Bespoke Training

At the Technology Enhanced Learning unit we run a range of training workshops for academic staff. However, we understand that sometimes you might like to attend but can’t make the particular time on offer. Sometimes you might need some training on an area not covered in our workshops.

If either of these apply to you, you are welcome to request one-to-one or small group training from one of our Academic Learning Technologists. This can cover topics from our workshops, or be tailored to your individual requirements. We also can arrange team-based workshops by request.

Systems that we support:

  • Blackboard
  • Turnitin
  • Pebblepad
  • Camtasia
  • Collaborate Virtual Classroom
  • Medial for video assessment

Topics that we can cover:

  • Learning design
  • Mobile and blended learning
  • Online assessment
  • Online accessibility

If you are interested, please email TEL@worc.ac.uk with details of your training needs and we will get back to you.

Autumn Workshops

The Technology Enhanced Learning Unit will be running a series of workshops throughout the Autumn and into the new year to help staff hone their TEL skills.

As well as many of the old favourites, there will be new courses on offer covering advanced Turnitin functions for more confident users, and using Turnitin for student peer assessment.

The full course details are:

  • Camtasia – 06/11/2019, 14:00 – 15:45, EEG031 PC. Tutor: Pete Thornton
  • Blackboard made simple – 08/11/2019, 09:45 – 11:15, EE1022 PC. Tutor: Pete Thornton
  • Using quizzes, tests and surveys in Blackboard – 13/11/2019, 14:15 – 15:45, EE1022 PC. Tutor: Pete Thornton
  • Designing Accessible Blackboard Courses – 22/11/2019, 10:00 – 12:15, EEG031 PC. Tutor: Dave Wager
  • Setting up and Using Turnitin Online Assignments – 28/11/2019, 14:00 – 15:30, EEG031 PC. Tutor: Nisha Sharif
  • Running an Online Session in Collaborate – 05/12/2019, 10:30 – 11:45, online session. Tutor: Nisha Sharif
  • Using Blackboard for Blended and Mobile Learning – 06/12/2019, 10:00 – 12:00, EE2010. Tutor: Libby Symonds
  • Advanced Turnitin – 12/12/2019, 10:45 – 12:15, EEG031 PC. Tutor: Libby Symonds
  • Peer Mark for Turnitin – 10/01/2020, 10:00 – 12:15, EE1022. Tutor: Dave Wager

Please book places via the Staff Development Workshops page.

Join the TEL Ideas Exchange

The TEL Ideas Exchange group brings together colleagues from all schools with an interest in technology enhanced learning to promote and disseminate best practice. After a very successful initial launch by invitation in May, we are are now extending the opportunity to all academic colleagues to participate in the group.

Newsletters

There is another meeting coming up in November. If you are interested in taking part, please email TEL@worc.ac.uk and we will provide full details.

Finding your Feet with Files

Filing. I know. Snoozefest right? But getting to know the Files area on your Blackboard modules can be incredibly useful. Bear with me.

Locating the Files Area

The files area can be found in the side menu under Course Management. Click on Files and then on the module code (TEST2_BRIA1 in the image below).

Files area located in side menu

This will take you into the files area, which shows all uploaded documents and folders in a list. By clicking on any of the headings you can sort files by this criteria. Clicking once will sort in ascending order. Clicking twice will sort by descending order. This function is particularly useful for viewing all files of a certain type (e.g. identifying all of the PowerPoint files), or for locating the most recently edited or largest documents.

Files list

Removing Unwanted Files

Each Blackboard course area is set up with a standard 500MB of storage space. It is a good idea to regularly audit the files stored on your course areas.

If you copy content over from year to year, you may end up storing files that you no longer need. You may be storing several older versions of the same document. You may even want to remove a particularly large file that is using up a lot of space and replace it with a compressed version.

This is a two step process however. First you need to remove the file from the relevant course area. If you do this, it will still remain stored on the module, taking up valuable space.

To remove files completely, you need to go to the Files area, select the unwanted files using the tick boxes and click Delete. Once you have confirmed the deletion, the file will be totally removed from the module.

Deleting a file from the file list

Be sure to perform both steps, as removing documents only from the files area will result in a broken link remaining in the content area.

Downloading Files

Often staff need to download some or all of the files from a Blackboard module. Luckily this is a simple thing to do.

  1. Go to the course files area
  2. Select the files that you require. Alternatively you can select all files by clicking the tickbox next to ‘File Type’.
  3. Select ‘Download Package’. This will download the files as a zipped folder.

From this area it is also possible to copy or move files, however, this is best to do from the content area. We will show you how to do this in our next post.

If you have any questions, please contact us at TEL@worc.ac.uk

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

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.

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.