Have a look at the eLearning news for the month of July. This includes information about updates to MyAberdeen, a look at the Teaching and Learning Guidance of the Month, and a showcase of good practice when using the new Ultra Course View.
- MyAberdeen Updates
Below you can find a list of some of the updates applied to MyAberdeen over the last few months:
- Grid Views: from the Courses and Organisation pages, you now have the ability to view the page as either a list or a grid, where banner images are displayed.
- Student preview: student preview is now available in Ultra Course View.
- Improvements to the gradebook: grading workflows now support the ability to filter based on merged courses. If your course area is a merged one, you will now be able to filter your students in the Gradebook based on which child courses they are coming from.
- Individual feedback for group assessments: you now have the option to provide students undertaking group activities individual, and not just group feedback.
- Parallel grading: double, parallel grading is now possible within Blackboard Assignments.
- Question banks: this new feature allows instructors to import question banks in Ultra Courses, including question pools that have been exported from Original courses. As with any conversion from Original to Ultra, any question types that are not supported are dropped during the upload process. Access to question banks now appears under Details & Actions on the course content page.
- Panopto: our lecture capture software has now been fully integrated into the Ultra Course View. Help on using this new functionality can be found in the Panopto Quick Guide on Toolkit.
For a comprehensive list of all the updates and fixes applied to MyAberdeen, please visit the Blackboard Release Notes page.
For advice and tips on building your course in the Ultra Course View (UCV), please visit the Ultra Central course page on MyAberdeen (currently available only to staff in the five Schools transitioning to UCV this summer).
There are some known issues we would like to draw your attention to, and on which Blackboard are currently working on. We will update this once these issues have been fixed, so remember to check back:
- Performance of Ultra Course pages: some users are experiencing poor loading time performance when accessing their Ultra Course pages, with some course areas taking 1-2 minutes to fully load. This issue has been reported to Blackboard, who are currently trying to provide us with a fix.
- Teaching and Learning Guidance of the Month
Thursday 16 May 2019 marked the eight Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). In celebration of this, we would like to encourage you to take some time this month and consider how you could make your teaching more accessible. Also make sure to read our accessibility tip of the month, which will be a recurring section in each month's News page.
Why is accessibility important?
In accordance with the Equality Act 2010, education providers must not treat a disabled person less favourably for any reason that relates to the person’s disability. An educational provider is also required to make any reasonable adjustments in order to allow a disabled learner to successfully participate in a course. We all have a responsibility and a role to play in ensuring the University is in keeping with this legislation.
According to disability charity Scope UK, there are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK alone, and this includes those with visual, motor, hearing, cognitive disabilities and specific learning differences, such as dyslexia. Taking a proactive or reactive approach to creating accessible content will help provide equal opportunities to all students, and work towards creating an inclusive campus.
What can I do?
There are some simple things you can do to try and ensure your teaching is a bit more accessible:
- Ensure your documents are appropriately formatted, by using correct heading styles, providing alt text for images and providing meaningful text to links. The eLearning team have created a template for Word documents that you can use.
- There are workshops you can attend for more training, by visiting the Course Booking page, or you can take one of the free courses on the Percipio website and work in your own time and at your own pace. Alternatively, you can visit the Toolkit for a wealth of advice and resources on how to make your teaching material more accessible.
- Familiarise yourself with Ally, as it can not only help you improve the accessibility of your teaching material, but it also provides students with a variety of alternative accessible formats to uploaded teaching materials, such as electronic braille or audio.
- Consider captioning your video content, which will not only benefit students with audio impairments, but also those whose first language is not English. There is a free captioning tool available within Panopto, and the eLearning team can help you get started with it.
- Know who to contact:
- eLearning team or TAD for help creating accessible content, or any queries regarding digital accessibility
- The Disability Service, which provides advice, information and practical support to all students with a disability, impairment, medical or health condition, or specific learning differences, such as dyslexia
- Accessibility Tip of the Month
Accessible Hyperlinks - Why You Shouldn't Use "Click Here"
Embedding hyperlinks using meaningful and concise text is one of the easiest ways to improve the overall accessibility of your documents and learning materials. This way both sighted and screen reader users can quickly scan the page for links. Screen reader users often tab from link to link to get an idea of the content on a page, which is why using text such as "click here" or "read more" is not recommended.
To create accessible hyperlinks:
- Embed the URL into the text on the page.
- Use descriptive and meaningful text as the hyperlink.
We recommend watching this excellent 2-minute video on Creating meaningful hyperlinks that people understand by Microsoft.
- Ultra Course View - Tips and Good Practice Showcase
Structuring your course using learning modules
Learning modules are at the heart of the design for the online course NE Scotland: History, Landscape, Culture and Economy.
The content of the course is divided into four topics: ‘History and Archaeology’, ‘Landscape’, ‘Culture and Identity’ and ‘North-East Scotland Today’. Each main topic is then further divided into folder subtopics, with each folder containing a mixture of mini-lecture documents, video or audio media, reading lists and a quiz to round-up each subtopic.
Learning modules were an efficient and visually appealing way of structuring this content, whilst allowing students to easily navigate the material within each topic and subtopic, without having to come out of various folders. This is possible due to learning modules having a horizontal navigation option.
For example, a student can go into the History and Archaeology topic, and then into the Castles of the North-East subtopic folder. They can start their learning by reading the mini-lecture document in the folder and then can easily proceed through the rest of the content by using the navigation arrows found at the top of the page. This creates a narrative throughout the material for this subtopic and provides students with a more seamless experience through the content.
Should the need ever arise, all the learning modules can have sequential viewing enabled, with content being available to students as they complete steps in a sequence. As the course might expand in the future, this feature would be useful to teaching staff that require their content to be viewed and completed in a specific order, whilst still ensuring the format of the learning material is in line with the rest of the course.
It also provides students with a visual indication that they have engaged with the learning material.