New Blackboard Instructor app

You may see notifications from Blackboard about Instructor, their new mobile app for staff.

Blackboard Instructor logo

This is part of a revamp of Blackboard’s mobile provision. Mobile Learn is being discontinued in favour of two “persona-based” apps:

  • a student app simply called Blackboard – see our guidance for students on the Student Help site
  • Blackboard Instructor for those with a staff role (e.g. Instructor or Teaching Assistant) on their Blackboard courses

Students are able to use the Blackboard app right now, but staff eager to try out Blackboard Instructor will have to wait until 7th August, after our system upgrade.

We will make sure we have some guidance material ready by then.

In the meantime you can get an idea of what the app can do from this short video

and on the Blackboard Help site: https://help.blackboard.com/Blackboard_App/Instructor

 

Initially the app provides limited functionality, but the range of features will increase over the coming months. In this first version you can

  • preview course content, including tests and assignments – this could be really useful to check how well students are able to view your course content on a mobile device
  • post announcements
  • post and reply to discussion forums
  • launch Collaborate Ultra sessions

Future releases will allow tablet users to view, mark and provide feedback on assignment submissions.

Revised date for Blackboard upgrade: 6th – 7th August

Colleagues will be aware that we had previously scheduled this summer’s Blackboard upgrade for 25th June, but this had to be postponed when Blackboard’s quality checks identified a software defect. This bug was quickly resolved, and we are currently testing the revised software version on our Staging system.

We are keen to take advantage of new features offered by the latest version, and have provisionally rescheduled the upgrade for 6th – 7th August.

The upgrade requires system downtime.

 

Blackboard and Turnitin  will be unavailable

from 7.30 p.m. on Sunday 6th August

until no later than midday on Monday 7th August

We will endeavour to complete all post-upgrade checks, and have Blackboard back online, by mid-morning on Monday 7th, but the whole of the morning should be considered as being “at risk”.

 

This downtime window has been planned to minimise disruption, and particularly to avoid any disruption to those resitting exams.

Our apologies if the revised schedule does cause any inconvenience for you and your learners.

Course rollover now complete

The annual course rollover took place at the weekend. A very big thank you to our colleagues in the IT TEL Support team who not only gave up their Saturday to get this done, but have also spent many hours over the previous weeks and months preparing for a successful rollover.

 

The following types of course copy have now taken place:

  • 2016-17 RISIS courses scheduled to run again in 2017-18
  • any other courses where a staff member had submitted a course copy request by 1st July

 

Other 2017-18 courses will have been created as a blank shell:

  • RISIS modules where the Module Convenor specifically requested this via the opt-out form
  • RISIS modules which were not in use in 2016-17, and no course copy request had been received
  • modules which have never run before
  • modules where the RISIS code has changed (unless you requested a copy from a previous course)

 

If you missed the 1st July deadline, but still have content you would like copied from a 2016-17 (or earlier) course, please fill out the Course Copy Request Form which you can find – along with many other Blackboard-related request forms – at http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/vle-support/

Please submit your request as early as possible, to make sure you have plenty of time to set up your course for the new academic year.

 

Staff enrolments

As part of the course copy process, most staff enrolments will have been rolled forward – all Instructors, Teaching Assistants and External Examiners.

In addition, staff identified in RISIS as Module Convenor for a 2017-18 module will have been enrolled on the corresponding Blackboard course.
This applies equally to courses which were copied, and to courses which have been set up as a blank shell.
If you are a Module Convenor for a module which runs both in Reading and Malaysia, you will see all 2017-18 occurrences of the module in Blackboard.

 

If you do not see all of the 2017-18 Blackboard courses you need

  • If the course has run before:
    Ask a colleague to enrol you. This could be

    • the Module Convenor
    • another colleague who is already enrolled on the course
    • the programme administrator in the Support Centre.
  • If the course has never run before (or has a new RISIS code):
    Ask Support Centre staff to enrol you. This could be

    • the Programmes Manager
    • the Senior Programme Administrator

You could also fill out this form – Request enrolment on a course – but it will probably be quickest just to contact colleagues in the Support Centre.

 

 

Preparing your 2017-18 courses for the new academic year

Course menu

If your course was created as a copy of a previous course, the menu will be exactly the same on the new course.

If your course was created as a blank shell, it will have the default course menu.

default Blackboard course menu 2017

In either case, please spend some time considering if the menu and underlying course structure

  • meet the specific requirements of your course
  • will be easily navigable by your learners

and then make any changes required.

Please see our guides on this:

The Blackboard course menu

The default menu for new modules/programmes, with suggestions for what each section should contain.

Customising a course menu

How to customise the course menu to include essential features & make it easy to navigate for students.

 

Course content

Courses which have been copied forward will include all course content except for announcements, discussion boards, and Blackboard blogs, journals and wikis.

Naturally, before you make the course available to students in the new academic year, you will need to ensure that preparation should include ensuring that all course materials, such as

  • module / programme handbooks
  • assignment briefs
  • lecture and seminar material

are up-to-date, and in the appropriate section of the course.

Talis reading list links – whether as part of the menu, or in a course content area – will have been copied, but you need to configure them for use by students in the new academic year. Please see http://libguides.reading.ac.uk/reading-lists/staff/blackboard

Module Evaluation – this is a new content area which has been added to the Blackboard course for all 2017-18 RISIS modules. Information for both staff and students is included within the Module Evaluation course content area. There is no need to make any changes to this area until later in the academic year.

 

Assessment

Blackboard Tests and Surveys will have been copied, and you will find them listed under Control Panel > Course Tools > Tests, Surveys and Pools. However they will NOT yet be deployed to users  (made available for students to take). You will need to deploy them with appropriate settings on the new course. Please see our guidance on Tests and Surveys.

Blackboard and Turnitin Assignments – these will not have been copied at all, and new submission points will now need to be created with appropriate settings on the new course. In most Schools, this work is done by programme administrators in the Support Centres.

 

Any Questions?

Please log a support ticket with IT and depending on the nature of your query, you’ll get a response from either the CQSD or IT TEL team.

Blackboard upgrade postponed

We’re sorry to say that, with very little notice, Blackboard cancelled the upgrade which had been due to take place yesterday. This is because they had discovered a new bug, which was deemed sufficiently serious to put the success of the upgrade in jeopardy. No doubt determining the cause of this bug, and resolving the issue, will now be an absolute priority for Blackboard. However, until we know more about the likely timescales, we are unable to reschedule our upgrade.

In the meantime, our plans for course rollover are unaffected, and this will take place as scheduled on Saturday 8th July.

Blackboard Course Rollover: a reminder of actions required – and an interactive model

What is Course Rollover?

Course rollover is the annual process whereby Blackboard courses from the current academic year are copied for use in the next academic year.

This year Course Rollover will take place on Saturday 8th July 2017

 

Read on for a summary of how Rollover will work for your course, and what action (if any) you need to take.

Or, if you prefer a more visual approach to this, please check out this interactive model of your rollover options.

Course Rollover model

With thanks to Jonathan Rajadurai, Analyst Programmer (TEL) in the IT TEL & AV Team.

 

What action is required?

Blackboard courses linked to a single RISIS module or programme

The default position is that any RISIS module or programme

  • which was used in Blackboard in the current academic year (i.e. in 2016-17)
  • and is scheduled to run again in the new academic year (i.e. in 2017-18)

will be copied forward.

The vast majority of Blackboard courses fall into this category.

 

If a course you are teaching or supporting meets these criteria, and you are happy for the 2016-17 course to be copied forward, NO ACTION IS REQUIRED AT THIS TIME.

 

You can check that your course is scheduled to be copied by searching the Course Copy Status page at https://www.reading.ac.uk/blackboard/bbcopy/Home/Status

Courses included in the forthcoming Course Rollover will display as SCHEDULED – AUTO.

 

If your course is not shown here, please check:

  • was the course used in Blackboard in 2016-17?
  • is the module scheduled in RISIS for 2017-18? (your programme administrator can check this for you)

 

What if I don’t want my course to be copied?

If you would prefer to set your 2017-18 course up from scratch, perhaps with a new menu structure, and uploading only the specific content you need for the coming year, IT will provide you with a blank course shell.

An opt-out form is available for staff who do not want their 2016-17 course to be copied forward.

DEADLINE: 1st July

Please note that this opt-out form is only accessible to staff who are identified in RISIS as Module Convenor for 2017-18 modules.

 

Other options

What if the course did not run in 2016-17?

What if my module has a new code in RISIS?

What if I am teaching a completely new module?

 

Shared Courses

Shared Courses are not copied forward by default.

If you are responsible for a Shared Course in Blackboard and you want it copied forward for use in 2017-18, please use the Course Copy Request Form. Under ‘Select Type of Course Copy’ select Shared -> Shared, and make any changes required.

DEADLINE to be included in the main Course Rollover: 1st July

 

Non-RISIS courses

Non-RISIS Courses are not copied forward by default.

If you are responsible for a non-RISIS Course in Blackboard and you want it copied forward for use in 2017-18, please use the Course Copy Request Form. Under ‘Select Type of Course Copy’ select Single -> Single, and make any changes required.

DEADLINE to be included in the main Course Rollover: 1st July

 

 

What is copied during Course Rollover?

Course content and staff enrolments (Instructors, Teaching Assistants and External Examiners) will be copied as part of rollover.

In addition all staff identified as a 2017-18 Module Convenor in RISIS will be enrolled on the corresponding Blackboard course.

full details of what is and is not copied

 

 

For more detailed information on Course Rollover, please see the Course Rollover page on this blog.

 

If you have any queries, please log them with the IT Service Desk.

 

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 18th May – Blackboard webinars

Global Accessibility Awareness Day logoThis Thursday is the sixth Global Accessibility Awareness Day. To celebrate this, Blackboard is promoting a series of pedagogically focused free webinars, bringing together Blackboard experts and leading academics, covering a variety of topics on digital access in education.

The webinars will be delivered from different countries, and happen across different time zones. We’ve converted the times to BST below, to make it easier to plan which webinars you would like to attend – while the 1 p.m. webinar from the UK might be the obvious one to tune into, several of the US-based webinars are also at UK-friendly times. And even if you can’t attend the webinars as they happen, by registering you’ll be sent a link to watch a recording of the event at a later date.

Creating a truly inclusive experience (Sydney, Australia)
1.30 a.m. BST  = 8.30 a.m. for colleagues in Malaysia

How Digital Accessibility Can Support an Inclusive and Engaging Learning Experience  (London, UK)
1 p.m. BST

Interview with Gallaudet [US University for the hearing-impaired]: Importance of accessibility and its impact on students (Washington, D.C.,USA) 
3 p.m. BST

(In Spanish) Breaking Barriers: Reaching all Learners through Digital Accessibility (Bogota, Colombia) 
4 p.m. BST

Creating a university policy around accessibility (Berkeley, CA, USA) 
4 p.m. BST

How to use industry standard LMS features to create accessible courses (Missoula, MT, USA) 
6 p.m. BST

Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series Webinar – Accessibility at Blackboard (Washington, D.C., USA) 
8 p.m. BST

Lose the stigma of leaving the classroom (Lawrence, KS, USA)
10 p.m. BST

You can sign up to any of these events at http://webinars.blackboard.com/Global-Accessibility-Awareness-Day.