Why I Find It Helps To Remember You Have A Bum And A Back

By Nikki Moran, Reid School of Music
14 04 2021

The demands of remote teaching have given urgent rise to so many needs during the past 12 months.  We need screen breaks, we need good spec tech, we need more space at home than most of us have got, we need our children to go away, we need to move and stretch, and (I think, more than anything), we’ve needed to upgrade the quality and efficiency of our professional relationships, with colleagues and with students.   

What I mean by better quality relationships is, the sort of relationships that can really tolerate confusion, and impatience, and misunderstandings, and occasional mute button swearing.  We’ve had to share and create new knowledge under exceptionally limiting circumstances and with broken connections, poor sync, terrible sound quality, patchy wifi.  Good communication fundamentally requires a basis of some common ground, but when this began we were all in a new place, each of us confined to our own pieces in a square jigsaw of icons and initials and – now and then, if you’re lucky – floating faces. 

The digital reduction of our physical selves and our communicative intentions into 2D space is as crummy as it’s miraculous, when we have no alternative way to check that we’ve been heard and understood. It’s far too easy to dissolve into a puddley, formless state of gaze and scroll, gaze and scroll, all our precious connections to other people mindlessly constrained to a loop between gritty eyes, aching ears, fingers on the keyboard…  This is why I find it really helps to remember you have a bum and a back, and I have enjoyed reminding my students of this, too.

This semester I have systematically integrated such reminders into my online teaching, making space for the class to act (not think) in a playful and creative manner in response to a variety of prompts, some as warm-up activities, others as core teaching devices. I’ve used my experience of improvisation and mindfulness practices, and it’s been serious fun – as in, the results have induced both laughter and deep reflection. Devising the exercises for online groups required a little bit of thinking, mostly in reshaping group facilitation strategies that I have used informally for a number of years.  Making these work online has felt like a game-changer, for the way that they can transform a shallow, disconnected virtual space into an engaged and quite courageous cohort of students.  

– Playful grounding exercises as standard welcome/warm-up 

– ‘Busy hands’ tasks, to help students navigate online discussions with one another 

– Structured peer-to-peer listening sessions, timetabled alongside academic seminars

– Deliberate integration of freeform creative journalling exercises (doodling, painting, colour, collage) into academic topic-based discussions:

  • to support students’ development of their own voice and original argument 
  • to support students’ autonomy, their own approach to integrating knowledge 
  • to create space for emerging student-led discussion and new perspectives on central issues of concern such as good academic conduct, plagiarism, etc.

Over this time, I’ve loved finding patches of common ground with other ECA colleagues who have also been trying out new strategies. And I’ve loved naming each exercise – Lemon Buzz, Alternative Corner Reality, You Have Nice Hands, Labyrinth, Other Body Curiosity… Please get in touch if you’d like to know more. If you’re already using creative journaling or art techniques in your academic teaching, I would especially like to chat!  

@MORAN Nikki / N.moran@ed.ac.uk

Using TEAMS for teaching and tutoring

By Martin Parker, Reid School of Music
14 09 2020

This workflow was written to help those wishing to use TEAMS for synchronous teaching, course management and to enable discussion with students. It explains how to create a TEAM for your course and recruit students to the TEAM, record lectures and tutorials and then upload them to Media Hopper and embed inside LEARN for easy access.

It is VERY important to note that TEAMS is not supported by student systems as a teaching tool and does not integrate with LEARN automatically. TEAMS software is also subject to changes in ways that Blackboard Collaborate might remain consistent. However, there are some benefits to working with TEAMS in the delivery of course material that some teachers may appreciate. This guide as been produced this guide to help those people.

Create a TEAM for your course

Create a TEAM for your course

Generate a code for people to join

Explained here: support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/create-a-link-or-a-code- for-joining-a-team-11b0de3b-9288-4cb4-bc49-795e7028296f.


Manage team and create a link for people to join with

Email your class (using a LEARN announcement)

You can give the class the following instructions:

  • Download and install Microsoft TEAMS
  • www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/microsoft-teams/download-app
  • open TEAMS and click Join TEAM
  • paste in the codeJoin A TEAM with a codeKeep the code handyThis is so that people who want to attend your first course session can join and see what the course is like, without having to sign up via their PT until they’re sure they want to take the course.Ensure all tutors are also in the TEAMThey can join in the same way, share the join code or you can manually add them. Ensure that the tutors are setup as owners, rather than members when they’re in your TEAM.

Setup your colleagues/tutors etc as owners so that they can manage the TEAM with you and setup their tutorials

Use the Calendar function to setup classes

Specify the time and date for any TEAMS encounter you want to have, notice the 5th row down in the screen shot, we’ve set the TEAM channel we want to use for the meeting. It’s important that you select the correct TEAM.

Set the TEAM channel in the calendar Setup

Start the class from the calendar by clicking Join

All the team members can join the TEAM class meeting directly from the Calendar within TEAMS.

Tell people you are recording the class

Before you begin recording, tell the class that this is what you intend to do, then start recording.

Recording in TEAMS is explained here:

The live class can be auto captioned by TEAMS

Tell the students where to find this function, it’s explained here:

support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/use-live-captions-in-a-teams-meeting- 4be2d304-f675-4b57-8347-cbd000a21260

TEAMS will auto transcribe the class so that people can read what’s being said in real- time.

When the class is finished

Download the recording from the chat. Do this as soon as it is available to download as the recordings expire after 20 days and they aren’t captioned and are not available in LEARN.

Upload the video recording to media hopper

media.ed.ac.uk/, you’ll need to log in.

You don’t need to make the film public, unless you want it public, just select the sharable link.

Copy the link that Media hopper gives and add the link to your LEARN page for that particular week’s content. This way the film will be easily accessible to students and available for resits too.

Request captioning of the film

This process is explained here: media.ed.ac.uk/media/0_e5w9ufj2 When the film has been captioned, you can edit the captions if you have the time, but this is a very low priority.

A final note of caution

TEAMS enables open and public chat between all members of the TEAM. In large courses, or simply courses with enthusiastic cohort that you’re encouraging, the chat can quickly become hard to monitor. It is perhaps worth reminding your students that the chat can be a very good way to discuss the course together and to facilitate some peer learning but that you can’t monitor the chat all the time and that if there are specific questions that need input from the CO or a tutor that another means of contact might be more effective.

Library resources update and reminder

From Jane Furness, ECA Librarian.

We would like to remind you of all the online library resources which you and your students can use for learning, teaching and research:

Your first port of call for ebooks and full text ejournals is DiscoverEd: discovered.ed.ac.uk/

For ESALA, I would like to recommend the following:

The Architecture & Landscape Architecture Subject Guide: edinburgh-uk.libguides.com/architecture-landscape

The Architecture & Landscape Architecture journal article databases webpage: www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/library-databases/databases-subject-a-z/databases-architecture

[2 recent new additions to our portfolio of Subject Guides are an ‘Architectural History’ Subject Guide and an ‘Islamic Art and Architecture’ Subject Guide].

For History of Art, I would like to recommend the following:

The History of Art Subject Guide: edinburgh-uk.libguides.com/historyofart

The History of Art journal article databases webpage: www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/library-databases/databases-subject-a-z/databases-art

For Art & Design, I would like to recommend the following:

The Art & Design Subject Guide: edinburgh-uk.libguides.com/artdesign

The new ‘ECA Artists Books’ Subject Guide: edinburgh-uk.libguides.com/artistsbooks

The Art & Design journal article databases webpage: www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/library-databases/databases-subject-a-z/database-design

For Music, I would like to recommend the following:

The Music Subject Guide: edinburgh-uk.libguides.com/schoolofmusic

The Jazz Subject Guide: edinburgh-uk.libguides.com/jazz

The Music journal article databases webpage: www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/library-databases/databases-subject-a-z/database-music

Two new database acquisitions which are now live are the Yale Art&Architecture ePortal, and the Bloomsbury Architecture e-Library. Over the summer we have also arranged a deal with ProQuest giving us access to 350 of their online database resources, and more news will be released about this soon at www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/library-databases

I would also like to recommend and ask you to help promote our new Learn self-enrol course for all UG students, called LibSmart, which provides a series of modules to improve  students’ information literacy skills, including referencing. This new course was built by the Academic Support Librarian team over the summer and goes live on 7th September. Please see www.ed.ac.uk/students/new-students/ready-university/hybrid-learning/short-courses/ug-courses

Please remember that if you would like the library to order new books you can use the online recommendation form at any time: www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/using-library/request-resources/resource-purchase-request/arts-humanities-social-science-staff

You can access the full list of subject guides at www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/subject-guides

Delivering teaching remotely to overseas students (e.g. in China)

Delivering teaching remotely to overseas students – advice on technology applications and learning resources & material. 

This paper offers guidance to academics and course designers who are building and running courses in countries with compromised access to materials, web sites and applications. 

In general: 

Network connections 

Delivering teaching remotely overseas can be a challenge. Some of your students may have poor bandwidth, the connectivity or latency from their country to the UK may be poor, or they may be in a country that is in a time zone that makes live lectures and interaction difficult.  


Some countries block access to some materials, websites or software applications. China, Iran, Turkey etc.  Detail specifically on the PRC (China) can be found later in this document.  

Copyright/IP/Digital rights management 

We encourage you to check with the Library if you are using any digital resources to double check that access and copyrights do not prohibit that learning resources from being accessed or used overseas. IN the first instance you should contact you School assigned academic or subject Librarian.  

In addition all contracts should be checked for locally used teaching application to ensure that the license allows use of the application overseas and in the countries where your students are located.  For School purchase software, contact your local IT staff for centrally provided software please contact ISG or make a query through your learning technologist. 

Delivering remote or online teaching to the PRC (China) and access to teaching materials and resources. 

Please be aware that the Chinese government restricts access within China to some websites. We have also seen a degraded or poor performance with some of our Teaching applications. Detail below: 

Key advice:  

In general access for any online service can be poor at times.  Our experience from online degrees is that where broadband is flaky/non-existent then the solution with the online degrees is to design out reliance on synchronous methods and to ensure you have content available to learners in different asynchronous ways e.g. lecture recording + downloadable slides, PDFs and transcripts as per the University accessibility recommendations. A link to advice can be found here: www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/help-consultancy/accessibility/creating-materials.  As always we advise you look at the file sizes of the teaching material your remote students are required to download to keep this to a manageable size.   

Access within China to any external service is generally throttled by the authorities and will be normally be at a lower speed than you would experience in other countries, especially for high bandwidth or live on line services.  

Use of VPN is banned in China 

Our general advice to use VPN where possible as a secure method to access University services. A link to how to use the VPN is provide here: www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/computing/desktop-personal/vpn 

Availability and performance of our teaching and student applications within the PRC: 

Media Hopper Create and Replay   (Good access).  

Noteable (Good access) is internally hosted and isn’t blocking access.  

Turnitin (Good access) have stated there shouldn’t be any issues and cite that International campuses in China use Turnitin without issue.  

Office 365 and MS Teams (Good Access).  A few issues with One Drive access reported. MS Teams live video can have poor connectivity in China.  

Learn  (Reasonable access) has had some issues with files being hosted on (Amazon Web Services) AWS (Amazon Web Services)  however access is ok.   

Collaborate: (Poor and inconsistent access/performance)  issues with using Collaborate in China,  are likely bandwidth related and not the firewall. Collaborate is web based and does not require a client on your machine like Zoom and Teams do. Sometimes that is a plus, other times not.  The biggest problem experienced by our pre-sessional teachers using Collaborate to work digitally with students in China was connectivity. Collaborate has lots of good teaching tools (e.g. quick to set up breakout rooms) but students had frequent connection problems. Very few used/were able to use their video. Other Unis are reporting issues with each. Teachers can be pragmatic and move between Collaborate, MS Teams and Zoom, but only Collaborate is currently integrated with the Learn Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).  

Zoom:  (intermittent)  – Zoom is currently allowed in China, however the Chinese authorities have blocked Zoom in the past. Also, like all live video platforms it is affected by constrained bandwidth and connectivity issues.  

TopHat (Poor access) has issues delivering into China, likely because it uses AWS. Their ‘official’ advice is to use VPN but it is unclear how heavily it’ll be used in hybrid teaching.  

Box of Broadcasts (no Access Box of Broadcasts can only be used in the United Kingdom. The terms and conditions of the ERA licence do not allow for use overseas. Geolocation software is used to block access outside the UK)   

Unibuddy (Access available in China)  

EventsAir:  (access available in China, but streaming can be affected by bandwidth) Note: Zoom Webinar is our chosen plug-in for live transmission, so this may cause a problem. There aren’t any alternatives at present. 

Internet resources accessed from within the PRC: 

 A number of key and common internet resources sometime used by academics in teaching are blocked in China such as Google, Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Mendeley, SlideShare, …    Please be aware your students located in China will not be able to access these.  

 In addition:   

  • Many social media sites like Instagram, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Vimeo, Flickr and Twitter  are also blocked  
  • Many news channels (like: BBC, The New York Times, Le Monde, France 24, The Epoch TImes, The Japan Times, Al Jazeera English, The Globe and Mail, The Washington Post, HuffPost, Wall Street Journal, Time, The Economist, …) are blocked. 
  • Also some whole research facilities website are blocks (such as the NASA JPL)  

You can find a complete list here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_blocked_in_mainland_China 

Please check to ensure that the App or website you plan on using for your students is not blocked in China.  Also be aware the Chinese authorities often make changes to this list without any warning or consultation.  

In general we advise for students in China that a course emphasising asynchronicity and low bandwidth materials may be appropriate.  

Current trials to enhance experience of students in the PRC: 

ISG is currently testing a solution with Fortinet and Alibaba that will potentially allow students within the PRC to tunnel a VPN successfully to the University. This will greatly expand the number of University learning resources that the student can access and it also should provide better connectivity and prevention of dropouts.  

The trials are being conducted next week with some current UoE students in the PRC. The service is costed by capacity, with 100Mbs link costing ~$7.5k per month, and 200Mbs costing $15k per month (ex-VAT).  The size of the pipe needed will be determine by the concurrent usage by our Chinese students.  The capacity is fixed by our price-band – so we have cost control, but experience may be poor if the pipe is congested.  We can increase capacity if required.  Once through trial we can discuss how to approach costs. 

We will keep you informed about developments in this area.  Tony Weir in ISG  tony.weir@ed.ac.uk  is the lead on this project.  

Other emerging best practice and advice: 

This is a fast moving area. Bristol has some good clear advice on this, focused on practical mitigation advice www.bristol.ac.uk/digital-education/guides/low-bandwidth/ 

Author:  Gavin McLachlan 

Learn quizzes

By Nikki Moran, Reid School of Music
12th August 2020

Learn has a built-in ‘Test’ feature that can solve some of the problems of online assessment

I started using Learn’s integrated quiz feature about two years ago.  It was a while before I could talk about it without swearing.  But it has now become a major asset to my teaching practice which I’m really f**ing grateful for in the face of the digital challenge which is Semester 1, 2020-21.

I’m writing this because I’d be happy if my own voyage of discovery could spare a single colleague some misadventure.

I use Learn quizzes for both formative and summative assessment, but primarily as a feedback device. Knowledge checks which get students to check in with themselves, as a step towards understanding what it is that they need to ask us.

The feature that I’m talking about is called ‘Tests, surveys and pools’. It’s in Course Tools, from the left-hand menu bar.

I use weekly revision quizzes plus graded (summative) tests. The very best part of this is that I NO LONGER HAVE TO DO THE MARKING because I already did that when I built the questions in the first place: Learn now marks automatically into Grade Centre.

These quizzes – the ‘tests’ – are based on question ‘pools’. If one is feeling smug and efficient, one can prepare these in batches, which is satisfying in the same way as eating a really good pie you made for the freezer. Or having someone else pour you a cup of tea.

When you create a test, you can put it together from scratch with new questions specific to that test. Or, you can set a question which draws down on a designated pool that you already created. To deploy a test, you create a particular instance of it through a link that becomes visible to your students.

Why use pools? To generate randomized but equivalent test papers. This is a Big Deal because it lets you support students with adjustment schedules, and accommodate all sorts of asynchronous assessment dilemmas. For example, you can have a timed test which starts from the moment a student presses ‘Begin’.  This can be a different duration for each student if necessary, and they could either be sat next to one another, or in different countries. 

Preparing questions involves writing feedback for both correct and incorrect answers. I once read a book about caring for my pet guinea pig which said: “Do not feed your pet garlic, it makes them furious.” Well, turns out that setting a quiz with insufficient feedback makes students furious. But online learning feels less remote with instant feedback.

As with EVERYTHING about Learn, the quiz platform’s strength is its weakness: seemingly infinite combinatorial possibilities for bespoke, personalised ‘solutions’. This means endless options, filters, adjustments, preferences… And this can cause something I’d describe politely as fatigue.

The flexibility does mean, though, that it’s possible to design most assessment formats that you can imagine. Your questions or tasks can be posed as straightforward, plain text. Or they can include images, documents, websites, sound files, videos – any media.   

Question-types can include, e.g., sophisticated multiple choice, short text, long essay, ‘yes/no’, or answer via ‘upload file’ – which is VERY HELPFUL if you are teaching music notation and you need to see images of students’ handwritten scores.  (I wonder whether it could also be a useful device for other visual or practical ECA courses?) 

Previously, I set a written final exam for this course to assess handwritten work. There will be no timed exam for this year’s students, it will be coursework only. I’ll use the Learn test platform to set tasks and see uploaded images of their work. I tried this out in the August resits and it worked fine.

If anyone is considering using Learn quizzes I’m happy to share what I’ve learned.

Media production studios experience

By Nikki Moran, Reid School of Music
14th August 2020

Media Production Studios pilot recordings – I did a session so I thought I’d tell you about it

I went to High School Yards yesterday morning for a pilot session of the new media recording services. I’m sharing thoughts on it here to let you know what to expect if you’re thinking about using this service yourself.

In two hours, we recorded materials for 6 x short (2-3 minute) ‘piece to camera’ lectures.  ‘Piece to camera’ means a headshot recording of my yabbering face. The material is for a Semester 1 course, and will also be used to update an existing MOOC which deals with the same content.

So I was working with a revised version of lecture material from last year, which I’d improved it in a series of drafts based on feedback from colleagues.  This meant I could boil each segment down to 3 minutes max.

This is dead important. Piece to camera works best when it is v v short.

Piece to camera can be interspersed with graphics, stock footage, slides etc. This requires planning and story-boarding, which I think is the most fun bit. I have always loved story-telling. So it’s frustrating at the moment that there is so little time to do this. 

Of course, pre-recorded lectures don’t have to include our faces. It’s stressful, it feels very exposing. And do you remember how humid it was yesterday. Yabbering face amidst frizzy hair.  But.  I chose piece-to-camera for because:

1. I’m not at the stage to create graphics or choose stock footage. (The children only went back to school yesterday, and for how long…?)  But having the complete segments recorded and in the bag means we can sort this out later.

2. The nature of these scripts – the content – deserves an identifiable, explaining face to go along with it. One segment is introductory, it’s the first welcome to the course.  The other sections comprise a five-part contextualising micro-lecture addressing bias and ethnocentricism in the subject matter. It’s complex stuff and I want to deliver it humanely and accountably, not impersonally.

So if you just have straightforward content and slides already, a decent microphone voiceover recorded with Kaltura to Media Hopper or something is brilliant. 

But if you have reason to feel that face-to-face delivery of some content would work better to engage students – maybe just for an early week, establishing what the course is, what you want students to do and what you want them to get from it – the Media Production service is a supportive way to do it. 

These are the reasons I found it supportive:

1. Scheduling it gives you a clean deadline and then it’s done.

2.  No crowd, but you’re not on your own: one efficient, professional, sympathetic technician/recordist who will coach you through it, handle the auto-cue speed, and tell you if your rumbling tummy is loud enough to have spoiled the take.

3. Superb quality of audio and video.

I’ve put quality down there at no.3, because I think there is a lot to say for using lo-fi content in blended learning. Glossiness can sit badly and seem inauthentic next to the real, messy business of responsive teaching.  But if you’ve got portions of important, basic content that are not going away any time soon – or if they’re headed for a large platform like Coursera MOOC – then a bit of gloss is nice. Very happy to answer questions or chat if colleagues are thinking about using this service.

Note: details of the Media Production Studios are available via our Tools and Technical Resources page — 

Tools and technical resources

UoE-supported tools for online meetings and events

Semester 1: what you need to know …

Training for hybrid teaching

Find online training and drop-in sessions about tools and approaches for delivering hybrid teaching. This section also includes on-demand tutorials, videos and links to self-enrol courses. We are offering sessions everyday delivered fully online. All sessions can be booked via the Events Channel on MyEd, or by using the links below.

Sessions about the core toolset for hybrid teaching:

Sessions about course design for hybrid teaching:


 Supported Media Production Studios

To facilitate media production for hybrid teaching, the University has expanded its suite of educational media production studios and increased the number of ISG media support staff.  These centrally supported studios are available to all University staff to help in the creation of high quality media for teaching and learning, and as a digital media training space.  They are fully staffed by ISG professionals to help any of your staff create quality teaching media.

Detailed service information can be found via the Supported Media Production Studios webpages. 

The Supported Media Production Studios are available at multiple locations across all campuses, with each studio purpose built to accommodate a range of filming needs. The following 7 studios currently open:
High School Yards, Central (4 studios)
Argyle House, Lauriston
Chancellors Building, Little France
Sir Alex Robertson Building, Easter Bush

We have an additional 3 studios opening on the week commencing 24th August at: 
Murchison House, Kings Buildings (2 studios)
Western General Hospital, MEC

 A comprehensive list of studio locations and facilities at each location can be found via the Studio Locations webpages. If you are interested in booking the Supported Media Production Studios, please visit the Booking webpage for more information.