Weekly Resource Roundup – 18/12/2023

As leader of our PGCTHE programme, I keep an eye out for resources to help staff teach effectively. These include webinars, podcasts, online toolkits, publications and more. Topics include active learning, online/blended teaching, accessibility/inclusion, and effective learning design based on cognitive science. Below I’ve listed items that came to my attention in the past week. In the interest of clarity, our policy is to show the titles and descriptions in the language of delivery. 

Online events and webinars




12-13/3/2024 Jisc, Digifest 2024: Imagining the future of education and research (hybrid in-person in Birmingham and online)

Resources and publications

Resources on Artificial Intelligence

Other resources


  • Monthly series European Network for Academic Integrity, ENAI monthly webinars free open webinars on various topics related to academic integrity.
  • Subscribe to SEDA’s mailing list for email discussions about educational development and emerging teaching practices. This is one of the sources I use when identifying useful material for the Roundup.
  • Follow University of Birmingham’s Higher Education Futures institute HEFi on Twitter for daily posts with links to pedagogical literature and more. This is one of the sources I use when identifying useful material for the Roundup.
  • Join the #LTHEchat on Twitter Wednesday nights for one hour of lively discussion about learning and teaching in HE. I often find out about good resources for the Roundup from the chat.

Please see the Staff Training booking page for training offered by the LTEU and other Aberystwyth University staff. I hope you find this weekly resource roundup useful. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact our team at lteu@aber.ac.uk. You may also wish to follow my Twitter feed, Mary Jacob L&T.

Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year from the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit

Season’s greetings from all of us at the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit.

A big congratulations to those of you who completed the Teaching for Postgraduate at AU qualification. Congratulations to PGCTHE participants who attended Graduation back in July as well as those who submitted their final coursework this month. Also, congratulations to those who achieved the Associate, Fellow or Senior Fellowship status through the ARCHE scheme, as well as our Exemplary Course Award Winners.

This year, we’ve really enjoyed working with you on topics such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Supervisory Framework, active learning and other aspects of learning design, and of course, Blackboard Learn Ultra.

Thank you to our external speakers who have joined us over the year, and all of the speakers at this year’s Annual Learning and Teaching Conference in July, which was our biggest one yet. Thanks as well to colleagues from other departments who have run sessions for us and to all of you who have attended.

We hope you have a restful break, and we look forward to seeing you in 2024 – a Happy New Year to you all!

Blackboard Learn Ultra Support Materials and Training

For colleagues who might be new to the University, colleagues who are returning from research leave and other periods of absence, and those who want a refresher, we are running our E-learning Essentials: Introduction to Blackboard Learn Ultra in January.

You can book your place online.

Unable to make our training sessions?

We’ve got our Blackboard Learn Ultra guide for staff on our webpages as well as a playlist to talk you through setting up your Blackboard Learn Ultra Module.

December 2023 Blackboard Learn Ultra Update

This month there are three improvements in Blackboard Learn Ultra that the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit would like to highlight for Instructors.

Additional image insertion options

Images enhance comprehension of and engagement with course content. Instructors and students want to use high-quality images in content and submissions. To help with this, a new image button has been added in the content editor in the following places:

  • Announcements
  • Assessment Questions
  • Student answers on questions (local file upload only)
  • Submission feedback (standard view)
  • Journal entries and comments

Image below: Instructor view – image button on content editor for Announcements.

Flexible grading – sorting control on students tab

Grading large numbers of submissions without a way to organize them can be tedious. Now, instructors can apply various sorting options in flexible grading:

  • Submission date (oldest – newest) of latest attempt
  • Submission date (newest – oldest) of latest attempt
  • Last Name (A – Z)
  • Last Name (Z – A)
  • First Name (A – Z)
  • First Name (Z-A)
  • Student ID (ascending)
  • Student ID (descending)

The grading interface stores the most recently used sorting option. If an instructor stops grading an assessment and resumes grading later, the last sorting option is applied.

Also, if sorting the submissions by last name or grading status, the chosen sorting option carries over into the grading interface.

Image below: Sorting options as shown from Students tab in flexible grading.

Group assessment due date exceptions

Instructors may want to set different due dates for each group working on a group assessment.

In the past, there was no way to assign varying due dates for each group working on a group assessment. Now, instructors can assign a unique due date to each group using the exceptions workflow.

On the group assessment Submissions page, the instructor may add or edit exceptions for a group.

Image below: Instructor view – add or edit exceptions option on the group assessment Submissions page.

The Exceptions panel displays relevant information such as the assignment name and selected group name. This helps ensure the accuracy of an exception. Instructors can select a due date for the group using the date and time picker.

Image below: Instructor view – exceptions panel.

Image below: Instructor view – group assessment Submissions page displays the exceptions indicator for Project Group 1.

Blackboard Learn Ultra Update: Building Blocks Retiring

On 31 December 2023, Blackboard is retiring Building Blocks as an integration solution for third party tools and they will no longer function in Blackboard. This will not affect Blackboard Learn Ultra Courses.

Whilst we made use of Building Blocks in Blackboard Learn Original (courses which ran before 2023-24), your Blackboard Learn Ultra Courses do not use them.

Building Blocks are installed software packages used to integrate tools such as Panopto and Turnitin (among many others) into Blackboard. Over the past two years we have upgraded these tools to LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) integrations. The retiring of Building Blocks was one of the drivers for moving to Blackboard Learn Ultra.

LTIs offer us access to regular updates, bugs fixes, and ongoing developments and enhancements designed for Blackboard Ultra. Building Blocks required manual upgrades and received infrequent updates as this form of integration approached retirement.

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit has done extensive testing to ensure that this change will have as minimal an impact as possible on current Blackboard Learn Ultra courses.

We will undertake the work of disabling Building Blocks on Tuesday 12 December during the regular IS Tuesday Morning Maintenance window in preparation for their final retirement.

If you come across any issues, please contact elearning@aber.ac.uk.

Exemplary Course Award 2023-24

Exemplary Course Award image

We are pleased to announce that applications for this year’s Exemplary Course Award are now open. The ECA is judged across 4 categories:

  • Course Design
  • Interaction and Collaboration
  • Assessment
  • Learner Support

Applicants are asked to introduce 3 standout practices for their Course to help frame their application before self-assessing their course – this can be a 1,000 word narrative or an 8-minute Panopto recording. Following the self-assessment, the courses are also marked by a panel of experts. Complementing the move to Ultra, we have updated our ECA form. Changes include fewer criteria and an increased wordcount for the narratives.

To help prepare for applications, two workshops are being run by the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit on:

  • 12 January 2024, 10:00-11:30
  • 22 January 2024, 14:00-15:30

Places can be booked via the online booking page.

Application forms can be downloaded from the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit’s webpages.

Completed applications need to be emailed to elearning@aber.ac.uk before 12 noon on Friday 2 February 2024.

If you have any questions about this process, please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (elearning@aber.ac.uk).

Upcoming Trace CPD Workshops

Sara Childs will be delivering two workshops over the coming weeks based on the findings of ongoing research on trauma-informed communication. Aberystwyth University is committed to becoming one of Wales’s only two trauma-informed universities along with Wrexham university. We are currently in the self-assessment phase of a two-year project, of which the next phase will identify individual projects for enhancing our trauma-informed approach. In parallel, sessions are being offered to the community which raise awareness of trauma-informed approaches.

The upcoming workshops will provide an opportunity for those engaged in teaching, or roles that involve direct contact with students, to develop their practice to incorporate this ground-breaking research.

Towards a trauma-informed approach – theory and reflective practice Part 1

Date: 5/12/23 15.00-16.00

Location: Hugh Owen E3

Towards a trauma-informed approach – theory and reflective practice Part 2

Date: 12/12/23 14.00-16.00

Location: Hugh Owen E3