Some new features in Canvas, Panopto and Padlet

The key learning technologies in use here at Sussex are regularly updated in response to customer feedback. In this post we’ve cherry-picked some of the most recent updates you may find useful.


Canvas have recently introduced a feature that many people have wanted to see. You can now schedule when pages will be published, which saves you having to remember to do so as the term progresses.

To schedule publishing of a page, first check that the page is unpublished. Then edit the page and use the Publish At box to specify the date and time when the page should be published.

screenshot of unpublished Canvas page in Edit mode showing the Publish At box
Screenshot of unpublished Canvas page in Edit mode showing the Publish At box

This video demo shows how to schedule a page to publish at a later date.


Improvements to Panopto since our last update will save time when checking captions. There are four significant new features for captions:

Panopto caption editor showing Find and Replace and Confidence Highlights
Panopto caption editor showing Find and Replace and Confidence Highlights
  • Find and replace: You can now find all instances of a mis-transcribed word and replace them in one hit.
  • Confidence Highlights: In the caption editor, Panopto will underline any words that it suspects have not been transcribed correctly. You can then click on these and use the Find and Replace function to update all instances.
  • Custom Dictionary: If you find that Panopto regularly mis-transcribes words you use often in lectures, you can submit them to Sussex’s own Panopto custom dictionary. To submit words to the dictionary, email
  • Caption end-times: you can now specify an end time on captions so that they do not remain on screen for too long.
Panopto caption editor showing caption end-times.
Panopto caption editor showing caption end-times.

See this page on the Panopto website for more information on the new caption tools.


Receive email notifications about updates to your padlets (or don’t)

Padlet will now send you real-time email and push notifications (if enabled on your browser) when someone posts or comments on a padlet that you follow. If there’s a lot of activity on a padlet, you will be sent a summary email. You should receive no more than three notifications per padlet per day. For some of us, that’s still too many emails, so you can turn off or change your notifications via the new notifications page in Padlet. To do this, from within Padlet, click on the three dots () in the left-hand menu to open the user menu, then choose Settings.

 Screenshot of Padlet dashboard showing the Open User Menu icon
Screenshot of Padlet dashboard showing the Open User Menu icon.

In the left-hand menu, click Notifications. Then use the checkboxes to the right to choose your notification preferences.

Notifications centre in Padlet
Notifications centre in Padlet

You can also use the activity panel on any padlet you follow to see the most recent activity in chronological order. To access this, click on the Open Activity Pane icon in the Action Bar (which has now moved to the right-hand side of the screen).

 Action bar in Padlet showing the Open Activity Panel icon
Action bar in Padlet showing the Open Activity Panel icon
Activity panel in a padlet
Activity panel in a padlet

New wallpapers

Padlet have added several new wallpapers, including artwork from Seurat, Hopper and Van Gogh. Also, the title and description text will change to be readable in a font colour that contrasts clearly against the backdrop.

 Starry Night by Van Gogh padlet wallpaper, showing readable title.
Starry Night by Van Gogh padlet wallpaper, showing readable title.

These are only a few of the recent updates to Padlet. For more details have a look at the Padlet Blog where you can also subscribe to get news of updates as they happen.

And remember, our team are here to support you with using these or any of the other core learning technologies at Sussex. If you’d like to know more, please visit the Educational Enhancement website or contact us at

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Posted in Learning Technologies

Sussex LearnTech meetup

Sometimes connections fade away due to inevitable change, but if they really did work, why not bring them back? 

When asked to setup a new network to connect old colleagues and bring in new connections, you really can’t say no. Senior staff in Educational Enhancement (EE) asked for existing networks to be explored, with the aim of creating something that wasn’t currently offered in the local area. It was soon realised during the network planning stage that many members of EE first met at a networking group that ran over 5 years ago.

A network can help you to meet like-minded people and share ideas in a safe community, but sometimes its potential can be untapped, due to not being adaptable or limits on people’s availability.

On 23rd November 2022 the new Sussex LearnTech meetup was formed, and its first meeting largely consisted of University of Sussex and University of Brighton colleagues. The network is open to local specialists that use technology to support and enhance learning, largely within but not limited to Higher Education.

The plan so far

The plan for the first meetup, where if more formal could be considered the agenda, was loosely based on past experiences and an internal EE survey that was run earlier in the year. The survey had asked the EE team to share what they find important in a network, and what else they would like to see from a new one.

Feedback from the EE survey included:

  • Asking what individuals and teams are doing to help students with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Sharing projects from the past, present, and future.
  • Finding and sharing collaboration opportunities and benefits.
  • Forming mentor opportunities, for people wanting a buddy in the sector.

The initial aim is for the network is to run 6 times a year, twice in person and four times online, and to be adaptable to help include as many people as possible in the area. This will include running on different days and times, and for in person sessions to be open to different institutions to host.

The first Meetup

At the first meeting, previous and new colleagues had the chance to introduce themselves to the other attendees. The tone was casual, people were eager to find out what others had been doing, and what was currently important in their working lives. Although many attendees were not student-facing, existing practices and local communities that can support students with the cost-of-living crisis were shared. These organisations and links were sent out following the meeting to ensure everyone had access. Progress and challenges around major projects were discussed, some given a short mention, whereas others were more detailed, as the wider group could relate to them and the members were passionate about that work. Other potential attendees were also mentioned, and quickly followed up after the meetup. This should allow the network to grow and expand its combined knowledge and experience.

Are you interested?

The next online meeting is in early February 2023, and we aim to run an in-person session in April 2023 at the University of Sussex. Many of the members are passionate about playful learning, so anything could happen in person.

If you support learning through technology in the local area (where you would happily travel to the in-person meetings), contact Ty via to be added to the list for Sussex LearnTech.

Posted in Events

Autumn Term Conference and Event round-up

Educational Enhancement (EE) team members have been organising, attending, and presenting at a range of conferences and events over the Autumn term. This is part of our work keeping an eye on sector developments as well as disseminating our own good practice and research. This post lists some of the events we have been taking part in.

Pedagogic Revolution: Co-creation in the curriculum – November 2022

The Pedagogic Revolution ran a workshop on Student co-creation in the curriculum in November. Co-creation in the curriculum can help empower and engage your students, while developing a collaborative environment that reflects the diversity of your learning community. The workshop explored co-creation in theory and in practice and showcased co-creation from across the University. The following students and staff spoke about their projects:

  • Class, culture, and conflict – a view from within: Carli Rowell (LPS)
  • Assessment criteria and feedback: Susan Smith (USBS) and Dan Axson (EE)
  • Inclusivity within the curriculum: Katherine Kruger (MAH)

Following on from the talks, participants were given the time and resources to consider how co-creation could be embedded into their own teaching.

Playful Leadership Workshop – Huddersfield, November 2022

Playful Learning Association members met at the University of Huddersfield for a two-day event exploring the theme of Playful Leadership. A blog post about the event is available through the Playful Learning Association website.

 three overlapping cards with "Playful Leadership is..." printed at the top and various text hand printed in bright colours underneath, including: Inclusion and A State of Mind
A printing activity to define Playful Leadership.

DARE to Transform Community of Practice – November 2022

Dr Emma Newport provided the first lightening talk for the DARE Community of Practice this year. Emma showcased her project Sussex Writes, a creative writing programme with the aim of widening university participation through collaboration between the School of Media, Arts and Humanities and local schools and organisations.

The Community of Practice is a supportive space where ideas and opinions can be discussed honestly and opportunities for collaboration are welcome. Further events will be advertised over the year.

China and Higher Education 2022: (Re)imagining Kindness in Times of Conflict – December 2022 (online)

The 2022 China and Higher Education (#ChinaHE22) conference focused on ‘kindness’, in light of social and political climates characterised by increasing levels of polarisation and even international conflict. The conference presented a diverse range of views on what it means to be kind in higher education and the impact kindness has on academic and personal progression. Here is a list of the conference presentations and their recordings.

Coming Up

Thursday May 4th – Educational Enhancement will be hosting an Education Festival during the day followed by the Education Awards in the evening, both at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. The festival will be a chance to share your practice with colleagues across the University.

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Posted in Events, External events

Tips to create engaging video recordings

The use of video to support teaching has increased significantly over the last ten years, with the number of teachers finding value in video content increasing each year since 2007. This is, in part, due to the forced video delivery of lessons caused by the COVID pandemic, but even aside from that, the increase in popularity of flipped learning means that more academics are looking to create their own recordings to support their lessons. A study by Cynthia J Brame showed that the effectiveness of educational videos can be maximised by considering three elements when designing and creating them: cognitive load, student engagement and active learning.

  • Cognitive load. This refers to the amount of information that working memory can hold at one time and has a direct bearing on how much content to present to a viewer in one video, to maximise learning.
  • Student engagement. For students to learn from instructional videos, they must first watch them. So, videos must be designed in a way that helps students to understand their relevance. Once they have started watching, the challenge is to keep them viewing, to maximise the benefit. The length of a video is a key factor here. Research shows that student engagement drops off significantly after six minutes.
Data demonstrating that students watch 100% of a video which is 0-6 minutes long; 97% of a video which is 6-9 minutes long; 58% of a video which is 9-12 minutes long and 20% of a video which is 12-40 minutes long
  • Active learning. Incorporating questions, suggestions or prompts within the video can help students mentally absorb concepts, which changes the passive process of watching a video into an active pursuit to better embed learning. 

Planning your recording

It is important to make a distinction between recording lectures for students to access and review following the lesson (lecture recording) and videos created for students to watch before or during the lesson to support a particular topic (tutorial recording), as these require attention in different areas.

Tutorial recordings

Lecturers will often record screencast videos to provide instruction, minimise repetitive explanations or provide material for extension activities. It is particularly important to maintain student engagement, as well as provide an opportunity for active learning when creating this type of recording. Here are some things to consider when planning tutorial recordings.

  • Cognitive load.
    • Emphasise important information by highlighting key words using colour/additional text.
    • Chunk information by keeping videos between six and nine minutes.
    • Reduce unnecessary information by eliminating music and background noise and using simple backgrounds.
  • Student engagement.
    • Keep videos brief (between six and nine minutes) to increase the chances of students completing them.
    • Use conversational language and include the student in your tutorial by using “your” instead of “the” during explanations.
    • Include recordings of the instructor’s head to personalise the instructions.
    • Speak with enthusiasm – this creates more engagement than deliberately speaking slowly.
    • Emphasise how your video is relevant to the subject the student is studying.
  • Active learning.
    • Incorporate interactive questions if you have the tools.
    • Use guiding questions within your video, to promote further investigation by students.

Lecture recording

When recording lectures, remember the importance of students feeling a connection to the lecturer, and being able to see all the information that is important for their understanding. It is also hugely beneficial to students to be able to review the contents of the lecture quickly and easily. If lecturers are not able to quickly add bookmarks by using the tools available, it is worth investing some time at the beginning to show students how to bookmark and annotate their own version of the recording. Here are some things to consider when planning lecture recordings.

  • Cognitive load.
    • When preparing your lecture, chunk information by keeping each piece of content between six and nine minutes long, to create natural breaks within the recording. 
    • If you have the opportunity, introduce chapters or bookmarks after recording, to aid with content retrieval while viewing.
    • Invest time at the start of your course, showing students how to add their own bookmarks.
  • Student engagement.
    • Create a personal connection with viewers by ensuring that the presenter is in shot, at least for some of the time.
    • Ensure good quality by testing your recording setup beforehand and checking audio and video recording levels.
    • Make sure any supplementary material (for example board work) is clear and visible to viewers.
  • Active learning.
    • Where time and tools allow, include quick quiz questions at salient points during the recording – periodic interaction will keep viewers engaged.
    • Where students have opted for online lectures, award marks for answering the questions, to provide reward and motivation, and to encourage engagement.

Further information and guidance

If you require any support to plan or record your recordings, please contact your Learning Technologist, or email Educational Enhancement on

Helpful links:

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Posted in Panopto

Can you trust the cheaters?

There’s an episode of The Sopranos, quite early on, where Christopher Moltisanti has someone impersonate him and take the stockbrokers’ licensing exam on his behalf so he can run a dodgy investment operation. By this point in the series, we’ve witnessed adultery, fraud, theft, violence, and murder but somehow this act of dishonesty really shocked me. It was so brazen: an invigilator calls the register in the test centre and someone whom the audience know is not Christopher Moltisanti raises his hand and says ‘here’. Of course, the ramifications of such academic misconduct reach far and wide – how many other brokers are operating with a licence they didn’t actually earn? How many bankers? How many pilots?

Twenty years later the exam-taking racket has grown and grown. Just as the shift of commerce to online has brought an increase in cyber theft, so digital learning and assessment is making students and institutions vulnerable to criminals who claim to be on the side of the learners. This past month members of the Educational Enhancement team went wading in the murky waters of paraphrasing tools, essay mills and exam personators, and are here to tell the tale. Short version, it’s a con.

At the bottom of the chain are the paraphrasing tools. These have simple interfaces and use jolly verbs like ‘spin’ which make the process feel like a game. Recently a Google Doodle honoured Irene Bernasconi so let’s use the first paragraph of Wikipedia’s article on her to demonstrate:

  • Original text: Irene Bernasconi was an Argentine marine biologist specializing in Echinoderm research and best known for her work in the Antarctic. She was the first echinoderm specialist in Argentina and spent 55 years conducting research into echinoderms found in the Argentine Sea.
  • Altered text: Irene Bernasconi was an Argentine sea life scholar spend significant time in Echinoderm exploration and most popular for her work in the Antarctic. She was the primary echinoderm expert in Argentina and endured 55 years leading examination into echinoderms tracked down in the Argentine Ocean.

The tool increased the word count by 24 words (almost 10%) and rephrased certain sentences. Now, if you run this new text through a plagiarism checker it shouldn’t hit as high as the original Wikipedia text would have. Take a closer look though, ‘marine biologist’, the official recognised term for this role, is now ‘sea life scholar’, Bernasconi’s most renowned work is now what makes her ‘popular’, and the ‘Argentine Sea’ has been renamed, erroneously, as the ‘Argentine Ocean’. Can you spot any other curious edits?

So surely no HE student would fall for this nonsense?  They could instantly spot that the rephrasing is utterly useless and so go back to writing their own essay, right? But wait, what’s that button at the bottom? Well, it says ‘Advanced Paraphrase’ and clicking it will take you to another site where the paraphrasing makes more sense but reverts in similarity to the original – no getting past the similarity checker here. Now what? Let’s take ourselves back to the beginning of this blog post: a tale of criminals exploiting the vulnerable. The new site offers the enticing ‘premium’ option and encourages students to sign up for a chargeable service and this service includes a built-in plagiarism checker so anyone who uses it doesn’t have to worry about triggering any alerts when they come to submit their work. You see how they hook you? Remember, it’s a con.

For obvious reasons, we won’t be sharing everything that we learnt as we investigated further. Let’s instead focus on how we can be certain that these sites and services are on nobody’s side but their own.

  • The graphics. From cartoon characters to industry-style branding and academic looking logos, these sites all employ the kind of visuals that appeal to viewers. No matter the cutesy or corporate graphics, these services are neither kind nor honourable. It’s a con.
  • The pop-ups. Try to navigate away from these sites and a pop-up will alert you to possible savings if you sign up there and then. Of course these ‘one time only’ offers will always be there. It’s a con.
  • The chat windows. Every site we visited had a chat window that opened instantly. The text used direct address and conversational language and featured avatars of smiley youngish people looking right out at us. Our suspicion is that these start as bots and a real person joins if the user engages but we can’t be certain of that. After all, it’s a con.
  • They’re watching you. A simple Google search for ideas such as ‘how to start a philosophy essay’ generated a page of results each of which was a link to an essay-writing service. This makes it really easy for students to stumble onto these sites unintentionally and that makes them vulnerable to all the tricks we’ve listed above. There are a few ways to get to the top of a Google results page but the key one is money. These criminal sites are able to invest in their prominence by spending the money they convince students to part with. Remember, it’s a con.
  • We’re onto them. The eternal tussle between the cops and the robbers is at play here. We know of a number of sites and have firewalls in place, and we also know ways to spot a script generated this way. Now imagine what happens if a student is discovered having used an essay-writing service and faces an academic misconduct panel – do they get their money back? Of course not, it’s a con.
  • It’s illegal. Earlier this year, the Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2022 stated that ‘it is an offence for a person to provide, or arrange for another person to provide, in commercial circumstances, a relevant service for a student in relation to a relevant assignment’. It should not be underestimated that these sites are being taken very seriously and are being called out for what they are, cons.

This is a conversation that is far from over. For now, please remember that no one is offering to write anyone’s essay out of the goodness of their heart and any site that offers illegal services is not one to engage with. It. Is. A. Con.

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Posted in Marking and assessment

Using the content authoring tool H5P to create interactive learning material

Sue Robbins is Senior Lecturer in English Language, and Director of Continuing Professional Development in the School of Media, Arts and Humanities.

In this case study Sue describes using H5P to create interactive learning tasks in an online English language development course for international students.

What is H5P?

H5P is a content creation tool that allows you to create rich interactive content that can be embedded in a Canvas page. There is a wide range of task types including interactive videos, quizzes and games (see the full list of activity types).

There are a number of ways in which H5P activities can help enhance the learning process and encourage learner engagement. For example, you can create tasks which allow you to:

  • Build in opportunities for learners to check their understanding as they work through course material.
  • Sequence activities in order to scaffold learning.
  • Share activities with your learners that allow them to self-evaluate their learning and receive formative feedback.
  • Design activities that prepare learners for group, seminar or presentation tasks in advance.
  • Offer learners a variety of ways of engaging with the course material.
  • Support learners to develop skills and approaches that suit their discipline.
  • Supply automated feedback (with scope for added commentary) to support learners in their understanding of the material.
  • Create flipped learning content.
  • Create revision activities for your learners.

Here is a sample task that is designed to help English language learners read and understand infographics and talk about statistical information. It uses the ‘Course Presentation’ tool to group the activities and ‘Fill in the Blanks’ to check understanding.

What was the learning or teaching issue that prompted this innovation?

Online learning has been in the media regularly over the past year – not without controversy. On the publication of this year’s HEPI/AdvanceHE Student Academic Experience survey Nick Hillman, director of HEPI, suggested that that ‘the sector must ensure the new era of blended learning is a route to students doing a greater volume of effective academic work rather than it being used as a reason to reduce student engagement.’ Finding myself unexpectedly in this ‘new era of blended learning’ and interested in learning how to teach better in this mode, I used some of my scholarship time to engage in professional development opportunities to that end. Neil Stokes, head of digital learning and teaching at De Montfort University, notes in this THE article that as academics have a good understanding of the technology required to teach online what we now need to think about is “how can you build … communities, how can you make sessions interactive, how can you make them more engaging?” With online learning being a mode, not a pedagogy or an approach, what matters is the learning design – the active cognitive tasks that we ask students to do. Using H5P is a practical way to build interactivity into tasks and make the learning more engaging.

How did you ensure that the innovation was accessible to all?

Once the materials were written I worked with a member of the TEL team to build the online course in Canvas. We worked collaboratively to consider how best to make the navigation as accessible as possible to students unfamiliar with the platform and drew on the principles of instructional design to consider the pedagogic implications of asking students to work remotely with the site. We also considered a wide range of digital accessibility issues, including the accessibility of the H5P tasks. maintain an overview of the accessibility of the various H5P content types. Providing students with online or blended options can increase the range of possibilities open to them and thereby improve inclusivity.

What impact did this have on the student experience?

The online material was used as a self-access resource this Summer (used both in and out of classroom) for international students on campus for a short language development course. Feedback was positive with all students agreeing that it was easy to navigate the online materials and they knew what they had to do at every stage. They appreciated the automated feedback provided by the H5P tasks, enjoyed the interactivity and task variety and thought it was ‘fun’. Importantly, they were able to notice an improvement in their English, even in the space of a few weeks.

It seems important, therefore, that we embrace the process of change and continue developing online/blended learning opportunities to support leaning and build on the good it can bring about for equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Interested in using H5P with your own students?

If you’d like to explore H5P please note you will need to purchase your own licence. Educational Enhancement are happy to demonstrate H5P to you and speak to you further about how to use it in your teaching activities. For up-to-date information on pricing, please visit Whilst Educational Enhancement can’t arrange licences on your behalf, they can signpost you to colleagues who will be able to advise.

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Posted in Case Study

Portfolios: Collecting the best

A portfolio is a collection of a students work built up over a specific period of time often highlighting their development and collating the best examples of their practice. 

Portfolios can be a great tool for assessing students’ development as well as a way of allowing students to build up a strong collection of their best work that they can then show to others to highlight their growth and knowledge.

This blog post will cover a few different considerations and tools you can explore if you wish to incorporate digital portfolios into your teaching.


When using a digital portfolio tool there are a few things to take into account which may influence what tool you use:

  • What is the purpose of the portfolio? Does the portfolio exist to help a student reflect, to show a student’s learning and progression over time, to prove they have mastered certain learning goals or to showcase the best examples of their work? It may even serve a hybrid role combining two or more of these types of portfolios
  • What sort of content will students be capturing and collating? Will this content be text based or will it incorporate other media such as images or videos? Will it need to have links to online resources or host them within the portfolio (such as PDFs),? Are there more specialized media that will need to be collected, such as samples of code?
  • Who will need to access the portfolio? Will the portfolio be personal and only accessed by the student, will it be seen by the student and instructor, shared by the student, with other students and the instructor and/or seen by outside users? Further, which bits of the portfolio need to be shared?
  • Will it need to be submitted, if so at what stage? If the portfolio does need to be submitted then will this be something that a student has to submit at regular intervals such as once a week or will it only be submitted at the end of a period of time when the portfolio is completed? For more information on how students can submit their portfolios see the How will students submit their portfolios to Canvas section below.
  • Can the portfolio be exported in an accessible format? Will the student take this portfolio with them after they’ve concluded their studies? If so, how will they export their content in a format they can access in future?
  • Will the portfolio form part of a contributory assessment? Is the answer is yes then you’ll need to consider how student’s portfolios can either be locked down at the due date (in the case of the portfolio being hosted outside of an uploaded file such as if a student links out to a portfolio on another platform or somewhere else on the web, then you’ll need to have some capacity to also lock down that external tool) or if the students will need to submit a static submission I.e. a file that is uploaded at a certain point and cannot be changed afterwards.

What tools can students use?

Word and PowerPoint

Students can use their Sussex account to access Office 365 which gives them the web versions of Word and PowerPoint. Any documents produced with these tools can be turned into collaborative files that can then be shared with instructors and/or their peers. Both Word and PowerPoint allow for text and images. It’s then possible to download these documents as files if they need to be submitted to a submission point within Canvas. These can be structured around week or topic, either by using headers within Word or with separate slides for PowerPoint.

Students are likely to already be familiar with both tools given their widespread popularity and use (although this cannot be presumed) so there is an advantage in that students won’t need much training in using them.


OneNote is a digital notebook tool that automatically saves and syncs your notes as you work, like a collection of digital documents. Students have access to this with their Sussex account as part of Office 365.

Instructors can set up and share a notebook with others and either allocate sections of a notebook to groups of students or set up a Class Notebook to give each student their own notebook. Instructors can then easily view everyone’s work and progress.

Users can insert images, audio, video, documents, or hyperlinks and use text or digital ink to annotate around them. This functionality can also be used to support ongoing feedback. Students can also export their OneNote portfolio as a pdf and submit it to a Canvas assignment.

For more guidance see Microsoft’s  OneNote: your one-stop resource, OneNote video training or visit the OneNote Teacher Academy.

How will students submit their portfolios to Canvas (if needed)?

Canvas Online assignment submission points serve as a route by which students can upload their portfolios to Canvas. It’s possible to manually setup these assignments in your modules or have them centrally created based on assessment data within SussexDirect. Assignments can be configured to allow students to either type directly into a text box or upload a file or a link as their submission.

If students are uploading a file then you can restrict submissions to a certain file type, for example you might want your students to create and upload their Portfolio as a Word document or a PDF. It’s useful to prescribe the format to ensure that the instructors and other markers can open and view them.

Allowing a link as a submission can suit cases where students may have created their portfolio in a web accessible format or in a cloud storage area. In this case they could generate a shared link to their portfolio that they can submit. It’s important to note that if the assessment is contributory then you’ll need some way to lock down the web-based tool or cloud storage to ensure that students don’t edit their submissions after the due date has passed. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to have control over the software, rather decide how they might share items of work or the full portfolio. For example, from OneNote you might require that a PDF export is submitted.

You can create multiple Canvas Online assignments if you’d like students to upload their portfolios at regular intervals, for example you might want to have students submit their portfolio once a week for 10 weeks. In this case you could create 10 assignment points, or you may wish to just have one assignment point where students submit their final portfolios. 

Next steps

Portfolios can hugely differ in their purpose or requirements so if you do with to use portfolios within your teaching then please get in touch with us at Educational Enhancement either by emailing or by contacting your School’s Learning Technologist.

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Posted in Learning Technologies, Uncategorized

The F word or, how you can learn to stop worrying and love the process

Wooden hand pointing to the left of the frame. The wooden hand sign occupies most of the frame, the ground is covered in snow.

Wooden hand pointing to the left of the frame. The wooden hand sign occupies most of the frame, the ground is covered in snow.

Yes, we’re of course talking about feedback. So, what is feedback? This excerpt taken from our Effective Feedback page on the Educational Enhancement website, sums it up nicely.

‘Effective feedback involves sense-making. It should help students to make sense of information from various sources and use it to enhance their work or learning strategies. Feedback should, therefore, identify the gap between the desired standards and the student’s achievement – then offer guidance on how to close the gap in future.’ 

Educational Enhancement, Effective feedback

Whether it’s feedback on your teaching, or feedback on the dinner you’ve been working on for hours, its timing and applicability is what makes it useful.

Feedback does demand time and attention, much of this though can be front-loaded, as in the bulk of your time on feedback is done before the busy marking period. Educational Enhancement has a number of things already in place, like upcoming workshops, existing resources or useful technologies,  which means there will be something you can try today. There is no better time to engage with the process of feedback than right now, the second best time is tomorrow. 

Educational Enhancement’s top four feedback fixes.

Use rubrics

If there is one tool, or one technology, that can help save you time when marking – yes, actually save you time, it is the rubric. In its simplest form, a rubric is a grid on which you select the students’ performance on a scale against given criteria. Some schools have a generic school-wide set of criteria, which you can adapt to fit your assessment. These schools will have a central place where you can download the rubrics or in some cases grading forms for Turnitin. For more support with rubrics, speak to your Director of Teaching and Learning or your Learning Technologist and Academic Developer where relevant.

Try this today:

Upskill your students

It is important for your students to understand and be comfortable with the process of both tutor and peer feedback. Tell your students where and when they will get their feedback. Show them how to access feedback, whether in Canvas or Turnitin or other. Whatever it is you do, tell them and show them.

Any formative activities you currently employ can be tweaked so that students provide peer feedback using your marking rubric. This gives students the chance to practise both crafting, receiving and acting on feedback.  By the time they get round to the summative assignments, they have intimate knowledge of your rubrics, how they’ll be used and, based on the formative assessment, what areas they need to focus on. 

Try this today: 

Fast feedback

In the classroom, there are ways for your students to get rapid feedback on= their learning. Anything from a very simple show of hands, through to more complex activities such as Team Based Learning, can give your students that immediate feedback that tells them – ‘I’m not quite where I thought I was’ or ’I was unsure and now I’m feeling good’. One such tool, which is fast to utilise and quick to learn is Poll Everywhere. You can set up everything from a quick pulse check style poll, though to more complex surveys and fun stuff like word clouds. If you haven’t got access to our institutional account, please email Educational Enhancement on

Try this today:

Follow up

Your students are well practised, you’ve provided the feedback, it’s well accessed and students know what they need to do, now what? Do they know where they can get the help needed to take the next steps? For example, student A knows they need to improve their referencing. You’ve made it clear in the scoring of the rubric, they’ve read your comments in the written feedback. In short, they’ve received the communication, they’ve interpreted it and they now need help actioning it. So how do we do that? Signposting will help your students follow up on your carefully crafted feedback. For example, you can might point out to student A they need to improve their referencing. If you also include a link to the Skills Hub you will empower them take the next step. Or, maybe you notice quite a few of your students got into a muddle with referencing, then let your whole cohort know how they can access support.This can of course be scaffolded, in foundation year or year one, we may choose to provide more signposts, but by year two and year three, students can be more independent having developed their academic skills. 

Try this today:

  • Mentioned in this section is Skills Hub
  • You’ll need to signpost your students to a number of places, but always have in mind ‘I’ve told them to do x, but how do they know how to do x and where can they get that info?’

So there you have it, Educational Enhancement’s top four feedback fixes, which are you going to try first? For more support, guidance and a friendly ear to run things by, get in touch with your School’s Learning Technologist or Academic Developer or email Education Enhancement on and we’ll get back to you.

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We are the Educational Enhancement 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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