Get your course & yourself ready for 2016

Five green ticks in a rowCome to one of our face to face sessions this or next week to learn how to:

  • Get your course area set up for 2016;
  • Copy content from previous years;
  • Make your course consistent and friendly for students;
  • Setup dropboxes;
  • .. and much more!

The aim is to get your course meeting EHU’s required standards required for VLE use.

We’ll also briefly explore new features such as the Staff tab, Qwickly attendance, organising your course list, and lecture capture (Panopto).

Take a look at the available dates and times and book on a session. 

In the meantime, perhaps take a look at our baseline playlist on YouTube or contact your Learning Technologist.

David Callaghan
Learning Technology Development Officer (FoE)
[email protected]
@dbcallaghan, @LTDatEHU

Edge Hill ‘Raises the Bar’ on the VLE Baseline

Baseline3dEHU have had a VLE baseline in place since 2008/9. Informed by advances in technology and student requests the baseline was reviewed, improved, and put out to the Faculties for consultation. In January a version reflecting Faculty feedback was presented to the Learning and Teaching Committee who endorsed the framework. During the process of consultation it was recognised that many colleagues already exceed the baseline.

The baseline framework establishes the minimum standards expected of taught courses with a VLE presence to meet student expectations ensuring:

  • Consistent course structure and navigation;
  • Consistent content location and format, and suitable for a range of devices;
  • Announcements are used for urgent course communications;
  • Materials are made available in a timely manner;
  • Clear guidance for electronic submission, assessment and feedback.

Learning Technologists are liaising with programme teams to outline what support exists to help colleagues to achieve or exceed the baseline – you should hear from us soon. Meanwhile, we are developing resources like this video and welcome your suggestions for other resources.

We’ll be in touch – and in the meantime you can contact your Learning Technologist.

David Callaghan
Learning Technology Development Officer (FoE)
[email protected]
@dbcallaghan, @LTDatEHU

Collaborate Ultra: Improved Features

Look who’s talking … 

On Saturday 20th February the web conferencing system, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra will be updated to ensure all Learning Edge users have the latest feature updates and of course to squash those pesky bugs!

Lets dig in to the top 3 improvements:

1) “See who is speaking …”

Microphone icons now appear next to the names of those speaking – outlined below in orange:



2) See when you are “On Air”: If others can see your video there will be a small ‘Eye’ icon at the top of your preview window:



3) Feedback about participants having connectivity issues – visual and text information such as “Joining …” and “Error, redialing …”



For details about these and all the other improvements – please click here to see the Blackboard’s Release Notes.


David Callaghan
Learning Technology Development Officer (FoE)




PS – if you or your students need overview of Ultra here is an excellent series of short screencasts from Blackboard: Collaborating in Blackboard Collaborate.

Collaborate Ultra now available to all courses

Earlier today we upgraded the University’s web-conferencing system, Blackboard Collaborate, to the new, user-friendly, ‘Ultra’ experience.

All 2015 courses have a link from their main menu to the Collaborate system – users simply need to click on the Collaborate button on the left, then Join Room buttons to launch the web conferencing system:


Blackboard’s Collaborate Ultra Tutorials provide a good overview of the updated interface. Take a look at this Blackboard Collaborate video to see what it looks like in action.

You can also use Collaborate Ultra as you own ‘Virtual Office’ – to meet with students or colleagues remotely.  Here is a guide and a video showing how to do this:

Support and Guidance

Remember, the Learning Technology Development are always here to help you with your use of technologies – so, whether you are an existing Collaborate user who wants to talk about how the upgrade will affect your current practice, or whether you are a first time user who wants to take advantage of the new Ultra web-conferencing interface, please do get in touch.

David Callaghan
Learning Technology Development Officer

Collaborate to be upgraded on Mon 16th November

We’ve listened to your feedback and will be upgrading the university’s web-conferencing system, Blackboard Collaborate, to a new, user-friendly, ‘Ultra’ experience on Mon 16th November at 2 am.

Improvement Highlights

  • Online sessions can be accessed easily and quickly from within the browser;
  • An intuitive and clutter-free interface;
  • Your course room stays open 24/7 allowing independent student work;
  • Live closed captioning features.

Take a look at this Blackboard Collaborate video to see what it looks like in action.



Blackboard’s Collaborate Ultra Tutorials provide a good overview of the updated interface and their release notes will tell you more about the Ultra Experience and the Ultra Changes.

Collaborate Briefing

Full details of the upgrade and planned improvements are covered in this Collaborate Upgrade Briefing Document.







Support and Guidance

Remember, the Learning Technology Development division are always here to help you with your use of technologies – so, whether you are an existing Collaborate user who wants to talk about how the upgrade will affect your current practice, or whether you are a first time user who wants to take advantage of the new Ultra web-conferencing interface, please do get in touch.

David Callaghan
Learning Technology Development Officer

Upgrade to our web conferencing tool

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Next month LTD will be upgrading our web conferencing system Collaborate Ultra, a faster, easier, and more intuitive system that has been well received during stakeholder testing.

YouTube video of Ultra Here’s a great introductory video from Blackboard that covers most of the features effectively:

Our testers found the system to be very easy to get into and use. Note that as this is an early version of the system some of the features of the current version of Collaborate, such as polling, breakout rooms and support for iPhones and iPads are still in development.  LTD have a handful of ‘Classic’ Collaborate rooms available for users who need to use the earlier version of the system.

All courses from 2015 onward have a link in the course menu to Collaborate, and when the upgrade is complete anyone clicking on those links, staff or student, will be taken to a Collaborate Ultra room.

Please get in touch with us for further information about the Collaborate Ultra upgrade – if you want to use the system with your students now we can create a few of the new types of Collaborate rooms ahead of the general release of the upgrade.

For further help and support on this or any others aspect of Learning Technology, please contact your faculty Learning Technologist.

David Callaghan

A Great Alternative to Using the YouTube Mashup Tool

I developed a great way of creating links to YouTube and similar sites that works well for desktop and mobile users. Just use a Web Link with a description.

Here are the steps:

  1. buttonGet the URL link for the video from YouTube. For example you could try it with our ‘Learning Edge Welcome Video
  2. Go to the Blackboard ‘Content area’ page that you want to add the link to
  3. Add a Web Link
  4. Paste the link in, and enter a suitable description
  5. In the description box, click the ‘Insert/Edit Embedded Media’ button (see image)
  6. Paste the URL into the File/URL box & click insert at the bottom of the page
  7. Submit

The result is that desktop users see:

Mobile users get the web link too (Learning Edge Welcome Video) but don’t see the embedded picture.  It works great – give it a go.

For further help and support on this or any others aspect of Learning Technology, please contact your faculty Learning Technologist: Learning Technology Development Division Contacts.

More peer review = More feedback. What’s not to love?

A SOLSTICE discussion and webinar with Sarah Honeychurch and Gill Ferrell this Friday at 12pm.

Nicol-et-al-2013“Peer review is an important alternative to teacher feedback, as research indicates that both the production and the receipt of feedback reviews can enhance students’ learning without necessarily increasing teacher workload.” (Nicol, 2013:103).

A wealth of literature supports Nicol’s assertion: Zingaro & Porter, 2013; Mostert & Snowball, 2012; Nicol, 2010; Crouch, et al, 2007; Mitra, 2003 as well as experiences documented at Edge Hill (Juss et al., 2010).

Further, Nicol says peer review ‘ … should receive much greater attention in higher education curricula’ (ibid:102).  Hence, I’ve organised an online and face-to-face event at the SOLSTICE conference, where external experts will attend to discuss the technique and illustrate how technology can facilitate peer review.

Please come along to this event – either face-to-face in B004 at 12pm this Friday (please ensure you register for SOLSTICE):

… or to join us online, following this link:

The session will discuss some of the barriers to adoption, such as students’ lack of confidence giving feedback and concern about plagiarisism between students; to tutors disquiet about the quality of peer feedback provided.  The idea is to explore how insurmountable these barriers are and how we might overcome them.

Note that we’d be very interested in hearing from colleagues who are using the technique, especially online, exploring their drivers, approach and outcomes.

So – please come along, either in B004 or online.  Further thoughts sought too (leave a comment at the bottom).

Here’s my SOLSTICE abstract that gives further details:

Kindest regards to all, David



Crouch, H., Watkins, J. Fagen, A.P., Mazur, E. (2007) Peer Instruction: Engaging students one-on-one, all at once in Reviews in Physics Education Research, Ed. E.F. Redish and P. Cooney, pp. 1-1 (American Association of Physics Teachers, College Park, MD, 2007). Available from [Accessed 13th May 2015]

Juss, M., Chamberlain, V. and Callaghan, D. (2010) Moving Assessed Student Presentations Online: How a Change in Practice Brought “…a breath of fresh air” to the Student Experience SOLSTICE Conference 2010, Edge Hill University, ORMSKIRK, 3rd June 2010 [] last accessed 1st June 2015

Mitra, S. (2003). “Minimally Invasive Education: A progress report on the “Hole-in-the-wall” experiments”. British Journal of Educational Technology, 34(3), 367-371.

Mostert, M.; Snowball , J. (2012) Where angels fear to tread: online peer-assessment in a large first-year class Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education Vol. 38, Iss. 6, 2013 [Accessed 13trh May 2015]

Nicol, D. (2010) The foundation for graduate attributes: Developing self-regulation through self and peer assessment. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.Scotland,

Nicol, D., Thomson, A, and Breslin, C. (2013) Rethinking feedback practices in higher education: a peer review perspective. Assessment and evaluation in higher education. 39(1),  102-122.

Zingaro, D., & Porter, L. (2014) Peer instruction in computing: The value of instructor intervention. Computers & Education, 71 , 87–96.

BBC-featured History quiz engages students in HEA project

Reflections on ‘What Kind of Historian are you?’ Quiz

According to Mason Norton (Edge Hill University) and Dan Taylor (University of Roehampton), in history, there are four broad categories of historian:

  • Empiricist

  • Postmodernist

  • ‘historian from below’

  • ‘top-down’

The categories emerged as part of the Developing Historical Thinking project run by Edge Hill and Roehampton, when Mason and Dan teamed up to create a Cosmopolitan style self-test quiz – aimed at getting first year History students to think about the theory of history.  Mason wrote this post, and Dan comments: “… it’s a thoughtful reflection on a great tool and an enjoyable collaboration”.


Reflections on ‘What Kind of Historian are you?’ Quiz

by Mason Norton

HEA-QuizQuizzes can seem like a very basic, almost too simple, pedagogic tool, and with a topic as complex and as endless as historiography, you might be forgiven for thinking that the two would not go together very well. However, back in the summer of 2013, myself and Dan Taylor of Roehampton were given the task of thinking up a quiz to be called ‘What Kind of Historian are you?’. Whilst to me, the answer is simple, I was conscious of the fact that to many first-year undergraduates, the challenge is to get them to think about the theory of history as something other than a tedious irrelevance.

So we realised the quiz could be an opportunity to make something daunting look a little bit fun, whilst making students stop and think. After half a summer of e-mails going back and forward, we managed to get it down to four categories; empiricist, postmodernist, ‘historian from below’, and ‘top-down’. This was a simplification of some historical schools of thought, but it was a necessary one- freshers, for example, are ill-equipped to know, or even care, about debates within, say, the Marxist school of historians about the collapse of the USSR. This process was in itself quite interesting because it showed collaboration not just between the universities, but between the disciplines- I am a historian whilst Dan is a philosopher. The conversations between the two of us were mutually informative- it is useful, I think, for a historian to see what a philosopher thinks of history, and also for a philosopher to see what a historian thinks of philosophy.

Then, we had to think up of ten questions to ask. Easy? Well, no, actually. We needed to strike a balance between covering ground already encountered at A-level, and also introducing students to new areas of historical enquiry. Most freshers, for example, would probably have never thought of treating human sexuality as a subject for serious historical enquiry. So our quiz needed to be constructed as a bridge between what had already gone before- what students would, or at least should, be fairly confident about tackling- and some of what they would be looking at over the next three years.

When we launched the quiz, there was an immediate flurry of interest, which was pleasing. Then, when it came to the dissemination phase, interest expanded even further. We received an e-mail asking if we wanted to let the quiz be used on a History teaching resources site, and then we received an approach to talk about the quiz as part of Making History on BBC Radio 4, with a link to the quiz on the programme’s website, which boosted the profile of the HEA project as a whole.

Consequently, when it came to the second iteration, there followed after the quiz a series of entries on personal journals using Blackboard (which was also the software upon which the quiz ran), which meant that we could see what students made of the quiz and their answers. This further developed the interactive process between student and tutor. We observed students reflecting upon their engagement, and come the end of the semester, when we ran the quiz again, we could see how far (or not) students had come.

So the quiz, through both its construction and its iteration/implementation, proves the use of technology as a crucial part of the digital humanities, and of education as a two-way street. In the iteration, students have been introduced to some different historical schools via a practical, hands-on exercise, as opposed to say a fifty-minute lecture, followed by a two-hour seminar. We as tutors have then learned more about individual students and their preconceptions, and what we need to work on and/or develop over the next few weeks that the module will be running for- something that we would not otherwise have had necessarily until the first assessment a few weeks later. This dialogic element is what makes Blackboard such a vital learning tool, in my opinion- we can pick up on the misconceptions earlier, and without causing such a knock-on effect for student grades, or, for that matter, the confidence of individual students.

In the construction, we have been forced to look more seriously at what we had taken for granted- and in the design of this quiz, one or two of my own preconceptions have been challenged- that may well have been the same for Dan too. So this means that we too become better historians (or, in Dan’s case, a better philosopher) as a result of having to rise to a new challenge, which is, to use a cliché, all part of the learning curve.

The result is that a format that may, at first glance, seem trivial and trite, is actually- once you start to work with it in depth- quite challenging and quite stimulating- and offers a new take on what is, perhaps, an old problem.

BestofTEL_SMALLMason Norton

Associate Tutor
Department of English & History
[email protected]

What I find most interesting in this post is how Mason highlights the increased connection between academics and students facilitated by the quiz and other technologies.  If you have been inspired and would like to learn more your Learning Technologist can help.  LTD would be very happy to work with you to create a similar quiz for your area – perhaps developing a quiz workshop for your team.

Blackboard also have some good online resources – such as this one about creating tests and surveys (a test is equivalent to a quiz):

   Tests_Surveys_Pools – Creating_Tests_and_Surveys

More generally, LTD deliver a wealth of support and staff development sessions – here’s a link to the current series that you can book on:

   DDE: Digital Practitioner

Collaborate ‘Rooms’

… a 24/7 classroom and/or your own ‘Virtual Office’.

The recent upgrade to our Collaborate web conferencing system has added a ‘Rooms’ feature – i.e., every course and every instructor now have their own Collaborate ‘Room’ that is open 24/7 – with all the rich features of a web conferencing system such as audio, web cameras and the ability to see each other’s computer screens.

We’d like to encourage you to use your tutor room as a ‘Virtual Office’ for student tutorials, 1-2-1 feedback, or even research interviews (making recording a doddle!).

The only thing you need to do is to add a link to let students access it.  An easy option would be to add a ‘Tool Link’ in the course.  Do this by clicking the Add Menu Item icon (the large + sign on the top left menu), selecting Tool Link that will bring up the Add Tool Link box (see the picture), and then enter:CollabToolLink

  • Blackboard Collaborate into the Name box
  • Select Blackboard Collaborate Scheduling Manager from the drop down box
  • Tick ‘Available to Users’
  • Click submit.

You can drag the tool link up the left hand panel to put it somewhere more sensible – perhaps near the Content item?

When students click on the link they will see all the Collaborate rooms and sessions in the course area – including your room.

There are other ways of linking to your tutor room – and you can also send out email links that anyone can use to get into your room – this is very useful for bringing guest speakers into a session.  See this guide about adding a Virtual Office to your email signature.  To have a chat about these options or anything relating to learning technologies please contact us (see the Faculty Contact on this page) or email the LTD team on LTD [email protected] / 01695 650754 x7754.  We also offer many sessions on Collaborate through staff development.



Finally, for a quick recap of the feature of the Collaborate system, please take a look at this 5 min overview by Peggy Semington* or the 7 minute interactive orientation from Blackboard.


* Peggy Semingson is an associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas at Arlington: