Updates and improvements to Digital Education tools

There have been updates and improvements to many of our services over the summer, including new tools and features.

New tools – Teams, Mentimeter, H5P

  • Mentimeter is online polling software that can be used for polls, quizzes and word clouds.
  • H5P provides additional options for online quizzes and learning materials.

Re/Play

Re/Play has undergone major change over the summer.

  • Record Now replaces the Ad Hoc Recorder to enable unscheduled recording in rooms with Re/Play boxes.
  • Automated streaming can now be enabled from rooms equipped with Re/Play recording boxes – see our live streaming FAQS for more information (including how students view the stream in Blackboard).
  • Mosaic is the new tool to record teaching (replacing the Desktop Recorder). Staff can download it onto their laptops. To request Mosaic in a teaching space (eg to record in a room without a Re/Play box), please contact the IT Service desk.
  • The way that students view Re/Play content has also changed to a more user-friendly interface with a ’tiled’ view.
  • Underpinning these software changes, there has been major work updating the architecture on which the service sits to improve service performance and better support new activities such as streaming.

Blackboard

  • Improved text editor – key features include better copy-and-paste, improved editing from mobile devices, improved accessibility, display of computer code snippets, easy text wrapping around images.
  • Reusable comments bank – a new feature will allow individual markers to maintain a bank of reusable comments.

Xerte

Xerte has also been upgraded to deliver accessibility improvements, enhancements to 12 existing page types, and new page types, including Interactive 360° images, hotspot questions, interactive videos and timelines.

full list of tools and essential links for the start of term are also available.

Re/Play – upgrade completed successfully

The upgrade of Re/Play completed successfully overnight.

Initial testing indicates that the service is performing well. Most materials are now available but some more recently added content will be moved across during Saturday 18th September. During Saturday the search function will also be patchy as the moved materials need to be re-indexed to make them searchable. Both the moving of new materials and search function should be complete by Monday 20th.

Please avoid uploading new materials to the Re/Play service on Saturday 18th September to allow the upgrade and maintenance work to complete fully.

Teams for teaching update

Teams will be part of our supported digital learning environment in 21/22. Teams offers tools for collaboration, discussion, teamwork and community building and will complement Blackboard. Blackboard remains the appropriate location for teaching materials, reading lists, learning activities, assessment activities and assessment-related information and data.

Through interviews, a short survey,focus group and our new project advisory group DEO and IT Services are establishing requirements for Teams in 21/22 and future years.

For 21/22 the project aims to create Teams:

  • for each taught unit, with students added from SITS. The spaces will be unavailable to students by default, with the option for Team owners to make them available.
  • with teaching staff added. Team owners will be able to add additional UoB staff as owners and guest users external to the University.
  • with a simple integration between Blackboard and Teams. We will work with schools to ensure this link aligns with their plans for Blackboard template and course development.

We are working with an advisory group made of of academic and professional services staff, to prioritise and deliver these requirements for Teaching Block 1, while also collating additional requirements to continue to develop and extend Teams for teaching. Examples of requests for longer-term development include functionality to:

  • enable staff to include students in addition to those enrolled from SITS (eg for co-taught units).
  • automatically create Teams for Programmes(for example for year group or all years on a programme).
  • better support activity groups (e.g. for a tutor group or other teaching activity).

As part of the project we will develop training and support materials for staff and students, as well as case studies and exemplars.

For further information, please see our project page  or email digital-education@bristol.ac.uk.

Teams for Teaching in 21/22

Microsoft Teams will be part of our core set of supported digital education tools in 21/22. Teams provides tools to better support collaboration and student group work, for sharing resources, running synchronous online teaching and for hybrid teachingTeams can also enable active learning activities which encourage student engagement with highly blended and online learning – and so address an issue reported by our students in the 2019 Pulse Survey and 2020 Jisc Student Digital Experience Survey.

The DEO are working with IT Services to scope and implement a simple way for Teams to be used in programmes and units with minimal administrative overheads. As part of the project a suite of support and guidance materials, including case studies and exemplars will be developed.

The project aims to deliver Teams for Teaching by the end of August. The DEO are currently collating requirements through a survey, interviews and focus groups. For more information or to get involved please contact digital-education@bristol.ac.uk.

Update for students re the Blackboard technical issues impacting exams

Shortly before 10 am this morning Blackboard had a technical problem. While some students could access Blackboard, for many it was either slow or unavailable for up to 45 minutes. We apologise for the inconvenience and upset caused by this and would like to reassure all students that no student will be disadvantaged by this morning’s events.

This morning’s issue has been resolved. You should expect all your remaining assessments to run to their scheduled dates and times

Tansy Jessop

PVC Education

[This message has also been emailed to UG and PGT, added to MyBristol Portal, internal comms screens and social media]

Re/Play connection issues – how to make video materials available to students

Due to technical problems, some Re/Play presentations that were added to Blackboard courses using Blackboard’s  “Link to Presentations” tool cannot currently be viewed by students.

If you need to give students access to materials which have become unavailable, you can share Quick Links (URLs) for important presentations. To get a Quick Link, follow the embedding guidance through to step 6, then copy the Quick Link. This can be emailed directly to students or added to your course content.

Digital Insights Surveys launched today

Digital Insights Surveys live from November 16th

The University will be running surveys with staff and students on their digital experience using the Jisc Digital Experience Insights survey.

The three surveys, which will run between November 16th and December 7th 2020, are:

  • A student survey
  • A teaching staff survey
  • A professional services staff survey

The surveys will be managed by Education Services with input from other stakeholders, including IT Services.

The Digital Experience Insights survey allows us to collect and analyse data about the digital environment and how digital technologies are used in learning, teaching and support activity.

The surveys capture user expectations and experiences of technology, based on concise question sets which have been intensively trialled within higher education. The surveys will allow us to gather data on the digital experience of staff and students and benchmark our provision with other HEIs. The information generated will inform our decision-making and resource allocation, and demonstrate where we have made improvements.

Please encourage your colleagues and students to complete the survey. As a direct result of last year’s student survey, we have:

  • Improved the consistency of Blackboard courses through new templates and core standards
  • Developed a new range of direct support for students (including the new digital induction, guides and contextual help)
  • Recruited 12 Student Digital Champions to inform the development of the digital environment and improve our support for students
  • Introduced new tools to support teaching and learning

More information and project updates will be posted on the DEO website.

Guidance on recording teaching and hybrid teaching

The DEO have drafted two new guides to support staff planning teaching and timetables in TB2. The first guide is a summary of options for recording online and face-to-face teaching. This guide also includes options which could be used instead of recording (which might be useful for all students on a unit). The second guide summarises some questions and considerations which might be useful for any staff considering hybrid teaching (teaching online and face-to-face students at the same time) to enable self-isolating students to join on-campus sessions. Hybrid teaching can be complex and difficult to do well, and teaching rooms are not currently designed to support it. This guidance considers some of the areas you may need to address before you choose to adopt it.