Blackboard Service Interruption – 19 April

  • Blackboard experienced a service interruption between approximately 11.30am and 12.15pm BST on Wednesday 19 April 2017.
  • During this time Blackboard was unavailable for staff and students.

Information for staff with online submission deadlines during the service interruption:

If you had online assessment deadlines during this time, please make appropriate allowances for any student submission issues encountered in consultation with your SDTL and Support Centre.

It may be necessary to amend the Due Date for assignments to allow students to submit work, if it is decided an extension of the deadline is appropriate in your circumstance. (Guide on extending submission deadlines.)

If you have a Turnitin submission and the students have emailed you the work, it is possible to submit work on their behalf and may negate the need to extend the deadline. (Guide on how to submit on behalf of a student in Turnitin. )

If you have any queries with regards to the service interruption, please contact us via the IT Service Desk.

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

 

 

Blackboard Assignment submission email receipt error Friday 24th March

Blackboard was unable to send emails between approximately 2am and 2pm on Friday 24th March.

As a result of this issue, students who were submitting to a Blackboard Assignment submission during this time saw an error message after submitting their work because an email receipt could not be sent to them.

NOTE: This did NOT affect students submitting to Turnitin.

It was not clear to students if their work had been successfully submitted due to this and may have resulted in some confusion and concern. Students may also have made several attempts to submit work as a result.

Please be aware that:

  • The students’ work was successfully submitted if they saw this error message.
  • Students will not have received an email receipt for the submission.
  • A copy of the email receipt has not been stored for staff reference in the Files section of the course.

We apologise for the inconvenience and any concern this caused to students and staff. The issue was resolved as quickly as possible by Blackboard engineers.

If you have any questions or queries arising from this incident please submit them to it@reading.ac.uk

 

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

Digital Advent Calendar – Institute of Education

Yota Dimitradi from the University’s Institute of Education (IoE) has put together a digital festive treat in the form of an online advent calendar for colleagues in IoE and has kindly offered to share it with us. It reveals a different educational App everyday in the run up to December 25th.

You can see the advent calendar and join in by visiting the University of Reading Institute of Education Digital Advent Calendar. Enjoy dipping in to the growing list of apps for a few minutes every day. You might see something you’d like to investigate further and try out with your students.

IoE_Advent

The advent calendar is produced using Google’s blogging platform Blogger. Yota has made use of the Flipcard blog view to fit the advent calendar format.

If you’re not familiar with Apps and using mobile devices, check out the BBC WebWise site: