Tag Archives: staff

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.

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.

Simon Meacher explains the Higher Education Review

Pencils

The University will undergo QAA Higher Education Review in the week commencing 18 April 2016. Higher Education Review (HE Review) is the process of review for all higher education institutions in the UK.

The University last underwent review by QAA in December 2009 according to the QAA’s Institutional audit process.

The overall aim of HE Review is to inform students and the wider public as to whether an institution:

  1. sets and maintains UK-agreed threshold academic standards for its higher education awards
  2. provides learning opportunities which allow students to achieve those higher education awards and qualifications
  3. provides information for the general public, prospective students, current students, students on completion of their studies, and those with responsibility for academic standards and quality that is fit for purpose, accessible and trustworthy
  4. plans effectively to enhance the quality of its higher education provision

HE Review considers these key issues through a review process in which review teams consider the academic quality and standards of an institution through the investigation of core structures, policies and processes for quality management, and the way in which an institution addresses these issues in relation to a specific theme which can vary from year to year.

To achieve these aims, QAA convenes a team of peer reviewers – staff and students from other providers.

Review teams are asked to make judgements on these four key issues, and will also identify features of good practice, affirm developments or plans already in progress and make recommendations for action.

What will this involve?

The substantive element of the review process is a week-long visit to the institution which allows the review team to meet with staff and students (and other stakeholders where appropriate) and to scrutinise further information.

During the visit will include contact with staff, particularly those with institutional and faculty responsibilities for quality assurance. Review team meetings with staff will also involve a sample of colleagues working at academic unit level, including those with direct responsibility for educational partnerships such as representatives of partner institutions or staff at overseas campuses, and other academic and professional service staff with responsibility for supporting learning, teaching and the student experience.

The review team may also ask to meet with recent graduates, external examiners and employers.

They will certainly want to meet with a small sample of students (for example up to 30-40 across two or three meetings is typical), to find out their views of the learning experience they receive at Newcastle.

The University is also required to submit a Self-Evaluation Document (SED) which must be received by QAA by 25 January 2016.

The SED has three main functions:

  1. to give the review team an overview of the University, including our track record in managing quality and standards, and details of external reference points that we are required to consider (such as those of accrediting bodies);
  2. to describe the University’s approach to assuring the academic standards and quality of its provision;
  3. to explain to the review team how we know that our approach is effective in meeting the Quality Code Expectations (and other external reference points), and how it could be further improved.

We will be required to provide a significant amount of supporting documentation to illustrate and substantiate the narrative within the SED. This allows the team to test whether what our SED says we do, is what we do in practice and assess how effective it is.

Review teams also have the right to request additional documentation.  Experience of HE Review at other universities indicates that significant amounts of additional documentation are typically required by review teams.

It is therefore possible that any documentation relating to the quality management of the areas under review might be requested, including those held by academic units and faculties.

What will the team be looking for?

Higher Education Review has a core element and a thematic element.

The core element focuses on academic standards, quality of learning opportunities, information, and enhancement.

The thematic element focuses on an area which is regarded as particularly worthy of further analysis or enhancement. Themes, which change periodically, are chosen by the Higher Education Review Group – which includes representatives of HEFCE, Universities UK, GuildHE and the Association of Colleges. The University is required to explore one of these themes.

Following discussions involving a number of colleagues including representatives of NUSU, the PVC Learning and Teaching recommended to ULTSEC on 14 January that the University should select the theme of Student Employability for the review in 2016.

This theme is the logical choice for the University, as it would allow special emphasis to be given to the work that has been undertaking to develop students’ employability and entrepreneurial skills, and to give a detailed picture in our submission of how the University has made further progress since the good practice commendation received by the University in this area in the last QAA audit in 2009.

Who will this involve?

A Higher Education Review Steering Group, chaired by the PVC Learning and Teaching, is overseeing the production of the Self-Evaluation Document and supporting documentation, which is being coordinated by staff in the Learning and Teaching Development Service (LTDS).

When will it start?

In terms of other principal stages in the University’s preparation for the review, in mid-late October 2015 the QAA will inform the University of the size and membership of the review team. In early December 2015, a preparatory meeting with QAA will take place, the main purpose of which is to discuss the information to be provided to QAA and will therefore include those most immediately involved with the production of the SED and the student submission, and with responsibility for the operational arrangements for the review.

Around one month before the review visit, the QAA will inform the University of the duration of the review visit, the team’s main lines of enquiry, who the team wishes to meet, and any further requests for documentary evidence.

So what’s the point?

The review culminates in the publication of a report containing the judgements and other findings. The University is obliged to produce and publish an action plan in consultation with students, describing how it intends to respond to those findings.

Deleting a meeting

To delete a meeting you must first ensure that all the attendees have been removed, and any notes that have been attached to the meeting are removed. You must be the creator of the meeting to cancel it.

Click on My Meetings and with the meeting you wish to delete click view. You can now see the attendees on the left hand side. The creator of the meeting will have a star next the their name. Remove the attendees by clicking on the red cross next to their names. Image demonstrating where to remove attendees

Once you have removed the attendees, remove any notes by clicking the delete button beside the note (if the note has been locked, you will not be able to remove the meeting). Then select ‘edit meeting’ and  you should see the option to delete the meeting.

How many staff and students have accessed Blackboard since early September 2012?

A question me and my colleagues occasionally get asked is…...How many staff and students use Blackboard? Well it depends what you mean by use, but here are a few metrics provided by Google Analytics with regards to Blackboard here at Newcastle University.

Ncl Bb analytics

The numbers listed here refer to the period from 03.09.12 to 22.11.12.

At the present time in order to access Blackboard you need a University username and password. So as you can see it is accessed a great deal by staff and students with an average of over 16 pages browsed per visit for just over 7 minutes per visit.
From statistics provided by the Blackboard application during the same period over 21000 active users (staff and students combined) logged into Blackboard. This is an impressive percentage if you take into account the total number of staff and students at the University based upon 2011/12 data. From this data total student number is 21,045 and total staff is 5096. From these two totals a significant number will not use Blackboard at all (Research based, operational and specialist staff, some medical Programmes). By my guesstimate if you reduce that total to around a potential total of 23000 you can see that a high percentage of staff and students use the institutional Virtual Learning Environment, Blackboard.