The Learning Technology Team and Alex Osmond, the Project Manager of the upgrade, will be sifting through the queries that this process is sure to generate to find the ones that keep coming up. We’ll eventually organise them by theme, but for now we’ll just put them on the page (with an answer, of course) as is!
Click the question to get your answer.
Who’s running the project?
Lots of people are involved in making sure that Brunel University’s upgrade from u-Link (WebCT Vista) to Blackboard Learn goes smoothly. You can find out about them at the dedicated blog page (use the menu on the left). The important thing to remember is that all Brunel staff and students have a say in the process – this is your Virtual Learning Environment, so we will be listening to what people have to say, and trying to address concerns users have. The new Blackboard system offers us a great opportunity to expand and improve our online learning, so this is an important step for lecturers, support staff, librarians, students of all kinds and on all courses, and ultimately the University itself.
Why are we upgrading?
Several reasons. First of all, Blackboard aren’t supporting our u-Link system after summer 2012. We don’t want to be running an unsupported system, because we want to keep our users happy! However, we’re also using this upgrade as an opportunity to look at how different systems at the University (like SITS, e-Vision, Blackboard, and your email accounts) actually work together. We want to make the experience of teaching, learning and communicating at Brunel as smooth as possible. Finally, Blackboard Learn is, quite frankly, exciting! There are lots of new features, so lecturers will be able to engage with their students in lots of new ways.
Who should I contact for u-Link support?
Just because we’re upgrading to Blackboard Learn, doesn’t mean that if you have any problems or queries with u-Link in the meantime (most people will still be using u-Link into 2012) there won’t be support available. Our excellent Learning Technology Team (previously the e-Learning team) should be contacted through their group email address email@example.com. Maintaining our excellent support for staff and students is a high priority for the project members.
What’s so good about Blackboard Learn?
Blackboard Learn offers too many opportunities to go into detail here! Blackboard have listened to its users over the past few years and have improved so much – the browsing and navigating processes are quicker and easier; content from sites like YouTube and Flickr can be embedded much more easily; you’ll be able to chat with your peers and tutors much more easily; if you can’t make it onto campus but want to ‘attend’ the lecture from home, you may have that option. It’s worth pointing out that different Schools might use different tools (as is the case now), but the online learning experience will be better for everyone.
As a lecturer, will I have to write lots of new content?
Not necessarily! u-Link courses can be migrated into Blackboard Learn as is. There’s a bit of tidying up to be done, but it doesn’t take long, and the LTT will offer their usual excellent support. If you want to write a new module from scratch, of course, that’s up to you. Either way, you’ll have plenty of new tools to play with – and we’ll be rolling out training to help you very soon.
How long will it take to migrate or transfer my existing content?
This depends on the size, complexity and make-up of your current u-Link sections. Blackboard have done their best to make this process as smooth as possible, and we’re actually investing in some brand new, shiny hardware to take advantage of Blackboard Learn’s faster experience. This means that some sections will be transferred in minutes, while others might take a little longer.
I’m a student new to Blackboard – where can I get support?
The LTT will be offering drop-in sessions, one-page guides and interactive online content to help you get to know the system. More information will be published when it’s available.
I’m an academic, and I want training! When and how will this happen?
Great question – I’m glad you’ve asked. We’re putting together an exciting training package that will blend face-to-face sessions, School-specific roadshows, interactive online content, and do-it-yourself guides. As soon as these materials become available, we will be spreading the news, so you can get to work learning about all the ways Blackboard Learn will make your teaching faster, easier, and more exciting.
Will I have to learn how to use the new system quickly?
During the next academic year, we’ll be training everyone that needs training comprehensively and thoroughly. If you are confident with the current VLE, you should find that Blackboard Learn just offers more, and is actually easier to use.