In response to supporting staff with digital technologies and staff development, we have developed a new initiative called LTD Q&A.
These informal Q&A drop-in sessions are aimed at supporting staff with digital teaching and learning tools, digital technologies and staff development. For example, come along and ask us a question about Blackboard Collaborate, Microsoft Teams, PowerPoint, Vevox, Padlet, Turnitin and more …
These drop-ins are a great opportunity to ask a question in a supportive environment, engage in discussion and share best practice with your colleagues.
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:
An updated, easier-to-use, more powerful Content Editor will be available from 5th November within Learning Edge (Blackboard).
The Content Editor, if the term doesn’t sound familiar, can be found in many places across Blackboard such as when you create an item, folder or blank page or when formatting text in a discussion board, wiki, journal or blog. You may also use it when sending emails or announcements out.
There are many new, improved features and it has also been updated to work better when using a small screen such as on a smartphone or tablet. Help with making your text and content more accessible has also been built in and is easy to check.
Let’s take a look at some of the improvements and new features:
The plus button is where you add external materials into your content. This may be files from your computer or from the Content Collection, Panopto Videos, Images or even resources from a cloud service such as OneDrive or Google Drive.
The Content Editor is more accessibledue to higher contrast icons and menus, and the removal of pop-ups improves the experience for screen reader users. A new accessibility checker helps authors make content more accessible while they’re creating content.
Authors can now share formatted computer code snippets using the Display Computer Code button – great for Computer Science staff and students!
Copying and Pasting content from websites, Word and Excel is massively improved. You can now easily remove extra HTML but retain basic formatting.
And to check everything is looking how it should, use the Preview button to take a peek at the finished thing.
Hyperlinks: If you copy and paste or type a full hyperlink (for a webpage) into the new content editor, it automatically converts it into a clickable box with the webpage title and details! Of course, if you just want the text you can still just type the text and create the hyperlink in the usual way.
The best thing is that if you copy and paste a link from YouTube for example straight into the text area it will automatically convert it to a playable video window! It couldn’t be easier!
More details about the changes can be found in the following documents:
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 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
From 14th September Blackboard will use the new front page navigation, known as Ultra Base Navigation. The videos below provide an overview of the main changes and new menus you will see from either the staff or student point of view. Please take a little time to familiarise yourself with these quick overviews which are on average a minute long!
When you first login to the new style navigation, you will see a welcome message to scroll through and then you will be taken to the Courses list which will always be the first page when you log in. The first video below explains how you can filter and favourite courses….
As communicated elsewhere, from 14th September, we will all be using new Ultra Base Navigation in Blackboard. Here is a brief summary of the main changes, while further information will be appearing on this blog in the coming weeks.
What is Ultra Base Navigation?
It is a new easy to use fixed navigation menu that lives outside of courses. It includes links to new pages such as the Activity Stream, Institution Page, Calendar, etc. that provides quick access to the most critical information from all your courses. Your courses will not change! They will look and operate exactly as they do now.
What will change for users?
The Courses Page will be the first page you see once logged in. It lists all courses in which the user is enrolled. Users enrolled in many courses may find the list a little unwieldy at first, but there are new course search and filter options. Users should favourite the courses they access most frequently so they appear at the top of their list.
The new Activity Stream identifies upcoming and recent events in the user’s active courses. You can see what’s new in all your courses and jump directly into course activities from the list. See Blackboard help for more information on theActivity Stream.
The Navigation Panel is now on the left-hand side of the screen and provides options for accessing individual courses, or viewing information or notifications related to all courses in one location.
There is a new Institution Page, with links to selected university resources or services. This replaces the old tabs across the top of the page.
Blackboard actively notifies users about due dates, grades, submissions and more. Your Profile page is where you can more easily manage the Notifications you receive and how. These notices are posted in the Activity Stream page or sent by email.
Watch out for further details, support and guidance in the coming weeks!
Before lockdown and the onset of social distancing, classroom teaching was the norm with just a few innovators willing to experiment with technologies that are truly immersive and engaging.
Covid-19 and Social Distancing has meant we all have to think differently and about ways of delivering exciting and engaging taught sessions. When normally we would be rubbing shoulders with each other, on campus or journeying together on a shared learning experience such as a field trip or an on-location workshop. The new norm is working at distance and from home, for many of us.
For every generation there will be something radical that changes the way we view the world around us, like a movement, event, a moment or an advancement, be it technological or otherwise. The Corona Virus is devastating, having a profound effect on all our lives. And yet isolation has, for many, brought people much closer together. Working from home, relying on technology to stay connected with each other, to the weekly ritual of clapping key-worker heroes for keeping us safe and to those keeping the country moving has, for many, been an inspiration.
Arguably, less devastating but by no means less impactful, for me and those of my generation, was the battle for supremacy between Betamax and VHS video cassette “Tape Wars“. We all know how that ended! Being able to record TV programmes, purchasing the latest movie rentals from the corner shop whist at the same time, buying the family groceries for the weekend, was a revelation!
Before video was seen as mainstream in education, the viewer experience was one of, large group viewing events, and live broadcasts. Those of us of a certain age will remember watching educational programmes or significant events on an oversized television, that had to be pushed in to a large assembly hall, on a trolley, by the Head Master or Caretaker, whilst you and your fellow pupils huddled together on a cold wooden floor.
With the advent of video, academics began to add recordings to their taught sessions, taking control of when to show videos that, in some cases, they had recorded themselves, usually on a VHS or Betamax tape cassette. Video recordings could now be linked to the topic and used as important viewing, aimed at supporting learning and following sessions for added context and explanation.
The latest video technology allows us to immerse ourselves in a whole new world and enjoy a completely different viewing experience.
Today’s immersive technology has the potential for delivering new and exciting spheres of learning. Academics are beginning to take advantage and are already deploying content such as 360-degree video into the taught curriculum, as an essential part of the student learning and experience.
Here at Edge Hill University academics are encouraged to explore 360-degree VR technology. Students can learn new skills, be introduced to real-world scenarios and conditions that they wouldn’t otherwise come across, because of, either an impairment or until graduating.
Andrew Whittle (Programme Leader – Policing Degree) talks about how this technology is helping students on his courses come to terms with the complexities of being a Police Officer in today’s modern Police Force. Andrew and his team take students through real-time scenarios, where they are faced with a crime scene, with real challenges and clues for solving the case.
The English, History and Creative Writing Department has partnered up with the country’s oldest repertory theatre, Liverpool’s Playhouse Theatre, formally the Star Music Hall. The Department has worked with the University’s Learning Services to produce several recordings, including a series of 360-degree videos, artifacts and learning resources based in and around the building. Interviews with theatre staff provide a rich knowledge base, from which students can explore and use for research and course work.
Professor Paul Ward (Head of English, History and Creative Writing), talks about his vision of using technology such as 360-degree video on his programmes. Students studying English, History and Creative Writing, will explore and engage in more innovative ways of working. Paul also explains the importance of internal and external collaborative relationships, such as those his department has with Learning Services and the recent partnership with Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse Theatres.
Take a virtual tour of The Liverpool Playhouse Theatre, listen to Allan Williams’ (Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Theatres, Learning Manager) commentary. Control this short video in every direction as you move through the recording toward and into the Liverpool Playhouse Theatre, situated on the eastern side of Williamson Square, before entering the auditorium views of the stage, stalls, circle and gallery space (transcript).
Inclusion and enrichment
Being able to challenge students with real-life situations and scenarios is increasingly possible. A major benefit of 360-degree video is inclusion, students can now access and experience challenging environments during lectures or from the comfort of their own home, anywhere they have access to the internet and at the click of a button.
360-degree creation can be as simple as using an app on your mobile device or with a standard 360 camera. Edge Hill University’s staff can call upon state of the art resources and expertise (Media Production Team). Developing external, collaborative partnerships, such as those forged by Faculties with local agencies, for example, North West Police Forces, NHS Hospitals Trusts and the creative arts industries, including Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse Theatres, contribute to enriching student’s experience and ultimately their learning.
Being able to explore immersive content that allows us to decide where to go, in storytelling isn’t new. However, with the latest video production techniques, it’s possible to move between spaces, access environments that might otherwise be too remote, activate portals (hot-spots) to more information and enter new unexplored realms that help tell the story on a number of levels.
2020, kick-start the New Year with several staff development activities and resources, designed to help you make your content accessible.
Learning Services are offering a range of sessions and resources to assist staff with issues raised by Blackboard Ally, from training sessions on making accessible documents, small steps videos that target a range of specific issues and guides that help with more complex document structures and conversions.
Attend a Drop-in Session.
Sessions are being run from 8th Jan to 26th Feb, every Wednesday between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Catalyst Oak Room (session on Wed 12th Feb will run from 11-1pm).
No appointment necessary, drop into the Catalyst Oak Room (top floor) & get individual help with making your content accessible. Bring up issues you are having with particular documents and we will help you find a solution following best practice.
Book on a Digital Proficiency Staff Development Session.
Learning Services are producing a series of short how-to videos for the most common accessibility issues found in content uploaded to Blackboard Courses. All videos will be available by February and will walk you through a step by step approach to resolving issues such as; adding alt text to an image, using Header Styles in Word, saving a Word file to an accessible PDF and linking to 3rd party resources.
LinkedIn Learning specifically focuses on professional development. Industry experts provide insights and guidance to you on what you should know about in the production and remediation of PDFs. ‘Creating Accessible PDFs’ course is broken down into six key areas:
Accessibility in PDF Files.
Make an existing PDF File Accessible.
Create an Accessible PDF from Word.
Create an Accessible PDF File from PowerPoint and Excel.
Create an Accessible PDF File from Adobe InDesign.
Each category is delivered in short manageable chunks, between 2 – 12 minutes sections, this means you can dip in and out of your learning as and when it suits you.
Want to know more about accessibility and what the new legislation means for your modules in Blackboard?
Contact your Learning Technology Development Officer: AskLTD or Tel. 7755
Seamlessly integrating with Learning Edge (Blackboard), all seminar and lecture theatres are fitted with the latest recording and capture equipment, making it easy for tutors to use and access the Panopto System no matter where they are on campus. Capturing a lecture can be as simple as pressing a record button from within your computer desktop.
There are three key reasons why lecturers say it is important to provide students with Panopto recordings. These are:
To enhance student satisfaction. All students experience high quality and fulfilling University education that enriches their lives and careers.
To offer better provision for students with disabilities, medical conditions or other commitments that sometimes make it impossible for them to attend classes physically. Accessibility and inclusivity are becoming ever more important drivers for the adoption of this technology.
To improve student learning outcomes. Analytics show students are using Panopto recordings as a support mechanism and revision tool, to check key terms, concepts and understanding for a topic during the assessment period.
Safe learning for complex concept rules (Transcript).
Student Voice: Derek, 3rd Year Marketing Student (Transcript).
There’s a growing movement for online video tutorials, people are using platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo and Linkedin Learning and students are turning to these technologies to teach themselves new skills. As a result, there’s an expectation that these types of resources will form part of their learning experience at University. Panopto provides staff with the tools that offer students a safe and secure way to engage with taught sessions and content.
With a simple tick of a box, Panopto will automatically generate a webcast link and stream your sessions live so that distance students can access them.
Hosting ‘live lounges’ for music performances or concerts.
Along with the latest classroom equipment, Panopto is helping to expand your reach beyond the physical campus and offers a ‘humanised’ digital experience that makes both existing and new audiences feel like they’re part of a community of learning.
Qwickly Attendance is officially switching to the LTI version and will be live from Monday 9th September.
The LTI version uses a more up to date and universally compatible technology. In anticipation of the potential change a link was included in the Baseline template for all new 2019 course instances created.
If you are using a ‘2019_’ course, you will initially see the two options as shown below.
As of Monday 9th September the ‘Attendance Register LTI‘ will work, while the ‘Attendance Register B2’ option will no longer function, in fact it should disappear.
You should show the LTI link if students will need to access it for Check-In, and hide the B2 link if it is not already hidden.
If staff are taking attendance in pre 2019/20 Blackboard courses with, for example, the ‘2018_’ prefix, then a new Qwickly tool link will need to be added in the left hand course menu. When adding the menu tool link, please select ‘Qwickly Attendance LTI’ and then give it the name ‘Attendance Register LTI’ for consistency.
Are there any key differences?
The main differences are behind the scenes, in how it is set up and works. Any fixes and enhancements will happen seamlessly as Qwickly support will apply them remotely.
If you have already been using Qwickly, then data added to Tableau will still be available there. We have retained a copy of the full set of data so if any specific queries arise we have this as reference.
New view options
You will see two new options when viewing the Attendance Record.
Reverse – reverses the order in which the register sessions are displayed
Totals – shows a count of the different attendance statuses for each student, across all recorded sessions. Click ‘Records’ to return to the normal view