Summer Upgrade (Blackboard)

The summer 2018 upgrade has been quite a big deal for the Learning Technology Team.  We have been months in planning for the latest upgrade with the idea in mind that if we do it right then you shouldn’t see any difference!  It does make sense… honestly… let us briefly explain;

For a number of years Blackboard Learning Edge has been provided from a ‘hosted service’ but we have now moved to a SaaS (Software as a Service) model.  This means that, whereas before we had to carefully manage modifications, updates, bug fixes and upgrades this is now handled at the core by Blackboard and so we will have significantly less downtime in the future as updates and upgrades can happen subtly with less end-user inconvenience.

So as mentioned, you shouldn’t actually see any difference but what this will allow us to do is introduce more interesting features and functions over the next year or so rather than one big summer bang!

So what is there to come?

We’re aiming to bring in an improved way of managing content within Learning Edge which should make it easier to manage files and share them across courses and modules.  Also on the timeline are tools such as Panopto quizzes, improvements to Qwickly (with Qwickly Attendance Pro) and also the potential for a (basic) portfolio tool within Blackboard.  We are also beginning pilots with a few users to try out some new accessibility tools to give students the best possible experience when studying in your course areas and modules.

What can I use now?

There have been a few noticeable changes, like you now have access to an improved Grade Centre view including:

  • An ‘expand‘ button in the top right-hand corner so you can see more Grade Centre ‘real-estate’:

  • also responsive column headers so that they will stack if they are long and need to go onto two lines or more:

  • and a tool that we think will come in very handy is the new ‘Availability‘ button for quick on/off access to the course or module.

If you would like any further help or advice on your use of Learning Edge, Blackboard or any other learning technologies then please get in touch with your departmental Learning Technologist.  Details can be found within the Staff and/or Help tabs within Blackboard:

…or you can drop a line to ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk

Hosting all around – 360° video content.

360° content is increasing in popularity.

360 video on smart phoneThe production of 360 degree content couldn’t be easier; most of us have access to devices capable of capturing images that software or apps can stitch together to give an immersive viewing experience.

Lecturers across the university continue to explore this technology, generating good quality content for students to access through their devices whilst studying a module.

However, our own Media Production Team have invested Sample of 360° video camerasin the latest Insta360 Pro 360º professional camera, which they explain, presents a whole range of new possibilities when filming around campus. To learn more about the Media Production Team and the Insta360, visit the Learning Services wiki pages.

Examples of use: Areas across campus where 360° video is being used and generating interest:

  • Faculty of Health and Social Care – Paramedics and the 360° Experience. An ambitious project which aims to expose students to a variety of environments, giving them a sense of being present at a scene without actually being there in person (virtual practitioner).  Barry Mathews (Lecturer in Paramedic Practice and Pre-hospital Care) is exploring the potential of 360° images to simulate hazardous and clinical settings. Students will practice their observational skills and identify individual hazards and use this to influence their dynamic operational risk assessment.
  • Whilst on field trips with her students, Susan Jones (Lecturer – Geographical Information Systems) produced a series of 360° photographs of locations visited along the Northwest Coastline of scientific interest.  For Sue, who is keen to start using immersive content on her modules, this was an exciting time to (metaphorically speaking), tentatively dip a toe into the immersive water. Initial thoughts suggest there is value in producing content that students can use for revision, that gives them the means to study and explore areas of interest and identify points of reference.
  • The University Library, as part of its introduction to staff and students, has produced a 360° tour. People can take a virtual look around the different spaces and facilities before actually visiting in person. Interactive hot-spots provide information whilst red target-like buttons make it possible to move from room to room and between floors.

Other uses of 360 content:

  • Capital Projects site walk-through (CATALYST). Experience Edge Hill University’s newest £26m building, go on a tour with others and see how the building looks during its construction.
  • Aintree Library IT Suite and Issue Desk 360° Images. Never visited Edge Hill University’s Aintree Library? These photosphere images give you an all-round view of the IT Suite, Issue Desk, study space and shelf stock.

Plans for future use:

  • Paul Ward’s (Head of English and History) interest in 360 content, to make resources that are fun and interactive.  It also enables the department to address all the disciplines; so for example, a virtual fieldtrip using 360 would allow historians to look at developments across time, linguists to look at language use in different contexts, creative writers to visit new settings for fiction, and literary critics to explore literary connections or literary settings.  Paul goes on to say, “It also shows students how digital technologies that they are familiar with are learning and research tools”.

Options for hosting your 360° video content.

There are many hosting options around, the trouble is most offer hosting at a price, via a subscription, or they have free versions that are limited in features or for a limited time.

Here, we look at three of the most popular services used by staff at Edge Hill University.

About each platform

Online option: YouTube

YouTube Logo

A free video sharing/social website where anyone with an account can view, upload and share content.

If you need your content to be shared worldwide, YouTube is the second largest search engine. However, if you wish to target your audience, for instance within a module, by hosting your videos on YouTube, you are sending your audience to a third party site. This means that YouTube videos will be more visible within Google, compared to the videos embedded on your modules.

Unwanted content, clutter can be distracting for some, particularly those with a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD). YouTube’s auto play function means students may view unrelated content based on their own search criteria and pattern.

Online option: Vimeo

Vimeo Logo

Aimed at giving filmmakers a platform to present and promote their work.

Unlike YouTube, Vimeo doesn’t rely on funding from ads, preferring to offer a service which has less clutter, charging a membership fee for 500MB of space per month. Unless you opt for Pro membership, Vimeo’s video player incorporates its logo alongside your content.

Institution option: Panopto

Panopto LogoInstitutional platform to manage, live stream, record, and share videos across an organisation and/or a specific module in Learning Edge.

A secure platform for educational content, you manage access and take control of what your audience can see, no adverts, or suggested videos and no more clutter.  Unlimited space, full feature and no additional cost implications.

The University offers dedicated support and staff training. Guides and FAQs provide just-in-time resources at the point of need. Students can benefit from using assistive tools, with Panopto’s playback viewer, such as:

  • A graphical and textual index of PowerPoint slides.
  • The ability to slow down or speed up the recording.
  • The ability to make time-stamped typed notes and bookmarks.
  • A search tool that indexes on-screen text as well as spoken audio.

For a comparative view of the three services covered in this post, click the image below:

360 video hosting comparison matrix

Alternatively, download a PDF version: 360° Video Platform Comparison Matrix.

If you are interested in finding out more about creating your own 360° content and hosting options, contact Learning Technology Development Team via ext.7754, ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk or Ask LTD knowledge base.

Martin Baxter

 

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer

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

Time for Students to Lead Online?

Wall ClockStaff, and students alike have deliberated long and hard over when, where, and how they can work more collaboratively, either in taught sessions, while engaging in a group activity, or during activities that require distance participation.

Look no further, Learning Services has the right solution for you, in the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra tool.

There is greater emphasis these days on giving students the space, time and flexibility to work collaboratively, on joint projects and away from the constraints and rigidity of the conventional classroom environment.

All Learning Edge course templates include a link to Blackboard Collaborate ‘Ultra’, within the course menu (Note that Faculty or Department Administrators must add this course menu template) to merged courses.Blackboard Collaborate Logo

In earlier versions of Blackboard Collaborate, you’ll remember Tutors were given the role of Moderator; everyone else was given the Participant role. The Moderator is the person responsible for the room (usually the tutor), and is required to conduct sessions, and control Participant (usually the student) privileges and the availability of tools.

In the Ultra version, however, although the Tutor has overall control as Moderator, there are a couple of new roles the Moderator can use including; Presenter and Captioner. To encourage effective student online collaboration, we recommend setting up sessions, and applying the Presenter role for all students.

Captioner can be applied to any user. They are given an area to type what is being said, so that those with a hearing impairment can participate and join in with the conversation.

The Presenter role is designed to allow participants/students to use the whiteboard tools and present without giving them full moderator privileges.

Presenters can upload, share, edit, and stop sharing content. Presenters are able to share their screens and upload images or PowerPoint files, they cannot modify another users’ permissions the way a moderator can.  This is a useful role, as all students are given the same, high level of user access, but can’t accidentally exclude another member from the project group activity.

Guides to help you:

If you want to discuss this and other users of Collaborate further, as always contact the Learning Technology Development Team via ext.7754, ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk or Ask LTD knowledge base.

Martin Baxter

 

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer

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 Technology Development Officer

 

 

Defeating ‘The Beast from the East’: How Collaborate was used to run a ‘blended’ conference

Blackboard Collaborate is an online classroom tool. It is designed to allow presentations and tutorials to be given to students while they are off-campus. In this blog post we look at an unusual use of Collaborate, as it was used to run a ‘blended’ conference.

Meg Juss: Could you set the scene for us?

Peter Beaumont: The Every Child Counts conference had been organised to run at Edge Hill University in early March 2018, with speakers coming from all over the country. However a day before it was going to run it was clear that due to snow, with red and orange weather warnings in many parts of the country, most of the presenters and many attendees were not going to be able to make it.

Welcome to the Conference Sign

MJ: Can you explain what we did?

PB: First we posted to the very helpful ALT-MEMBERS mailing list to ask for advice from the learning technology community. It was useful to read personal experiences of others, and the advice influenced some of the specific decisions we took.

The key thing for us was to enable the speakers to present from home, but we also wanted distance attendees to be able to experience and take part in the conference as much as possible. We decided to try and run the conference through Blackboard Collaborate. Speakers would present through it, and their webcam video and slides could be displayed on the big screen in the lecture theatre, as well as on distance attendees computer screens. Distance attendees could post questions in chat when it was time for post-presentation questions, and we used a Catchbox microphone to ensure that questions asked in the room, could be heard at a distance.

Welcome to Delegates

MJ: What were the issues and concerns?

PB: Because the conference was suddenly moved online, presenters’ slides were not created with Collaborate in mind. Animations don’t work as slides are converted to images, and videos need taking out of the slides and presenting another way. The presenters were fantastic and flexible and spent extra time changing to fit the limitations of presenting this way. Obviously in an ideal world we’d want to work with presenters to make the most of the technology, rather than be limited by it, but there just wasn’t time for that.

There were some distance attendees who were finding that slides were not updating, and we worked with Blackboard to identify that these users were not using the Chrome browser. Although we sent out instructions advising the use of Chrome, we identified two issues which we will need to consider in future. Not all users have an understanding that different web browsers are available, and I think their mental model of using the web is that they click on the ‘e’ to ‘open the internet’. The other thing to consider is the amount of pre-conference information that can you send to attendees before you get into a TL;DR situation?

Finally, even with wonderful, understanding and flexible presenters, unexpected things can happen. For example a presenter in the room might do something in the room which cannot be followed at a distance, for example writing on a flip chart. When that happened at this conference, we copied what was being written using the Collaborate annotation tools, allowing the distance attendees to follow. There are moments like that when you are a bit unsure what you are going to do.

Online Presentation

MJ: What would be your advice to others trying to do this?

PB: Running a ‘blended’ conference felt successful and we got good feedback from attendees, but we did have three people working on Collaborate all day during the conference, and spending the day before planning, and speaking to the presenters. One person was supporting the presenters, doing things like switching between the slides and the videos, switching the room mics on so distance presenters could hear the audience during discussion times, and operating the Catchbox mic. One person was at home, meaning they were aware of how the distance attendees were experiencing the conference, and they offered support to those having issues, as well as advising the people supporting the conference on campus of how it sounded and looked. The third person, was monitoring chat to collect questions from the distance attendees, welcoming and supporting attendees, copying what was written on flipcharts, etc. This sort of support, from people who understand the Collaborate system, is not often available.

You need to prepare online presenters in advance, so that their slides and planned activities are appropriate for the presentation method. Presenting online doesn’t have to be a worse experience than a face-to-face presentation, but you need to understand the strengths and limitations of the medium.

A lot of small things are quite important too. We found that putting some ‘elevator’ music on in the room between sessions, gave some feedback to distance attendees that they were in the right place. We made sure that Collaborate notifications are turned off on the presenter PC at the front, so that it was not bleeping as people entered and left the session.

Collaborate is a good solution to enable people to present online, but you need to be aware of the risks. If the presenter’s home internet is poor, then the session could be frustrating for attendees to follow. The Every Child Counts team very wisely had back-up plans for an alternative session, in case something went wrong. However, there are risks with face-to-face presentations too, as we saw with this conference. There is no reason to be scared of online presentations, as long as you and the attendees are prepared.

All over

MJ: Can you share any quotes with us?

Distance Attendee: “The day exceeded my expectations. The speakers were fantastic [… it was] all very informative and useful. The online conference was exceptional. It was very easy and smooth. The moderators were very helpful. A fantastic experience – would be a great way to deliver a course/ conference in the future.”

ECC Team: “[The Learning Technology Development team] managed a mixture of onsite and distant presenters and onsite and distant audiences that worked beautifully, was roundly praised by all concerned … and [the Every Child Count’s team are] very grateful”

Learning Technology Team: “We enjoyed the challenge and learnt a lot in the 12 working hours we had to prep, as well as during the event.”

Meg Juss, Learning Technology Development Manager

Meg Juss, Learning Technology Development Manager

Bite-sized Lecture Series

Students at Edge Hill University value the support they receive whist studying here, so much that they tell us how important that support is, each year through the National Student Survey.

Andrea Wright

Edge Hill has a diverse student population and recognises the importance of innovative approaches to teaching and learning which are both inclusive and supportive.

Since the introduction of Panopto software in 2016, more and more areas of the University are being provisioned and many more students are benefiting from access to recorded lecture content.

Andrea Wright (Senior Lecturer – Film Studies), introduced her students to recordings of taught sessions to encourage engagement and shared understanding of her topics.  Andrea’s approach to using Panopto, means that her students can review lectures in manageable bite-sized videos.

BiteSized Lecture Series

From the statistics gathered over two years of using Panopto, Andrea is able to see when students are making use of her bit-sized recordings.

Panopto Bar Graph Session Stats

Consistently, the peak periods of use are around assessment time and prior to submission deadlines. Students are using the recordings as a support mechanism and revision tool, to check key terms, concepts and understanding of the topic.

Andrea also states “following the introduction of Panopto in 2016, there is certainly some evidence of students attaining slightly better in the modules. Particularly for some students who may well have struggled to gain a pass mark, there was evidence of them getting beyond the pass mark and a larger proportion of students achieving a first class.” Andrea strongly believes, Panopto has the potential to benefit all students to gain higher marks toward their degree.

YouTube Video link

For more information about Panopto at Edge Hill University, please contact our team of experts on lecturecapture@edgehill.ac.uk

If you feel inspired by Andrea’s story and want to use this or another technology to help you enhance and support your own teaching, please get in touch with the Learning Technology Development Team in Learning Services. We would be very happy to work with you.

Related case studies: Inclusive Practice.

Martin Baxter

 

Martin Baxter
Learning Technology Development Officer
(Faculty of Arts & Sciences)

 

Carol Chatten

 

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer
(FAS & Medical Education)

Have you used the Inclusive Digital Practices Toolkit?

Inclusive Digital Practice ToolkitLearning Services have created the toolkit to support academic staff in the creation of accessible Digital Content.

The toolkit includes quick tips, a checklist, user guides and some video case studies that showcase how teaching staff are using Digital Technology to support their students.

We are submitting the toolkit for the Blackboard Catalyst Award for Inclusive Education and are looking for some endorsements from staff who have used the toolkit to enhance their teaching practices.

Please get in touch, to let us know if the toolkit has helped.

email: John Haycock (haycockj@edgehill.ac.uk)

Tea and Technology – New Sessions

We have three new Tea and Technology sessions available for you to book your place on now!

Zeetings Presentations 
Friday 16th March 10:30-11 in JD13
Explore Zeetings, a software which allows your audience to follow your presentation on their device, and allows you to add interactive elements such as polls and activity walls to your slides.

eShare 
What is it and how and why would I use it?
Tuesday 17th April 10:30-11 in JD13
Come and find out more about eShare – your digital repository for Teaching and Learning resources. Learn how to upload and link to items within Learning Edge and gain an understanding of Copyright and Creative Commons licences.

App Swap Break
Thursday 24th May 10:30-11 in JD13
This session aims to provide an opportunity for us all to share our experiences about how we use apps to encourage awareness and good practice amongst ourselves. This is not restricted to apps you use for your jobs, but any apps you find are useful, save you time or you just couldn’t live without!
Please come prepared to discuss any apps you may use to engage with students, organise a surprise party, share cat videos or anything else!

Book your place through MyView – search for Tea & Tech to locate the sessions.

 

 

Edge Hill Central – Edge Hill University in the palm of your hand

The updated Edge Hill Central app was launched at the end of November and has a fresh new look, more features and is easier than ever to navigate on mobiles and tablets.  More social media links have been introduced including Instagram and Facebook but all the features you know and love are just as easy to access such as PC Availability, the Library Catalogue and Edge Hill University Email.

The app is currently available for Apple and Android platforms.  It is available for free via the respective apps stores:  Apple  /  Android

What can it do?

Events – Always know what’s on, in and around Edge Hill University. Browse cinema screenings, comedy shows, theatre productions, open lectures, and more. There is something for everyone and you can save the events you are interested in straight to your calendar.

Learn – Take your learning environment with you. With quick and easy access to your courses in Learning Edge (Blackboard) you can check the latest announcements, look up lecture notes, participate in discussion groups, update your blogs, and much, much more.

Email – Stay up-to-date with your university communications. Sign into your University email account to check emails from your course tutors and colleagues.

News – Read about university news as it happens. Browse articles published by the university on faculty activity, campus developments, research projects, awards, events and other interesting stories.

Library – Start your reading and research wherever you are. Explore the complete library catalog to check the availability of books, journals, newspapers, etc. and make reservations. Even review your account status to see what items you have on loan and when they need to be renewed.

Get Help – Access important numbers when you need them. Contact a help desk, report an emergency or get information from the general switchboard.

Images – Search, browse, download and share images from Edge Hill University’s collections.

Videos – Watch Edge Hill University YouTube content whenever – and wherever – you like.

Statistics

Averages over the past 6 weeks since the app launched (This includes the ‘quiet’ Christmas period):

Screen Views: 2081
Screen Sessions: 1309
Unique Users: 493

It is hoped that the app will continue to be developed over time with more features and items being added tailored towards prospective and current students and staff.  If you have any time to offer some feedback after using the app, please leave a comment at the bottom of this blog.

 

 

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer