Digital Productivity for work, study and life.

The Technology Enhanced Learning team recently ran a bitesize online course for University of Sussex staff looking at Digital Productivity. This blog post will explore some ideas around that topic.

The course was conceived as a way to introduce staff to ways of working that take advantage of digital technologies to enhance or expand on practices they would previously have carried out manually. These techniques are equally useful for students and for ‘life admin’ for everyone.

It is very tempting to launch into lists of so-called productivity apps – and there are very many lists of that sort on the web – but if you are really going to find new, better ways of working then it is important to spend a little time thinking about where you are now and what you want to achieve. For example:

  • Do you work alone and/or as part of a team?
  • What devices do you have access to (desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone etc.)?
  • How do you currently keep track of tasks and notes, communicate and collaborate?
  • Are there any problems / pain points in your current way of doing things?
  • What would you like to improve?

Once you have an idea of what you might need or want, you can start to explore what is going to be most useful to you and/or your team. Digital productivity can be split roughly into 3 main areas: communication and collaboration; managing and organising tasks; making and organising notes.

Communication and collaboration

During the course we used Slack as a platform for sharing, discussing and supporting participants. If you have not seen Slack before this video will give you a quick overview.

What is Slack? video from Slack on YouTube

Slack would be useful for:

  • Collaborative research projects
  • Students working on group projects
  • Replacing email lists for connecting with team members
  • Community discussions such as the Flipped Learning Slack Community

Slack also integrates with hundreds of other apps (see the Slack App Directory) so if you are already using some of the apps listed in the Slack App Directory there is scope to bring things together in one place.

For University of Sussex staff and students Office 365 which includes OneDrive for storage and OneNote for notemaking and organisation is an obvious choice. With free versions of Microsoft Office for computers and mobile devices it offers an extensive package of collaboration tools and training courses are offered by ITS.

Sussex staff and research students also have access to a Box account which allows you to share and collaborate on files.

Cloud services like this, with mobile apps, allow us to keep track and organise our lives using phones and other mobile devices.

Managing and organising tasks

A previous post, 3 steps to improving your time management with digital tools looked at ways that students and staff can be more organised, and hence productive, with their ‘to-dos’. At the time, we suggested Wunderlist as a useful app, but as Microsoft have taken over Wunderlist and have announced that it ‘will eventually be retired you might want to look at something else – Any.Do and Todoist are both good options that will let you organise all your tasks, from work to ‘life admin’, in one place.  

For a more visual display of tasks Trello is still an excellent choice for individuals and teams (see our previous review of Trello), but MeisterTask now offers similar functionality.

There is very little difference between Trello and MeisterTask, but the latter will let you track time spent on tasks. If the people you work with are already using one or the other it is probably best to choose that one to make sharing tasks possible. If you want to give MeisterTask a try, there are many useful videos on the Meistertask YouTube channel

Making and organising notes

Most of us need to make some sort of notes – for example, a shopping list, notes on reading, ideas for a journal article or reflection on teaching practice. Paper notebooks can be fine, but digital notemaking tools offer the ability to:

  • capture more types of ‘notes’ (images, websites, audio, video etc.)
  • organise notes
  • easily find notes with search tools
  • access, create and edit notes using all your devices
  • share notes with collaborators.

Staff and students at Sussex have free access to OneNote as part of Office 365 and there are many ways it can be used by students, teachers and administrators.

Further Resources and Support

Here are some previous blog posts that you might find useful:

The Technology Enhanced Learning team are happy to advise and support staff at the University of Sussex in developing their digital productivity. You can contact us on

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Posted in digital skills

Inclusivity, Card Sorting and Mythbusting – Podcast Episode 11


How can technology help to make learning more inclusive? How can card sorting and mythbusting become powerful tools for the classroom and beyond?

In this episode, we interview Fiona Macneill and Tucker Macneill, who are both Learning Technologies Advisors at the University of Brighton. Our discussion focuses on how they have helped to make teaching more inclusive, re-imagine learning spaces and engage staff and students across a variety of contexts. We talk about accessibility features in iOS (the iPhone and iPad operating system), how card sorting can benefit both face-to-face and distance learning, and how mythbusting activities can be used to help people increase their digital awareness and skills.

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Posted in Podcast

Dates for Turnitin Feedback Studio taster sessions announced

Turnitin Feedback Studio

To help familiarise staff at the University of Sussex with the major update to Turnitin (due for August); the Technology Enhanced Learning office will be running short taster workshops around campus throughout the months of July and August.

All staff who are involved in marking or supporting the process for assessments using the e-submission via Turnitin hand-in point are encouraged to book onto one of our sessions via our website.

Turnitin is the software interface used by staff and students for submitting and marking text-based assessments as part of our e-submission and e-feedback process. Feedback Studio is a major update and rebrand of the Turnitin software, as explained in our recent blog post ‘A first look at Turnitin Feedback Studio’ which provides a useful overview of the update.

The workshops will provide an early opportunity to learn about and familiarise yourself with the changes to Turnitin which will take effect from August 1st and the chance to practice using the software with support from a learning technologist.

Dates for the workshops

Date Time Location Booking
11th July 11:00 – 12:00 Pevensey 1 – 1B5 Book here
19th July 11:00 – 12:00 Arts C – C169 Book here
3rd August 14:00 – 15:00 JMS Building – 1B1 Book here
7th August 14:00 – 15:00 Freeman Centre – G21 Book here
22nd August 14:00 – 15:00 Jubilee Building – G23 Book here
31st August 15:00 – 16:00 Library Training Room Book here

Additional support

If you have any urgent questions or would like to organise a bespoke session for your school or department, then please contact us at

Posted in digital skills, Events, Marking and assessment

A first look at Turnitin Feedback Studio

Introducing “Turnitin Feedback Studio”, a rebrand and major update of the Turnitin software used by staff and students at the University of Sussex for online submission, similarity reports, marking and feedback of text-based assessments.

Watch the video below for a brief overview of the changes to Turnitin that will be forthcoming from the start of August 2017.

Key changes

Whilst the principles and functionality of the software remain much the same, there have been significant developments in the following areas:

  • New look and feel. A more efficient workflow and improved user experience from a new modernised redesign of the software interface.
  • Available on mobile devices. Mark and view feedback across a wide range of tablets and smartphones.
  • A focus on accessibility.  Complies to web accessibility standards with improved access for keyboard-only and screen-reader users.

More information

We will be running brief introductory sessions on Turnitin Feedback Studio around campus throughout July and August (2017). You can book for a training session via the TEL website.

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Equipping students to thrive in the digital era

Southampton Solent University was the venue for Student futures – equipping students to thrive in the digital era, a recent two-day event organised by the UCISA Digital Capabilities Group

The conference took place in The Spark building, dominated by a fantastic giant red pod, looming over it like something out of War of the Worlds. The pod houses a lecture theatre and has a cafe style area up top. It has to be seen in person, but it’s pretty cool to look at.

The Pod at the Spark

The Pod at the Spark

The purpose of this event was to explore the ways in which we support students to develop their digital capabilities, from a student, staff and institutional perspective.  But what exactly are Digital Capabilities? Well, as I discovered over the two days, depending on who you speak to you may well hear it called something else (e.g. digital literacy). You’re also likely to hear various interpretations of the idea;  for simplicity here is the Jisc definition, although  we’d encourage you to explore this further if you’re interested.

Digital literacies are those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society (

Read more ›

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Posted in digital skills, Events

Active Learning Masterclass

The University of Sussex hosted an Active Learning Masterclass on the 6th June (#almsussex), a day of sharing strategies to turn students from passive spectators into active creators. This was a collaboration between Technology Enhanced Learning and Wendy Garnham, funded by the Digital Practice Awards, and featured presentations and workshops from both Sussex staff and external speakers. Read more ›

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Posted in Active learning, Events, Mobile learning

Transforming Seminars with Padlet – Podcast Episode 10

How can we transform seminars using online collaboration? How can students develop digital skills and become active creators of multimedia learning resources?

In this episode, we interview Dr. Wendy Garnham (, who is a Teaching Fellow in Psychology and Director of Student Experience for one of the Foundation Year Programmes at the University of Sussex. Our discussion focuses on how Wendy transformed her seminars using Padlet, a free and easy-to-use online notice board which enables students to collaborate in real time to write text, embed multimedia content and post links to websites. We also talk about how Wendy helped to found a community around Active Learning following a Flipped Learning workshop run by the Technology Enhanced Learning team at Sussex.

Wendy Garnham –
Wendy Garnham Twitter –
Padlet –

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Posted in Learning Design, Mobile learning, Podcast, Uncategorized

Take 5 this summer and learn new skills

This summer Technology Enhanced Learning will be relaunching our hugely popular Take 5 series with some exciting new additions to our offer. Take 5 courses are a series of bitesize self-study online tutorials, open to all staff at the University of Sussex, which offer you the opportunity to discover a range of different learning technology topics and develop your skills in these areas. This summer the topics will include: digital productivity, blogging, LinkedIn and podcasting & screencasting.   Read more ›

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Posted in Mobile learning, Social media, Study Direct, Technology Enhanced Learning

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We are the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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