A week in the life of a Student Intern – Week 8

It feels like so much has happened since I last wrote telling you all about my fifth week in the Internship, but here we are on Week 8. You can read my previous blog here – https://blogs.edgehill.ac.uk/learningedge/2021/07/16/week-5-a-week-in-the-life-of-a-student-intern/

Monday

It’s Monday morning… I got out of bed, had a morning cup of tea and got ready to greet my favourite team members.

After our Monday run down and a quick catch up, we logged off the meeting and got to work which for me was to make some changes to ‘meet the team posters’. A task myself and Reece (You would have read some his blogs around mental wellbeing, if not make sure to check them out!) have been working on.

This task requires us to create a fun yet professional poster introducing every member of the Faculty of Education to new students. Not only do we have to make sure their 100% accessible but that they meet a professional standard, and the staff are happy with their own individual poster.

Yet this week, we have made so much progress because we have completed 30 out of 63 ready to schedule for tweeting in September!! This took up most my morning and by the time we had fixed some issues, it was time for my lunch.

After my lunch, (cheesy pasta is always a go to) I was focusing on finishing up my digital escape room, well my third, I definitely got the hang of it!! I have created three surrounding Greek Myths, such as Theseus and the Minotaur, Perseus and Medusa and finally Odysseus’ Odyssey. The escape rooms ask students to escape through their knowledge of Edge Hill and the services the university provides as well as some creative riddles – which confuddled some of my teams’ heads.

By five all three escape rooms where perfect and I couldn’t have been prouder of myself.

Tuesday

I always think Tuesday’s go by in a flash. A task I have been given is to identify the sixth form providers in the Northwest of England and see if they are active on Twitter. This task meant one thing… a spreadsheet. Now if you’ve been reading my blogs since the start of the Internship then you’d know that me and Excel were not the best of friends… well now we’ve brought a house and are living happily ever after. I got into the routine of copying, pasting, searching and repeating to the point where this task which at first seemed huge took me a day!

I think this shows how when you can get in the groove of working, you can lose yourself a little. So, right now I’m going to remind you to make sure you’re drinking plenty and that you get yourself some fresh air, especially if you’re working from home!

Wednesday

On Wednesday I worked with Reece on the meet the team posters, completing some amendments and using Canva to make them look visually appealing. I’d like to think that Canva is following me, because if I’m not on it at work, then I’m seeing the advert everywhere!

Through creating the meet the team posters, I have definitely become more creative and can make posters for most tasks, I especially love using all the different elements they provide to create the perfect poster for my idea. For those interested there is great course available on Learning LinkedIn called Learning Canva – https://www.linkedin.com/learning/learning-canva-2/what-you-can-use-canva-for?u=35744052

Of course, we got the amendments done quickly, after that I dove into create some content for A Level Results Day to welcome new students to the Faculty of Education.

Thursday

Thursday always goes quickly. My Thursday consisted of planning for a new task, but first my morning meeting followed by a meeting with the lovely FoE Reading for Pleasure ambassadors, who work together to encourage teachers in training to get children reading for pleasure rather than just at school and as an aspiring author I adore the idea.

Following this meeting I began to research all kinds of different books which could benefit children. I was also tasked to create a thread of books which explore diversity and inclusivity for each stage of education, Early Years, Primary Education and Secondary Education. I found this task very exciting as I love to read.

After researching I moved onto a new task, which Sarah set us that morning creating a brand for the work we produce so they cohesively and collectively fit together.

The team quickly created our own brand kits and presented them to each other, we realised that we all had used a shade of blue, therefore blue was to be in our palette. We drew other colours such as a seafoam green from the Digital Internship logo and added base colours such as white and black and our colour palette was made!

Friday

Finally, Friday! I started my morning with ordering a caramel macchiato and saying good morning to my team.

A computer on a table

We discussed which font to choose for our brand image and we found this a little hard as two members of our team, myself included have a visual impairment, and we often found ourselves in the situation where one font was accessible for one of us but not for the other. Personally, I find fonts such as Cambria and Bookman Old Style easy to read but I would stick to Arial if you’re unsure.

So once our brand was confirmed, we could get back to work and today’s task was to create a social media good practice guide for future teachers in training in compliance to the Edge Hill Social Media Compliance Policy. I found this task quite refreshing as I understood most of it due to my experience within the field of Health and Social Care.

But that was my Friday, I logged off at five and enjoyed my weekend which included dinner at a local Italian and shopping!

By Sharnie Bowen (Student Intern)

Turning your Mobile Phone into a Tool for Success – 6 ways to Optimise your Potential.

On average, Brits spend 3 hours and 23 minutes staring at their mobile phone each day. To put this into context, that’s 49 days of the whole year, can you imagine spending a month and a half sat looking at your phone the entire day? – tiring right? Yet we still do it. The most popular app in 2020 was TikTok – a highly addictive short video sharing platform. Imagine if we utilised the hours we look at our phone and turn it into a more productive tool to boost ourselves and maximise potential. Here’s 6 ways we can do that:

1. Podcasts

Podcasts have started to gain popularity over the past few years, but some people still don’t utilise them to their full potential. Podcasts are great. Stick them on whilst doing the cleaning, doing your makeup before a night out or in the morning to get you started for the day. Not only are podcasts a great substitute to pointless videos, they also limit the time actually spent viewing your phone in turn making you less exposed to blue light – win win! It’s a great way to find new hobbies and interests and learn new things! Spotify shows top podcasts by category, meaning you can explore podcasts to do with music, science, sports, true crime and much more! Some of my favourite podcasts include:

Times News Briefing

A short 2-3-minute podcast every day discussing the latest headlines aired 3 times a day! A great way to start your morning informed.

JaackMaates Happy Hour

A podcast hosted by Youtuber JaackMaate and his friend Stevie White who provide a comedic style podcast every Monday and Thursday. They often invite celebrity guests and YouTube stars to sit and discuss different topics. The podcast is famously known for asking each guest what their favourite meal deal is!

The Yes Theory Podcast

Another youtuber hosted podcast which explores how discomfort may hold the key to meaning and happiness. Alongside their YouTube channel, Thomas, Matt and Ammar break the boundaries with their ‘Yes’ theory – the theory of saying yes to everything. Their podcasts and YouTube videos are inspiring and perfect for self-growth and reflection.

Podcasts - Times New Briefing, JaackMaates Happy Hour, The Yes Theory Podcast.

2.    Regular Screen Time Checks

Many phones have an in-built app displaying screen time. It shows exactly how much time you spend on your phone and what on. Almost most of us are aware of this, how many of us actually use it to our potential? Knowing how much time you spend on your phone and setting limits is crucial. Could you be using your phone more wisely? Do you really need to spend 3 hours a day on TikTok? When you begin to cut back and substitute that time with more productive apps, you begin to use your phone as a tool for success. Being aware of limits and setting goals whilst requires self-strength, will allow you to optimise your phones potential.

3.    Productivity apps

If you struggle setting boundaries yourself and are easily tempted to scroll on your phone – I know how you feel we’ve all been in an endless tiktok hole, then use apps that help you stay on track. Forest is a mobile productivity application that enables users to focus on their work by planting trees. You can set timers to distance yourself away from your phone, and whilst time ticks on the app, a tree is planted creating a virtual garden (whilst also giving you the option to plant a real-life tree – how great!) If you use your phone, the tree dies! Applications like this are a fun way to stay focused and productive. How about you start a league with your friends, who can track the most hours focused on the app? Everyone loves a bit of friendly competition.

To find more apps view the top 35 productivity apps for iPhone here: 35 Top Productivity Apps for iPhone (2021 Updated) (lifehack.org)

Or for android these 25 apps may be useful: Top 25 Must-Have Productivity Apps For Your Android 2019 (techviral.net)

Productivity apps

4.    Remove unnecessary apps and replace with educational platforms

As much as playing Subway Surfers passes the time in a long car journey, replacing them hours with fun learning is way more beneficial. How about learning a new language with Duolingo whilst on the way to your staycation? The platform offers 30+ languages for on the go language learning! Fancy some meditation? Download Headspace a mindfulness app to help manage a happy and relaxed lifestyle, or a chef in the kitchen? BBC Good Food gives users an extensive recipe data base to help you keep inspired in the kitchen. How about inspire others by posting your meals on Pinterest or Instagram?

5. Turning off notifications

A simple yet effective hack. Resisting the temptation can be difficult, by removing your notifications you are less likely to check social media as often. This gives you more time doing productive things you enjoy. So, go on, turn them off right now!

6.    Following people who make you feel good

This post isn’t suggesting stop using social media completely, social media is great when used in the correct way. Following people who inspire positivity and productivity can benefit your day massively. The links between negative body image and the use of social media is frightening but reclaiming apps like Instagram and creating a positive space is super easy! Although the gummy hair sweets look delicious or the cuticle cream is a must have… influencers who promote a positive lifestyle are the way to go! My favourite positively inspired wellbeing influencers include:

@mikzaaon on Instagram who promotes body positivity.

@justalittlebitofpositivity on Instagram who shares inspiring quotes and reminders.

@selfcarevisuals on Instagram who are a self-care and positivity page sharing tips and tricks to lead a healthier, happier life.

For more inspirational Instagram accounts visit: 25 Most Inspirational Instagram Accounts to Follow—Inspiring Instagram Accounts (parade.com) which runs through the 25 most inspirational accounts to follow!

Good Vibes Only

And there we have it! 6 tips to optimise your mobile phone potential. I hope these tips have been useful and begin to be incorporated into your daily life. Remember you have the power to change your phone into a tool for success, let’s get started!

By Jenna Wade – Student Intern

Jenna Wade

A Magical Experience: A Harry Potter Blog

Hello, I am Reece, and I am Student Intern at Edge Hill University. I hope by now you have come across at least one of my blogs because if not, you will find this one very strange. So, before I get into it, I will give you a bit of background on how this will go; I will discuss the previous week of the internship and focus on what I completed and how I maintained a positive attitude. However, the biggest plot twist in history is that I will write it as if I am at Hogwarts, so you Harry Potter fans better enjoy this! Ok, I have chatted too much about the irrelevant bits so let me just get on that nine and three-quarters platform and pop on the Hogwarts Express.

Hogwarts Express

Dear Muggles,

What a week it has been. Hogwarts has been fascinating, and since I started as a wizard (Student Intern) in week 1, I have learnt so much, and my magical skills have improved tremendously.

Let’s start off with the beginning of the week. Our headmaster, Dumbledore (Sarah), returned after their lovely break and caught up with all the wizards in Gryffindor (Faculty of Education). We all had an engaging catch-up, completed a few spells and even had a Butterbeer to celebrate Dumbledore returning. No, I am only joking; Butterbeer is after work hours only, or we would be banished to Azkaban for the remainder of our lives. I made some new potions (Posters) this week for the Mental Health task, and I do have to say I am pretty proud of them. I have learnt so much more about positive wellbeing, and I am confident the posters will benefit other wizards. Ok, that is enough about the start of the week because who is really interested in that? Let’s open a whole new door and see what I can share about Wednesday…

Opening a new door

Alohomora …

I created Meet the Team posters with my fellow wizard friend, Sharnie, to share some facts about the professors. This will benefit the new wizards arriving at Hogwarts in September because they will know what the professor specialises in. For example, potions, spells, muggle studies or charms. It has taken us nearly 7 weeks to complete this task, and it has been mentally draining at times to keep up with the workload and emails from over 70 professors, so what have I done to remain positive and not stress? There were only so many Bertie Bott’s jelly sweets I could eat, so I asked my fellow wizard, Amy, if they wanted to play Quidditch (UNO) during our lunch. We had a few games until we got angry because we kept losing and decided to fly off on our brooms to enjoy the rest of our lunch.

So, we are coming to the last two days of my Week 8 Hogwarts experience, and I can say I was mentally prepared for some new tasks. At that moment, Dumbledore set a new task to create a branded design for Gryffindor (Faculty of Education). All the wizards decided to cast their own spells and share their own ideas. This was great as it improved our creativity and team working skills. Nevertheless, we have still not decided on the perfect design, but we have all promised to include most or all our spells, so we all have an input in the design. Also, during that day, we had a meeting with the Ministry of Magic, but don’t worry everyone, the Ministry of Magic is no longer corrupt as it once was when Harry Potter attended Hogwarts. The lovely Laura and Leah are the Heads of the Ministry of Magic, so everything runs very smoothly. Unfortunately, Leah was out observing muggles, but Laura was there so we could share how Hogwarts has been, and she asked us for some content to have for the event in week 12 at the Ministry of Magic (The last week of the internship).

Hogwarts Castle

Finally, the day every wizard and muggle wait for… Friday! I had an important evening in Diagon Alley, but back to work talk. I created some more potions (posters) and completed my weekly reflection for the Ministry of Magic. I also made sure I helped another wizard with some content that will be shared on The Daily Prophet showing the LTD staff.

I had a busy week, I guess, but I didn’t run into any Death Eaters or get tangled in the Whomping Willow. Week 8 has been enjoyable, and I got a lot of work done which makes me feel positive about my contribution to Hogwarts, and more specifically, Gryffindor. I hope you have all enjoyed reading my week at Hogwarts, but now I am going to steal the Weasley’s family car, Flying Ford Anglia. See you all very soon.

 

Weasley’s family car, Flying Ford Anglia.

By Reece Thomas – Student Intern

For me, for you, for others…

We have all heard the phrase ‘be kind’. It saturates social media, street art and conversations between friends and family- but what does it really mean? How can we truly ‘be kind’? For me this phrase is inherently subjective, and to achieve kindness one day can look entirely different to kindness the next, and it differs from person to person too. Within this post I would love to guide you to some small, effective ways that we can spread kindness, infect others with a smile and spread love.

For yourself:

I wholeheartedly believe that kindness to the self is imperative within life. In a world rooted in judgement, hate, and competition to be the ‘best’, we must strive to give ourselves a break from beauty standards on social media or becoming a mansion owner by 21 and love ourselves for being US! We are all perfect in our own ways, and I believe being kind, forgiving and patient to ourselves in life is crucial to happiness.

So here is a few things which will boost your kindness to YOU…

Take time for self-care; whether this is a facemask and takeaway night, going to the gym or enjoying a hobby, self-care is a must. Enjoy the mindfulness of joyous small moments like the smell of the early morning, your toast being the perfect golden brown or your favourite song coming on the radio. In addition, try to take a break from your phone screen (especially just before bed to help you get a deeper nights kip) and use the ‘app timer’ function on your smartphone to monitor and limit the time spent on social media apps… sometimes time slips away when we are engrossed in TikTok or browsing holiday photos on Facebook! Try to get outside, breathe in fresh air, go for a walk or a run around and enjoy the beautiful planet we have been blessed with… Kindness to your body is crucial too! Drink water, between three and four pints of water a day is the minimum our bodies need. Sleep- the recommended amount of sleep for the average adult is between 6 and 9 hours per night, so aim for this to allow your body time to reset, heal and prepare you for the next day! In addition to water, feeding your body with good food is important too- aim to get your five-a-day in, as well as eating foods high in dopamine (such as oily fish, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate) as these are a great way to keep your brain and body happy. Finally, one of the best forms of kindness to the self is dance! Having a boogie round your kitchen or bedroom, listening to your favourite music, and letting your body move releases serotonin and pumps us with energy- bonus points if you take your carefree dancing outside and soak up the summer sunrays simultaneously!

Image of a beach showing the sea, sand and sky.  A person in the background is about to surf and another is doing a handstand on the sand.

For friends and family:

Despite my hatred for chocolate/crisp companies writing ‘share bag’ on their snacks (as I know full well that I will be eating all of those buttons myself)- sharing a meal, a snack or just having a cup of tea with a friend/family member can be such a good tonic. Now that restrictions are easing, nipping for a coffee or even sitting in someone’s garden for a glass of something chilled can leave everyone feeling refreshed and beaming after spending time in good company. Although this may not seem an explicit act of kindness, sharing good company can turn someone’s hump-day into one looked fondly back on. Making memories and capturing them through your camera lens is heart warming and gives the opportunities to be kind to ourselves, and to have a laugh and enjoy good things with others also. I try to snap a couple of pictures too- nothing better than being able to look back and smile at days filled with positivity and happiness.

Some loved ones live further afield though- in this case I have the perfect way to put a smile on their face too… Our letterboxes are often filled with bank statements, bills, and flyers day-in day-out, send a card or letter to someone, just a short note to tell them that they are appreciated. This is something which undoubtedly puts a spring in my step! If you don’t want to write this on pen and paper, a simple text message or post on social media to express your appreciation of your loved ones is a small (but effective) way to be kind too…

A personal letter with 3 pink roses on top.

For strangers:

Kindness is not just limited to ourselves and those we love, although me looking after me and mine and you looking after you and yours is important, there are easy and effective ways to show kindness to others too. Whether this be making someone locally smile or helping a social cause across the other side of the globe, small acts of kindness go a long way…

Firstly, signing a petition is a quick and easy way to support social causes that you are personally passionate about, whether it be to reduce plastic waste in the ocean, helping achieving equal pay for all at work, or increasing government funding to support struggling communities- your signature projects kindness. Small donations via JustGiving pages or buying something from your local charity shop also spread kindness to strangers in need.

If charity shop-chic isn’t really your thing, you could be kind and make someone’s day by paying for the coffee of the person behind you when you are at Starbucks next, leave a small tip for staff next time you eat out or even just thank the bus driver on your way to work. Also, sharing positive messages through social media spreads kindness too- the media can often be quite negative and cause many people worry, so break this up on your timeline by sharing a positive affirmation or quote for your friends and followers to see.

A coffee cup.

I hope that this post has given you one or two ideas for ways you can be kind to yourself and be kind to others also. Remember, kindness comes from the heart and more often than not it is free! Treat yourself with the same amount of kindness that you would show others, and don’t forget that smiling is infectious… one mere smile from you could make the whole world smile!

Eleanor Rowell (Student Intern) – Social Sciences

Eleanor Rowell

Overcoming Anxiety Limitations

Image highlighting a stressed individual with lots of thoughts going round her head.

My name is Amber Berry and I have anxiety. This sounds like a weird confession, or a secret coming out. The word anxiety itself I think is a word that scares a lot of people, purely because they don’t understand it. Or it’s the other end and they know exactly what it is and that’s exactly what scares them. I don’t think it has to be any of these things, it’s simply a small part of me. Not a part of who I am, but still its apart of my being. It’s a part of my being that brings struggles and I was scared that these struggles would affect my performance during the student internship. However, the internship has done something that I didn’t expect. It’s helped me improve. In this blog post, I’m hoping to detail how and that if anyone sees this who is interested in similar opportunities but is worried of being overwhelmed. I want to reassure you that it isn’t as immense or intimidating as it might seem.

Camera Lense

People. Now people are an interesting subject for me. I love them but new people…. I shrivel into a cocoon and want to hide from the world. It comes from a fear of judgement being afraid that myself is too much. Yet, there’s two things that’s slowly allowed me to start to eradicate this fear. Firstly, the people aren’t the people that we fear. Everyone I’ve met so far on this internship have been some of the most accepting, caring, and welcoming people. Everyone completely different but still helping each other. Also, with most of the interactions taking place online. I’ve been able to face my social fears from the comfort of my living room. As little as it might sound, being in a space that is familiar removes some of that facing the unknown which can be so daunting. I was talking to people in the space filled with memories with all the people I loved. In the place where the goofiest, real me wan usually on full display. Why should I let that change just because a camera is on? That made the biggest difference of all, because if people are being so kind and accepting of the real version of me, there was nothing to be afraid of.

Well, there’s one of the biggest obstacles taken care of but I know there’s more. I was scared that I might be too overwhelmed and that the work might feel like a tidal wave. It had happened before with university work at times and I didn’t want to push myself to hard. But the internship has taught me some valuable lessons on how to manage this stress. We use outlook calendar to view our meetings and see things clearly. I’ve figured not only having a routine but being able to see it visually and clearly helped immensely. It made me feel prepared and ready for the weeks. Moreover, I’ve been able to learn how to keep a work and life balance. Whereas at university I found it difficult to split my time between them. I now know when I need a break, what to do on said break, when I need to see some of my favourite humans and sometimes when I just need to be alone. It’s something that I wish I had known a long time ago, and it’s something I don’t think a lot of people think about.

I want this to be an encouragement, to everyone who worries their differences, or their fears will be obstacles. Even if they are, it won’t control your experience and there’s the possibility to accomplish things you’d never expect. Don’t let yourself be held back by anything, take control and remember that nothing defines you unless you allow it to.

By Amber Berry (Student Intern)

Amber Berry, Student Intern

How to prepare for an easy day

After 20 years, I am slowly starting to appreciate the importance of time. Sure, I am sometimes excellent at time management, but then I can be awful. For example, one day last week, I thought it would be a great idea to stay awake until 3:00 am and then be up, ready and prepared for 8:45 am. However, after that, it all went downhill.

Think about your past week. Did you wake up every morning prepared and fully awake? Don’t worry if you didn’t, but it highlights you might need to change your lifestyle. This Student Internship is a fantastic opportunity, but sometimes it can be overwhelming so let’s change our habits to be the best we can!

I am not sure if Headspace wants to give me a sponsorship deal because I am essentially promoting their app right now, but last week I found out that you can get Headspace for free if you have a student Spotify account. The app is a means of making your life better. For example, this week, I have used it every night, and I have even fallen asleep from some of the guided meditations.

Mindfulness

Don’t worry, I know what you are thinking right now, I know some of you don’t really ‘vibe’ with meditations, but there is also calming music and other activities to look at if you are interested. Nevertheless, I am essentially trying to convey meditation is an excellent means for this internship. If we are fully alert and prepared for our early starts, it will significantly impact our contribution to this internship. In fact, I’d even argue that everyone around you will benefit from it.

What if you completed this every weekday? It would become a part of your daily life and would feel less like a daily chore. YOU NEED TO DO THIS!

OK, I will stop shouting now… I might just be getting a bit carried away. Another way to prepare for work is to make sure you update the Microsoft Teams calendar. On Monday, I scheduled everything I had to complete this week. I promise you it will improve your time-management skills, and it just makes others aware that you might be busy, so they don’t bother you. One thing I dislike is people bothering me when I am really, really, really busy (I turn into a mini Hulk). So, for me, this just massively helps my concentration throughout the day. It allows me to have structure, and sequentially, I perform more effectively.

Picture of an a small alarm clock

At the end of the day, maybe ask yourself did you complete all your tasks? Did you feel calm? Did Reece’s advice work? If not, I guess my psychology degree was all for nothing… I am just joking. Just try your best, and you never know you may benefit from reading this blog.

By Reece Thomas (Student Intern)

Picture of Reece Thomas.

Blackboard Ally Course Accessibility Report

One of the beneficial features of Blackboard Ally is the Course Accessibly Report.  For each module it shows:

  • Overall course accessibly score.
  • List of issues that have been identified in the course.
  • Distribution of course content by type.

The accessibility report organises content into options such as “Content that’s easiest to fix” and “Content with most severe issues”.

Accessing the Course Accessibility Report

To access the report, go to Course Tools – Accessibility Report. 

Course Management menu from within a module.
Course Management menu from within a module.

You can then click on the ‘Start’ buttons to begin improving the accessibility of your content. 

Ally Accessibility Report showing how the report displays an overview of the accessibility of content.
Ally Accessibility Report

Accessibility Scores

Blackboard Ally measures the accessibility of your course content and displays an accessibility indicator showing how it scores. The higher the score the fewer the issues.

Low (Red, 0-33%): Needs help! There are severe accessibility issues.

Medium (Amber, 34-66%): A little better. The file is somewhat accessible and needs improvement.

High (Light Green, 67-99%): Almost there. The file is accessible, but more improvements are possible.

Perfect (Dark Green, 100%): Perfect! Ally didn’t identify any accessibility issues, but further improvements may still be possible.

Blackboard Ally Indicators, Red, Amber, Light Green, Dark Green.
Blackboard Ally Indicators

Instructor Feedback Panel

Content with the easiest issues to fix can often be done so directly from the Instructor Feedback Panel for example adding Alt text to images, this is a quick way to improve the accessibility of a document.

Other documents require you to download the document, fix any issues & then upload the improved version, you can do this all from within the Instructor Feedback Panel. 

In the example below, the first step would be to click ‘All issues’.  Ally lists the issues within the document and provides instructions on how to fix them.  From within the guidance you can choose to download the document and once the issues are fixed reupload your improved file.  This automatically replaces the existing inaccessible file and updates the Accessibility Score.

Ally Instructor Feedback Panel showing what the interface looks like.
Instructor feedback panel.

To learn more about how to build accessible content we have created a whole section on our Accessibility pages.

We have also scheduled lots of new sessions to support you with this:

Build Accessible: Making Documents Accessible

Build Accessible: Importance of accessible formats and accessibility software (Blackboard Ally)

Further details and how to book can be found on our Getting Digital Ready pages.

Build Accessible-Student Use of Alternative Formats

In Jan 2019 EHU acquired a new technology called Blackboard Ally to help improve the accessibility of content within Blackboard, in line with UK legislation.   

Ally not only provides staff with an accessibility score and guidance on files uploaded to Blackboard but also provides the files in alternative formats. 

Alternative formats provide greater opportunities for everyone to access the information they need in the way they need or want it. With alternative formats all students can meet the same learning objectives using resources that are built to target the needs of the individual student.  For example, students have converted lecture slides to audio, listening to them during their commute and to help them revise.   

In the past the advice was to upload your materials to Blackboard as PDF’s to aid viewing on mobile devices. Since then, technology has moved on and advice has changed.  It is easier and quicker to upload an accessible document in its original format, such as a Word document or PowerPoint. In its orginal format, students can then choose to download a version of the document that’s right for their own learning style through Ally Alternative formats. 

We are often asked if students are using this feature? Yes they are!  

Our students are now accessing the resources that you upload to Blackboard in a variety of formats, between Sept 2020-Jan 2021 there has been a total of 19,600 downloads across 1,952 courses.

A chart showing the distribution by alternative format type between sept 20 and Jan 21.
Distribution by Alternative Format type Sept 20-Jan21

The two most popular alternative formats that students have accessed is ePub and Tagged PDF:

Ally alternative formats are automatically generated from the original source document and this is why it is so important (as well as a legal requirement) to make the content you upload accessible.  See our wiki pages for help & support with creating accessible content. 

We have also scheduled a range of sessions that focus on accessibility:

Build Accessible: Making Documents Accessible
– Wednesday 17th March (1pm-2pm)
– Thursday 22nd April (12pm-1pm)
– Wednesday 2nd June (1pm-2pm)

Build Accessible: Importance of accessible formats and accessibility software (Blackboard Ally)
– Friday 19th March (12pm-12:30pm)
– Friday 9th April (12pm-12:30pm)
– Friday 7th May (12pm-12:30pm)

Email digitech@edgehill.ac.uk to book on.

Build Accessible

Digital Accessibility – Creating Accessible Content

Four images (left to right) representing hearing, braille, cognitive and visual. Image links to Wiki information pages.

New Legislation

New accessibility legislation means that Universities have to make improvements to the information on our websites and VLE.  This includes all of your uploaded documents.  The rules will apply to new online content from Sept 2019 and will be applied to existing content by Sept 2020. 

Basic process chart showing key dates for making content accessible from 2018 to 2021.

As you are setting up new modules over the summer this is a perfect time to check the accessibility of content.   For 2018/19 our content accessibility score was 64% which is a great baseline to start from.  If you would like to check how accessible a course/module is get in touch with ltdsupport and we can provide the information & a summary of the top issues.  

It is essential that all department managers ensure that accessibility is high on the agenda for any departmental meetings so that all staff are aware of their obligation to make their course materials accessible.  

With just a few quick and simple steps you can vastly improve the content you upload to Learning Edge, so that all students are able to use it in a way that suites them and their needs.  We have put together a resource kit in our wiki pages containing lots of information on how to make your content accessible. 

Image shows the different sections of information that the Wiki covers. This includes documents, PDF documents, Slides, Ally & Inclusive Practice, Websites, wikis and blogs and Multimedia.

 

 

 

 

Leah WilsonOperations Coordinator

Staff Development in June

Turnitin & Electronic Marking Awareness with Adrian Cain
12th June 19

Following an overview of all the EMA (Electronic Management of Assessment) tools used at Edge Hill, the session will then concentrate on Turnitin Feedback Studio the most widely used of all the EMA tools. It will look at EHU Guidelines, consistency of set-up and practice, student formative use for academic writing development, and it will offer a hands-on practical where attendees can mimic some of the electronic submissions process from both a tutor and students’ perspective.

Academic Staff Development Fortnight

From the 17th to the 28th of June Library and Learning Services invite you to a fortnight of events designed to update your skills and knowledge of the support we offer – from Research Support to Student Engagement, and everything in between. The full event timetable is available here and sessions can be booked through My View.
The Learning Technology Development (LTD) Team will be running the below sessions:

Give Your Course a Digital MOT with Adrian Cain
17th June 1pm-2pm & 27th June 11am-12pm

Have you booked your MOT?

A supportive peer review session aimed at helping you audit and fine tune your Blackboard course area to maximise its effectiveness and impact on student learning. Gain an objective assessment against critical agendas, such as:
-Inclusion
-Baseline
-Electronic Marking of Assessments
-Consistency of students’ experience
-Retention
Members of the LTD team will help you develop an individual action plan to help enhance your course areas now and in the future.

 

Using Panopto and Ally with Martin Baxter & Mark Wilcock
26th June 11am – 12pm

This session will review and offer insight into Inclusive/Accessible learning and the tools availability within the institution. We will demonstrate the benefits of Blackboard Ally and Panopto to enhance the student learning experience.

  • Review the level of content accessibility and systematically prioritise where improvements can be made.
  • Auto generated ‘Alternative’ formats and how they can support different learning styles
  • Going beyond lecture capture with Panopto

Catalyst 1st Year Anniversary Celebration

On Wednesday 19th June we’ll be celebrating a full year of Catalyst (already!!) with a celebratory day of competitions, exhibitions, activities and more from all of the teams based in Catalyst.

The LTD garage and show room will be located behind the help desk – visit us and find out why LTD have all your motoring needs covered.

Build the ideal course car (involves lego!), race it and win a prize.

Catalyst Opening Day Picture advertising Date and time

 

 

 

Leah WilsonOperations Coordinator