News and Updates from 2021

June

eLearning Team Updates

The eLearning team will be joined by a student Intern Plus from Monday 7th June.  This new Inter Plus role will “use the results of the previous project to develop student-focussed online resources in order to enhance the student learning experience. The foundations of support resources are already available within the University’s Toolkit and on the University web pages, this can be further enhanced from a student perspective.  The ultimate aim being to create a Toolkit to support online learning for students.”

May

eLearning Team Updates

This month, we say farewell to eLearning Adviser Florin Nedelea who leaves the team to take up a new post as Faculty Development Officer in CHERI and our two Student Interns Evie Gilbert and Serena Rossi.  We wish them all the very best for the future.

On the 20th May, the eLearning team will be supporting Global Accessibility Awareness Day.  Activities taking place include, workshops, a “fix your content” competition and drop-in sessions.  For more information and to find out how you can get involved, please visit our GAAD web page.

 

MyAberdeen Enhancements

Original & Ultra Courses - Unread Message Indication (Update due 6th May)

The Messages icon on the base navigation of MyAberdeen now shows an indication of the number of unread messages.  

Screenshot showing messages notification

 

Ultra Courses - Assessment Categories (Update due 6th May)

In the Ultra course view Overall Grade to Date column, staff can now create rules for an Assessment Category.  These rules allow staff to select which grades are included in the Overall Grade to Date Column.  For example, staff may wish to only include the highest two grades out of a total of five assignments (dropping the lowest three).  

 

Screenshot showing calculation rule

 

Ultra & Original Courses - Pinning a Video in Collaborate (Update due 13th May)

Users in Collaborate can now pin a video to remain visible.  Staff may wish to pin a video of a student who has been struggling, while a student may wish to pin the video of a tutor, classmate or sign language interpreter.  Use the ellipsis icon next to a video feed or visit the Attendee’s panel to pin a video.

 

Screenshot showing Collaborate pin video function

For more information visit the Blackboard Help pages or email eLearning@abdn.ac.uk

April

MyAberdeen User Group

A new MyAberdeen User Group MS Teams site has been launched to provide an informal space for staff to share good practice, discuss challenges and opportunities, in the use of the learning and teaching technologies related to MyAberdeen. Join the inaugural meeting on 29 March, at 2.05 pm, to preview some of the enhancements coming in April.

Enhancements to MyAberdeen

Original and Ultra Courses – Staff Names now appear in Title Case and Student Names in UPPER CASE

Staff and Student names in MyAberdeen can be clearly distinguished, making it easier to enrol academic and support colleagues in course areas.

 

On Thursday 22nd April 2021, typically after 17:00 hours, you will notice the following MyAberdeen enhancements appear (there will be no downtime):

Ultra Courses - Conditional Availability by Users or Groups

In the Ultra Course View, along with the ability to apply release conditions of date and performance, staff will now be able to make learning material available to specific users or groups.  This can be accessed by selecting the visibility drop-down menu for an item on the course content page.

Ultra Courses - Assignment with Peer Review For Qualitative Peer Assessment 

Qualitative peer review can now be enabled for an Assignment in the Ultra Course View.  This new functionality will provide staff with opportunities to design assessments that develop students’ critical analysis skills, a deeper understanding of assessment criteria and deeper learning.

Ultra Courses - Rich Text Editor Improvements 

In the Ultra Course View, the Rich Text Editor improvements for this release are related to paragraph format change and allow the creation of more rich and customisable pages. They include clear formatting, text alignment, line height and undo.

 

Soon after the MyAberdeen enhancements on 1 April there will be enhancements to Collaborate on 8 April (there will be no downtime):

Original and Ultra Courses – Collaborate Video Gallery will be available to Moderators – 8 April

The new Video Gallery View will be released gradually, starting with the moderator role on the 8 April, followed by the student role soon after.

More details are available in the Gallery View information document.

March

New Graduate Trainee

eLearning welcomed Craig Stewart to the team, filling a previously vacant position.  Craig has worked in the university for a number of years and will embark upon the two-year Graduate Trainee Programme.  Following his induction, Craig will work towards completing a series of milestones on his way to becoming an eLearning Adviser.

Blackboard Collaborate Enhancements

Sessions that run for very long are automatically disconnected

Sessions can still be scheduled for any length of time including no end date, however if anyone stays in the session for more than 12 hours at a time will result in the session being disconnected. Users can rejoin the session if needed. 

Collaborate Support chatbot available in more places

The Collaborate Support chatbot, released in January, is now also available on some error pages, as well as on the Report an Issue panel.

February

MyAberdeen Enhancements

On Thursday 4 February, typically after 17:00 hours, you will notice the following MyAberdeen Enhancements appear (there will be no downtime):

Ultra Courses – Changes to Blackboard Assignment Grading Panels

When staff go to a Blackboard assignment to grade it, the grading area will become more streamlined, with clear options for grading with a rubric, viewing the Originality report (currently provided by SafeAssign) and providing feedback. This improved navigation will also be visible to students when they go to access their grades and feedback for their assignment. 

Ultra and Original Courses – fixes to the Group Assignment Submission page for students

The Group Assignment Submission page could be confusing to students if they navigated away from it without selecting Cancel, as it implied a submission was in progress. This issue has been fixed.

Blackboard Collaborate Enhancements

Attendees can now get support troubleshooting common issues while still in their session using the new Chat Support feature. You can find the new Chat Support feature at the end of the My Settings panel. 

January

Student Intern

Serena Rossi, our new Intern Plus student, starts her new role from Monday 18 January. Serena will be involved in a joint eLearning/SLS project to enhance students' blended learning experience.

Start of Term

Course Readiness Checklist had been developed for those staff that may find this useful.  There is no requirement for staff to use it but it is there for those who might find it useful as a quick check before the start of term to identify if any areas may have been overlooked.  

Making Courses Available in MyAberdeen

Course coordinators - please remember to make your course available to students, otherwise students will not be able to access it.  More information about making courses available can be found in the support pages on making courses available.

Remember: You do not need to have all the information updated before making it available to students, as you can hide materials that have not yet been updated.

As a minimum, we recommend having an updated course guide in your course and having a welcome video / text and sending an announcement, once you have made it available, welcoming the students and giving them an outline of what to expect next week, when the course starts.

Keeping Students Informed and Engaged

We recommend making weekly announcements in your courses, providing students with an outline of the activities for the week ahead and your expectations. It is important to make things explicit and ensure your students are kept regularly informed – this helps to prevent students getting anxious.

Check out the video tutorials on how to create an announcement in Original | Ultra.

Staff Course Enrolments

Course Coordinators – if you are enrolling staff that will be teaching on your courses in MyAberdeen please search for staff using their username.  This ensures the correct accounts are added to the course.  Check out our guides on how to add staff to Ultra | Original courses.

Blackboard Collaborate – Current and Future Enhancements

Blackboard Collaborate was updated on the 10 December to include Chat mentions and formatting. These enhancements help attendees to engage socially and collaboratively through the chat. In February 2021 a select group of institutions will be piloting their new Video Gallery functionality, which will then be rolled out across all institutions.  Further information on this will follow later this year.

Upcoming Blackboard Learn Webinars

Blackboard are offering a number of webinars to support you using MyAberdeen, which is delivered by Blackboard Learn. Please do visit their ‘Webinar Series’ website to sign up for some of their sessions if you need to enhance your online skills.

eLearning Online Sessions and Support

eLearning (Centre for Academic Development) continue to offer online sessions on Panopto and Collaborate. Contact cad@abdn.ac.uk or sign up via the course booking system. If you need support with MyAberdeen or with the design and delivery of your course please email eLearning@abdn.ac.uk.

News and Updates From 2020

December

MyAberdeen Updates

Below you can find a list of some of the updates applied to MyAberdeen in December 2020. You can also access an overview of these updates as a PDF document with screenshots

 

Original and Ultra Course View 

  • Blackboard Annotate Enhancements: When grading an assignment using the Blackboard Assignment tool, you can now create multiple comments in Bb Annotate without needing to select the comment tool for every comment you add. Since 24 November PDF files are also flattened for the Bb Annotate preview thus enabling students to see drawable annotations made with iPad or Microsoft Surface pens on PDF preview before staff grade it. Review the MyAberdeen enhancements for further information.

 

Ultra Course View

  • Tests – New Feedback Controls (Delaying Feedback and Grades for MCQ Tests): Staff will be able to decide when and what type of feedback is given to students when taking a Test. This is particularly important for automated Tests such as Tests consisting of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs). This feature has been introduced based on feedback from this institution, in particular. Review the information on Ultra Test Settings before and after 3 December.
  • Ultra Journals Enhancements: Various enhancements have been made to the Ultra Journal tool based on feedback from staff. To use the journal click on the “+” sign in Course Content and select Create. The Journal tool is at the bottom, under “Participation and Engagement”. 
  • Gradebook > Student List View Improvements: Staff will have access to additional search capabilities, column sorting options and enhanced page controls for both large and small devices. 
  • Creation of HTML code in Ultra documents available on request: For staff that wish to create, edit and delete custom HTML code in Ultra course documents without compromising mobile responsiveness, enhancements applied on the 3 December will enable the eLearning team to provide you with these privileges. Please email elearning@abdn.ac.uk registering your interest in having the ability to write HTML code.
November

MyAberdeen Updates

Below you can find a list of some of the updates applied to MyAberdeen in November 2020. You can also access an overview of these updates as a PDF document with screenshots

 

Overall

  • Icons Changing for Accessibility in the Activity Stream & Ultra Courses: Icons in the Activity Stream and in Ultra Courses will be larger and more distinctive. Further information is in the large icons update.

 

Ultra Course View

  • Gradebook > Students: Send messages to students and give accommodations from the Gradebook and not just from the Class Register.
  • Show/Hide Overall Grade To Date: Based on our feedback, you can now toggle to Show or Hide the Overall Grade item to students.
  • Test Countdown: Students will now know how much time they have left down to the last second as the timer will change from minutes to seconds when less than 1 minute remains.
  • Details & Actions Fixed – Now Loads in One Go: The “Details & Actions” list (left hand side of the content page) now opens in one go. No more frustration at hitting the wrong item when the second wave of details appears and you hadn’t waited for the full list.

 

Original Course View

  • Content Editor: A cleaner look with slightly different ways of adding certain types of materials. There is a Content Editor Quick Tips Guide and a Content Editor Video outlining key enhancements. Enhancements include improved accessibility and usability, better copy and paste from MS Office files, video embedding and the ability to display Computer Code.
October

Designing and Tutoring Online Course (DTOC)

On Monday 26 October 2020, the five week online course ‘Designing and Tutoring Online Course’ will commence once again.  This is open to all staff within the University and is delivered entirely online over the five week period via MyAberdeen using the Ultra Course View. Further information about the course is on the course booking system and our web pages.

If you miss the October cohort there is the shorter five day version running at the end of January and another five week cohort running in April 2021.

DTOC has been running since 2018, with over 245 participants signing up for the five week cohort and 142 successfully achieving a certificate of participation.  DTOC is usually offered at the end of April and October and is accredited by Advanced HE giving participants the option to apply for Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  Since April 2020, we slightly adapted DTOC to offer DTOC LITE over five days, in total there have been 247 participants, with 87 successfully completing all the activities and receiving a certificate.

 

Staff Volunteers

Since July, a group of staff volunteers has been supporting the move to Blended Learning by helping to provide Closed Captions for videos. They have now captioned over 150 videos which is a huge achievement. The project is in its closing stages as the volunteers return to their primary role, however a new process is being developed with Schools to ensure work to caption videos for the following term can continue.

 

New Toolkit resource: MyAberdeen Admin

Our newly created Toolkit area houses resources on using the School Admin Role in MyAberdeen. The resources include guides on grade management, reporting and analytics, administrative processes, and user management on MyAberdeen.  

They can be accessed through the following link: Staff Tools for Blended Learning 

 

MyAberdeen Updates

Below you can find a list of some of the updates applied to MyAberdeen in October 2020:

Ultra Course View

  • Expanded access to Ally in Ultra documents: staff and students can download Ally alternative formats for the Blackboard document item when they are in the expanded view, by clicking the Ally icon in the top menu, next to the conversations icon.

 

Collaborate

  • Recording processing status: Collaborate now shows the status of recording processing. You can see if a recording is still processing or ready to watch from the Recordings page.
September

Updated Toolkit Resources

On Toolkit you can find our recently updated supporting resources, quick guides and videos on using MyAberdeen, Blackboard and Turnitin Assignments, Collaborate Ultra, Panopto and Accessibility. Use the following links to access curated selections of Toolkit resources:  

 

Free Blackboard Webinars

Over the next week Blackboard are offering free webinars on Blackboard Learn Ultra & Original and Blackboard Collaborate.

eLearning is still offering their own webinar sessions via the course booking system, but you may prefer accessing some of these different sessions as well.

 

MyAberdeen Updates

Below you can find a list of some of the updates applied to MyAberdeen in September 2020:

Ultra Course View

  • Send course announcement by email – Staff can now choose to send an email copy of announcements to recipients. Instructors also receive a copy as the email is sent to all course members.
  • Protect assessments with access codes – Staff can now add a system-generated access code for assessments in the Ultra Course View.
  • Automated test question feedback – Staff can enter feedback for correct and incorrect answers on auto-graded question types.
  • Student list view in the gradebook – A new view, called student list view has been added into the gradebook. It gives staff quick access to individual student’s submissions and displays their last access date. The update also improves gradebook performance in courses with very large enrolment numbers.
     

Collaborate

  • Secure recording links – To improve security of recordings, public access to recordings is now off by default for recordings made after 10th of September 2020. Only session owners and students enrolled in the course can see the recording. Instructors can choose to allow public access in the Recording Settings.
  • Recording reminder – Staff will now see a recording reminder when they enter a Collaborate room.
August

Accessibility Guidance Update

This summer, to help staff make learning material more accessible, colleagues across the university have been working to pull together advice around designing, developing and delivering courses online.  This has been combined with information on how to make your course more inclusive.  The guidance now includes a checklist that staff can refer to along with specific advice around video captioning in Panopto.  The new guidance is grouped together on the Inclusivity and Accessibility StaffNet page.

MyAberdeen Updates


Below you can find a list of some of the updates applied to MyAberdeen in August 2020:

Ultra Course View

  • Additional sources for embedded media in the text editor: The Insert video from web option is now called Insert media from web. Users can add media from a variety of sites. Full list of sites can be found on the Blackboard Release Page
  • Journal support for course copy and conversion: journals and their prompts can be copied from one course to another, regardless of the course view.
  • Text editor added to course announcements: the text editor in the Announcements is now the same enhanced text editor available throughout the course, with the ability to fully format the text added.
     


Collaborate

  • Chat profanity filter: the new profanity filter is available for English and Spanish terms. Now, if someone uses inappropriate words in the chat those words are filtered out. The words are replaced with a series of stars. The chat profanity filter is off by default and moderators can turn it on in Session Settings.
July

Additional Support for the Move to Blended Learning

This summer, to support schools in the move to blended learning, staff across the University have been volunteering to help build and quality assure courses ahead of start of term.  The initial focus has been to support the quality assurance of video captions.  Twenty volunteers have received training so far and to have captioned 30 videos out of 130 submitted.

MyAberdeen Updates

Below you can find a list of some of the updates applied to MyAberdeen in July 2020:

Ultra Course View

  • Course discussions improvements: By default, students won't be able to create discussions. the plus sign and the menu now appear in the upper-right corner of the Discussions page along with the new settings icon. 

Collaborate

  • Browser support updates: As of July 1, 2020 Collaborate will no longer support the browser versions listed below. Update your browser to the latest version. 
    • Native Microsoft Edge ®  
    • Google ChromeTM 78 and earlier 
  • Whiteboard updates: It's now easier to select and rotate items. 
  • Download poll results report: Now moderators, instructors, and administrators can download a session's Poll report. This report includes the poll question and how each attendee responded. 
June

Below you can find a list of some of the updates applied to MyAberdeen since June 2020:

Ultra Course View

  • Discussions added to Copy Content: You are now able to copy discussions from one Ultra course to another by using the Copy Content tool.
  • Journals in Ultra: The journal tool has been added to Ultra courses. Students are able to use the journal to leave entries in the same way as in discussions. Each journal can only be seen by the individual student and staff in the course. The journal can be graded or not. Full grading functionality and support for course copy and conversion are expected later this year. Continued enhancements are also coming for the Participants panel.
  • Show question scores setting in Ultra tests: It is now possible to control whether students see the points they got per question, or if they only see the total points for the whole test.

Collaborate

  • Whiteboard improvement: it is now easier to select and rotate items
  • Download poll results: it is now possible to download a session's Poll report. This report includes the poll question and how each attendee responded.
  • Updated create and edit session panel: the settings in the panel for creating and editing sessions are now divided into tabs. This improvement also prevents unintended changes to a session from being accidentally saved.
  • Share camera: The Share camera option has been added to the Share Content panel. This allows you to share a camera connected to your computer in full screen.
  • Session owners and admins can always download recordings: Course coordinators can now always download recordings even if the option to download recordings is clear in the session settings. Use the Allow recording downloads check box to let everyone else download the recording.
May

Considering the challenges posed by these difficult times, the importance of accessible online content for teaching and learning is more pressing than ever before. In order to fulfil new legislation requirements for September and to uphold the Universities commitment to inclusivity, the eLearning Team is releasing weekly micro documents covering guides and best practices for improving the accessibility of online content. These will be available weekly in StaffNet News. All the guides are also available in this Instructor Package.

Below you can find a list of some of the updates applied to MyAberdeen since May:

Ally

  • Blackboard App: Blackboard Ally alternative formats can now be accessed directly from the Blackboard App.

Blackboard Collaborate

  • Webinar mode: It is now possible to turn on webinar mode from the settings of a Blackboard Collaborate session. This is required to allow more than 250 participants to attend. In webinar mode only moderators and presenters can share their audio and video. Chat is turned off by default, but can be enabled within the session. Breakout groups are also not available.
  • Security update: All newly-created Collaborate sessions are now secure by default. The Guest Access check box is clear when a new session is being created. The check box must be selected to allow guest access.

For a comprehensive list of all the updates and fixes applied to MyAberdeen, please visit the Blackboard Learn Ultra page.

Known issues

There are some know issues we would like to draw your attention to, and on which Blackboard are currently working on:

  • Fixed – July 2020: In Ultra courses, when a Blackboard assignment is created with anonymous grading enabled and more than 1 attempt allowed for the students, the students will be able to see grades before they have been posted. As a workaround, please hide the assignment while grading is taking place, or ensure that only 1 attempt is allowed when using anonymous grading. 
  • In Ultra courses, if course level groups are reused to create the groups for an assignment, staff cannot see the group working spaces (the group discussion and the group Collaborate room). If staff need to be able to see the private group working spaces, please create the groups within the assignment, or reuse groups from another assignment or discussion.
April

Below you can find a list of some of the updates applied to MyAberdeen since March:

Ultra Course View 

  • Rich text editor: new improvements include a strikethrough font option, quicker access to the file attachment option and changes to that make the editor easier to read
  • Course-level group self-enrolment: self-enrol groups can now be created at course level for any graded content within a course

Ally

Ally is now using BeeLine Reader, which makes reading on screen easier and faster. Instead of using plain black text, BeeLine Reader displays text using a subtle colour gradient that helps pull your eye through your readings. Find out more about it on the Ally Blackboard pages.

For a comprehensive list of all the updates and fixes applied to MyAberdeen, please visit the Blackboard Learn Ultra page. 

Known issues 

None at the moment.

March

Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the updates for March have been posted late.

Please visit our Teaching Remotely page for help and advice on delivering teaching remotely. 

Below you can find a list of some of the updates applied to MyAberdeen since February:

Ultra Course View 

  • Text editor word count: a word count has been added to the text editor, when creating Documents and when students respond to the Essay question within assignments
  • Submission collected offline: students will not see overdue notifications for Ultra Assessments that use the Collect Offline Submission setting
  • Gradebook sorting: students are now sorted by last name in the Gradebook
  • Discussion posts: the line spacing of discussion posts has been increased, making them easier to read
  • Calculated formula questions are now available within the Ultra Course view

For a comprehensive list of all the updates and fixes applied to MyAberdeen, please visit the Blackboard Learn Ultra page. 

Blackboard Collaborate

In order to prepare for an increase in Collaborate usage due to the COvid-19 outbreak, some features have been temporarily switched off. These are:

  • The Timer tool (a countdown timer that helps with classroom time management)
  • Chat typing indicator (a visual indicator that someone is typing)
  • Netstats indicator (a visual indicator pf connection quality next to each user)

Known issues 

None at the moment.

February

Below you can find a list of some of the updates applied to MyAberdeen since January:

Ultra Course View 

  • Group self-enrol: students can now change between self-enrol groups themselves, within the specified enrolment period.

For a comprehensive list of all the updates and fixes applied to MyAberdeen, please visit the Blackboard Learn Ultra page. 
 

Known issues 

None at the moment.

January

Panopto

Panopto has been updated to version 8, which came with some of the following features:

  • Embed configuration options: ability to customize size of an embedded video and modify options such as autoplay and start time
  • PowerPoint and Keynote slides download: PowerPoint and Keynote slides can now be made downloadable within the interactive. This feature is opt-in and needs to be turned before it can be used

MyAberdeen

MyAberdeen update delayed until February.