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.

Blackboard course rollover 2017: advance notice of timetable and downtime

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

This post contains notice of this year’s rollover timetable and planned downtime, plus some preparatory information on how different types of courses are rolled forward, and what you will need to do for this process to go smoothly.

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

 Saturday 15th July is being held in reserve in case of technical issues, or further work needing to be done.

Blackboard will be unavailable to users while course copying is taking place.

We anticipate that Blackboard will be unavailable during the morning on 8th July (and 15th July if required), but Blackboard should be considered “at risk” for the whole of the day.

 

If you have a RISIS course that is running again with the same module/programme code

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 automatically copied forward as part of Course Rollover.

 

If your Module meets these criteria, then no action is required to ensure that the course is included in the rollover process.

 

An opt-out will be available for staff who do not want their entire course to be copied, and would prefer to upload or copy course materials to a new blank course shell.

 

If your Module did not run in 2016-17, you can request that the 2015-16 Blackboard course is copied forward for use next academic year.

 

There is no need to do anything at present – the request forms for staff to use are currently being updated. A further communication will be sent out, specifying what actions are required (if any), in early June.

 

 

If you have a new RISIS course or an existing course where the module/programme code is changing

If you are the Module Convenor for a brand new module, or if your module is getting a new course code in RISIS there are some checks you can carry out now to ensure that these changes will be properly reflected in Blackboard.

Please see the Course Rollover page for further details.

 

 

If you have a shared course or non-RISIS course

If your Blackboard course is not directly linked to a RISIS programme or module code (e.g. if you use a Shared Course or Non-RISIS course), you will need to submit a request to have a 2017-18 course created and to have course content copied forward.

 

There is no need to do anything at present – the request forms for staff to use are currently being updated. A further communication will be sent out, specifying what actions are required (if any), in early June.

 

More detail on all of this is available on the Course Rollover page of this Blog.

TEL FEST: 11 – 13 July 2017 (Save the date!)

TEL Fest, 11-13 July 2017

SAVE THE DATE!  

Image of festival flags

As the festival season approaches, we thought we’d host a festival of our own this summer: TEL Fest – A festival of Technology Enhanced Learning. TEL Fest is designed to help academic and teaching staff make the most of technology to enrich teaching and learning. A series of bookable sessions, and something a little different from our TEL staff development provision during the year, it will draw on expertise from colleagues across the University and external speakers, and will comprise a range of TEL-related demonstrations, practical workshops, a roadshow and sharing/showcase sessions. Whether you come along to one or many ‘gigs’, and regardless of your previous TEL experience, the festival is being developed to ensure that you leave both inspired and equipped with the skills you need to enhance your current practice.

To whet your palate, here’s a taste of the current programme:

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/flags-pennants-red-yellow-blue-425046/ [19/5/17]
  • Telling ‘TEL’ Tales and TEL Tapas: A taster session. What are they doing elsewhere with TEL and Blackboard? Examples of interesting & innovative practice at other institutions (Steve Hoole, Blackboard)
  • Blackboard Bootcamp: Whip your Blackboard course in to shape! A practical workshop to help you develop your Blackboard module (Steve Hoole, Blackboard)
  • Open Online Courses (OOCs): Lessons from UoR’s successful OOC team for designing blended learning/Blackboard courses and promoting participation and engagement (OOC team)
  • ABC Curriculum Design workshop With links to the Curriculum Framework initiative, a rapid-design workshop useful for new programmes and those being reviewed and changing to a more blended format (Clive Young & Natasa Perovic, University College, London)
  • Blackboard Collaborate: Live Classroom – Official launch of this new online collaboration/live online classroom tool and tales, hints and tips from the pilot case studies
  • Box of Broadcasts: Demonstration of this on-demand TV and radio service for education (Library/Learning on Screen)

 

We’re also planning a series of bookable lunchtime festival ‘fringe’ events (possibly catered), including:

  • TEL Roadshow – Come, meet & talk to staff from TEL-related teams including Blackboard, TEL CQSD, OOCs, TEL/AV Support, IT, ISLI TEL & more…
  • Show and TEL – find out how colleagues are using different aspects of TEL to enrich teaching and learning
  • APPetite – sharing apps to help promote active learning and student engagement

With a raffle and festival freebies too, it promises to be a great event! More information and booking details to follow shortly but be sure to SAVE THE DATE and ‘tel’ your colleagues!

#uortelfest17

Image of technology

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/technology-information-digital-2082642/ [19/5/17]

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

 

 

Advance notice: Blackboard downtime for system upgrade 25-26 June 2017

We are currently testing the most recent Blackboard release, with a view to upgrading to this version in the summer.

Subject to our tests being successful, the upgrade will take place on 25th – 26th June.

Blackboard and Turnitin will be unavailable while this upgrade takes place:

FROM Sunday 25th June, 10:30 a.m. BST

TO Monday 26th June, 12:00 noon BST

It is likely that the system will be back online by mid-morning on Monday 26th, but the whole morning should be considered as being “at risk”.

Further details and reminders will be posted nearer the time.

Blackboard course preparation – what you said, what we are doing

In December we invited staff to complete a survey ‘Preparing your Blackboard course for the next academic year’. We received 108 responses, predominantly from academics, from across the University. We’d like to thank all those that took the time to complete the survey, and for the detailed additional comments that many respondents also provided.

The CQSD TEL and IT TEL Support teams are using the results of the survey to inform detailed plans for the creation of new Blackboard courses at the start of the 2017-18 academic year, but thought it would be useful to pull together some of the key themes to emerge from the survey, and to share our response to these.

Course Rollover

A clear majority of respondents (79%) wished to retain the current practice of copying forward course materials from one year to the next as the default position. Automatic course copying, but with the ability to opt out, was the single most preferred option (47%).

However, there was also a desire for more flexibility. In all, 64% voted for  options which would provide staff with more choice about what is copied.

Staff preference for course rollover

We have taken these views on board when planning for the Summer 2017 rollover.

The default position will remain that any RISIS module or programme which was used in Blackboard in the current academic year, and is scheduled to run again in 2017-18, will be copied forward.

For staff who do not want their course to be copied, Continue reading