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 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.

Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation: Work Complete

Blackboard Ultra icon

Ultra Base Navigation is now enabled on Blackboard. 

Next time you log onto Blackboard, you will be greeted with a new interface. 

Please consult our FAQ on how to use Ultra Base Navigation. 

Whilst the look and feel of Blackboard has changed, course functionality and content remain the same. 

If you have bookmarked or created links to pages within Blackboard these might need updating. Any links directly to the address https://blackboard.aber.ac.uk/ will still work.    

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit will now start work preparing for Ultra Courses, ready for Semester 1, 2023. 

Our Ultra webpages and FAQs will be updated as the project progresses.   If you have any questions, please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (elearning@aber.ac.uk).  

Important Information: Blackboard Ultra

Blackboard Ultra icon

In our previous blogpost, we announced our move to Blackboard Ultra.

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 will provide FAQs and have a dedicated webpage which will develop as the project progresses.

If you have any questions, please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (elearning@aber.ac.uk).

Exemplary Course Award 2023 Submissions Open

Exemplary Course Award image

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:

  • 15 December, 10:00-11:30
  • 12 January, 14:00-15:30

You can book your place at these training sessions via the Course Booking page. 

Further information, including the criteria, is available on our webpages, where you can also access an application form.

If you’re looking for ideas, then check out a recording of last year’s winner and highly commended winners.

If you’ve got any questions, then do not hesitate to contact us (elearning@aber.ac.uk).

Blackboard Ultra: Project Board Meeting 1

Blackboard Ultra icon

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.

Institutional Goals

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.

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Changes to Blackboard

Blackboard Ultra icon

Over the next year you’ll see some changes in Blackboard. This is because we are starting the move to Blackboard Ultra.

The first phase of this move will be to Ultra Base Navigation (UBN) – this will change the Blackboard homepage.

UBN has no impact on individual Blackboard course sites. These will remain unchanged until the next phase of moving to Blackboard Ultra Courses (planned for Summer 2023).

Moving to UBN gives us a head start on training and familiarisation with Blackboard Ultra. The date for moving to UBN will be announced very soon.

You can find out more about Blackboard Ultra via the LTEU blog.

We will use the Weekly Email to Staff and Students, as well as emails to departmental contacts to keep you updated on Ultra news.

Blackboard Ultra: Stakeholder Meeting 1

Blackboard Ultra icon

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:

  1. Ultra Base Navigation: the name given to the new design and navigation within Blackboard, before you enter a module or organisation.
  2. 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.
  3. Original Course View: the design and interface we are currently using for modules and which Blackboard is retiring.
  4. LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability): the external tools integrated into Blackboard such as Turnitin and Panopto.

There are advantages to using Ultra:

  1. More intuitive course design and content creation.
  2. Increased compatibility with mobile and tablet devices.
  3. Benefits from Blackboard’s continuous updates and support.
  4. Updated aesthetic.

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:

  1. When can we enable Ultra Base Navigation?
  2. What will the course creation and copying process look like for colleagues?
  3. 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 (lteu@aber.ac.uk).

Student Digital Insights Survey Results (2021-2022)

By Joseph Wiggins

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

81% of students felt supported to use own devices, 74% felt support for access to online platforms / services off site, 83% approved of the quality of the online learning environment, 44% found online learning materials engaging and motivating, 72% found online learning convenient, 80% identified online learning on course as quality, 22% fond that they were provided with reward / recognition for teir digital skills, 72% said they were supported to learn effectively online.

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.

Key Metric2020-20212021-2022
Supported use of own devices60%81%
Access to online platforms off-site67%74%
Online learning environment40%83%
Quality of online learning on course69%80%

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.

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Welcome to new staff joining Aberystwyth University

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.

All the information that you need is on the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit webpages. Our Supporting your Teaching webpages will help you with various teaching solutions.

We write a blog full of the latest updates, details on events and training sessions, and resources.

If you need to get in touch with us, you can do so using one of two email addresses:

lteu@aber.ac.uk (for pedagogical and design questions, or to arrange a consultation) or

elearning@aber.ac.uk (for technical queries regarding our e-learning tools listed below)

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