Changing the focus: Accessibility in Blackboard

When thinking about accessibility and inclusive teaching practice, technology is often cited as a solution. Technology can certainly assist students with disabilities but well designed online learning provision can benefit all learners.

Central to this is a shift in focus away from the ‘deficit’ model of perceiving disability, where Universities respond to a ‘need’ and adopting a ‘social’ model that addresses the structural barriers to students’ ability to participate, and succeed in learning. This is where technology can play a key role in levelling the learning playing field by designing systems that optimise access for all (JISC Quick Guide, Getting started with accessibility and inclusion).

The University’s virtual learning environment, Blackboard, is fully compatible with internationally recognised accessibility standards and has in-built features that allow students with different impairments to engage with digital content.

Turnitin is working towards full compliance. A text based PDF version of students’ work can be downloaded to work with screen-readers.

There are also things you can do to when producing your learning materials to ensure students have the best experience.

Find out how to make the most of the accessibility features in Blackboard and Turnitin.

Find advice on making your documents and screencasts accessible in the Creating accessible teaching and learning resources blackboard course. (Log-in and click the +Enrol button.)

The Library guide to Inclusive Technology provides advice on accessibility features that students can use including Windows, Microsoft and Office365.

 

 

Help us improve your experience of using Blackboard – staff workshops, 26/27 Feb (with coffee & biscuits!)

Have you used Blackboard and thought things like “this interface could look better”, “there’s too much information on this page” or, perhaps, “it would be better if THIS was THERE”? Do you think Blackboard’s look, feel and ease of use could be improved?

We are pleased to let you know that the TEL team will be undertaking an important piece of work with Blackboard Consulting around improving your experience of using Blackboard as a resource in teaching and learning here at UoR.

Blackboard logo

We will be running some workshops on Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 February to give Blackboard users like yourself an opportunity to share your experience of using it and to suggest what improvements could be made to help it better meet your needs. Whilst we can’t currently change the functionality and features, we can improve the look and feel – the layout, branding, the organisation and presentation of information (the usability, if you will). We’d really like people who use Blackboard to help us to do this and would be delighted if you could be involved.

 

As a user of Blackboard, we’d like to invite you to attend one of the following workshops:

Monday 26 February

  • 11:30-13:00
  • 13:30-15:00
  • 15:30-17:00

Tuesday 27 February

  • 09:30-11:00
  • 11:30-13:00
  • 13:30-15:00
  • 15:30-17:00

*Tea/coffee and biscuits will be available at all sessions!*

Pic of cup of tea

 

 

 

 

 

I’m interested – what shall I do?

If you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity to help improve Blackboard, please complete this short online form by close of play on Friday 16 February, indicating which workshops you would be available to attend. Please indicate ALL sessions you would be available for and hold this availability in your diary – you will then be allocated to one workshop.

We will confirm your attendance by email by close of play on Monday 19 February, along with details of the workshop you’ve been allocated to join.

Will I need to do anything else?

Having analysed the feedback from these workshops, Blackboard Consulting will create some prototypes for the new look and layout of Blackboard. We will then invite you to preview and comment on the proposed improvements (likely to be sometime during April – June), and then to feed back on the improvements once they’ve been implemented (September-October).

We hope this is something you feel able to help us with and we look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks in advance for your help,

The TEL team 

 

Dates for forthcoming Blackboard upgrades and course rollover

The following dates have been scheduled for the 2018 Course Rollover, and for Blackboard upgrades over the next twelve months.

Course rollover

Saturday 30th June 2018

downtime required approximately 08:00 – 17:00

 

Summer Blackboard Upgrade

Sunday 5th – Monday 6th August 2018

downtime required, probably from Sunday afternoon till Monday lunchtime

 

Winter Upgrade

Sunday 6th – Monday 7th January 2019

downtime required, probably from Sunday afternoon till Monday lunchtime)

 

These dates have been agreed by CQSD and IT after consultation with Support Centres, the Examinations Office, ISLI and other staff both at Reading and in Malaysia. While we appreciate that there is never an entirely convenient time to make Blackboard unavailable, these downtime windows have been scheduled to avoid inconvenience to most users.

 

Further, more detailed information on Course Rollover and these Blackboard upgrades will of course follow in due course.

In the meantime, if you are aware of any assessment deadlines or other activity which might be affected by one of these downtime windows, please take steps to reschedule the activity.

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!