We don’t need no stinkin’ badges! Do we???

Image of boy scout wearing a sash covered in badges

Today I’m going to discuss badges, and nope, not the ones which are worn and collected by boy or girl Scouts, I’m talking about the digital type, though it would be wise to point out that digital badges are actually somewhat modelled after this type of Scout badging system.

Similar to a physical badge, which signifies the completion of a task or an acquired skill level, digital badges can be used to visually display a wide variety of skills and competencies online. Digital badges also take principles from video game design as they can be used as a reward for completion of a task or a means to unlock additional tasks (that must be completed in sequential order).

So, now that we know a little more about what digital badges are, why would we want to use them in higher education? Well, there has been a significant amount of research over the past ten years. With interest in how digital badges expand online student motivation, engagement, tracking, and an overall sense of achievement and recognition. Throw all of this in the mix and then add a pinch of the current world climate and we have a fairly strong basis to enhance our virtual learning environment (VLE) with the use of digital badges.

As an institution, we utilise Blackboard as our VLE, which means every member of staff has the option to incorporate digital badges into their courses. Although one major detail that I need to make clear is that Blackboard’s offering of digital badges is officially referred to as ‘Blackboard Achievements’ – that’s probably really important to point out.

So, whenever you hear the term digital badges and blackboard – all you need to remember is the ‘Blackboard Achievements’ tool.

So “how do they work”?

Firstly, with the Blackboard Achievement tool, you can designate a multitude of different criteria for issuing digital badges to students directly from each of your courses. Essentially the achievements tool allows you to create and then define any “triggers” or actions that students must complete in their course to be awarded a badge of your design. Some of the common activities that can be used as “triggers” are:

  • Having students use the “Mark as Reviewed” feature for any content or learning module
  • Obtaining a specific grade on an assignment or test
  • Posting to the discussion board, a blog, wiki, etc…
  • Having a high level of attendance within an online register

As well as giving students a rewards-driven incentive to learning. Digital badges in Blackboard also improves the use of the ‘Performance Dashboard’ tool, which gives staff more detail into online student engagement and tracking.

When badges are created and used within a course, it will enable students to see which badges they have earned and what is required to receive additional recognition. Here all students can gain insight into the following:

  • Developing a rewards-driven incentive for learning
  • Using the badges as a framework, to encourage them to explore and participate more
  • Give more understanding into learning progression to defined competencies so they can see what they need to do to achieve more

For more information about using Blackboard Achievements please use the following videos and resources:

If you would like any further information about Digital Badges or other learning technologies, please contact your Learning Technologist via Ask LTD

wordpresspenpic

Mark Wilcock
Learning Technologist

Discover Effective Time-saving Resources with Qwickly Course Tools for Blackboard

This month, we’re pleased to announce the return of Qwickly+ to our Blackboard environment. For all previous users of the tool, you’ll be happy to hear that you can now post announcements and content to multiple courses again. However, we all know technology tends to shift and adapt over time. In this case, you can expect some excellent improvements to the latest version (details below). One major change worth mentioning is the title of the tool. From this point onwards, Qwickly+ is now known as Qwickly Course Tools.

To find Qwickly Course Tools, head down to the ‘Tools’ section on the Blackboard home page menu then select ‘Qwickly Tools’.

Qwickly Tools is now located within the Tools section of Blackboard

Qwickly Course Tools empowers users to post announcements, documents, weblinks, cloud files and Blackboard calendar sessions in one central location within Blackboard. This also gives users the ability to post the same item or announcement to multiple courses at one time, providing all users with time-saving resources by simplifying tasks that need to be done repetitively in each course.

Post Announcements*:
Notify Blackboard users from all of your courses with important information e.g. cancellations or schedule updates.

Distribute Learning Content:
Share any resources and content to single or multiple courses within one click.

Create Blackboard Calendar Events:
Inform students of events that cascade across multiple courses like office hours, scheduled Collaborate or study sessions.

Cloud Documents:
Add content directly to multiple courses straight from cloud storage repositories (OneDrive, Google Drive and DropBox).

*Note: Announcements posted using Qwickly Course Tools will be stripped of any formatting – paragraph breaks, bold, italics, etc.

To learn more about how each tool works, please use the Qwickly guide HERE.

If you would like any further information about Qwickly Course Tools or other learning technologies, please contact your Learning Technologist via Ask LTD

wordpresspenpic

Mark Wilcock
Learning Technologist

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

wordpresspenpic

Mark Wilcock
Learning Technologist

 

 

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

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

wordpresspenpic

Mark Wilcock
Learning Technologist

 

 

360 Degrees of Learning Potential!

Just recently we acquired the Giroptic 360cam to explore the potential of 360 cameras and how they might be used in HE to help enhance the student learning experience. Even within the first week of getting to grips with the camera we had already identified many possibilities in which it could impact and enhance teaching and learning within the institution (covered further on in this post).

So “what are 360 Cameras” I hear you say?

Well, 360 cameras allow you to capture a 4k photo and/or video in a spherical format where a view in every direction is recorded at the same time, shot using an omnidirectional camera or a collection of cameras. During playback the viewer has control of the viewing direction like a panorama, a form of virtual reality. There are a growing number of 360 degree cameras on the market today, here within the LTD team we have the Giroptic 360cam (shown below).

360cam

Hosting any 360 media is straight forward, there are many free multi-platform services that let users upload and share any captured images and videos from the 360 camera. One of the biggest highlights for the 360 camera is the announcement that YouTube now supports 360 degree videos. You may have possibly seen some of these already, but did you know there are two different viewing experiences? If you view a 360 video on a laptop or desktop computer you will be able to navigate the scene by clicking and dragging around the video, or by using the directional arrows that are overlaid in the top left-hand corner of the screen.  However, if you view a 360 video on your mobile device you will be able to pan your device up, down and all around the video like you would with a virtual reality headset or Google Cardboard.

Take a look at the example below from the BBC. Try viewing it on a laptop as well as on a mobile device to get a feel for how each one works. Once you are done, check out the 360 Video channel on YouTube for more examples.

BBC 360cam Demo

So how can I use 360 Media in my Teaching & Learning?

If you are interested in using the 360 Camera, here are just a few possible Teaching & Learning scenarios we’ve come up with to help you get thinking about!

Workshops, Coaching & Observations: Using the power of this media could potentially support instructional coaching and teaching as a reflective tool to help analyse performances within an array of situations.

Performing Arts & Sport: Concerts, sports, theatre performances could take on a decidedly different form when the whole event can be viewed in 360 degrees. With the use of a 360 camera within any centre stage while students were performing scenes from a play or taking part in an event. Students could replay their performances in a way that was never previously possible to enhance their learning experience.

Virtual Field Trips: This is perhaps the most obvious example and in many ways it may be one of the most powerful. Using a 360 camera on a field trip could be used in a variety of ways for discussion and evaluation purposes.  In terms of accessibility It could also be useful as a tool for students who may not be able to attend field trips because they were absent or because they had a physical disability that prevented them from attending.

How can I get my hands on this Tech?

Feel free to email LTDSupport@edgehill.ac.uk or phone us on Ext 7754 if you are interested using this technology or looking to explore innovation in your area please get in touch with us. We’d be more than happy to answer any questions or just get in touch if you would simply like to know more!

Mark WilcockMark Wilcock

Learning Technology Development Officer

New Upgrade for Qwickly Attendance Introduces Split Registers and Much More…

We’re pleased to announce that Qwickly Attendance for Blackboard will receive a fairly big update on Wednesday 18th January. The update is better known as version 3.6 and is jam packed with some really exciting new features which we think you’ll like a lot. Here is an exhaustive list of things that have been included.

Register Enhancements:

  • Registers can now be split (click for user guide) by using the Blackboard group’s tool. This features allows instructors split a single register into as many groups as they like.
  • Instructors can now name ‘Student Check-In’ Sessions like other sessions.
  • Instructors can now choose to show disabled and unavailable students in the attendance record. These students will still be hidden from the taken attendance screen and always receive and excused for any dates attendance is taken while they are not active in the course.
  • Unavailable students are now marked as excused instead of absent when taking attendance.

Student Check In Enhancement:

  • Absent emails are now sent to absent students when using student check-in.

General Interface & Data Enhancements:

  • A new streamlined tabbed interface.
  • Excel export (CSV) improvements now show the title of the session, if it was given.
  • The method of taking attendance is now recorded (i.e. Manual, Student Check-In).
  • Users can now click the heading of a column to see more details about the session (including the method of taking attendance and the date it was taken), as well as renaming the column or deleting it.

This is probably the biggest and best update yet, which also makes it a good time to take a look at Qwickly Attendance for your course or module and give it a try! Feel free to email LTDSupport@edgehill.ac.uk or phone us on Ext 7754 and we’d be more than happy to answer any questions.

We hope you enjoy the new features!

Mark WilcockMark Wilcock

Learning Technology Development Officer

Keep Calm and Submit this Christmas

LS0391-Submissions-Blog1

Christmas comes around quick doesn’t it!? One minute you’re moving in to halls for the term, the next you’re back off for a fortnight!

It’s hard work being a student but before you pack your Christmas hat, PlayStation 4 and elf onesie don’t forget your end of term submissions!

During December our team of Student Advisors will be available, offering students a flexible support service to answer all your queries about online submission. Our Student Advisors are based at the Ask Desk and are available 11am-4pm during weekdays and we’ve also drawn together some good practice in this blog post to ensure that your submissions over the next week (or so) go as smoothly as you could possibly wish for. There are always chances of uncertainty, but with a little thought and preparation (like a good Christmas present) you’ll be riding as high as Santa Claus himself as opposed to slipping up on black ice.

1. On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

…advice on where to submit your work

Your first port of call for help with submission should always be your tutor.   They know where the submission dropbox is in Blackboard and will be able to point you in the right direction.  Please ensure you follow any guidelines you have been provided with. If you need further help submitting your work online, you can also speak to a member of staff at the Ask Desk (9am-7pm weekdays) or you can Ask Us online.

Keep your tutor informed of any problems you may have, especially in the days leading up to a deadline – it helps them to keep track of your progress and ensures they can help you quickly if need arises.  If you can’t get hold of your tutor, give your departmental administrators a visit.

 

2. On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

…two places to get help (Twitter and Ask Us!)

Have you ever encountered a Learning Edge or Turnitin issue during submission? If you think this could be system related, we do have preferred Twitter feeds for you to follow that will highlight any known issues:

@VLEStatusEHU provides scheduled Learning Edge maintenance alerts and up to date system notices around different technologies used within the VLE such as Turnitin.

@Turnitinstatus is the official feed for Turnitin system status, you may find that Learning Edge is fine but Turnitin is unavailable.  Checking this feed will help you diagnose an issue with Turnitin submissions.

Let’s say everything is OK technically and you have an issue around the online submission process and Learning Edge? A good starting point would be to head over to the Ask Us service and see if your question can be answered here. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can simply type your question and we will discuss it with you in real time using our live chat facility.

 

3. On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

…three web browsers

Why is it you get a technical problem right at a critical moment?  If you have given yourself time, you should be able to try another PC if you run into problems. We know that anything could happen at any moment; internet dropping out, PC crashing, wireless not connecting the list goes on, so give yourself a break and some time to try out another computer – in university, in work or even your mate’s PC. If it’s just not happening for you, see the first point (keeping in touch with your tutor).

One quick solution could be to try a different browser.  The common ones are Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome (although you may wish to try Safari on a Mac).

Often, tutors will allow multiple submissions to an online drop-box, so you may be able to use this to your advantage. Check with your tutor and if this is the case, try submitting your work, even if not quite finished yet, to the drop-box a few days before the deadline just so you’re up to speed with the process before your final submission.
Waiting until 1 minute before the deadline isn’t the time to start figuring out how everything works!

 

4. On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

… (twenty) four hours

It may come to the time of doing your ‘final’ submission but if in Turnitin you have submitted an earlier version you will find that when you submit again everything looks the same…at least for 24 hours. You will have to wait until the next day to see your new originality report and the preview of your updated document – another good reason to be organised and get your work in handy! tiiRemember at the second stage of submitting to Turnitin you can check what you are about to submit just to be certain you’ve attached the right file.

 

5. On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me….

… five UniSkills packages!

The Uniskills online submission page is something definitely worth bookmarking to your browser favorites. Here you can gain access to the online submission guides for both the University’s submission tools – Turnitin and the Blackboard Assignment tool .

submission tools

In addition on ‘My Library‘ tab from the Blackboard Homepage you get access to ‘UniSkills online toolkits‘:

  • Referencing
  • Planning Your Assignment
  • Finding Academic Information
  • Dissertations

 

We know that when that deadline is approaching it’ll be stressful enough without unexpected niggles, so try not to leave your submission till the last minute. This echoes all points above but if done correctly will ensure the final moments before you click ‘Submit’ will be as stress-less as possible.

Once all done, sit back, put your feet up with a nice cuppa and enjoy your Christmas holiday. Remember, if you have any problems Keep Calm and Ask Us!

wordpresspenpic

Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer

 

 

Tab-tastic! Blackboard now has staff specific resources!

We’ve received many suggestions from both students and staff over the years in relation to the development of Blackboard and its customisation. Since the University acquired the Community Engagement component for Blackboard in 2013 we have been able to tailor the online experience for all different users across the institution. Since the summer you will have noticed the enhanced information, tab areas and the more appealing visual look to the VLE overall.

Courses Screenshot

One of the tabs we added was specifically designed for University Staff. When you go into Blackboard, you’ll notice a new tab labelled ‘Staff’.

staff tab image

This area features a range of useful resources with useful e-learning information, staff development, recent topics, user guides, including a best of TEL spotlight showcasing examples of good teaching practice. There is also enhanced help for faculty specific areas, with additional sub tabs embedded at the top of the staff ‘Tab’.

Staff Tab

Here you can gain access to targeted information and also view your Learning Technologist contact details.

FOE Tab

As this is a new feature for staff, we are always looking for your feedback into its future development. With this, you may notice we have added a ‘Staff Tab Feedback’ item on the right side of the page. Here you can send us any suggestions or ideas by clicking on the small plus icon in the corner.

We hope you’ll find the tab useful and we look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions soon!

Mark WilcockMark Wilcock

Learning Technology Development Officer

Qwickly Attendance: Call for Early Adopters

Qwickly Early Adopters Pilot

It was only a few months back when we introduced the new update for Qwickly Attendance (online Register System) to our 2016 Learning Edge Summer Upgrade. Many of you attended the staff development sessions we delivered back in August and the feedback we’ve received about the new features has been superb . Though many of you might already be using Qwickly Attendance to simplify, manage and monitor student attendance. We’d like to invite you staff to join our Early Adopters Pilot for Qwickly Attendance (click to open pilot brief).

Over the next few weeks we are looking for staff to join this pilot! All staff involved will receive close support from the LTD team to work with you and explore how it can improve your register workflow and provide you with all the training and support you’ll need along the way (either group or 1-2-1).There is not preference if you have starting using the tool or simply just thinking about starting to use it in your course or programme.

What are early adopter’s committing to?

In return for participating in the pilot you will be asked to provide feedback on your experience and the technology in Janurary 2017. We’re hoping your suggestions will provide product feature enhancements! Your feedback will also be shared with colleagues across the University. Exampling how it was used and what impact it had for staff and students.

So how to get involved?

Email: ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk with the subject line: ‘Qwickly Attendance Early Adopter Project – Expression of Interest’ & provide the following details in the body of your message:

  • Name
  • Faculty
  • Department
  • Programme Area

We really hope to hear from you soon! Feel free to email LTDSupport@edgehill.ac.uk or phone us on Ext 7754 and we’d be more than happy to answer any questions or just get in touch if you would simply like to know more!

Mark WilcockMark Wilcock

Learning Technology Development Officer