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.

Potential disruption to Blackboard labels and titles

You may notice some changes to Blackboard labels whilst we update our language pack tomorrow morning (Tuesday 10.11.2020).

This will affect menu items and My Modules. Blackboard functionality and access will remain during this time and you will still be able to create content, access materials, and submit assignments. This work is scheduled to take place as part of Information Services’ Tuesday morning maintenance: https://faqs.aber.ac.uk/94.

Conducting blended teaching sessions – synchronously face-to-face and via Teams  

Teaching staff are encouraged to provide access to teaching sessions for students unable to attend them in person. The guidelines below provide step-by-step checklist of all things that need to be completed to conduct an effective session for both students sitting in the classroom and those joining via MS Teams.  

Before the session: 

Note: Make it clear that this has been provided for students who are not able to attend the session in person and that all students who are well and not self-isolating are expected to attend the sessions in-person and that attendance during face-toface session will be closely monitored.  

  • Revise the teaching room guide and watch videos demonstrating using the new teaching room set-up:  

Teaching Rooms Guide 

Teaching Rooms demonstrations 

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Changes to Turnitin

From September 2020, two new settings should be used on all Turnitin submission points. This is so that students can view their Similarity Report (as agreed by Academic Board).

Both these settings are under the Optional Settings section when you create a Turnitin Submission Point:

1. Generate Similarity Reports for Students – Immediately (can overwrite until Due Date)
2. Allow Students to See Similarity Reports – Yes

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

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.