Parent-child modules

Image of Blackboard logo and parent-child

Now that the 2019-20 modules are available to staff, we can link them together at the module co-ordinator’s request. This process is known as parent-childing. Linking modules together is an effective way of dealing with separate modules with the same content so you don’t have to upload materials to two or more different modules.

This process makes one module the parent, whilst the other module(s) become a child. There’s no limit on how many modules you make a child but there can only be one parent.

If you’d like to parent-child your modules, and you’re the module co-coordinator, contact elearning@aber.ac.uk with the module codes for the parent and child modules.

Examples from Aberystwyth

Many members of staff are currently using parent-child modules across the institution. Some examples are:

  1. Modules are taught the same content but there’s a module available for different years
  2. Modules with the same content delivered in English and Welsh
  3. Modules that bring together different degree schemes and have different module IDs, for example dissertation modules

Essentially, any module that shares the same content is ideal for parent-childing.

What do students see?

Students will see the name of the module that they are enrolled on (even if it’s the child module) when they log into Blackboard but they will see all the content placed in the parent module. Instructors will not be able to place content in the child module.

Things to consider

Now, before the start of term and whilst module content is being built, is the perfect time for linking your modules. Whilst the linking of modules does save time in the loading of materials, there are some things to consider:

  • All content is able to be viewed as soon as the modules are merged (as long as students are enrolled on the module). In addition to PowerPoints, lecture materials, this also includes Announcements and other interactive tools on your parent module
  • Historical student interactions on a child module (such as using blogs or posting in discussion boards) won’t be available once the modules have been merged
  • Any submission points created on a child module before the merge takes place will no longer be able to be viewed. We would advise creating these again in the parent module

How do I control content so that it is only viewable to a module cohort?

Whilst all content is automatically visible once the modules are merged, you can use groups and adaptive release if you only want the content to be visible to a specific module cohort. This might be useful, for example, if you have a 2nd year and 3rd year module merged but your students on the different modules have separate assignments. You can use groups – 1 for the 2nd year students and one for 3rd year students and limit who can see the assignment information and submission point. Follow our guidance on creating a group and adaptive release if you wish to do this.

Parent-Child Grade Centre and Component Marks Transfer

Once the merging takes place, all students will appear in the Grade Centre of the parent module. You can, however, determine whether they are enrolled on the child module as this information displays against the student in the Grade Centre columns. We would advise creating different submission points (using adaptive release) so that the component marks transfer can be managed more easily. If there is one submission point for all students then Component Marks transfer can only be used on one of the module codes.

If you’d like further information on this process or have specific questions then please contact us (elearning@aber.ac.uk).

What’s changed with Blackboard Saas?

Login

When you go to https://blackboard.aber.ac.uk you will now see the Login@AU page. Use your AU username and password on this page to access Blackboard.

Welsh Language

If you have set your Language to Welsh in ABW or your Student Record, you will automatically see the Welsh version of Blackboard. If you want to change your language setting have a look at the FAQ.

Blackboard App

If you have problems using the Blackboard app:

  1. Logout and close the app.
  2. Search for Aberystwyth University and click on the name.
  3. You will be told that you are logging in through the AU website
  4. Click Got it
  5. Login with your AU username and password

Updates

Blackboard will update at the beginning of every month. These monthly updates mean that we don’t need to take Blackboard out of service for maintenance any more.

Update dates for semester 1:

  • 5 September
  • 3 October
  • 7 November
  • 5 December
  • 2 January

You may notice that things have changed, or new features appear. We’ll try to keep you updated with major changes through the blog. You can also find out more at https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Administrator/SaaS/Release_Notes

Retention and Backup

Blackboard keep deleted material for 30 days. If you have deleted something from Blackboard and you want to get it back, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk as soon as possible. This includes course materials, users and grades.

Dealing with Queries

As Blackboard is now managed in the cloud, e-learning support staff may need to refer your query to central Blackboard support. We may need to:

  • Ask you for more details than normal about the problem – we may need to ask you for a detailed breakdown of the steps you took
  • Give Blackboard support staff access to your module

It may also take a little longer to get a reply but we’ll try to keep you updated on the progress of your query.

Creating Accessible Learning Materials

Accessibility icons showing 3 images: a checklist, a computer workstation, an imageNew digital accessibility legislation came into effect in 2018. It covers all material on public sector websites as well as documents uploaded into VLEs, such as our Blackboard site. For details of the new law, please see Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No.2) Accessibility Regulations 2018. See the Accessible Virtual Learning Environments Report for information about how we can make our modules more accessible and inclusive.

Over the past few months, members of staff in the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit have been working with colleagues across the University to prepare for the introduction of the legislation. For details about how the university is responding to the legislation, please see the university’s Digital Accessibility Statement. From that page, click on Guidance for Staff (you will need to log in to view these materials).  Guidance for Staff includes two sections – one for CMS users (website builders) and one for any staff who create learning materials or other documents for the web or Blackboard.

The Guidance on Creating Accessible Learning Materials page includes a checklist for making your Word documents, PowerPoint files, PDF documents, and embedded media clips more accessible for your students. You can also access the handout from the Creating Accessible Learning Materials training session that is run by the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit in collaboration with Student Support.

In addition to the Creating Accessible Materials training sessions (that can be booked online), the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is also happy to offer bespoke training for staff in departments. If you have any queries about creating accessible materials for your learning and teaching, or you’d like to book a bespoke session for yourself and colleagues in your Department, please contact us (lteu@aber.ac.uk).

2019/2020 Modules now available (staff)

Modules for the academic year 2019/20 are now available for staff teaching on modules. You may have noticed that a new tab has appeared on the top menu of your Blackboard screen:

If you’re enrolled as a staff member on the module in Astra then you should be able to view your modules for next academic year. If you’re not able to see a module that you are enrolled on then contact your Departmental Administrator. Students won’t be enrolled on the module until registration is complete.

We’ve created 2019/20 modules earlier this year in order to assist staff in getting their modules ready following the second phase of Blank Course Copy, following last year’s Blank Course Copy for all Year 1 on campus modules.

This year, Blank Course Copy applies to all on-campus Year 2 and Year 3 modules. Year 2 and 3 modules created blank last year with your Departmental Template will be copied over into this year’s module.

We’ve got the following support available to help with Blank Course Copy:

If you have any queries regarding Blank Course Copy, or need further assistance, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

A reminder, that Blackboard will be unavailable on Thursday 29th August, 09:30-12:30 and will be at risk until 14:00 whilst we complete our work to migrate to SaaS. Blackboard will then be read only until Monday 2nd September.

Blackboard SaaS Update 5

Da iawn ni! The big development of this month has been a working version of the Welsh language interface. After a lot of thinking, and some investigations we have managed to

Iaith Gwaith logo - speech bubble containing the word Cymraeg

find a way to recreate our Welsh language tabs and boxes on the new SaaS environment. As users you won’t notice anything different, but for us it’s a major step forward. And it’s all nicely documented (all 9 pages of it!) to make sure that anyone in the team can do it, should we need to. It’s nice to see Blackboard back to its bilingual normality!

We’re also looking for teaching and administrative staff to help test the new Blackboard SaaS environment. If you are interested, please email us on elearning@aber.ac.uk

We’ll give our testers access to copies of their Blackboard modules on the SaaS site. We will then ask you to

  • Look at the course materials and check they work as you expect
  • Use some of the Blackboard tools to make sure they are working normally
  • Spot and report any problems or issues

All staff are welcome to join the testing. We are especially looking for staff who use Blackboard in Welsh or who use tools like tests and discussion boards.

If you would like more information, you can email elearning@aber.ac.uk

Exemplary Course Award: Winners

We are pleased to announce this year’s recipient of the Exemplary Course Award run by the E-learning Group. Come and see the winners present their modules at next week’s Learning and Teaching Conference. Further information here.

Alison Pierse, Lifelong Learning Tutor in Art, has been awarded the Exemplary Course Award for the module XA15220 Figuratively Speaking: The History of Western Figurative Sculpture. The panel commended this module for its innovative approach to co-design with students as well as its ability to create a 3 dimensional learning experience for students who might not be studying on campus, in addition to ensuring all aspects of this module was fully accessible.

In addition to the winner, the following modules achieved Highly Commended:

  • IBERS Distance Learning Team for BDM0120 Research Methods
  • Stephen Chapman for BDM1320 The Future of Packaging
  • Alexandros Koutsoukis for IP12620 Behind the Headlines
  • Jennifer Wood for SP10740 Spanish Language (Beginners)

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 sixth year, is to recognise the very best learning and teaching practices by giving staff members the opportunity to share their work with colleagues, enhance their current modules in Blackboard, and receive feedback on their modules. 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 E-learning Group 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.

Blackboard SaaS Update 4

The focus of most of our testing over the last month has been making sure that our local settings in Blackboard work correctly. We’ve spent a lot of time working on the Welsh language translation. Our translation files are quite old and need updating, so we’ll be spending time getting the Welsh interface working correctly.

We’re also checking all the main Blackboard tools to make sure that they work as we expect – and for that to work properly we will need your help. We plan to invite staff to test the new SaaS environment to get more feedback – look out for an email inviting you to join the testing group.

In the last blog post we mentioned we are planning downtime for the final data transfer. It has been quite hard to find a suitable time that isn’t either too early or disruptive during the supplementary exam period. We believe that we’ve now found a suitable date. Our plan is to take Blackboard out of service on 29th August. It should take a couple of hours to transfer the data and when we bring Blackboard back into service it will be read-only until 2nd September. If staff need access to update anything between 29th August and 2nd September, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk

How can we help you with the Blank Course Copy?

Level 2 and Level 3 Blackboard modules for 2019/20 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 2 and Level 3 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 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.

 

Blackboard SaaS Update 2

At the end of last month, we blogged about getting our hands on a test Blackboard SaaS environment. This month we’ve started the process of testing the environment and finding out the differences and similarities between SaaS and our current version of Blackboard.

A lot of the work this month is being done by our Blackboard Project Manager in Amsterdam. Blackboard have taken a full copy of our local version and are importing it into the new SaaS system. Once this is done, we’ll be able to have a look at our existing courses, check that the migration process has worked and that everything is behaving as expected. This will mean looking at existing content, testing all the tools work properly, and running through all the normal daily processes we use.

In the meantime, we are testing all the Building Blocks that have been developed in-house at AU. Building Blocks are the Blackboard name for extension tools – some examples of Building Blocks you’ll recognise are Turnitin and Panopto. A Building Block embeds third-party functionality into Blackboard, for example using Blackboard enrolments to control permissions, and making it easy to display content in a Blackboard module. However, there are other tools that you use every day, but you probably don’t even know have been created at AU. The scrolling banner and My Modules box are examples of these. We also have some tools that we as System Admins use and ordinary users will never see – things that allow us to deliver the NSS information to third year students or provide a Blackboard feed to ApAber.

The testing process has involved documenting what each tool does and how it behaves now. We then use the same tool in our SaaS environment to check that it has the same outcome and behaves the same way. We make sure that all Building Blocks are tested in multiple browsers, as well as on PC and Apple. Where appropriate we’ll also test on a mobile device. And of course, we check in both English and Welsh. Once this has been done, we’ll pass feedback to our local developers for any changes that might be needed. And then the process starts again.

We’re also getting used to the continuous deployment cycle that we talked about in the last blog post. This means making sure we receive the emails that come from Blackboard and read them closely to look at what’s changing for our environment. We may have fixes for problems we’ve reported or new / updated tools. Once the deployment has been installed, we then need to test each of the new items to make sure it does what we expect it to do as well as making sure that our bug has been fixed where appropriate. We may also need to update our documentation, FAQs etc to reflect the changes that will be made.