To be, or not to be… Vegan?

Living a meat-less, animal product free life certainly is not something which appeals to everyone, but it is a choice I made just over a year ago and have committed to ever since. My name is Eleanor, I am a student at Edge Hill University, and I am vegan! My experience has been an adventure and I have learned a lot on the way, so I thought it might be nice to share some of the things I have discovered with you…

Firstly, veganism is not about eating grass and lettuce! Huge shoutout to all the fast-food companies who have given us a vegan burger on their menu, supermarkets for their lovely meat-free aisles and Insta-inspiration for boosting my brain with recipe ideas too. Not only this, but also the ‘accidentally vegan snacks’ that I have stumbled across, I would be lying if I said these weren’t a lifesaver. I said I would share my findings with you so here are one or two animal-free snacks you can enjoy:

  1. Oreos!
  2. Jammy Dodgers
  3. Party Rings
  4. Prawn Cocktail Skips
  5. Most Ready Salted Crisps
  6. Popcorn

Sweet treats and salty snacks are always enticing, but fruit and veggies are also perfect to reach for if you’re after something tasty, nutritious, and naturally plant based. Frozen grapes are a brilliant sweet snack, carrots/cucumber to dip into a pot of hummus are perfect for sharing and an apple is a great go-to for on the go fuel!

‘What about protein?’ I hear you ask… Well, loads of veggies and pulses are packed with the protein our bodies need to thrive; beans, chickpeas, lentils, and nuts are just a few examples. Also, other nutrients can be sourced from animal-free foods too- such as potassium from bananas, vitamins A, B and K in spinach, and iron in tofu!

A photograph of an assortment of nuts.

So, there is a couple of perks of a vegan diet for you, but what about the wider impact? According to research, if everyone in the UK were to swap out one meaty meal to meatless each week, our nation’s Greenhouse Emissions would reduce by 8%… that is the same as removing 16 million cars off the road. Seems silly not to, eh!? I am not writing this post to try and convince everyone to be a strict vegan, more so to try a meat-less filling in their sandwiches or switching their bangers and mash to veggie sausages every once in a while! Speaking of sausages, here is some scrumptious vegan BBQ suggestions to enjoy this summer…

  1. Beyond Meat™ burger
  2. Cauliflower steak
  3. Morrison’s ‘Hot ‘n’ Spicy No-Prawns’
  4. Marinated tofu… (yes, tofu can be so good!)
  5. Vegetable kebabs

Also, if you don’t fancy your BBQ to be entirely plant based, why not pop some halloumi on your kebabs, or have a Linda McCartney mozzarella ¼ pounder in place of a beanburger!

A photograph of a barbeque and vegetable skewers.

For now I feel that’s enough of the animal-free replacements and suggestions, so let me tell you a little more about my experience as a vegan and where I am with it at the moment… Firstly, I am not perfect by any stretch! Accidentally eating something not wholly vegan is part of the trial and error of discovering a plant-based diet, milk powder and a bit of egg in the small print can be deceitful. At first, I worried, but then I soon came to realise that feeling guilty about trying your best helps no one, be kind to yourself and just give it your best shot. Also, veganism has boosted my confidence in trying new foods, being more adventurous with recipes and learning what I like! Not only this but getting a little more confident in the kitchen has refined my knowledge of what feels good going into my body and what foods will give me the nutrients I can feel that my body craves.

Most importantly for me, veganism has energised me. In the physical sense undoubtedly, but also in the way that I navigate through life with a consciousness of how my actions may impact others. Just knowing that small changes I have made can make such a big impact are comforting and invigorate my passion to care for this world, and the organisms which live upon it. And with that I urge you, make a small change and give a plant-based swap a go… you never know, you might like it!

A person standing in front of a waterfall

Now that we have come to the end of this chatty exploration of veganism, I thought some of you may be keen on a deeper insight into the plant-based world. On the Box of Broadcasts platform through Edge Hill University, there are countless short programmes and documentaries about veganism and making small changes to your diet for the greater good! Simply type in ‘Edge Hill University Box of Broadcasts’ into your browser and log in with your institution details, my personal favourites are: 

  • Jermaine Jenas: Football Going Vegan
  • Hayley goes… Vegan
  • Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, with Ellie Goulding

So, sit down, tuck into a Jammie Dodger or two and enjoy!

By Eleanor Rowell (Student Intern)

Photograph of Eleanor.

A Week in the Life of a Student Intern …

Monday:

Here we go! Another week as a full-time worker. I am absolutely loving my experience so far and I feel SO fancy when people ask me what I do for work and I reply, “I am a Digital Student Intern at Edge Hill University”.

I started off the week in a meeting with my departmental heads and my colleague -it’s always so refreshing to catch up with them as it makes me feel so much more connected. Working from home has the potential to be really isolating but my colleagues have been here for me throughout and it really has been a connected experience thus far.

I then spent the next few hours completing one of my modules and making sure it was at the highest accessibility possible. This module included quite a few PDFs, this was a challenge but also became a massive learning curve and helped me become a lot more confident working with PDFs and Adobe Acrobat. Finally finishing a whole module felt really rewarding and I was so pleased with the progress I have made so far – looking forward to completing many more!

To finish off my day I decided to go to LinkedIn Learning and complete some more courses surrounding PDFs to really ensure that I was understanding of how to make them accessible and confident going forward within the internship. Then, I of course wrote this blog entry… Monday… completed.

Person typing on MacBook Pro on brown wooden table during daytime photo

Tuesday:

Tuesday is always my most difficult wake up, I think it’s because the weekend is finally catching up with me. Aware of this, I woke up slightly earlier to give myself time to have a shower and really refresh myself ready for a new day I began by finishing off the LinkedIn Learning courses that I started the day before.

Later, I attended my weekly catchup meeting with other colleagues working for the Faculty of Arts and Science and the managers of the internship. I really enjoy these meetings as it gives me an insight into what people from other departments are getting up to and it allows us to express any concerns and get common questions and queries answered. It’s also just lovely to see familiar faces and be reassured that I do have a wide network of people to assist me if anything doesn’t go as planned.

After this I received a notification saying that one of the modules had content in for me to work on, so I started on that. I decided to make a start on PowerPoints and Word Documents first as it was already the afternoon and I knew I would accomplish more in the day if I focused on these to begin with. It feels SO good getting a lot done in a day and watching the accessibility score gradually rise as you go on.

I did encounter a few problems as the day went on which was slightly frustrating, however, I reported the problems to the correct people and the issues were quickly resolved and/or being investigated. I finished the day off writing this blog and feeling very accomplished with the amount of progress I have made today. Nothing feels better than a productive day!

Wednesday:

The middle of the week is here already! This internship is going so fast I can’t believe it, I’ll be back at University before I know it.

I started the day off in a meeting with my departmental heads and colleague, we worked together to resolve the problems that we had the day before and discuss the right methods moving forward.

I then began working on the reading list for my module, ensuring that all scanned documents were deleted and replaced with a digital copy and added to the reading list. This made the accessibility score go much higher on my module as it involved a lot of scanned pdfs.

After this I continued working on PDFs, this took a while as a lot of the PDFs had several pages and I had to tag each document from scratch. It is so rewarding at the end of the day when I look back over my accessibility spreadsheet and see how much I have completed and how much the module has improved.

Thursday:

ONE MORE DAY TILL FRIDAY!

Today has been a very long day, I have been working on a 111-page PDF all day in attempts to make it 100% accessible. Alongside this my sister went into labour so my Mum and I have been attempting to work and look after my 7-year-old niece and 2-year-old nephew at the same time. (I can’t begin to tell you how much I can sympathise with all parents who have had to work at home with their children over the pandemic.) For the most part they were wonderful, and I still managed to have a productive day, but it was not without its challenges!

Whilst working on some more challenging PDFs I decided it was best to have a call with my colleague to talk things over and work out a better solution. It was great to talk to each other about it and assist each other with the process. It really makes the internship so much easier knowing I have a team I can rely on and that we will always be there for each other.

Black wireless headphones with yellow and white pencils. Board saying "Be proud of how hard you are working"

Friday:

T.G.I.F! We have made it another week working full time with only a small amount of complications!

Not going to lie to you, today was a very stressful day for me, my final degree classification was being released at 11am and I was on edge for most of the morning. I took the executive decision to start the day with a Linkedin Learning course and then complete my weekly refection and look over this week’s blog entries. When my result finally came out, I was so pleased and proud of myself, but I also felt incredibly overwhelmed that the undergraduate chapter of my life is actually over – time to grow up!

After taking in my results I continued working on making my module accessible. I focused a lot on PowerPoints and Word Documents today which took a while but was relatively straight forward to do. I then wrote my blog entry for today and checked over my calendar for next week. Going through this internship I have realised that it is important to check what meetings I have the following week to ensure before I log off on a Friday evening, I am completely ready and prepared.

It has been an absolutely fantastic week, I have completed another module, been continuously connected with my team, completed several LinkedIn Learning courses, welcomed a new nephew into the world and truly grown as a person – each week I become more and more grateful for this opportunity. Now… let’s do it all again!

LinkedIn Learning Courses:

Creating Accessible PDFs

Creating Accessible Word Docs

Microsoft Word Essential Training

By Rachel Roche (Student Intern)

Photograph of Rachel Roche

Emotional Processing: Tips on how we can learn to accept our emotions

I think we’ve all at some point been bombarded with the multitude of self-care tips that have gone viral on social media. Especially on spaces like Instagram, Pinterest etc. we see self-care and self-love has become a big topic in online communities and sharing our tips and tricks with one another. Yet on some levels, I think the basics of self-care can be put aside, and it has at times become more of an aesthetic thing to do. Instead of when looking at the basics, it might feel like a bit of a chore! One of the biggest tips that I find people forget, to focus on distraction or escapism is just processing. We all have stress and with the bustle of modern life, we’re often encouraged to push aside them to deal with work and our other commitments. This doesn’t help anyone! When we don’t allow our brain time to process and confront our emotions, we get to a point where we are keeping the pressure in until we inevitably explode.

Photograph of person surround by sticky notes. Notes contain words including: norms, expectation and society.

So great, processing emotions. How do we do that exactly? It’s the fact we need to stop ourselves from instantly distracting ourselves, although at times it can be helpful. We need to give ourselves the time (it doesn’t need to be instant). After a hard day at work, give yourself a set amount of time to sit there and process. This can be in any way! The beauty of emotions is that everyone expresses and processes them differently. So, spend that hour crying, yelling, journaling, letting your mind spiral. Any way you see fit, and let your mind go through these processes.

If you prefer, you can split this time into two. As there are two types of problems, practical and hypothetical. A practical worry is something that can be solved or dealt with. So, in the time you set aside for yourself, use it as time to go through these problems and solve them or set out a plan to. If you do things this way, it will allow you to put to rest anything nagging you in the back of your head. Which happens a lot, in our busy lives!

Hypothetical worries are the trickier ones, these are the fears that creep in when we least expect. We worry, get angry or upset over the infinite possibilities and it can get in the way of our focusing. The way we deal with these is by giving our minds the time to run wild. Let your mind jump from one thing to the next, let the anger come to the surface. By letting your mind process and confront all different types of issues that are causing you distress, it’ll help you feel calmer and get the weights off your chest.

I think another important strategy is to stop looking at emotions like sadness and stress as negative emotions. As much as it is unpleasant to experience them, these types of emotions are our body’s way of telling us that things are getting too much. It’s the warning sign that we need to take time for a break. So, I’d say to approach them less as negative and more as alerts to give yourself some time.

All of this is a lot easier said than done. But it is one focus that can really change your perspective on emotions as a whole and you can grow to understand yourself as a person more. All of this knowledge will make dealing with emotions in a work environment specifically so much easier.

Links for additional support:

Edge Hill University Wellbeing Resources – https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/studentservices/wellbeing/

NHS ‘Struggling with stress’ webpage – https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/mental-wellbeing/stress/struggling-with-stress#:~:text=However%2C%20there%20are%20simple%20things%20you%20can%20do,muscle%20relaxation%20to%20be%20helpful%20in%20relieving%20stress.

NHS Mental Health – https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/

By Amber Berry (Student Intern)

Amber Berry, Student Intern

Ally, what’s in it for your students?

Since 2018, Blackboard Ally has provided clear feedback and guidance about improving the content you create. At Edge Hill University, we all know the benefits for staff, but what’s in it for students?

Here are three students who have taken time to tell us, in these short videos, what Ally means to them and their peers.

Callie

Three inline Ally Branded Circles right to left Ally log then figures standing followed by 'For Students' text.
Click on image to hear from Callie.

Second-year student studying History with Politics.

Darren

Three inline Ally Branded Circles right to left Ally log then figures standing followed by 'For Students' text.
Click on image to hear from Darren.

First-year student studying Teaching, Learning and Child Development.

Maya

Three inline Ally Branded Circles right to left Ally log then figures standing followed by 'For Students' text.
Click on image to hear from Maya.

Second-year student studying Film and Television Production.






There’s never been a better time to get on board with the University’s ‘Build Accessible’ initiative, aimed at supporting staff to create accessible content from the outset.

Join us on Fix Your Content and Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Thursday 20th May.

For more information about this and our plans for the day, read our blog post:
Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD).

Three inline adverts, right to left 'Fix your content day, Global accessibility day' and Learning Technology Development.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)

On Thursday 20th May 2021 it is the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access, inclusion and accessibility.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day graphic of brightly coloured nondescript line drawings of people.

Did you know that 1 billion people Worldwide have disabilities. Some common disabilities and impairments include visual, hearing, motor and cognitive. The goal of Global Accessibility Awareness Day is to shine a light on digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities.

Every user deserves a first-rate digital experience on the web. Someone with a disability must be able to experience web-based services, content and other digital products with the same successful outcome as those without disabilities. 

Source: https://globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org/

Alongside our ongoing ‘Build Accessible’ campaign, we are excited to to support GAAD and we will also be taking part in the Global ‘Fix Your Content Day 2021 – Blackboard Ally’. 

Fix Your Content Day Graphic.

This 24-hour competition (taking place on Thursday 20th May 2021) is committed to creating accessible and more inclusive digital learning content across institutions globally. The objective of the day is simple, make as many ‘fixes’ as possible to your Blackboard course files through using Blackboard Ally. During the day Blackboard will track the activity of participating Universities and award a champion at the end of the day!

It would be great if lots of staff could engage with this competition, even just making a couple of fixes to your files would help push our accessibility score up and get Edge Hill on the leader board.

To support staff with accessibility and GAAD why not attend our ‘Build Accessible’ drop-in session taking place on the day? Learn top tips on how to make your content more accessible and get support with any accessibility queries. Further details about the drop-in session can be found on the Getting Digital Ready wiki page.

Resources

This short video (1:06) provides an overview of accessibility scores: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik_-ECvVWYs

For additional support with accessibility, visit our bespoke Accessibility wiki pages: https://go.edgehill.ac.uk/display/ls/Accessibility

Read our latest blog posts:

You can also tweet your accessibility good deeds throughout the day by using the hashtags #GAAD and #FixYourContentDay. Tag us @LTDatEHU

For more information or support please contact the LTD Team via email at ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk

Blackboard Collaborate – Introducing Gallery View

A new feature is now available to use as a Moderator in your online lecture and seminar sessions in Blackboard Collaborate – Gallery View.

What is Gallery View?

Similar to other video conferencing platforms, Gallery View will allow Moderators to see up to 25 camera feeds from session attendees on their screen, allowing them to see individual attendee reactions and improving the overall teaching and learning experience when delivering via Collaborate.

What’s more, Gallery View includes the option to change to two additional viewing modes – ‘Speaker View’ and ‘Tiled View’ – which will follow the active speaker and will make their camera feed the main video that is on-screen – Ideal for presentation and discussion-based scenarios.

Each of the the new viewing modes are selectable on the top right-hand corner of your Collaborate screen:

This picture shows the new Gallery View mode in Blackboard Collaborate. There are 20 individual cameras on the screen, and a green arrow is pointing to where the setting can be found on screen to switch between Gallery View, Speaker View and Tiled View.
Gallery View in Blackboard Collaborate.

New Control Features

Gallery View also includes some additional controls that will allow you to configure the overall view on your own screen and to moderate your session whilst using the Gallery View mode.

Your attendees are listed in alphabetical order and their camera feeds can be zoomed in upon to allow for less cameras to be on-screen and for any displayed cameras to be in a larger size.

If you would like for particular attendees in your session to appear first then Gallery View now has the function for any individual’s camera to be pinned so that they appear at the top of your attendee list. You can pin more than one person at a time and their camera order will appear in the order that you pin them in.

To pin an attendee, simply click on the attendee control icon on their camera feed and select ‘Pin Video’:

To view any cameras that are not currently on display, you can navigate between ‘pages’ of your session using the left and right-arrow icons on either side of the session screen.

These controls are highlighted below:

Lastly, you’re able to moderate your session by clicking on individual attendees and selecting the option to either send them a private message, change their role in the session or remove the person from the session:

Please note: To use Gallery View, you must use Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge (Chromium) as your web browser. At this time, Gallery view isn’t available in Safari® on iOS or iPadOS.

Sharing Content

Whilst in Gallery View, you are also able to switch the focus to any content that you would like to share, such as a PowerPoint Presentation or screen-sharing, and return to the Gallery View mode once you have stopped sharing.

Disabling Gallery View

By default, Gallery View is enabled for all attendees in the session to use.

You can make Gallery View available to Moderators only or disable the function altogether by selecting the Settings ‘Cog’ in the Collaborate Panel, followed by ‘Session Settings’.

In the ‘Session Settings’ window, you have the option to make Gallery View available for either all attendees, Moderators only or for Gallery View to be disabled altogether.

Overview Video

Want to see Gallery View in action? See this short introduction from Blackboard, below.

Blackboard Collaborate – Gallery View Help Pages

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.

Getting Digital Ready – March’s staff development offer

This month we have a range of bookable staff development sessions on offer, from getting started with Learning Edge to implementing breakout rooms successfully.

Spotlighted sessions

Making “Groupwork” Work: Facilitating effective groupwork online

Making “Groupwork” Work: 
Facilitating effective groupwork online

This session will explore techniques, tips and strategies to effectively facilitate groupwork online, with a specific focus on integrating breakout rooms in Blackboard Collaborate and utilising tools such as the whiteboard, Padlet, Vevox and more. Not only will we consider how to set up/use breakout rooms effectively, but how we can use them with a purpose, for example, to work intensely on focused tasks, establish closer connections via discussion/activities and build momentum for discussion back in the main room.

Monday 15th March (12pm-1:30pm)
Thursday 15th April (1pm-2:30pm)

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

Build Accessible

Build Accessible

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.

Take a look at March’s bookable staff development sessions below. Please email digitech@edgehill.ac.uk to book on.

Thursday 4th March (12pm-1pm)
OneDrive: Making online collaboration and sharing easy

Thursday 4th March  (1pm-1:30pm)
Using the Blackboard Journal and Blog Tools

Thursday 11th March (12pm-1pm)
PowerPoint’s Zoom feature for Assessments, Poster Presentations and Interaction

Monday 15th March (12pm-1:30pm)
Making “Groupwork” Work: Facilitating effective groupwork online

Wednesday 17th March (1pm-2pm)
Build Accessible: Making Documents Accessible

Thursday 18th March (12pm-1pm)
Introduction to Learning Edge for Staff

Thursday 18th March (12:30pm-1:30pm)
OBS (Open Broadcast Studio): Adding new possibilities to your presentations

Friday 19th March (11am-12pm)
Microsoft Teams (Part 2)

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

Tuesday 23rd March (12pm-1pm)
Setting up Turnitin Submission Dropboxes 

Thursday 25th March (12pm-1pm)
Blackboard Collaborate

Tuesday 30th March (2pm-3pm)
Using Padlet to Facilitate Discussion and Interaction with Students

Wednesday 31st March (1pm-2pm)
Are we YouTubers?: Using Flipgrid and Microsoft Stream as video-blogging tools for students

To find out more information visit Getting Digital Ready for the session blurbs. To book onto any of the above sessions email digitech@edgehill.ac.uk.

Pre-recorded Sessions

If you can not attend a live session or want to work through a session at your own pace, we have pre-recorded a range of sessions. These pre-recorded sessions can be found on LTDs Training and Consultation page – https://go.edgehill.ac.uk/display/ls/Training+and+Consultation

Training and Consultation

LinkedIn Learning

Another valuable online resource for staff development is LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning is an online learning platform which contains a wide variety of courses on topics including business, management, design, photography, IT, marketing, media and much more.

As part of the My Staff Development offer, within each of the pathways you will find a range of LinkedIn Learning courses we have recommended. These pathways have further been divided into Build, Develop and Enhance.

Screenshot of the LinkedIn Learning courses available underneath the 'Resources' section. Shows three pathways - build, develop and enhance.
Screenshot of the LinkedIn Learning courses available underneath the ‘Resources’ section.

You can access LinkedIn Learning via the LinkedIn Learning home page or using the LinkedIn Learning iOS app or Android app.

Online Staff Development Toolkits

We understand the importance of moving teaching and learning online, so in response to staff needs and seeking to enhance digital skills, we have developed online toolkits.

These toolkits aim to develop your digital skills and provide a greater awareness of the resources, services and support available to you. 

View the toolkits by clicking on the image below. 

Online Staff Development

For more information about staff development opportunities, visit the Getting Digital Ready wiki page, which is part of the collaborative My Staff Development offer.

My Staff Development (Programme 2020/21) Logo

Attendance Scheduling with Qwickly Attendance

Qwickly Attendance icon

Today, we’re excited to announce that Qwickly attendance session scheduling is now available within all Blackboard courses. This feature has been a widely requested among staff here at Edge Hill University, and now all users have the ability to bulk create scheduled attendance sessions into their online register schedule.

Typically, staff create an attendance session within the moment that they take attendance for a session. This new feature enables staff to schedule attendance sessions for an entire semester before classes start, providing staff and students with:

  • A clear roadmap of all sessions throughout the semester
  • Assistance to all staff in identifying sessions where attendance may have been forgotten
  • The ability for instructors to mark a student excused far in advance, providing clear insight for other staff members of any known absence.

To schedule an Attendance session, staff must go to the bottom of the Attendance setting menu within Qwickly Attendance. Here they can input the start and end date for their courses (or the first and last date of the semester), as well as the days of the week when they meet. Once an Attendance session has been scheduled, it will appear in the Attendance Record and will be immediately available for an instructor to use to track attendance. For further insight please view the video link below, or head over to the Qwickly Section on the Learning Services Wiki.

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

wordpresspenpic

Mark Wilcock
Learning Technologist

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