Latest Event Updates

Enhancing your module Blackboard site

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AQD ran a recent webinar session “preparing and enhancing your Blackboard site” which considered the use of the Blackboard Protocols when planning your course. The session also included a quick exemplar site walkthrough

Many of the protocol areas are straightforward to apply, and can have a positive impact on the site. AQD have put together a few “quick wins” for checking and applying some of these areas.

AQD have also produced a getting started with Blackboard guide and a module checklist which could also be useful.

AQD can help support teams with their use of learning technology to enable and support learning. Please contact AQD to discuss.

Module-Site Protocol Area “Quick Win”
There is an easily located introduction to the course and/or Blackboard site Add the module aims as an item within the Module Information section of the site. This text can be expanded to include other relevant information regarding the structure and running of the module.
Staff contact information is available in its own area Ensure that up-to-date contact information is available. Include contact details for relevant support services.
Announcements are being used effectively Add announcements to alert/remind students of new topics within the course.
There is a link to the programme site on the menu Add a link to the programme site on your module’s menu – ensuring that the programme site is active and up-to-date.
There is an Assessment menu item, with information and submission points Add assessment criteria and learning outcomes to the assessment area.
Learning Outcomes are being displayed around the site (outside of the module guide) Copy the learning outcomes from the module handbook and paste them as an item in the Module Information area, and also add them to other relevant sections, such as the assessment area.
The module handbook is available Ensure that the current module handbook is within the Module Information area of the site. The document needs to be in a format that students can easily open and access, such as PDF.
There is a working reading-list link Add the relevant reading list link to your site’s menu. Please contact Information Services Library staff if you need help with creating/managing your reading list
An appropriate use of .pdf Check the files that are located on the site; many file types (such as Word and PowerPoint) can easily be converted to PDF which can then be uploaded onto the site.

For the latest guidance for adding library resources to Blackboard, please see the “making sure that you comply with copyright for library resources and reading and resource lists” section of this page

Action Research using problem-based learning to increase participation in discussion forums on Blackboard

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Here is the latest PIP presentation held on Tuesday 13th March 2018.

The session generated discussion on how staff could make discussions boards more appealing to use in the future. Title :Action Research using problem-based learning to increase participation in discussion forums on Blackboard. Led by Tania Hopley HPSS.

The PowerPoint presentation can be viewed by clicking on the image above, or here.

CASE STUDIES SERIES: Edina Kulenovic, Senior Lecturer, Education

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The Education faculty had been using large Blackboard programme sites which presented a number of issues for students, and staff.

On a large programme site with multiple cohorts enrolled, any announcement sent out would be received by all students and therefore irrelevant to many and when marking students work, the numerous Turnitin submissions would make it hard for staff and externals to find and review.

By using a module site for teaching, communication is much more targeted, reading lists can be deployed and the management by staff is much more efficient. The module can also be tailored by the individual tutors in terms of themes, banners layout etc.

Edina Kulenovic from our London campus recently highlighted some of the positives the staff have found with their move to module sites.


We have found that using Blackboard Module sites is easier and more time efficient than the old, large Programme site. One of the big advantages is that both the lecturers and students are automatically enrolled into all new sites.

In addition, accessing the individual sites is quicker.

The option of changing the module specific sites by changing the colour schemes or banners and personalising the site is welcome too.

The announcements were often sent to all users, but now they are sent to specific groups of students or a specific site. Module leaders and lecturers now know where to post resources and announcements.

Marking has become easier, as both the lecturers and External Examiners found it difficult to find work to mark in the old site.

The new Blackboard app is most welcome too, for quick access and information.


Lecturers had to get used to having a long list of sites on their Blackboard My Institution page.

A previous Case Study regarding the move from Programme to Module sites, was also published by Emma Moore, BSc (Hons) Nursing Delivery here.

BOS is changing its name

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The Bristol Online Surveys (BOS) service migrated to Jisc in October 2017.

Jisc has recently announced that the service name, and site branding, will shortly start to change from “BOS” to “online surveys”, with all changes being completed by the summer (2018).

See their website for further details.

iLead iLearn Webinar Series – Your Role as a Module Leader.2nd Febuary 2018

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This webinar looks at your role as a module leader and aims to be a helpful resource for existing module leaders and those who may be taking on this role in the future. Key areas within this webinar include:

How does the University of Cumbria see this role?

How does this role integrate with other academic roles and responsibilities?

What on-going help and support is there?

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



iLead iLearn Webinar Series – Adding Digital Interaction with Blackboard Tests and Quizzes, 1st February 2018

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The session began with an overview of how Blackboard Tests and Quizzes can enhance your Blackboard site and help you to evaluate learning, encourage self-assessment and gauge student progress.

Included in the webinar was a demonstration, from both the instructor and student perspective, of a pre-built quiz with questions including examples of multiple choice, jumbled sentence, hot spot, matching, multiple answer, fill the blank, opinion scale, ordering and true/false.  We then looked at completion of the test, instant feedback the student received and how staff can support/feedback through grade centre.

We then moved on to build an example in Blackboard of how to create a test, add questions and deploy to your students.  This information is available to help you create your own in our guide to Blackboard Tests and Quizzes.

The session ended with a demonstration of how you can easily transform Word documents containing questions into Blackboard readable text and import into Blackboard.

Anyone interested in using this functionality is encouraged to contact


iLead iLearn Webinar Series: Managing Assessment Effectively 31st January 2018

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This session looks at ways to streamline and standardise aspects of the assessment/feedback cycle. It takes a programme/level approach to ensure consistency across and between module teams. This is followed by ways to create assessment criteria and introduces rubrics. These will be discussed in more detail in a future webinar.

The session moves on and discusses managing the assessment process for students and then for academic staff. A few suggestions concerning Academic integrity follow, introducing essay mills and bespoke ‘ghost writers’.

The concluding slide provides links to the University regulations and the level and grade descriptors.

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


iLead iLearn Webinar Series – Using PebblePad with your Students. 30th January 2018.

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The session started with a refresher of what PebblePad is and its development over the years. PebblePad is the market leader in the ePortfolio world and we have been using it at UoC since 2005. All staff and students have accounts at UoC which can be accessed from the Staff and Student hubs and even from within Blackboard itself. The system is complemented by a wonderful app, PebblePocket, which is free from Google Play and iTunes. If anyone leaves the university, they can register for an alumni account, which is free forever.

We outlined a few of the many ways PebblePad can be used: creating a wide variety of assets such as portfolios, blogs, activity logs, or by creating assets from the in-built templates provided by the system. These assets can then be shared with other PebblePad users or those without PebblePad account. Items can also be created and provided with a weblink which the intended audience can click on without the need for a username and password, so it’s also an excellent web publishing tool.

We then continued to talk about how PebblePad can be used for assessment and the various ways of getting the best out of students. Custom templates can be designed (workbooks) – usually by academic staff – which can provide the student with structured scaffolding on which to build their work. We also looked at the many ways of giving feedback – both formative and summative.

The session ended with a quick demonstration of how to easily add items to PebblePad and we had a glimpse of some good examples of templates currently in use at the University of Cumbria.

Once users login, PebblePad provide lots of in-built support via their homepage (called the Learning Centre) and we in AQD have supplemented this information with various articles and helpsheets via our TEL Knowledgebase which can be found here.

Anyone interested in using PebblePad with their students is encouraged to contact to start off interesting conversations!

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




iLead iLearn Webinar Series – Preparing and enhancing your Blackboard site. 29th January 2018

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The session started with a brief recap of how Blackboard usage has grown at the university, with the system now being classed as “mission critical”.  A move to module-site delivery and a consistent approach resulted in a set of protocols being developed, and these were shown during the webinar, along with other support available, such as a staff-facing knowledgebase.

Access to these resources can be found via the Staff tab on Blackboard, along with the route to accessing your Blackboard module site, which was demonstrated during the webinar.

The option to review and reuse existing content was highlighted, and a tour of an exemplar site showed how a course could be organised; following the protocols and making the most of the tools available.

A quick walkthrough of adding a profile picture to your site, and making a screen-recording introduction to your course then followed.

Finally, there was a quick update on some system changes that are being planned for 2018/19

A additional question asked outside of the recording was about creating a banner on Blackboard.

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

View “preparing and enhancing your Blackboard site” webinar recording (university login required)




New Blackboard Developments for 2018/19

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There are some exciting  changes coming to Blackboard for 2018/19 academic year such as:

  • Course Creation and Automated Template Application
  • System Home Page Redesign and Responsive Theme
  • Summer Upgrade

Course Creation and Automated Template Application


The Blackboard course creation route has remained largely unchanged for a number of years. Although it has worked well, it is fairly inefficient and is not robust enough to support future developments and tighter integration with SITS.

Currently, apart from student enrolments, there is a lack of two-way communication between SITS and Blackboard for our module deliveries.  All modules created in SITS (via a MAV) and completed with the correct data are automatically created in Blackboard however if the course should subsequently be removed from SITS then this is not reflected on Blackboard which has caused issues of incorrect sites being used.

Students no longer associated with the MAV are not automatically removed from the Blackboard site.

To begin working on a site a tutor needs to select a course from within Blackboard (this relies on the module site creation process above), redesign or apply the correct template and, if required, copy any existing materials across from the previous instance of the course manually.

Proposed Development

The new system will:

  • Improve and increase updates in both frequency and capability of enrolments and course creation
  • Simplify the route to consistent Blackboard sites
  • Reduce the risk of incorrect Blackboard site selection
  • Limit the number of sites created to only the ones which are actually required
  • Establish the foundation for an enhanced dynamic link between SITS and Blackboard
  • Create more accurate SITS records

Once in place, Blackboard sites will only be created when the lead tutor is assigned to the MAV within SITS, this is critical as Blackboard sites will not be created without this data.  Once the data has been entered on the MAV in SITS the Module Blackboard sites will be available to a tutor within a few hours.  Requests for “non-module” Blackboard sites will be via a form request.

The identified tutor will automatically be attached to the newly created site and will find it listed under “My Courses”, or within the “Pending” category if the tutor has enabled “Terms”.

On selection of the site you will be taken through the two-step process of attaching a template and optionally, copying selected content from a previous instance.  The basic site is now ready to add/update content and attach other tutors as required.

If you plan to deliver a course where a number of modules are taught together then the system can help you create a combined site by prompting you to identify the modules (MAVs) to be included.

Only students who are on the MAV will appear on the Blackboard site.

The new system will be in place for all 2018/19 courses.

System Home Page Redesign and Responsive Theme


System analysis, sector trends and our experience tells us that students are increasingly accessing learning materials via alternative devices year on year.  Whilst analytical data from Blackboard confirms the traditional desktop is still top of the list for access, a significant proportion of logins are from mobile and tablet devices and has been increasing for a number of years.

With our current system, display response to this wide variety of devices is difficult to predict but we are aware it can sometime cause issues, unpredictable behaviour and, on the whole, results in an inconsistent user experience.

To help mitigate this frustrating user experience, we are developing a new interface using a Responsive Web Design approach.

Responsive Web Design will make the site mobile-friendly and improve the way it looks on devices with both large and small screens as it automatically scales, reorders and prioritises content and elements to match the screen size on which it is viewed.  It also keeps images from being larger than the screen width and prevents users on mobile devices from needing to do extra work to read content.

The Blackboard App is constantly being updated, and the responsive theme will work in conjunction with the App to provide a much more seamless experience when using a mobile device.

As part of this project theme functionality, the Homepage and other “non-course” areas will be reviewed to provide a much more engaging experience.

Summer upgrade

The annual system update will take place during summer. The date has yet to be arranged, but it is likely to be at a similar time to previous years – around the end of July / early August.  Please be aware that Blackboard will be unavailable for up to 24 hours during the upgrade.

Regular and timely upgrades are necessary to ensure we have;

  • Full system support for each academic year
  • Access to the latest features and updates
  • Support for current client software – operating systems, browsers, etc.
  • Up-to-date security and performance settings

We will publish further information regarding dates and any new features of interest as soon as they become available.

Details and descriptions are subject to change, and more information will be circulated as necessary and as it becomes available.