All posts by Lisa

I am a Learning Enhancement and Technology Adviser in LTDS and have worked in e-Learning for the past 8 and a half years, both as a staff trainer and as a manager of online content and resource development. Prior to this I taught in both primary schools and in FE and always used technology where possible to enhance the learning experience.

Have your say on the University’s future VLE

Do you want to help inform the University’s decision on the future VLE?

The University is well underway with the review of its Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and following the in-depth consultation that has taken place with staff and students over the past 18 months, the project team have worked hard to ensure the University’s requirements have been captured in the official tender which will be published later in February.

Once we receive suppliers’ responses to our tender, members of the project team will analyse these and will initially determine which suppliers meet our mandatory (pass/fail) requirements.  The project team will then score suppliers based on their responses to our highly desirable/desirable requirements.

We need your input….

The quality of the user experience is a very important element to our tender and will have significant weighting in our scoring process. We would really like both staff and students to get involved with this. During April to June, we will have access to test accounts for the systems that have met our mandatory requirements and volunteers will be asked to undertake a series of tasks, assessing each for ease of use, anticipated support required and system confidence.

It is essential that colleagues involved in this process review all systems that meet our mandatory requirements but it is not anticipated that this will take more than half a day. You will have the option of an organised workshop or completing the tasks in your own time and further details will be provided in the coming weeks.

We need representation from both academic and professional service staff with varying degrees of VLE experience from absolute beginners to expert users.

If you are interested in being involved, please complete this expression of interest form. 

On behalf of the project team, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your engagement throughout the consultation period which has been crucial in getting us to the point of publishing our tender documentation. I look forward to working with you during the next exciting phase.

 

 

 

Parent-Child Modules

Many staff often request for modules to be joined together on Blackboard where the content delivered on those modules is the same. When this happens, we create what is called a parent-child module. The existing modules become child modules of a newly created parent module. Combining the modules in this way means that the content only has to be added to the parent, but students continue to see the content via the child module they are enrolled in.

For example, a lecturer requests modules K1819-ABC2000 Introduction to Newcastle and K1819-ABC2004 Introduction to Newcastle (Erasmus Study Abroad) to be combined as all Continue reading Parent-Child Modules

Blackboard summer upgrade 2018

This is a reminder that Blackboard will be unavailable tomorrow, Saturday 4th August 2018, between 7am and 5pm in order to upgrade the system from the 2017 Q2 release to the 2018 Q2 release.

The update will fix a number of bugs as well as introduce a small number of helpful features such as:

  • Full screen grade centre view
  • Ability to view full titles of Grade Center columns, making it easier to distinguish between similarly-titled items
  • Ability to make courses unavailable via one button
  • Ability for students to de-select multiple choice answers in tests
  • Additional question types for use on mobile compatible tests

We will update you once the upgrade has completed but if you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with LTDS@ncl.ac.uk.

Blackboard module rollover 2018-19 – Update

The annual rollover of Blackboard modules completed on Friday so you should now be able to see your 2018-19 modules in your course list.

If your school has chosen to adopt a new template for the 2018-19 academic year, then your modules will have been held back from the normal rollover process. You will need to copy content from your 2017-18 modules into the new empty 2018-19 modules that have already been created.

If your modules did rollover last week (week commencing 23rd July), you will no longer need to delete Turnitin assignment submission points from your new modules. This is something you will have had to do in previous years but colleagues in NUIT have successfully run a script which has stripped these out for you.

If you have any questions about rollover or using your new Blackboard template, then please contact LTDS@ncl.ac.uk.

VLE Review Course Build Focus Group Update

Another Course Build focus group took place on Thursday 2nd February at the Business School. This session was primarily attended by staff from the HaSS Faculty with representation from the Careers Service.

As with the other focus groups that have taken place over the past few weeks, many requirements were gathered and discussions covered topics such as version control, system navigation and ease of uploading content, setting up and managing groups and content availability (e.g adaptive release). Continue reading VLE Review Course Build Focus Group Update

VLE Review Focus Group Updates

Since my last post we have held three more focus groups to gather requirements for the University’s future VLE provision.

A group of Professional Service staff from across the University met on the 24th January and had a very productive discussion which resulted in a lot of requirement gathering. This was a more general focus group spanning all themes; course build, assessment and feedback and communication/collaboration. It was very important to hear about the features in our current provision that staff feel are essential. We need to ensure that these are not lost through the procurement process.

On the 25th January we ran the only communication and collaboration focus group as the first session was cancelled due to low numbers. Unfortunately, only half of the staff who had signed up were able to attend but we were still able to gather many requirements. A big focus of the session was on discussion boards which were seen as an essential tool within the VLE, particularly on modules that have online elements.  Improving the interface and user experience across many of the collaboration tools was a common feature of the discussions.

Yesterday, 29th January, the second of the assessment and feedback focus groups took place. This was a well attended focus group with very lively discussions. The session had representation from staff who use Blackboard and staff who use the LSE, the VLE used on the MBBS programme. It was interesting to hear about the functionality currently available on the LSE and how this would be useful on other courses outside of the MBBS programme.

We are running one more Course Build staff focus group on 1st February and then two student focus groups with a more general theme on the 15th February and the 21st February. Please encourage your students to sign up by sharing the links below:

 

There will be free pizza!!!

The next stage of the consultation phase will be to invite suppliers in (March-April) to present their product to us based on the outcomes of the survey and focus groups so look out for invites to these events soon.

VLE Review Assessment and Feedback Focus Group

The first of the Assessment and Feedback focus groups took place on the 19th January 2018. This was a very productive session and many requirements were gathered. Areas discussed included:

  • Tests and quizzes (functionality, usability, security, auto marking)
  • Assignments, including third party integration e.g. Turnitin, NESS
  • Grade Centre (management, prevention of leaked grades, general interface)
  • Student view
  • Reporting

The requirements gathered will be tidied up and sent to the members of the Task and Finish Group once all the focus groups have taken place.

A second Assessment and Feedback session will take place on the 29th January 2018 in which we hope to gather further requirements. There are no spaces left on this session but if you would like to share your thoughts, please send the project team an email and we will be in touch.

VLE Review – Course Build Focus Group

The first Course Build focus group took place on the 15th January 2018. This was a great session with a number of requirements resulting from the discussion. Topics covered included:

  • the availability of content (adaptive release),
  • the management of large files
  • layout and style of a module/course
  • the process of uploading/removing content
  • ability to share content with non-enrolled students/staff
  • integration with internal/external systems

The requirements gathered will be tidied up and sent to the members of the Task and Finish Group once all the focus groups have taken place.

There is an additional Course Build focus group taking place on the 1st February 2018 1.30pm-3.30pm and there are limited places still remaining if you would like to sign up and share your thoughts.

How To Organise Your Module List

It can be frustrating seeing your Blackboard  modules in one long,  unorganised list on the My Institution page, but did you know that you can group them by academic year?

To do this hover your cursor over the Course List menu and you will  see that an S symbol becomes visible in the top right hand corner.

ManageCourseList1

This will open up a Personalise: Course List menu. Select the option to Group By Term , choose the years you would like to view and then click Submit.

ManageCourseList2

You will now see that your modules are arranged by academic year with the most recent displaying first.

ManageCourseList3

This is a very useful tool tip if you are enrolled on a large number of modules.

Blackboard Essential Update – Saturday 16th December 2017

Blackboard Downtime

On Saturday 16th December Blackboard will be unavailable between 8am and 5pm in order to install a critical update.

Why is this necessary?

Bug Fixes

Firstly the update will fix many system bugs including notifications of discussion board posts and a Grade Centre scroll bar fix where the scroll bar obscures a Grade Centre column.

Change to Blackboard Assignment Feature

Blackboard has two assignment handling features: Turnitin and Blackboard assignments. The Blackboard assignment tool uses third party software licensed by Blackboard which enables assignments to be viewed and graded online and this will no longer be available from 15th January 2018. A replacement document viewer and online grading tool will be available following the Blackboard update.

Once the update is completed on the 16th December, you won’t notice any changes to the Blackboard assignment feature. We can make the decision when to change to the new tool up until the 15th January. We plan on moving to the new tool w/c 8th January and we will communicate an exact date prior to then.

Turnitin assignments remain unaffected so if you use Turnitin assignments rather than Blackboard Assignments then this change will not affect you.

What changes can I expect?

When we move to the new document viewer and online marking tool all assignments using Blackboard Assignments will switch over to the new interface. Any annotations carried out using the old grading tool will be burned in to the document and will no longer be editable. You can make additional annotations on the assignments if necessary. New assignments created will use the new viewer and marking interface.

There are some changes in functionality:

  • The new assignment feature will have much better support for file types and fonts
  • It includes the option to print the assignment
  • It no longer supports free hand drawing
  • Assignments can no longer be downloaded with annotations and comments displayed. Blackboard are reviewing this functionality.

We will keep you updated about this over the coming weeks but please note this DOES NOT affect Turnitin assignments.

Any questions about this please contact LTDS@ncl.ac.uk.