A glossary of terms
Sometimes in Higher Education, we assume other people always know what we’re talking about! To avoid this problem, we’ll be putting together a glossary of the kinds of terms we’ll be using a lot as the project gets underway. If you have any suggestions, please email the Project Manager, Alex Osmond, using email@example.com
Blackboard – A market-leading corporation that delivers various software solutions for universities and colleges worldwide. These products range from the VLE, Blackboard Learn, to the mobile interface for that VLE (Blackboard Mobile), to campus security systems (Blackboard Transact).
Blackboard Learn 9.1 – Blackboard Learn is the VLE that we will be purchasing and installing to upgrade from WebCT Vista (u-Link). The number 9.1 refers to the specific version of the platform (which is the latest).
Building Block – The easiest way to understand this is to imagine the equivalent of a smartphone app for a VLE. Blackboard produce Building Blocks that allow you to do more with the VLE, but so do other universities and companies. Some are free, some are not. We’ll be looking at what is available over the coming months to see what we’d like to put into place at Brunel.
LTT – the Learning Technology Team here at Brunel. These familiar faces were once known as the e-Learning team, but since their move into Academic Services, they’re now the LTT. Under the auspices of Paal Elgvad, Phil Alberts leads an excellent team made up of Anu Sharma, Alex Fraser, Santanu Vasant, and Natalie Parnis. This team provides frontline support and training for whatever VLE is current, and is deeply involved in ensuring our upgrade goes well.
Pedagogy/pedagogic – These words mean anything that is related to teaching, or a particular style of teaching, or a way of helping other people learn. For example, the project’s Pedagogic team won’t be looking at technical issues, but are instead concerned with how the new VLE will perform in terms of teaching.
SITS: Vision - This is the system Brunel use for keeping track of student data (enrolment, degree awarding, grades, and so on). When you’re using the eVision software, you’re essentially using the ‘front-end’ of the SITS system. Part of the VLE upgrade will be assessing how much more we can integrate SITS and Blackboard Learn.
Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) – Exactly what it sounds like; TEL refers to any learning that involves technology. This could range from asking students to find a particular piece of information on a webpage, to hosting a chat in Facebook. There are lots of other phrases that mean the same thing: online learning, e-learning, and so on.
u-Link – this is our current Virtual Learning Environment, which we are upgrading. The name was chosen by staff and students at Brunel; the actual name for the software is WebCT Vista. We’ve been using u-Link since 2006, so there have been many developments in that time. Blackboard Learn takes advantage of these developments.
VLE – stands for Virtual Learning Environment. While various technologies can be integrated with a VLE, this term means the platform you log into in order to access course content. Brunel’s current VLE is called u-Link, but we are upgrading it to Blackboard Learn. SecondLife, for example, is a virtual world, and not a VLE or part of a VLE.
WebCT Vista – the actual name for the product Brunel currently has as its VLE. We call it u-Link, but that is our own name for the WebCT Vista platform. WebCT used to be a corporation in their own right, but have since been bought by Blackboard. As such, our current VLE is owned by Blackboard, though it was not originally developed by them. It will no longer be supported after Summer 2012.