Making things happen: behind the scenes (part 1)

Previous blog posts have focused on the technical and staff development activity involved in moving to Blackboard 9.1. This time, we thought we’d introduce the teams who are making all this happen. First off is (most of) the team from Learning Services pictured below:

Standing L-R: Peter Beaumont, Carol Chatten, David Callaghan, Lisa Farnworth, Martin Baxter, Meg Juss. Seated L-R: Lindsey Martin, Rachel Bury, Katherine Richardson, Elaine Czotter.

David Callaghan, Mark Ayton and Adrian Cain (both not pictured) have been working extensively with colleagues in IT Services, Academic Registry and Blackboard to ensure that the Student Information Database and Blackboard talk to one another as seamlessly as possible to ensure that the courses and student records in Blackboard are always up-to-date.

Peter, Carol, David, Martin, Lisa, Meg and Adrian have been responsible for training staff in the use of Blackboard, supporting migration from Blackboard CE8 and creating all new guides and resources. To date, they have trained over 400 staff and will continue training and providing support over the summer. They will be joined in late August by Elaine, ICT Staff Development Co-ordinator. Elaine will be responsible for the ongoing training of Administrative staff across the faculties who will be working with Blackboard for the first time.

A special thanks must go to Katherine who has pulled all of the staff training schedules together and created order out of chaos!

Last but not least, Rachel and Lindsey (who have brought you the blog from the days of the VLE Review) who try to ensure that everyone knows what they need to know, when they need to know it, in the format that is most appropriate for them!

The next three months are going to be very busy as we work with the faculties to make sure all their courses are ready for September. We are here to help so please get in touch via the blog or email to any of the team. We look forward to hearing from you …

Our next blog post – Behind the scenes (part 2) will introduce you to our wider team – some of the key staff who we have worked with across the University …

Working under the radar … Blackboard 9.1 update

One of the lessons I am learning about implementing a major technology project is that there are quite long stretches of time when nothing really newsworthy happens – there is a huge amount of work going on but very little of it is of interest to the majority of our readers. I could write more about how Blackboard 9.1 now integrates with our student information database, or similar  … but I won’t.  Instead, here are a couple of snippets on progress in general.

As we move towards July, the number of academic and administrative staff  receiving training in the essentials of Blackboard 9.1 is picking up. All academic departments have arranged to attend workshops that will enable them to build their courses in 9.1. We are also timetabling mop-up sessions between now and the end of July for those colleagues unable to attend. If you want to arrange a place on one of these additional sessions, please email [email protected] for information on dates, times and availability.

There are currently 110 modules in 9.1 that are ‘live’ with 1,624 registered users. We’ve been monitoring all requests for support and to date, the number of technical issues reported have been pleasingly low. I don’t think this is a matter for complacency, however, so if you are a student or a member of staff who is currently using Blackboard 9.1, or who used it last semester, your feedback would be very welcome.

As Blackboard has now achieved mainstream adoption across the University, the Learning Technology Development Division (part of Learning Services) have completely reviewed the processes that were in place to communicate with and support staff, students and other customers in the event of occasional dips in service or the system being down. Again, this activity is essential, largely invisible and only really of interest when there is a problem. Having completed the review, tested and introduced new, robust processes, we can now start publicising them. Staff can access the guidance from the  How do I report a problem? section (Blackboard) from the Learning Services wiki. Feedback on this is also welcome. I just hope we don’t have to put it into practice anytime soon!