Mini-Fest: Assessment – 17th May – 21st May

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The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce its first mini-festival. The aim of the mini-fest is to bring together training sessions and workshops offered by LTEU around a particular topic with an external speaker. For this first mini-fest, we’ll be looking specifically at assessment. The mini fest will run from Monday 17th May until Friday 21st May and will be taking place online via Teams. Please book on the sessions that you wish to attend on our online booking system.

We are going to be joined by Professors Sally Brown and Kay Sambell to talk about assessment design post covid on Monday 17th May for a 2-hour workshop at 10.30am. Their paper Writing Better Assignments in the post Covid19 Era has been widely discussed across the sector since last summer:

Improving assessment and feedback processes post-pandemic: authentic approaches to improve student learning and engagement.

This workshop is designed to build on lessons learned during the complex transitions academics made last year when face-to-face on-campus assessment became impossible. A whole range of approaches were used by academics globally not only to cope with the contingency but also to streamline assessment and more fully align it with learning.

We now have an important opportunity to change assessment and feedback practices for good by boosting the authenticity of our designs to ensure they are future-fit.  Drawing on their work undertaken throughout 2020, https://sally-brown.net/kay-sambell-and-sally-brown-covid-19-assessment-collection/ the facilitators of this workshop Professor Kay Sambell and Professor Sally Brown will argue that we can’t ever go back to former ways of assessment and will propose practical, manageable approaches that fully integrate assessment and feedback with learning, leading to improved outcomes and longer-term learning for students.

Professor Kay Sambell is an Independent Consultant widely known internationally for her contributions to the Assessment for Learning (AfL) movement in higher education. A 2002 National Teaching Fellow (NTF) and Principal Fellow Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), she is President of the vibrant Assessment in Higher Education (AHE) conference series, ( https://ahenetwork.org/) and Visiting Professor of Assessment for Learning at the University of Sunderland and the University of Cumbria. Kay has held personal chairs in Learning and Teaching at Northumbria University, where she co-led one of the UK Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning which specialised in AfL, and, more recently, at Edinburgh Napier University.   

Kay.sambell@cumbria.ac.uk

Website: https://kaysambell.wordpress.com

Professor Sally Brown is an Independent Consultant in Learning, Teaching and Assessment and Emerita Professor at Leeds Beckett University where she was, until 2010, Pro-Vice-Chancellor. She is also Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University and formerly at the Universities of Plymouth, Robert Gordon, South Wales and Liverpool John Moores and at Australian universities James Cook Central Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. She is a PFHEA, a Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) Senior Fellow and an NTF. She is widely published on learning, teaching and particularly assessment and enjoys working with institutions and teams on improving the student learning experience. 

S.brown@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Website: https://sally-brown.net

In addition to Sally’s and Kay’s workshop, LTEU will be offering sessions and workshops over the course of the week:

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Why and how we manage Blackboard enrolments

One of the most common queries we get is from people who aren’t enrolled on modules in Blackboard. Our standard answer is that staff and students should be enrolled on the module in the module record in AstRA. Once this is done, it takes about an hour for that enrolment to make its way to Blackboard.

But we know that there are still times when students and staff are added manually to modules. We’d like to reduce this as much as possible, so we need to understand when and why it happens. Our short survey will help us do this. The results of this survey will help us to see if we need to make changes to our processes to make it easier for everyone who needs to be on a module can get access quickly and easily.

It can be tempting to just manually add someone to a module, especially if you are in a rush or can’t find someone to make the change for you. However, there are reasons why we take all our enrolments from one source:

  1. Who has access to a module is transparent. This is particularly important for staff enrolments as staff have access to marks and student details. If all our records are taken from AStRA we know that someone should have access to the module; their enrolment has been approved. Also, there are checks within AStRA to make sure that only staff IDs can be given teaching permissions to a module. This avoids mix-ups with logins or typing mistakes which could see students accidentally being given access to grades (for example).
  2. Students only get access to modules they are registered to. Although we encourage students to check their student record, they will often go by the modules they are registered on in Blackboard. So, if a student is manually added to a module in Blackboard, but not properly registered in the Student Record, this can cause all sorts of issues. Especially when we reach exam board season.
  3. Enrolments can be re-built if needed. If a problem with Blackboard we can easily rebuild permissions to modules quickly and easily as there is a central source for them. Any manual enrolments will not be included in this process and could lead to delays with access.

If you manually add staff or students to modules (or ask someone else to do it for you) please take a few minutes to complete our survey.

E-learning Enhanced: Interactive Blackboard Tools Training Sessions

Distance Learner BannerThe Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to be running our E-learning Enhanced training sessions again this semester.

We’ve got a session scheduled for each of Blackboard’s Interactive Tools: Discussion Boards, Wikis, Tests & Quizzes, and Journals & Blogs. In addition to this, we’ve got a number of Welsh Medium workshops on ‘What can I do in Blackboard?’ as well as some more CPD opportunities.

Blackboard Tools are incredibly versatile and can be adapted for a wide variety of different learning activities: from formative and summative assessment to peer and online learning community building, from reflective activities to the creation of resources. As with all technology enhanced learning, the key is the design of the activity and how that is linked to learning outcomes. Putting the teaching need first and choosing the most appropriate tool will result in meaningful engagements with the task.

These sessions have been designed in such a way to foreground the learning design of the activity as well as the technical creation. Participants will be given the opportunity in these sessions to design a learning activity using the relevant tool and will be provided with technical videos and tips for best embedding their tools in their teaching.

See below for dates and times:

DateSession
22.02.2021Designing and Using Blackboard Discussion Boards
26.02.2021Beth allaf ei wneud gyda Blackboard?
03.03.2021Designing and Using Wikis for Online Collaborative Activities
11.03.2021Creating Blackboard Tests and Quizzes
17.03.2021Using Blackboard Journals and Blogs for Learning Activities
22.03.2021Beth allaf ei wneud gyda Blackboard?

You can see our full list of CPD and book your place online: https://stafftraining.aber.ac.uk/sd/list_courses.php. All our sessions are designed to be run online via Teams. You will be sent a calendar invitation with a link to the session beforehand.

Tasks function in Blackboard – easy way to allow students to track their progress!

We have been recently approached by a member of staff seeking advice on the use of checklists in Blackboard. They brought our attention to a useful tool called Tasks. We have previously blogged about ways of tracking student progress in Blackboard by using the review and adaptive release, functionalities allowing you to create interactive, learning ‘paths’ for students in your module.

The Tasks function, which can be found on the in Course Tools on the Course Management panel allows you to create Course Tasks, set their priority, due date and track number of students who started, are in progress or completed the tasks.

A screenshot showing where you can find the Tasks tool under the course managementA screenshot showing the Tasks tool interface

Once you’ve created your course tasks you can share the Tasks tool with students in two ways. You can either make Tasks visible to students in the Tools tab on your module course:

a screenshot showing where you can find Tasks on the course menu

Or add a link to Tasks anywhere in your course (Tools > More Tools). Our suggestion would be to locate it in Module Information.

a screenshot showing where you can find Tasks under tools

When introducing Tasks to your student make sure you set clear expectations:

  • How often should students be checking for new tasks?
  • How often will you be checking for progress?
  • What is the purpose of using this tool? Be transparent on how closely will you be monitoring their progress.

As mentioned, this will allow you to see how students engage with the activities in your modules, but also give students themselves to track their own progress and stay on top of their workload. Students can simply view their tasks and set them to not started, in progress or complete by clicking on the grey drop down arrow.

a screenshot showing how students can change the status of the task

As always, we encourage you to test this functionality yourself in your practice modules (you can find it under My Organisation tabs) and contact us with any queries: lteu@aber.ac.uk

Drop in sessions: E-learning tools

We would like to offer staff members at the University the opportunity to join us for our drop-in sessions on using e-learning tools (Blackboard, Panopto, Turnitin and MS Teams) for learning and teaching activities. These will offer an informal opportunity to speak with our Online Learning Specialists and to address any problems or queries you may have.

All drop-in sessions will be held via MS Teams and there is no need to book, just click on the links below. *Please note that sessions with an asterisk (*) will be bilingual sessions, and all sessions without an asterisk will run as English-medium sessions.  

These drop-in sessions will take place on:
19.01.2021 (10:00-11:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting*
21.01.2021 (14:00-15:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
26.01.2021 (10:00-11:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting*
28.01.2021 (14:00-15:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
02.02.2021 (10:00-11:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting*
04.02.2021 (14:00-15:00): Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

We hope that these sessions will provide you with an opportunity to clarify any questions about your teaching needs.

If you have any questions, please email lteu@aber.ac.uk.

Content Organisation in Blackboard

Distance Learner BannerAs we are using more and more functionality in Blackboard modules, how they are organised has become increasingly important. We receive quite a number of queries from students struggling to locate various items or submission points in Blackboard.

To assist with navigation, we’ve pulled together our top tips on content organisation.

If you’ve got any questions about this or want to request a module MOT, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

Tips for Organising Blackboard Content

Before you start creating content on your Blackboard modules, think about how it can best be arranged so that students can easily access it and that learning resources and activities are in a logical place.  

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The Exemplary Course Award – Streamlined Application Process

Annually, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit run the Exemplary Course Award, which recognises the very best practice in using Blackboard. This blog post details changes we have made to the process, when dedicated training sessions will be run, how and why to apply, and when the deadline for applications is.
To get an idea of what an ECA-winning module might look like, you can view last year’s winners’ module walk-throughs here (Lara Kipp, in English only, and Rhianedd Jewell, in Welsh and English).

Recognising the particular challenges of this academic year, we have put our heads together to streamline the process in the hopes that even more applicants submit their modules for consideration. The process is still rigorous and detailed, but we have made some key changes to encourage as wide a range of applications as possible.

What has changed?
• You can now submit in two different formats: either a written narrative of up to 500 words, or a Panopto recording up to 4 minutes in length.
• We have streamlined the form in such a way that applicants only need to tick whether a criterion is fulfilled or not – no need to agonise over how many points to award yourself.
• We have integrated the criteria weighting into the form, meaning applicants do not need to calculate scores anymore.

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NEW Recurring MS Teams Meeting Feature in Blackboard

Today, a new feature has been made available in Blackboard which allows you to create recurring MS Teams meetings.

This new feature works very similarly to the recurring options available in Outlook. As can be seen in the image below, you can now arrange MS Teams meetings through Blackboard based on how often you want them to recur; on what days you want them to recur; and when you would like this recurrence to end.

Students should be encouraged to add this link to their calendars as this will automatically add the whole series to their calendars.

Screenshot showing the options available in the new recurring meetings feature.

When setting up your recurring meeting, please ensure that you include clear information which demonstrates which sessions should be accessed through the link that you have just created.

Table demonstrating which sessions can be accessed through the Teams link

For further details on how to use this new feature, please visit our FAQ.

Interactive Blackboard Tools Series – Journals and Blogs (Part 1)

Teaching staff at Aberystwyth University make excellent use of basic functions of Blackboard keeping it consistent and easy to navigate, meeting the needs of their students. Some staff go beyond Blackboard Required Minimum Presence, using additional, interactive functions in many different creative ways. Considering the current emphasis on online learning and the use of asynchronous online activities we would like to introduce you to some of the more advanced (although still easy to use!) tools in Blackboard:

  • Journals and Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Tests

We have already written about discussion board – perhaps the most versatile of all the Blackboard tools. In this blog post we will focus on blogs and journals and the value these tools could bring to your teaching. 

Both journals and blogs, typically written in an informal way, are tools conducive to reflection and personal expression. The difference in their use is determined by whether or not they are aimed at being shared with others. Journals in Blackboard can be set up in two ways:

  • Private journals cannot be anonymous, are seen only by the lecturer and the student who wrote it, if enabled other students may view them but not comment or edit.
  • Group journals enable students to write individual entries into one group journal, group members can view and comment on all entries.

Watch a tutorial on creating journals

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Alternative activities to in-person teaching

There may be occasions where it is not practically possible for you to simultaneously deliver non-lecture activities (e.g. seminars, workshops, etc.) to students in-person and students joining via MS Teams.

In this blog post, we will explore some different options for delivering alternative activities for those students that cannot join in-person sessions. Before you begin to design an alternative activity, consider the following points:

  1. Which alternative activity will best emulate the experience that students in the original in-person session are getting?
  2. What are my intended learning outcomes and which activities will best achieve these?
  3. How long will it take me to plan an activity and do I have the capacity to do this?
  4. Think carefully about your assessment criteria – will the alternative activity that you provide allow the students to undertake the module assessments successfully?
  5. Clarity and focus are at the heart of any well-designed online activity. Ensure that students using your alternative activity know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it. If you ask students to use any technology, you must provide students with clear and concise guidance on how to use these.

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