Parent-child modules

Image of Blackboard logo and parent-child

Now that the 2020-21 modules are available to staff, we can link them together at the module co-ordinator’s request. This process is known as parent-childing. Linking modules together is an effective way of dealing with separate modules with the same content so you don’t have to upload materials to two or more different modules.

This process makes one module the parent, whilst the other module(s) become a child. There’s no limit on how many modules you make a child but there can only be one parent.

If you’d like to parent-child your modules, and you’re the module co-coordinator, contact elearning@aber.ac.uk with the module codes for the parent and child modules.

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2020/2021 Modules now available

Modules for the academic year 2020/2021 are now available for staff teaching on modules.

You may have noticed that a new tab has appeared on the top menu of your Blackboard screen:

Module menu showing 2020-21 modules highlighted (second tab from the left)

If you’re enrolled as a staff member on the module in Astra then you should be able to view your modules for next academic year. If you’re not able to see a module that you are enrolled on then contact your Departmental Administrator. Students won’t be enrolled on the module until registration is complete.

This year, Blank Course Copy applies to all on-campus Postgraduate modules.

We’ve got the following support available to help with Blank Course Copy:

If you have any queries regarding Blank Course Copy, or need further assistance, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

Reminder: Call for Proposals: Learning and Teaching Conference 2020

*Closing Friday*

We are inviting proposals for the 8th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference, Monday 7th – Wednesday 9th September 2020.

Submit and view the call for proposals online.

This year’s conference theme, Enhancing the Curriculum: Inspire Learning and Invigorate Teaching, aims to reflect the commitment that AU staff have to enhance the student learning experience.

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Using the Whiteboard Feature in Microsoft Teams

In this blogpost we will be taking a look at one of the tools available to make your teaching in a Microsoft Teams session more interactive. The Whiteboard is a space where you and your students can collaborate.

The whiteboard can be used for:

  1. Students sharing ideas or thoughts
  2. Talking your students through a complicated diagram
  3. Mind-mapping ideas or concepts
  4. Sharing or charting a complex process

There’s a great video on using the Whiteboard in Teams by The Virtual Training Team: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDqtWRu0rTA

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More training sessions available

Distance Learner BannerThe Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit have got some more Moving to Online Teaching and Using Microsoft Teams for Learning and Teaching Activities scheduled. You can book your place online and we will send you a Teams Calendar invite to attend the training session.

In the Moving to Online Teaching session, we introduce some general guidance on how to design and prepare for online teaching. We look at the various interactive tools available in Blackboard and offer tips on how best to implement them into your teaching. We also provide some guidance on the e-assessment tools available to you, guidance on how to tailor your Panopto recordings for online delivery, and how to design and prepare for online video conferencing sessions. We finish with some guidance on using Third Party Software to support Learning and Teaching.

In using Microsoft Teams for Learning and Teaching Activities, we expand our advice on running online teaching sessions for students and go through the functionality available to you in Teams meetings. We provide guidance and information on how best to run interactive sessions with your students, looking at the document collaboration functionality available in Teams.

Underpinning these sessions are the principles of Active Learning and Accessibility that will help to create effective online learning environments for your students.

We will be developing our CPD programme over the summer to respond to the needs of staff. If you wish to discuss any aspect of learning and teaching, please email lteu@aber.ac.uk. For any technical guidance, email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

Exemplary Course Award

Exemplary Course Award image

Dr Lara Kipp, from the Department of Theatre Film and Television Studies, has been awarded the Exemplary Course Award for the module TP22320: Principles of Scenography. The panel commended this module for its innovative assessment design and support, clear and logically ordered learning materials, novel use of announcements, and offering multiple ways for students to engage with learning activities.

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

  • Dr Rhianedd Jewell from the Department of Welsh and Celtic Studies for the module CY25620 / CY35620: Y Gymraeg yn y Gweithle

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 seventh 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.

Tips for Discussion Board Engagement

Distance Learner BannerOne of the interactive tools available in Blackboard is the Discussion Board. Whilst moving to online teaching, we’ve seen staff start to use discussion boards to communicate with their students and for students to communicate with their peers.

In this blogpost, we’ll be giving you some tips on how best to design learning activities using discussion boards and some strategies for implementing them into learning and teaching. As we move to online teaching, it’s important to remember that this is new to students as well as staff. A well-designed online learning activity will help to alleviate stresses for students and queries for staff.

One of the most common queries we get from staff is about student engagement with various e-learning tools. Engagement depends on how the learning activity is designed and how it feeds into the rest of the module and learning process.

The first question to ask yourself when starting to use discussion boards is what is its purpose? What is it that you want your students to do or be able to do after engaging with the activity? After you’ve established that the discussion board is the correct tool for the activity (remember to put the learning need first), you can begin to design it.

A recent blogpost by Slobodan Tomic, Ellen Roberts, Jane Lund from York University identifies some tips for best embedding Discussion Forums in your teaching. They propose a series of 5 questions that will help you to clarify the specificities of your discussion board for your learning activity:

1.       What is the activity? A discussion (with or without reference to a resource)

A debate

A reflection on personal experience

A co-created presentation

Resource sharing

2. What is the purpose of the discussion or activity? To enable students to:

·       Digest and critique a reading

·       Construct an argument

·       Test/challenge a theory

·       Work in pairs/teams

·       Develop skills (e.g. search for and share resources)

 

3.       What do students need to do and by when? How long will the activity run for?

Should they post once, or more than once?

Should they respond to at least one other post?

Do they need to communicate off-platform to complete the task?

Should they nominate a rapporteur?

What are the deadlines for each stage of the task?

4.       What will the tutor’s role be, and how often will they be ‘present’ (see below)? Will tutors facilitate the discussion?

Or will they lurk but not comment until a particular point?

Will tutors be checking in every day? Every few days? At the end of the task if it is a student-led task?

5.       What do students do if they have any problems? How should communicate this?

In the forum?

By email?

 

There are many more useful tips in this blogpost so do look at it.

Once you’ve got the correct purpose for the discussion board, you can start to think about how best to embed into your teaching.

The following tips should help encourage engagement:

  1. Preparation:
    1. Have you prepared the students for the activity?
    2. Have you explained exactly what you expect of the students?
    3. Have you provided students with guidance on how to engage with the tool?
    4. Have you explained to students how best to communicate with you?
  2. Explanation:
    1. Have you explained to your students the benefit of engaging with the activity?
    2. Do your students know why they have to undertake the activity?
    3. Have you explained to students why you have set up the activity in a certain way?
  3. Response:
    1. Have you responded to discussion board posts regularly (if designed in the learning activity)?
    2. Have you responded to posts in other learning activities?
    3. If running virtual seminars, have you drawn on the content in the posts?
  4. Examples:
    1. Have you provided sample discussion forum posts to your students?
    2. If you’re expecting students to post on other discussion forum posts, have you given examples of what types of posts they should be doing?

You may also Gilly Salmon’s Five Stage Model useful. This model isn’t new but is designed to help scaffold students into online discussion.

Hopefully, these tips will help you design your learning activity using discussion boards. Once you have designed the activity, you’ll find all the help on setting them up in our FAQs: https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?search=discussion.

We’re always on the lookout to hear from people successfully using e-learning tools in their teaching. If you’ve been using the Discussion Board feature successfully, then we’d like to hear from you. Drop us an email. As always, if you have any questions about using these tools, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

References

Tomic, S., Roberts, E., Lund, J. 2020. Designing learning and teaching online: the role of discussion forums. [Online]. Available at: https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/news-and-views/designing-learning-and-teaching-online-role-discussion-forums. Last accessed: 30.04.2020.

Salmon, G. n.d. Five Stage Model. [Online]. Available at: https://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html. Last accessed: 30.04.2020.

 

Changes to the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

This year’s Learning and Teaching Conference is scheduled to take place between Monday 7th and Wednesday 9th September. We are starting to plan to deliver elements of the conference online.

We have extended the deadline for proposals for the conference to Friday 26th June 2020 and added an extra strand, to this year’s conference theme: Enhancing the Curriculum: Inspire Learning and Invigorate Teaching!

  • Pivoting to Online Learning
  • Creating a Learning Community
  • Developing Wellbeing in the Curriculum
  • Embedding Active Learning
  • Working with Students as Partners

Submit your proposals online.

We are particularly keen to hear from colleagues who would like to share practical tips and experiences of delivering learning and teaching online.

Booking to attend the event is now open.

This year’s keynote is Professor Ale Armellini from Northampton University. You can read further information on Professor Armellini on this blogpost.  

If you have any questions, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.  

Using Third Party Software for Learning and Teaching

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As we move to planning and delivering teaching online, we have to become creative with the tools that we use.

Whilst advice so far has been to use technologies that both you and your students are familiar with, there might be a good reason to try a different platform that is not supported or hosted by AU.

If you are considering using a different platform, do bear in mind the company’s privacy statements and find out what they do with personal data (yours and your students’). For example, Zoom, a video conferencing software, has some great functionality especially around creating breakout rooms. Their privacy statement does, however, show that they collect a wide range of information from both the meeting organiser and participants.

The same principles apply to polling software by third parties. In a previous blogpost, we wrote about being mindful of what is happening to yours and your students’ data. Do ask yourselves when selecting a third party platform:

  • what personal data the company in question is collecting about you;
  • what personal data your students may be required to give;
  • how are your presentations stored;
  • how and where your data is kept.

Most companies make their Privacy Policy easy to find. On most sites, you can find a link at the bottom of the homepage under the heading Privacy.

We are on hand to help you and your students transition to online learning.  Do be aware that our expertise is in supporting the technologies we host here at AU, so it may take a little longer to assist you with queries about other platforms. Many of the principles and best practice about teaching with technology apply regardless of platform, and we will be more than happy to help you with this.

We’re not discouraging you from using these platforms, but we do want you to consider the implications for your and your students’ data before doing so, so that you can make an informed choice on how to deliver learning.

If you have any questions about online teaching, please don’t hesitate to contact us on elearning@aber.ac.uk / 01970 622472.

If you have any questions about data protection and using third party software, including potential personal data breaches, please contact the Information Governance Manager on infocompliance@aber.ac.uk.

You can find further information on Learning and Teaching Continuity on our webpages as well as our FAQs.

Teaching Online? How to make Blackboard Activities more interactive with Adaptive Release

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Following the move to online teaching, this blogpost is intended to give you some ideas about how to make your Blackboard Course Site more interactive for students. In the first of this series of blogposts, we’ll be looking explicitly at a feature called Adaptive Release.

The move to online teaching, if anything, shows us that Blackboard is a powerful learning tool that can be used for a wide variety of learning activities and not solely as a place in which materials are accessed, lectures are watched, and assignments are submitted. Key to the design of online and digital learning is thinking about what activities you want your students to be doing in addition to what resources they need access to.

One of the most powerful, yet underused tools, in Blackboard is Adaptive Release. Adaptive Release gives you the opportunity to release content based on a series of rules. The most common of these is to limit content based on dates and times or by a user or group of students, but you can also use Adaptive Release to release content after students have completed a certain activity or reviewed certain materials.

For example, if you’ve got two lectures that students have got to view but you don’t want them to move straight onto the second lecture without having assessed their understanding of the first lecture. Additionally, understanding the content of the second lecture might be dependent on the content covered in the first lecture.

If you’d like to limit moving onto the second lecture:

Adaptive Release such as the above scenario links to a Grade in the Grade Centre. There are a number of rules that you can apply. For example, you could set the rule so that students have to get a specific mark in the test before they are able to see the content to demonstrate their understanding.

In this scenario, you can ensure that students have gained sufficient knowledge and understanding from the content whilst also creating an environment that responds directly to their activity.