Keynote announcement: Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce our keynotes for this year’s Annual Learning and Teaching Conference (4-6 July 2023).  

Booking for the conference is already open. Book your place today. 

We will be joined by colleagues from Blackboard and Bangor University to ensure that we are well prepared for our move to Ultra. 

There will be opportunities to: 

  • Learn all about the benefits of moving to Ultra 
  • Hear about some exciting new developments that will help enhance your teachingListen to colleagues from Bangor about the lessons that they’ve learned from their move 
  • Take a look at what excellent means with Ultra courses 
  • Attend a workshop to help enhance your modules to ensure that they are the very best that they can be for September 
  • Give your feedback on Ultra to product developers to help it meet our needs 

We’ll be announcing the rest of our programme shortly, but you can expect sessions on Artificial Intelligence, Creative Assessment Design, and developing resilience in students.  

We’re excited to see you in person on 4 and 5 July and online on 6 July.

Annual Learning and Teaching Conference: External Speaker Announcement

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce our first external speaker as part of this year’s Annual Learning and Teaching Conference.

Taking place between 4 and 6 July, bookings for the conference are already open.

Michael Webb from Jisc will discuss Artificial Intelligence in the session Navigating the Opportunities and Challenges of AI in Education.

Since the introduction of Chat GPT, colleagues have been finding ways in which the power of artificial intelligence might be used in Higher Education alongside the challenges that it poses.

Jisc’s national centre for artificial intelligence in tertiary education aims to help institutions adopt AI in a responsible and ethical way. We are working across the sector to help institutions navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by generative AI. In this session we’ll review the strengths and weakness of generative AI, the practices and approaches we see emerging, and take a look at how technologies and practices are developing as ever more generative AI applications are released.

Michael Webb is the director of technology and analytics at Jisc – the UK digital, data and technology agency focused on tertiary education, research, and innovation. He is co-lead of Jisc’s national centre for AI in tertiary education, supporting the responsible and effective adoption of artificial intelligence across the tertiary education sector. As well as artificial intelligence, he has worked on projects around the internet of things, virtual reality, and learning analytics. Before joining Jisc, Michael worked in the higher education sector, leading IT and learning technology.

This session will be of interest for colleagues who would like to add AI into their teaching and learning activities, as well as explore ways in which it can be used productively.

Our full programme will be announced on our webpages in due course. Aberystwyth University has been working on its own guidance for Artificial Intelligence. Take a look at ourConsiderations for Generative AI Detection blogpost for further information.

James Wood: Improving feedback literacy through sustainable feedback engagement practices

Banner for Audio Feedback

On Wednesday 10 May, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit welcomed Dr James Wood from Bangor University to give some ideas around student feedback design and engagement.

The recording from the session is on Panopto and the PowerPoint slides can be downloaded below:

In the session, Dr Wood outlined

  • The changes to the feedback NSS questions for 2023
  • The purpose of feedback
  • The move away from feedback transmission to one of action
  • Barriers to student feedback engagement
  • Screencasting your feedback

The next big event for LTEU is our annual Learning and Teaching Conference which is taking place between 4 and 6 July. Bookings for this are already open.

If you have any external speakers that you would like LTEU to invite to next year’s series then please email with your suggestion.

Blackboard Ultra Courses created for Academic Year 2023-24

Icon Blackboard Ultra

The Blackboard Ultra Courses for the Academic Year 2023-24 have now been created blank using the pre-agreed University template.  

The early creation of Ultra Courses is the next phase in our move to Blackboard Ultra and prepares us for training over the coming months.

To access your courses for next academic year, click on Upcoming Courses:

Screenshot of Ultra Courses page with Upcoming Courses highlighted

You will see any courses that you are listed as an instructor on as well as courses that you might support as departmental administrators.

If you don’t see a course that you are meant to be teaching on then check with your departmental administrator – it might be that you haven’t been added to the module record in the Module Management System. We are updating this feed every Tuesday morning so you can expect to see your modules on a Tuesday afternoon once the update has gone through.

The courses are currently private and will be made available on 1 September 2023. Students won’t appear on your courses until they have completed their registration.

Departmental Directors of Learning and Teaching have been contacted to arrange a training session for your department.

If you want to get started on setting up your courses, you might want to:

The next phase of the move to Ultra is focusing on training and making sure that our support materials are up-to-date. See our overview of training for further information.

If you have any questions about Blackboard Ultra, please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (

Turnitin Building Block retired

In summer 2022 we moved to a new version of Turnitin. As support for our previous version of Turnitin has now ceased, the historical version (known as Turnitin Building Block) will be retired on 31 August 2023.

This means that any marked assignments will no longer be accessible to staff and students.

Students should download any historical assignments (from pre-academic year 2022-23) and save them.

Staff should contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit ( if they still need to access Turnitin assignments in the Building Block for marking purposes.

Even though access will be removed, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit will still be able to request marked assignments via Turnitin support. If you require this after 31 August 2023, please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (  

Blackboard Ultra Project Update

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It’s been a little while since we gave you a progress report on our move to Blackboard Ultra. We’ve been working hard to prepare for the start of our training programme and making sure that our integrations are working.

Technical Update

We have been focusing on our Course Creation process. To help colleagues with the move to Ultra, we are creating courses for next academic year much earlier this year.

This will also help with our training as colleagues will be preparing their live Ultra course.

Our integrations have also taken a lot of work to set up and get working:

  • Panopto: Panopto has been moved to an API connector ready for Ultra Courses.
  • Talis Aspire: Talis Aspire LTI is now enabled. We have been working with colleagues in Academic Engagement to ensure that this is as smooth as possible.
  • Turnitin: Work on moving Turnitin to a LTI connector was completed in summer 2022, and no additional changes to Turnitin are required for the move to Ultra Courses.
  • Microsoft Teams meetings: We will move to the Teams LTI in summer 2023. This tool will be for scheduling Teams meetings.

These are existing tools but one of the benefits of moving to Ultra is the introduction of Office 365 LTI integration. This allows you to upload documents from your OneDrive straight into Blackboard as well as offering students the opportunity to collaborate on a document together. For those of you who have been following our progress on our blog, you will see that this collaborative tool forms the basis of our Wiki solution.

Training Update

Our E-learning Essentials: Introduction to Blackboard Ultra training session has now been designed and is ready for staff departmental training sessions.

We have communicated with all Departmental Directors of Learning and Teaching to start arranging your departmental training session. If you are unable to make your scheduled session then we will be running them centrally.

See our training blogpost for an overview of our training package.

Required Minimum Presence

As Blackboard Ultra Courses have a completely different approach to organising and arranging content, our Required Minimum Presence has been re-written. Keep a look out for our updated RMP.

Guidance Materials

We have been working on rationalising and preparing our guidance materials, including our FAQs. One change you’ll notice once we’re in Ultra Courses is that our FAQs will link directly to Blackboard help materials. These materials are available bilingually in Welsh and English.

Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

Our Annual Learning and Teaching Conference is taking place between 4 and 6 July. A key strand of the conference will be the Blackboard Ultra. Keep an eye on our blogposts as we announce our keynote speakers. A reminder that our Call for Proposals closes on 5 May – you can submit a proposal using our online Call for Proposals form.

Mini Conference: Virtual Reality – Materials Available

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On 28 March, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit hosted their first mini conference of the year in person.

The mini conference’s theme was Virtual Reality. The conference materials are now available on our webpages.

The conference started with a keynote by Chris Rees who is the Executive Head of Digital Creativity and Learning Unit at University of Wales Trinity St David’s. Chris gave an overview of how UWTSD have been using two newly created immersive rooms (Swansea and Cardiff), with activities ranging from virtual reality gym training through to architectural walk throughs and health and safety training.

The conference then shifted to hearing how colleagues at AU are currently using VR in their learning and teaching. Amanda Jones and Bleddyn Lewis gave an insight into how the Healthcare Education Centre is using Wales’ Virtual Hospital. Education’s Steve Atherton makes use of VR in several modules, including placing students in different education contexts – from refugee camps through to Montessori education settings. After lunch, Helen Miles and Andra Jones (Computer Science) and Rebecca Zerk (Dewis Choice Project / Law and Criminology) ran a workshop outlining the challenges and benefits to VR. Participants also got the opportunity to sample the Dewis choice project using VR headsets.

What emerged from the event is that lots of colleagues are using VR in their learning and teaching. We’re looking at creating a space for colleagues to come together to discuss their approaches to VR. We’ve set up a Teams site. If you’re interested in Virtual Reality and would like to be added to the Teams site, email the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (

Exemplary Course Award 2022-23

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Anna Udalowska, from Lifelong Learning, has been awarded the Exemplary Course Award for the module XN16710: The Science of Wellbeing.

In addition to the winner, the following modules achieved Highly Commended:

  • Alexander Taylor from the Department of Psychology for the module PS32120: Behavioural Neuroscience
  • Kathy Hampson from the Department of Law and Criminology for the module LC26120: Youth Crime ad Justice
  • Lara Kipp from the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies for the module TP30020: Contemporary Drama
  • Panna Karlinger from the School of Education for the module ED20820: Making Sense of the Curriculum

The diverse range of teaching and learning styles evidenced in this year’s applications reflects the innovative work that is taking place across the institution.

The aim of the Exemplary Course Award, now in its eighth year, aims to recognise the very best learning and teaching practices. It gives staff members the opportunity to share their work with colleagues, enhance their current modules in Blackboard, and receive feedback on to improve.

Modules are assessed across 4 areas: course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support. The self-assessed nature of the award gives staff the opportunity to reflect on their course and enhance aspects of their module before a panel assesses each application against the rubric.

The panel and the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit would like to thank all of the applicants for the time and effort that they have put into their applications and modules this year.

We’re looking forward to receiving more applications next year and many congratulations to the recipients of this year’s award.

Blackboard Ultra: Blog Alternatives Overview

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This post outlines the solutions that the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit are working on for Blog activities in Blackboard Ultra. Once these solutions have been tried and tested, we will work on providing guidance for colleagues.


Blogs are a collaborative tool used for a number of assessed and unassessed activities at Aberystwyth University.

The tool is not currently available in Blackboard Ultra (despite our enhancement requests) and is not on Blackboard’s roadmap of development.

The unavailability of the Blog tool has been included in all parts of the decision-making process to highlight it as a risk in the move to Blackboard Ultra.

In their very nature blogs offer students the opportunity to reflect on their learning, organise their thoughts and ideas chronologically, and comment on each other’s posts.

Whilst there aren’t blogs in Ultra, there are two fully-integrated participation and engagement tools that will offer alternatives: Journals and Discussions.

Option 1: Use the Journal tool

Whilst blogs don’t exist in Blackboard Ultra, the journal tool does remain. Journals are used in a similar way to blogs but they are private between course tutors and students. If the activity can function without making student’s posts visible to all, we recommend using this tool.

You can get an overview of the journal tool by watching this Journal overview tutorial.

Option 2: Use the Discussions tool

If the activity requires an interactive element between students then we recommend using the discussion tool. Here you can create a thread, organise your discussions via folders, set the discussions to be graded, encourage student participation by not viewing the thread until students have completed their initial post.

For an idea as to how discussions work, take a look at this demonstration video.

Even though our discussion board tool has changed, our principles on discussion board design and engagement still remain the same. Take a look at our discussion board design blogpost for some tips and questions for you to ask yourselves in the design of the activity.

Option 3: Use WordPress blogging tool

Whilst we recommend that discussion board activity remains in Blackboard so that student engagement and assessment can take place, there is another blogging tool supported by the University: WordPress. If you think that WordPress is the only option for you then we recommend that you get in contact with us first to discuss your activity and so we can advise further (

Launch of Turnitin AI writing and ChatGPT Detection Capability

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On 4 April Turnitin will be launching their new AI writing and ChatGPT detection capability which will be added to the Similarity Report.  Before colleagues start using the AI detector, we thought that we would caveat it with the following quotations from authoritative professional bodies in the sector.

Jisc notes: “AI detectors cannot prove conclusively that text was written by AI.”

— Michael Webb (17/3/2023), AI writing detectors – concepts and considerations, Jisc National Centre for AI

The QAA advises: “Be cautious in your use of tools that claim to detect text generated by AI and advise staff of the institutional position. The output from these tools is unverified and there is evidence that some text generated by AI evades detection. In addition, students may not have given permission to upload their work to these tools or agreed how their data will be stored.”

— QAA (31/1/2023), The rise of artificial intelligence software and potential risks for academic integrity: briefing paper for higher education providers

Please also see the Guidance for Staff compiled by the Generative AI Working Group led by Mary Jacob. The guide outlines suggestions for how we can explain our existing assessments to students in ways that will discourage unacceptable academic practice with AI, and also red flags to consider when marking.

You can read more about the Turnitin AI enhancement in this Turnitin blog post.

For guidance on how to use this tool, take a look at Turnitin’s:

Turnitin also published an AI writing resource page to support educators with teaching resources and to report its progress in developing AI writing detection features.

If you have any questions about using Turnitin’s AI writing and ChatGPT detection capability or interpreting the results, please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (