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.

2018-19 enrolments now being created in Blackboard

We are now into the 2018-19 academic year, and from Monday any 2018-19 course enrolments already registered in RISIS will start to flow into Blackboard.

Module Convenors on Part 2 and 3 modules: if you want your students to be able to access your Blackboard course, simply make your course available.

You’ll also want to email them to alert them that the course is available, as they’re probably not checking Blackboard on a daily basis just now!

 

Please note

This applies only to returning students (e.g. 2nd and 3rd years). 

New students (i.e. Part 1 and new PGT students) will not have full access to IT systems until they complete their enrolment in late September, and it is only at that point that they will be able to log on to Blackboard and access their courses.

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/

Blackboard Course Rollover 2018 – complete

Annual course rollover took place on Saturday 30th June, with work continuing on related tasks throughout July. 

Many thanks to our colleagues in the IT TEL/AV team who are principally responsible for ensuring that rollover is carried out successfully.

 

Blackboard courses have now been created for all 2018-19 modules and programmes which are scheduled in RISIS, and staff enrolled onto them.

 

 

How have 2018-19 courses been created?

RISIS modules

  • If your RISIS module ran in 2017-18, the 2017-18 Blackboard course was used, and the module is scheduled to run again in 2018-19
    then the 2018-19 course will have been created as a copy of the 2017-18 course
    (unless the Module Convenor chose to Opt Out of course copying).
     
  • If your module last ran in a year prior to 2017-18, as long as you have submitted a course copy request, the course will have been copied forward for use in 2018-19.
     
  • Modules in Fine Art have been created as copies of a standard Departmental course template created by the SDTL in consultation with the TEL team – please contact your SDTL if you need further information about this.
    Module Convenors and key staff in the Department have been enrolled onto these Blackboard courses. 
     
  • Modules in the School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences have been created as copies of a standard School course template created by the SDTL and DTLs, in consultation with the TEL team. Please contact your SDTL or DTL if you need further information about this. 
    Module Convenors and key academic and administrative support staff have been enrolled onto these Blackboard courses. 
     
  • Any other RISIS modules – for example, brand new modules, or modules where the code has changed – will have been created with the default Blackboard course menu. Module Convenors have been enrolled onto these courses.

 

Shared courses

As long as you submitted a course copy request by the deadline of 26th June, your shared course will have been copied forward for 2018-19.

  • Where the shared course replaces individual RISIS modules, a Merged Course will have been created.
  • Where the shared course is run in addition to individual RISIS modules or programmes, a Supplementary Course will have been created.

Please see Merged Courses and Supplementary Courses for further detail on these.

If you requested a completely new Merged or Supplementary course, this should now have been created, and appear in the courses list on your Enrolments tab.

 

 

What content has been copied?

  • Where a 2017-18 course has been copied forward for use in 2018-19, all course content will have been copied.
  • Links to Talis online reading lists will have been copied, but need to be configured for the new academic year – see the Library’s guidance on configuring Talis links.
  • Announcements, Discussion Boards, Blogs, Journals and Wikis will not have been copied.
  • The Grade Centre and Assessments have not been copied.
  • Tests have been copied, but you will need to set them up with the correct settings for your 2018-19 students. Please see our guidance on Tests and Surveys.

Further details can be found on the Course Rollover page of this site.

 

I missed the deadline – what can I do?

If you missed the 26th June deadline, but still have content you would like copied from a 2017-18 (or earlier) course, please fill out the Course Copy Request Form which you can find at http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/vle-support/.

That page also has links where you can 

Please submit your request as early as possible, to make sure you have plenty of time to set up your course for the new academic year.

Needless to say, if you have any queries, just log a support ticket with IT.

 

Staff enrolments

As part of the course copy process, most staff enrolments will have been rolled forward – all Instructors, Teaching Assistants and External Examiners.

In addition, staff identified in RISIS as Module Convenor for a 2018-19 module have been enrolled on the corresponding Blackboard course.
This applies equally to courses which were copied, and to courses which have been set up as a blank shell.
If you are a Module Convenor for a module which runs both in Reading and Malaysia, you will see all 2018-19 occurrences of the module in Blackboard.

 

If you do not see all of the 2018-19 Blackboard courses you need

  • If the course has run before: 
    Ask a colleague to enrol you. This could be

    • the Module Convenor
    • another colleague who is already enrolled on the course
    • the programme administrator in your Support Centre.
       
  • If the course has never run before (or has a new RISIS code):
    Ask Support Centre staff to enrol you. This could be

    • the Programmes Manager
    • the Senior Programme Administrator

You could also fill out this form – Request enrolment on a course – but it will probably be quickest just to contact colleagues in the Support Centre.

 

Preparing your 2018-19 courses for the new academic year

Course menu

If your course was created as a copy of a previous course, the menu will be exactly the same on the new course.

If your course was created as a blank shell, it will have the default course menu.

default Blackboard course menu 2017

In either case, please spend some time considering if the menu and underlying course structure

  • meet the specific requirements of your course
  • will be easily navigable by your learners

and then make any changes required.

Please see our guides on this:

The Blackboard course menu

The default menu for new modules/programmes, with suggestions for what each section should contain.

Customising a course menu

How to customise the course menu to include essential features & make it easy to navigate for students.

Course content

Courses which have been copied forward will include all course content except for announcements, discussion boards, and Blackboard blogs, journals and wikis.

Naturally, before you make the course available to students in the new academic year, you will need to ensure that preparation should include ensuring that all course materials, such as

  • module / programme handbooks
  • assignment briefs
  • lecture and seminar material

are up-to-date, and in the appropriate section of the course.

Talis reading list links 

whether as part of the menu, or in a course content area – will have been copied, but you need to configure them for use by students in the new academic year. Please see http://libguides.reading.ac.uk/reading-lists/staff/blackboard

Module Evaluation 

this was a new content area added to all 2017-18 RISIS modules, and is part of the current default Blackboard course menu.
If your 2018-19 course is a copy of last year’s course, it will already have the Module Evaluation area, including any documents which were uploaded to this area.

Module Convenors please note:
On the 2018-19 course you should remove any comments and/or files relating to student feedback which have been copied forward from 2017-18.

To do this, simply Edit the item

Removing old Module Evaluation responses

Delete any cohort-specific text entered into the Text field then click Mark for Removal next to any attached files.

Mark file for removal

You can also set this content item to be unavailable until later in the year, when you upload your response to the 2018-19 cohort.

 

Assessment

Blackboard Tests and Surveys will have been copied, and you will find them listed under Control Panel > Course Tools > Tests, Surveys and Pools. However they will NOT yet be deployed to users  (made available for students to take). You will need to deploy them with appropriate settings on the new course. Please see our guidance on Tests and Surveys.

Blackboard and Turnitin Assignments – these will not have been copied at all, and new submission points will now need to be created with appropriate settings on the new course. This work will be carried out by programme administrators in the Support Centres, who are receiving all required training this summer.

 

When will students be able to see their new Blackboard courses?

Returning students (i.e. those progressing to Part 2 and 3) will already have made their 2018-19 module selections. These enrolments will be pulled through from RISIS to Blackboard once

  • RISIS has switched to the new academic year (2nd August)
  • IT have updated and tested all of their import scripts (by mid-August).

After that, they will see any Blackboard courses which staff have made available.

New students (i.e. Part 1 and new PGT students) will not have full access to IT systems until they complete their enrolment in late September, and it is only at that point that they will be able to log on to Blackboard and access their courses.

 

What do I need to do with the 2017-18 course?

The short answer is “absolutely nothing”.

Please DO NOT SET OLD COURSES AS UNAVAILABLE – it has been agreed by DELT that students should continue to have access to all of the Blackboard courses relevant to their programme of study
i.e. a final undergraduate student should still be able to access their Blackboard courses from Parts 1 and 2.

This is so that they can access course materials and all feedback received from staff.

 

Any Questions?

Please log a support ticket with IT and depending on the nature of your query, you’ll get a response from either the CQSD or IT TEL team.

Reminder: Blackboard upgrade this Sunday evening

As previously announced, we will be upgrading to the latest Blackboard version on Sunday 5 – Monday 6 August.

Blackboard and Turnitin will be unavailable while the upgrade takes place

from 19:00 BST Sunday 5 August

until approximately midday BST on Monday 6 August

(02:00 – 19:00 MYT)

 

This is a fairly minor upgrade and you won’t see a great change to the system or how it looks. However, the upgrade does bring some additional functionality, and fixes a number of known issues which are currently affecting us.

Further details on Monday, once the upgrade has completed.

Blackboard Course Rollover 2018 – update

Updated 20th July – further updates to follow

Annual course rollover took place on Saturday 30th June, with work continuing on related tasks throughout the following weeks. 

Many thanks to our colleagues in the IT TEL/AV team who gave up their Saturday to carry out the rollover process (as well as spending many hours in preparation and testing over the previous weeks and months).

All scheduled 2018-19 Blackboard courses have now been created, and staff enrolled onto them.

 

 

How have 2018-19 courses been created?

RISIS modules

  • If your RISIS module ran in 2017-18, and is scheduled to run again in 2018-19
    then, unless the Module Convenor submitted an Opt Out request, 
    a 2018-19 course has been created as a copy of the 2017-18 course.
     
  • If your module last ran in a year prior to 2017-18, as long as you submitted a course copy request before the deadline of 26th June, the course will have been copied forward for use in 2018-19.
     
  • Modules in Fine Art have been created as copies of a standard Departmental course template created by the SDTL in consultation with the TEL team – please contact your SDTL if you need further information about this.
    Module Convenors and key staff in the Department have now been enrolled onto these Blackboard courses. 
     
  • Modules in the School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences have been created as copies of a standard School course template created by the SDTL and DTLs, in consultation with the TEL team. Please contact your DTL if you need further information about this. 
    Module Convenors have now been enrolled onto these Blackboard courses, and additional academic and administrative support staff will be added in the next few days. 
    If you are expecting to use a shared Blackboard space (e.g. for Part 2 Psychology options), and can so far only see the individual RISIS modules, please wait a few more days for your new Merged or Supplementary course to be created.
     
  • Any other RISIS modules – for example, brand new modules, or modules where the code has changed – will have been created with the default Blackboard course menu. Module Convenors have now been enrolled onto these courses.

 

Shared courses

As long as you submitted a course copy request by the deadline of 26th June, your shared course will have been copied forward for 2018-19.

  • Where the shared course replaces individual RISIS modules, a Merged Course will have been created.
  • Where the shared course is run in addition to individual RISIS modules or programmes, a Supplementary Course will have been created.

Please see Merged Courses and Supplementary Courses for further detail on these.

If you requested a completely new Merged or Supplementary course, this should now have been created, and appear in the courses list on your Enrolments tab.

 

What content has been copied?

  • All course content will have been copied forward.
  • Links to Talis online reading lists will have been copied, but need to be configured for the new academic year.
  • Announcements, Discussion Boards, Blogs, Journals and Wikis will not have been copied.
  • The Grade Centre and Assessments have not been copied.
  • Tests have been copied, but you will need to set them up with the correct settings for your 2018-19 students.

Further details can be found on the Course Rollover page of this site.

 

I missed the deadline – what can I do?

If you missed the 26th June deadline, but still have content you would like copied from a 2017-18 (or earlier) course, please fill out the Course Copy Request Form which you can find at http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/vle-support/.

That page also has links where you can 

Please submit your request as early as possible, to make sure you have plenty of time to set up your course for the new academic year.

Needless to say, if you have any queries, just log a support ticket with IT.

 

Staff enrolments

As part of the course copy process, most staff enrolments will have been rolled forward – all Instructors, Teaching Assistants and External Examiners.

In addition, staff identified in RISIS as Module Convenor for a 2018-19 module have been enrolled on the corresponding Blackboard course.
This applies equally to courses which were copied, and to courses which have been set up as a blank shell.
If you are a Module Convenor for a module which runs both in Reading and Malaysia, you will see all 2018-19 occurrences of the module in Blackboard.

If you see Blackboard courses which end in 18-9H, 18-9J, 18-9K or 18-9V please ignore these. 
These module occurrences are for Visiting and/or Study Abroad students. The Blackboard courses need to exist for the purposes of Blackboard-RISIS integration, but staff should not be enrolled on them. If you have been enrolled on such a course, this enrolment will be removed in the very near future.

 

If you do not see all of the 2018-19 Blackboard courses you need

please wait a few more days, until all the rollover processes have been completed (an update will be posted here). After that

  • If the course has run before: 
    Ask a colleague to enrol you. This could be

    • the Module Convenor
    • another colleague who is already enrolled on the course
    • the programme administrator in your Support Centre.
  • If the course has never run before (or has a new RISIS code):
    Ask Support Centre staff to enrol you. This could be

    • the Programmes Manager
    • the Senior Programme Administrator

You could also fill out this form – Request enrolment on a course – but it will probably be quickest just to contact colleagues in the Support Centre.

 

Preparing your 2018-19 courses for the new academic year

Course menu

If your course was created as a copy of a previous course, the menu will be exactly the same on the new course.

If your course was created as a blank shell, it will have the default course menu.

default Blackboard course menu 2017

In either case, please spend some time considering if the menu and underlying course structure

  • meet the specific requirements of your course
  • will be easily navigable by your learners

and then make any changes required.

Please see our guides on this:

The Blackboard course menu

The default menu for new modules/programmes, with suggestions for what each section should contain.

Customising a course menu

How to customise the course menu to include essential features & make it easy to navigate for students.

Course content

Courses which have been copied forward will include all course content except for announcements, discussion boards, and Blackboard blogs, journals and wikis.

Naturally, before you make the course available to students in the new academic year, you will need to ensure that preparation should include ensuring that all course materials, such as

  • module / programme handbooks
  • assignment briefs
  • lecture and seminar material

are up-to-date, and in the appropriate section of the course.

Talis reading list links 

whether as part of the menu, or in a course content area – will have been copied, but you need to configure them for use by students in the new academic year. Please see http://libguides.reading.ac.uk/reading-lists/staff/blackboard

Module Evaluation 

this was a new content area added to all 2017-18 RISIS modules, and is part of the current default Blackboard course menu.
If your 2018-19 course is a copy of last year’s course, it will already have the Module Evaluation area, including any documents which were uploaded to this area.

Module Convenors please note:
On the 2018-19 course you should remove any comments and/or files relating to student feedback which have been copied forward from 2017-18.

To do this, simply Edit the item

Removing old Module Evaluation responses

Delete any cohort-specific text entered into the Text field then click Mark for Removal next to any attached files.

Mark file for removal

You can also set this content item to be unavailable until later in the year, when you upload your response to the 2018-19 cohort.

 

Assessment

Blackboard Tests and Surveys will have been copied, and you will find them listed under Control Panel > Course Tools > Tests, Surveys and Pools. However they will NOT yet be deployed to users  (made available for students to take). You will need to deploy them with appropriate settings on the new course. Please see our guidance on Tests and Surveys.

Blackboard and Turnitin Assignments – these will not have been copied at all, and new submission points will now need to be created with appropriate settings on the new course. This work will be carried out by programme administrators in the Support Centres, who are receiving all required training this summer.

 

When will students be able to see their new Blackboard courses?

Returning students (i.e. those progressing to Part 2 and 3) will already have made their 2018-19 module selections. These enrolments will be pulled through from RISIS to Blackboard once

  • RISIS has switched to the new academic year (1st August)
  • IT have updated and tested all of their import scripts (by mid-August).

After that, they will see any Blackboard courses which staff have made available.

New students (i.e. Part 1 and new PGT students) will not have full access to IT systems until they complete their enrolment in late September, and it is only at that point that they will be able to log on to Blackboard and access their courses.

 

What do I need to do with the 2017-18 course?

The short answer is “absolutely nothing”.

Please DO NOT SET OLD COURSES AS UNAVAILABLE – it has been agreed by DELT that students should continue to have access to all of the Blackboard courses relevant to their programme of study
i.e. a final undergraduate student should still be able to access their Blackboard courses from Parts 1 and 2.

This is so that they can access course materials and all feedback received from staff.

 

Any Questions?

Please log a support ticket with IT and depending on the nature of your query, you’ll get a response from either the CQSD or IT TEL team.