Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

In 2018 we started planning the move to the Ultra Experience on MyAberdeen, commencing with the move to Ultra Base Navigation and adoption of Ally for accessibility and alternative formats in July 2018.  A year later we began a phased roll out of the Ultra Course View, whereby 5 early adopter Schools (Business; Education; Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture; Law; Psychology) moved to the Ultra Course View by August 2019. The pandemic resulted in a pause to the roll out, with only 3 Schools moving to Ultra during this period: Social Science, Biological Sciences and part of Geosciences. By August 2022 the remaining Schools (Divinity, History, Philosophy and Art History;  Engineering; Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition;  Natural and Computing Sciences; remainder of Geosciences) finally move to the Ultra Course View.  Our overarching lesson learned from the experience is that if we were to do such a move again we would aim to move the whole University to the new environment at the same time and not opt for the phased approach.

Importing Content and Tests

At the start of the Academic Year the eLearning team were heavily involved with supporting staff with importing content and tests into their courses. Moving forwards, the eLearning team will identify Tests in Original courses and import these into Ultra courses. In addition to the workshops, we will also offer support with course design where academic staff can work with an eLearning adviser to redesign their course in Ultra and have their content migrated across to Ultra.

School Administrative Support Staff

One of the lessons learned from the early adopter Schools is the need to spend more time at the start of our engagement with School Administrative Support Staff (School admin teams). This will enable the eLearning team to identify how School admin teams support Academic staff with MyAberdeen and the workflows that they use in Original courses. This will enable the eLearning team to provide enhanced support to School admins teams for the move to the Ultra Course View and ensure that workflows have been addressed at an early stage.

Functionality associated with Tests and Groups

At the start of teaching the eLearning team were made aware of differences with how Ultra Tests and Groups work compared with Original which impacted certain courses.  This required the implementation of temporary workarounds while we identified, described and articulated our requirements to Blackboard in this area. Blackboard have been able to deliver on some feature requests within short timescales but other requests will take time to implement due to the development work required and the impact on current development work affecting all their clients.  It is important to this work, the timescales involved, and how it is prioritised is transparent to all staff.  A spreadsheet highlighting our feedback to Blackboard, how and when Blackboard plan to implement these requirements is available to University staff on request.

Monitoring Staff Engagement with Workshops

Data on staff engagement with workshops for the early adopter Schools took some time to compile due to the time required to put together a list of School staff that were expected to engage with the workshops. Moving forwards, we will work with Schools to obtain this data as early as possible.

Awareness Raising

Providing overviews of the Ultra Course View to well-attended School meetings was an effective way of raising awareness of the move to the Ultra Course View.  Such opportunities will be identified as early as possible to ensure the eLearning Team are able to present at such meetings thus ensuring information about the move to the Ultra Course View reaches as many members of staff as possible.

Ascertaining School Specific Priorities and their Digital Strategy

Strategy Working Group meetings primarily focussed upon the Ultra Course View and what the eLearning team can do to support the School with the move to the Ultra Course View.  Moving forwards, we will work with Schools to identify their VLE Strategy and Digital Learning priorities, so that we can work with them at a strategic level to identify the type of data that can be collected from Ultra Course areas to inform School goals.

Timings of Workshops

There was feedback that the workshops ran too early and therefore some users had forgotten some of the key points discussed during the workshops and did not feel fully prepared for the start of teaching.  Previously we ran quite a few workshops during March and early April 2019. However, this time we will schedule the workshops from late April to June 2020 for the other Schools, unless a specific area within a School wishes to engage early e.g. those with online programmes.

Summer Workshops for All Schools

Staff found the workshops over the summer months (July and August) useful, however attendance was lower than for the school specific workshops.  We will aim to increase awareness of these workshops.

School Drop In Sessions

Although not heavily utilised, these were greatly appreciated and welcomed by all the Schools and therefore we will continue to offer these for the start of teaching.  We intend to increase the publicity around these, with the explicit offer of providing one to one support in importing/copying over content from the Original Course View to the Ultra Course View.

Review and Evaluation with School Strategy Working Groups

A follow up meeting was arranged with the early adopters to gain feedback about the move to the Ultra Course View and inform next steps.   Moving forwards, we will endeavour to put in place 2 follow-up meetings, one early on at the start of teaching, and the other towards the end of teaching. This first meeting will provide a useful opportunity to gauge how they are getting on with the Ultra Course View and to identify what (if anything) additional support can be offered.  This will enable a greater focus on reviewing and evaluating the move to the Ultra Course View in the second meeting.

Additional Support

The eLearning team developed various online resources for users to develop their knowledge of the Ultra Course View.  On reflection, some of these resources took too long for staff to work through.  We will redesign these into shorter resources and monitor engagement. 

We offered ‘online workshops’ on request which users found useful.  We will therefore run online workshops as standard, in addition to face-to-face workshops.  This will provide greater flexibility for staff to participate in the workshops.