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Guest Blog: School of Dental Sciences Blackboard update

by Christopher O’Connor, School of Dental Sciences

Last year we decided to open the great big can of worms that was our School’s Undergraduate Blackboard site.

Dental Sciences was one of the first schools to adopt Blackboard some 15 years ago and was perhaps a lesson in how not to structure it. We just had one very large community with all the learning material from our 5-year non-modular course crammed inside. Continue reading Guest Blog: School of Dental Sciences Blackboard update

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