Latest Event Updates

JISC Report: Digital Experience Insights Survey 2018

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JISC recently published their findings of an extensive survey looking at students’ digital experiences within FE and HE institutions in the UK. These findings give the sector some very useful information to help plan for future student and staff digital engagement.

37,700 students were surveyed between October 2017 and April 2018 from 83 institutions.

The survey looked at four key themes: 

  • Theme One: The Digital Lives of Learners.
  • Theme Two: Digital in the Institution
  • Theme Three: Digital at Course Level
  • Theme Four: Attitudes to Digital

A short report on the findings can be found here: JISC student experience survey notes Sept 18

The full report can be found here:

Newman, T. Beetham, H & Knight, S. (2018) Digital experience insights survey: findings from students in UK further and higher education. September 2018. Bristol: JISC.

The wizard has arrived!

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As part of the 2018 Blackboard Updates, the new process to guide you through the steps of applying a template and copying selected content to your new Blackboard site is now in place.

All 2018/19 courses will open with the wizard by default. Although it is a quick and straightforward process, we have produced this walkthrough guide and video for further information.

The wizard has been design to help with the initial course set-up. Prior to the introduction of the wizard, for each new site you would have to;

  1. Find the site and add yourself to it via the Staff tab on Blackboard
  2. Go into the new site and delete all existing menu areas
    • Each area takes four clicks to delete
  3. Go into your previous site and follow course copy, ensuring that you select all the correct options

On a basic site, apart from the time element, this would take about 45 clicks to set-up each site! To apply a new programme template at the same time would take even more time and complexity – and clicks.

The wizard will apply a template and copy selected content from a previous course (where available), and all from within the same Blackboard site – with far fewer clicks.

This new process further strengthens and develops the links between Blackboard and SITS.

This is the first iteration of the wizard, and it is hoped to develop it further over time.


Learning and Teaching Fest recordings and resources

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The annual Learning and Teaching Fest is a highlight of the University of Cumbria academic year.

The 2018 theme was ‘Learning through Assessment’ and delegates had the opportunity to reflect on good practice, take part in stimulating discussions and to recognise the outstanding contributions staff make to student success.

We started the day with an address from our DVC Academic Professor Sara De Freitas (see link below). We then moved on to our Keynote speaker, Dr Erica Morris. Erica discussed the timeline of key important assessment changes within the sector and emphasised the importance of staff/student partnerships when developing University-wide assessment initiatives (see link below).

32 papers were presented as part of the parallel sessions with representation from across the University. The student experience of assessment was a sub-theme and a number of academic staff co-presented with their students.

After the parallels Professor Pete Boyd held a plenary discussing research into Assessment in Higher Education, putting the research here at UoC into context within the sector.

The day was concluded by Jess Robinson, who summarised key points from across all the presentations. Assessment design, the use of rubrics and authentic assessment being just three.

The day was a great success and a real celebration of teaching, learning and creativity.

DVC Introduction

Click the image below to view the recording (university login required)


DVC Fest 2018



Click the image below to view the recording (university login required)

FEST Keynote 2018


Follow the link below to open a copy of the programme where you can click on some of the sessions you may have attended to view the supporting PowerPoints.

Learning & Teaching Fest Programme 2018




University of Cumbria L&T FEST 2018 VOX Pops

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The following VOXPops were recorded during a great lunchtime time break during this years Learning & Teaching Fest at our Lancaster campus. Click any of the profile photos to watch them.

The link will take you to our Medial server which requires a UoC login.

First Step to Claiming Your 2018/9 Blackboard Sites is Now Ready

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As part of the new automated process for Blackboard site creation in 2018/9, you will need to engage with the following process as we have been reporting.

To ensure you get your Blackboard site and are identified as the  module lead on SITS you will need to check if the data is correct on ICON.

This can be done using a new ICON screen called ‘Tutor MAV Maintenance’, please watch the following video which will walk you through the two minute process:



In Summary, on the Tutor MAV Maintenance screen you need to ensure the ‘Tutor’ field is populated and the ‘Bb Site Req?’ field is ticked. You will find further information here.

Please look out for further updates regarding availability of 2018/9 Blackboard sites.

Use “Terms” to easily identify your new courses when they arrive on Blackboard.

Collaborating Online – Webinar 12th June 2018

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Dr Amanda Chapman and Sarah Ruston go through the essentials of Collaborating Online outlining best practice and demonstrating some tools currently available at UoC to help foster an online community.

Click the image below to view the recording (university login required)

Collarboratin online thumbnail

Using Learning and Teaching Apps – Webinar 14th June 2018

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Click the image below to watch the recording of the webinar “Using Learning and Teaching Apps” which introduces the Apps available to staff, here at the University of Cumbria.

Click the image below to view the recording (university login required)

Apps Webinar


Coming Soon: A new look on Blackboard

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As we have been reporting, there are a number of changes happening to Blackboard over the summer.

One of these changes is a new, responsive theme. Responsive themes are optimised to work on different devices, scaling-down to accommodate smaller screen sizes. Access to Blackboard via portable devices, such as smartphones, is growing rapidly, and the new theme helps support this growth, whilst providing an improved experience for all users.

Example responsive design – colours likely to change


Example screenshots added July 18

To accommodate the responsive design, Blackboard no longer supports individual “Course Themes” (some examples below). Any courses that have a Course Theme applied will find that it has been reverted to the system-default design following the responsive theme application. This only applies to course design, course content is not affected.

The Course Theme selector will NOT be available following the application of the responsive theme
Current Course Theme examples. Course Themes will NOT be available following the application of the responsive theme over the summer. All courses with existing Course Themes applied will revert to the default course design.
“Before” and “After” examples of Course Theme and button removal to support the responsive theme. Screenshots added July 18

You will still be able to personalise your course using a banner on the entry page and colour on the menu. However, consider accessibility issues, and make sure there is sufficient contrast between the text and background colours.

Inclusive Learning and Teaching Resource

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NEW! A new webinar is available on the Inclusive Learning and Teaching PebblePad site.

At only 9 minutes long this webinar is an easily digestible source of information and guidance on how to further develop your practice in this area. It is a response to the changes to the Disabled Student’s Allowance which places the responsibility for meeting students’ learning needs on HEIs. It contains an opportunity for reflection on your and your department’s current practice and links to a range of sources to use in your teaching. Click the image below to go straight to the page.

PebblePad visit to the University of Cumbria

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On Weds 25th April, we enjoyed a visit from our PebblePad representatives: Debbie Holmes, Sarah Copeland and Sarah Chesney.

First slide

We had asked them specifically to come and talk to our guests about how PebblePad can be used to deliver Apprenticeship requirements but also to generally speak about ways in which this system could be used to get the best out of students, no matter what they are studying.

With degree apprenticeships, there are usually several parties involved in the process – the student, the university tutor, workplace mentors/coaches, PLUS external verifiers (required by whichever Apprentice body is overseeing the delivery).

Debbie spoke about the work currently underway at Northumbria University where they are using PebblePad to deliver the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA).

PebblePad is used as a Personal Learning Space to capture records and reflections along the students’ learning journey, incorporating heavy use of PebblePocket (the mobile app). In the early days, this builds up users’ confidence in the system and encourages them to become more creative right from the start of their studies.

Informal capture

PebblePad is also used more formally for formative and summative work. Bespoke electronic templates have been built to suit the particular requirements of the CDMA apprenticeship at Northumbria – and in such a way as to get out the information the verifiers need. (Reporting is a way to quickly collate students’ responses to certain questions posed in electronic templates and is a brilliant (underused) feature of the system offering pie charts and nice visual touches)

PebblePad is a useful way to evidence any professional standards which need to be met, and for evidencing the number of hours spent on particular activities – both features proving very useful for apprentices.

I have to say we had a really interesting debate afterwards and the enthusiasm in the room was wonderful – thank you to all who attended. Many conversations were had; demonstrations of live work currently underway at UoC (particularly Ofsted reporting and Paramedic developments) were carried out. There were promises to move forward with the system for some, and just general food for thought for others. If anyone would like to explore the use of bespoke electronic templates to sit within PebblePocket, please let me know at

I have offered UoC to be part of an Apprenticeship Special Interest Group (SIG) which is looking to meet in the North West so I will post any future dates of meetings as soon as I know them. I have also offered UoC as a possible venue.

Forthcoming events:

  1. Health Symposium June 25th, Birmingham – a day sharing stories of PebblePad and healthcare programmes
  2. Minibash June 26th, Birmingham – a day of all things PebblePad!

£100 if you book both events so a great deal for CPD

Here is a link to the recording from the session (NB questions/demonstrations at the end have been removed). Click the image to view the video:


And finally, here is a link to the Implementation Toolkit which Debbie mentions in her presentation: for anyone designing curriculum and wish to incorporate PebblePad into their students’ learning.