Another part of my everyday role involves maintaining an awareness of current legislation, policies and standards set out by the University and nationally. Some of the key areas related to my post that I regularly consider include but are not limited to:
- Copyright and Creative Commons
- Data protection
I engage with training opportunities by undertaking relevant training offered by the University, maintaining close collaboration with Lancaster University Information Security Services (ISS)l engaging in and posting queries to the ALT mailing list on JiscMail.
- accessibility and copyright considerations; copyright for teaching materials and the CLA Higher Education License
Since part of my role involves direct involvement in creating, managing and maintaining courses on Moodle, I share some responsibility for ensuring that the layout and content within Moodle courses under my remit are accessible and adhere to copyright requirements and take into account potential accessibility issues.
Accessibility and inclusivity
Per accessibility issues, I ensure that each Moodle course includes an Accessibility block offered by Moodle as this gives the user some control over the look and feel of the Moodle course in terms of font size and contrast settings, if required. In addition, I strive to ensure that all images have a text description in case screen readers are being used by potential users. Although we have not had a user disclose a sight-related issue thus far, the more I can do now to prepare the better position the Moodle courses that I have remit over will be if such a case arises.
In addition, although I do not currently have expertise in terms of neurodiversity learners and issues related to autism and ADHD, I do have some general understanding of these areas. Through feedback received from learners and teachers, I have made slight changes to courses so that a course will appear more structured and clear to users.
One early approach that I implemented was to program activities within Moodle to include tickboxes. I programmed activities to either permit tickboxes to automatically become ‘ticked’ and thus marked as complete after the activity had been completed (e.g. in the case of taking part in a forum through posting at least 1 post, followed by at least 2 replies to peers); I also allowed for learners to manually tick off a box, such as in the case of after watching a video or completing a task such as reading a document or page within Moodle. This checklist approach has been generally well-received by students, as it has allowed them to take note of what they have and have not completed and thus stay on track and organized.
However, there was one or two pitfalls; one activity in particular (a questionnaire in Moodle) would not mark itself as ‘complete’ as the user in question had not clicked on ‘save’ before clicking ‘submit’. The result was much consternation and frustration for both the user and a colleague and myself! In the end, we tested the questionnaire by looking carefully at each answer and step that the user had taken to determine where the fault occurred. I was then able to modify the instructions for the questionnaire to reflect that users first needed to save before clicking on submit.
Another example, shown below, that I came up with involved using color and text-coded signposts as this is a feature that our Moodle readily allows users to create. Initially, my colleagues and I thought that the signposts would work well to indicate to learners/users the type of activities to be worked through in terms of whether the activity was required or optional, and whether the content was informative or social in nature.
However, this was found to be a little confusing for some, and so we opted to choose a more direct manner of labelling activities by using an alphanumeric system, for example: Activity 1; Activity 2a, 2b; Activity 3.
Through using numbers for main activities and letters to indicate a series of interconnected activities, users were able to quickly understand what to do and in what general order. Ultimately, some activities require completion initially (e.g. watching a video) before subsequent activities can be unlocked (e.g. taking a quiz), and I ensure that users are aware of this. That said, I also ensure that students can access some content at all times to account for those learners who may wish to have the freedom to dip into various parts of a course before working their way through required and/or assessed activities. Indeed, this also reflects how I sometimes (often?) learn as a learner. I like to dabble and dip into various parts of a course rather than working from A to Z, as I find that manner of working constraining and, frankly, boring, depending upon what the topic is.
Copyright awareness and practices
In terms of copyright and Creative Commons, this is something that I have known about and keep abreast of through self-training and exploration, and experimentation. I access https://creativecommons.org/ when I seek specific guidance and I also regularly use Google Images, flickr and even YouTube to find specifically-labelled Creative Commons content for use in Moodle and elsewhere. I also use Adobe Spark to create colorful text banners for Moodle courses as Spark allows content that is created to be used within non-commercial environments.
I also collaborate with relevant Subject Librarians if the question relates to using digital or physical content (e.g. ebooks, book chapters, academic journals and so on), as they often have the resources and knowledge readily available to them for questions that I may have or cannot answer. Where other questions arise, I refer staff to the relevant resources available, which include the University’s pages on copyright and the CLA Higher Education License as these provide immediate, relevant information per questions surrounding what content can/cannot be hosted directly within the Moodle VLE, which in turns reduces potential risks of infringement of copyright while maintaining good standards of adherence to relevant legislation in this regard.
More anecdotally, one way I have found one tool, YouTube, to be a little constraining is by uploading a presentation from a conferencing or from teaching materials created by others to YouTube; YouTube, although not perfect, will often flag up any content that it detects even if the content in question has legitimate uses for educational purposes. Once YouTube flags content as potentially infringing upon copyright, it can be difficult to convince YouTube otherwise of its error. A lecturer had created a short video lecture that included a snippet of another video; YouTube subsequently flagged this up as a potential copyright infringement, and so I got in touch with the lecturer and the Subject Librarian to query and resolve the issue.
Finally, per data protection, after taking relevant ISS training within this area, I was presented with the ‘working with information classifications‘ section that sets out guidance on how to transfer different types of information. I have found this part useful in determine how best to share different types of documents. I primarily deal with ‘ordinary’ and potentially ‘confidential’ data within my role, and rarely deal with ‘restricted’ or ‘personal data’.