Blackboard Messages

Staff teaching on Blackboard courses can use the Messages tool to send messages to their students, and these are often sent by email.

Because of the way that the Message tool works, all messages are sent from the e-learning support email address ( ), rather than the staff members’ personal email addresses. Replying to a Message sends it to our e-learning support staff.

Students – please don’t click the Reply button to respond to a Message.  Instead, use the Forward option, adding in the relevant email address for the staff member. If you aren’t sure what their email address is, you can find it on the University Directory.

Staff – to help students get back in touch with you, we recommend including your email address in any Messages you send.

This is an example of a Blackboard Message sent via email

[Alt text: screenshot of a Blackboard Message sent via email]

And the image below shows what happens when you click on the Reply button in your email – the To: box sends the message to

[Alt text: Screenshot of the email message created when you Reply to a Blackboard Message]

We are working with Blackboard / Anthology and colleagues to resolve this issue, but in the meantime please check before replying to a message. This is especially important if you are sending personal information.

Important Update on Generative Artificial Intelligence for Staff

The following was sent as an email to all staff from Prof. Tim Woods, Pro Vice-Chancellor Learning, Teaching and Student Experience, on 25th September.

“Dear Colleague

As discussed at the Academic Board on 13th September 2023, the university has decided to turn off the Turnitin AI Detection tool as of 30th September 2023. The decision was based on experience with the tool across the higher education sector, especially statistics that seem to demonstrate a high incidence of false positives and the anxiety that this induces for students.  

Generative AI has already become pervasive. It is becoming increasingly embedded in the tools we provide for staff and students such as Office 365 and Blackboard, as well as tools such as Google that are widely used by the general public. It isn’t feasible to ban the use of these tools, so we need to find ways to help students use Generative AI ethically and effectively for real learning, not cheating.  

The promotion of AI literacy for both staff and students has emerged as a key agenda across the higher education sector. A key principle is for staff to be transparent with students about the rationale behind assessments, how they help students learn, and what staff expect from their students. Students, in turn, should apply critical thinking if they use AI tools and be transparent in their submitted coursework about how and where they used such tools. This includes the use of tools such as Grammarly or Quillbot that may have been recommended for students with specific learning differences, for example. 

Please encourage your students to view the new LibGuide created by the Academic Engagement Team in Information Services: Utilising AI in the Library: A Student’s Guide: What is AI? The AI and Your Studies page in the LibGuide was created by the Gen AI Working Group and features video clips highlighting practical guidance on ethical and effective use of AI. A session on Using AI for Good will be offered on 6th November as part of the Digital Skills Festival.  

Guidance for staff can be found on the LTEU’s workshop materials Generative AIpage, with guidance created by the Gen AI Working Group and links to selected authoritative sources. The staff document will be updated shortly with additional details on how to identify red flags when marking. 

Please see the CPD booking page for upcoming Gen AI training sessions for staff and discussion forums that are open for staff and students together. 

If you have any questions about marking or learning design in connection with AI, please contact the LTEU.  

Best wishes Tim”

Considerations for Generative AI Detection 

This blog post is written by Generative AI Working Group members. 

The landscape for learning and teaching in the age of Generative AI has been developing rapidly. As staff will be aware, the UAP regulation has been updated to address the use of AI in student assessment. The UAP Form and penalty table have been updated to include ‘Presenting work generated by AI as if it were your own’ (approved by Academic Board March 2023). 

A Generative AI working group, chaired by Mary Jacob, was created in January 2023 to coordinate university efforts. Please see Generative AI for current guidance and resources. We are designing training materials for staff and students that will be available well before next academic year. 

Advice for marking 

On 3/4/2023, Turnitin enabled its AI detection tool. At present, staff can see the ‘AI Score’ but students cannot. This may change if Turnitin updates the tool later in the year. Please see Launch of Turnitin AI writing and ChatGPT Detection Capability on the LTEU blog and Turnitin’s AI Writing Detection from Turnitin (note that sometimes the same passage can be identified as both AI generated and matching an external source).  

There is a clear consensus among experts in the sector that no AI detection tool can provide conclusive evidence.  

This comes from the QAA, the National Centre for AI in Tertiary Education (sponsored by Jisc), and others. You can find links to this evidence on the Generative AI page, including the QAA recording where Michael Webb from the National Centre explains why this is the case. 

If you face a potential UAP case, your professional judgement is key to making the right call. Here is the best advice we can give departments: 

  1. Use the Turnitin AI detection tool in conjunction with other indicators – The Turnitin detection tool can identify red flags for further investigation but cannot provide evidence in itself.  
  1. Check sources – Gen AI often, but not always, produces fake citations. These can seem plausible at first sight – real authors and real journals, but the article doesn’t exist. Check the sources cited to see if they are 1) real and 2) chosen appropriately for the assignment. Is the source on topic? Is it the type of source a student would have read when writing the assignment (e.g. not a children’s book used as a source for a business case study)? This isn’t conclusive proof of AI use, but it is solid evidence that the student didn’t do things correctly. 
  1. Check facts – Gen AI often produces plausible falsehoods. The text may sound reasonable but include some made-up ‘facts’. Gen AI is not intelligent, but merely a sophisticated predictive text machine, so if you spot something that seems a bit off, check to see if it is a plausible falsehood. 
  1. Check level of detail – AI tends towards overly-generic output, e.g. using abstract terms with no concrete definitions or examples. Is the essay or report written in generalities or does it include concrete examples in enough detail to support the conclusion that a student wrote it? Again, lack of detail isn’t conclusive evidence that the student cheated but it can be a red flag in combination with other factors.  
  1. Hold an interview to determine authenticity – If you see strong indications of unacceptable academic practice, an interview or panel where the student is asked questions about their assignment may be a way to get conclusive evidence. We know this isn’t feasible at large scale, however. This is a sticky problem not only for our university but across the sector.  

To find out more about Generative AI, see the Weekly Resource Roundup for events and materials, e.g. this article specifically about a study on Turnitin’s AI detection: Fowler, G. A. (3/4/2023), We tested a new ChatGPT-detector for teachers. It flagged an innocent student, Washington Post. Fowler explains how they tested it, what they found, and why it generated the false results.  

In short, if staff don’t see anything suspicious other than the Turnitin AI score, we would recommend against bringing a UAP case forward. There’s too much potential for harm if the student really didn’t cheat. 

Learning and Teaching Mini Conference Materials Available Now

Resources are now available from the Aberystwyth University Mini Conference for Learning and Teaching that took place on 20th December 2022. For those who were unable to attend or who would like a refresher, the resources for all sessions can be found here.

The conference focused on Sustainability in Higher Education, with the key-note session delivered by Dr Georgina Gough (UWE Bristol) exploring how to embed sustainability goals within the curriculum.

Other topics included Marian Gray’s session ‘Student Mobility and Cross-Cultural Skills – Global & Sustainable?’, and Dr. Louise Marshall’s ‘Discipline hopping: Interdisciplinary approaches to a sustainable curriculum’.

Blackboard UBN

Blackboard Ultra icon

It’s been about a week since we moved to Blackboard UBN. Here are some answers to some of the questions that staff and students have asked us. You may find your question answered here (or in our How do I get started with Ultra Base Navigation FAQ). If not, you can email us.

1. Where is my departmental information site / training module? If you are looking for a Blackboard site that isn’t linked to a taught AU module, have a look on the Organisations page. You’ll probably find the course you are looking for here.
2. How are the courses organized on the Course page? They are listed by academic year, and then alphabetically by module title. You may find it easier to find your courses by using one of the following:
a. Search box – you can search by module name or module code.
b. Favourite – use the favourite (star) icon to pin the courses you use regularly at the top of your list.
c. Filter. This is particularly useful for staff who are Instructors on some modules and have other roles in other modules. Choosing Course I teach will show you all your Instructor courses.
d. Change the academic year. You can limit your view to just the current academic year by changing Courses to Cyrsiau 2022-23 Courses.
3. My course menu was a different colour / design – can I change it back? No, this is no longer available. Once we move to Ultra courses there will be no course menu.
4. How do I change the picture displayed? Have a look at the Blackboard guidance (follow from bullet point 3).
5. Why am I getting an error message when I go to Blackboard? Make sure that you go directly to Don’t use a link or bookmark.
6. The Activity Stream says I have overdue assignments? In some courses there may be submission points for extensions, groups etc that aren’t relevant to you. These will show in the Activity Search. If you aren’t sure if a submission is for you, go back into the course and check you have no assignment submissions outstanding.
7. My course or Organisation says Private on it; what does this mean? It means that the course isn’t available to students. If you no longer need this course, please let us know and we can remove the course.

UKCGE Research Supervision Recognition Programme

Graduate School/Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit

Are you an established research degree supervisor?

Would you like your supervisory practice acknowledged at a national level?

The UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE) has developed the Good Supervisory Practice Framework and the Research Supervision Recognition Programme to allow established supervisors to gain recognition for this challenging, but rewarding, role.

In May 2022, Professor Stephen Tooth from the Department of Geography & Earth Sciences became the first member of academic staff across the University to receive recognition for their approach to graduate supervision.

We are keen to support supervisors who wish to achieve this accreditation. For further details about the framework and how to apply please visit our web page or contact Annette Edwards via the Supervisory Framework (

LTEU 2022 Summer Update

Update to Turnitin

For the academic year 2022/23 we will be using a new version of Turnitin.
On Tuesday 5 July 2022 Information Services will be enabling the new version of Turnitin on Blackboard. Whilst most of Turnitin’s current functionality will remain the same, there will be some changes. To help staff with this change, we have arranged the following FAQs.
Further information can be found on our Changes to Turnitin: Information for Staff blogpost.

Updated E-Learning Policies

Updated versions of all e-learning policies are available from the Information Services Regulations and Policies site.
Blackboard RMP and E-submission policies remain unchanged from last years. There have been some updates to the lecture capture policy. These include clarification on the retention period for recordings and guidance on using Panopto for assessment.

10th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference

We will be hosting our 10th Annual Learning and Teaching Conference between 12-14 September 2022.
Conference Registration is now open. Further information, including the conference programme will be available on our Annual Learning and Teaching Conference webpage.

Digital Insight Survey

The student Digital Insights Survey has recently closed, with over 660 responses. Overseen by JISC, the survey asks students about their use of technology in learning and teaching, and provides a benchmark for comparisons with other institutions.
The results of the survey can be used to inform strategic decisions to enhance the digital experience and enable digital transformation.
Last year’s key findings can be found in the Student Digital Insights Survey Results blog post. Key findings of the 2022 survey will be published soon. Subscribe to the LTEU blog for notifications.


The ARCHE programme is a means by which Aberystwyth University (AU) staff can apply for Fellowship in the Higher Education Academy (now part of Advance HE). See the ARCHE scheme handbook for full details.
The next deadline for applications is 07/09/2022. To express an interest in applying, please email


The PGCTHE is open to staff teaching on Aberystwyth University courses. Participants should have at least 40 hours contact teaching time at higher education level over the duration of each module, but there is scope to consider staff with other scenarios on a case-by-case basis. Please email the course team for more information.
The next intake for both module 1 and module 2 will be in January 2023. The deadline for applications is 1 November. Attendance at induction is required for all students.

TPAU 2022-23 Competition Opens in May

We will start recruiting for the next cohort of the Teaching for Postgraduates at Aberystwyth University programme this month. Any interested PGRs who are teaching can apply for a place on the programme up until 24th June. The compulsory Induction for the programme will take place on 20th and 21st September. Further information.

Subscribe to the LTEU Blog

Subscribe to the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Blog so that you receive an email notification whenever a new post is written. Keep up-to-date with software developments, new initiatives, training sessions and events that help support teaching activities and technology-enhanced learning.

Weekly Resource Roundup

The Weekly Resource Roundup includes resources to help staff teach effectively, such as external webinars, podcasts, online toolkits, publications and more.


Attend sessions in our annual CPD programme.
The programme includes sessions on e-learning, as well as lots of sessions on learning and teaching topics such as assessment and feedback, presentation skills, accessibility, and more.
We deliver some sessions ourselves, while others are delivered by university staff whose teaching features good practice in those areas. Look for (L&T) in the session title.


View of Aberystwyth and the sea from the National Library
View of Aberystwyth from the National Library. KGS Aug 2021

Su’mae! I’m Keziah, I joined the LTEU in 2022 as a Support Assistant, so I will be helping out the team in a variety of ways from dealing with enquiries to supporting CPD sessions and the annual Learning and Teaching conference. I first came to Aber in 2012 as an undergraduate with the History and Welsh History department. Having graduated I stayed on to complete an MA, before having a brief interlude in Leicester. Afterwards I was lucky enough to be able to take up a PhD here researching Ceredigion’s early modern history through the use of criminal records in the National Library of Wales.
During my PhD I was given the opportunity to do some teaching within the department and to take part in the TPAU programme. I quickly became passionate about finding new ways to improve teaching in Higher Education, especially the problem-solving aspects of balancing all of the different elements that go into designing a rewarding and engaging programme.
My current areas of interest outside of my research, are learning Welsh and looking at ways in which ideas about leadership training from business and industry can be used in undergraduate teaching to build confidence and initiative in students.
I’m looking forward to supporting staff and students at Aberystwyth in their ongoing development, and meeting new people from around the university.