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).

Teams Language Interpretation now available

Accessibility icons showing 3 images: a checklist, a computer workstation, an image

In its most recent update, Teams made available its new translation channel for online meetings. Now, you can allocate a translator to your meeting and attendees can tune into their interpretation. This solution has been developed in collaboration between Microsoft and Welsh Government.

If you’ve got any questions about using Teams, please contact is@aber.ac.uk.

In line with the statutory requirements of the Welsh Language Standards and the University’s internal policy on the use of Welsh, the Centre for Welsh Language Services provides a Simultaneous Translation service at meetings (virtual, hybrid and in-person).

Simultaneous Translation allows attendees to use their preferred language (e.g. Welsh/English) completely naturally and easily at meetings, committees and events for example. For further information please contact the Centre for Welsh Language Services tlustaff@aber.ac.uk.

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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).

Parent-child modules 2022-23

Image of Blackboard logo and parent-child

Now that the 2022-23 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.

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2022-2023 Modules now available to Staff

Distance Learner Banner

Modules for the academic year 2022-2023 are now available for staff teaching on modules. This is in order to assist staff in preparing for the new academic year.

You may have noticed that a new tab has appeared on the top menu of your Blackboard screen:

2022-23 Modules

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.  

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

Blackboard Course Creation 2022-23

Distance Learner Banner

Towards the end of July we will start to create Blackboard modules for 2022-23.

Unlike previous years, there will be no existing courses created blank. This decision was made at the recent Academic Board.

Course content and files will be copied over from the version of the module in the previous academic year. Turnitin submission points, Panopto recordings, and interactive Blackboard activities are not included in the copy; these will need to be rebuilt. We’ve got lots of FAQs to assist staff with this.

If you are running a new module then these will be created using your pre-agreed Departmental Templates. Similarly, if you are running a module that hasn’t run in the past couple of years then these will also be created blank.

If you have any questions about this process, please contact us (elearning@aber.ac.uk). Once the modules have been created, we will let you know.

Changes to Turnitin: Information for Students

For the academic year 2022/23 we will be using a new version of Turnitin.

On Tuesday 5 July Information Services will be enabling the new Turnitin on Blackboard.

Whilst most of Turnitin’s current functionality will remain the same, there will be some changes.

To help students with this change, we have arranged the following FAQs:

Our webpages and help guidance will be updated to reflect these changes.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (elearning@aber.ac.uk).

Changes to Turnitin: Information for Staff

For the academic year 2022/23 we will be using a new version of Turnitin.

On Tuesday 5 July 2022 Information Services will be enabling the new version of Turnitin on Blackboard.

Whilst most of Turnitin’s current functionality will remain the same, there will be some changes. 

To help staff with this change, we have arranged the following FAQs:

Further information can be found in our Turnitin LTI FAQs.

Our webpages and help guidance will be updated to reflect these changes. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (elearning@aber.ac.uk).