Learning Edge is getting a Face Lift! Summer 2012 Upgrade

This year we heard staff and students saying how much they liked Learning Edge but if there was one thing they could change, it would be how it looks. Well, we are pleased to announce that Learning Edge will be getting a face lift this summer with an upgrade to Service Pack 8.

The work is planned to take place on Sunday 22nd July & Monday 23rd July, during which time the system will be unavailable.

Don’t worry if you’re thinking: *gulp* I’ve only just learnt what all the buttons and tools did in the current version! The tools are the same and they will work in the same way. It is just the interface itself that will change to look more modern and contemporary. Feedback about it has been really positive from Edge Hill colleagues who have taken an early look at it on our Test environment. They are saying that it looks much nicer and is easier to navigate.

So what will it look like?

Your ‘My Institution’ homepage will remain very familiar.

Screenshot My Institution Homepage

The Course/Module page will look cleaner and less cluttered.Inclusive_Services_Course_PageDiscussion Forums will be more streamlined and viewing the parent post within a reply will be much more obvious. Discussion_Screenshot

There are other benefits too!
The service pack will fix some minor problems in the current version, and add functionality to existing features. Some of the other improvements you can look forward to include:

A new and improved Visual Text Box Editor which has an option to work in full screen mode – and will allow you to copy and paste from Word documents into discussion, blog, journal posts and other HTML items without annoying formatting problems!

Text_Editor_ScreenshotA brand new course-to-course navigation feature which will help you easily switch from one course to another with a click. You’ll be able to jump to a recently visited course and retain your context (ie. move from the discussion board in one course to the discussion board in another).

Teaching staff will be able to personalize the look and feel of courses with pre-designed themes, to make them more attractive.Themes_Screenshot

Teaching staff and administrators will be able to run a wider range of activity reports about how courses and course materials are being used – which will be perfect for helping academic teams with their evaluation practices.

There will also be a number of improvements to the assessment tools. There will be a prominent progress indicator bar on tests, which will turn red when the test time is nearly up, and Instructors will be able to select whether to make a test “auto submit” when the time has elapsed or notify the student that they are now over time.

Timer_Green_ScreenshotTimer_Red_ScreenshotGuesswork on multiple choice questions won’t be a problem anymore as instructors can set negative points for wrong answers on tests. Also, if an instructor notices an error in a test ‘answer’ they will be able to edit the test, and Blackboard will automatically recalculate the score for all submissions (and future submissions) affected by the change.

These are just a few of the enhancments SP8 will bring. Full details on the changes can be found in the Service Pack 8 Release Notes.

If you would like to take a look at the changes before the upgrade, we have a test server with it installed already.  Contact [email protected] if you would like further information about this.

Finally, a note about the timing of the upgrade
In order to implement these enhancements, we do need to make the system unavailable for a short period during the summer break, on 22/23 of July. (Specific timings will be announced when testing has been completed and we know how quickly we can perform this work.)

Finding the right time to perform a system upgrade is difficult, particularly when so many staff and students make daily use of it. However, we trust you will understand how important it is to maintain and improve the system and hope that you will approve of the new more contemporary interface once the upgrade is complete!

We welcome thoughts about the planned enhancements. What do you think about the new look? Do you like it? Let us know what you think by commenting below…

Megan Juss Profile Picture

Megan Juss
Learning Technology Development Manager

If you have any questions about this work you can speak to your Learning Technology Development contact or email [email protected].

Farewell CE8 (Old Blackboard)

Over the past 18 months, programmes, courses and modules have been moved to Learning Edge (Blackboard 9.1).

Since December 2011 access to CE8 (old Blackboard) was restricted. Some staff were granted extended access in order to wrap up old modules before the summer.

Now we have reached the final stage and will be switching off CE8 (the old VLE) on the 30th June 2012.

Anyone who still has access to CE8 please use this coming week to make a final check and ensure you have everything you require.

Learning Technology Development Team
[email protected]


Podcasting with Campus Pack

It is now possible to create podcasts within Learning Edge using the Campus Pack podcast tool.

So exactly what is a podcast?

A podcast is a type of digital media consisting of an episodic series of files (either audio or video) subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication (RSS Feeds)

Podcasting lets you automatically receive the latest episode of your chosen programme as soon as it’s available. With podcasts you can subscribe to RSS feeds allowing the files come to you rather than searching for the files

How can it be used in education?

  • To record lectures for revision purposes, special events, or flexible delivery to those at a distance
  • To provide a recap or précis of the week’s activities
  • Interviews with subject specialists
  • Assisting those with different learning styles
  • Listening/pronunciation practice for certain discipline e.g. language learning, phonetics
  • Providing feedback to groups on assessment
  • Student activities

Creating podcasts using Campus Pack

Podcasting: Skills and Techniques

Want to findout more about the podcasting tool?  Contact the Learning Technology Development Team on: 01695 650 754 (or internal 7754)

Irfan Mulla

Learning Technologist

Blackboard 9.1 Journal Tool – Reflections in Writing.

Girl taking notes in class

Communication – Blackboard 9.1 offers new opportunities for using social communication tools including Journals, blogs and wikis.  The main difference between a blog and a journal is that blogs tend to be used for group debate and to comment, and the Journal tool for individual reflection.  Journals offer a personal writing space for self-reflection and private communication with the instructor, whereas blogs and wikis tend to be used as collaborative and social tools.

Private Journal – The Journal’s uses include reflection on personal growth throughout the semester, record things learned on a field trip, a place for expressing yourself, documenting clinical experiences, and points that are private.

Public Journal –Although journals offer a private place of communication between student and instructor, they can also be made for sharing with the rest of the group so that others in the group are able to read the journal, but they cannot comment on it.

Click on the video link for help creating a Journal link in Blackboard 9.1                    Video Guide – Creating a Journal for staff

Want to findout more about the Journal tool?  Contact the Learning Technology Development Team on: 01695 650 754 (or internal 7754)

Martin Baxter (Learning Technology Development)