Blackboard Ally is being rolled out January 2019

Blackboard Ally Banner

To support our commitment to a more inclusive campus, we’re introducing a new tool called Ally!

What is Blackboard Ally

Ally helps your students get the most from their course resources, and help you make your Blackboard space inclusive for all. Blackboard Ally automatically converts course resources into a variety of formats, from HTML and e-book for reading on mobile devices, to Electronic Braille for the visually impaired, and audio for learning on the go.

Ally also helps you make small changes to resources you upload to make them more accessible, in easy-to-follow steps.

Instructors will see a small dial icon next to any uploaded content giving an indication of how accessible it is. Clicking this icon will detail issues along with helpful guidance and a simple interface to fix them. Students do not see these accessibility indicators, the only interaction they have with Ally is downloading automatically generated alternative formats.

Ally accessible score icons.

Ally is being rolled out in the New Year (January 2019): to find out more, explore these quick guides from Blackboard to get you started.

For Instructors – get to know Ally

For Students – How to access usable resources

Twitter users can also follow #BbAlly to see how others across the HE sector are using Ally.

If you would like any further information about Blackboard Ally, and other learning technologies, please contact your Technologist via Ask LTD

Inclusive by Design

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

As part of Learning Service’s “Inclusive by Design” initiative and on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Learning Technology Development (LTD) want to mention some of the things we are doing to support staff to generate content and resources that are usable for all.  The team are working with others to improve content across all areas but more importantly for students to be able to use resources in a way that suites them and their needs.

Introducing Blackboard Ally (coming January 2019).

  • Ally provides you guidance on how to correct accessibility issues with your digital course content. Students are able to download a version of the file most appropriate for their device and need.

Social Sites – VLE Skip Link option.

  • Important for keyboard-only users to navigate VLE content without getting bogged down in a seemingly never ending series of clicks before they are able to move on to the next item.

Transcripts and Closed Captions.

  • The latest LTD video productions contain transcripts for those who prefer to follow the action in word form.  Closed captions offer everyone the ability to follow what is being said, especially good for those when English isn’t their first language.

Our Staff Development Programme.

  • Aims to support staff in the production of content that means all students can benefit from your content, in a way they prefer and suites their learning style.

Want to learn more about these and how they and other technologies can support student learning, contact your 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

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)

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

 

Turnitin Feedback Studio: Ready for marking

As we are swiftly heading on through this semester and towards end of term assessments we thought it would be helpful to once again highlight marking through Turnitin.

Turnitin recently released Feedback Studio; an updated and revamped way of marking papers with some nifty new features such as page navigation and Grading/Similarity layers.

Access to Feedback Studio remains the same way as you would mark before but just in case you need a recap:

How to access Turnitin Feedback Studio:

The same tools are still there but they have been tidied up and even better, have been combined into one view – no more having to switch between ‘Grading View’ or ‘Similarity View’ you can choose to see them both at the same time. This is useful for cross checking originality whilst making comments.

One of the most used features of Turnitin are the Inline Commenting Tools allowing you to leave annotations on pieces of work.  Quick Marks are also available to build up banks of commonly used phrases or corrections which you can drag and drop onto an assignment for quickly highlighting areas for improvement.  Rubrics have become popular to create and deploy across modules as they can reflect the marking criteria included in programme/module handbooks.  The new Rubrics function uses sliding scale bars to indicate a level that the student is working at.  You can also choose to mark using the Expanded Rubric Manager if you prefer to work in this way.  Rubrics can automatically calculate scores which can inform the overall grade.

Finally, should you wish to recap reviewing originality, take a look at the following guidance from Turnitin: Interpreting the Similarity Report.

Full guidance on Turnitin Feedback Studio can be found here: Turnitin Feedback Studio Full Guide.

Don’t forget the Turnitin app is available on iPad to mark assessments.  One particular benefit of using the app is that once all the submissions are in and you sync it to the iPad then you can mark offline.  Once you have re-established a connection all the marks and comments will automatically be uploaded back into Learning Edge including Grades into the Grade Centre!

 

 

 

As always if you need any help or support, contact the Learning Technology Development Team via ext.7754, ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk or Ask LTD knowledge base.

 

 

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer
FAS & Medical Education

Blackboard Student Mobile App

The summer brought a number of changes to the learning technologies used in the University and one in particular I wanted to highlight here is the new Blackboard Student Mobile App available for iOS, Android and Windows mobiles and tablets.

It is radically different to the previous app (Mobile Learn) having had a complete redesign. Here is a run down of what to expect in the new app:

Notifications
Students can choose to receive a notification when new content is added to their courses.  Specific ones they wish to receive is controlled via the desktop version whilst on/off choice is set via the device.

Content
Many formats are now supported natively including most types of image, audio (MP3) and video (MP4).  PDFs, websites and ‘mashups’ are also able to be opened within the app.  Additionally to this, it will look for the appropriate app on the device to open Word, Excel, PowerPoint or similar file attachments.

Tools
Tests created using the Mobile Compatible Tests tool work really well and are easy to work through whilst Discussion Forums are clean and simple to use.
Blackboard Assignment submission is incorporated into the app as it is compatible with Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive to access documents and materials that students have produced.

Online Lectures
A separate app is no longer required to use Collaborate as it has been built in to the single app – great news for users of webinars and online lectures!

Grades and Feedback
If work has been submited via the Blackboard Assignment tool, grades and feedback can be obtained via the ‘Marks‘ area in the app where a break down of individual assignments can be found.  Be aware though, if using Turnitin for submissions only grades that are fed through to the Grade Centre can be viewed via the app (no feedback is included).

 

Currently unavailable or unsupported
As the app is still a fairly new version there are a number of areas that are yet to be developed and you may find this renders it unsuitable for your use:

Turnitin is not yet integrated into the app and as such submissions are unable to be made and due dates and feedback can’t be displayed.

Groups are currently not supported as are any tools within a group (such as a group discussion board or wiki) although thanks to the new responsive design implementation over summer these tools will open reasonably well in a web browser.

Blogs, Journals and Wikis are also not currently supported and these will open in a web browser if clicked on from within the app but it is hoped that these will be supported soon.

Standard Tests cannot be taken through the app.

If you would like any further guidance or advice in using the new app please feel free to contact the Learning Technology Development Team on ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk

PLEASE NOTE:
Blackboard Mobile Learn has now been removed from the app stores and is no longer supported by Blackboard.  If a student uninstalls the old app they will no longer be able to reinstall it.

If you are a tutor you may find the following PowerPoint slides useful to show to other members of staff or your own students.

There is also an ‘Instructor‘ app available that can be used by tutors to build certain content and can be used in delivering materials such as webinars and online lectures.

 

 

Carol Chatten
Learning Technology Development Officer

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

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

Register Enhancements:

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

Student Check In Enhancement:

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

General Interface & Data Enhancements:

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

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

We hope you enjoy the new features!

Mark WilcockMark Wilcock

Learning Technology Development Officer

Keep Calm and Submit this Christmas

LS0391-Submissions-Blog1

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

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

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

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

…advice on where to submit your work

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

…three web browsers

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

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

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

 

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

… (twenty) four hours

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

 

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

… five UniSkills packages!

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

submission tools

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

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

 

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

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

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Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer