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 https://blackboard.aber.ac.uk. 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.
Following the meeting of Academic Board, we can confirm that Phase 1 of the Ultra project, Ultra Base Navigation (UBN), will take place between 3 and 6 January 2023.
During this time, you will notice changes to the landing pages of Blackboard. Whilst UBN offers a new feel to Blackboard, course functionality and content will remain the same. We aim to maintain user access to Blackboard throughout this time, but it should be considered at risk for this period.
Further updates about UBN will follow to help prepare staff and students for this change to the landing page.
Once Phase 1 is complete, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit will move to Phase 2, preparing for Ultra Courses in September 2023.
We are blogging throughout the project and key messages will be communicated via the Weekly Bulletin and IS news.
We’re really pleased to announce that this year’s Exemplary Course Award is now open for submissions with a deadline of 12 noon on Monday 30 January 2023.
Continuing with the same process as last year, we’ve got a streamlined approach to the award.
Applicants will be asked to outline their 3 standout practices in relation to their module, before identifying which criteria the module meets. Applicants are welcome to submit a Panopto recording including a module tour.
If you’re considering submitting an award, we’ve got training for applicants on:
On 3 November, our client support team at Blackboard met with the Ultra Project Board. The board is made up of Information Services members responsible for the move to Blackboard Ultra and academic colleagues.
The meeting’s purpose was to outline the project’s scope, mission, vision, and goals.
Part of the activity involved a Mural board.
On this Mural board we were asked to give an overview of the institutional, departmental, and individual goals we wanted to achieve.
We’re looking to maintain our excellent student experience, and making sure that the move is sustainable for all staff. From a pedagogical perspective, we want active learning and student as partners to be an ethos for the project, whilst also focusing on ways that blended distance learning and online assessment can be developed. We want the VLE to be as self-service for our users as much as possible, whilst complying with the accessibility legislation. We want data to flow seamlessly between other systems, and give greater transparency to mark processing. Blackboard Ultra needs to have a clear identity and brand easily identifiable with Aberystwyth. The environment needs to be fully bilingual, easy to navigate, and reviews save users time where possible. Consistency across modules in terms of navigation remains a large driver, with a standardised baseline of best practice and an institutional template. There needs to be opportunities for staff to innovate, with examples of excellent learning and teaching activities. We need to make the most out of our investment and ensure the VLE is GDPR compliant.
The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is starting to work on our next project: the move to Blackboard Ultra. Over the coming months we’ll be using our blog to communicate project progression as well as important information.
Over the next year or so, you’ll probably hear the following phrases:
Ultra Base Navigation: the name given to the new design and navigation within Blackboard, before you enter a module or organisation.
Ultra Course View: a more modern design and easy-to-use interface for modules with some new tools that are not available in the Original Course View.
Original Course View: the design and interface we are currently using for modules and which Blackboard is retiring.
LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability): the external tools integrated into Blackboard such as Turnitin and Panopto.
There are advantages to using Ultra:
More intuitive course design and content creation.
Increased compatibility with mobile and tablet devices.
Benefits from Blackboard’s continuous updates and support.
Whilst we recognise these benefits, the change may be disruptive for colleagues and students but we will be working hard to ensure the rollout is as smooth as possible.
For colleagues, we’ll be running training sessions next year so that you are as prepared for this change as possible.
In this first blogpost, we’ll provide a summary of our first stakeholder engagement meeting which took place on Friday 16 September. Your departmental directors of learning and teaching along with other stakeholders were invited to the meeting.
Our client support colleagues from Blackboard gave attendees a tour of the Ultra interface from an instructor’s perspective and a day in the life of a student.
We have made the meeting available for everyone via Panopto.
Following the stakeholder meeting we will be working on the following areas:
When can we enable Ultra Base Navigation?
What will the course creation and copying process look like for colleagues?
How does Blackboard Ultra manage Welsh and English content?
Keep a lookout for further updates. If you have got any questions, do let us know (email@example.com).
Aberystwyth University has once again run the Students Digital Insights Survey, a survey that asks learners the impact of online and technology implemented learning. This year over 600 students at Aberystwyth University took this survey.
The Key Metrics
The JISC survey has changed in the last year with some of the key metric questions being changed, for the questions that have stayed very similar or the same we can compare to last year’s results.
Supported use of own devices
Access to online platforms off-site
Online learning environment
Quality of online learning on course
In a majority of these key metrics we saw a positive increase with Aberystwyth University having improved from the previous year. This trend of improvement is mirrored throughout the survey results. In the case of questions which changed in the key metrics a lot of them are incomparable because of the changes made. For example, last year asked about ‘Well-designed’ online learning materials. This was changed to ‘Engaging and motivating’ online learning materials. With online learning trends questions relating to motivation are typically exceptionally more negative, making questions that use these adjectives much more negative.
We’re the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit. Based in Information Services, we work with staff across the university to support and develop learning and teaching. We run a wide range of activities to do this.