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3 September, 2020

Introducing Ouriginal: A New Voice in the Fight Against Plagiarism

The combined expertise, knowledge and innovation of these two Education Technology leaders promises to benefit educational institutions globally.

Ouriginal, the fusion of Europe’s leading text matching solutions is announcing its official launch today. The new EdTech company is formed from the synthesis of Urkund and PlagScan, two established and trusted names in plagiarism detection. Combining expertise spanning decades, the award-winning software solutions are designed to enable educators and other users to assess the authenticity and originality of any text. The new organization offers the scale and structure to better respond to the growing needs of education and research globally. With a proven culture of high performance and cutting-edge technology, Ouriginal promises to take academic integrity to new levels, encouraging and fostering everyone’s original voice.

Find out more about Ouriginal and sign-up for our newsletter on ouriginal.com.

Access the full press release here.

11 June, 2020

The wellbeing of teachers during remote learning and online classes

As we progress, remote working, learning and teaching have become the “new” normal for large parts of the world and our knowledge increases on what that entails.

We previously covered how to keep your students motivated in online classes, how we can stay focused when working from home and what we should consider before conducting online classes. Since this was an unprecedented situation for most of us, our experiences of working remotely for a long time were limited. The fact that it was impossible to estimate how long this new situation will last also made it hard to know how it will affect less tangible parts of a class: the wellbeing of students and teachers alike.

Based on rather subjective research of asking my teacher friends on how they survive their crazy schedules, the answer always was: “I love my job”. One friend added that “if you are not passionate about being a teacher, you should never be one”.

An article published on Edutopia, earlier in May confirms this. Pete Barnes, a fifth-grade science teacher in New Albany, Ohio, explains that he gets “to know kids in 100 little moments throughout each school day. These little moments are the ones we all are missing—they drive us at work every day through all the chaos.”

Now that these moments are missing from the teachers’ lives, it is incredibly important to be proactive to avoid burnouts in the teaching staff and to ensure the students’ wellbeing without the daily social interaction.

Reclaim your work schedule

As explained in the same article on Edutopia and in multiple of our blog posts, a functioning routine is ESSENTIAL. As a teacher, make sure to have “office hours” and not be available 24/7 for your students and parents alike.

Create a schedule with fixed hours for teaching and more flexible hours for grading, feedback, talks and make sure to keep them consistent. This is really important as it not only gives you a structure but everyone else too. Marissa King, a teacher and K-12 professional development consultant in Tulsa, Oklahoma advises to group “related tasks together: Instead of sending one email at a time, for example, block off a set time in your schedule to answer all new messages at once.” (Source: https://www.edutopia.org/article/curbing-teacher-burnout-during-pandemic)

As 2020 has been an intense year so far, physically and mentally, make sure to acknowledge that and give yourself some credit and time for breaks. There is this quote circulating on social media which says “you are not working from home: you are at home during a crisis trying to work” which is spot on. Remind yourself of that, whenever needed!

As we now have moved past the “working around the clock” – phase, taking care of yourself, your health and slowing down is so important.

Stay active

Another huge shift for many teachers and students (as well as any worker) is the lack of motion during the quarantine. I remember talking to a colleague, a former teacher, who said he moved around 10k to 15 k steps per day as a teacher as opposed to some hundred steps per day in an office. This experience is shared by many teachers working from home now. So make sure to incorporate movement into your day, take a walk before and/or after work, to physically wrap up the day and avoid sitting in the kitchen or have loads of snacks lying around. (Source: https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/how-to-work-from-home-without-gaining-weight)

Doctors advise to get up and move for 15 minutes every two hours, and many gyms are currently offering free training, plus YouTube has a ton of great workout videos for free. Training is scientifically proven to be beneficial for your mental health, is great for your sleep and overall well-being so make sure it is part of your so-called new routine.

Foster parent-relationships

Another big part of your well-being as a teacher is good communication with the parents of your students. We conducted an interview earlier this month (which will be released soon) with Ingela Netz, the principal at Parkskolan, a Swedish elementary school. She said that she started to release videos about the upcoming week on Sunday evenings, aimed at the parents of her students explaining what they should prepare for /think of and how the week will look like. Since the release of the videos, emails from parents who missed the information were basically non-existent. This is especially great as according to Netz, there were many emails from parents when the information was sent out solemnly via email. They also created a simple Google Site for students, teachers and parents as they had to get information out to everyone quickly. 

Having parents on board with your schedules and plans will lift a huge weight from your shoulders, so make sure to involve them in your routines.

All in all, this is an extremely testing time for everyone with a particular hardship on teachers that despite everything keep going and educate the future generations. We hope this helps you structure your routine and, more importantly, feel you are not alone when you are stressed, tired and overwhelmed. You are doing a tremendous job and need to keep in mind that balance is the only way that will help you in the long run. We’d love to hear your experiences, thoughts and ideas so send us an email if you have any thoughts, ideas or whatsoever to marketing@urkund.com.

Take care, //The Urkund Team

 

20 May, 2020

More than a pretty page – Accessibility online

According to GLAAD, the organisation behind the yearly Global Accessibility Awareness Day, approximately 98% of all webpages report a WCAG 2.0 error.

WCAG stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and is based on four main principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. (https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/) And with a billion people worldwide that have disabilities, these statistics are alarming. (https://globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org/)

Our Analysis Report – WCAG 2.1 AA compliant  

(While we are not perfect), we at Urkund have made sure that our analysis report fulfils high accessibility standards, and is readable and understandable for all. The parameters that need to be met for us to be WCAG 2.1 AA compliant range from using high contrast text and colour over to the fact that “Color is not used as the sole method of conveying content or distinguishing visual elements”. It includes everything from having alternative text for pictures, the prevention of using images when text is sufficient as well as appropriate spacing for text. Text can be zoomed in (and stays sharp), every part of our analysis is accessible through the use of your keyboard and there are no time limits or constraints anywhere. 

Fig. 1: Our analysis report

Fig. 2: Our analysis report

Section 508

 Although WCAG and Section 508 are not the same, they share some of the same principles and ultimately, goals. Namely, making websites accessible to everyone. Urkund follows Section 508 guidelines thoroughly throughout our analysis report and training material. 

Being part of the change

We at Urkund always strive to be better and we have made it an active goal when developing our new interface to be WCAG 2.1 AA and Section 508 compliant. We have conducted VPATⓇ (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) audits to test, assess and improve our WCAG 2.1 AA compliance during the development process, right up until it was ready to be released. We also continuously improve our material and training packs, we enable subtitles for our videos and much more.

 Fig. 3:  An insight into our VPAT Audits

At Urkund, our goal is to make education fair and efficient through our plagiarism checker. We support safeguarding an educational structure that is based on merits and your own ideas instead of someone else’s. This also means providing software that is accessible for all. So we want to use this Global Accessibility Awareness Day to remind ourselves of these things and keep pushing for an inclusive learning environment, within which we lead by example. 

Join us on this day through various events which you can find here: https://globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org/events – or why not test how your website is performing through this free checker: https://wave.webaim.org/.

Together, we can support, help, inspire and push each other for a more inclusive world.

28 April, 2020

Tips for conducting an online class for the first time

What to think of and how it works

As many educational institutions move to a remote learning environment, a lot of educators around the world are about to experience online teaching for the first time, and with very little notice. Setting up a virtual class usually takes some time, you need to think of the resources you may need, and ways to have your students engage in this new learning environment. We know that this concept comes with a lot of challenges, which is why we have gathered a few tips that you can follow to effectively prepare for a remote classroom environment. Planning ahead and organising the course in a step by step manner is a good way to start preparing your online classroom. 

Prepare a suitable technology 

The first thing you need to consider when moving to a virtual classroom is the correct hardware and most suitable software to use. A good computer with a reliable internet connection is one of the more basic things to ensure is set-up, as you want to minimise the possibility of interruptions while you are teaching online. Also, be prepared to have a backup internet solution in case of an unexpected issue from your internet provider. 

Another key thing to consider is the Learning Management System (LMS) that you are going to use. It is important to get to know your LMS prior to the course, so you can become comfortable with navigating the interface and general features. 

Plan your online classes

Online classes are very different from traditional classrooms, so they need a very different approach. Since your students are not physically present, their needs are different and you need to support them by putting yourself in their shoes. Giving clear instructions, guidelines and boundaries, alongside clarifying how the course will be structured will help you create and maintain a good teaching environment. So, make sure you share your Syllabus and course material with your students prior to your course. The Chronicle of Higher Education provides a detailed guide on how to create a syllabus. 

Engage the passive students

As mentioned previously, planning your classes ahead of time helps you create structured ways of teaching. However, planning for the different ways that students can interact and engage in a virtual classroom, can also be very useful too. There are a few strategies to follow for engaging all students

Bear in mind that not all students are self-motivated, so engaging a range of students and ensuring that it’s not just the same voices that dominate the class is essential. This will enable students to understand that engagement is important and required. 

Polls and quizzes can be an effective tool to start a discussion and gather students’ ideas too. This way you involve students with the study material and make the class more interactive. You can find some examples of quiz templates here: https://elearningindustry.com/elearning-quiz-templates-usage

Keep your students active. A common challenge in online learning environments is that students can be distracted more easily. So, try to interact with them individually at least every fifteen minutes. 

You can find more about how to engage your students here.

Keep a consistent line of communication with your students

Try to communicate with individual students regularly, as a common challenge in online learning environments is that students can be distracted much more easily. So, try to interact with them at least every fifteen minutes and be active in keeping them engaged. Additionally, make sure to have a specific amount of time every week that you will be available and let your students know the times that they can contact you outside of the virtual classroom. 

Feedback from students 

Student feedback may turn out to be a valuable means of designing a course that will benefit students and deliver an effective online learning experience. Therefore, ask your students for feedback on how satisfied they are with the course design. Do they feel supported during the courses? Another topic to talk about is the course content. Do your students have clear expectations from you? Do they have all the information they need? Do they know where to look for help, in case they face technical difficulties when uploading assignments? Remember that student course evaluation can give you constructive feedback on what to improve or alter in your course. 

Online teaching definitely offers opportunities for student engagement and participation. Once you start setting up your online class, you will be laying the groundwork for effective online teaching and solid communication with your students.

21 April, 2020

Digital Media Competency in Reality

How implementing a text-matching software to detect plagiarism prepares pupils for their upcoming way of life.

Urkund, a text-matching software used to safeguard academic integrity, welcomes recent developments. The use of online platforms and technology in K12 education keeps growing continuously. Countries such as Australia, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom, amongst others, are seeing the benefits of using software solutions that ensure the quality of education in remote and online learning situations. Using a plagiarism detection software such as Urkund as early as middle or high school sets a crucial moral standard. It lays the groundwork for a successful academic career. 

Urkund also helps to prevent the “copy-paste” culture that often occurs in homework, presentations and exams. The Digitisation of education and the usage of the Internet are deeply ingrained in the curriculum, and the life of students, and have been for a while. That is why Australia, for example, has been adopting online learning methods through platforms such as https://www.scootle.edu.au/ec/p/home or https://education.abc.net.au/home#!/home, which offer thousands of free resources in line with the Australian curriculum. 

Today’s pupils and students are digital natives and well acquainted with the usage of “smart” hardware and “intelligent” software. But what happens to their moral compass and feeling of fairness when billions of resources are available for free and with minimal effort? Studies suggest that students are more prone to take shortcuts and cheat during online classes compared with physical classes, a fact that becomes more relevant in current events. All the while, it gets harder for teachers to detect these shortcuts manually. 

At Urkund, we have understood the need for a solution to this problem, and for 20 years we have been safeguarding academic integrity and correct practice in schools and universities worldwide. Our plagiarism detection software is constantly evolving to match technologies’ newest developments and to fit seamlessly into the learning environments of schools and universities. 

Why start early?

One of the buzz phrases of the Edtech community is “digital media competency”. While most conversations around this topic focus on the ‘if’s’, ‘what’s’ and ‘why’s’ of specific hardware – few mention the ‘how’s’. For us here at Urkund it is equally important to teach students to use technology responsibly and in an academically correct way, as well as advising which technology should be used in the first place. Our advice is to start as early as possible. The longer we wait with teaching correct methods, the harder it will become to have them imprinted in students’ minds. Only when we are sure that technology is used not only in a smart but also in an ethically correct way, can we say we have succeeded with digitisation in schools.  

Schools are responsible for the future of their students

It’s a complex problem that today’s schools need to face: On one hand, copying a text from the Internet without its source might be a simple mistake. On the other hand, it can hint at deeper moral struggles of the student. That can cause severe damage to their future academic career. If overlooked, it can undermine the entire quality of education and foster an environment in which it is acceptable to cheat and take shortcuts, according to McCabe and Trevino. In the end, this penalises everyone. The honest student is treated unfairly and students who plagiarise will not get the chance to develop innovative, critical and original thinking. And it’s the latter of these skills that enables students to pursue their dreams and choose their preferred career. It’s the innovative and original thinkers, engineers, scientists, artists that are the most wanted on the job market.

Of course, it is a bit of a stretch to equalise digital media competency with a plagiarism detection software. But many schools worldwide have recognised that we are an important part of the bigger picture. Only if students realise sooner rather than later that moral integrity is the foundation of their daily work and life, can they use and fulfil their potential later on. 

We at Urkund are happy to be a part of that process. 

21 April, 2020

How to keep students engaged in online classes

Making sure students are tuned in for remote learning comes with a different set of challenges than when you are in the classroom, here are some tips we gathered to help you rock the Interweb:

All of a sudden, an unprecedented amount of instructors are faced with teaching their classes online. In our previous post, we listed tips for working from home. By now, maybe (hopefully) you are getting the hang of it. The infrastructure is in place and your students have access to your – nowadays online – class.

But how do you foster their engagement when building rapport is not as easy as it is when you are in the classroom? To validate this concern, research suggests that online courses have a 10% to 20% higher failed retention rate compared to traditional classroom environments. Also, the human brain does seem to be bad at focusing, by design!

To help you address student engagement while everything is moving online, we have compiled some tips to help you through. A good way to compartmentalise the different challenges is by breaking them down into social, administrative, and motivational.

Tackling social challenges

This might be the most difficult task as the new distance learning environment cannot be switched up with outdoors or social activities when you are stuck at home in isolation. Hopefully, your class has already acquainted themselves with both you as an instructor and their peers. The ice is already broken as opposed to when you’re starting up a new distance course with students logging on from around the world. If not, setting the stage and letting everyone get to know each other is important. Knowing your students will be a keystone in building the trust that will enable their engagement.

With us all distanced by a screen it is important to humanise the experience. Keep in mind that school is about far more than just knowledge acquisition, it provides basic human needs. While safety and food are difficult to migrate online, you can acknowledge this and be present for your students.

Tackling administrative challenges

This new way of learning is a break from everyone’s routines and you need to establish clarity about new ones. Giving your students a sense of structure or school rhythm in a situation where the boundaries between work, studies, and free-time becomes blurred will help them to not only stay productive but also to keep motivated and engaged. The younger your students are, the stronger their need for routines is.

Interacting with your students will play an important part in keeping them engaged. Agree upon when the best times are for contacting you and using what channels. Make sure questions are not left hanging and feedback is timely. Delays will see engagement plummet. Be available – engagement spurs engagement!

Assignments should be clear, concise and easy to grasp. Miscommunication will lead to disengagement if not resolved quickly. In a classroom you can spot when students struggle with a task, now the added time it takes for you to notice this will kill their momentum.

Tackling motivational challenges

Damned be the curse of procrastination. The good thing is, we know this irrational behaviour is basically down to managing the bad emotions connected to the task at hand. This is why we need to keep our students motivated, to keep them aimed at overcoming obstacles they see in their assignments. An easy start is to break your material down in smaller bits. Whether it’s assignments or lectures. Staying focused in front of a screen is even more challenging than in a classroom. Our brain will seize any opportunity to wander off. With breaking your content down, also keep it organised and easy-to-follow.

On the topic of content, we also should mention the endless possibilities you have to mix it up. You can use video conferencing, group chats, discussion forums, quizzes, polls, games, videos, audio, images. A fun example that has gotten a lot of attention recently was a video for a class recorded in the virtual reality game Half-Life: Alyx. While adding interactivity and multimedia alternatives to the course material for IB, IGCSE and GCSE, Kognity does an amazing job and even lets instructors follow their students’ engagement and progress.

Monitoring individual progression will be important especially for your students to get a sense of accomplishment and affirmation. A lot of LMSs and VLEs have features supporting this. Gamification can be used to track progress and also for self-assessment. You can use games, quizzes and badges (D2L Brightspace has a feature that lets your students earn badges). Another fun and engaging way to set up quizzes is with Kahoot, and Mentimeter is a great app for interacting with your students. Do keep in mind that when assignments move online, cheating won’t disappear but rather it will increase. To uphold the moral standards of the group, use a text-matching software like Urkund to make them actively aware of academic impropriety and its consequences.

There are as many different ways to keep your students engaged as there are students in the world. Don’t hesitate to share your success stories, one place to do so could be in our Facebook group Stories of Success. And remember: be positive, it is just as infectious.

***

17 April, 2020

Our New PDF Export

We have updated the look and functionality of our downloadable PDF-version of the analysis report to match our interface design.

The new PDF design is finally here and we ave listed below everything you need to know about it. 

What’s new: 

  • You see the same icons as you see in the online version (W, SA, J)
  • The side-by-side view is now in the same format as the other pages (a change from the previous landscape format to now the portrait format)
  • Future improvements are easier to implement, so that you can see more detailed comparisons in the PDF version

The reason why we have been working on this feature is to streamline your online and offline workflow within our Urkund analysis report as much as possible. This also makes sharing the report much easier as the same icons and symbols are used throughout.

How it looks:

You can find it in your report analysis under your profile and reach it by clicking “PDF Export”or simply click the arrow.  We hope you like it as much as we do!

9 April, 2020

Keeping motivation and structure: A guide for students in remote class

Stay motivated, happy, and study smarter with these tips on remote learning for students stuck at home

Sure, it can be nice to study from home. It can be less stressful and more comfortable, but also, more distracting. You are close to the three biggest distractions for anyone doing work or studying from home: the bed (oh so comfy, maybe just one more quick nap), the TV (with Community is available on Netflix, maybe just one episode… or season), and the fridge (eating like a hobbit is brilliant, who doesn’t love second breakfast and elevenses). Also, you don’t want to get cabin fever. So how do you stay motivated, engaged and sane? We gathered a couple of tips that we hope you’ll find useful.

Get into routine

Every article, blog post and cheat sheet on the subject of home-based studying, or working for that matter, lists one important rule: routines. They will keep you productive, motivated and sane. Set time frames for when you have classes, when to do assignments, and when to rest your brain. Plan your time according to how a day, week or course might look. Keep in mind that we’re all different, some get their best work done early in the morning while others late in the evening. Find your rhythm and stick to it.

Prepare your battle stations

Make sure you try and set up a space for where you go to school at home. Get your digital classroom ready and have any material you need available. This will also help you stay organised and to keep your oh-so-important routine. Try to find a seat that won’t leave you aching after a couple of hours – but don’t forget to take a break and stretch your legs. Also, make sure to get rid of distractions, turn off notifications and make sure chores and fun stuff all have their allotted time in your routine. This way, when you study you can focus on just that.

Be smart

There’s this thing called ‘Active Studying’ and it can help you study smarter not harder as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill puts it in one of their study guides. Try and become the teacher. Before getting into a subject, start by asking what you’re about to learn. When studying, see how concepts can be symbolised and fit into a bigger picture, and figure out how you can find examples of what you’re learning about. And at the end, ask yourself if you understand what you just went through, if you can paraphrase it, what the big takeaways were, and what you need to learn to take the next steps. A good tip on getting started with a list of tasks is to get the biggest, most important or hairy one done first, the one that most likely will have you procrastinating. As Brian Tracy and Mark Twain put it: Eat the Frog.

Take care of yourself

To give yourself the best chance of success you also need to take care of yourself. Make sure you get good quality sleep at night. Try avoiding the screen close to bedtime keeping the same bedtime as consistently as possible so you can get at least 8 hours before the stay-at-home-school-day begins. Also, while you don’t want to keep going to the fridge every five minutes instead of studying, have some healthy snacks prepared to keep your stomach from growling and your brain from wandering. To let your brain rest and recharge, find some form of physical activity. Make sure you don’t violate any quarantine or disturb your neighbours with indoor crossfit sets There are literally a ton of videos for tips on great ways to workout at home.

With these tips we hope you get the most out of your online classes. Remember, these hold true even for when you’re back on campus or in your dorm. 

For tips on how others tackle working and studying from home, check out https://outwittrade.com/study-tips-techniques/.

26 March, 2020

Working remotely – Keep in mind these 6 points and you’ll nail working from home

When life moves online, the least you need is getting stuck in administrative tasks. Here is what you can do to get them out of the way and be productive in an unfamiliar environment.

What digital tools do I need to keep work and classes running during limitations and lockdowns due to COVID-19? Where do I get them and how do I set them up?

Two points are crucial in this situation: Ensuring communication can happen during this time in the most fluent way possible, and having a space to exchange work results and materials. 

For that, a variety of tools are available on the market, and right now many providers are offering free access to their products. 

For communication it is important to keep in mind it’s best to divide it into two categories: Constantly available channels and punctual, scheduled meetings or classes. While standby availability can be ensured via messengers even, for scheduled catch-ups video-conferencing or at least phone conferences are the better option. Another point to consider is you want to keep information in the same place, as it avoids creating a chaos of different pools where important information might get lost in between and be hard to find. As an example Zoom, Skype or Hangouts are convenient options to use. 

For exchange, it is worth considering using an LMS like Moodle, Blackboard or D2L/Brightspace, Canvas, MS Teams or Google Classroom if you are an educational institution. Urkund has integrations to all these LMS  and our text-matching software helps you in supporting the evaluation process of your students’ work.

As a company, bear in mind you want to create a file system that stays organised during the remote working time – for all team members. One of the most popular options is Google Drive, which gives you as well the opportunity to keep all your schedules and files in place and share them with colleagues and other departments. For huge file transfers, wetransfer.com is offering a free service. 

UNESCO has created an extensive collection of different resources for learning and working remotely: http://bit.ly/2vt0xnT

As well, The National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) has published recommendations and resources for teachers and students: http://bit.ly/2QppRTb

How do I organise teamwork off the grid? How often should I organise what type of meetings?

Once you have made sure the infrastructure is set, you still need to get your work scheduled and get everyone on the same page. 

Regardless if in a company, university or school, start the remote working and studying phase with a first meeting where everyone is present. Video-conferencing is recommended, as it makes a difference if people see each other and you as well can use visual elements. A shared screen can come in very handy when explaining to co-workers or students a new tool you will use from now on or a new set structure. As well, it adds at least partial visual expression and does not feel as distant and anonymous as a phone conference. 

Agree on a weekly meeting that every team member should attend. Consider a daily catch-up within departments or smaller teams additionally, maybe with a time limit of 15 or 30 minutes. This helps to keep a notion of connection and prevents isolation, in which people sometimes might fall otherwise while working from home. As well, it might ease up some bottlenecks or delays which the lack of direct communication might cause.

Using a joined calendar can help to keep track of all members‘ resources. As well, consider encouraging a habit of personal work documentation, as that can help to keep track of project work. If you already are using tools like Jira or Asana, that might already be something you do – otherwise, a joined spreadsheet with key tasks accomplished is a good start to keep track! Direct communication during lunch breaks or just by sharing the office space is not existent. Therefore, every shared platform on your team‘s work is helpful in keeping a notion of connection and informing each other.

Keeping rituals as under regular work circumstances has often proven to be helpful. Having a set time for beginning work, splitting private and work tasks and avoiding privately browsing the web during working hours can help to establish a healthy and productive routine. Also, a Social Media blocker can come in handy for keeping yourself away from your social timelines. Find a collection of different options here: http://bit.ly/2Wp1IQj

How do I keep people connected and the team spirit alive while working remotely?

As a team leader or manager, make sure you check in on your teams as usual. Be present, be available, and if possible, also try to once a day also enable conversations not related to work. 

You can also establish remote co-working in a joined space. As an example, you can set up a Slack channel named #coworking with a call set up to join. This way you can digitally provide a collective space for people to get together to get work done and be productive – on the other hand not feeling isolated and detached from the team.

Camera on – or not? How to overcome virtual boundaries

Online meetings come with a variety of different challenges, including the question if cameras should be turned on or not. We all know the dreaded front camera face and how distracting it can be to look at your own face during a virtual meeting. However, online meetings or classes should essentially mimic real-life interaction, and cameras are an essential part of that. So try to have cameras always on. When addressing your class or peers, make sure to say your name and look directly into the camera instead of at your screen. To overcome potential awkwardness, start with an ice-breaker or any introductory activity you find fitting to your class. (Find more tips on how to overcome barriers here: https://bit.ly/3dxjMht

If you want to create classes that require a slightly more advanced camera then the one on your laptop, find some great tips here: https://bit.ly/2QJfiu3

They don’t need to be expensive nor advanced and are easy to set up and are perfect when filming a class. However, for simple check-ins with your class, your built-in laptop camera should be enough. Pro Tip: There are ways to hide your background when using Zoom, for example, check it out here: https://bit.ly/3ag7gAN

How Urkund can help – Assuring quality of education and original thinking

With classes moving online, we need to make sure to move all aspects of a physical class online, including the guidelines and regulations for assignments and tests. This is a great opportunity for all teachers to finally test the online learning tools and apply them accordingly. But we also know it can be, at first, an overwhelming experience where everything is new, all at once. To safeguard your quality of education, and the legitimacy of your assignments and tests, make sure to have Urkund installed. Our text-matching tools are effective, easy to set up and a very cost-efficient way to install quality assurance into your online classes. You can use Urkund in three different ways: 

  1. Through your current LMS (we integrate into all commonly used LMS)
  2. Via email (No LMS needed)
  3. Through our web inbox (no LMS needed) 

If you need any help with setting it up, reach out to us at support@urkund.com or check out our webinars and guides coming up. You will find all the knowledge on our website under www.urkund.com/support

How To Involve The Whole Class: Tips On Getting Everyone In The Classroom To Talk

Setting up a virtual class usually takes time as you need to think of the resources and ways to have your students engage in this new learning environment. However, there are a few techniques that you can follow to engage everyone, even the shyest ones. 

Plan ahead the different ways that students can interact. Polls and quizzes can be an effective tool to start a discussion and gather students’ ideas. This way you involve students with the study material and make the class more interactive. You can find some examples of quiz templates here: https://bit.ly/2WJPeCV

Engaging a range of students and not letting the same voices dominate the class is essential for making students understand that engagement is important and required. 

Warm calls can be very helpful for passive students, so call them and let them know in advance the questions you will ask them. 

The chat box function is another useful way to motivate the entire class. The chat window can be used to either share ideas and answers from students or to support a student with further instructions. 

Keep your students active. A common challenge in online learning environments is that students can be distracted more easily. So, try to interact with them at least every fifteen minutes. 

Assign students to groups. Group work can be a smart tool to actively engage students. You can provide them with a topic to work with and the means to communicate, like messaging platforms, video conferences, or any other tool that will help them stay connected. This also ensures that students will be prepared. 

Last but not least, have in mind that internet connections may be slow sometimes, so pay attention to your speaking pace and try not to speed up your talking.  

19 March, 2020

Covid-19: Info for all Urkund users

*Updated* How Urkund is working towards users and customers in these turbulent times.

Dear Urkund user,

We hope you are well and safe in these turbulent times. 

The current spread of Covid-19 and the precautions taken to decrease its expansion have put many institutions into challenging situations. Many of you are looking into digital solutions and we want to assure you that our software runs smoothly during the higher demands of a more digitized and remote education environment worldwide. 

The current situation is forcing teachers, professors and students to embrace digital learning and new ways of working, learning and interacting. This is truly an opportunity for growth and finding a solution that works best. Now is perhaps the best time to improve your digital tools. 

The same applies if you are a company and need to keep your business running without being able to meet in the same location. Communication with customers across different industries has changed due to travel bans, quarantines and cancelled events. This often requires alternative solutions in digital formats.

Here’s how we are tackling these uncertain times: 

Staff:

  • Our staff has been working from home since last week in order to minimise the risk of several employees being sick at the same time and to minimise the overall spread of the disease. We currently have not seen an increased amount of employees on sick leave, rather on the contrary when compared to the same period last year. 
  • We have established a plan for daily activities to be always covered even in the case of an increased absence of staff
  • We have implemented an emergency coverage plan for instances of sick staff.

System:

  • Since more students will study from home, the number of assignments and therefore of uploaded documents to Urkund, will increase. We already noticed an increased amount of uploads and expect this to continue for the next couple of weeks before stabilising later on.
  • To ensure that we can process the increasing volumes of documents, we have already established capacity increasing measurements last week. We will work closely together with our data centre to implement them as soon as possible. Several new servers are up and running during the day with more coming in the next couple of days. We are ready to increase our capacities even further if necessary.
  • As customers, you can help us make it a smooth operation by: spreading out your assignment deadlines/due dates; and setting deadlines/due dates at odd times that are not exactly on the hour. All of this will help us to avoid significant peak times and operate more smoothly and with fewer delays for you.

Education

We have received a lot of questions and requests from instructors who haven’t previously used Urkund. In response, we have conducted and recorded online tutorials.  These tutorials cover how Urkund works and particularly focus on our report analysis tool. We started with these sessions in Swedish, English and Spanish. Watch the webinars below:

Spanish Webinar: Urkund in Spanish – Recorded Video

Watch here:

Swedish Webinar: Urkund in Swedish: – Recorded Video

Watch here: 

English Webinar: Urkund in English – Recorded Video

Watch here:

We understand that education and business are facing tough times, but together we can keep things going. If you need a partner to help in adopting a remote education or work environment, we have the experience to support you. Let us know at support@urkund.com!

We at Urkund are here to help and support you in making things run smoothly during times of distance learning and remote teamwork. 

We want to share with you our combined knowledge and the experience learned from decades of work in education technology as well as the feedback and responses from our users all over the world.

Take care and stay safe!

 

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