TEL team meet our new students at Welcome Week’s Academic Success Fair

Staff from the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team and Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA) programme enjoyed meeting our new students at Welcome Week’s Academic Success Fair.  

Pic of Pete & Chris

Pete Moll (L) & Chris Johnson (R) from the TEL team

We had some great discussions with students about Blackboard (our Virtual Learning Environment, VLE), submitting work and accessing marks and feedback online. It was interesting to hear about students’ previous experiences of VLEs, both anecdotally and via a survey we ran on the day.

The headline survey results showed that 54% of students have used VLEs prior to joining UoR and 60% have submitted assignments or coursework online before. It’s worth noting that although many students have prior experience of using a VLE, only 19% have previously used Blackboard.

We have some really useful resources to help students who are new to Blackboard and/or online submissions. These can be found via Blackboard’s Help tab; there’s a searchable site containing helpful resources on all aspects of using Blackboard and Turnitin. 

Congratulations to the 8 winners of our survey prize draw – we’ve emailed you with details of how to collect your Amazon voucher prizes (kindly donated by Blackboard)!

The TEL team would like to wish all our new and returning students every success for the forthcoming year! 

Chris Johnson / Lauren McCann (CQSD TEL) 

Blackboard and TEL – What’s New for 2018-19

As we start a new academic year, here’ s a summary of changes that have taken place over the summer.

Blackboard redesign

You can’t fail to have noticed that Blackboard has a crisp new look. The redesign was informed by feedback received from student and staff focus groups held in the Spring term. As well as aiming to be more visually appealing, the landing page has been designed to give prominence to those areas of Blackboard which users need to access most frequently. And we’ve used a new responsive theme, meaning that Blackboard should now display well on any device, and any size of screen.

Read more on the new Blackboard design

 

Blackboard upgrade

This was a fairly minor upgrade, but it brought a number of enhancements and bug fixes.

Read more on the Blackboard upgrade

 

Blackboard Ally

Ally is an innovative tool which can help improve the accessibility of content on Blackboard courses. It has been enabled on all 2018-19 courses. Ally is being trialled for a year as part of the implementation of the University’s policy on Inclusive Practice in Teaching and Learning.

Read more on Blackboard Ally

View Blackboard ALLY support materials

 

New support sites for staff and students

We have launched new help sites for you and your students to use Blackboard and related technologies such as Turnitin and Collaborate (web conferencing).

Staff support site: https://sites.reading.ac.uk/tel-support-for-students

Student support site: https://sites.reading.ac.uk/tel-support

Help articles are categorised, so you can for instance find all articles on Marking & Feedback, but the best way of finding what you want is to use the search box at the top of every page.

 

Preparing for the new academic year

Highlighted on the staff support site at the moment is a checklist aimed to help you prepare your Blackboard sites for a new cohort of students – see Getting ready for the new Year.

 

Requesting support

As ever, when seeking support from the TEL team – whether you have a technical query or are looking for advice or training – please contact us by logging a support ticket through the IT Self-Service Portal

You can also simply email it@reading.ac.uk or use the ASK A QUESTION link at the top of the Staff support site.

Your queries and requests for support are picked up and dealt with by the TEL team.

 

Wishing you all a successful academic year.

New-look Blackboard live this Friday (info for students)

Blackboard will look a little different from Friday morning (31 August), and there are a couple of things you will need to do before logging in for the first time.

In response to staff and student feedback, we’ve been working to improve Blackboard’s look, feel, accessibility and the experience of our staff and students when using it. We’ve also been keen to make it more responsive and give a better experience when using it on mobile devices. 

 

What will I need to do before logging in for the first time?

Edit 22/09/18: it should no longer be necessary to clear browsing data before logging on to Blackboard

Before logging in, you will need to clear the browsing data from the web browser you use, e.g. Chrome, Firefox. Don’t worry if you don’t know what this means or how to do it – just click for guidance on the link below for the browser you use: 

*You are advised not to use the Internet Explorer browser when using Blackboard*

Mobile browsers:

 

How will it look?

The new log-in screen will present like this (use your university user-name and password to log in):

Image of new Blackboard log-in page

Once logged in, you will find yourself on the My Blackboard tab (shown below) where you will find your modules, your organisations, relevant announcements and module evaluation surveys.  Continue reading

New-look Blackboard live this Friday (info for staff)

Blackboard will look a little different from Friday morning (31 August), and there are a couple of things you will need to do before logging in for the first time.

As you may remember from previous communications, we’ve been working, in response to staff and student feedback, to improve Blackboard’s look, feel, accessibility, responsiveness and the experience of our staff and students when using it. 

 

What will I need to do before logging in for the first time?

Edit 22/09/18: it should no longer be necessary to clear browsing data before logging on to Blackboard

Before logging in, you will need to clear the browsing data from the web browser you use, e.g. Chrome, Firefox. Don’t worry if you don’t know what this means or how to do it – just click for guidance on the link below for the browser you use: 

*You are advised not to use the Internet Explorer browser when using Blackboard*

Mobile browsers:

 

How will it look?

The new log-in screen will present like this (use your university user-name and password to log-in):

Image of new Blackboard log-in page

Once logged in,  Continue reading

Introducing ALLY: Accessible Blackboard course content

The ALLY Technology

Available in all Blackboard Courses 2018-19 from August, ALLY is an innovative technology (short video) that can help with the accessibility of your Blackboard course content:

  • Automatically checks course materials against WCAG 2.1 accessibility standards
  • Provides students with accessible alternative formats such as audio and electronic braille
  • Delivers step-by-step guidance to instructors to improve the accessibility of their course content
  • Integrates seamlessly with Blackboard Learn

We are inviting all staff and students to look at this new tool.

Find out how it works!  Watch these short videos: ALLY for staff Video | ALLY for students Video

TEL Support 

To find out more about ALLY and to get started,  access our resources  and participate in the staff development sessions during the Autumn term as part of our TEL programme.

Book on to these now:

TEL: ACCESSIBILITY: ACCESSIBLE BLACKBOARD CONTENT 13/09/2018 10:00 11:30
TEL: ACCESSIBILITY: ACCESSIBLE BLACKBOARD CONTENT 18/09/2018 10:00 11:30
TEL: ACCESSIBILITY: ACCESSIBLE BLACKBOARD CONTENT (RETREAT) 17/10/2018 15:00 16:30
TEL: ACCESSIBILITY: ACCESSIBLE BLACKBOARD CONTENT 09/11/2018 15:00 16:30
TEL: ACCESSIBILITY: ACCESSIBLE BLACKBOARD CONTENT (RETREAT) 19/11/2018 10:00 11:30
TEL: ACCESSIBILITY: ACCESSIBLE BLACKBOARD CONTENT (RETREAT) 05/12/2018 15:00 16:30

The Evaluation

Within the context of  the University’s Policy in Inclusive T&L, during 2018-19, we will assess the benefits of using Ally to improve the accessibility of digital course materials for both students and staff. We hope Ally will help our institution with providing: 

  • students with a choice of accessible formats to meet their needs and
  • staff with the knowledge and skills on how to author more accessible course content

We will be collecting feedback from staff and students during the Spring term.

Blackboard upgrade summer 2018 – complete

Blackboard has been upgraded to the latest version – for those of you who like to know such things, we are now running Blackboard 9.1 Q2 2018 Cumulative Update 2.

 

New features

  • Blackboard Tests: Students are now able to clear their selection on a Multiple-Choice question. This is useful in a test where negative scoring is in place, and they would prefer to submit no answer rather than one which they’re not sure about. 
    More on clearing multiple choice selection

  • Blackboard Assignments: you can now grant an additional attempt to a specific student, even when anonymous marking is enabled.
    To do this

  • Blackboard Collaborate: when setting up groups within a course, you are now able to enable a Blackboard Collaborate room.
    More on group tools
     
  • Turnitin: we’ve updated the building block which integrates Blackboard. We’re now on the Blackboard Basic integration version 2.7.5.
    This version improves the way marks are synchronised between the two systems – if you edit a grade in the Turnitin Feedback Studio, the change should automatically be reflected in the Blackboard Grade Centre (although we’d still recommend that you press ‘Sync Grades’ before releasing marks to students).
    The most obvious change staff will notice, is that when you access Turnitin via the Control Panel there’s a search box. This should make it much easier to locate the correct assignment on a course which has many submission points.

 

Blackboard Math Editor

Edit 09/08/18:

The Blackboard Math Editor was unavailable immediately after the upgrade, but Blackboard Support have now restored access to the tool. 

Those needing to insert Chemical symbols into content items will find that the Math editor has been upgraded to a later version of WIRIS, and now supports some chemistry specific content.
More on the Math Editor

 

Technical issues?

We will be introducing changes to the visual design of Blackboard in a few weeks’ time. In the meantime, if the Blackboard login screen or some courses are displaying incorrectly, please clear your browser cache, and the issues should disappear.

For details of supported browsers and operating systems, please see Browser Support for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2018 and Turnitin System Requirements.

If you encounter any problems using Blackboard or Turnitin, please log them via the IT Self-Service Portal.

 

Bug fixes

Blackboard + Safari

Previously mentioned issues using Safari with Blackboard have now been resolved – all file submissions will work as expected.

Original Article: http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/tel/2018/04/06/important-information-uploading-assignment-files-via-safari-ios/

Blackboard Assignments – save as draft

Issues with students who overwrote a previously-saved file with another, which had the exact same filename, are now resolved.

Original article: http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/tel/2018/03/08/changes-to-blackboard-assignments/