E-learning Support for Learning and Teaching Activities

The E-learning Group hope you had an enjoyable break over holiday period. As we begin to enter into the examination period, we thought that it would be useful for us to identify what support is on offer for colleagues who provide administrative support for learning and teaching activities.

Our FAQ, What FAQs are useful for providing administrative support for E-learning systems?, might be a good starting point. This is a FAQ designed specifically to bring all our FAQs pertaining to administrative support together so that you are able to find an answer to your question as quickly as possible.

In addition to our FAQs, we also have E-learning Guides available on our webpages. These guides are designed to guide you through the entirety of a process from beginning to end and are useful for those who would like to gain an understanding for a whole process. We’re also happy to meet you face-to-face and of course we provide help and support over the phone and via email. We’re also happy to provide training to yourself and your colleagues. If you and your colleagues would like to request a training session, just get in touch. There may also be some training sessions that you will find useful. Our full training programme for 2018/19 can be found on our webpages.

elearning@aber.ac.uk

01970 62 2472

www.aber.ac.uk/en/is/it-services/elearning

E-learning Blog

 

Submit your Blackboard Module for an Exemplary Course Award

Applications for the Exemplary Course Award are now open. The closing date for applications is 12pm, 1st February 2019. To submit an application, download the application form here and consult the guidance available on our webpages.

The Exemplary Course Award is designed to recognise exemplary practice in Blackboard modules. Since its launch in 2013, the Exemplary Course award has awarded 5 exemplary modules, 8 highly commended and 3 commended awards.

This year’s awards are slightly different. Although the Exemplary Course Award is still based on Blackboard’s Exemplary Course Program Rubric, we have made some adjustments to emphasise the interactive uses of Blackboard to provide a blended learning environment for students. In addition to this, extra weighting has been given to the accessibility criteria to ensure that the Blackboard modules are accessible for all learners.

We will be running a training session for those of you who are considering submitting an application for the ECA on Wednesday 12th December, 3pm-4pm in E3, E-learning Training Room and also on Tuesday 8th January, 3pm-4pm. You can book onto these sessions by going onto the CDSAP book a course pages.

Training and Support

This year’s E-learning Training programme is well underway. You can book onto our training sessions via the CDSAP booking pages. This year, our training is split into 3 different levels so that the training that we are offering you meets your needs.

Our first level is E-learning Essentials. These sessions are aimed at people who have not used the systems before or who would like a refresher. A key aim of these sessions is to ensure that participants are able to adhere to the University’s policies. Whilst these sessions are technical, we ensure that there is always a view as to the pedagogical rationale surrounding them. Following this, our next level is E-learning Enhanced. The idea of these sessions is to begin to explore innovative ways in which you can use the E-learning software to support your learning and teaching. Our final level is E-learning Excellence. These sessions support the development of innovative approaches to technology-enhanced learning.

There are a couple of new sessions that we would like to draw your attention to:

  • What can I do with my Blackboard course? In this session, we will be looking at the interactive tools that can be used in Blackboard to enhance learning and teaching. There’s a special version of this session on 13th December specifically looking at how Blackboard can be used for Distance Learners.
  • Introduction to Skype for Business. This session will look at Skype for Business and how you can make use of it to create a virtual classroom. We will go through setting up the Skype for Business meeting and the interactive
  • Using Panopto for Assessments. Panopto is the University’s Lecture Capture Software. In addition to recording lectures, Panopto can also be used for assessments. This session will look at how you might use Panopto for student assessments.
  • Teaching with Mobile Devices. We will look at how you might use mobile devices in your teaching. As well as using mobile devices to teach, we will also look at ways in which you can use polling software to increase interactivity in your teaching sessions.

We’ll also be running sessions on the Component Marks Transfer tool that allows marks to automatically feed through from Blackboard into AStRA which may be of use to those who manage this process.

Our sessions are participatory and interactive. If you would prefer a one-on-one version of our sessions, or if you have any specific requirements, then please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

Access to E3 Aber Academy has also changed. In order to access the E-learning Training Room, enter the Hugh Owen Building via the Language Labs on Level B. Proceed up the stairs until you reach Level E. You will need your Aber Card to swipe to let you in. E3, the E-learning Training Room, is just down the corridor on the right hand side.

Quizdom Virtual Remote (QVR) no longer available after December 2018

The licence for the Quizdom Virtual Remote (QVR) which allows students to use their own mobile devices for in-class voting expires in December 2018 and will no longer be available.

We are aware that some of you used it in your sessions, therefore we would like to encourage you to keep using interactive course activities and consider one of the options below:

  • Although it will no longer be possible to use the remote version of Quizdom allowing students to vote from their own devices, you will be able to use four sets of Qwizdom with a total of 118 handsets. Rather than using their own mobile devices students will have to vote using the handsets. If you wish to book the sets please email is@aber.ac.uk including the date(s) and time you wish to use the equipment and how many sets you wish to use.
  • The E-learning Group have been surveying the growing number of online polling tools available. Most of them are paid for services with different packages available depending on the types of tools, size of class etc. However, almost all have a free option which is a cut-down version of the paid-for service. All the services that we looked at are cloud-based – they don’t have software that you download, but you create your presentations via a web page and they are saved and run remotely.

Some of the polling software we recommend:

PollEverywhere

  • 40 participants, unlimited number of questions, 23 question types , PowerPoint integration

Mentimeter

  • unlimited number of participants, 7 questions per presentation (5 quiz and 2 other type), 10 questions types, Power Point integration

Socrative

  • 50 participants, unlimited number of questions, 3 questions types, reporting available

Please note that you will still be able to use the QVR in the first semester 2018.

Please contact the E-learning Group if you wish to get more information or training on using different classroom polling methods.

 

How can we help you with the Blank Course Copy?

Level 0 and Level 1 Blackboard modules for 2018/19 academic year will be created with no content. Previously, year by year the content was automatically copied over for all Blackboard modules.

Preparing the Level 1 and Level 0 modules for the next year will require the module co-ordinators to copy over existing and/or upload new material into the new iteration of their module. All modules will contain an agreed departmental menu template that content will need to be organised under.

We would like to assist staff with preparing their modules as much as we can. We are happy to come to your office or for you to come and visit us. If you would like to book an appointment with a member of the E-learning Group, please let us know a convenient time and place where you would like to meet. We will also run some training sessions over the next few weeks. These can be booked via CDSAP webpages.

We have prepared these FAQs with detailed guideline on copying different elements on Blackboard and produced the information help sheet below.

We look forward to work closely with all staff and supporting you in any convenient for you way.

Blank Course Copy

Today (30/07/2018) the first two departments had their blank level 0 and 1 modules created as part of the blank course copy process. IBERS, closely followed by International Politics, have agreed their departmental templates and their modules are now ready to be updated. This is nearly a quarter of all the level 1 and level 0 modules running in 2018-19 academic year.

Staff from the E-learning Group have worked with each department to explain the process and help them decide which additional menu items to add to the core template. The modules are now available, and staff can start adding or copying over teaching materials. There’s an FAQ about how different items can be copied over.

2018-19 modules can be found on the 2018-19 Modules tab which is now available on the My Modules page.

Blank Course Copy infographic

A big thanks to Mike Rose and James Vaughan who have worked with the E-learning Group through this process. If you’re a member of staff in either International Politics or IBERS and you want any help setting up your new module, take a look at the FAQ, or contact elearning@aber.ac.uk and we’d be happy to help you.

If you’re not sure what Blank Course Copy means, have a look at our infographic or email elearning@aber.ac.uk

Celebrating excellence in teaching: AU Blackboard Exemplary Course Awards (ECA)

We are proud to announce that the winners of this year’s AU Blackboard ECA awards are being presented with their awards during this week’s graduation ceremonies.

Adam Vellender, Catherine O’Hanlon, Daniel Low and Stephen Chapman, the winners 2017-2018 ECA winners are being presented with their awards during their department’s graduation ceremony. The winning modules all showed the high standard of learning and teaching at Aberystwyth University and inspire others to innovate and engage students in active learning and contained many exemplary practices. The winners’ modules contained many exemplary practices and received Highly Commended Awards.

Now in their fifth year, the Exemplary Course Awards recognise excellence in course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment and learner support.The ECA provides an excellent opportunity for staff to share their work with other colleagues, refle~@ct on their use of tools such as Blackboard, and get feedback on their learning activities from their peers. We congratulate all our Highly Commended staff this year and encourage other staff to consider entering their modules in the future. The E-learning Group are happy to provide advice and support for any interested in finding out more about the ECA.” Kate Wright, E-Learning Group Manager

For further information see here.

Planning Downtime

Downtime on the systems we rely on is never popular. Making the decision about when to take Blackboard out of service is one of the hardest parts of our job. Juggling the different areas of work at the University as well as making sure that all the relevant parties are consulted takes a lot of time. We try to avoid finishing maintenance on Fridays – it’s best that problems don’t emerge over the weekend when support staff aren’t here. Equally, we don’t do work during University closed periods (it’s hard to seek assistance from software companies as they’re often on holiday too).

We try to fix a date – we crosscheck with other commitments at team, departmental and University level. There are times we have to avoid – any time during teaching (including the PGCE students who start earlier and finish later than others, as well as those doing Distance Learner or Lifelong Learning Courses). Also, any time that students need to revise or Blackboard is needed for exam purposes is out.  Once we think we’ve found a suitable date, we ask a smaller group of individuals what they think – Faculty Registars, Senior Managers, Academic Registry and other key contacts. If they spot a problem then we begin again.

When the date is confirmed, we begin advertising the downtime. We will always put a message on a banner in Blackboard, use the Weekly Email and Information Services’ Twitter and Facebook accounts.

So we don’t organise into Blackboard downtime lightly. We ask people, we tell people, we plan it and we do our best to minimise its impact. We don’t always get it right for everyone, but we do our very best to balance all the competing demands of a complex institution.