technology

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

Background

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

Background

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.

 

 

 

 

 

12 Apps of Christmas

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Welcome

What is the 12 Apps of Christmas?
The 12 Apps initiative was created and first run by Regent’s University London in December 2014. The aim was to provide participants with a short online continuing professional development giving participants a daily opportunity to explore a mobile app that has been recommended by one of the 12 Apps contributors.

How the 12 Apps of Christmas work?
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday starting the 20th of November, a post is published at 10am on the 12 Apps of Christmas course page.
The post will contain suggestions of how to use that days app and how it might work effectively for you in a professional/learning/teaching context. Each post contains short task to help you get started with the app. The tasks take no more than ten minutes a day, although there is an optional ‘Further Tasks’, which takes more time and helps you to explore other potential uses.

Who is it for?
This online course is also open to anyone that has an interest in new technologies and would like to explore mobile apps. This online course is geared towards all University of Limerick staff that have an interest in using new technologies in their working context.

The Twitter hashtag #UL12apps during the course. After the live course, the materials will be left up to refer back to later.

On successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Reflect on how apps can be used within their learning/teaching/professional context.
  • Discuss opportunities and challenges with their peers on the use of new mobile technologies.
  • Trial a specific app for learning/teaching/research in their own context based on an informed rationale.

How to take part

Go to the following link http://bit.ly/2h9bX5r and fill in your account details. Once you have created your Sulis (Learning Management System) login you can join the 12 Apps of Christmas site by going to the following link https://tinyurl.com/ydb5sn3k.