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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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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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.

Weekly Resource Roundup – 19/10/2020

Weekly Resource Roundup with Mary Jacob, Lecturer in Learning and Teaching As lecturer in learning and teaching responsible for the PGCTHE, I keep an eye out for new resources to help our staff teach effectively online. This includes externally-provided webinars, toolkits, publications and other resources. Because active learning is high on our university agenda, I’m particularly keen to share guidance for moving active learning online. Below I’ve listed items that came to my attention in the past week. In the interest of clarity, our policy is to show the titles and descriptions in the language of delivery. 

Please see the Staff Training booking page for training offered by the LTEU and other Aberystwyth University staff.  I hope you find this weekly resource roundup useful. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact our team at lteu@aber.ac.uk. You may also wish to follow my Twitter feed, Mary Jacob L&T.  

Weekly Resource Roundup – 5/10/2020

Weekly Resource Roundup with Mary Jacob, Lecturer in Learning and Teaching As lecturer in learning and teaching responsible for the PGCTHE, I keep an eye out for new resources to help our staff teach effectively online. This includes externally-provided webinars, toolkits, publications and other resources. Because active learning is high on our university agenda, I’m particularly keen to share guidance for moving active learning online. Below I’ve listed items that came to my attention in the past week. In the interest of clarity, our policy is to show the titles and descriptions in the language of delivery.   

Please see the Staff Training booking page for training offered by the LTEU and other Aberystwyth University staff.  I hope you find this weekly resource roundup useful. If you have questions or suggestions, please contact our team at lteu@aber.ac.uk. You may also wish to follow my Twitter feed, Mary Jacob L&T.  

Useful Information: Online Teaching

Distance Learner BannerSetting up sessions through MS Teams:

  • Unless otherwise agreed, Microsoft Teams should be used to run all online teaching sessions.
  • Details of online teaching sessions should be posted in Blackboard (see our FAQ how to set up a Teams meeting in Blackboard?).
  • Please note that for any sessions set up through Blackboard, students will be able to use the link to join the session 15 minutes before the chosen start time. Any time prior to this, students have the option to add the session to their Office365 calendars (see our student FAQ).

Keeping students informed:

  1. Use the announcements feature in Blackboard to communicate with your students. (See our FAQ How do I add an announcement to my Blackboard module?)
  2. Ensure that your Blackboard contacts page has your contact information and clear instructions on how and when students should contact you.

Delivering online sessions from the University:

  • If required, you may come into the University to deliver your online session from the teaching rooms in the allotted timetabled slots. Please ensure you are using the correct room and time allocated to your activity. 

CPD sessions:

  • The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit will be running a number of CPD sessions for staff members over the coming weeks, focusing specifically on online learning and teaching and associated E-learning tools.

For any technical assistance with using MS Teams or any of the E-learning tools, please email elearning@aber.ac.uk. If you wish to discuss any aspect of learning and teaching, please email lteu@aber.ac.uk.