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.

 

Blackboard Tests – Creating Online Assessment Activities for your Students

Distance Learner Banner

Online tests and quizzes can be created for your students using the Tests function in Blackboard. Tests can be provided as a formative method of assessment, as a self-assessment method for students, or as a more formal means of assessing student performance. 

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit have recently updated our Blackboard Tests guidance, to support staff in providing online assessment activities for students.

Why Use Blackboard Tests in my module?
Benefits to Students:

  • Reinforce learning. Research has shown that tests and quizzes are powerful tools to promote retrieval practice, aid revision and improve learning.
  • Valuable feedback. Blackboard Tests can provide varied, additional feedback opportunities for students.
  • Media rich experience. Videos, images and links to recordings and external resources can be provided within the questions and answers.
    Continue reading
  • Teaching Online? How to make Blackboard Activities more interactive with Adaptive Release

    Distance Learner Banner

    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.

     

    Monitoring Student Engagement while teaching online

    Distance Learner BannerThis blogpost aims to provide you with information on some useful tools in Blackboard that can help you monitor student engagement. This was initially produced for a Distance Learner forum but the tools discussed apply to teaching online. In addition to providing some guidance on Blackboard tools, there are also some resources on student engagement and teaching online at the end of this document.

    Statistics Tracking

    Statistics Tracking is a useful way for you to monitor how many of your students have engaged with your course materials. This tool is available in Blackboard.
    How do I track students’ use of items in my Blackboard Module? https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?id=628

    Review Status

    Review Status ask learners to mark that they have a reviewed a piece of content. This will allow you to track where learners are with their modules and their items. 

    Using Review Status places the emphasis on giving students their own review status.

    What is the Review Status in Blackboard? https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?search=2869

    Adaptive Release

    Adaptive release gives Instructors a flexible way to control which items in a Blackboard module are available to students. You can customise your material to fit the needs of individual students or groups. This is especially useful if you have both core and supplementary materials. For example, you might want to release supplementary material only to those students who score poorly on an assessment, but not to the whole class. You can set up a path of contingent prerequisites, such that students cannot see more advanced material until they have viewed the introductory material. You can make material available only for the time period when it is relevant, such as before or after a laboratory practical. You may also wish to make material available only to a selected group of students, perhaps releasing information to a group of students on their group project topic.
    How do I use adaptive release to control when items in Blackboard are made available? https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/index.php?id=582
    Irwin, B. et al. 2013. ‘Engaging students with feedback through adaptive release’. Innovations in Education and Teaching International. 50: 1. DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2012.748333. Pp. 51-61. Last Accessed 21.10.2019. This article looks at the impact of using adaptive release for releasing student feedback. The aim of this approach was to encourage students to engage more fully with their feedback. Using adaptive release in this way can also be used to engage students with their learning tasks.

    You can use adaptive release via the grade centre and the completion of a test or quiz, for example, to release the next unit to students. Not only that, you can also use it to hide content once it’s completed.

    Resources on Student Engagement

    Blessinger, P. & C. Wankel. Ed. 2013. Increasing Student Engagement and Retention in e-Learning Environments: Web 2.0 and Blended Learning Technologies. Bradford: Emerald Publishing Limited. Last Accessed: 18.10.2019.

    Especially:

    Starr-Glass, D. 2013. ‘From Connectivity to Connected Learners: Transactional Distance and Social Presence.’ Pp. 113-143

    This publication looks at how technology can be used to engage students. The edited collection provides lots of guidance on learning technologies in teaching.

    As the editors identify, ‘any technology, novelty or technical sophistication alone cannot guarantee engagement of learners. These technologies should be used in a purposeful and integrated way and within an appropriate theoretical framework germane to the teaching and learning context’ (2013: 5-6).

    One chapter of note is Starr-Glass (Pp. 113-143) who emphasises building a learning community and offering opportunities for collaboration as a way to engage students who are studying at a distance. 

    Starr-Glass uses Michael Moore’s theory of transactional difference to look at the repercussions of separating the learner from their peers and instructors. The author encourages learners to rely on more than just the technology.  Distance Learning also seen as an early form of learner-centric activities.

    Starr-Glass argues that we are now at a Fifth Generation of Distance Learning (2005- ) – The intelligent flexible learning model (2013: 118). This is characterised by access to technology environments where ‘[l]earners are viewed as knowledgeable, self-assured, and capable of accessing informational networks’ (ibid.). Opportunities for creating communities amongst peers are also explored.

    Krull, G. & J. M Duart. 2019. ‘Supporting seamless learners: exploring patterns of multiple device use in an open and distance learning context’. Research in Learning Technology. 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.25304/rlt.v27.2215. Pp. 1-13. Last Accessed: 18.10.2019. 

    We often think about content of Distance Learning courses but we don’t necessarily think about how our students are accessing their content. In this article, Greig Krull and Joseph Duart look at how students make use of multiple devices. They used semi- structured interviews to analyse their findings.

    Their findings suggest that students studying via distance learning tend to work in multiple locations (private and public) ‘demonstrating the potential for seamless learning’ (4).

    The study also found that students had access to between 2 and 5 digital devices for learning. On average, students used 3 devices for learning (4).

    As the authors indicate, ‘[a]n area for future research is how educators can better support students using multiple devices and how to reduce any potential ‘seams’ in their learning experiences’ (10).

    Meyer, K. 2014. Student Engagement Online: What works and why. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Last Accessed 21.10.2019.

    Meyer examines online learning against a context of retention in Higher Education. Of most interest, might be the section on Experiential and Active Learning (p. 28).Meyer also discusses the importance of fostering an online community amongst learners to encourage engagement with resources. The monograph borrows the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) to consider how you might engage students in online learning.

    These include:

    1.       Level of academic challenge

    2.       Active and collaborative learning

    3.       Student-faculty interaction

    4.       Enriching educational experience

    5.       Supportive campus (online) environment

    (7-8)

     

     

    Teaching Tips: Teaching and Learning Continuity

    Distance Learner BannerGeneral Points 

    • Provide clear and easy to understand instructions. This cuts down on the number of emails and queries you will receive.  
    • Use the technology that you and your students know and can use. Remember that you can include links to our FAQs in your Blackboard course to help your students. 
    • If you are using your own computer, check that you can do everything you will need to do. If you have any questions you can contact is@aber.ac.uk. These FAQs will help you: 

    Further resources

    View the excellent set of resources in the ACUE online teaching toolkit:  

    See guidance from UK Copyright Literacy on Copyright, Fair Dealing and Online Teaching at a Time of Crisis. 

    Manage your content

    • Active learning at a distance: Think about the learning tasks that you want students to carry out, not just the content covered. Make sure that the tasks are made clear to the students. If the learning task is clear, it will promote active learning even at a distance.   For example, a somewhat vague learning task would be to read three articles. A more active task would be to read the three articles and evaluate their arguments relative to each other, or analyse data across several sources to identify patterns, etc.  
    • Accessibility: Apply principles of good accessibility practice to your PowerPoints, Word documents, and other materials.  
      • Apply ALT tags to images in any materials. 
      • Ensure that speaker notes are included in your PowerPoint files and upload the PPT file into Blackboard. Do not just upload a PDF. This gives students another channel to get all of the information you want them to have. 
      • Use plain English as much as possible. If your students don’t understand something well, they won’t be able to ask you during lecture. 
    • Make sure that your Blackboard course is easy for students to navigate. They should be able to find the relevant material for each week easily and quickly. 
    • Reading materials: Ensure that all reading material is accessible through Blackboard. Use Aspire reading lists. If some material is only available in print form (e.g. books in the library), find alternative e-books or online sources they can use instead. 
    • Adaptive Release: You can use Adaptive Release so your materials appear at set times. Try and avoid too many complicated adaptive release rules as they can make it difficult work out why a student can’t see documents.  
    • Box of Broadcasts is an excellent resource for TV and radio material. You can arrange recordings of upcoming material or use previously broadcast programmes. 

    Blackboard Tests and Surveys 

    Tests are an excellent way for students to check their understanding of a topic and help you know more about their progress. 

    • Be sure to include feedback on right and wrong answers, so that your students can learn from the formative quiz.  
    • You don’t have to give the correct answer but can give links to readings, or further resources to help learn the material. 
    • Write questions that help your students engage with the material, rather than just remembering facts. You can write questions that require them to analyse material, work with scenarios, and do calculations etc. 

    Discussion Boards 

    Discussion boards are an excellent way to run a remote seminar. They allow students to engage at times that work for them. They are also familiar to many.  

    • Activities: Provide activities for the students to engage with on the discussion boards – set starter questions that require them to actively engage, for example analysing data, comparing articles, summarising their reading, creating questions from the materials they have read. 
    • Guidance on engagement: Provide guidance for students on how you want them to engage with the discussion boards.  
      • For example, you could ask them to write their own posts, and comment on others.  
      • Tell them how often you want the students to engage and how often you will engage. 
      • If you are running a thread for each seminar, you may want to keep the discussion going for a week and then start a new one at a set time. 
    • Guidance on writing:  
      • Do you want them to write formally or informally? 
      • Should they reference their reading? 
      • Short posts are better than essays – the aim of discussion boards is for students to interact rather than just post their essays  

    BlogsWikis and Journals 

    Blogs and Journals are a good way of students to document an ongoing process or practice – for example a reading journal. Students can use text, images, video etc. Blogs are visible to all class members, and Journals are private between the student and the instructor. 

    Wikis are good for group work. They can be used by all the class, or you can split into groups, and each group can have a wiki. Students can use text, images and video, and you can see each student’s contribution. 

    • Give students clear instructions about how to use the blogs, wikis or journals. Tell them what you expect: how often you want them to contribute and how often you will engage with them. 
    • Example contributions can be useful to help students understand what you expect. 
    • You can make comments on posts to provide feedback.
    • All three types of activity can be graded if you want to use them as an assessment method. 

    Panopto Recordings 

    Panopto recordings are a good way of presenting information to your students along with PowerPoint slides. You can re-use recordings you have already made, but if you are making new recordings specifically for continuity purposes, bear the following in mind: 

    • Make your videos shorter than a standard lecture. Students will find it easier to concentrate on shorter videos. 
    • Link the recording to a learning activity for your students. Encourage active listening with questions, or other activities. 
    • Make the PowerPoint and speakers notes (if you use them) available on Blackboard. 
    • If you are still working on campus, use teaching rooms or AU equipment to create Panopto recordings. If you are experiencing problems with installing Panopto on your own equipment, consider re-using recordings you have made in previous years until these have been resolved. 

    Panopto Quizzes

    Quizzes are a good way of breaking up your recording, similar to the way you would use questions in a lecture 

    • Write clear questions that will help your students engage with the recording actively. 

    Teaching and Learning Continuity

    Distance Learner Banner

    This FAQ outlines the e-learning tools available to staff to provide teaching and learning continuity

    Information Services guidance for working from home can be found in the FAQ here

    Human Resources (HR) guidance for working from home can be found on the HR website here

    We recommend staff and students use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox web browsers

    Blackboard as a Learning Environment

    What can I do?

    How do I do it?

    Familiarise yourself with Blackboard See our Getting Started in Blackboard Guide

    If you do not see all your modules see our FAQ on how Staff are enrolled on modules

    See our Blackboard FAQs

    Manage your learning content effectively See our FAQ on uploading files and content to Blackboard

    See our FAQ on managing your links and folders

    See our Checklist on making your documents accessible

    See our Teaching Tips

    Use Announcements within Blackboard to communicate with the students on your module See our FAQ on adding an announcement in Blackboard
    Let your students know how to contact you by adding contact information to your profile See our FAQ on adding Staff information to a Blackboard module
    Use Blackboard tests and surveys for formative assessment See our FAQ on Creating a test or survey in Blackboard

    See our guidance on tests and surveys

    See our Teaching Tips

    Enable students to engage with yourself and each other via a discussion board See our FAQ on adding a discussion board to your Blackboard module

    See our guidance on discussion boards

    See our Teaching Tips

    Utilise blogs, wikis and journals for student reflection and collaboration See our guidance on blogs

    See our guidance on wikis

    See our guidance on journals

    See our Teaching Tips

    E-submission

    What can I do?

    How do I do it?

    Familiarise yourself with using Turnitin for E-submission See our Quick Start Guide to Turnitin

    See our Turnitin FAQs

    Create Turnitin submission points for your students to submit their assignments to See our FAQ on creating a Turnitin submission point
    Mark Turnitin submissions and provide feedback online See our FAQ on marking assignments in Turnitin

    Lecture Recording

    What can I do?

    How do I do it?

    Install Panopto on your own computer so you can make recordings from wherever you are working See our FAQ on installing Panopto on your computer
    Check your microphone is working See our FAQ on checking your microphone is picking up sound
    Make a Panopto recording See our FAQ on making a Panopto recording

    See our FAQ on re-using recordings you have previously made

    See our Teaching Tips

    Add quizzes to your Panopto recording See our FAQ on adding a quiz to your Panopto recording

    See our Teaching Tips

    Virtual Meetings

    What can I do?

    How do I do it?

    Familiarise yourself with using Skype for Business for Virtual Meetings. See our Skype for Business Guide

    See our guide for Learning and Teaching Activities using Skype for Business. 

    Install Skype for Business on your machine See our FAQ on installing Skype for Business (Windows)

    See our FAQ on installing Skype for Business (Android)

    See our FAQ on installing Skype for Business (Mac)

    Arrange a meeting or virtual teaching session See our FAQ on how do I set up a meeting or video conference using Skype for Business

     

    For further help and guidance please see the E-learning webpages and our Guides and Documents webpage

    Practice Organisations available for all teaching staff

    Practice ModulesWe have created Practice Organisations for all staff with teaching roles. These organisations are spaces where you can try out the many different features of Blackboard and preload materials without working on a live Blackboard module.

    To access the Practice Organisation, log into Blackboard, and scroll down to My Organisations. You will see your practice module with the code PRAC_username.

    If you build something in your practice organisation then you are able to copy content over into a live module. We’ve got the following FAQs for copying:

    In addition to this, there are many more FAQs and Guides to support your use of Blackboard, in addition to further information on our website.

    As these are practice courses, they don’t contain enrolments and there are certain items that can’t be copied, such as:

    • Turnitin submission points
    • Items that have adaptive release enabled
    • Any assessed items linked to the grade centre
    • Blackboard groups

    You are welcome to use your practice course at any time. Practice organisations are not subject to Blank Course Copy and the content will rollover every year.

    If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

    Blackboard Tools for Group Work (Blogpost 5): Assignments

    Group Work Banner

    Blackboard Group Assignments for Instructors

    https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Assignments/Create_and_Edit_Assignments/Group_Assignments

    Before assigning group work

    You don’t want students to see group activities as busy work. If group work doesn’t enhance your learning objectives and provide value, consider alternative teaching techniques. Only use group work for projects an individual student can’t do as well alone and finish in the intended amount of time.

    Research shows that students work harder when others rely on them. To encourage this interdependence, create group assignments that require the students to divide the work to meet the goal, question and challenge each other’s ideas, and share feedback and encouragement.

    Before incorporating group work into your course, consider these questions:

    • Will the group work further my course objectives?
    • What introductory material or group resource information can I provide to help students succeed?
    • How will the groups be formed?
    • Will students be involved in planning the groups?
    • How will I assess students’ learning and maintain individual accountability? Will I require a group deliverable?
    • How will I handle concerns and problems

    Blackboard Group Assignments for Students

    Some Considerations Before you begin

    A course group must exist before you create group assignments for it.

    • Students who are enrolled in more than one group that receives the same assignment will be able to submit more than one attempt for this assignment. You may need to provide these students with an overall grade for the assignment.
    • Students who aren’t enrolled at the time that a group assignment has been submitted don’t have access to that submission. These students only see that the submission occurred.
    • Students who you remove from a group can’t see the group assignments. They can access their submissions from My Grades.
    • If you edit the assignment between creation and the due date, the entire group may lose any work already in progress.
    • If you delete a group from the assignment after students have started an attempt but before submission, they’ll lose access to the assignment and lose their work.

    You create a group assignment in the same way you create an assignment for students to complete individually. When you create a group assignment, a gradebook item is created automatically. You can create group assignments in content areas, learning modules, lesson plans, and folders. The group assignment appears in the course area where you create it and on the group homepage.

    A few notes on marking Blackboard Group Assignments

    • When marking a group assignment using Inline Grading, the overall mark given will automatically be submitted for all the students in the group and will become visible in the Grade Centre. However, you can modify individual students’ marks if you need to.
    • Individual marks cannot be applied in the case of anonymous group assignments, as it won’t be possible to identify individual students.