SHOAL blog post – Beta-testing

SHOAL_FishImageTesting Testing!

We are excited to announce that in February the SHOAL portal moves into a beta-testing phase!  We invite staff and students to join our group of trial users, to give us feedback on the portal design.  Trial participants will get a sneak preview of the diverse digital learning activities that will feature in the showcase.  Email to join the trial or find out more.

Our original idea for SHOAL aimed to make it easy for staff to re-use and re-purpose example learning activities by importing them into their own WebLearn site.  Once the project began, conversations with experts such as Marion Manton (Technology Assisted Lifelong Learning) and Kate Lindsay, and our own experience, encouraged us to focus on maximising discoverability of resources instead.  This is because we believe that staff are likely to adopt and adapt ideas that have inspired them, beyond using an activity as-is.  By revealing interesting resources and making their creators and usage permissions known, we hope that SHOAL will encourage cross-departmental and divisional sharing of existing resources as well as promoting the creation of new learning activities.

On the technical side, Matthew Buckett at IT Services has developed two new WebLearn tools:

  1. A Metadata tool which allows the SHOAL team to enter and store data on each example learning activity, and
  2. A Browser tool which harvests the metadata and allows staff and students to search it, in order to find learning activities that match their interests.

Each example learning activity will be hosted on its own separate WebLearn site, which will be a special ‘Repository’ site type.  The Metadata tool can be added to repository sites to enable learning activity to be described.  The Browser tool can feature in multiple WebLearn sites, allowing learning activities to be discovered from a variety of places within WebLearn.  Both tools are currently integrated within WebLearn but there is the potential to run them independently if a different VLE is adopted by Oxford in the future.

The SHOAL project now features on the ‘Support’ page of the Digital Education website,  When the portal goes live this will be one route to exploring the learning activities.


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