All posts by Anu Sharma

Gearing up with a ‘Headstart’

This week we have been busy preparing for the start of yet another year. Amongst various activities one of the initiatives we have participated in is ‘Headstart Week’- an opportunity for new Brunel students to literally get a ‘head start’ on University life (organised by the ASK team).

Students from various Colleges have been brought onto campus a week ahead of the start of term to get to grips with various aspects of University life, including academic writing, using Library resources, managing finances and, of course, getting to grips with Blackboard Learn!

A series of sessions were delivered by the LTT explaining how to use some of the features within Blackboard Learn, getting hold of the mobile app and seeking support more generally.

The Bb Learn Getting Started guide provides a great summary of the essential information for students.

Week 0…. here we come!

Merged Course Monday

Well it’s Monday folks and hope you all had a great weekend!

The LTT have started the week with our annual exercise of merging courses in Blackboard Learn: “Merged Course Monday” (the title could catch on!!). Fuelled by treats and plenty of caffeine, we are currently busy merging those Blackboard Learn Courses that Departments have informed us about.

Students will get access to 2014/5 Courses in Blackboard on 3rd September, so we want to get these merged Courses sorted out ahead of ‘go live’!

Right…best get back to merging…!!

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Fuel for our gruelling merged Course session

Auditor Accounts: Going, going…gone!

As you know – we at LTT like to change things up a bit (all positive changes, of course!).

One thing that we have been reviewing is the use of auditor accounts in Blackboard Learn. What are these? – you might ask! Auditor accounts are Blackboard Learn accounts that allow read-only access to all Courses (modules) within (former) academic Schools.

Whilst this may sound handy – we have reviewed the use of these accounts and it seems like they haven’t been used quite as much as we would have liked. This may be, in part, as individuals have been taking advantage of the Bb Learn Course Catalogue which already allows all staff and students read-only access to all modules.

So – as you can see- there is hardly any need for these accounts any longer and we will soon be decommissioning them.

However, we recognise that there may be some staff out there that require editing access to many modules, which is why we have been working on another project to allow delegated administrative access to Bb Learn (more about that later!)

As usual- please let us know if you have any questions about this.

To Merge or not to Merge? That is the question!

As part of our annual processes for Blackboard Learn our TEL Advisers are in touch with Colleges and Departments to establish which Merged Courses are required for 2014/5 in Blackboard Learn.

If you are not familiar with the concept- here is a quick overview…

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If you know of any Courses that need to be merged – please let us know via ltt@brunel.ac.uk

We aim to gather this information from Colleges/ Departments by 22nd August (but preferably earlier!)

New Look University … New Look LTT!

Following all the changes to the University post-TXP, the LTT are now pleased to announce that we have a new structure in place that will be able to better support Colleges and Departments going forward.

You will already be aware from an earlier post that we are part of Brunel’s Educational Excellence Centre (BEEC).

The great news is that we are now officially a bigger team, and below is a brief overview of our ‘new look’…

LTT Structure

The new TEL Adviser roles (held by Louise, Natalie and Alastair) will enable our team to build closer relationships with each of the Colleges and their respective departments. This means that we can better understand your needs and we can become more proactive in supporting you with Technology Enhanced Learning initiatives… not to mention that you will now have a dedicated contact in the LTT!

We are also thrilled to have a dedicated TEL Developer (Alex) who will provide a key technical support function in the team, taking forward technical projects and also being the support contact for Central Departments.

Over the coming weeks the TEL Advisers will be in touch to discuss ways in which we can work with each of the Colleges and, most importantly, to introduce themselves to you!

Blackboard Learn upgrade completed (a little ahead of schedule!)

I’m pleased to let you know that the upgrade to Blackboard Learn Service Pack 14 was completed, with Bb Learn being available early this morning.

The Learning Technology Team and colleagues in the Computer Centre have worked hard on this upgrade, trying to get the system up and running as soon as possible. As usual, I would like to extend my thanks to them and to you all for your patience!

Many of the features that we mentioned earlier were implemented in this latest upgrade. The LTT are currently working on resources to help you make the most of the new features.

Blackboard Learn Downtime: July 2014

The July upgrade to Blackboard Learn will be taking place between 14th – 18th July 2014. This means that the system will not be accessible during this period. As usual, the Learning Technology Team will aim to minimise the downtime as far as possible by working very hard to bring the system back to life quickly!

A notice will go up on IntraBrunel tomorrow. Key contacts from Schools and Central Services will be reminded in a separate email and students will also be informed.

We will soon post a follow up blog message to tell you more about the new features you can expect to see in this upgrade.

The “new” LTT

As we know there are many changes going on across the University at the moment, and our team has also been influenced by these.

Last week marked the beginning of the new Learning Technology Team structure (now located within the Brunel Educational Excellence Centre, headed up by Dr Fiona Denney). This has been reorganised to more closely meet the needs of the new colleges following TXP. So what does this mean for us?

We have a Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Team Manager (myself), with 3 TEL Advisers to liaise with each of the 3 Colleges (Alastair Gemmill, Natalie Parnis and currently a vacancy). Also part of the team is a TEL Developer (a technical role) covered by Alex Osmond and an administrator (yet to be appointed).

We are confident that these changes will help us to enhance learning and teaching at Brunel, by becoming more aligned with the Colleges, being better resourced and ultimately building closer relationships with our colleagues within BEEC to help drive educational excellence at Brunel.

Goodbye Phil!

It is with much sadness that we will be saying goodbye to Dr Phil Alberts, who is leaving Brunel at the end of this week. Many of you will know that Phil has been leading the Learning Technology Team in its many guises throughout the years since it was first established in 2002.

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Over the years he has overseen not one, not two but three (!!!) changes in VLE here at Brunel. For those of you who have been here long enough to remember… we first had WebCT Campus Edition in 2002, followed by WebCT Vista/ u-Link in 2007 and finally Blackboard Learn in 2012.

Phil has led the team tirelessly throughout the years, supporting many projects and initiatives whilst raising the profile of e-Learning at Brunel, both internally and externally.

He has now decided to take early retirement.  We know that one thing he won’t miss for sure is the traffic on the dreaded M25 during his daily commute!

Thanks for all your hard work over the years, Phil – time to have your well-earned break now!

Have you ever wondered what students REALLY want to see in Blackboard Learn?

We recently asked Brunel students what they liked about the way their lecturers were using Blackboard Learn.

We received over 450 responses!

Here are just a few extracts…..

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If you are interested to get inspired and to learn about how you can make your Bb Learn Courses more student friendly, why not drop by to the Tech Zone at this year’s Learning & Teaching Symposium?

You can find us in the Mead Room (Hamilton Building) on 1st May 2014.

Further details about the event are available here