Blackboard Module Rollover and Upgrade 2017/18

Module Rollover

Once again it is time for Blackboard module rollover to take place. This will happen week commencing the 24th July and your 17/18 modules will all be available from Monday 31st July. You will not experience any downtime during this process. Any new modules for 17/18 will be created at the same time. Your new modules will proceed with an L, for example, L1718-DEN1102.

Please see the Module Rollover Guide which details the process and answers some of the questions we regularly get asked.

It is important to highlight that Blackboard tests are rolled over but are not deployed. This is no different to last year but we have had some queries about it over the course of 16/17. Manually deploying tests after rollover prevents them being leaked early and allows you to make any changes to the tests for the new cohort of students before they are released. It also prevents the creation of redundant columns in the Grade Centre for any tests no longer required.

Blackboard Upgrade

Blackboard will be unavailable on Saturday 5th August 2017 as we carry out a summer upgrade of the system. This update will introduce a number of significant changes and improved functionality:

  • Responsive design

Blackboard will rescale depending on the screen size used to access it which will improve the user experience on all devices.

  • New accessible theme

This provides a more consistent and standardised user experience across Blackboard Learn and the mobile applications and has been designed in line with WCAG 2.0 principles which ensures that it follows accessibility guidelines. If you previously used a customised colour scheme this will  switch to the new default theme and cannot be changed.

  • Updated Icon Set

A new icon set will be visible within your modules.

  • Drag and Drop

When creating content, users will have the option of dragging files into Blackboard, for example, when adding items, creating blog and journal entries and when submitting to a Blackboard assignment.

  •  Blackboard assignment submission receipts

Students who submit to a Blackboard assignment will now receive a notification email for each attempt with information about the submission. Instructors can access submission receipts by going to the Grade Centre > Reports > Submission Receipts > Type in Student’s Name.

Reminders can be sent to students who haven’t yet submitted via the Grade Centre Column menu . The automatically generated email contains the module name and ID, assignment title and due date.

  • Cancel/Submit Buttons

These are now anchored to the bottom of the page so there is no longer a need to scroll to the bottom of the page to find them.

We will be running a couple of webinars demonstrating the changes to Blackboard which are now available for you to book on to. If you have any concerns about rollover or upgrade, please contact LTDS.

Funding Opportunity: UKCISA Supporting International Students

UKCISA (The UK Council for International Student Affairs)  is offering small grants for projects (£2,000) and research (up to £5,000)  to support the international student experience.

The aims of this scheme are twofold:

  • Research. To enhance our understanding of the needs and/or experience of international students studying in the UK
  • Pilot Projects. To encourage innovation, and develop and disseminate examples of best practice in international student support

As grant awardees will be reporting in 2018, an additional focus this year is on the theme of 50 years of international students in the UK and 50 years of international student support in the UK.

UKCISA keen to see projects or research which demonstrate the ways in which you support international students and celebrate the contribution they make to UK institutions and local communities.

For full details on how to apply and an application form go the UKCISA 2017-18 grants scheme page.

Deadline for applications: 1 August 2017.

For details of previously funded grants please see the grants page.

Bootlegger, EventMovement and Open Lab

In our recent Pizza Pop and Practice event, Dr Ahmed Kharrufa and Dr Tom Bartindale from OpenLab let us loose on an app that Tom has been developing over the last few years called Bootlegger.

Bootlegger makes it easy to help people make videos together using mobile applications.  One person creates a “Shoot” and invites others “the crew” to contribute.  The Shoot contains a template with the set of shots required in the video.  The crew sign into Bootlegger, join the shoot and then choose the shot to take from the template.

We used a template that Ahmed had offered to his students –  one designed to help them capture feedback on Ahmed’s teaching.  (A uniquely student centred view!)

Our film crew of 21 experimented and happily collected over 47 clips. Each person could then view all the clips in the shoot and curate a video by adding clips to a timeline.

Bootlegger made the process really easy and engaging.

You can find out more information about Bootlegger here:

Ahmed also introduced us to how the Event Movement site site could be used to enable students to co-design teaching sessions.

Ideas in Event Movement move through stages Promote -> Get involved -> Plan it.  Students were invited to contribute ideas for a teaching session, they could vote on the proposed topics and once the topic of the event was selected could get involved in co-designing the session – proposing and voting on different ideas.  Ahmed’s slides from the session give further details.

To hear about future NUTELA events sign up to our mailing list.


PRES & PTES: Record Response Rates, High Satisfaction

Record Response Rates

Both the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey and the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey closed with the highest response rates that Newcastle University has ever achieved at 65% and 57% respectively.

This is a fantastic achievement which would not be possible without the continued support and promotion of the surveys from colleagues across the university, thank you!

High Satisfaction

In terms of Newcastle’s overall satisfaction rate for the PRES, 85% of students agreed with the statement ‘Overall, I am satisfied with the experience of my research degree programme’. This represents an increase of 2% on 2015, and is 3% higher than the Russell Group average.

Also in the PRES, over 90% of students agreed that their supervisor has the skills and subject knowledge to support their research and that they have regular contact with their supervisor that is appropriate to their needs. This represents an increase of 2% on 2016

In the PTES Early results show that satisfaction has remained high with over 90% of students agreeing that staff are good at explaining things and are enthusiastic about their teaching.


For further information regarding student surveys please visit our webpage.


Workshop: Exploring career development via teaching and learning

Workshop: Exploring career development via teaching and learning

3rd July 2017 – The Core

This one-day workshop is for all academic staff interested in developing their career on the basis of teaching.

This interactive day will involve: identifying activities that may lead to reward and recognition, reflections from successful colleagues both internally and externally, and developing action plans.

It will be a space to discuss approaches to building your career, gaining internal, or external, validation of excellence and to consider your individual development path.

See the programme of the day: programme_final

Places are limited. To attend please complete the booking form.

Next NUTELA event: Open Lab showcase

All are welcome to the final NUTELA 3Ps event (Pizza, Pop and Practice) of the academic year:

Show and TEL and Have a Go: Open Lab.

7th July 2017 Bamburgh Room – Kings Road Centre. 12:00- 14:00.

Open Lab is an interdisciplinary research group with expertise in developing digital technologies that respond to real-world problems.

Come along to find out about Open Lab’s tools for co-design and try your hand at a tool for developing dynamic learning resources.

As ever, pizza and pop will be provided. Please book to attend.

Come and see out the academic year, NUTELA-style!

Upcoming HEA Events

The Higher Education Academy have just released their list of upcoming events which can be found here

Please note the University is a Strategic Partner with the HEA and we are entitled to get the relevant rate for events. (You can check the rate by going to the information about the event and selecting Newcastle university in the Price details box.)

Note there is an early bird booking discount until the end of July.


Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey: Open Now

The Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) will remain open until Friday 16th June. hea_surveys_logos_ptes-colour

The PTES asks postgraduate taught students in universities across the United Kingdom about their course and their learning experiences.

What is it?

The survey asks eligible postgraduate taught students about the whole student learning experience including;

  • motivations for taking the programme
  • information they were given to help choose their programme
  • their experience of teaching and learning
  • the organisation of the programme
  • assessment and dissertation (or major project)
  • career development

Why is it important?

The survey presents an opportunity for students to shape the student experience: the feedback we receive is valuable in helping to enhance the postgraduate taught experience at Newcastle.


All the respondents are entered into a prize draw (see terms and conditions). In 2017, the prizes include:

  • 1st Place prize: 9.7-inch iPad Pro (one available to win)
  • 2nd Place prizes: iPad mini 4 (two available to win)
  • 3rd Place prizes: £20 Amazon gift card (20 available to win)

Further details and support can be found on the LTDS webages. If you have any specific questions please contact

Feeling Connected


LTDS hosted the first of our Feeling Connected events last week.  The series is all about how to help to engage large students cohorts in the classroom and beyond. In this initial session we considered how to engage students in the lecture.

Tony Chapman-Wilson brought an actors perspective on how to get the best out of, and look after our voices.  He had us humming, thinking about our diaphragms and tripping over tongue twisters.

Sue Gill spoke about Powerpoint as an aid; we presented feedback from the recent TEA awards from NUSU on what student appreciate; heard top tips from colleagues via podcasts and Dr Alison Graham rounded the session off with real examples and insights from her use of the OMBEA student response system.



We interviewed Dr Sylvia de-MarsDr Julian Knight and Dr Keith Brewster and shared their insights in the session.

The links below take you to the recordings on ReCap.

Thanks to all who attended and contributed to a lively session, and to and to colleagues who gave up their time to contribute before and after.

Insights from NUSU Teaching Excellence Awards (TEAs)

Rowan South and Dr Joe Barton from NUSU talk about what students value:

Next in the series…staying connected

Our next Feeling Connected event will focus on how to stay connected between lectures.  It will take place on Tuesday 19 September in the Herschel Learning Lab and have a hands-on feel.  You can book via our web-page: