Creating Blackboard-Friendly PowerPoint Resources

Powerpoint is one of the most useful tools in a lecturer’s arsenal and its presentations great for both delivering lectures and for creating resources that students can download from Blackboard and revisit in their own time.

However, potential problems can arise when uploading large PowerPoint files to your Blackboard sites:

  • Large files can quickly eat up the standard 500MB file allowance provided for each Blackboard site. You may find that you are soon unable to upload documents at all.
  • Large files can be difficult for students to access, especially if their internet is slow.
  • Transitions can be sluggish and images may be slow to load, even causing PowerPoint to crash.

But fear not! There are simple steps that you can take to ensure that your PowerPoint presentations are manageable.

Avoid Large Images

Images should generally be no bigger than 1920×1080 pixels and below 400 – 500kb,

We recommend using JPEGs as your file type for images when possible. These will generally have the lowest resolution. If part of your image has a transparent background, however, you will have to save the image as PNG instead. If you notice an image is exceptionally large in your presentation, right click then Save as Picture and select JPEG as the file type. Replace the existing image with your new JPEG and this may do the trick.

Compress Existing Large Images

To compress images in PowerPoint, first select a picture in your presentation. The Picture Format tab will then appear in the main PowerPoint ribbon. Navigate to it and select the Compress Pictures option:

Powerpoint Compress Pictures function

A dialogue box will then appear, presenting various options. By deselecting the Compression option ‘Apply only to this picture’, you can compress all images within the presentation in one fell swoop.

Compress Media Files

Should your presentation contain media or video files, then it’s a good idea to compress them using PowerPoint’s tool. One thing to bear in mind is that if you have embedded subtitles or an alternate audio track on your video or media file, then don’t perform the compression. You’ll lose them.

On the File tab, click Info, and then in the Media Size and Performance sectionclick Compress Media.

Compress Media settings

PowerPoint will first give you the option to convert any files so that they can be compressed. You have the option to compress to Presentation QualityInternet Quality and Low Quality. In our experience, we’ve found that Internet Quality is more often than not good enough.

The compression tool will do all videos in your presentation, cut any trimmed sections of videos (which is really handy when you don’t have access to video editing software) and show you how much you’ve reduced the file size by.

Accessibility

It is, of course, also important to ensure that any resources that students use are accessible. Microsoft provide very helpful advice on this subject at the link below.

Make your PowerPoint presentations accessible to people with disabilities

Are you September-Ready?

Say it quietly – September is just around the corner. Sorry to have to bring that up.

Do you have everything in place, ready for your students to arrive? Here is our checklist to help you to prepare.

Have you enrolled on your modules?

From this year, all staff, including module leaders will need to complete the Blackboard Access form on the logged in Staff Portal for each of their modules. Please allow 24 hours for your request to be actioned.

There is also a Blackboard Access 2018-19 form still live on the staff portal. If you are taking over a module this year, it may be useful to enrol on last year’s module.

Are you familiar with the new template?

Blackboard has a slightly new look this year. For more on this, see our previous blog post.

The sections marked out with a red stripe contain instructions for tutors and are not visible to students. These sections can be deleted once you feel you no longer need them.

If you have not yet updated your new Blackboard site the default welcome message will notify students that  their tutor has not added any content yet.

Have you transferred your content?

As ever, modules will be empty and you will need to transfer content from the 2018/19 instance of the module. Do not transfer the Assessment page as this needs to be set up afresh each year.

Instructions for transferring content can be found here.

Sharpen your skills

We run a range of courses designed to help you get the most out of Blackboard. These are published on the Staff Development Workshop page and will be advertised via our Twitter, blog and the staff newsletter.

If you require one-to-one training on a specific area of Blackboard, email us with details at TEL@worc.ac.uk

Blackboard Scheduled Downtime

We are pleased to announce that Blackboard, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment is moving to a managed hosting Software as a Service (SaaS) deployment method this August. 

There are many benefits to making this change including:

  • A reliable, scalable and robust infrastructure
  • Improved performance, giving a better user experience.
  • Zero or minimal downtime including scheduled maintenance and annual upgrades
  • Ability to deliver continuous updates including new features or enhancements
  • Quicker resolution of any technical issues, bug fixes, etc.
  • Access to facilitate new integrations

These changes will not affect the end user experience and you don’t need to do anything with your modules and organisations – these will all be transferred centrally, however there will be a period of downtime from 8pm on Friday 9th August until midday on Monday 12th August while the transition is carried out.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. If you have any issues or questions with regard to this please contact tel@worc.ac.uk.

Website: www.uwtel.co.uk | Twitter: @UW_TEL

Summer Workshops

The Technology Enhanced Learning Unit will be running a series of workshops over the summer period.

Courses covered will be a mixture of our most popular regular courses, as well as some exciting new offerings, including making Blackboard more accessible, incorporating blended learning into your delivery, and an introduction to Medial, the University’s new tool for video assessment.

Courses on offer are:

  • 04/07/2019 – Using Quizzes, Tests and Surveys in Blackboard – 14:15-16:00 EE1101
  • 11/07/2019 – Running an Online Session in Collaborate – 10:30-12:00 Virtual Classroom (link will be emailed)
  • 16/07/2019 – Using Blackboard for Blended and Mobile Learning – 09:45-11:30 EE2011
  • 16/07/2019 – Medial Video Assessment – 13:00-14:00 EEG031
  • 19/07/2019 – Blackboard Made Simple – 09:30-11:15 EEG023 (PC)
  • 19/07/2019 – Designing Accessible Courses – 10:00-12:00 EEG031
  • 23/07/2019 – Setting Up and Using Turnitin Online Assignments – 10:30-12:00 EEG031 (PC)
  • 24/07/2019 – Camtasia – 09:30-11:15 EEG031 (PC)

We will also be running sessions for ASU staff as an introduction to Blackboard and Turnitin. These sessions will give staff an overview of how the systems work and how to resolve simple issues. Workshops will be arranged directly with ASU teams.

For more information and to sign up, visit the Staff Development page.

Blackboard Rollover

2019/20 modules are now live on Blackboard! Please be aware that there are a couple of changes this year:

All staff will need to enrol on their modules this year

Due to GDPR and data security reasons, staff are not being auto-enrolled onto modules. You will need to complete a form to enrol onto your modules, which can be found on the logged in staff portal (pictured). Please get the module leader’s permission (unless, of course, you are the module leader) and allow 24 hours for access to be granted.

For more information, see our previous blog post regarding this.

Blackboard Access link on Staff Portal

Things will look a little different

The TEL Unit have developed a new Blackboard template in consultation with a focus group of university staff. Pages now include guidance and tips for staff, which students are unable to see.

Read more about the new template here.

Transferring content

As ever, modules will be empty and you will need to transfer content from the 2018/19 instance of the module. Do not transfer the Assessment page as this needs to be set up afresh each year.

Instructions for transferring content can be found here.

If you have any queries, please contanct the TEL Unit at TEL@worc.ac.uk

New Blackboard Template

Based on feedback from users, we have made some changes to the standard template for Blackboard courses to improve clarity and usability for staff and students alike. This means that when you open Blackboard in September you will see some changes to how the tabs are laid out.

The module template now contains guidance on what should go on each page.

Only staff can see this content – this is invisible to students (try the Student Preview to see this in action) so should not be edited. Once you have set up your course area for the new academic year, you can delete this information if you wish. 

The Assessment tab has been separated out so as to be more easily identified. All assignments and information relating to them should be included on this tab. For information about which would be the best system to use for your assignment, see our handy flow chart. For information about setting up assignments see our guidance on using Blackboard and Turnitin for assessment.

Don’t forget to edit the welcome message to include the name of the module leader and a contact email (see how to edit your welcome message here). 

For more advice about your Blackboard modules:

If you have any queries, contact the Technology Enhanced Learning Unit at TEL@worc.ac.uk

Staff Access to Blackboard Modules

This year we are not automatically enrolling staff – we have been rolling over staff enrolments for many years now and many users have been given access to modules they no longer teach on which can make your My Courses area very cluttered and allow unauthorised access in some cases.

This means that staff, including module leaders, will need to complete the Module Access request form which is available on the logged in staff page for each module they require access to for this year. Module leaders will be emailed to notify them of new enrolments.

This will create a little extra administration for users but this will greatly improve the security and administration in the long term.

As ever, it is a good idea to make yourself known to the module leader before enrolling as they will receive a an email notification to approve your enrolment. Please allow 24 hours for access to be granted.

Full enrolment instructions can be found here. If you have any queries, contact the Technology Enhanced Learning Unit at TEL@worc.ac.uk

VLE MOT

Do your Blackboard pages need a once-over? Does your knowledge of Turnitin need fine-tuning?

On Friday 3rd May, members of the Technology Enhanced Learning Unit, along with colleagues from Library Services, will be in St John’s main reception ready to take queries from staff about any aspect of the VLE and online resource lists.

Maybe you are having difficulties with one particular element, or would like more general advice on how to get the most out of Blackboard and online resource lists. Maybe you are interested in exploring remote learning with Collaborate, or are considering adding portfolio assessment to your course and would like to talk about PebblePad. You may want to discuss changes to electronic assessments, or maybe you would just like us to check your Blackboard pages to make sure that you are using the functionality optimally.

Whatever you would like to talk about, everyone is welcome. We will be in reception from 9:30am until 17:00, so come along and see us!

VLE Review Launch: What do You think of Blackboard?

The official review of the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) has now begun!

The first step is to assess our current system. We need to find out what staff like and don’t like about it, what could be improved and whether users would like to see the inclusion of any additional functionality. This can then be used as a benchmark to help us decide the direction of the VLE review project.

We would be extremely grateful if you could complete this short survey which should take no more than 5 minutes.

For further information about the VLE review, please see the VLE Review page of our website.

TEL Me More Seminar

The TEL Me More Seminar brought together colleagues from education and support staff to share best practice using TEL tools available at the University of Worcester.

CHAT: Congenital Heart Assessment Tool Delivered by Articulate Rise

Dr Kerry Gaskin and Gerry Beattie

This presentation demonstrated the kind of tools that the TEL team can develop for colleagues. In this instance, Articulate Rise was used to gather materials together in a package that is easily presented online for Midwifery students and NHS staff.

Any tutors who require bespoke content building are welcome to contact the TEL Unit to discuss their needs at TEL@worc.ac.uk

Watch Video

Using PebblePad to record student achievement for Sports Coaching

Glyn Harding and Nathan Caesar

This section demonstrated the capabilities of PebblePad for the creation of portfolio-based work.

The benefits of Pebblepad discussed included:

  • Unlocking students’ creativity
  • Introducing students to the fundamentals of multimedia and web design
  • Provides opportunity for continuous development and review
  • Integration with Turnitin
  • Use of free Pebblepocket smartphone app allows students to update work wherever they are

Watch Video

Engaging masters students though Blackboard Collaborate

Dr John Francis

This section covered the use of Collaborate for remote learning. Students with travel issues, conflicting engagements and even students from overseas have all benefited from John’s use of Collaborate within his masters course.

John shared some excellent tips and advice on using Collaborate, including:

  • Utilising a split screen to see both your session and your notes or resources
  • Not being afraid of silences and giving students time for reflection
  • Keeping the chat channel open for students who are reluctant to use their mic

Watch Video

Group Discussion

Delegates were invited to discuss how they were using technology within their courses and what technologies, in an ideal world, they would like to see the University invest in.

The results can be viewed on the TEL Me More Padlet page, where readers are welcome to add their own suggestions.

It was widely agreed that the event was a very way of finding out how colleagues are using technology within their courses, as well as for sharing tips and advice. If you would be interested in presenting at similar future events, please email the Technology Enhanced Learning Unit at TEL@worc.ac.uk

Gerry Kerry
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