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

Weekly Resource Roundup – 5/12/2021

As leader of our PGCTHE programme, I keep an eye out for resources to help staff teach effectively. These include webinars, podcasts, online toolkits, publications and more. Topics include active learning, online/blended teaching, accessibility/inclusion, and effective learning design based on cognitive science. 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.   

Online events and webinars

Resources and publications

Other

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.  

Implementing ‘Tools for Academic Writing’ across all departments – Student Learning Ambassadors

Distance Learner Banner

Written by Lucie Andrews, English and Creative Writing

The best Blackboard modules are organised effectively, easy to navigate and kept updated. However, I would like to focus on how Blackboard could be used as a resource for study skills and excellent academic practice. During the Student Learning Ambassadors project, we discussed what is a well-designed Blackboard module and some of the feedback included the way we felt that the referencing and citing guide was not easily accessible nor comprehensive enough to cover all student’s needs. We also talked about the idea of including assignment model answers as a template of what needs to be included and how to format assignments correctly. One way to act upon this feedback would be to include a new folder within the assessment and feedback section that focuses on study skills in order to improve Blackboard as a student resource.          

When analysing the different approaches to how different departments used Blackboard during the usability testing, I realised there was a useful section in the module menu called ‘Tools for Academic Writing’ in my department of English and Creative Writing that was not in the other departmental menus. Therefore, I would recommend that we should implement ‘Tools for Academic Writing’ across all departments by creating an additional folder within the assessment and feedback section to act upon some of the student feedback. Why should you consider this? And what will this new folder include? As Blackboard is the site used for the learning and academic aspect of the student experience, I believe that all students would gain from a folder dedicated to providing students with study skills and tips that will enable them to achieve excellent academic practice. Within this folder, it would provide a unique list of study skills relating to each department’s needs. Here is a general template of what this folder could include:

  • a detailed referencing and citing guide that meets each department’s stylesheet
  • a guide of essential study tips and skills including essay writing pointers
  • links to workshops offered by the university on study skills
  • a FAQ on study skills and general module information

As a student, I have personally found that there is mostly a focus on the material covered in lectures, seminars and workshops and a focus on the marks scheme and assessment criteria. However, there is generally less focus on how you can improve your writing/study skills independently and how to write an essay/assessment / referencing to the expectations that meets the standards of university practices. Therefore, this folder on ‘Tools for Academic Writing’ should be implemented in all department’s assessment and feedback section across the University as it would offer Blackboard something new that would enhance the student academic experience, and this would aid students to achieve better grades. Thus, I feel that by implementing a folder dedicated to study skills within each module that is specific to what students on that module need would enhance student’s learning experience on Blackboard and improve its resources.

The importance of comprehensive module handbooks (Student Learning Ambassadors)

Written by Nathalia Kinsey, History and Welsh History 

One of the things we discussed during the Student Learning Ambassadors project was how helpful module handbooks can be for students. Throughout my three years in the History department, module handbooks have been my go-to source of key information about each module. I often downloaded module handbooks at the start of the semester and kept them on my desktop, easy to reach for when I needed to glance at the marking criteria for an essay, double-check a due date, or find out what I needed to read for my next seminar. Having all this key information in one document meant I always knew where to look when I needed something, with no searching through Blackboard, wondering where a lecturer had put a particular piece of information. The key pieces of information included in the handbooks were:  

  • contact details for the lecturer;  
  • a brief introduction to the module;  
  • numbered lists of lecturer and seminar titles, with information about the preparation needed;  
  • assignment deadlines, word counts and the department assignment length policy;  
  • a list of essay titles to choose from (although this may not be relevant, or could be adapted for other departments)  
  • marking criteria.  

They also often included other details specific to the module, such as maps or family trees, as well as notes on referencing, frequently used primary sources, or spelling names that might have multiple versions across texts. Overall, I and others participating in this project have found module handbooks to be incredibly useful documents that would be helpful to have across departments; they provide a single place where all the key information about a module can be easily accessed and kept near at hand.  

Example of a comprehensive module handbook: 

Information on Assessments – Tips from Students (Student Learning Ambassadors)

Turnitin icon

Written by Elisa Long Perez, Department of Law & Criminology 

Assessments are the predominant way for lecturers to test students’ knowledge in a module or subject. To make that possible, students need to know what criteria they are expected to adhere to, as well as where and when to submit. In some modules, this essential information are not as easily accessible as needed.  

During the usability testing activities, I completed as part of the Student Learning Ambassadors project, I noticed that some modules either had no marking criteria or had marking criteria that were not easily accessible to students. The absence of this key document often leaves students confused as to how they should approach their assignments, leading to lower marks. Other issues I found were to do with submission points and deadlines. Submission points were often included at the bottom of the Assessment and Feedback section or in a different section altogether which may lead to students either not submitting their assignments on time or they don’t submit them at all. Secondly, if the deadline isn’t emphasised enough or is easily missed the same thing happens; students won’t know when they are due to submit their assignments and may end up rushing to submit at the last minute or fail to submit on time.  

My suggestions to teaching staff would be to: always include the marking criteria in the Assessment and Feedback section and the module handbook; make sure the submission points are on top of the section and highlight the deadline in bold; send a reminder one month, one week and one day before the deadline.  

Written by Gabriele Sidekerskyte, Aberystwyth Business School 

Being a part of the Student Learning Ambassadors group was one of the most interesting projects I have participated in at the University. I am very glad that I was able to use my student experience as a tool to improve Blackboard and other students’ experience at Aberystwyth University. The fact, that students are the ones deciding how Blackboard modules should look like and what they should contain is amazing because students are the ones that are and will be using it, so their opinion is most important.  In the past years, especially during the pandemic, Blackboard played a very important role in my student life. I came across some issues like accessing reading materials and assignments. The reading lists provided by module coordinators are great, however, sometimes not all reading is accessible to students. Making sure that all materials on the reading lists are available in an electronic version is essential.  

In terms of the Assessment and Feedback section, the most important information included there are: the submission deadline and submission point, assignment requirements, marks and feedback. Although some modules include this information in the module handbook, it is much easier and more intuitive if they are included in the Assessment and Feedback section. It would be ideal if the submission deadlines for all assignments would be provided as early as possible so students can plan their time effectively. If the deadline has been extended, that should be announced clearly for everyone. Assignment topics, requirements, literature if available and weight of the assignment on the overall module mark should also be included in the Assessment and Feedback section, in the same place where students will have to submit their work. Similarly, it should be clearly communicated when students can expect their marks and feedback, especially if it changes. I think it would be great if students would get notified once the mark and feedback are available. Feedback should be clear and detailed, with examples and explanations of the mistakes made and suggestions for improvements as only then students can get better.   

I hope these words will be taken into consideration. I enjoyed this experience and I hope this project will improve the Blackboard experience for everyone. The teamwork and organisation side of the project were great, the meetings were just perfect length, and the activities were interesting. Thank you for the experience. 

Mini Conference Programme Announced

Mini Conference Logo
On Thursday 16th December, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit will be hosting the second Academy Mini-Conference online of this academic year.  

The theme will be ‘Using Polling Software to Enhance Learning and Teaching Activities’. Since we procured Vevox earlier this year, we’ve seen a proliferation in the use of polling software in learning and teaching activities.  

The Mini-Conference will run from 10:30-15:00. We’re excited to confirm our programme:  

Dr Christina Stanley – keynote (Chester University): Polling to boost student confidence and promote inclusivity
Joe Probert & Izzy Whitley: Vevox
Dr Maire Gorman (Physics & Graduate School): Inter & Intra-cohort bonding (and peer learning) in statistics teaching
Bruce Wight (Aberystwyth Business School): How much does a Polar Bear weigh? Enough to break the ice! Using Vevox for Icebreaker Activities
Dr Jennifer Wood (Modern Languages): Is there anybody out there? Using Polling Software in the Language Classroom: Breaching the void.  

For session abstracts and timings, please see the programme on our webpages.

We hope that you will be able to join us.

You can register to attend the Mini-Conference by clicking on this link.  

If you have any queries, please email lteu@aber.ac.uk.

Component Marks Transfer

As December starts to approach, we thought it would be useful to outline the support available for  the Component Marks Transfer process. This process transfers marks from the Blackboard Grade Centre columns into AStRA’s Assessment marks per Module (STF080) page. 

The tool is available in each Blackboard module and also in the Component Marks tool in MyAdmin. Departmental Administrative Staff are able to view and transfer modules for each module in their department whereas Module Co-ordinators are able to view and transfer marks for their modules.

To support the Component Marks Transfer process, we have:

  • Training Sessions on:
    • Monday 13th December, 11am-12pm
    • Wednesday 5th January, 1pm-2pm

Book your place online.

If you have any questions about this process, email elearning@aber.ac.uk.

Academy Forum 2: Designing Blended Learning

Our next Academy Forum will be taking place online on Thursday 2nd December, 10am-11.30am. In this Academy Forum, participants will be sharing their experiences and approaches to designing blended learning.

In response to the pandemic, many of us had to adapt our teaching practices considerably. For most, this relied on an increase in the use of technology and online activities for students to undertake in their own time asynchronously. Blended Learning design looks at how you might approach or integrate online interactions with face-to-face teaching.

Participants will be reflecting on their current approaches to teaching and how they design online and face to face activities. We’ll be looking at some frameworks that will be helpful in planning for blended learning and be thinking about strategies for successfully and gracefully integrating online teaching into face to face interactions, and face to face interactions into online teaching.

Take a look at our overview of forthcoming Academy Forums and book your place online.

If you have any questions, then please contact us: lteu@aber.ac.uk.

Weekly Resource Roundup – 22/11/2021

As leader of our PGCTHE programme, I keep an eye out for resources to help staff teach effectively. These include webinars, podcasts, online toolkits, publications and more. Topics include active learning, online/blended teaching, accessibility/inclusion, and effective learning design based on cognitive science. 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.   

Online events and webinars

Resources and publications

Other

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.  

Exemplary Course Award 2022 Submissions Open

Exemplary Course Award image

We’re really pleased to announce that this year’s Exemplary Course Award is now open for submissions with a deadline of 12 noon on Monday 31st January 2022. 

Continuing with the same process as last year, we’ve got a streamlined approach to the award.

Applicants will be asked to outline their 3 standout practices in relation to their module, before identifying which criteria the module meets. Applicants are welcome to submit a Panopto recording including a module tour.

If you’re considering submitting an award, we’ve got training for applicants on:

  • 8th December, 2pm-3.30pm
  • 14th January, 11am-12.30pm

You can book your place at these training sessions via the Course Booking page. 

Further information, including the criteria, is available on our webpages, where you can also access an application form.

If you’re looking for ideas, then check out a recording of last year’s winner and highly commended winners.

If you’ve got any questions, then do not hesitate to contact us (elearning@aber.ac.uk).