Nearpod Mid-year update, Sussex staff and student views so far

In September 2017 Technology Enhanced Learning launched a pilot of Nearpod, an interactive presentation tool. The pilot is intended to assess how useful this tool can be for staff and whether Nearpod has a positive effect on students’ learning experiences.

Students using Nearpod

We received a great response to our initial call for staff participants and Sussex staff from across the academic schools signed up to take part in the pilot. Throughout the Autumn term Technology Enhanced Learning carried out a number of training workshops and our pilot participants have begun integrating Nearpod into their teaching.

Staff have found the interactive slides such as polls, Collaborate boards and the ‘Draw it’ function useful for gaining student feedback and engaging students during face-to-face teaching. For example, some members of staff have been using a Collaborate board at the beginning of each class to allow students to post questions and queries about the previous session’s content, an approach that has been well received by students. Staff have also found the ‘Draw it’ function, a whiteboard feature, very versatile with the feature being used to gain feedback from students, plot graphs, build up a bank of resources or annotate images and text.

A Collaborate Board in Nearpod

Nearpod is relatively easy to use, and there has been some very positive feedback from staff. One minor drawback that staff have highlighted is the time it takes to update their presentations once published and then make these updated presentations available to students. Staff have also reported some problems with Wifi across campus.

So far, student feedback has also been very positive with 92.8% of students agreeing that the use of Nearpod within their seminars, lectures and workshops has had a positive effect on their learning. In addition, 87.6% of students agree that they would like to use Nearpod again in another module in future.

Despite the overwhelming view that Nearpod is beneficial, a recurring theme in the student feedback is that students would like the ability to be able to move back and forward between slides at their own pace. One of the main features of Nearpod is that it that the pace is determined by staff, so whenever a tutor advances the slide the same is reflected on the students’ devices. Interestingly students do not seem keen on this feature, as they worry about  missing content as a member of staff moves through a presentation.

In terms of the activities carried out in Nearpod, Sussex students seem to have responded very well to the collaborative aspects, as well as the interactivity and anonymity that Nearpod provides:

“It makes me feel that I am being taught on a personal level. I love the pre-quizzes I find them very beneficial. I love the interaction mid presentation … Please use it next term & next year!”

“Allows tutor to ask questions to everyone and they can all answer anonymously – elicits much better response than asking questions to a large class.”

“I liked how interactive they can be. We could draw/type up answers to questions and see how they compare to others. Also having the ability to anonymously ask questions was very good.”

Nearpod “created an interaction between the students and teaching fellows, allowed to participate actively.”

The Nearpod pilot will be continuing throughout the Spring term and a final report will be produced at the end of the academic year. There are still a small number of Nearpod licences available to Sussex staff so please get in touch and let us know if you would like to pilot Nearpod in one of your modules this term. To learn more about Nearpod and the pilot please contact

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Posted in Mobile learning, Polling tools

New Year, New Term, New Workshops and Courses from Technology Enhanced Learning

"2018 Calendar with Pen and Laptrop" flickr photo by wuestenigel shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

“2018 Calendar with Pen and Laptrop” flickr photo by wuestenigel shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

It’s a new year and Technology Enhanced Learning are launching a new programme of face-to-face workshops and online courses for staff at the University of Sussex. Some of these events are also open to students and will be listed on the Skills Hub.

Team-Based Learning

Tuesday 6th February, 14.00-16.00 (repeated 7th May)

This workshop will provide an introduction to Team Based Learning and will be delivered in a team based learning style to give you the experience of how this would work in practice. You will be guided to plan a team based learning session, with a focus on how to administer individual and group quizzes. Staff can book a place via Sussex Direct.

Learning Beyond the Campus – Cross Institutional Learning

Thursday 15th February, 10.00-12.00

This is an online and face-to-face event to introduce you to the benefits and opportunities that cross-institutional learning can bring to your teaching, learning and professional development. The session will look at what constitutes cross-institutional learning, how you can apply it and the technological tools which support it. Participants attending in person are encouraged to bring their own devices. Staff can book a place via Sussex Direct.

Expanding Reality: A look at virtual, augmented & mixed reality in education

Wednesday 28th February 14.00-16.00 (repeated 4th May)

Virtual, augmented, mixed? What’s the difference and what does it mean for education? Is there a place for these cutting edge technologies? If so, what does it look like?

In this hands-on introductory session participants will be introduced to a range of exciting technologies and find out what all the fuss is about. We will follow the hands on session with a facilitated discussion on how we can incorporate these tools into our teaching to enhance the learning experience. Staff can book a place via Sussex Direct.

Augmented Reality in the Library for Digital Discovery Week 2017


Take 5: LinkedIn & your digital identity

Online, Monday 5th – Friday 10th February

This course will give you an introduction to the social networking platform LinkedIn. Day-by-day you will go through how to set up and make the most of your online profile, how to connect with others and discover useful interest groups. We will also look at the terminology and practical steps you can take to manage your digital identity and footprint, helping you to look after your professional reputation online. Staff and students can book a place via Sussex Direct

The popular Take 5: Blogs online course is also being offered in a bespoke form for researchers from 29th January to 2nd February. Doctoral Researchers and Research Staff can sign up via the Doctoral School.

Teaching to large groups with technology

Monday 19th February 14.00-16.00 (repeated 11th April).

This hands-on workshop will look at ways in which technology can help address the challenges of teaching large groups. Participants will be introduced to a range of technologies to encourage participation in large groups and get started with a tool of their choice. Staff can book a place via Sussex Direct.

Peer Instruction and Just-in-time Teaching

Friday 9th March 10.00-12.00

Ideal if you are looking for ways to make your lectures more interactive. Peer Instruction and Just-in-time teaching (JiTT) are evidence-based, interactive teaching methods which complement each other as a model for large group teaching. In this session, you will learn to plan and deliver a teaching session using these methods.  Participants are encouraged to bring their own devices. Staff can book a place via Sussex Direct.

What is Flipped Learning?

Tuesday 13th March 10.00-12.00 (repeated 19th April).

Flipped Learning is an approach to teaching in which content is delivered outside of the classroom through a series of pre- and post-session activities. The teaching session then becomes a series of student-centred active learning tasks, some of which may have traditionally been considered homework. This workshop will be delivered in a flipped style and will introduce participants to how they can use flipped learning in their own teaching. Staff can book a place via Sussex Direct.

Presentation Basics: Creating engaging & inclusive presentations

Thursday 22nd March 14.00-16.00 (repeated 24th April).

With so many tools for creating engaging presentations it can be overwhelming to know where to start. This hands-on session will look past ‘death by powerpoint’ and explore how we can use a range of tools to not only make our presentations more engaging but also more inclusive.

Staff and students can book a place via Sussex Direct.

Workshops for staff marking with Turnitin.

These will be running at key points in the term. If you are new to marking with Turnitin at Sussex then ‘Marking and assessing with Turnitin Feedback Studio’ is for you. If you have marked in previous years, but not since Feedback Studio was introduced in August 2017, then the ‘Turnitin Feedback Studio taster session’ will suit you best. Details and booking via the TEL website.

Can’t see what you want?

If there is a topic that you would like training on, that isn’t listed here, TEL are happy to arrange one-to-one or small group sessions as required – just email


Posted in Events

360 degree photography with the Ricoh Theta S

Ricoh Theta S

Ricoh Theta S

What is 360° photography?

For most internet users, our first experience of 360° images has been on Facebook or YouTube. The idea of being able to move your phone and ‘look’ around a photo as if you are standing there is a great way of creating an immersive experience, especially when combined with virtual reality headsets such as Google Cardboard.

360° photography has become much more popular over the last few years. This is because it is easier than ever to create a 360° image. Apps like Google Street View, and many more within the respective app stores allow you to quickly take an image with just your normal phone camera (these are sometimes referred to as photo spheres). The stitching of these images is done by the software and has improved immeasurably over the last few years.

For those wanting to take it further and take better quality images, there are a range of devices, at a range of prices. They also come in a range of configurations. Some have one lens pointing up, others like the GoPro are a rig with many lenses (GoPro cameras) pointing out. Images are then stitched using software.

The camera we use is a Ricoh Theta S, it has two fish-eye lens positioned either side of the body to give a full 360° image. It is a well reviewed camera, that is pocketable, relatively cheap and easy to use and  the images look great straight out of the box. This post looks at the use and functionality of the Theta and how we’re looking to make the most out of it for use in education. Read more ›

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Posted in App review, Learning Spaces

Sussex TEL’s Festive Countdown.

Technology Enhanced Learning’s very own Elf, George Robinson, has been busy making a countdown to Christmas calendar full of TEL goodness.

Each day from 1st December to 21st when the University closes for the year, there will be a window to open with a guaranteed zero calorie treat.

We’ll be sharing some of the most popular blog posts and podcasts of the year, giving you a peek into the personalities that make up the team, and playing with some apps we love.

Catch up now by clicking on the image above to see the first few days and follow us on Twitter to get a daily alert to the next fun tidbit.

If any of this gives you ideas you would like to explore further, email us on


Posted in Uncategorized

Add interaction to videos with Vizia

This week we want to introduce you to a great tool for creating interaction with videos.

Video is increasingly being used in teaching and learning, from recorded lectures to short videos used as part of a Flipped Learning approach. Watching a video can, however, quickly become a passive experience, whereas learning should be active.

Vizia lets you add quizzes, polls and calls to action to a video. You can also add the option for viewers to give a response. Here is an example of a video where I have used Vizia to add a range of interactions.

What does Vizia do?

Vizia allows you to add polls, quizzes, open ended questions and ‘calls to action’ to specific points in a video. As viewers watch the video the interactive elements pop up and they can type in their response. At the end of the video, a score for any quizzes is given. You can also choose to collect participants’ email addresses, allowing you to follow up on any questions or misconceptions and feed these forward into face-to-face teaching.

Here is a very quick example, showing each of the types of interaction.

This video was taken from NASA’s channel on YouTube, but you could also upload a video you have made to YouTube and use it in Vizia. If you set it to ‘unlisted’ in YouTube it will not appear in searches.

When you have created your Vizia it can be shared via a link or embedded in a website or blog. Further options allow you to gather names of viewers and download their responses.

Ideas for using Vizia in learning and teaching

Anywhere that you could use video in teaching and learning you could consider using Vizia. For example:

  • Ask students to find a YouTube video relevant to their course and add interactive elements, then share it with their peers. This could be done via the VLE or on a Padlet wall.
  • Make a mini-lecture screencast and test students’ learning or gather questions from them at stages during the video. Sussex University licenses VideoStudioPro or you could try Screencastify or Screencast-o-matic to make your short video.
  • Find a video relevant to your module and add questions and polls to get students thinking about how it relates to what you have discussed in class. News items from the BBC News YouTube channel might be useful for this.

How can I get started with Vizia?

Vizia is quite simple, with not many settings or options to deal with. This step-by-step Vizia Guide will take you through creating and sharing your interactive video.

Is it free?

Yes, Vizia is free to use.

Will it work on my device?

Vizia works in a web browser, so will work on any device that can access the internet.

What are the alternatives?

Here are some other platforms that you may want to look at:

  • Vialogues takes a different approach to making video more interactive. It lets you and your students add text comments to a video. Here is an example of a Vialogue based on a TEDx talk. You need to create a free EdLab account to use Vialogues.
  • Recap is a free chat platform designed for schools where responses to questions can be given by video or audio as well as text.
  • TEDEd is a free tool that allows you to build ‘lessons’ around a video by adding questions, discussion prompts, and additional resources.


If you would like help with using Vizia or to discuss how this or any other technology could help you in your teaching or learning please get in touch with Technology Enhanced Learning at


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Posted in App review

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

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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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