Adaptive release – Getting the right content to the right students at the right time

Did you know that content displayed in Blackboard 9.1 does not have to be released to all the students all at once. The ‘Adaptive Release’ and ‘Adaptive Release: Advanced’ tools allow an instructor to customise the release of any content, making its availability determined by a series of criteria, including, date, membership and grade.

Adaptive Release Menu

By deploying your chosen criteria individually, in simple sets, or through the creation of ‘rules’, controlled access to any content can be simply tailored to meet very basic requirements, such as releasing weekly teaching, right through to exceptionally sophisticated requirements.

An example of a more sophisticated use is the Anatomy and Physiology exam in the PUP1147 Stepping into Nursing module which has been delivered online for many years now. The diverse nature of this Inter-Professional Learning practice module demands that predetermined student groups (based on level, discipline and administration), sit one of two versions of the exam (standard and extended) in a controlled environment at two set times on the same day. This makes for a complex administrative process, which in the previous version of Blackboard (CE8) demanded a high level of attention to detail and many test and mock set-ups for final assurance. However, in Blackboard 9.1 by setting a series of criterion to create ‘rules’ and then ‘subsequent rules’, the same can be achieved in a much less demanding and complex way. Below is an example of the adaptive release criteria for two sittings of the same exam on the same day to selective students.

Adaptive Release Rules Screen Shot

The following 5 minute video Create Multiple Rules to Release a Content Item from Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Centre, takes you through the process to set up both simple and complex release criteria.

With the ever-increasing adoption of technology enhanced learning, the demand to control the equitable access and release of teaching, learning and assessment contents becomes more and more fundamental. Therefore, the ease of use in the creation of flexible and robust release criterion in Blackboard 9.1, offers a more secure approach which is critical to success, especially in the control of high value summative processes such as exams and assignment submissions.

Additional note: The ‘What’s New’ module (typically displayed on the default Home Page of modules) highlights new content that is made available to the entire course. Adaptive Release Content that becomes available after certain criteria are met is not reported in this module.

If you would like any further information on this, please email [email protected]

Adrian Cain

Adrian Cain
Learning Technologist

Staff Reminder: Learning Edge Drop In 23.01.12

Are you working on something new in Learning Edge? Do you want help or ideas?

Staff are invited to visit the LINC Development* room at lunch time on Monday to:

  • Learning Edge LogoExplore the potential of Learning Edge
  • Focus on enhancing current practice
  • Resolve any queries

These regular open door Drop In sessions have been organised to support staff building and working on courses and are the perfect opportunity to gain additional advice from a Learning Technologist.

No need to book! Please just drop into the LINC Development room and a member of the Learning Technology Development department will be on hand to help and advise.

Drop In Schedule this Term:
12.01.12 – 12 pm – 13 pm, Thursday, LINC Dev
23.01.12 – 13 pm – 14 pm, Monday, LINC Dev
07.02.12 – 12 pm – 13 pm, Tuesday, LINC Dev
23.02.12 – 12 pm – 13 pm, Thursday, LINC Dev
05.03.12 – 13 pm – 14 pm, Monday, LINC Dev
23.03.12 – 12 pm – 13 pm, Friday, LINC Dev
03.04.12 – 12 pm – 13 pm, Tuesday, LINC Dev
16.04.12 – 13 pm – 14 pm, Monday, LINC Dev

*Please note: a change from the advertised location of these Drop In sessions printed in a Learning Services Staff Development leaflet. Staff may continue to visit the SOLSTICE Centre for  support with Learning Technology, but the LINC Development room has been booked to comfortably accommodate any number of staff during these open door Drop In periods.

Hope to see you there!
The Learning Technology Development Team.

What’s on your Learning Edge wish list? Extending the functionality of Blackboard with Building Blocks

There are a vast number of tools and features available in Blackboard, but I’m sure you will agree, there are some things you can’t do, at least not yet! The great thing though about Blackboard is that through Building Blocks we can build more functionality into the system.

Perhaps you would like new features which help you manage your course, such as a way to quickly check all web links in a module or a way to maintain an online attendance register. Maybe there are features which you know would help your students, such as a tutorial sign-up sheet or a way for them to send files to their eReader. What other features would appear on your ‘wish list’?

Building the Blocks

To help you come up with some ideas, let’s talk a little bit more about what Building Blocks are and how they work.

Building Blocks essentially allow third-party developers to create customisations and extensions for Blackboard Learn through open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and web services. The types of building block that can be developed are:

  • Course Tool
  • Course Control
  • Group Tool
  • System Tool
  • User Tool
  • Content Type
  • Module

There are already a range of third party extensions available through Blackboard Extensions that we can try, including tools developed by other HE institutions. Also, we can now explore the viability of new in-house custom developments too!

One such development I recently started was the ‘Course Availability Per User’ system tool – Edge Hill University’s first Building Block! The aim of this Building Block is to assist administration of Blackboard by detailing a selected user’s course enrolments and respective availability.

Building Blocks can be as simple as querying data or as complex as connectors for synchronising data to externally hosted services e.g. Campus Pack. They are developed using a combination of the JDK (Java Development Kit), Building Block APIs and an IDE (Integrated Development Environment).

Developers use IDEs such as Eclipse and NetBeans to assist with the creation of Dynamic Web Applications. A Building Block is a Dynamic Web Application with the addition of one specific file: bb-manifest.xml. This file sets the properties that determine how the Building Block will behave and interact with the Blackboard 9.1 environment. Once the development of the building block is complete it is exported as a .WAR (Web Archive File) file and uploaded into Blackboard.

Community Resources

Edugarage provides a wealth of developer documentation, sample code/tools and user discussion to assist developers with creating building blocks.

Oscelot Projects is another great resource for open source eLearning solutions, developer related collaboration and code/tools.  Take a look at their web pages to see what others are currently developing.

Have your say

So, have you got any ideas? What course tools are missing? What functionality would be really useful for online group work? What could improve your course management or administration?

We’ve already added Building Blocks such as ‘Add Test Student’ and the ‘Paste from Word Mashup’ in response to requests from staff and we’d like to know what you would most value next. Feel free to suggest ideas and leave a comment. We can’t promise to add it all but we can certainly try!

 

 

 

 

John Langford
Learning Technology Systems Officer

What technologies did you get for Christmas?

Many of you lucky folks will have been fortunate enough to have received amazing new personal technologies or tools this Christmas and we’d love to hear about what you’ve got and how you’re using them in your studies, or for your teaching. You can use the comments box below to tell us all about how you’re using your iPods and Kindles, your digital recorders, tablets and favourite apps!

For those of us (myself included) that didn’t get a shiny new iPad2, I thought I’d highlight some of the great technologies we’ve now all got access to through Learning Edge. After all, Learning Edge got lots of really exciting new tools from Santa too!

Learning Edge is more than just Blackboard; it includes a whole range of teaching and learning systems. The list is long and it’s growing … this Guide to Learning Edge gives you a quick overview of all the facilities that are currently included, and remember, this lists only the core online technologies you have at your disposal – we’ll talk about classroom technologies, portable devices, web tools and apps another time!

Just before the New Year we introduced a number of new features to Learning Edge when we updated Blackboard Learn 9.1 to Service Pack 7, including enhancements to the Grade Centre, Interactive Rubrics and Timed Assessments.  A student Blog now, for instance, might be set to only appear in ‘Needs Grading’ status after a student has made three posts, rather than with each individual post.

We’ve also added additional functionality with Building Blocks such as, ‘Blackboard Mobile Learn’, ‘Paste From Word’ and ‘Add Test Student’.

Log In ScreenshotBLACKBOARD MOBILE LEARN
The Mobile Learn app provides quick and easy access to courses in Learning Edge.

For staff and student guides on getting the most from the Blackboard Mobile Learn app, visit the eShare Mobile Collection.  Here, you will find information on downloading the app to your device, setting the course notifications you want to recieve on the go and, for teaching staff, information about building mobile friendly courses.

 

Paste From WordPASTE FROM WORD
The Paste From Word mashup is another useful enhancment for both staff and students as it helps overcome formatting problems when copying and pasting text from Microsoft Word into the Blackboard visual textbox editor (VTBE). For a guide on using this functionality visit the eShare Learning Edge: Paste From Word Guide.

ADD TEST STUDENT
For staff wanting to  view their courses as their students see them, the Add Test Student enhancment is perfect. To learn more about using this functionality visit the eShare Learning Edge: Add Test Student Guide.

Campus Pack Tools ScreenshotCAMPUS PACK
Finally, in addition to all this, we’ve got a brand new ePortfolio system called Campus Pack!

Campus Pack will provide students and staff with their own personal online portfolio space within Learning Edge, with facilities such as blogs, journals, podcasts and wikis as well as PDP, CV and other portfolio template solutions. Tutors will also be able to embed Campus Pack content within Blackboard course areas.

We’ll be blogging about Campus Pack a lot more in the coming weeks but if you are interested in learning more about this tool, there is an online webinar running on Monday 16th January at 3pm 2:30-3:30pm. The webinar is aimed at staff involved in Campus Pack projects this term and next, but this is an open session, and anyone (staff or student) who is interested is welcome to join.

Email [email protected] and the webinar joining instructions will be provided.

I hope you’re making the most of all these fantasic technologies at your finger tips – remember if you need any help at all, Learning Technology Development are here to help.

Megan Juss Profile Picture

Meg Juss
Learning Technology Development Divisional Co-ordinator

Staff Reminder: Learning Edge Drop In 12.01.12

Are you working on something new in Learning Edge? Do you want help or ideas?

Staff are invited to visit the LINC Development* room at lunch time tomorrow to:

  • Learning Edge LogoExplore the potential of Learning Edge
  • Focus on enhancing current practice
  • Resolve any queries

These regular open door Drop In sessions have been organised to support staff building and working on courses and are the perfect opportunity to gain additional advice from a Learning Technologist.

No need to book! Please just drop into the LINC Development room and a member of the Learning Technology Development department will be on hand to help and advise.

Drop In Schedule this Term:
12.01.12 – 12 pm – 13 pm, Thursday, LINC Dev
23.01.12 – 13 pm – 14 pm, Monday, LINC Dev
07.02.12 – 12 pm – 13 pm, Tuesday, LINC Dev
23.02.12 – 12 pm – 13 pm, Thursday, LINC Dev
05.03.12 – 13 pm – 14 pm, Monday, LINC Dev
23.03.12 – 12 pm – 13 pm, Friday, LINC Dev
03.04.12 – 12 pm – 13 pm, Tuesday, LINC Dev
16.04.12 – 13 pm – 14 pm, Monday, LINC Dev

*Please note: a change from the advertised location of these Drop In sessions printed in a Learning Services Staff Development leaflet. Staff may continue to visit the SOLSTICE Centre for  support with Learning Technology, but the LINC Development room has been booked to comfortably accommodate any number of staff during these open door Drop In periods.

Hope to see you there!
The Learning Technology Development Team.

Emerging Technologies Session: Coming of Age – Professionalising the Blog

Screen shot showing blog post titles at Edge HillDo you have an image and message you need to get out to a wider audience? Are you a blogger or thinking about starting a professional blog that focuses on aspects of academic practice – then this session may be for you (Mon 16th  January, 1pm-2pm).

Blogs are now a mainstream social media tool used to promote the ‘business’ of Edge Hill and have a central role in engaging with and getting feedback from colleagues, students and a wider, non-Edge Hill University audience.

As a mainstream information/education tool, blog owners are increasingly concerned with blog ‘etiquette’, editorial guidelines where there are multiple authors and finding better ways of improving ‘discoverability’ and impact.

This session will bring together current and prospective bloggers to discuss the pros, cons and pitfalls of starting, maintaining and promoting your own blog.

Book via: Staff Development

 

Students – keep telling us what you think!

There is still time to win one of our prizes (£50 Amazon vouchers, 2 x £25 Amazon vouchers or a 1GB USB wristband) by completing the fourth Students eLearning Survey. We have now had 327 responses to our survey so a big thank you to all those who have completed it so far, but we need as many more as possible to give a truly representative picture.

We’ve had a look at the results to date and thought we would share some early feedback with you. We’re delighted to see that a high percentage of students (79.2%) feel that Learning Edge enhances the knowledge and understanding that they get from lectures and tutorials. Last year this figure was 75.2% so it’s great to see that this has increased. Similarly 88.1% of students agree that Learning Edge enables them to learn at a place and time of their choosing; this has increased from last years figure of 83.4%.

Another positive finding is that technical difficulties experienced when using Blackboard (now Learning Edge) have decreased. Last year, 60.7% of students had problems off campus compared with 43.5% this year. 45.9% of students had problems when on campus last year, but this has reduced to 38%. This hasn’t happened by accident; Learning Edge is a more robust and reliable system, underpinned by high quality technical and learner support. We’ve also created lots of new guides for students so we hope this has contributed to the reduction in problems!

We know how important it is to many students to be able to submit assignments online (84.7% said so this year and 82.7% last year) and we’re pleased to report that there are developments underway to improve this process and to offer more options to both students and tutors….so watch this space!

If you are a frequent viewer of our blog you will have seen previous posts about Mobile Learn, the mobile app for Learning Edge. Many students have already downloaded the app which is great news, and we’re keen for more students to make use of the app. The results of the survey show that last year 36.1% of students had an internet enabled mobile phone, but according to this year’s results so far this has increased to 78%. The launch of our mobile app was obviously very timely! For more information about the app have a look at this post.

The results mentioned above are based on the responses so far, so if you’ve not already completed the survey please do so and contribute to our findings for this year. Remember, as an added incentive, we are offering a grand prize of £50 Amazon vouchers and two runner up prizes of £25 Amazon vouchers to the lucky winners of our prize draw. We are also giving away one of our very exclusive Learning Services 1GB USB wristbands for every 20th response. We’ve already given away 16 of our wristbands – complete the survey now for your chance to be the next winner!

Current EHU students can access the survey from Learning Edge, the GO portal, your email or from http://surveys.edgehill.ac.uk/elearning_survey_2011/.

Katherine Richardson
LTD Operations Co-ordinator

Taking the online survey to the student.

How FM and LTD used tablet technologies for a student survey.

Taking the online survey to the student.In December Facilities Management wanted to know more about how students were using the HUB, and more specifically, the food services within the new building. They were considering how they could take a survey to the students, to encourage engagement, and maximise responses.

Danielle Doyle (FM Customer Service Team Leader) and Carol Austin (Facilities Manager for Customer Services) contacted LTD for advice on how to implement their ideas. LTD suggested using mobile devices to connect to an online survey, using the Bristol Online Surveys (BOS) service available to Edge Hill staff. The department loaned their own mobile devices to FM as a ‘pilot’ to learn more about using these mobile technologies.

Three students were recruited to conduct the survey for three days just before the Christmas break.  Two mobile devices were used – a first generation iPad and a Samsung Galaxy tab – the plan being to compare against the third student using paper copies of the survey.  Both devices were able to connect to and run the BOS service, though the battery of the Galaxy tablet ran out before the end of each session (10-3pm).  The interviewers said that the mobile devices were great at getting the engagement of students and the survey was completed in a similar amount of time as the paper version – the significant advantage of the mobile technology is the elimination of both transcription time and transcription errors.

Note, though, that the interviewers found the fastest way to gather the data was to get a group of students together and use one paper survey to record the responses from many students – though transcription time and errors need to be taken into account.

A later posting will discuss what LTD and FM learnt as a result of this pilot – and perhaps give some feedback on the results of this survey.

If you are considering how to use technology to enhance the student experience please contact the LTD team via [email protected] or 01695 650754.