Changing the focus: Accessibility in Blackboard

When thinking about accessibility and inclusive teaching practice, technology is often cited as a solution. Technology can certainly assist students with disabilities but well designed online learning provision can benefit all learners.

Central to this is a shift in focus away from the ‘deficit’ model of perceiving disability, where Universities respond to a ‘need’ and adopting a ‘social’ model that addresses the structural barriers to students’ ability to participate, and succeed in learning. This is where technology can play a key role in levelling the learning playing field by designing systems that optimise access for all (JISC Quick Guide, Getting started with accessibility and inclusion).

The University’s virtual learning environment, Blackboard, is fully compatible with internationally recognised accessibility standards and has in-built features that allow students with different impairments to engage with digital content.

Turnitin is working towards full compliance. A text based PDF version of students’ work can be downloaded to work with screen-readers.

There are also things you can do to when producing your learning materials to ensure students have the best experience.

Find out how to make the most of the accessibility features in Blackboard and Turnitin.

Find advice on making your documents and screencasts accessible in the Creating accessible teaching and learning resources blackboard course. (Log-in and click the +Enrol button.)

The Library guide to Inclusive Technology provides advice on accessibility features that students can use including Windows, Microsoft and Office365.

 

 

Help us improve your experience of using Blackboard – staff workshops, 26/27 Feb (with coffee & biscuits!)

Have you used Blackboard and thought things like “this interface could look better”, “there’s too much information on this page” or, perhaps, “it would be better if THIS was THERE”? Do you think Blackboard’s look, feel and ease of use could be improved?

We are pleased to let you know that the TEL team will be undertaking an important piece of work with Blackboard Consulting around improving your experience of using Blackboard as a resource in teaching and learning here at UoR.

Blackboard logo

We will be running some workshops on Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 February to give Blackboard users like yourself an opportunity to share your experience of using it and to suggest what improvements could be made to help it better meet your needs. Whilst we can’t currently change the functionality and features, we can improve the look and feel – the layout, branding, the organisation and presentation of information (the usability, if you will). We’d really like people who use Blackboard to help us to do this and would be delighted if you could be involved.

 

As a user of Blackboard, we’d like to invite you to attend one of the following workshops:

Monday 26 February

  • 11:30-13:00
  • 13:30-15:00
  • 15:30-17:00

Tuesday 27 February

  • 09:30-11:00
  • 11:30-13:00
  • 13:30-15:00
  • 15:30-17:00

*Tea/coffee and biscuits will be available at all sessions!*

Pic of cup of tea

 

 

 

 

 

I’m interested – what shall I do?

If you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity to help improve Blackboard, please complete this short online form by close of play on Friday 16 February, indicating which workshops you would be available to attend. Please indicate ALL sessions you would be available for and hold this availability in your diary – you will then be allocated to one workshop.

We will confirm your attendance by email by close of play on Monday 19 February, along with details of the workshop you’ve been allocated to join.

Will I need to do anything else?

Having analysed the feedback from these workshops, Blackboard Consulting will create some prototypes for the new look and layout of Blackboard. We will then invite you to preview and comment on the proposed improvements (likely to be sometime during April – June), and then to feed back on the improvements once they’ve been implemented (September-October).

We hope this is something you feel able to help us with and we look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks in advance for your help,

The TEL team 

 

Dates for forthcoming Blackboard upgrades and course rollover

The following dates have been scheduled for the 2018 Course Rollover, and for Blackboard upgrades over the next twelve months.

Course rollover

Saturday 30th June 2018

downtime required approximately 08:00 – 17:00

 

Summer Blackboard Upgrade

Sunday 5th – Monday 6th August 2018

downtime required, probably from Sunday afternoon till Monday lunchtime

 

Winter Upgrade

Sunday 6th – Monday 7th January 2019

downtime required, probably from Sunday afternoon till Monday lunchtime)

 

These dates have been agreed by CQSD and IT after consultation with Support Centres, the Examinations Office, ISLI and other staff both at Reading and in Malaysia. While we appreciate that there is never an entirely convenient time to make Blackboard unavailable, these downtime windows have been scheduled to avoid inconvenience to most users.

 

Further, more detailed information on Course Rollover and these Blackboard upgrades will of course follow in due course.

In the meantime, if you are aware of any assessment deadlines or other activity which might be affected by one of these downtime windows, please take steps to reschedule the activity.

Turnitin Feedback Studio: Save Error

Turnitin logo

Update – The issue is now resolved.

 

Here is the information from Turnitin:

 

Turnitin Service Alert

 

Some Turnitin and TurnitinUk users (including those integrated with our service) may have experienced an error when attempting to leave comments through Feedback Studio from Jan 29 1:30 am PST- Feb 03 7:09 PST/Jan 29 9:30 am GMT – Feb 04 3:09 am GMT/Jan 29 8:30 pm AEST – Feb 04 2:09pm AEST. Post resolution, root cause analysis was performed and monitoring / alerting has been put in place to further mitigate the chances of similar technical difficulties from occurring.

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

Original post:

Over the last few days some staff have encountered an intermittent error when attempting to add Quick Marks or comments, using the Turnitin Feedback Studio.

A ‘Save Error’ message is displayed as shown below.

Turnitin 503 error

This issue is affecting users at other institutions, and Turnitin are aware of the problem. At present, Turnitin have not been able to give us an indication of how quickly the error can be resolved.

If you experience this issue, please log a support call  via the IT Self-Service portal.

When doing so, please provide details of

  • the Blackboard course
  • the Turnitin assignment name
  • the Turnitin paper ID for a paper where this occurred
  • what kind of computer are you using – Windows or Mac?
  • which browser are you using?

It is also worth clearing your browser cache – this may not prevent the problem from recurring, but should delay its reappearance.

 

Please note:

If you are simply having trouble viewing or editing previously entered comments and Quick Marks, our recommendation is to switch to the Firefox browser.

However the ‘Save Error’ described above appears to affect all browsers.

 

 

Turnitin Feedback Studio: unable to view or edit Quick Marks

Turnitin logo

Some staff have reported that, when marking student work using Turnitin Feedback Studio

  • they are not able to view previously entered comments or QuickMarks
  • they are not able to open and edit previously entered comments or QuickMarks
  • the Feedback Studio screen freezes.

Turnitin are aware of this, but the intermittent nature of the problem makes a diagnosis difficult.

However Turnitin have said that, as far as they are aware, these issues do not occur in the Mozilla Firefox browser.

Therefore, when marking student work in the Feedback Studio, we recommend that staff use Firefox.