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

TEL Consultations

Would you like specific advice on your teaching practice using technology? Are you interested in finding out how you could:

  • Engage and support your students?Discussion
  • Enhance your teaching practice
  • Overview your module/course?

The TEL team are available to meet with you individually for an in-depth discussion and advice on your specific needs. The consultations are 30 min 1-to-1 sessions with a member of the team and are designed to provide you with advice and support on the effective use of technology in your teaching.

What topics can we advise on?

Continue reading

Blackboard Enhancements January 2017

Blackboard was upgraded 18th-19th December (to Blackboard 9.1 2016 Q2 release, Cumulative Update 3, if you like to know such things).

The upgrade did not introduce any significant new functionality, but it did bring a number of bug fixes – for instance, emails sent from Blackboard with a file attachment should now display correctly for Apple users.

The upgrade also allowed us to introduce some other enhancements:

Blackboard Assignment Receipts

We are now able to customise the receipt which students receive when they submit to a Blackboard assignment. We have added some explanatory text for students, to reiterate that

  • they should retain the receipt in case they need to provide proof of submission
  • proof of submission is not proof that they submitted the correct file, nor that the file(s) uploaded and can be viewed successfully.

In addition, where you have set up a Group Assignment, when one member of a group submits to the assignment, all members of that group will now be notified.

See Blackboard assignment submission receipts for further details.

 

Reusable Objects

Reusable Objects allow you to store in a central location (the Blackboard  Fileshare) pieces of content which you regularly use on a variety of Blackboard  courses. Moreover, you can update the Reusable Object in the Fileshare and the content will be updated in every course where it has been made available.

Reusable Objects are thus a good way to maintain and update content which needs to be made available on multiple courses – perhaps even on every course in a Department or School – but which might need to be updated at various points during the academic year. Examples might include Health and Safety guidance, School and Support Centre staff contact details, or information from central teams such as Careers and the Library.

This functionality is likely to be of most interest to colleagues who manage or support a large number of courses. For details, please see our guide Reusable Objects, and log a call with it@reading.ac.uk if you require further assistance or advice on making use of this feature.

 

Turnitin

The Blackboard upgrade required us to update our Turnitin plug-in, but this should not have affected any Turnitin functionality.

However, in an unrelated change, Turnitin introduced a welcome update to their Feedback Studio just before Christmas, which should remove an issue where some staff were finding themselves logged out while marking. Details in this earlier blog post: Turnitin enhancement: Timeout setting revised

Blackboard upgrade 18th-19th December

Blackboard will be unavailable to users

Sunday 18 December 08:30 a.m. – Monday 19 December 12:00 midday GMT

This period of downtime is for a Blackboard upgrade.

The new Blackboard version does not make any significant changes to functionality, but it does introduce a number of back-end technical improvements, and some welcome bug fixes.

IT and CQSD staff will carry out post-upgrade checks on the morning of Monday 19 December before service is restored to all users.

Having carried out a couple of dry runs, we anticipate that checking will be complete by mid-morning on Monday; however you should treat the whole of the Monday morning as potentially “at risk”.

We would not expect any assessment deadlines to fall in the week immediately preceding the Christmas closure. However, if you do have deadlines set for Monday 19th you will need to amend these.

Box of Broadcasts

If you subscribe to the Library News blog you will have seen a recent post Presenting BoB – our new resource for TV & radio:

Our newest e-resource is Box of Broadcasts (BoB) – BoB is a resource that allows you to record and view TV and radio programmes from over 65 free-to-air channels.
BoB
Also available is an archive of over 2 million programmes from the 1990s to the present day – ready to watch. Includes content from; BBC TV and radio, ITV, Channel 4, Film4, some foreign language channels, the BBC Shakespeare Archive and lots more! Check the full list of available channels.



We’ve produced a user guide showing you how to link to a Box of Broadcast recording (or playlist, or clip) from your Blackboard course: Linking from Blackboard to Box of Broadcast (BoB) recordings

We understand that BoB will shortly be introducing an embed function, and when that is live we’ll update our guide accordingly.

 

Meanwhile, as the Library blog post says

For more information on how you may use the content available, please check the access page or have a look at Box of Broadcast’s FAQs

If you plan to use BoB to enhance your teaching we’d love to hear about it! Contact Natalie Guest with your ideas.