Category Archives: Blackboard

Transition to the Digital Exams Service: A Timeline

Following our October 2019 post introducing the digital exam service, we have a progress update and some news about what’s happening next.  Centrally supported digital exam provision (including the OLAF Service, and the Diversifying online exam provision project) is being combined into a single service, and we are reviewing our requirements ready to tender for a system that meets our needs. 

February 2020 

Requirement Mapping Workshops will be taking place. The outcomes of these sessions will help to inform the requirements that we will take to system providers.  All academic and professional services staff with an interest in digital exams are invited to contribute.  Please sign up via the link to have your say! 

March 2020 

Tender for digital exam system (30-35 days response time). A set of final requirements will be issued. 

April – May 2020 

Scoring of tender submissions against requirements will take place alongside user testing of software that meets our mandatory requirements.  Look out for updates about how to get involved. 

June  July 2020 

A provider will be awarded the contract to supply a digital exam system to the University.  

Following this, work will be undertaken to move as much of existing digital exam questions and content into the new system as is possible. 

August 2020 

The new system will be vigorously tested and integrated with University systems. User guidance and training for all stakeholder will be developed. 

August assessment period

Any exam deferrals and resits in the August assessment period will need to be completed/submitted in Canvas. The Blackboard license ends on July 31st and from that point no staff or students will be able to access that system.

Schools should adopt the same method of assessment that was used in Semester 2 for any resits/deferrals in the August assessment period. If a Blackboard test was used in the Semester 2 assessment period, then a Canvas quiz should be used in the August assessment period.

If you ran an OLAF exam in Semester 1 you can either deliver the resit using a Canvas quiz or a Turnitin submission.

Information and support is available via the Education Continuity webpages.

September 2020 

Digital Exam Service launches with new software – OLAF is no more. 

All digital exams previously taken in both Blackboard as part of the OLAF service and in WISEflow as part of the Diversifying Online Exam Provision project will be delivered using the chosen software. 

Training will be offered to all academic and professional services staff involved in delivering digital exams, and briefing information will be available for students. 

New Digital Learning Website

We are excited to announce the launch of a new Digital Learning website go.ncl.ac.uk/digitallearning

This new site brings together the digital learning activities taking place across the University, providing you with information, step by step guides and ideas to help you to get the most out of digital technologies for learning, teaching and assessment.  

Visit the site to find out about: 

Canvas– the University’s exciting new Virtual Learning Environment replacing Blackboard from 1st August 2020. Staff and students can find project updates, information about the support available, answers to FAQs and upcoming events. 

TEL Services, lots of information about our centrally supported technologies and systems, digital exams and access to TEL guides providing you with step by step instructions. 

Blended Learning, if you want to explore online educational materials and collaborative learning opportunities with traditional face-to-face delivery, visit these pages for inspiration and support. 

We will be continuing to update the site with resources so please let us know if there is anything else you would like to see that can support you in your role. Get in touch at LTDS@ncl.ac.uk

Introducing the digital exams service

Building on the solid foundations of OLAF provision, and the successful first 2 years of the Diversifying and Expanding Online Exam Provision project, the University’s Technology Enhanced Learning Sub-Committee have approved the launch of a new combined Digital Exams service.

The story so far …

Newcastle University’s Online Assessment and Feedback (OLAF) Service has been running high stakes secure online exams using Blackboard’s test tool since 2007/08. The 13 years since that first exam have seen OLAF come of age, supported by well-established institutional processes that ensured all 132 OLAF exams in 2018/19 went smoothly.

In 2017/18 the Diversifying and Expanding Online Exam Provision project was launched, and the first of some new types of digital exams were piloted using software called WISEflow. Bring Your Own Device was introduced, enabling students to use their own laptops to sit a secure digital exam. Alongside this, moving essay and long written answer exam questions from paper to online has also become possible for the first time.

Continue reading Introducing the digital exams service

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 K1920-ABC2000 Introduction to Newcastle and K1920-ABC2004 Introduction to Newcastle (Erasmus Study Abroad) to be combined as all Continue reading Parent-Child Modules

Blackboard Rollover 2019/20

It’s getting closer to  Blackboard module rollover which will be taking place week commencing the 22nd July 2019.  All 2019/20 modules will be available from Monday 29th July 2019.

We have a Blackboard rollover document that lets you know what happens with the different areas of Blackboard during rollover including; module content, ReCap recordings, Turnitin assignments and more. This hasn’t changed from previous years, unless you have adopted a new template,  but might be a useful reminder.

Finally to ensure you meet the Blackboard Baseline all schools or subject areas should have a consistent layout and easily navigable structure. Further information about how you can ensure you meet the baseline can be found in the Blackboard Baseline document. We have also produced a checklist that you can work through to check if your module meets recommendations.

Please get in touch with LTDS@ncl.ac.uk if you have any questions

NUTELA Small Grants Fund: Short videos as an additional learning resource

Whilst I’m normally on this blog talking about Numbas, this post is dedicated to something else that I take a keen interest in: lecture capture. It describes a pilot project that was funded by the NUTELA group to deploy short, re-purposed ReCap videos in a large engineering module. These were made available to students in addition to the full length ReCap lecture capture, and sat alongside formative tests associated with the content.An example video

A disclaimer, before I go any further… this is a dump of my current thoughts on the topic, and it will save the next person who asks me about ReCap/short videos from suffering me talking at them for an hour! As a result, it’s part project report, opinion piece and tutorial! Despite lacking any focus whatsoever, I hope that you find something interesting…

Motivation

I have been interested for some time in the use of lecture capture. I originally wasn’t a fan, mainly citing a hatred of hearing my own voice!  I have managed to get over that though, and spend a lot of time in computer clusters, where I see first-hand the benefits of ReCap for students. I am particularly fond of telling the story of asking a student which ‘psych-up’ music he was listening to on his headphones before a big class test… he was listening to me giving a lecture!

So I read with interest the results of the 2017 NUSU survey “How Students use ReCap”, and in particular these two results:

How Students use ReCap 2017 Report

Whilst the opportunity to catch up on lectures is clearly very beneficial – in particular, as the associated report mentions, for students with disabilities and those competing in elite sport (and I’ll also throw in those with families or caring responsibilities) – it does not appear to be the primary use of ReCap. This aligns completely with what I see in our computer clusters, which is predominantly students using the resource to prepare for class tests and exams.

Let me reiterate that I’m a big fan of the ReCap provision, before going on to make the following two observations:

1) Our current set up of teaching resources is often very siloed within the VLE. Typically a module might have a separate Blackboard folder for each of lecture notes, additional resources, formative assessments, whatever else… and certainly the default is a separate folder of ReCap videos. But if students are revising a topic for an exam, putting practicalities aside, it seems to make sense for the video content on a topic to sit side-by-side with the other course material.

This was just one of the motivations for our course material tool “Coursebuilder” (which will be the topic of my next blog post here as it happens), to have a stronger integration between different course resources. And it is surprisingly easy (after discovering the method as part of this project) to embed videos next to your lecture notes in Blackboard itself. See the Process for creating videos section below.

2) Slightly more pertinent to this post, our ReCap videos are presented to students as a separate video for each teaching session. Again from a practicality perspective, this seems like the only sensible thing to do, but from the student perspective, is this box-set of lectures the best way for the “series” to be divided, if it is being used for revision? Often topics are split over multiple lectures, or multiple topics are covered in one lecture. In maths, the subject of this project, lectures often contain distinct sections of theory and application/exercises. The student might only be interested in one of those when they come to revise.

A note on the indexing of ReCap videos for mathematics… You may have noticed that ReCap videos containing PowerPoint automatically generate a list of contents. Panopto basically identifies section headings in the presentation. In mathematics, it is rare to see a PowerPoint presentation, they are usually delivered using the visualiser or whiteboard, or as a LaTeX document. Content information  can be added, but only manually after the fact.

The Project

Last Spring, colleagues in engineering maths, David Swailes and John Appleby, approached me to discuss short videos in the ENG1001 Engineering Mathematics module. David had heard of the work of Professor Chris Howls at the University of Southampton, who had successfully used short personal capture videos to enhance a calculus course. We discussed several possible formats for short videos, including something on the lines of what Chris had done, but the nature of the ENG1001 module lent itself to a slightly different and straightforward approach: to re-use a previous year’s ReCap collection. This is because almost precisely the same module content has been delivered (very successfully) over a number of years; last year’s ReCap videos would be almost identical to this year’s.

Continue reading NUTELA Small Grants Fund: Short videos as an additional learning resource

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.

 

 

 

Technology Enhanced Learning Drop-in Semester 2

Academic and professional services colleagues: Have you got a question about a particular learning technology? Do you want to find out if technology can enhance an existing teaching and learning activity? Do you have a great idea and want to know if technology can help you deliver it?

There is no need to book, just turn up and our learning enhancement and technology advisers will be on hand to help you. No question is too small!

Come along on:
Tuesday 5 March
12:00-14:00
USB Atrium

If you can’t make this one, don’t worry,  there will be more over the next few months at locations across campus. Further details will be published here.

If your questions relates to School (or Faculty) specific software we may not be able to help, but we hope we can signpost you to the correct support.

Any questions? Get in touch ltds@ncl.ac.uk

Technology Enhanced Learning Drop-ins

Academic and professional services colleagues: Have you got a question about a particular learning technology? Do you want to find out if technology can enhance an existing teaching and learning activity? Do you have a great idea and want to know if technology can help you deliver it?

There is no need to book, just turn up and our learning enhancement and technology advisers will be on hand to help you. No question is too small!

Come along on:
Wednesday 5 December
12:00-14:00
Courtyard entrance, Old Library Building

No need to book, just turn up on the day.

If you can’t make this one, don’t worry,  there will be more over the next few months at locations across campus. Further details will be published here.

If your questions relates to School (or Faculty) specific software we may not be able to help, but we hope we can signpost you to the correct support.

Any questions? Get in touch ltds@ncl.ac.uk

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.