Taking out the Cache

Every now and again its a good idea to clear your cache. This applies to browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome), operating system temporary files and even the JAVA cache.

Following the recent JAVA 7 update 51 release (14th January 2014) some users who downloaded and installed the update may now need to clear their JAVA cache in order to use some of the Blackboard Tools (Multiple File Upload, Virtual Classroom and Chat).

To clear your JAVA cache follow these instructions:

(Please note these instructions are a guide only and are targeted for Windows 7 with JAVA 7 update 51)

1. Click on the start button and search for ‘Configure Java’.

2. Select the Configure Java icon under the Programs section:

temp

3. In the Java Control Panel, choose the Settings button in the Temporary Internet Files section:

Java_Control_Panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. In the Temporary Files Settings panel Choose the Delete Files button.

Java_Temp_Files

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delete_Java_Temp_Files

 

5. In the Delete Files and Applications panel make sure all options are selected and click OK.

The process can take a few minuets, but once complete the panel will close and you can click OK on the remaining dialog boxes.

 

For further specific information about Blackboard 9.1 with JAVA 7 update 51, please see here.

We hope you find this guide useful and if you have any further questions regarding Blackboard 9.1 and JAVA 7 update 51 please email the LTD Team – LTDSupport@edgehill.ac.uk

JL_Blog

 

 

 

 

 

John Langford

Learning Technology Development Systems Officer

 

Learning Edge Gets Community Engagement

Following the recent acquisition (Oct 2013) of Blackboard Community Engagement, an add on to our current Blackboard Learn 9.1 platform, Learning Services will be working with staff across the university to improve the design and functionality of Learning Edge.

This screencast showcases how the new features, which include personalised Tabs, Panels and Organisations, could be developed to enhance our Learning Edge facilities, for current and prospective students, staff, alumni and other guests.

Community Pre-Login Mock UpClick the image above to watch a 5 minute YouTube video tour.

Learning Technology Development will be holding face-to-face and live online web-conference demonstrations over the next few weeks. In addition discussions will take place at Faculty TEL Steering Groups and the team hope to attend team meetings and speak with interested individuals about the potential of Community.

If you would like to arrange a meeting to discuss how your department could benefit from these new Community features, please speak with your faculty Learning Technologist directly or email ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk.

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

A collaborative experience that engages everyone, every time, everywhere

It is now possible to engage with your students wherever they are. Keep them engaged offering them collaborative and interactive activities and a learning experience. This can be done all through the new platform Blackboard Collaborate.

Blackboard Collaborate Overview

It allows you to create virtual classrooms to deliver presentations, show videos, show websites, communicate synchronously in real time, and engage students in activities that can be presented online.

Mobile support is also available so students can access the online session through an iPhone or an iPad allowing them to access the session wherever they maybe.

iPad

iPhone

 

 

 

 

 

The sessions can also be recorded to allow students to view the recording again and again.

Below is a link to a demonstration by a Blackboard Collaborate Advisor that gives further information on Blackboard Collaborate and the different ways it can be used.

Blackboard Collaborate Demonstration

If you have any questions or would like to find out more information you can contact me directly on 01695 650755 or irfan.mulla@edgehill.ac.uk

Irfan Mulla

 

 

 

 

 

Irfan Mulla

Learning Technology Development Officer (LTD)

 

 

Podcasting with Campus Pack

It is now possible to create podcasts within Learning Edge using the Campus Pack podcast tool.

So exactly what is a podcast?

A podcast is a type of digital media consisting of an episodic series of files (either audio or video) subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication (RSS Feeds)

Podcasting lets you automatically receive the latest episode of your chosen programme as soon as it’s available. With podcasts you can subscribe to RSS feeds allowing the files come to you rather than searching for the files

How can it be used in education?

  • To record lectures for revision purposes, special events, or flexible delivery to those at a distance
  • To provide a recap or précis of the week’s activities
  • Interviews with subject specialists
  • Assisting those with different learning styles
  • Listening/pronunciation practice for certain discipline e.g. language learning, phonetics
  • Providing feedback to groups on assessment
  • Student activities

Creating podcasts using Campus Pack

Podcasting: Skills and Techniques

Want to findout more about the podcasting tool?  Contact the Learning Technology Development Team on: 01695 650 754 (or internal 7754)

Irfan Mulla

Learning Technologist

Blackboard 9.1 Journal Tool – Reflections in Writing.

Girl taking notes in class
JOURNAL

Communication – Blackboard 9.1 offers new opportunities for using social communication tools including Journals, blogs and wikis.  The main difference between a blog and a journal is that blogs tend to be used for group debate and to comment, and the Journal tool for individual reflection.  Journals offer a personal writing space for self-reflection and private communication with the instructor, whereas blogs and wikis tend to be used as collaborative and social tools.

Private Journal – The Journal’s uses include reflection on personal growth throughout the semester, record things learned on a field trip, a place for expressing yourself, documenting clinical experiences, and points that are private.

Public Journal –Although journals offer a private place of communication between student and instructor, they can also be made for sharing with the rest of the group so that others in the group are able to read the journal, but they cannot comment on it.

Click on the video link for help creating a Journal link in Blackboard 9.1                    Video Guide – Creating a Journal for staff

Want to findout more about the Journal tool?  Contact the Learning Technology Development Team on: 01695 650 754 (or internal 7754)

Martin Baxter (Learning Technology Development)

Creating Accessible Content

Creating accessible content is an important aspect to consider when putting content in Learning Edge. It is important to make sure information is easily available to everybody.

By using a simple tool from the Web to create content and using this in Learning Edge it can transform your course pages.

The tool can be found on the Web and it is a simple HTML Editor Tool which allows you to customise your content and differentiate content using colour schemes.

There are many HTML tools available but the one that has proved to be the most useful is shown below

HTML Editor

Example of content created using the HTML tool 

Image 3

Colour coding the text allows the students to differentiate different areas such as readings, links to audio files, videos, discussions etc. and makes it easy for them to access the information.

Readings are linked directly to the library catalogue for easy access and by using the Learning Module option from Learning Edge this allows for easy navigation by providing a contents area.

If you would like to find out more information on how you could use to this tool to enhance your course pages contact the Learning Development Team on 01695 650 754 (or internal 7754)

Irfan Mulla
Learning Technologist

LTD’s Good Practice Guides

Over 30 years of combined experience working with academic and administrative staff have been distilled into the many Learning Technology guides and other resources that now reside in the Learning Services Wiki.  These guides are aimed at saving you time and enhancing the student experience – ensuring a consistent quality and making your courses more engaging.  The wiki uses calendars accessed via the Administration and Building & Teaching tabs that detail what you may be working on at the various parts of the course lifecycle.

Here are three that have had the most impact on the staff and student experience:

Learning Edge: Good Practice in Building and Teaching your Course

This document contains some suggestions on how to enhance the educational value of your course, based on existing good practice and feedback from our Student eLearning Surveys.

 

 

Quick guide: Enrolling Staff from within a Course

Did you know that you can enroll colleagues as instructors into any course that you are an instructor on?  This single sheet guide shows you how this is done.

Quick Guide: Diagnosing Student Access Issues

This guide looks at some of the common problems that students may report when trying to access Learning Edge for the first time (or as a returning student).

 

The three documents above form part of a wealth of guides and resources accessed via calendars of activities.  We invite you to spend a few minutes browsing these calendars (from the Administration and Building & Teaching tabs), perhaps looking at the entries for this time of year – all focusing on enhancing the student experience.

David Callaghan
Learning Technologist
Katherine Richardson
LTD Operations Co-ordinator

 


 

 

What’s on your Learning Edge wish list? Extending the functionality of Blackboard with Building Blocks

There are a vast number of tools and features available in Blackboard, but I’m sure you will agree, there are some things you can’t do, at least not yet! The great thing though about Blackboard is that through Building Blocks we can build more functionality into the system.

Perhaps you would like new features which help you manage your course, such as a way to quickly check all web links in a module or a way to maintain an online attendance register. Maybe there are features which you know would help your students, such as a tutorial sign-up sheet or a way for them to send files to their eReader. What other features would appear on your ‘wish list’?

Building the Blocks

To help you come up with some ideas, let’s talk a little bit more about what Building Blocks are and how they work.

Building Blocks essentially allow third-party developers to create customisations and extensions for Blackboard Learn through open APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and web services. The types of building block that can be developed are:

  • Course Tool
  • Course Control
  • Group Tool
  • System Tool
  • User Tool
  • Content Type
  • Module

There are already a range of third party extensions available through Blackboard Extensions that we can try, including tools developed by other HE institutions. Also, we can now explore the viability of new in-house custom developments too!

One such development I recently started was the ‘Course Availability Per User’ system tool – Edge Hill University’s first Building Block! The aim of this Building Block is to assist administration of Blackboard by detailing a selected user’s course enrolments and respective availability.

Building Blocks can be as simple as querying data or as complex as connectors for synchronising data to externally hosted services e.g. Campus Pack. They are developed using a combination of the JDK (Java Development Kit), Building Block APIs and an IDE (Integrated Development Environment).

Developers use IDEs such as Eclipse and NetBeans to assist with the creation of Dynamic Web Applications. A Building Block is a Dynamic Web Application with the addition of one specific file: bb-manifest.xml. This file sets the properties that determine how the Building Block will behave and interact with the Blackboard 9.1 environment. Once the development of the building block is complete it is exported as a .WAR (Web Archive File) file and uploaded into Blackboard.

Community Resources

Edugarage provides a wealth of developer documentation, sample code/tools and user discussion to assist developers with creating building blocks.

Oscelot Projects is another great resource for open source eLearning solutions, developer related collaboration and code/tools.  Take a look at their web pages to see what others are currently developing.

Have your say

So, have you got any ideas? What course tools are missing? What functionality would be really useful for online group work? What could improve your course management or administration?

We’ve already added Building Blocks such as ‘Add Test Student’ and the ‘Paste from Word Mashup’ in response to requests from staff and we’d like to know what you would most value next. Feel free to suggest ideas and leave a comment. We can’t promise to add it all but we can certainly try!

 

 

 

 

John Langford
Learning Technology Systems Officer

What technologies did you get for Christmas?

Many of you lucky folks will have been fortunate enough to have received amazing new personal technologies or tools this Christmas and we’d love to hear about what you’ve got and how you’re using them in your studies, or for your teaching. You can use the comments box below to tell us all about how you’re using your iPods and Kindles, your digital recorders, tablets and favourite apps!

For those of us (myself included) that didn’t get a shiny new iPad2, I thought I’d highlight some of the great technologies we’ve now all got access to through Learning Edge. After all, Learning Edge got lots of really exciting new tools from Santa too!

Learning Edge is more than just Blackboard; it includes a whole range of teaching and learning systems. The list is long and it’s growing … this Guide to Learning Edge gives you a quick overview of all the facilities that are currently included, and remember, this lists only the core online technologies you have at your disposal – we’ll talk about classroom technologies, portable devices, web tools and apps another time!

Just before the New Year we introduced a number of new features to Learning Edge when we updated Blackboard Learn 9.1 to Service Pack 7, including enhancements to the Grade Centre, Interactive Rubrics and Timed Assessments.  A student Blog now, for instance, might be set to only appear in ‘Needs Grading’ status after a student has made three posts, rather than with each individual post.

We’ve also added additional functionality with Building Blocks such as, ‘Blackboard Mobile Learn’, ‘Paste From Word’ and ‘Add Test Student’.

Log In ScreenshotBLACKBOARD MOBILE LEARN
The Mobile Learn app provides quick and easy access to courses in Learning Edge.

For staff and student guides on getting the most from the Blackboard Mobile Learn app, visit the eShare Mobile Collection.  Here, you will find information on downloading the app to your device, setting the course notifications you want to recieve on the go and, for teaching staff, information about building mobile friendly courses.

 

Paste From WordPASTE FROM WORD
The Paste From Word mashup is another useful enhancment for both staff and students as it helps overcome formatting problems when copying and pasting text from Microsoft Word into the Blackboard visual textbox editor (VTBE). For a guide on using this functionality visit the eShare Learning Edge: Paste From Word Guide.

ADD TEST STUDENT
For staff wanting to  view their courses as their students see them, the Add Test Student enhancment is perfect. To learn more about using this functionality visit the eShare Learning Edge: Add Test Student Guide.

Campus Pack Tools ScreenshotCAMPUS PACK
Finally, in addition to all this, we’ve got a brand new ePortfolio system called Campus Pack!

Campus Pack will provide students and staff with their own personal online portfolio space within Learning Edge, with facilities such as blogs, journals, podcasts and wikis as well as PDP, CV and other portfolio template solutions. Tutors will also be able to embed Campus Pack content within Blackboard course areas.

We’ll be blogging about Campus Pack a lot more in the coming weeks but if you are interested in learning more about this tool, there is an online webinar running on Monday 16th January at 3pm 2:30-3:30pm. The webinar is aimed at staff involved in Campus Pack projects this term and next, but this is an open session, and anyone (staff or student) who is interested is welcome to join.

Email ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk and the webinar joining instructions will be provided.

I hope you’re making the most of all these fantasic technologies at your finger tips – remember if you need any help at all, Learning Technology Development are here to help.

Megan Juss Profile Picture

Meg Juss
Learning Technology Development Divisional Co-ordinator