Blackboard Teaching & Learning Conference: Bocconi University, Milan, 21-24 March 2017 #BBTLC17

Blackboard Teaching & Learning Conference logo

I was delighted to attend Blackboard’s Teaching and Learning Conference held this year at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. This is a key annual event that brings together Blackboard users from HE institutions across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South Africa. I was accompanied by TEL colleague, Maria Papaefthimiou, TEL/AV Support Manager, Helena Bampton, and Real Estate and Planning (REP) DTL Angelique Chettiparambil-Rajan. We spent an interesting few days attending presentations and workshops about Blackboard and technology enhanced learning, and were pleased, this year, to present on some of the TEL developments we’ve achieved at UoR. Maria and I presented a paper sharing the TEL team’s strategies for successfully engaging and supporting UoR academics in using TEL. Angelique also shared REP’s experiences of piloting a whole-school move to electronic submission, online marking and e-feedback. Both presentations were well received and feature in an article in Blackboard’s eLearn magazine, to be published shortly both in print and online.

Photo of Blackboard Conference welcome

It’s not rocket science! 

The opening keynote was delivered by the ever-engaging education consultant, Eric Stoller. You can access his presentation below. (The reference to rocket science is linked to Blackboard’s CEO, Bill Ballhaus’ background in astronautics!)

Virtual poster presentations from the conference can be accessed here.

Post-event resources, including presentations and photos, are available on the Blackboard Community website. (You will need to create an account to access the Community site.)

Link to Conference resources via Blackboard Community site

What were our key findings?

Looking at the usability of Blackboard through student eyes 

Meg Juss shared Edge Hill University’s experience of surveying the student experience of using Blackboard. Their 7th bi-annual learning survey asked students questions about Blackboard and subsequent comprehensive usability testing established that students found aspects of Blackboard ‘confusing’, ‘jumbled’ and ‘overwhelming’. ‘A user interface is like a joke: it’s not that good if you have to explain it!’, asserted Meg. With this in this mind, findings helped Meg and her team to improve the Blackboard experience for students by standardising course templates, improving navigation and re-designing their ‘My Library’ tab. As a result, usage of the library tab increased by 12% and 82.5% of respondents agree or strongly agree that, ‘using Blackboard has enhanced the knowledge and understanding I get from lectures, tutorials and practical sessions.’ (7th Student eLearning Survey (2016-17) ~ 576 responses)

Gamification

Staff from Durham and Saxion University in the Netherlands shared how they have brought elements of gamification, such as progression, rewards and use of Blackboard’s adaptive release feature, to Blackboard courses to help engage and motivate their students.

A search engine for Blackboard 

Staff from the University of Leuven, Belgium, described how they have used their technical expertise to develop an in-house search engine to enable users to search for content within Blackboard. This is a feature that is currently missing from the off-the-shelf Blackboard Learn platform but which Blackboard are looking to develop.

eAssessment

It was interesting to hear the experiences of other institutions of electronic submission and online marking and feedback. TEL Manager Mark Gamble from Bedfordshire University shared his experience of staff trying to use the Blackboard Assignment tool for blind double marking. This information will be useful as we here at UoR progress with our EMA programme.

Roadmap – where next? 

Photo of map - where next?

It was good to see Blackboard’s roadmap and hear about improved features coming soon. These include increased drag and drop options in some of the learning tools, and a better experience using Blackboard on mobile devices.

#BBTLC17

 

 

Festive fun & mobile learning with the 12 Apps of Christmas!

As the festive season approaches, there’s another opportunity to take part in a revised 12 Apps of Christmas activity – a free, short, online Continuing Professional Development course in which an app is released each day for the first 12 weekdays of December. Log in for 10 minutes a day and get a quick outline of different ways that you can integrate particular apps into teaching and learning.

12 Apps of Xmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are several versions of this initiative being run by various institutions. UoR Senior Research Fellow Alice Mauchline and colleagues in the Agriculture Department have written a case study on an app (top secret until the big reveal!) for the course produced by the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Or why not enrol on the award-winning course from Regents’ University, London?

Enrol now and get ‘appy for Christmas!

Not sure what an app is? Click here to find out more.

Enjoy!

Lauren

Preparing to use Blackboard for the new academic year – Checklist

In your preparations for the new academic year, you’ll be thinking about Blackboard, for example: how you’ll be using it in your teaching, how you’ll best structure your menu, how you’ll organise your materials and activities, how you’ll use it to help engage your students, the setting up of online submission points for assignments, and so on. The following checklist has been designed to help you ensure your Blackboard course is ready and available for the new year. You’ll also find in the list links embedded to appropriate support materials to help you as you’re working through it to ready your Blackboard module for effective use in your teaching.

 

Image of Blackboard logoImage of a checklist

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Have I made my course available so my students can see it on their Enrolments tab?
  • Are all relevant staff enrolled on the course with the appropriate role?
  • Have I added details of all relevant staff in the Staff Contacts area in the menu?
  • Is my course menu well-structured and clear with a separate assessment section?
  • Is all the content in my course current and appropriate for this academic year?
  • Is all the content well organised and easy for my students to find?
  • Have I added details about the module in the About section of the menu, e.g. module handbook?
  • Are any Blackboard and/or Turnitin Assignment submission points set up with the correct settings and dates for this academic year?
  • If I have any tests in my course, have they been deployed with the correct settings and dates?
  • Have I set up links to my online Talis reading lists?
  • Have I posted a Welcome Announcement in the Announcement section?

You might also want to ask yourself: Have I signed up for the relevant TEL staff development sessions to help me make the most of Blackboard and Turnitin in my teaching this year?

We hope this is useful as you prepare for the new term!

 

Supporting your new students to use Blackboard – help is available!

Welcome Week 2016 is now less than a week away! It’s an ideal opportunity to introduce your new students to Blackboard and show them how to submit assignments online and where to find self-help materials. You’ll be pleased to hear that the TEL team have produced some customisable PowerPoint resources to help you to do this. Visit Blackboard’s Support for Staff tab where you’ll find a section called ‘Resources to use with your students’, as shown.

Support for Staff tab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here you’ll find PowerPoint resources ready for you to amend to suit and help you support your students in their use of Blackboard:

Resources to use with students

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please also remember to signpost your students to Blackboard’s Support for Students tab for links to guides and help materials on all aspects of using Blackboard and Turnitin in their studies.

If students are unable to self-help using these resources and you find yourself unable to advise, they can contact staff in the relevant Student Support Centre or can get in touch directly with the IT Helpdesk by emailing it@reading.ac.uk.

We hope you find these resources and reminders helpful and wish you every success in the new term!

TEL CQSD

How to edit the due date on an electronic assignment

Having set up an electronic assignment on Blackboard, whether it’s a Blackboard or a Turnitin assignment, you may sometimes need to edit or amend its dates – its due date, for example.

How can I do this? 

  • Find the assignment submission point & make sure EDIT MODE is switched ON.
  • Click on the downward arrow icon to the right of the assignment title (1)
  • Click on Edit (2) in the contextual menu that appears. You can then edit the dates from the assignment’s settings.

Editing assignment settings

Do I need to consider anything else? 

  •  If it’s a Turnitin Assignment, remember to amend the Post Date too. (This is the date on which the marks and feedback transfer from Turnitin to the Blackboard Grade Centre and become available to students.) The Post Date won’t automatically update itself if the due date is changed. The Post Date should be 15 working days after the due date.
  • Remember to amend any instructions or details about the assignment to reflect the amended date/s.

Need any further help or advice? Please contact the TEL CQSD team.

RESOLVED: Issue for students accessing feedback using My Grades on Turnitin Assignments: Error 2.6.8

NOW RESOLVED

See update: Turnitin connector updated: student access problem now resolved .

We have become aware of an issue that is affecting student access to feedback on a small number of Turnitin assignments. Students receive an error message when they attempt to access their assignment feedback using ‘My Grades’ in the module and click on the title of the assignment. Students are unable to access the ‘Review Assignment’ page and see their feedback. Instead, they see this error message (2.6.8 – the specified object was not found):

268 error screenshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staff do not see this error and will not be aware of the issue until it is reported to them by students. Unfortunately, this is caused by an error with the integration between Blackboard and Turnitin, but please don’t worry! The students’ feedback is all still there. Turnitin engineers are working to solve the problem for us as quickly as possible and we will, of course, let everyone know as soon as it is fixed.

Update 14th March

The cause of this problem has now been identified. IT have resolved the issue on courses which we know to be affected. 

If your students encounter the error message shown above, please ensure that a call is logged with the IT Service Desk.

 

Depending on how the assignment has been marked, please advise your students of the following workarounds: Continue reading