Blackboard Ultra: Stakeholder Meeting 1

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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

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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

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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).

Vevox Update: March 2022

Screen shot of Vevox poll using LaTex formatting to ask the question:
Determine the nature of the given matrix
2  0  0
1  2  1
0  0  1

With the following options available:

Indefinite
Positive definite
Negative definite
Positive semi-definite

On 21 March Vevox, the University’s polling software, will be having an update with some additional functionality.

We’re really pleased to be able to see some of the developments as they are requests that we have placed to Vevox on behalf of you.

Firstly, for distance learning practitioners and those who want students to undertake self-paced polling, there’s the introduction of self-paced quizzes to the survey tool.

You’ll just need to create a survey and then add a correct answer. Students can do this anonymously or you can choose to identify them.

The Q and A boards are still underused a little here at AU, but there will be the option to tag questions and comments. Will be useful for those of you who are co-delivering a presentation and want to allocate specific questions to a presenter.

Further information on new Vevox functionality can be found on their update blogpost.

We have regular contact with our Vevox account managers. They’ve already assisted in creating bilingual aspects and have reached out to us for further discussion on how this could be developed further. Also, some enhancement requests that we’ve asked for include:

  • Scatter graph of the X Y question
  • An order or sequence based question

A reminder to the mathematicians amongst us that LaTex is available in your question types.

Vevox is not limited to learning and teaching activities. All members of the University can log in and use Vevox. If you’re running a meeting and want to poll attendees, then Vevox could be for you. Check out their recent case studies on how to make meetings interactive with Vevox.

If Vevox is new to you, then we’ve got guidance on our webpages. Vevox runs 15 minute training sessions – sign up onlineWe’re always up to hear about anything innovative you’re doing with Vevox so drop us a line if you’re doing something exciting.

Vevox updates December 2021

One of the advantages to having an institution subscription is that we can benefit from enhancements and updates.

One of the recent enhancements was to the word cloud style question. Previously only one word was able to be submitted to the word cloud style question, but now participants can provide multi-word submissions as well as single words. Word clouds also accept non-English characters and emojis. Vevox has also been working on the accessibility of the word cloud question and the colour scheme has been enhanced to improve its display.

We’re really pleased at how colleagues are making use of Vevox. If you’re after some ideas on how you can use it in your teaching, then Kate and myself recently presented a webinar on Vevox’s behalf. As well as giving an overview of our rollout of Vevox since we procured it in March, we also outlined some exemplary practices taking place by colleagues:

  • Module Evaluation (Dr Emmanual Isibor and Dr Chris Loftus, Computer Science)
  • Stats generation (Dr Maire Gorman, Physics and Graduate School)
  • Anonymous Q and A (Dr Megan Talbot, Law and Criminology)
  • Peer assessment and word associations (Dr Michael Toomey, International Politics)
  • Asynchronous Q and A (Dr Victoria Wright, Psychology)
  • Pin on image and session impact (Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit)

Thank you for the colleagues above for sharing their practices and experiences with us. A recording of the webinar is available on YouTube.

We’ve also got our Mini Conference on Thursday looking at how polling software can be used to enhance learning and teaching activities. There’s still time to book onto that. We’re grateful to be joined by Joe and Izzy from Vevox, as well as our external speaker, Dr Christina Stanley from the University of Chester.

Vevox guidance is available on our webpages. If you’ve not used Vevox before then sign up for the Zero to Hero sessions which are run every Tuesday at 3pm. We’re also re-running our training session Designing Teaching Activities using Vevox on 16 March 2022 at 10am. You can sign up via our Course Booking page.

Workaround for Blackboard 404 error when accessing files using the Microsoft Edge browser.

The Microsoft Edge browser attempts to open Microsoft Office files directly in the browser. When accessing files in Blackboard this is causing an error with the message; “404 – File or directory not found.”

image of a 404 error message

A suggested workaround for this is to use either the Google Chrome or Firefox browsers.

Alternatively you can change the following setting in Microsoft Edge:

Open the Edge menu by clicking the three dots and click Settings

An image of the Edge menu with settings highlighted

Click Downloads

Turn off the setting Open Office files in the browser

An image of the settings under downloads

If you require further assistance please contact elearning@aber.ac.uk