More training sessions available

Distance Learner BannerThe Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit have got some more Moving to Online Teaching and Using Microsoft Teams for Learning and Teaching Activities scheduled. You can book your place online and we will send you a Teams Calendar invite to attend the training session.

In the Moving to Online Teaching session, we introduce some general guidance on how to design and prepare for online teaching. We look at the various interactive tools available in Blackboard and offer tips on how best to implement them into your teaching. We also provide some guidance on the e-assessment tools available to you, guidance on how to tailor your Panopto recordings for online delivery, and how to design and prepare for online video conferencing sessions. We finish with some guidance on using Third Party Software to support Learning and Teaching.

In using Microsoft Teams for Learning and Teaching Activities, we expand our advice on running online teaching sessions for students and go through the functionality available to you in Teams meetings. We provide guidance and information on how best to run interactive sessions with your students, looking at the document collaboration functionality available in Teams.

Underpinning these sessions are the principles of Active Learning and Accessibility that will help to create effective online learning environments for your students.

We will be developing our CPD programme over the summer to respond to the needs of staff. If you wish to discuss any aspect of learning and teaching, please email lteu@aber.ac.uk. For any technical guidance, email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

Teaching Tips: Teaching and Learning Continuity

Distance Learner BannerGeneral Points 

  • Provide clear and easy to understand instructions. This cuts down on the number of emails and queries you will receive.  
  • Use the technology that you and your students know and can use. Remember that you can include links to our FAQs in your Blackboard course to help your students. 
  • If you are using your own computer, check that you can do everything you will need to do. If you have any questions you can contact is@aber.ac.uk. These FAQs will help you: 

Further resources

View the excellent set of resources in the ACUE online teaching toolkit:  

See guidance from UK Copyright Literacy on Copyright, Fair Dealing and Online Teaching at a Time of Crisis. 

Manage your content

  • Active learning at a distance: Think about the learning tasks that you want students to carry out, not just the content covered. Make sure that the tasks are made clear to the students. If the learning task is clear, it will promote active learning even at a distance.   For example, a somewhat vague learning task would be to read three articles. A more active task would be to read the three articles and evaluate their arguments relative to each other, or analyse data across several sources to identify patterns, etc.  
  • Accessibility: Apply principles of good accessibility practice to your PowerPoints, Word documents, and other materials.  
    • Apply ALT tags to images in any materials. 
    • Ensure that speaker notes are included in your PowerPoint files and upload the PPT file into Blackboard. Do not just upload a PDF. This gives students another channel to get all of the information you want them to have. 
    • Use plain English as much as possible. If your students don’t understand something well, they won’t be able to ask you during lecture. 
  • Make sure that your Blackboard course is easy for students to navigate. They should be able to find the relevant material for each week easily and quickly. 
  • Reading materials: Ensure that all reading material is accessible through Blackboard. Use Aspire reading lists. If some material is only available in print form (e.g. books in the library), find alternative e-books or online sources they can use instead. 
  • Adaptive Release: You can use Adaptive Release so your materials appear at set times. Try and avoid too many complicated adaptive release rules as they can make it difficult work out why a student can’t see documents.  
  • Box of Broadcasts is an excellent resource for TV and radio material. You can arrange recordings of upcoming material or use previously broadcast programmes. 

Blackboard Tests and Surveys 

Tests are an excellent way for students to check their understanding of a topic and help you know more about their progress. 

  • Be sure to include feedback on right and wrong answers, so that your students can learn from the formative quiz.  
  • You don’t have to give the correct answer but can give links to readings, or further resources to help learn the material. 
  • Write questions that help your students engage with the material, rather than just remembering facts. You can write questions that require them to analyse material, work with scenarios, and do calculations etc. 

Discussion Boards 

Discussion boards are an excellent way to run a remote seminar. They allow students to engage at times that work for them. They are also familiar to many.  

  • Activities: Provide activities for the students to engage with on the discussion boards – set starter questions that require them to actively engage, for example analysing data, comparing articles, summarising their reading, creating questions from the materials they have read. 
  • Guidance on engagement: Provide guidance for students on how you want them to engage with the discussion boards.  
    • For example, you could ask them to write their own posts, and comment on others.  
    • Tell them how often you want the students to engage and how often you will engage. 
    • If you are running a thread for each seminar, you may want to keep the discussion going for a week and then start a new one at a set time. 
  • Guidance on writing:  
    • Do you want them to write formally or informally? 
    • Should they reference their reading? 
    • Short posts are better than essays – the aim of discussion boards is for students to interact rather than just post their essays  

BlogsWikis and Journals 

Blogs and Journals are a good way of students to document an ongoing process or practice – for example a reading journal. Students can use text, images, video etc. Blogs are visible to all class members, and Journals are private between the student and the instructor. 

Wikis are good for group work. They can be used by all the class, or you can split into groups, and each group can have a wiki. Students can use text, images and video, and you can see each student’s contribution. 

  • Give students clear instructions about how to use the blogs, wikis or journals. Tell them what you expect: how often you want them to contribute and how often you will engage with them. 
  • Example contributions can be useful to help students understand what you expect. 
  • You can make comments on posts to provide feedback.
  • All three types of activity can be graded if you want to use them as an assessment method. 

Panopto Recordings 

Panopto recordings are a good way of presenting information to your students along with PowerPoint slides. You can re-use recordings you have already made, but if you are making new recordings specifically for continuity purposes, bear the following in mind: 

  • Make your videos shorter than a standard lecture. Students will find it easier to concentrate on shorter videos. 
  • Link the recording to a learning activity for your students. Encourage active listening with questions, or other activities. 
  • Make the PowerPoint and speakers notes (if you use them) available on Blackboard. 
  • If you are still working on campus, use teaching rooms or AU equipment to create Panopto recordings. If you are experiencing problems with installing Panopto on your own equipment, consider re-using recordings you have made in previous years until these have been resolved. 

Panopto Quizzes

Quizzes are a good way of breaking up your recording, similar to the way you would use questions in a lecture 

  • Write clear questions that will help your students engage with the recording actively. 

Teaching and Learning Continuity

Distance Learner Banner

This FAQ outlines the e-learning tools available to staff to provide teaching and learning continuity

Information Services guidance for working from home can be found in the FAQ here

Human Resources (HR) guidance for working from home can be found on the HR website here

We recommend staff and students use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox web browsers

Blackboard as a Learning Environment

What can I do?

How do I do it?

Familiarise yourself with Blackboard See our Getting Started in Blackboard Guide

If you do not see all your modules see our FAQ on how Staff are enrolled on modules

See our Blackboard FAQs

Manage your learning content effectively See our FAQ on uploading files and content to Blackboard

See our FAQ on managing your links and folders

See our Checklist on making your documents accessible

See our Teaching Tips

Use Announcements within Blackboard to communicate with the students on your module See our FAQ on adding an announcement in Blackboard
Let your students know how to contact you by adding contact information to your profile See our FAQ on adding Staff information to a Blackboard module
Use Blackboard tests and surveys for formative assessment See our FAQ on Creating a test or survey in Blackboard

See our guidance on tests and surveys

See our Teaching Tips

Enable students to engage with yourself and each other via a discussion board See our FAQ on adding a discussion board to your Blackboard module

See our guidance on discussion boards

See our Teaching Tips

Utilise blogs, wikis and journals for student reflection and collaboration See our guidance on blogs

See our guidance on wikis

See our guidance on journals

See our Teaching Tips

E-submission

What can I do?

How do I do it?

Familiarise yourself with using Turnitin for E-submission See our Quick Start Guide to Turnitin

See our Turnitin FAQs

Create Turnitin submission points for your students to submit their assignments to See our FAQ on creating a Turnitin submission point
Mark Turnitin submissions and provide feedback online See our FAQ on marking assignments in Turnitin

Lecture Recording

What can I do?

How do I do it?

Install Panopto on your own computer so you can make recordings from wherever you are working See our FAQ on installing Panopto on your computer
Check your microphone is working See our FAQ on checking your microphone is picking up sound
Make a Panopto recording See our FAQ on making a Panopto recording

See our FAQ on re-using recordings you have previously made

See our Teaching Tips

Add quizzes to your Panopto recording See our FAQ on adding a quiz to your Panopto recording

See our Teaching Tips

Virtual Meetings

What can I do?

How do I do it?

Familiarise yourself with using Skype for Business for Virtual Meetings. See our Skype for Business Guide

See our guide for Learning and Teaching Activities using Skype for Business. 

Install Skype for Business on your machine See our FAQ on installing Skype for Business (Windows)

See our FAQ on installing Skype for Business (Android)

See our FAQ on installing Skype for Business (Mac)

Arrange a meeting or virtual teaching session See our FAQ on how do I set up a meeting or video conference using Skype for Business

 

For further help and guidance please see the E-learning webpages and our Guides and Documents webpage

Changes to Component Marks Transfer Process

Last year we introduced Component Marks Transfer, a process where marks were transferred from the Blackboard Grade Centre into the module record on AStRA.

Following its introduction, we have been working on enhancing this process, which has resulted in some changes. For the most part, the concept of Component Marks remains unchanged. For those of you who undertake Component Marks Transfer, you will notice that with the new system, the interface is slightly different when it comes to map the columns and transfer the grades. We will now be using Apex, an online application tool, to map, confirm, and transfer the marks into AStRA.

You’ll be able to access the Component Marks Transfer tool in the same way as before by logging into Blackboard, navigating to the module, expanding Course Tools under Course Management and selecting AStRA:: Map Columns. As with before, you will need to have a Departmental Administrator or an Instructor profile on the modules that you wish to transfer.

Enhancements include:

  • Map columns to multiple modules. The ability to map the same column to a different module enabling Parent-Child modules to be mapped
  • Preview the marks before you transfer. The new interface has a preview function allowing you to double-check that you have mapped the correct column before confirming that they are correct.
  • Visible checks for 0 marks. In addition to the preview, any marks with 0 given a visual cue for you to double-check that all is correct.

In order to support this change, we have our E-learning Essential: Introduction to Component Marks Transfer sessions on:

  • 03.12.2019, 10am-11am
  • 06.01.2020, 2pm-3pm
  • 13.01.2020, 11am-12pm
  • 06.05.2020, 2pm-3pm
  • 19.05.2020, 11am-12pm

These sessions can be booked online. In these sessions, we will be covering the concept of Component Marks transfer as well as introducing and guiding you through the new interface.

Our online Component Marks Transfer guidance has been updated to reflect the new interface and is available on our webpages.

In addition to the training, we’re also happy to offer bespoke training for groups of 5 or more colleagues. If you’d like to arrange a bespoke training session, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

If you have any queries regarding this process, please contact elearning@aber.ac.uk / 01970 62 2472.

Guidance on using Audio Feedback in Turnitin

Banner for Audio Feedback

Introduction

Turnitin is an e-submission software that students use to submit their work and staff use to mark. Marking is done via Turnitin Feedback Studio that has many features, such as rubrics, grade forms, Quick Marks, feedback summaries, and inline comments. In this guide, we’ll be looking specifically at Audio Feedback, a feature of Turnitin that allows instructors to record their feedback summaries and students to listen to them back.

There are many advantages to using Audio Feedback and we are finding colleagues across the sector making use of this feature. A recent study on the impact of Audio Feedback by colleagues at the University of Liverpool highlights that ‘feedback quality and student satisfaction were […] higher for audio feedback than for written feedback’ (Voelkel & Mello, 2014.: 29). This study also highlighted that there is no difference in terms of learner progression and attainment from students who received audio or written feedback. However, the study did highlight that students were more likely to revisit written than audio feedback.

In order to support the increased use of Audio Feedback, we have put together this resource to help staff provide effective feedback for their students. If you’re interested in using audio feedback then our E-submission pages contain information on setting up Turnitin submission points and providing feedback.

Policies and Best Practice

Here at Aberystwyth University, we have a policy in place for assessment feedback (3.2.17), which can be found in the Assessment of Taught Schemes. The feedback principles apply to both written as well as audio feedback. Both audio and written feedback are not treated differently regarding these policies. Audio feedback should be structured in the same or similar way to written feedback, identifying strengths, weaknesses and points for improvement.

In addition to this, you might find the summary of Psychology’s Dr Gareth Norris, Dr Heather Norris, and Alexandra Brookes’ presentation entitled ‘Delivering Feedback through Audio Commentary’ from the 2018 Annual Learning and Teaching Conference useful. You can access a recording summary of that presentation online.

Tips on using Audio Feedback

1.      Plan your feedback

We all know how important feedback is to students, especially in terms of guidance on how to improve their performance in subsequent assignments. If you haven’t used Audio Feedback before, you might want to plan what you intend to say – if you bullet point the main parts of your feedback then it will allow you to say focused whilst you’re recording your feedback. Unlike written feedback, the length of time that you are able to record is limited to 3 minutes and this can go quite quickly. Having Audio feedback on Turnitin is limited to three minutes, and that can go quite quickly plan to make sure all your main points are covered. As with written feedback, it’s important the audio feedback still addresses the criteria of the assignment. See the point about planning, but also be explicit in your audio feedback about which part of the criteria your feedback is addressing.

2.      Consider tone

Adding an audio dimension to feedback means that the tone in which you are delivering has to be considered. Often, when we give feedback verbally, face-to-face, we are able to convey more meaning to the individuals, as well as pick up visible cues from the student receiving their feedback. We’ve got to be mindful that with audio feedback, the student will be accessing their feedback on their own. Make sure that you identify the positive aspects of the work, as well as parts that can be developed.

3.      Listen back to your audio feedback

It’s always strange to listen back to yourself talking, but for the first few times you use audio feedback, you can get a feel as to how the feedback sounds. Listening back to the feedback will allow you to ensure that the feedback is linked to the assessment criteria. Unfortunately there is no editing feature for audio feedback, but you are always able to delete and record again. Listening back to the feedback will also allow you to evaluate whether the feedback is addressing the criteria. In addition to this, it will enable you to identify whether you have recorded something that you don’t want to be recorded, such as the dog barking or a fire alarm sounding.

4.      Make sure students know how to access their feedback

Whilst students often make use of Turnitin to submit their assignments and access their feedback, it’s important to let students know that they will be accessing audio feedback on their assignments. Whilst we are seeing an increase in staff using audio feedback, we’ve got to remember that students might be accessing this feature for the first time. To access the feedback voice comment, students navigate to their assignment, open it up, and click on the play button in the feedback summary window:

As with any feedback, make sure that students know how to contact you if they have any queries regarding their feedback.

Some quick technical tips to help you use the audio feedback feature:

  • Use Chrome or Firefox to access Turnitin
  • You’ll be prompted to save the feedback – make sure that you do this by clicking on the save icon
  • Don’t toggle between assignments and close your assignment after you’ve finished marking

If you have any queries regarding using audio feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit.

References

Aberystwyth University. 2019. ‘Section 3: Assessment of Taught Schemes’ Academic Quality Handbook. Available online: https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/media/departmental/academicregistry/admissions/academicqualityhandbook/partb-rulesregs/chapterpdfx27s/01.-ALL-IN-ONE—Chapter-3—v3-Sept-2019.pdf. Last Accessed 05.11.2019.

Voelkel, S. & Mello, L.  2014. ‘Audio Feedback – Better Feedback?’ in Bioscience Education. 22: 1. https://doi.org/10.11120/beej.2014.00022 Pp. 16-30. Last accessed 04.11.2019.

4th International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating

Turnitin icon

Today, October 16 2019, is the 4th International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating.

In this special blogpost, we’ll outline how Contract Cheating impacts Higher Education. In the UK, Contract Cheating involves making use of essay mills. These services have gained increased exposure over the past few years, with a report undertaken by Swansea University identifying that one in seven recent graduates across the world admitting to pay someone to undertake their work (Newton, 2018).  In order to highlight the issue, the International Center for Academic Integrity in the USA established the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating. In the UK, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) provides guidance on Contract Cheating.

In 2018, more than 40 University leaders in the UK wrote to the Education Secretary asking for a ban on essay mills. There are also ongoing legal disputes against this practice. Here at Aberystwyth University, use of essay mills is covered by Unacceptable Academic Practice regulations.

Students – who can help?

For students, there might be several reasons why you think Contract Cheating might be the only solution. It might be because you haven’t left enough time to complete your assignment. It might be because you don’t understand the assignment brief or have difficulty grasping a complex concept. It might also be because you’re concerned about your grades and want to do better. Regardless of the reason, there are plenty of people around to help you with doing the best that you can on your assignments.

The first thing to do at the start of the semester is to make sure you plan out your time carefully. Give yourself enough time to look through the assignment and module information. Check out all your deadlines for your modules and add to your online calendar. Doing this will let you know when you need to have your different assignments ready and when you might be the most busy. This also gives you enough time to spend understanding your assignment and what is being asked of you.

Make sure you ask for help. If you don’t understand the essay question or concept, speak to your lecturer or tutor and ask for help. Ask specific questions – work out which part of a theory or concept you don’t understand. Have a look at the material that is available to you via Blackboard, such as lecture notes, PowerPoint slides, or lecture recordings, and use these to help you make an informed decision over your assignment. Speak to your peers as well and maybe think of setting up a study group to discuss the issues.  You can also find advice from the University Library, including storing references you have found and software available to help you manage and format your references. 

Give yourself time to look at and digest your feedback from previous assignments. Look at areas that you have done well in as well as areas that require improvement. Aim to improve the areas for improvement in your next assignment. This can’t be done by an Essay Mill – only you know your own work and what areas you need to work on. You can look back at all your feedback from assignments by logging into Blackboard.

In the news

BBC News. 2018. ‘Essay cheating: how common is it?’. BBC News. [online]. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-43975508. Last Accessed: 02.10.2019.

BBC News. 2018. ‘Essay mills: ‘One in seven’ paying for university essays. BBC News. [online]. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-45358185. Last Accessed: 02.10.2019.

Husbands, C. 2019. ‘Essay mills prey on vulnerable students – let’s stamp them out’. The Guardian. 20 March. [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/mar/20/essay-mills-prey-on-vulnerable-students-lets-stamp-them-out. Last Accessed: 01.10.2019.  

References

Newton, P. 2018. ‘How common is Commercial Contract Cheating in Higher Education and is it increasing? A systematic review’. Frontiers in Education. 30 August. [online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2018.00067. Last Accessed: 02.10.2019. 

QAA. 2017. Contracting to Cheat in Higher Education: How to Address Contract Cheating, the Use of Third-Party Services and Essay Mills. [online]. Available at: https://www.qaa.ac.uk/docs/qaa/quality-code/contracting-to-cheat-in-higher-education.pdf?sfvrsn=f66af681_10. Last Accessed: 01.10.2019.

Welcome to new students (and welcome back to our returners) – some top tips on using our E-learning Systems

Welcome to all our new students

We’d like to say hello to all new students and welcome back to those who are joining us again for another year. With the start of term approaching, we thought we’d provide you with some advice and top tips on using our E-learning systems. In this blogpost, we’ll be introducing our main services to you. E-learning support and advice is provided by the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit located in Information Services.

Here are some top tips to help you get started.

  • Use Chrome or Firefox to access our systems
  • Make sure you have your Aberystwyth username and password handy.
  • Over the next few weeks take time to familiarise yourself with these systems so that you are ready to use them

If you’ve got any queries regarding IT or library services, email is@aber.ac.uk or call 01970 62 2400.

Virtual Learning Environment

Blackboard Logo

Firstly, Blackboard is the University’s Virtual Learning Environment. You can access Blackboard by going to blackboard.aber.ac.uk. You’ll need your Aberystwyth Username and Password in order to login. Your language preference for using Blackboard is taken from your preferred language of choice in your student record (Welsh or English). Every module that you’re studying has its own Blackboard site. Here you’ll find materials that will support your learning and teaching.  In addition to this, you’ll be able to access your lecture recordings and submit your assignments electronically. You can navigate to the different areas of a module by clicking on the left-hand menu.

In addition to accessing your teaching materials, you might be asked by your lecturer to undertake some other activities in Blackboard such as tests or quizzes, wikis, blogs, or reflective journals. You’ll also have Departmental sites which will include important information regarding your assignments and further support that you might have.

E-submission

Turnitin logo

All text-based word-processed work will be submitted electronically whilst you’re here at Aberystwyth University via Blackboard. You’ll also receive your marks and feedback electronically as well. There are two different types of electronic submission available: Turnitin and Blackboard Assignment. We’ve got specific advice available on our FAQs for submitting via Turnitin and also via Blackboard Assignment. See below for some top tips on submitting your work electronically:

  • Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to submit your assignment before the deadline
  • Most of the work that you submit will be marked anonymously so don’t put your name on your assignment
  • Save and name your assignment as something meaningful to you
  • Double-check that you are submitting to the correct module
  • Check your emails after you’ve submitted to make sure you’ve got an email receipt
  • Give yourself time to read your feedback carefully after you’ve got your marks

Lecture Capture

Panopto logo

Aberystwyth University makes use of lecture capture software called Panopto. This means that you are able to access recordings from your lectures via Blackboard. There’s a great infographic by Nordmann et al (2018) on how best to make the use of lecture capture to support your learning. Their advice is summarised below:

Firstly, make sure you attend your lectures. Whilst lecture recordings are available for you, this is no replacement for being live at the teaching session. Here you’ll have opportunities to ask questions and also learn from your peers. Think of the lecture capture as supplementing the live teaching sessions. In your lectures, make sure that you make notes and attempt to summarise the discussions in your own words.

When watching the lectures back, be specific and go to the bits that you don’t understand or don’t remember. Don’t watch the lecture as a whole – you should ideally do this within a few days of the lecture taking place to see how much you do remember. Make sure you have your lecture notes handy so that you can add to them.

If you are unable to attend the lecture for valid reasons, make sure you watch the recording within a week so that you can keep up to date with the content – don’t binge watch at the end of the semester. If you are making use of the recording, make sure you watch it at its normal speed and don’t fast forward. Give the recording your full attention and don’t do other tasks such as the Go back to the bits that you don’t understanding and re-watch these sections.  You can find the full article online.

References

Nordmann, E., Kuepper-Tetzel, C. E., Robson, L., Phillipson, S., Lipan, G., & Mcgeorge, P. (2018). Lecture capture: Practical recommendations for students and lecturers. [online]. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/sd7u4. Last accessed: 03.10.2019.

Spellcheck your feedback in Turnitin

If you’re anything like us, we have been a little bit obsessed with Line of Duty recently (no spoilers here) and understand how the misspelling of the word ‘definately’ can have potentially catastrophic consequences and we wouldn’t want anyone to be accused of being in league with OCGs.

We’ve found a way in which you can add a dictionary to spellcheck your feedback to the browser that you use to mark. We’ve got step by step instructions below for Chrome and Firefox (as you know, we recommend that you use these browsers to access our E-learning tools).

Install the Spell Checker Add-on in Chrome

If your preferred browser of choice is Chrome, install the spellchecker:

  1. Launch Chrome
  2. Click on the three dots in the top right hand corner of the screen:
  3. Select Settings and a new window will open
  4. Click on the three lines in the top left hand corner of the browser next to Settings
  5. Expand Advanced and select Languages
  6. You can add languages (Welsh-Cymraeg and English UK) by clicking on Add languages
  7. You can then choose which languages you’d like to Spellcheck by turning them on so they are blue
  8. You’ll then be good to go

Install the Spell Checker Add-on in Firefox

If your preferred browser of choice is Firefox, install the spellchecker:

  1. Launch Firefox
  2. Click on the three lines in the top right hand corner of the screen:
  3. Select Add-ons
  4. Select Get Add-ons
  5. In the search box enter Geiriadur Cymraeg or British English Dictionary and select the relevant dictionary
  6. Click Add to Firefox
  7. You’ll then be good to do

As these are browser based, you’ll have to add these onto each browser that you use to mark, but once you’re up and running there’ll be no suspicion cast on being ‘H’.

Blackboard Grade Centre

The Blackboard Grade Centre is probably the most powerful yet underused part of a Blackboard module. Every Blackboard module has one, but how often do you use it and are you getting the most out of it? I’m a big fan of the Blackboard Grade Centre so I’m using this series of blog posts to introduce to some of the hidden features which could make your marking and assessment life easier.

The first post is about setting up the Grade Centre. Like many things, a little bit of thought and planning before you start goes a long way. Some advance organisational work will make your life a lot easier in the long run.

So, what sort of things should you consider?

  1. Organise before you create. Some features like categories and Marking Periods are added to columns when you create them. It’s useful to set these up first, rather than go back and edit afterwards (although that it is possible).
    1. Categories. There are built in categories for types of tools (e.g. Tests, Assignments ) etc. which are applied automatically when you create them. But you can also create your own. For example, you might want a category for Exams or Presentations. You can also do calculations based on the category of a column using the Calculated Column options. Blackboard help on Categories.
    2. Marking Periods. These are time periods for when the work is marked. This would be useful if you are putting a lot of marks directly into the Grade Centre for a long-thin module. You could have a Semester 1 and Semester 2 grading period and then filter by these so you only see the relevant columns. Blackboard help on Marking Periods.
  2. Do you need any additional columns? Anything that you can grade in Blackboard generates a Grade Centre column when you create it. So, if you have a Turnitin Assignment, graded Discussion Board or Wiki, you have a column in the Grade Centre already. If you want to store marks for presentations, exams, in-class tests, oral exams etc., you can create your own columns. Blackboard help on creating columns.
  3. Think careful when you name your columns (either manually created columns, or the ones created when you set-up Turnitin etc.). They should be meaningful and easy to understand which assessment component they relate to. This is especially important when mapping components for marks transfer. A common problem is two e-submission points both called Essay; make sure you use titles which make sense such as Essay 1 and Essay 2 or Nutrition Essay and Exercise Essay.
  4. Do you want to make any calculations or combine marks? AStRA takes care of the weighting of your assignments in the overall module mark calculations, but you may want to group together small assignments to make calculations or show to the students. For example, you might have a set of weekly tests that make up one component of your module assessment. To do this you can create one of the calculated columns. Blackboard help on Calculated Columns.
  5. What do you want the students to see? Most people know that you can hide Grade Centre columns to the students, but did you know that there is a Primary and Secondary Grade. This means that you can show the students a letter grade, or even that the work has been marked, without showing the grade. This is a way of giving feedback before the releasing a mark.
  6. Viewing and filtering. There are a number of ways you can organise your Grade Centre to help you see only the things you want to see. Depending on how many columns you have and what you need to do, one of the following might be useful:
    1. Smart Views and Favourites. You know the Needs Marking and Assignments items under Full Grade Centre in your menu? These are shortcuts that take you to filtered views of the Grade Centre. Did you know you can add your own shortcuts here, using categories or groups of students as the criteria? Blackboard help on Smart Views.
    2. Filtering. Like Excel spreadsheets it is possible to filter your view of the Grade Centre, to only certain sets of information. Blackboard help of filtering.
  7. Colour coding. This is my personal favourite. You can colour code the Grade Centre to quickly show which students are getting very high marks, and which students might need a little more help. This is particularly useful for tests which are marked automatically and you may not see the results straightaway. It provides you with a quick visual way of seeing who might need some further help. Blackboard help on colour coding.

The next instalment of this series will be marking and dealing with grades. If you want any help with setting up your Grade Centre, get in touch and we can go through your requirements and get you up and running.

New Webinar: Create a Turnitin Submission Point

The E-learning Group will be running a webinar on Wednesday February 6th at 3pm. In this webinar, the E-learning Group will be demonstrating how to set up a Turnitin submission point and all the optional settings that are available to you.

It is quick and easy for you to join the webinar – you can do so from your own office, all you need is an Internet connection. First, book on the webinar by going to the course booking page which can be found here. You’ll then be sent an Outlook Meeting appointment which you can add to your calendar. When it’s time to join the webinar, you can do so by double-clicking the link on the meeting appointment. Alternatively, you can join the webinar by clicking on this link here.  The webinar will be recorded and made available to staff after the session.

The webinar will be using Skype for Business. For more information on Skype for Business, please see this guide available here.

If you have any questions about the webinar, email elearning@aber.ac.uk.