Category Archives: Content

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.

Blackboard Baseline

 What is Blackboard Baseline?

The Blackboard baseline sets out the core minimum requirements expected on all modules within the centrally supported Virtual Learning Environment. This was previously known as the VLE threshold standard.

Why do we have the Blackboard Baseline?

It has been designed to:

  • Establish a degree of consistency across modules on the VLE
  • Provide clear guidance regarding the availability of information and teaching resources provided via the VLE
  • Establish a baseline on which modules can be developed and offer guidance on ways staff can move beyond the minimum expectations

What is in the Blackboard Baseline?

Some of the content covered by the Blackboard Baseline will be brought in automatically to your Blackboard module. The automated content includes:

  • Every module must have a VLE presence
  • Module information on courses that are not parent-child. (credit weighting, learning outcomes, summary outline of teaching activities)
  • Reading List where appropriate – If using the reading list online system – otherwise this will have to be entered manually.
  • Assessment information including details of the type and weighting of the assessment. This is brought in directly from MOFS.

Some of the content will need to be added by the instructors on the Blackboard module. The manually added content includes:

  • Contact details
  • Module handbook
  • Learning materials. These may include:
    • Lecture presentations
    • Lecture / seminar notes
    • Lecture/seminar handouts
    • ReCap recordings

    Learning materials should be named consistently with a clear filename. Any teaching material uploaded must conform to the University guidance on copyright and intellectual property.

  • Assessment and Feedback area

This should contain the key assessment information including weighting and schedule of assessment. Info on the form of assessment, the criteria, and schedule for feedback to be returned to students. It may also include guidance on the University policy for the return of feedback.

  • Student Voice – “You said we did”

In response to previous years module evaluations, the summary of the outcomes from the evaluations should be published as well as any actions resulting from them.

Consistently name content

Key module information and teaching materials should be presented in a consistently named content area across modules. These are determined by the school/subject. It is for academic units to decide whether the consistent layout should apply across a school or at subject level. This requirement could be met through the adoption of a module template.

Schools should start to consider the adoption of a module template. We can create the courses in Feb/March with the new template to give a lot of time to transfer content across. LTDS can facilitate School-based sessions in PC clusters to support academic staff with the moving of content.

Enhancement

Recommendations are provided to outline ways in which staff can go beyond the baseline and ensure effective practice. This could be through the use of:

  • Announcements –  use them to email students. If using an announcements page, make this the module landing page in Bb.
  • Online collaboration – consider providing students with the opportunity to collaborate online within the module/community.
  • Blackboard Tests – can be used for diagnostic assessment, a revision aid, and as a means for students to evaluate their own progress. Students can be provided with instant feedback.
  • Mobile Accessibility – Clear, descriptive naming of files and folders. Avoid “week 1”, “Lecture 1”, etc. Avoid using symbols. If using Blackboard tests for formative assessment, choose the option to build a “Mobile Compatible Test”

Implementation

The implementation of the Blackboard Baseline will be monitored through three main routes:

  • Feedback from students via SSC, stage evaluation and NSS/PTES
  • Learning and Teaching Reviews
  • Data gathered from reporting tools in VLE

Creating web links in Blackboard

Blackboard runs over a secure protocol to protect security (https) so it will  not allow the majority of websites to open within Blackboard itself.

When creating links to webpages, please choose ‘Open in New Window‘.  This is a setting when creating or editing your link  and is in the ‘Web Link Options‘ section.

It is advisable in the description box, to inform students that they will be taken to a new window. This is particularly beneficial to students who require a screen reader.

STAR CASE STUDY: Blackboard Module Design in Computing Science

Nick Cook and teaching staff in Computing Science use templates to help ensure that their Blackboard materials are easy to find and use.

csc2025
Module layout for one of the modules in Computing Science

Nick said: ‘Basically students had said that they often found it difficult to navigate Blackboard modules as each module was divided up totally differently in another, making it hard to work out where lecture notes or even assessment information might be.

‘We decided that what we needed was an agreed format , so that every module had the same folders, with the same names, for the same sorts of materials.

‘This makes it much easier for students to find things and even for staff to decide where to put them!’

The folders they selected were: Announcements, Teaching Materials, Assessments,  ReCap Recordings, Contacts and Overview.

They made sure that, at least for student’s viewing Blackboard, both menus matched up, so that they no longer had to click through so many folders to find key information.

Nick said: ‘LTDS provided us with basic templates but staff across the School just updated their own modules.

‘Although people were unsure at first, afterwards staff commented on how refreshing it was not to be faced with lots of muddled and overflowing folders.

‘Most remarked that the new streamlined version was easier to populate and made them feel much more organised.’

Students also found the system much easier to use and no further comments were received about confusing Blackboard modules or materials which were difficult to find.

Nick said: ‘We don’t enforce it in the School but most people seem to have more or less stuck to it because it’s so much easier to use.’

You can read the whole Case Study on our Case Studies Database.

Do you have a potential Case Study of Good Practice in learning and teaching? Submit it online or email katherine.cooper@ncl.ac.uk.

Netiquette

social media etiquette

We just had to re-post this excellent guide to Netiquette, online etiquette for students.

If your course contains online elements like a discussion board, blog or Twitter, this guide is a great way of talking with students about how to interact with each other in an academic setting.  Feel free to take it and adapt it in whatever way suits your course or students!

Thanks Melanie Barrand (Leed University) for putting this together and for letting us use it:

‘Netiqutte is a set of informal rules or conventions which can help ensure your online communication is clear, respectful and courteous. There are numerous versions of netiquette rules in existence however they all have the same central message: Be nice to each other, stay on topic and do the best you can.

Be nice to each other:
•Remember where you are and act accordingly. Robust discussion, or critique in a blog or discussion board does not require insults or slights.
•DON’T SHOUT: TYPING IN ALL CAPS IS PERCEIVED AS SHOUTING. Use your Shift key.
•Be careful with your language and remember your audience – some conversational language and common idioms may not mean the same things to other readers.

Be helpful:
•Spell well.
•Write sentences, consider using paragraphs, and use punctuation (it’s free!).
•Use plain english.
•Don’t uz txt spk.
•Construct informative subject headings: A thread or post titled ‘Some reasons for Henry’s military success’ will be much more informative in a discussion about Henry ll than one titled ‘Henry’.
•Use formatting, bullet points and headings where necessary to add clarity to your communication.

Stay on topic in discussions:
•If your question or post in a discussion board is off topic but still related to the discussion begin your subject title with OT: to mean off topic. If your post is significantly or perhaps completely off topic, post it in another discussion room, perhaps the one set up for general questions.
•If your tutor asks you to reply in a specific thread please do so, don’t start a new thread.
•Avoid repetition. If another student posts a message making a point with which you agree, resist the temptation to post lots more messages saying ‘Me too’ or ‘I agree’. You should always say more, perhaps explain why you agree, or bring more evidence to support your position. Equally, if you disagree, explain why.

Quote or cite where necessary:
•If you quote from other people’s messages in yours, be careful to ensure the meaning of their words remains intact. People may be offended if you misquote them.
•Quote only where necessary. In a threaded discussion you don’t need to quote all of the text that came before yours. In a blog comment, a small quote from the original post will help contextualise and anchor your reponse.
•Be aware of copyright. Ensure that any material you reuse in your online communication is free from copyright issues. If you did not create the content yourself, you will need to check copyright.
•If you use a source, cite it – other people in the discussion might want to use the material and your citation will help them find it. To learn more about referencing, try a referencing tutorial from Skills@Library.’

You can read the original piece here.

Personalise your module: Display student names and course titles

I discovered this blog posting by Eric Silva last week and thought I would post a brief message about it. Blackboard holds various pieces of information in its database about users, modules and Communities. These are held in variables and if you know what these are you can display them back to the person logged in.

For example:

Context Item Context Variable Example Output
Username @X@user.id@X@ hthomas
User Full Name @X@user.full_name@X@ Helen Thomas
Course ID @X@course.id@X@ LAW1234
Course Name @X@course.course_name@X@ LAW1234 Public Law
Course Membership Role @X@course.role@X@ student

Here is my creation in a staff workshop Community. Here is the text in the editor:

welcomemsgvars
Here is the display to the person logged in (me in this case).
welcomemsgdisplay

Possible uses……..

  • Announcement messages
  • Emails
  • Responding to posts/messages in Discussion Forums, Blogs, Wikis, Journals

NUVision and Blackboard

All staff at the University automatically have access to NUVision (our in house video hosting/streaming) service. NUVision holds videos in categories which we have associated with academic schools and institutes. We’ve upgraded the service over the summer and there are a few new features that you may like:

  • You now have a “Personal” file area on NUVision – Media held in this area won’t be searchable by colleagues in your school/institute”
  • There’s a new Mashup which allows you to upload videos on the fly. –
    There’s no longer a need to upload then to NUVision as one process, then add them to Blackboard as another.
  • Students can use this mashup too, so you can offer this as part of assessment tasks offered via Blackboard

The NUVision mashup is now in a sensible place on the rich text editor (next to existing options for  Flickr  and YouTube).  The screenshots and videos below give a run through of it in action:

Screenshots of the new mashup (pdf)

More:

Visit nuvision.ncl.ac.uk

 

 

 

 

Wiki

Creating and managing wikis

If you are not familiar with the term Wiki, have a look at this explanation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiki

The Wiki allows you to create a collaborative space for your students to use. They can add/edit existing pages or create new ones and link them together to create a series of web pages.

How to create and manage wikis

Blackboard Inc. have created a series of online resources explaining how to view, grade, edit and add content. These can all be accessed at this web address.

Blackboard Online Tutorials

Bb content imgBlackboard Inc have created a set of online resources comprising of online video clips and documents that can be openly accessed.
http://ondemand.blackboard.com/understand.htm

Our installation of Blackboard is version 9.1 SP13, so wherever you see this mentioned on that web page or any number lower than this, e.g. SP12, SP8 etc we will more than likely offer this feature.
The online clips can be viewed with the audio switched on or if you are in an environment where you are unable to play the audio select the CC icon to see textcc icon captions displaying the narrators commentary. Any aspect of viewing, adding or editing content will be covered on this page.

Using Module Template Structures

course_structureWithin any module in Blackboard you can use the course structure template, if you wish. Whether you are working on a new module or an existing one it is worth visiting this area to see what is available for you to use. The in depth article explaining how to use it can be viewed at this address below:

http://goo.gl/eSKssd

They can save you a great deal of time creating your own and can also give you some ideas on how you want to present your learning and teaching activities.