Xerte facts and figures 2018

Xerte logo

Xerte is a fully online tool for creating interactive learning content, available to all University staff and students.

What’s new?

Xerte logoXerte underwent a major upgrade in summer 2016, which greatly enhanced its functionality and ease of use. It was upgraded again in autumn 2017, with a number of new features including flash cards, interactive text and better integration with the duo Grade Centre. We plan to review the latest version to decide whether to upgrade again this year.

How much is it used?

215 new projects have been created since June 2016.

 53 new people have begun using Xerte since June 2016.

The Xerte Guides & Videos page was visited an average of 27 times per month so far in 2018, three times as often as in 2016.

What is it used for?

  90% of projects were created by staff and include learning and training resources.

 10% of projects were created by students, mostly as assessments.

What do students say?
Online quizzes with immediate feedback on where I went wrong are useful - Second-year in Science

While students didn’t mention Xerte specifically in the 2018 Student Digital Experience Tracker survey, they were positive about the types of features that it offers:

32 Durham students named online quizzes as useful course activities.

 94 Durham students said that online tools for learning were useful in their study.

 100 Durham students cited online video as useful for learning.

Have there been any issues?

Xerte has a few minor bugs that are flagged in the user guides.

In 2017-18, there was only one IT service desk incident involving Xerte.

Is using a laptop to take notes in a lecture a bad idea?

laptops vs notes

This week members of the LTT discussed a series of papers which compared students’ understanding of lectures (and in some case final grades) comparing those who took notes on paper against those who used laptops (interesting there was little reference to mobile devices in the papers). The study show that if the students using computers try and record the lectures verbatim, then their retention and comprehension is poorer than those who take abbreviated notes. This affect appears most marked in male students, particularly those struggling to master the concepts.  Interestingly in one study where tablets were used (Mueller & Oppenheimer, 2017) where students also used a stylus to write notes freehand, their results were found to be as good as those of students who took hand-written notes.

These papers raised a lot of questions : What about students whose note-taking doesn’t stop after the class – if they later summarise their electronic notes, or perhaps convert them into a mind-map – what affect does this have? What about classes where lecture capture is used, or when notes supplied in advance? Can the observed difference be reduced or even reversed, if students are taught different ways of taking notes electronically? Who should teach students this? Are there things that lecturers can do to help students understand what note-taking strategy might work in their classes?

Plenty to mull over!

We looked at:

May C (2014) “A learning secret: don’t take notes with a laptop” Scientific American, 3rd June 2014.
Available at  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-learning-secret-don-t-take-notes-with-a-laptop/

Mueller PA & Oppenheimer DM (2017) “Technology and note-taking in the classroom, boardroom, hospital room, and courtroom” Trends in Neuroscience and Education 5(3) pp 139-145
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tine.2016.06.002

Mueller PA & Oppenheimer DM (2015) “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking” Psychological Science 25(6) pp 1159-1168
Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797614524581

Patterson RW & Patterson RM (2017) “Computers and productivity: Evidence from laptop use in the college classroom” Economics of Education Review, 57 pp 66-79.
Available at  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2017.02.004

Background image credit: Galymzhan Abdulgalimov shared via unsplash https://unsplash.com/photos/ICW6QYOcdlg