Learning Edge Upgrade 20-21 July 2014 – What’s coming this summer

See Whats Better

The summer is on the horizon, bringing with it not only better weather but a better Learning Edge too! We are currently working with Blackboard to introduce a number of new features which will improve your experience and use of Learning Edge.

The upgrade will introduce exciting innovations as well as improvements to core capabilities, some of which are detailed below:

 

Student Preview

This new tool will enable you to quickly view and verify the design of your course Studetn_Preview_Iconcontent and course navigation from the perspective of a student. This means that you will no longer need to manage the creation and enrollment of test student accounts.

Anonymous and Delegated Grading

Anon_Grading_DelWith the Blackboard assignment tool you will be able to grade anonymously and delegate grading responsibilities to other members of staff.

Social Tools and Profiles

Learning gets social

With upgraded social learning tools including calendars, social spaces and improved cloud profiles, both students and staff can stay connected inside the traditional Virtual Learning Environment.

‘My Blackboard’ also provides a convenient one stop location for frequently used tools, such as My Grades for students and the Retention Center for staff.

 

Summer Upgrade Pre-Testing

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In order for us to prepare for the upgrade, we will be carrying out extensive testing throughout May, June and July. The important dates for you to make a note of are the 27th May and 23rd June, as LTD team will be unavailable for general queries.

You can still email us on ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk with anything urgent, but LS help desk will be able to assist you on 01695 584286 with your general enquiries.

You are welcome to sign up to the Upgrade Cohort (Service Pack April 2014 upgrade) if you would like to keep updated with developments of the new upgrade: http://bbbb.blackboard.com/LP=35

And the final important date is…

Following successful testing the current target date for the upgrade is July 20th / 21st.

As always, any questions on whats happening please contact LTD Support on 01695 650754 or email ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk.

JL_Blog

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John (LTDSO) & Nina (LTDOC)

Learning Edge Upgrade Webinar: “Play it again, Sam”

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We wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who attended the Blackboard VLE Summer Upgrade webinar yesterday. We hope it met your expectations and that you came away with a better understanding of the new Blackboard tools at your disposal, as well as the benefits you can gain from the feature improvements.

As I mentioned during the webinar, the session is now available for everyone to watch again.  You have 2 options to replay the session, the first being YouTube:

http://youtu.be/AXCvjvcnuL8

Secondly, you can click on the following URL you access the entire session via Blackboard Collaborate:

http://tinyurl.com/LTDstaffdevSP12

Feel free to get in touch with us at ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk if you have any questions or would simply like to know more about the upgrade.

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Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer

Learning Edge Upgrade: Now Completed

Upgrade Sucess

The scheduled Leaning Edge Blackboard 9.1 upgrade has been completed successfully and you can now login as normal.

As well as ensuring the highest level of performance and stability this upgrade will ensure Edge Hill staff and students have access to a modern feature rich system. We hope you like it!

As with any upgrade, you may find some unexpected behaviour– if you do spot any problems please let us know asap so we can investigate and get them resolved for you.

Where can you learn more?

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the LTD team are facilitating an online webinar (via Collaborate) at 2.30pm on Wednesday 24th July. This session will introduce you to what’s new, provide you with an opportunity to ask questions and help you explore where and how to make the most of the new improved system.

Please Feedback

Take your time to explore the upgraded system and let us know what you think.

Contact the Learning Technology Development team to share any queries or comments you have regarding the upgrade or the online webinar– leave a comment below, email ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk or call 01695 650754.

Meg Juss, Learning Technology Development Manager

Meg Juss
Learning Technology Development Manager

Learning Services: Learning Technology Development Division

Blackboard Exemplary Course Program 2013 Update: No sour grapes…really!

We Can Do It

Blackboard Exemplary Course Program 2013 Update: This year I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating closely with my colleagues to support and oversee our institutions’ debut submission of courses to the 2013 Blackboard Exemplary Course Program (ECP). As mentioned in my first ECP post back in January, the aim of the program is to support the use of e-Learning technology more effectively by identifying and disseminating best practices for designing engaging online courses.

Prior to the 2013 program commencing I was aware that some of our academics were considering the idea of submitting their courses for review, so with some internal promotion and the introduction to the Blackboard ECP rubric, we set out to inspire our academics to take the plunge and commit to submitting their courses.

My first step was to advise our academics to self-evaluate their own courses using the very comprehensive ECP rubric. The ECP rubric recommends best practices and gave our tutors the ability to effectively asses the standard of their course and reveal areas of strength as well as identifying any weaknesses where their design may have fallen short. Make no mistake, this is not something to be taken lightly as the ECP rubric criteria covers areas such as course design, interaction, collaboration, assessment and learner support. The immediate benefits where obvious; for our academics, this was a valuable and rare opportunity to undertake a reflective, self-evaluation of their course. By using the rubric to review our course submissions, it has also internally enriched our institutions baseline courses, which in return has given our students an improved learning experience.

Unfortunately this year we didn’t win an ECP award, but we did come close by collecting the ‘Exemplary’ stamp of approval on a number of key areas from the majority of the reviewers.  Each one of our submitted courses received highly detailed, peer-reviewed feedback once the program had finished.  This feedback was prepared by a panel of reviewers who volunteer their time and expertise to review our courses against the ECP rubric and the evidence we provided.  Each of the comments we received where a well-informed snapshot of each course and has provided an invaluable perspective and ideas for improvement.

I’ve already begun preparing myself to support next year’s submissions by enrolling on the July 2013 Blackboard Exemplary Course Cohort to gain more insight on the areas that need further development.   With new ideas and lessons to be learnt from the upcoming Exemplary Course Cohort and the development of elements from our ECP 2013 feedback, we will return to showcase even stronger examples of exemplary courses from Edge Hill University in 2014.

If you would like to participate in next year’s Blackboard ECP program, I highly recommend you also enrol on the July 2013 Exemplary Course Cohort (four week online course) to gain additional information on its process as well as its requirements.

Look out for more updates throughout the coming months and of course, feel free to get in touch with me at wilcockm@edgehill.ac.uk if you have any questions or would simply like to know more.

Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer

Introducing Service Pack 12: A look at what’s next for Learning Edge – July 2013 upgrade

Whats-New-in-SP12-for-EducatorsOver the years, there have been significant system upgrades implemented to Learning Edge (Blackboard 9.1) which have added many new features as well as an improved overall user experience. The next upgrade to Learning Edge is scheduled for July 21st-22nd, 2013, this is when the system will be unavailable for a short time – However we will continue to update you with further information closer to the time.

Once the work is complete, you will be able to log in as normal but will notice a number of enhancements.This upgrade will provide an even more user friendly and modern experience for students and staff alike. Many existing features have been improved and some exciting new features added to make the user experience more efficient.

The following is a quick overview of the tools* that you can expect to be using soon:

*Subject to change and agreement of social ‘cloud’ policy and testing.

Global Navigation

The new Global Navigation feature refers to the set of links that appears at the very top right of the Blackboard Learn frame. This set of links has been streamlined and becomes the entry point to My Blackboard and social learning tools. Access points to critical academic information are organised in one place to provide a consistent, quick, and easy way to find information.

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My Blackboard

The new My Blackboard feature provides information from across Learning Edge for users. Users access My Blackboard via the new Global Navigation Menu at the top of the screen. My Blackboard has a navigation panel that quickly connects to the new My Blackboard tools – Profile, Updates, People, and Posts – as well as courses, organisations, and settings.

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Discussions

With this enhancement, Blackboard have thoroughly revamped the look and feel of this tool. The first thing you’ll notice are the large avatars or profile pictures, so it’s a lot easier to identify tutors or students. And now you can see all threads on one page, but if this gets overwhelming, you have the ability to collapse and expand them.

Something you’ll all like is this new post first feature. If used, this will force students to write their own posts before seeing what their peers have written to encourage critical and original thinking.

Highlights include:

  • All posts on one page: The entire discussion thread appears on a single page, thereby maintaining the context of posts and replies to one another.
  • Avatars:  The user profile avatars are more prominent in the new Discussions.
  • Conditional highlighting of instructors’ posts: It is easier for students to find posts from instructors in a sea of other posts.
  • Respond to posts inline: When clicking “Reply”, the content editor appears in the context of the discussion so as not to disrupt the flow of the user.  The full content editor is available for the user to write a reply. When finished, submitting the post adds it directly into the page without losing context.

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Inline Assignment Grading

Inline Assignment Grading is a revision to the workflow for grading submissions via the Assignment tool. Now instead of downloading the files that you need to view, edit and grade, you can view the Word, Excel, PPT docs or PDFs “inline” within Learning Edge.   Instead of downloading student-submitted files to view or edit, you will now be able to view student-submitted files “inline,” i.e. in the web browser, without requiring any plugins, applets, or client-side applications.

Additionally, annotation tools will be made available as part of the inline viewer, enabling tutors to provide feedback including comments, highlights, and even drawings/annotations directly on the inline view of the document.

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Retention Center

The brand new Retention Center provides an easy-to-use data visualisation and pre-configured rules for identifying at-risk students in a course. Because it requires no set up on the part of the tutor or administrator, it automatically calls out students who may need the tutor’s attention, making it easy for tutors to catch and respond to risk factors quickly, while there is time to help the at-risk students succeed in the course.

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New Calendar

With this new calendar, you can spend less time organising your calendar and more time doing what’s on it. Consolidate your course items into this easy-to-use calendar. Add events, drag and drop to change due dates, input course reminders.

Students and tutors can view items that are past due, due today, or due this week by navigating to the overview capability in My Blackboard. From the image below you can see that it’s much more modern, in terms of both look and functionality.

You can select views (month, week, and day) and color-code the events to differentiate courses and personal items. Items with due dates automatically appear on the new Learning Edge calendar.  If you change a due date within a course area, the calendar gets updated for students as well.

Calendar events may be viewed at once– or filtered to show only the desired mix of class and personal events. Users can select which calendars to view, ranging from personal to institution to individual course listings.  These calendar items can also be exported via an iCal feed to Outlook, Google or other 3rd party calendars.

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Assessment Item Analysis

The new Item Analysis provides statistics on overall test performance and on individual test questions. This data helps faculty recognise questions that might not adequately discriminate between students who understand the material and those who do not. Faculty can use this information to improve questions for future tests or to adjust marks on current attempts. Ineffective or misleading questions are identified easily, corrected in the Test Canvas, and are re-graded automatically.

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We hope you like the look of these new features and would be happy to hear your thoughts via the comments section below.

If you have any queries regarding this upgrade please don’t hesitate to contact the Learning Technology Development team on 01695 650754 or via ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk

 

Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer

 

 

What’s on the Menu?

This morning we’ve implemented a couple of features to the side menu of our blog.  The additions should make it easier for you to connect to our social media pages and to keep yourself up to date with any happenings on Learning Edge.

Organised around two areas (see picture below) we have implemented a ‘Social Media’ area and a ‘Learning Edge Status Reports’ RSS feed to the blog area.

Learning Edge Blog Update

The RSS feed will list the last six reports from our Learning Edge Status Reports Blog; this should save you from having to switch between the two pages in the long term. Additionally from the Social Media area, if you do have a Twitter account why not follow us (Learning Technology Development) and the status of Learning Edge and keep up to date with the latest news and event information.

 

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Mark Wilcock
Learning Technology Development Officer

 

Learning Edge Maintenance: System Unavailable Overnight – 29th & 30th December

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Learning Edge, Blackboard Learn (version 9.1.7) will be unavailable overnight (from midnight to 8:00 a.m) on the 29th and 30th of December while Blackboard Managed Hosting carry out essential maintenance in the AMS datacenter. This proactive maintenance will ensure the highest level of network performance and stability.

The Blackboard engineers hope to complete the work within the first maintenance window (29th December) but have reserved the second window (30th December) to ensure they can complete the maintenance without any unscheduled disruption.

Please note this work is in addition to the Learning Edge Upgrade which took place between 19th and 21st December.

We apologise for the inconvenience this set of maintenance windows may cause to you.

If you have any queries regarding this work please don’t hesitate to contact the Learning Technology Development team on 01695 650754 or via ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk

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Meg Juss, Learning Technology Development Divisional Coordinator.

Learning Edge Upgrade: System Unavailable – 19th-21st December

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Learning Edge (Blackboard 9.1) will be unavailable from 21:30 pm on Monday 19th December to 12:00 pm (midday) on Wednesday 21st December whilst the system is upgraded.

This work will introduce several fixes to minor bugs and glitches and provide you with a more stable, reliable and feature rich system.

For more information about the improvements this upgrade will bring please read our briefing note:  IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR STAFF

Please use this advance notice to ensure you and your students are prepared for this service disruption – we advise you to download any information required during this period, before the 19th December.

If you have any queries regarding this upgrade please don’t hesitate to contact the Learning Technology Development team on 01695 650754 or via ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk

Megan Juss Profile Picture

Meg Juss, Learning Technology Development Divisional Coordinator.