Digital Discovery Week 2017 @SussexUni – Podblasts, 5G and Virtual Reality

From 6th – 10th November a week of exciting events took place at the University of Sussex. Digital Discovery Week is a week-long series of events celebrating and promoting digital practice, culture and skills at Sussex. It is a collaborative initiative aimed at all staff and students at the University and was organised by Technology Enhanced Learning, the Library, IT Services and the Careers and Employability Centre. Throughout the week people could attend a range of interesting online courses, in-person workshops, seminars and exhibitions. Below is a summary of just a few of the events that were running.


The week kicked off with a ‘Pop-up Library Makerspace’ facilitated by Makercart during which participants were given the chance to explore and experiment with a range of creative technologies including 3D printing and diy electronics.

The afternoon featured the first ever ‘Great Sussex Podblast’, a collaborative podcast event in which both beginners and experienced podcasters were invited to come together to record, edit and publish a podcast series in just one afternoon! Participants were supported through the process of recording, editing and publishing by members of Technology Enhanced Learning who provided them with useful tools and techniques. The series is available on Soundcloud here: Sussex TEL: Teaching with Tech podcast.


Tuesday saw the first of the new Digital Skills Drop-ins held in the Library. This first session was a ‘Photoshop Surgery’ where students were able to come along with any specific queries they had, or images that they are currently working on. A team of experts were then on hand to advise and support students.

A special Digital Discovery Week edition of Show & TEL, our collaborative forum for staff to share practice across the University, was held in the afternoon. This term we were joined by three speakers – Prof Robin Banerjee, Professor of Developmental Psychology; Prof Liz James, Professor of History of Art; and Prof Lucy Robinson, Professor in Collaborative History, who introduced us to the innovations they have been trialing in their teaching. Robin shared how he has been using reflective learning journals within Mahara to increase communication between him and his students on a third year module titled ‘Psychology in Education’.


On Wednesday we were joined by Dr Vivien Rolfe who gave an interesting talk about the potential of using open textbooks within Universities. She talked about their advantages in terms of affordability and how they are far more accessible in comparison to the traditional published textbook model. The use of open textbooks has been successful throughout the US and the hope is that it will spread to the UK in due course.

In the afternoon, a mixture of staff and students attended a Computational 2D Design workshop led by Giovanni Contreras Garcia. The workshop introduced participants to creative technologies and techniques which can be used to create 2D and 3D geometries, providing them with the opportunity to create their own 2D artwork using the design approach.


Thursday was packed full of innovative ideas. The day started with Dr Ben Jackson’s ‘VR Puppet Shows: telling stories with Old Bailey data’, a piece of work being carried out in the Digital Humanities Lab which aims to visualise historical accounts through the use of virtual reality puppets. To find out more and to watch one of the 197,745 transcribed trials held at the Old Bailey in London visit

Next we were joined by Prof Maziar Nekovee, Head of the Department of Engineering and Design, who was exploring ‘What is 5G and when is it coming?’. We were told of the latest innovations in communication technologies. Maziar also spoke of the trials that have been carried out on the University of Sussex campus in collaboration with Brighton’s Digital Catapult Centre. You can watch Maziar’s presentation here:

Following the seminar, attendees were invited to an exhibition featuring exciting content from across the University. We were joined by Dr Darren Baskill from the Department of Physics and Astronomy who brought along their infrared camera, which he uses to demonstrate how we can study the formation of stars. The Anatomy team in BSMS also brought along some 3D printed organs which they print on site and use as teaching aids for students. In addition the exhibition featuring ‘Discover campus’ a series of augmented reality posters designed to let you discover more about the history of the University of Sussex using content from the Keep. There was also ‘Making the invisible, visible’ a virtual reality tour of Physics labs which an undergraduate student would not normally have access to. You can see 360 gallery here.


During the ‘Data Mining Workshop’ participants were introduced to text and data mining using the Library’s databases. During the hands-on session attendees explored Yale University Library’s Robots Reading Vogue, the JSTOR Text Analyzer, and analysed the text of Pride and Prejudice using Voyant Tools.

In addition to the face to face events running throughout the week we also had one of our popular Take 5 Online Bitesize courses running throughout the week. Take 5: Digital Productivity introduced the 112 participants to a range of different strategies and tools to help them manage communication and collaboration within teams, organising their time and tasks as well as digital options for notemaking. Participants were able to work through the course in their own time, receiving support and advice from members of Technology Enhanced Learning as well as their fellow learners via Slack.

To find out more about the these events and others visit the Digital Discovery Week page , look at the Storify of the week or listen to the latest TEL US podcast.

If there is a particular event or topic that you would like to know more about or would like to explore in your own teaching please contact

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Posted in digital skills, Events

Podcasting in Higher Education – What? Why? and How?

What is a podcast?

A podcast is an online audio series (like an online radio show) which can be downloaded at any time from anywhere in the world. You can also subscribe to podcasts, so that you automatically receive updates whenever a new episode comes out.

Why are podcasts useful in Higher Education?

Podcasts can be used as a learning resource. Students can be encouraged to search out relevant podcasts and share them with their peers, and/or create their own. These lists will help you find relevant podcasts for your teaching and/or learning:

Researchers can also create podcasts to engage the public with their work.

How can I listen to podcasts?

You can find, subscribe, and listen to podcasts using a mobile device or computer. If you have a mobile device, then the AntennaPod app (Android) and the Podcasts app (iOS) are both free and easy to use. If you have computer, then or iTunes are both great ways to subscribe to podcasts.

How do I make a podcast?

Until recently we recommended Audioboom for getting started with podcasting, but as there is no longer a free version we suggest you try SoundCloud. A free SoundCloud account allows you to publish up to 3 hours of recordings. If you have more than 3 hours of recordings, the most recent 3 hours will be available to your audience. SoundCloud provide lots of online resources to help you. Here are a few:

Recording on a phone with the SoundCloud app.

Should I edit my recording?

You may want to edit your recording to remove unnecessary or unsuitable material such as noises from outside, digressions, silences and pauses. Or you may want to add an introduction, backing music or other audio effects to make your podcast more interesting and engaging for the listener.

It is good to keep in mind that whilst editing is a great skill to have in your toolbox, it’s not always needed. Over-editing a podcast to remove every single mistake and stray ‘um’ and ‘err’ can make conversation or speech appear robotic and unnatural.

One of the strengths of a podcast as a format is the way it can capture human conversations in a very naturalistic manner and it would be a shame to lose that.

How can I edit my recording?

Staff and students at the University of Sussex have easy access to Audacity, a free audio-editing and recording software available for Windows, Mac and Linux Operating Systems. It is installed on Sussex University student PCs and Macs and you can install it from the Software Centre on your university computer or download it from for your own computer. This tutorial from Audacity will take you through the steps of editing your recording.

How can I get people to listen to my podcast?

You can share or publicise your podcast in several ways. A link to your podcast can be sent by email or posted to social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn). If you have a website, you can embed your podcast there. If students are finding or creating podcasts they can share them in the Virtual Learning Environment or post them to a Padlet.

If you are creating a podcast series don’t forget to encourage people to subscribe to the series. This is usually done through an RSS feed or the ‘Follow’ option in SoundCloud. Here is a useful guide on How to promote your podcast.

How can I develop my podcast?

As you start making more recordings and building your podcast, there are a few things it is worth thinking about to improve the quality and make your life easier.

  1. Format – What format do you want to use (e.g. monologue, dialogue, interviews, group discussions)? Do you want to record in a free way, do you want to script each episode, or do you want to use a mixture of the two approaches?
  2. Content – What topics will you cover? In what order will you cover these?
  3. Location – Do you have a quiet room where you can avoid too much background noise? Do you plan to be recording on the move or in public?
  4. People – Who will be involved in your podcast? Who could you invite as a guest/co-host? Is there anyone who can help with the planning / preparation / recording?
  5. Software – What software or app will you use to record and edit?
  6. Equipment – What kind of microphone are you using? Is it worth investing in a lapel mic (we use this dual lapel mic, which is portable and captures voices clearly)? Do you want to invest in an intermediate quality USB microphone (we use the Samson Q2U, because it cuts out background noise very well and also can be used with XLR cables which allow you to connect it to more professional sound recording equipment)?

The Great Sussex Podblast

Can a group of people who are new to podcasting make an entire podcast series in a single afternoon? Yes! As part of Digital Discovery Week at the University of Sussex, we gathered a group of people together to plan, record, edit and publish an 8-episode podcast series in a single day. Listen to the full series here:

Podcasts from Sussex TEL

The Technology Enhanced Learning team at Sussex publishes two different podcasts. The first, Teaching with Tech, is a longer-form podcast featuring interviews with academics about how they use technology in their teaching. More recently, we have added the TEL:US Podcast featuring members of the team having a short, fun, informal chat about the ideas and apps which most excite us. These examples will give you some ideas about the sort of podcast you might want to create.

If you are a member of staff at Sussex University and would like help with podcasting, please contact

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Posted in Mobile learning, Podcast

Open Education Resources for teaching

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are, as the name implies, educational resources that are made openly available (usually through an open licence such as one of the Creative Commons licences – for more information please see the creative commons website). This permits their use and/or re-purposing by others, whilst maintaining attribution of the original author.

In this sense, OERs embrace the ideal of openness and desire to exchange knowledge, taking the idea that education should be freely shared with everyone and not locked away behind institutional or national walls. Article 26 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to education.  OERs can be seen as one method for working towards this goal.

"Archive: The Blue Marble" flickr photo by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

“Archive: The Blue Marble” flickr photo by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

So why would you wish to use OERs?

You might want to:

  • Utilise resources that you may not have either the time or skill to create yourself.
  • Avoid ‘re-inventing the wheel’, if the content you want to create already exists there’s no benefit to recreating it yourself.
  • Meet a specific teaching need.
  • Quickly improve the richness of your educational content.
  • Be stimulated by  peers’ fresh perspectives.

Where can you find OERs?

So you may now have decided you’d like to use OERs, but how best to find them? The fact that there’s much content available is great, but it can sometimes  make locating what you need a challenge. Here are some tips to help you find OERs.

OER Commons is a vast online library of OER content. You can use its inbuilt search engine to specify content by subject, educational level, media format, material type and accessibility. There is also an option to use what are called ‘collections’, which are curated groups of OERs based around a certain topic or area. If you register for a free account you can also  join user groups which share content or even create your own group!

OER Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a good place to look for image and video resources. It is  one of the Wikimedia Foundation’s projects and  hosts over 40 million files. Most of the resources are divided into categories and then further divided into subcategories to allow you to find appropriate content.

Project Gutenberg can be an excellent choice for full texts, such as novels, especially older titles which are no longer covered by copyright. You can either search their catalogue or look through ‘bookshelves’ which are collections of books based around a particular topic or theme.

SlideShare is a service run by LinkedIn that holds a large repository of slideshow content created by users  on a huge variety of topics. Many of these slideshows have been Creative Commons licensed in such a way that they can be used as they are  or altered to fit your teaching.  

Making and learning about OERs at Sussex

During last year’s Digital Innovation Week, Sussex staff and students captured photos from around campus and shared them onto Wikimedia under a creative commons licence. You can see these photos at

This year, for  Digital Discovery Week (6th-10th November) there will be a workshop on Wednesday 8th November, led by National Teaching Fellow Dr Vivien Rolfe from the UK Open Textbook Project on the subject of ‘Using open textbooks for teaching’.  For more details please visit the Digital Discovery Week page.

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Posted in Open Education

5 Great reasons for students to use OneNote

"Computer - Phone - Tablet - Technology" flickr photo by perspec_photo88 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

“Computer – Phone – Tablet – Technology” flickr photo by perspec_photo88 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Whether you are a tutor or a student, and whatever your discipline, it’s likely that you are going to have to make notes. Paper and pen can be convenient and it’s something we’re all used to, but digital notes have a lot to offer. Read more ›

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Posted in digital skills, Mobile learning

Study Direct update: embed content from a range of popular apps and websites

It is now possible for staff to embed a range of external content within Study Direct (the University of Sussex Virtual Learning Environment). This enables you to incorporate a broader range of interactive resources and activities into your teaching which students can access and interact with directly from their module sites. This could include embedded media such as podcasts or interactive videos, polls or surveys, or presentations and collaborative documents.

This development has been driven by desire from University of Sussex staff to add further interactivity to their module sites and to provide their students with a broader range of resources. Due to this we are keen to receive recommendations from Sussex staff about different tools that they use for teaching and learning which they would like to be able to incorporate seamlessly into their Study Direct module sites. If you can’t see a tool that you use on the ‘What sites can I embed’ list below; then you can make a request for it to be added by sending the name and web-address of the service to Read more ›

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Posted in Learning Design, Study Direct

What does the update to Turnitin mean for students?

Turnitin is the software used for providing marks and feedback and checking for similarity on text-based assessments as part of the e-submission system at the University of Sussex .

Current students will most likely have used Turnitin at some point for submitting their work, viewing feedback or as a tool to help develop their referencing skills. However, for new students, this will likely be an entirely new experience. All students should be aware, that for the 2017/18 academic year, Turnitin has introduced a number of significant changes to their software with their recent ‘Feedback Studio’ rebrand and update.

If you are unfamiliar with Turnitin or e-submission, then please see the resources and guidance on the Technology Enhanced Learning website. For a brief overview of the updates, continue reading.

Key changes

The Originality report has been renamed the Similarity report.

Turnitin is often misunderstood as providing a ‘plagiarism’ detection service. Whilst in truth, it is your tutors who identify plagiarism, as defined by the university policy for academic misconduct.

Turnitin has no concept or built-in intelligence for identifying or navigating institutional policies for academic misconduct. It is simply capable of comparing your document against others to highlight similar matching sentences and areas of text – regardless of why it is ‘similar’. To recognise this, Turnitin has renamed this feature to more accurately reflect its behaviour. See our Understanding Turnitin Similarity webpage to learn more.

All features have been combined into a single interface.

In the previous iteration of Turnitin, marks and feedback were presented in a tab labelled ‘GradeMark’. Information from the Turnitin similarity report was displayed on a separate screen known as ‘Originality’. Feedback Studio now includes ‘layers’ which can be switched on or off to customise your display.

You will be able to view your summary feedback and rubric forms from the ‘Instructor Feedback’ menu. For more information on viewing your feedback, see the Technology Enhanced Learning web page.

Improved navigation between pages.

As well as having more visibility of your document, and the option to choose what you see. It’s also much easier to navigate between pages in your document using the thumbnail navigation menu.

Mobile and web accessibility.

The Turnitin software now uses a mobile responsive design, which means that you will be able to view your feedback and similarity reports across a range of smartphones and tablet devices. Turnitin has taken steps to improve the accessibility of their software to strive towards compliance with modern web standards (WCAG AAA standards). They have introduced an accessible colour palette, keyboard navigation and a text-only report for use with screen reader software. To access the text-only report, press the ‘tab’ key and then enter.

Where can I learn more about e-submission and Turnitin?

Full guidance on using the e-submission system, including submitting your work, viewing your feedback and understanding Turnitin similarity reports, is available from the Technology Enhanced Learning website.

For technical issues and support, contact the IT Service Desk, located in Shawcross Building. Email or call 01273 678090

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Posted in Marking and assessment

Autumn 2017 TEL Workshops

Over the Summer we’ve been beavering away developing an exciting menu of workshops and training activities for the Autumn term, blending our most popular sessions from last year with a range of new workshops tackling hot topics in teaching and learning with technology.

Really practical … great facilitation
Feedback on “Introduction to Poll Everywhere”

Staff can get support with specific classroom technologies, such as our Introduction to Poll Everywhere, Advanced SMARTboard workshop and overview of the Media on Demand available at the University.

We have a strong focus on creative applications of technology, exploring Mobile Creativity and Creating Multimedia Learning Materials as well as the expanded world of Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality.

Community also features prominently, from Working Together Online to developing a Connected Experience for Students on Placement, Peer Instruction and Creating Opportunities for Students to Showcase their Work.

Yesterday’s training was fantastic
Feedback on
“Peer Instruction: Just-in-time Teaching”

We’ll be re-running our online Digital Productivity course that was such a success at the beginning of the Summer, and complementing this with sessions on Managing Time and Tasks and Building a Professional Learning Network.

Teaching challenges are tackled as we revisit our highly popular session on Teaching Large Groups with Technology, offer strategies for In-class Formative Feedback and address issues of inclusion through sessions such as Reaching out to International Students through Technology and Creating Engaging & Inclusive Presentations.

Spotlight on Feedback and Assessment

Effective feedback and assessment remains a high priority for the University, and we’ll be offering direct support for your practice through the following workshops:

Read more ›

Posted in Accessibility, digital skills, Events, feedback, Marking and assessment, Technology Enhanced Learning

What’s new in iOS 11: Standout features and enhancements to accessibility.

If you use Apple products and haven’t been living under a rock, you’ll no doubt have heard of the updates from Apple Park over the last few weeks. Alongside the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X came the public release of iOS 11, the latest version of their mobile operating system. Having spent some time getting to grips with the new OS I thought I’d share my top picks of the new features.

I can’t possibly cover everything that’s new here, if you want a full run down, check out this very comprehensive article from Ars Technica. For a brief look at the accessibility updates check out this page on iMore.

So, what’s new?

Read more ›

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Posted in Accessibility, digital skills, Mobile learning, 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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