Tag Archives: students

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.

Information for Senior and Personal Tutors

The University’s Framework for Personal Tutoring has been updated following the approval of revised meeting arrangements by University Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee in July. With effect from the start of the 2017-18 academic year, tutors should record the first meeting that is offered and those that have taken place for undergraduate students. For taught postgraduate students, tutors should record the offer of meetings in ePortfolio. If tutorial meetings do not take place, reasons why not should also be recorded.

We have clarified what should happen if meetings do not take place. If a tutor offers a meeting within ePortfolio using meeting slots, but a student chooses not to pick a time to meet with the tutor, this should be regarded as sufficient reason why the meeting has not taken place. Only if a meeting slot is not created by the tutor within ePortfolio should a reason be recorded elsewhere why a meeting has not taken place.

We have distributed to Senior Tutors a new version of the briefing slides for Senior Tutors to discuss with Personal Tutors in their School or subject area. The slides provide information which will hopefully be helpful for ensuring that Senior and Personal Tutors are familiar with University expectations. They also provide advice on how to find and signpost further support.

Additional resources for tutors have also been brought up to date and can be found on our website.

The Senior Tutors Discussion Forum will continue to meet on a quarterly basis beginning in October.  A Role of the Senior Tutor Training Workshop will also be held twice this coming academic year.

If you have any questions or can suggest examples of effective practice in personal tutoring, 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.

 

Simon Meacher explains the Higher Education Review

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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.

Developing Academic and Employability Skills Case Study

Reflective blogging with the e-portfolio and enabling students to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’!
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What did you do?

Use of the e-portfolio to underpin BUS1005 (Developing Academic and Employability Skills) to create reflective learning ‘blogging’ opportunities for first year students to make connections between their skills and skills required for current/future learning and employability.

Who is involved?

Fiona Thompson (Module leader/tutor of BUS1005 Developing Academic and Employability Skills to first year BSc Marketing students) supported by Graeme Boxwell.
Reflective learning was introduced at the start of the module and together with a computer session led by Graeme Boxwell the students were introduced to the e-portfolio system and encouraged to start using the eportfolio to blog about their learning journey.

How did you do it?

Each lecture – had a ‘blog about this’ element as well as a skills audit or diagnostic each week on team building, time management, learning style etc. for students to blog about. This continual reminder helped re-inforce the importance of blogging. The module tutor added comments to student blogs which helped to motivate students to contribute and also kept records of who had/hadn’t blogged and followed up by email/class discussion encouraging students to blog. A prize of free books was offered by the DPD for the most blogs for a male and female student which also reinforced the importance of eportfolio and reflective blogs. The reflective blogs were also part of the mark for the first and second semester assignments as they helped to provide the stepping stones through the students learning journey and added deeper context to the reflective essays that was part of the assessment.

Why did you do it?

Reflective practice and developing the ability to self judge yourself and your progress is an important and sometimes overlooked academic skill. Especially with first year students we need to help them ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ as early as possible so they can engage at all levels and also make the successful transition from being spoon fed at Sixth form/College into becoming an independent and effective learner at university. Unfortunately, the rush to the tape of each assessment hand in means students are on a continual roll and sometimes do not take the time out to think about how they could improve their evaluative or written skills in the future. The reflective blogs with the e-portfolio enables them to ‘take some time out’ to think about how they could improve their skills in the future so they break out of the cycle and can improve their written or critical evaluation skills which also attract the higher marks.

Does it work?

Feedback from student blogs, anecdotal feedback and written evidence from reflective essays all show that students have benefited from reflective learning/use of the e-portfolio blog. It has enabled them to talk openly and share things with the tutor which they may not put into an email or talk to the tutor about. This has enabled them to feel supported in their learning and think about how they can improve their academic skills as well as what they need to do now to reduce their ‘skills gap’ for future employment.
Reflective blogging with the e-portfolio and enabling students to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’!

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.