Blackboard Ally is being rolled out January 2019

Blackboard Ally Banner

To support our commitment to a more inclusive campus, we’re introducing a new tool called Ally!

What is Blackboard Ally

Ally helps your students get the most from their course resources, and help you make your Blackboard space inclusive for all. Blackboard Ally automatically converts course resources into a variety of formats, from HTML and e-book for reading on mobile devices, to Electronic Braille for the visually impaired, and audio for learning on the go.

Ally also helps you make small changes to resources you upload to make them more accessible, in easy-to-follow steps.

Instructors will see a small dial icon next to any uploaded content giving an indication of how accessible it is. Clicking this icon will detail issues along with helpful guidance and a simple interface to fix them. Students do not see these accessibility indicators, the only interaction they have with Ally is downloading automatically generated alternative formats.

Ally accessible score icons.

Ally is being rolled out in the New Year (January 2019): to find out more, explore these quick guides from Blackboard to get you started.

For Instructors – get to know Ally

For Students – How to access usable resources

Twitter users can also follow #BbAlly to see how others across the HE sector are using Ally.

If you would like any further information about Blackboard Ally, and other learning technologies, please contact your Technologist via Ask LTD

Inclusive by Design

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

As part of Learning Service’s “Inclusive by Design” initiative and on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Learning Technology Development (LTD) want to mention some of the things we are doing to support staff to generate content and resources that are usable for all.  The team are working with others to improve content across all areas but more importantly for students to be able to use resources in a way that suites them and their needs.

Introducing Blackboard Ally (coming January 2019).

  • Ally provides you guidance on how to correct accessibility issues with your digital course content. Students are able to download a version of the file most appropriate for their device and need.

Social Sites – VLE Skip Link option.

  • Important for keyboard-only users to navigate VLE content without getting bogged down in a seemingly never ending series of clicks before they are able to move on to the next item.

Transcripts and Closed Captions.

  • The latest LTD video productions contain transcripts for those who prefer to follow the action in word form.  Closed captions offer everyone the ability to follow what is being said, especially good for those when English isn’t their first language.

Our Staff Development Programme.

  • Aims to support staff in the production of content that means all students can benefit from your content, in a way they prefer and suites their learning style.

Want to learn more about these and how they and other technologies can support student learning, contact your Learning Technology Development Officer.

Summer Upgrade (Blackboard)

The summer 2018 upgrade has been quite a big deal for the Learning Technology Team.  We have been months in planning for the latest upgrade with the idea in mind that if we do it right then you shouldn’t see any difference!  It does make sense… honestly… let us briefly explain;

For a number of years Blackboard Learning Edge has been provided from a ‘hosted service’ but we have now moved to a SaaS (Software as a Service) model.  This means that, whereas before we had to carefully manage modifications, updates, bug fixes and upgrades this is now handled at the core by Blackboard and so we will have significantly less downtime in the future as updates and upgrades can happen subtly with less end-user inconvenience.

So as mentioned, you shouldn’t actually see any difference but what this will allow us to do is introduce more interesting features and functions over the next year or so rather than one big summer bang!

So what is there to come?

We’re aiming to bring in an improved way of managing content within Learning Edge which should make it easier to manage files and share them across courses and modules.  Also on the timeline are tools such as Panopto quizzes, improvements to Qwickly (with Qwickly Attendance Pro) and also the potential for a (basic) portfolio tool within Blackboard.  We are also beginning pilots with a few users to try out some new accessibility tools to give students the best possible experience when studying in your course areas and modules.

What can I use now?

There have been a few noticeable changes, like you now have access to an improved Grade Centre view including:

  • An ‘expand‘ button in the top right-hand corner so you can see more Grade Centre ‘real-estate’:

  • also responsive column headers so that they will stack if they are long and need to go onto two lines or more:

  • and a tool that we think will come in very handy is the new ‘Availability‘ button for quick on/off access to the course or module.

If you would like any further help or advice on your use of Learning Edge, Blackboard or any other learning technologies then please get in touch with your departmental Learning Technologist.  Details can be found within the Staff and/or Help tabs within Blackboard:

…or you can drop a line to ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk

Supporting your students using Reading Lists Online

Edge Hill academic staff have been using Reading Lists Online since November 2017 to create up-to-date dynamic resource lists for their students.

As Reading Lists Online is a web-based tool, lists can be updated and published to your students immediately; there is no longer any need to wait for your lists to be updated. You can direct your students to any type of material, including webpages, Lynda.com tutorials and Box of Broadcasts playlists, as well as traditional books and journal articles.

You can use Reading Lists Online to instruct Learning Services of the new titles you want to purchase for the library collection.

Watch the video below to hear what a member of staff from Sport & Physical Activity has to say about using Reading Lists Online.

You can find additional information on Reading Lists Online on the Learning Services Wiki or please contact your Academic Engagement Specialist.

Hosting all around – 360° video content.

360° content is increasing in popularity.

360 video on smart phoneThe production of 360 degree content couldn’t be easier; most of us have access to devices capable of capturing images that software or apps can stitch together to give an immersive viewing experience.

Lecturers across the university continue to explore this technology, generating good quality content for students to access through their devices whilst studying a module.

However, our own Media Production Team have invested Sample of 360° video camerasin the latest Insta360 Pro 360º professional camera, which they explain, presents a whole range of new possibilities when filming around campus. To learn more about the Media Production Team and the Insta360, visit the Learning Services wiki pages.

Examples of use: Areas across campus where 360° video is being used and generating interest:

  • Faculty of Health and Social Care – Paramedics and the 360° Experience. An ambitious project which aims to expose students to a variety of environments, giving them a sense of being present at a scene without actually being there in person (virtual practitioner).  Barry Mathews (Lecturer in Paramedic Practice and Pre-hospital Care) is exploring the potential of 360° images to simulate hazardous and clinical settings. Students will practice their observational skills and identify individual hazards and use this to influence their dynamic operational risk assessment.
  • Whilst on field trips with her students, Susan Jones (Lecturer – Geographical Information Systems) produced a series of 360° photographs of locations visited along the Northwest Coastline of scientific interest.  For Sue, who is keen to start using immersive content on her modules, this was an exciting time to (metaphorically speaking), tentatively dip a toe into the immersive water. Initial thoughts suggest there is value in producing content that students can use for revision, that gives them the means to study and explore areas of interest and identify points of reference.
  • The University Library, as part of its introduction to staff and students, has produced a 360° tour. People can take a virtual look around the different spaces and facilities before actually visiting in person. Interactive hot-spots provide information whilst red target-like buttons make it possible to move from room to room and between floors.

Other uses of 360 content:

  • Capital Projects site walk-through (CATALYST). Experience Edge Hill University’s newest £26m building, go on a tour with others and see how the building looks during its construction.
  • Aintree Library IT Suite and Issue Desk 360° Images. Never visited Edge Hill University’s Aintree Library? These photosphere images give you an all-round view of the IT Suite, Issue Desk, study space and shelf stock.

Plans for future use:

  • Paul Ward’s (Head of English and History) interest in 360 content, to make resources that are fun and interactive.  It also enables the department to address all the disciplines; so for example, a virtual fieldtrip using 360 would allow historians to look at developments across time, linguists to look at language use in different contexts, creative writers to visit new settings for fiction, and literary critics to explore literary connections or literary settings.  Paul goes on to say, “It also shows students how digital technologies that they are familiar with are learning and research tools”.

Options for hosting your 360° video content.

There are many hosting options around, the trouble is most offer hosting at a price, via a subscription, or they have free versions that are limited in features or for a limited time.

Here, we look at three of the most popular services used by staff at Edge Hill University.

About each platform

Online option: YouTube

YouTube Logo

A free video sharing/social website where anyone with an account can view, upload and share content.

If you need your content to be shared worldwide, YouTube is the second largest search engine. However, if you wish to target your audience, for instance within a module, by hosting your videos on YouTube, you are sending your audience to a third party site. This means that YouTube videos will be more visible within Google, compared to the videos embedded on your modules.

Unwanted content, clutter can be distracting for some, particularly those with a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD). YouTube’s auto play function means students may view unrelated content based on their own search criteria and pattern.

Online option: Vimeo

Vimeo Logo

Aimed at giving filmmakers a platform to present and promote their work.

Unlike YouTube, Vimeo doesn’t rely on funding from ads, preferring to offer a service which has less clutter, charging a membership fee for 500MB of space per month. Unless you opt for Pro membership, Vimeo’s video player incorporates its logo alongside your content.

Institution option: Panopto

Panopto LogoInstitutional platform to manage, live stream, record, and share videos across an organisation and/or a specific module in Learning Edge.

A secure platform for educational content, you manage access and take control of what your audience can see, no adverts, or suggested videos and no more clutter.  Unlimited space, full feature and no additional cost implications.

The University offers dedicated support and staff training. Guides and FAQs provide just-in-time resources at the point of need. Students can benefit from using assistive tools, with Panopto’s playback viewer, such as:

  • A graphical and textual index of PowerPoint slides.
  • The ability to slow down or speed up the recording.
  • The ability to make time-stamped typed notes and bookmarks.
  • A search tool that indexes on-screen text as well as spoken audio.

For a comparative view of the three services covered in this post, click the image below:

360 video hosting comparison matrix

Alternatively, download a PDF version: 360° Video Platform Comparison Matrix.

If you are interested in finding out more about creating your own 360° content and hosting options, contact Learning Technology Development Team via ext.7754, ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk or Ask LTD knowledge base.

Martin Baxter

 

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer

Moving forward with Reading Lists Online

Reading Lists Online provides you with the autonomy to drive selection and purchasing of the resources you want for your library collection.

Since November 2017, the Academic Engagement team have run small group training sessions, which have led to many Academic staff instantly creating, publishing and personalising lists to suit their module structure and enhance teaching and learning.

As this is a web-based tool many Academics have not just been adding e-books and full-text journals etc. but also links to online training resources such as Lynda.com.

Engaging with Reading Lists Online not only provides advantages for yourselves but your students will benefit from your lead by having:

  • Up-to-date module reading
  • Library stock available in time for learning
  • Integration into Blackboard
  • Click-through to digitised chapters and articles
  • Guidance notes
  • Personal reading record
  • Enhanced study experience

Watch the video below to hear what a member of staff from Performing Arts has to say about using Reading Lists Online:

You can find additional information on Reading Lists Online, including how to get started on our Learning Services Wiki or please contact your Academic Engagement Specialist.

Marking with Marky Mark – Managing the marking period stress free

Mark avatarYes, it’s that time of year again… Exams are in full flow, the academic year is beginning to come to a close (for students perhaps!) and that means one thing… marking!

It can be a stressful time for tutors with the (virtual) mountains of papers requiring a critical eye cast over them, for this reason we have put together some hints, tips and reassurances to ease you through the period.

Downtime

We don’t schedule any maintenance during the marking period so you should find the systems up 100% during the marking period.  Any issues you experience are likely to be local – meaning that they should be able to be fixed by one of your friendly Learning Technologists (or one of their Learning Services or IT Services colleagues!)

Exceptions are only made for urgent security updates – these will be done as quickly as possible and at ‘off-peak’ times (3am in the morning anyone!?)

Errors (when marking)warning cone icon

You may very occasionally experience problems when marking – usually via Turnitin.  If this is the case, try the following before contacting Learning Technology.

  • Close the window
  • Log out of Blackboard
  • Clear your browser cache
  • Try a different browser
  • If possible try a different PC
  • Try using a Windows machine wherever possible

Plan B

It’s important that you have a Plan B, just in case of the worst scenario! (When you have a Plan B you usually don’t need it but when you don’t… well!)

What will you do if a student or students can’t submit? This may be due to an issue their end or could be some other factor…

  • Will you offer paper submission?
  • Will you offer an extension?
  • Will you allow the to email it and then you submit on their behalf?
  • What time are they due to submit? Is it during office hours so it can be dealt with?

Notificationsnotification icon

For your sanity and students’ don’t forget to keep communicating!

  • Do you make use of the Announcements feature in Blackboard?
  • Do you have a communication plan? Is it via email? Word of mouth? a Twitter account? Do your students know what method you use?
  • Do students have notifications switched on in the mobile app? They need to have allowed ‘push’ notifications… this can’t be set for them!

 

Online Hints and Tips

Turnitin App

Do you have an iPad? You can download the papers to mark offline if so.

Convert Comments to QuickMarks and save them to your library for easy reuse.

For easy reuse in the assignment you’re grading or in other assignments, you can convert a ‘Bubble Comment’ into a QuickMark. QuickMarks allow you to create your own library of feedback that might be applicable, on multiple occasions, to multiple students, across multiple classes and assignments.

Drag and Drop QuickMarks Anywhere on the Paper

You can access a library of feedback by selecting the QuickMark icon from the navigation bar. Use the search box to find a specific QuickMark. Once you’ve selected the QuickMark you’d like to add to the paper, drag it from the panel and drop it onto the relevant part of the paper.

Highlight Tool

Use text highlight together with comments in order to clarify to students what comments refer to.

Taking a break…coffee cup icon

Please note that when using Turnitin, it will timeout after 1 hour of inactivity. ‘Inactivity’ means not interacting with any part of the Turnitin interface, be aware though, scrolling up and down a student submission does not count as activity! Only actual clicking, typing etc. in Turnitin counts as activity.

If you need to take a break or will be away from marking for a little while (grabbing that well earned cuppa!), be sure to close the Turnitin window so that the work that you have done is saved.

As usual, any problems, contact ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk

Mark avatarMark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer
Faculty of Education

 

 

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer
Faculty of Arts & Science, Medical Education

Learning with Lynda.com – Computer Science

Edge Hill staff and students have free, unlimited access to Lynda.com, which includes thousands of high quality online courses and video tutorials written by industry experts.

We caught up with two members of staff from the Computer Science department to discuss how they use Lynda.com to enhance their own skills and the learning experience of their students.

Chris Nicholas is a Computer Science Research Assistant. He has used Lynda.com extensively to improve his knowledge of software development.

Oladotun Omosebi is a Computer Science Doctoral Tutor. He has used Lynda.com with his students to help them improve their skills in using various software.

Learn more about Lynda.com through our Lynda web-pages and explore the wide range of content for yourself.

Time for Students to Lead Online?

Wall ClockStaff, and students alike have deliberated long and hard over when, where, and how they can work more collaboratively, either in taught sessions, while engaging in a group activity, or during activities that require distance participation.

Look no further, Learning Services has the right solution for you, in the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra tool.

There is greater emphasis these days on giving students the space, time and flexibility to work collaboratively, on joint projects and away from the constraints and rigidity of the conventional classroom environment.

All Learning Edge course templates include a link to Blackboard Collaborate ‘Ultra’, within the course menu (Note that Faculty or Department Administrators must add this course menu template) to merged courses.Blackboard Collaborate Logo

In earlier versions of Blackboard Collaborate, you’ll remember Tutors were given the role of Moderator; everyone else was given the Participant role. The Moderator is the person responsible for the room (usually the tutor), and is required to conduct sessions, and control Participant (usually the student) privileges and the availability of tools.

In the Ultra version, however, although the Tutor has overall control as Moderator, there are a couple of new roles the Moderator can use including; Presenter and Captioner. To encourage effective student online collaboration, we recommend setting up sessions, and applying the Presenter role for all students.

Captioner can be applied to any user. They are given an area to type what is being said, so that those with a hearing impairment can participate and join in with the conversation.

The Presenter role is designed to allow participants/students to use the whiteboard tools and present without giving them full moderator privileges.

Presenters can upload, share, edit, and stop sharing content. Presenters are able to share their screens and upload images or PowerPoint files, they cannot modify another users’ permissions the way a moderator can.  This is a useful role, as all students are given the same, high level of user access, but can’t accidentally exclude another member from the project group activity.

Guides to help you:

If you want to discuss this and other users of Collaborate further, as always contact the Learning Technology Development Team via ext.7754, ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk or Ask LTD knowledge base.

Martin Baxter

 

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer

Office Mix end of Service Reminder – 2 Weeks Remaining to Migrate Content

What is Happening?

Microsoft have recently notified any staff that have used Office Mix that it it will be retired on M‍ay 1st, 2‍018. On this date the Microsoft Office Mix site and all its content will be officially discontinued. The site will no longer be accessible after that date. Any links or embedded content to your Office Mix content in your Learning Edge courses will stop working after this date.

What do I need to do?

A number of staff at Edge Hill University have been using Office Mix as a tool to create interactive multi-media presentations for their Learning Edge (Blackboard) courses. If you have been using Office Mix, you will need to download any files you wish to keep before May 1st, 2018.

If you would like to save your content, you can download your Mixes as PowerPoint files (.pptx), and your analytics data as Excel files (.xlsx) to save to your local storage device.

We recommend that you now re-publish your Mixes as videos and upload them to Panopto. If you have quiz questions in your Mixes you will need to recreate them using the Panopto interactive quiz tool. Please contact your faculty Technologist for support with this procedure.

Will Microsoft replace Office Mix?

Microsoft have said that “Over time, we will be adding the best experiences of Office Mix across PowerPoint, Stream, and Forms to make it even easier for you to create and share interactive online videos.”

Microsoft has also published an information page. Edge Hill University staff should note that we do not currently have access to Microsoft Stream. Our Panopto service will offer the exact same experience for these types of online materials.

Desktop Recording alternative

The Learning Technology Development team recommend that all staff use Panopto as a desktop recording replacement. Please check the Learning Services Lecture Capture page for further information on this service and how if can be used as a guide to Desktop Recording.

FAQs

Can the current Mixes in my course continue until 1st May 2018?
Yes, but we recommend that you ensure that you have downloaded a copy of all your presentations. Links that have been copied forward from a previous semester will still work in Learning Edge. An automatic message about the retirement of Office Mix, will be display every time a staff member or student clicks on an Office Mix link in their course.

Can I still publish Mixes to the Office website until 1st May 2018?
No, the publishing functionality has not been available since 1st January 2018.

Can I continue to use Office Mix to produce videos?
Yes, only the Office Mix publishing site is not available. Office Mix PowerPoint plug in though may not work with future versions of PowerPoint or Windows. Note, the Office Mix PowerPoint plug in is no longer available to download.

Could I migrate my Office Mixes to a private Mircosoft Stream account?
Yes, but this does not have any advantages over uploading the content to Panopto. Your Office Mix will be converted to a video and the navigation and quizzes features will not be available.

Do Microsoft have any support pages?
If you have questions or need help with your account, please visit their help article or contact Microsoft Mix support here: https://aka.ms/mix-support

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Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer