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:
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!
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.
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?
The TEL team generally recommend Google Chrome as the browser which provides the most satisfactory performance with Blackboard. During the last year, however, Google introduced changes which made it impossible to play certain types of media file in Chrome. In addition, there is a Known Issue in Blackboard which causes MP3 audio files to start playing automatically in Google Chrome, even when the auto-start option has been deselected.
The latest Blackboard release, now installed on our system, gets round these issues by enabling audio and video files to be embedded as HTML5 elements.
This change means that
MP3 audio files uploaded to Blackboard can be played in any Internet Browser.
MP4 video files uploaded to Blackboard can be played in any Internet Browser.
The new functionality is available only for newly-created audio and video links in Blackboard. The guide suggests how you can deal with previously-uploaded media content to take advantage of the new functionality.
Other file types (Ogg, WAV and WebM) are also supported by the HTML5 tools, but MP3 and MP4 are the only types playable in all of the main Internet Browsers.
Windows Media files (wma and wmv) are not supported, and should be avoided when uploading media content to Blackboard.
We also have guides to help you embed video content from sites such as YouTube into your Blackboard course:
Is the menu on your Blackboard module easy to navigate? Do you make use of features like emboldened sub-headers and dividers to present a clear menu to your students? Do you know how to customise your menu to best suit your purposes? This short screen cast video shows you how to do all these things to help you present a clear, easy-to-use menu for your students.
Do you add presentations, video, images or audio that are stored on external websites into your modules on Blackboard using embed code?
If you include resources or content from certain websites using embed code, then recent improvements to browser security settings can affect how this content can be viewed and prevents it from automatically displaying in Blackboard.
Internet browsers, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer, have improved their security settings for what is described as ‘mixed content’. Browsers now prevent ‘non-secure’ content that is stored on other websites being viewed in ‘secure’ websites such as Blackboard.