national sampling criterion can also be easily met by simply sharing the One-Note document with the examiner. SkyDrive automatically synchronises files and documents between the shared parties, which made group collaboration possible, and enabled the department to operateteam projects with ease. With the addition of the new SkyDrive desktop application, this movement of files has proved easier still.
The combination of SkyDrive and OneNote also enabled the department to share calendars, which were used to record the timetables of all learner groups and lecturers in the department. As SkyDrive can be accessed anywhere in the world and using any internet enabled device, such as Windows Phone 7, iOS devices and Windows 8 tablets, learners had no excuse of not being aware of any timetable changes. Microsoft Interactive Classroom add-in allowed Lecturers to create PowerPoint Decks, start a session in the add-in, and allow students to join the session from the academic tab. All the slides from the deck are visible to the student in separate OneNote pages and the students are able to take notes directly onto the OneNote page containing the current slide in the presentation.
If a Lecturer writes on the interactive whiteboard, this text is also visible on the OneNote page, meaning students get a copy of all the notes available during a lecture. This is then available to the student in his/her OneNote portfolio for later revision while writing assignments or uploading evidence.
Lecturers are able to create Question slides in PowerPoint through the add-in. Lecturers can start a poll during the session and get students to answer questions live. When the poll is stopped, the answers are shown in graph format on screen and are saved in the student’s version of OneNote for future use.
Using this electronic portfolio system and the Interactive Classroom add-on, Eastleigh College’s Computer Science department has seen a greater uptake of note taking during lectures, plus overall work submitted has improved, as students do not lose notes taken in class. Students enjoy the fact that marked work is immediately available to them through SkyDrive and students are happy to use Messenger to contact Lecturers with questions about their work. This means that time is not wasted trying to locate a lecturer and the students can work on their assignments when they want to.
Lecturers are not limited to marking work while sat in front of college systems and are able to view, comment and mark work wherever there is a connection to the Internet. Planning and lesson preparation can take place at a time and location best suited to the job at hand.
The combination of Moodle 2.0, OneNote, SkyDrive, Office Web Apps and the Microsoft interactive Classroom delivers an intuitive and easy to use learning environment that joins great teaching with robust assessment and digital search. This has not only improved the student experience but made demonstrating outcomes to Ofsted quick and easy. In fact Craig Chambers, Course Manager at Eastleigh College observed;
“I genuinely think that Microsoft Technologies have contributed to the improved completion rates achieved in our BTEC ‘Computer Science’ courses”.