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 


Happy new year – Burning of the Apps TEL Showcase videos

Happy new year!

Photo of the burning of the apps









If you missed Brighton University’s excellent online Burning of the Apps TEL showcase just before the festive break, you can access the videos of the 1 hour sessions here (or individually below):

New Learning Spaces at the University of Brighton (video)

From Lecture to Lego: Innovative teaching and technology (video)
Tricking out your Blackboard module areas (video)
Twine – Choose your own ad-learn-ture… (video)
The Student Nursing Affirmation ‘app’ (video)
Technology Showcase (video)


Brighton University ‘brings the pud’ and ‘burns the apps’ – Wednesday 20 December

A showcase of the best of Brighton University’s current academic practice using apps, web applications and other technology to enhance teaching and learning. Join in online on Wednesday 20 December!

Photo of the burning of the apps


Perhaps you participated in one of the many fine examples of the 12 Apps of Christmas.  At the University of Brighton, we like to bring the ‘pud’.  Last year saw our first “Burning of the Apps” and we are repeating the pudding this year.



The Burning of the Apps will be held on Wednesday the 20th December at Falmer – at the Explore Studio (Checkland D132).  A day-long event,  you are welcome to attend, drop-in-to or participate online from anywhere in the UK or world, for that matter. We will showcase the best of our current academic practice using apps, web applications and  other technology to support learning and teaching.

We will again be live-streaming the interviews, from our various sites, of our talented academic staff discussing the ways they’ve utilised technology in their teaching to enhance learning at the University.

Stay tuned, and find us on Twitter at the hashtag: #brightlearn



Get ‘appy with the 12 apps of Christmas!

It’s nearly that time of year again! As the festive season approaches, it’s time to get ‘appy with the 12 apps of Christmas – a fun and quick way to learn about some educational apps that could help enrich teaching and learning and help further engage students.

12 apps of Christmas logo





There are a couple of these free online programmes you can sign up for this year:

The 12 Apps of Christmas by ETUG (a group of Canadian educators interested in teaching, learning & ed tech in post-secondary education)

  • Starts 4 December and runs until 19 December

Limerick University’s 12 Apps of Christmas

  • Started on 20 November and running covering 12 apps on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays.
  • You can still sign up to take part and find about the apps (but this one is already underway).

Enhancing Fieldwork logo


Read how staff in the School of Agriculture contributed a fieldwork app to a 12 apps activity at the Dublin Institute of Technology last year.

Make a note of this in your diary. Go on – get ‘appy this Christmas!

An ‘Appy Christmas in Agriculture with the 12 Apps of Christmas

Dr Alice Maucheline & Professor Julian Park (School of Agriculture Policy & Development) 

During December 2016, we had the chance to share our teaching and learning experiences here at the University of Reading with thousands of other educators around the world by providing a case study for a seasonal online course called ‘The 12 apps of Christmas’.

12 Apps of Xmas

The free, open, short, online Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course was run for the third time by the Dublin Institute of Technology. The programme released ‘an app a day’ for the first 12 weekdays in December and over 3,000 participants logged in to get quick outlines of different ways in which they could integrate mobile learning into their teaching and learning practices. The aim was to raise awareness of the benefits of mobile apps and technologies, to provide upskilling for educators and to help expand their personal learning networks. The course was a collaborative effort with case studies from Ireland, UK and the USA and now that it has finished, the site has been left online as an open resource for all to use. It’s available here.

The case study was produced in collaboration with colleagues at the Universities of Sheffield and Chester as a dissemination activity for the Enhancing Fieldwork Learning (EFL) project.  The EFL team have been working together to research and share innovations in field teaching and learning with a particular focus on the use of mobile technologies.

Enhancing Fieldwork logo

The app we focused on for the case study was ‘Geospike’; this app allows instant location recording using the internal GPS of a mobile device, to which photos, videos and field notes can be attached. This functionality means the app can be used as a geo-referenced field notebook. The pedagogic case study we wrote described how we used the app to log field sampling sites in Iceland with Final year undergraduates from the University of Reading and the University of Akureyri, Iceland on a joint Microbiology field-based module led by Prof Rob Jackson (School of Biological Sciences).


Photos of students using iPads in Iceland

Photos from the Iceland field trip showing students using the iPads to log their sampling locations in GeoSpike. (We gratefully acknowledge the Annual Fund for their support in purchasing a set of iPads to support field learning at Reading.)


The experience of sharing our pedagogic innovations through the 12 apps of Christmas provided us with the opportunity to interact with educators, students, librarians and learning technologists across the globe. The cohort included people with a multitude of different subject backgrounds and experiences which led to very interesting conversations through Twitter and exchanges of comments on the website.

Map of DIT 12 apps of Xmas followers

Frances Boylan @boylanfm A map of #12appsDIT followers (

Several other apps with similar functionality to Geospike were discussed along with many suggestions of alternative, innovative uses of this kind of app in teaching and learning activities.

Our favourite feedback was on Twitter from @LeithaD “#12appsDIT Really love the case study for GeoSpike. A nifty app is one thing, but a well-constructed learning activity is even better!”

Learn more:

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning

12 Apps of Christmas

Take part:

DIT aren’t running the 12 Apps of Christmas in 2017 but there are a couple of others to try this year:


#LTHEchat this week – “Warning! May or may not include technology” (Wed 11 Oct, online, 8-9pm)

LTHEchat logo

This weekly online hour long #LTHEchat event, scheduled for this Wednesday 8-9pm, might be of interest:

The next #LTHEchat takes place on Wednesday 11th October at 8pm BST and is led by Sue Watling @suewatling and Patrick Lynch @thebigparticle (University of Hull). The title is: “Warning! May or may not include technology”. 

From Sue Watling and Patrick Lynch (and for further info:

A Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) approach to supporting learning and teaching can have limited impact and reach. Like attracts like and as TEL Advisors we tended to see the same faces at TEL themed workshops and events. Wanting to shift from Technology First to Pedagogy First, we looked for a topic which would be common to all staff involved in teaching and supporting learning, and felt the answer was the design of learning experiences.

Calling this Design for Active Learning (D4AL) put the stress on students being active participators. This aligned with the concept of students as self-regulated learners as well as moving away from traditional lecture style transmission of content models. The next question was how to sell it to staff who are already change fatigued and time poor. In these data driven times, full of red flags drawing attention to survey and evaluation responses, we wanted to move from a potentially deficit model to a more positive approach.

For us [at Hull], Design for Active Learning is about building a sustainable and scholarly approach to curriculum development and innovation by empowering staff to enhance their own teaching practice.  It lies at the heart of the university’s commitment to an ‘excellence agenda’ in learning and teaching through development of curricula and co-curricular learning.

This #lthechat will be opportunity to share thoughts on adopting a Design for Active Learning approach to enhancing the student experience, which may or may not include technology (although in 2017 is this a binary which is breaking down?)