Tag Archives: blackboard

Blended Learning 101

By Nuala Davis, LTDS

Here are a few practical tips on getting started.

Bling it up

Our institutional VLE Blackboard can be made to look more interesting.  It’s down to you…

  • add images to items
  • think about what you can embed – Video, Slideshare, Polls and quizzes
  • Add links to discussion boards – and if you use these make sure you have time to contribute and set the tone (be a good cocktail party host at the start).  Create an introductory post on each discussion board – it’s far too scary to be the first one who posts.

Signpost

Make the journey really clear on your course and use weekly emails/announcements to reinforce what’s to be done and reflect on what’s been good.

Continue reading Blended Learning 101

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 Rollover 2018/19

It’s getting closer to  Blackboard module rollover which will be taking place week commencing the 23rd July 2018.  All 2018/19 modules will be available from Monday 30th July 2018.

Schools who are adopting a new template for 2018/19 may already have had their 2018/19 modules created. Finalised templates should have been confirmed to LTDS by Friday 6th July 2018. If your school wants to move to a template but did not have it finalised by the 6th July, then please contact LTDS@ncl.ac.uk as this is still possible.

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

Celebrating even more success

Lisa Fishburn, Learning Enhancement and Technology Adviser, was also invited to the  Celebrating Success event as a result of her fantastic work with the School of Dental Sciences transforming 15 years of unmanageable Blackboard content into the accessible, consistent structure that is in place today.

The self named ‘crack task force’ of both dental academics, Lisa and colleagues in LTDS worked together to ensure that the changes had a hugely positive impact on both the student and staff experience.

Christopher O’Connor, Clinical Fellow in the School of Dental Sciences was the lead academic member of staff for this project and you can read about his experience in this blog post

For more information or if you have any questions about Blackboard get in touch with LTDS@ncl.ac.uk 

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

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.

Blackboard Module Rollover and Upgrade 2016/17

The module rollover process will take place over the weekend of the 30th/31st July. Modules for the new academic year will be available from Monday 1st August 2016. You should not experience any downtime during this period.

NUIT will be upgrading the current version of Blackboard to the Q4 2015 release over the weekend of the 6th and 7th August and you may experience some downtime whilst this takes place. There will be no significant user interface changes to note but the upgrade is necessary to ensure that system bugs are fixed and to ensure Blackboard stability.

We have created a Module Rollover Guide which details what happens when your module/community rolls over to the new academic year.  Please note that rollover has not changed from previous years. The guide has simply been created to document the process and answer some of the questions we regularly get asked.

Where relevant, please ensure that key documents for your module are up to date for your new cohort of students.

If you require any further information about this or would like us to help you ensure your module is ready for the new academic year, please contact LTDS.

 

VLE Feedback Sessions April 2016

In April, the Learning and Teaching Development Service and the Student Union ran some pop up feedback sessions in the Business School, the Robinson Library, the Student Union and the Medical School asking students one question, ‘What one thing would improve your experience of Blackboard or the LSE?’ The same question was also added  to the Blackboard My Institution page to which students could give an online response.

In total, 434 students gave feedback, 402 about Blackboard and 32 about the LSE. The student responses were collated and categorised into main themes. Some students covered more than one theme in their answer.

Few students had issues with the functionality of Blackboard and 20.65% of comments were very positive where they felt staff engaged with it. From the small sample of students who commented about the LSE, 43.75% of comments were positive and found it very clear and easy to use.

The main Blackboard issue students raised was regarding organisation and consistency of module content with 22.64% of the students who responded recognising this as a problem. In answer to the question, student comments included, ‘All lecturers using the same way of organising. Everything in the same place!’ and ‘Same layout for every module. It would make it so much easier if all modules had the same layout.’

Other key themes included the mobile application, Blackboard Learn and the availability of lecture materials and ReCap recordings.

This feedback gave us a very useful snapshot of student opinion on the VLE. You can read the full report that was shared at the HaSS and SAgE FLTSEC meetings this month and view the student comments by Faculty, School and Stage.

If you would like any tailored Blackboard training or would like us to work with you to reorganise your modules or come along to your school meeting to discuss creating a school, or discipline, specific template , please contact LTDS.

 

How could Respondus help you to run online exams and tests?

Learning and Teaching Development Service’s Rebecca Gill answers your questions about making this software work for you….

1) What is Respondus for?

Respondus is a piece of software that can be used with Blackboard to help set up online tests or exams. It is widely used by the Online Assessment and Feedback (OLAF) Service, and it can also be very useful to academic and professional services staff who are running their own formative or summative online tests.

2) How might staff be able to use it?

The software converts test questions written in Microsoft Word into Blackboard test questions. Respondus allows staff to quickly and easily create large sets of questions, to build exams or question pools in Blackboard. It works with a range of question types, including multiple choice, multiple answer, matching, jumbled sentence and fill in the blanks questions. Respondus can also be used to download exams from Blackboard to create a Word version, with or without answers.

3) How might it benefit students?

Respondus makes it easy to create large sets of questions in Blackboard, which means that as well as building summative assessments, staff can more easily create practice tests for their students to use in revision. It also has the option to add feedback for correct and incorrect answers to each question, making it easier for staff to provide detailed feedback on exams – this is particularly useful for large group teaching, because the amount of time needed to add the feedback is the same whether you are setting an exam for 20 or 200 students.

4) How might it benefit staff?

Respondus can help save time when setting up Blackboard tests, and streamlines the process of deploying a test with required settings. The ability to download Blackboard tests to Word means that you can edit existing test questions in Word and easily reimport them to Blackboard. Once you have set up a series of test questions they can easily be edited and reused in future years.

The software can also be used to create a paper version of a test without answers, which is a helpful backup if any students have problems logging in when you are running an online test or exam. Some Schools also use Respondus to download a copy of Blackboard test questions with answers, so that it can easily be made available to the external examiner(s).

5) How can I start using Respondus?

Book a workshop on using Respondus to create Blackboard tests.

6) What will the workshops do?

The workshop starts by introducing Blackboard tests and question pools. You will then learn how to create exam questions in Microsoft Word using Respondus format, and will practice importing the questions into Respondus, and uploading them to Blackboard to create a test or question pool. The workshop will also cover using test settings to control availability, question display, and releasing scores and feedback to students. Finally you’ll practice downloading tests from Blackboard to create a copy in Word.

7) Who might/should be interested?

Any member of academic or professional services staff who is responsible for creating Blackboard tests/exams, and would like to learn how Respondus can help. The workshops are suitable for anyone who has general experience of Blackboard.