New look Blackboard – coming September 2018

Following consultation with staff and students earlier this year, we are working to improve Blackboard’s look, feel and ease of use. We currently plan to launch this more user-friendly Blackboard in early September.

What’s changing?

Alongside Blackboard’s annual summer upgrade, this year we are making changes to its design and appearance to help make it a more user-friendly, visually engaging and accessible tool for staff and students to use. The image below gives an idea of roughly how it is likely to look. Please note that this is a work-in-progress and the final interface may look slightly different (the images and headings may change, for example).     

Proposed Blackboard interface (work-in-progress)

Why?

Results from staff and student surveys, along with anecdotal feedback, suggested that people were finding Blackboard ‘cluttered’, text-heavy and challenging in places to navigate. A need was identified to work with staff and students more closely to unpick this and to engage them in contributing to the re-design of a more user-friendly and accessible tool.   

When?

Work is taking place over the summer to implement the identified changes. It is planned to launch this new look Blackboard in early September. 

What will this mean for you?

These changes are designed to give an improved user experience for our staff and students. All the same functionality will still be available and Blackboard will work in the same way. 

If staff are planning to create any resources that require use of Blackboard imagery, it would be advisable to wait until the new look is available before doing so. 

Support/resources 

The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team will be creating a short video suitable for staff to use to support students, new and returning, in getting started with (the new look) Blackboard. Details of this will be communicated towards the end of the summer.

If you have any questions relating to these improvements, please feel free to reply to this blog post or email me: l.j.mccann@reading.ac.uk

Lauren & the TEL CQSD 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)

#brightlearn

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

From http://blogs.brighton.ac.uk/burningapps/

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 (https://twitter.com/boylanfm/status/808324692109119488)

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 https://enhancingfieldwork.org.uk/

12 Apps of Christmas https://the12appsofchristmas2016.wordpress.com/

Take part:

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

 

Inaugural TEL Fest – a success!

TEL Fest logo

“Really liked the event – thought there was lots of opportunity to chat with colleagues (both TEL and outside TEL) informally and share best practice. I learned a lot that will help me make my module better with relatively little effort. You should definitely do it again next year!” [TEL Fest delegate]

The university’s first TEL Fest, held 11-13 July 2017, has been hailed a great success with lots of positive feedback from staff who attended the 3 day event. Our festival of Technology Enhanced Learning comprised a range of 11 staff development sessions aimed at helping staff develop their awareness and use of technology to engage students and enrich their learning experience here at the university.

Staff from Blackboard and UCL joined TEL and CQSD staff along with colleagues from across the university to network, present and share TEL and Blackboard ideas and expertise to help enhance teaching, learning and assessment here at Reading. From tasty ‘TEL tapas’ and Blackboard Bootcamp, UCL’s ABC rapid design curriculum design workshop, TEL tools for teaching large classes, using video from Box of Broadcasts and sharing apps for teaching and learning, it was a varied programme with something for everyone!

Image of TEL Roadshow event

We also launched the new Blackboard Collaborate Ultra tool (live online classroom) for use in modules in the new academic year. Staff from UoR Malaysia and Blackboard joined us remotely along with early adopters to help launch the tool and, yes, there were party poppers! You can find out more information about this new tool and access self-help materials on the TEL Blog.

TEL Fest in numbers

Around 130 staff attended one or more of the sessions with Henley Business School, International Study and Language Institute (ISLI) then Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy being the top three schools in terms of staff attendance.

TEL Fest in tweets

View an account of TEL Fest in the tweets posted during the event at this TEL Fest Storify.

Thanks to all involved. TEL Fest 18 is already in the diary – watch this space for more info!