Save the Date: Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit are excited to announce the date for the 12th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference. The conference will be taking place between Tuesday 10 and Thursday 12 September 2024.

Look out for Calls for Proposals and the announcement of the conference theme. As usual, we will be updating our Learning and Teaching Conference Webpages and also our blog to keep you up-to-date with how things are progressing.

Vevox: University Polling Software

The University has a Vevox licence for all staff and students to use.

Vevox is Polling Software that allows participants to use their mobile devices to respond to questions.

In Semester 1, over 300 Vevox sessions ran, with over 10,000 participants and 1,500 polls.

In learning and teaching contexts, you can use Vevox to make your teaching more interactive, giving students the opportunity to reflect on their learning, respond to questions, provide ideas, and consolidate their understanding.

Vevox is not limited to learning and teaching activities. You can also use Vevox in meetings and outreach activities to canvas opinion, help with decision making, and give colleagues the opportunity to feedback.  

There are variety of question types available:

  • Multiple choice
  • Word cloud
  • Text Ranking
  • Numeric
  • Rating
  • XY Plot
  • Pin on image

You can also run surveys.

The Q and A feature gives colleagues the opportunity for their attendees to ask questions and for you to respond to them live in the session.

This feature is useful for classroom assessment techniques, such as muddiest point and revising key concepts.

With the Q and A function, participants can also upvote comments so you can address questions. This useful feature can also be used for external presenters and conference activities.

You can run analyses on your polls to see participant response.

As an institution, we have several case studies. See our previous blogpost on Vevox case studies.

If Vevox is new to you, then we have a training session on 26 January at 11:00 online via Teams. You can book your place via our CPD booking page.  

We’ve also got a webpage dedicated to Vevox.

All our previous Vevox updates are available on the LTEU blog.

If you’ve got any questions, then contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (

Blackboard Learn Ultra: Project update

As we start the new year, we are planning for the next phase of our Blackboard Learn Ultra project.

Over the next 6 months, we will be looking at:

  • Enhancements to our course creation process
  • Course templates
  • Reviewing the Required Minimum Presence

Most of the work for the first part of the year, however, will involve Organisations.

Organisations offer the same functionality as Courses but aren’t used for taught modules.

Typical Organisations include:

  • Departmental Organisations which include information for staff and students
  • Training Organisations
  • Bespoke Organisations as requested

As part of this work, we are reviewing all existing Organisations to reduce their number and ensure they are still required.

We will also be developing a policy to ensure that we have a clear way to manage requests for new Organisations.

We will be contacting owners of Organisations in due course.

If you have any questions or feedback about using Ultra, contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (

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.

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

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 before 12 noon on Friday 2 February 2024.

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

Can’t find the item that you are after in your Blackboard Ultra Course? Try the search function.

In this blogpost we’re outlining a useful feature to help both staff and students navigate their Blackboard Courses.

If you can’t find the content that you’re after or you need to navigate to an area of a course quickly, try using the search function which is available in all courses.

The course search function appears at the top of every Course:

Screenshot of Course Landing Page with the search function highlighted

Click on the magnifying glass and start entering the name of the content that you are after.

As you enter the name of the content, the item will appear as a link. Clicking on the link will take you to that area of the module.

Take a look at the screencast below to see this in action:

If you’ve got any questions about Ultra or want to provide feedback on your experience, please contact

Retirement of AirServer

AirServer, the software used to connect mobile devices to teaching room equipment, is being retired.

Over increasing years, AirServer has been unable to cater for different types of mobile devices.

A workaround using Microsoft Teams can be used to link your tablet devices to teaching room equipment.

Take a look at our FAQ: How do I connect a tablet / mobile device to a teaching room machine?

If you have any questions, please contact Information Services (

Vevox’s Pedagogy Autumn 2023 Online Webinars

Vevox is the University’s polling software which can be used to make teaching more interactive, engage large groups, check knowledge and understanding, and receive feedback.

In addition to their training sessions, Vevox run a series of online webinars showcasing innovative ways in which polling is used at other institutions.

The next online webinar is from the University of South Wales, where Dean Whitcombe is running a session The Use of Vevox in Simulation-based Education and research. This session is at 2pm on 4 October.

On 11 October, at 2pm, University of Chichester’s James Wilson will be leading a session, Once upon a Time: Using Vevox for Interactive Storytelling.

You can sign up to attend these sessions on this webpage.

Aberystwyth University has run a series of webinars in the past for Vevox which are available on YouTube:

If Vevox is new to you, then take a look at our polling software webpage. Vevox run 15 minute Zero to Hero training sessions on Tuesday afternoons. You can sign up to them on the Vevox webpage.

Please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit ( if you have got any questions.