E-Learning Newsletter – August 2017 Edition
Welcome to the August edition of our newsletter, which summarises the latest news on technology enhanced learning provision across the University.
To navigate through the contents below, you will need to open up the Google Doc for the hyperlinks to work. Otherwise, you can just scroll through the blog post.
In this edition:
- Info: Summer 2017 VLE Upgrade
- Info: VLE Content Collection Issue
- Info: UCAS Embargo and VLE Data Feed
- Info: Replay Maintenance Downtime: Saturday August 12.
- Info: Turning Point Software Upgrade
- Info: Change to Lecture Capture Retention Policy
- Info: New Reading List Software: Summer Training Sessions
- Info: Blackboard Collaborate Ultra has been Updated
- Info: VLE Mobile App Update
- Recap: 2017: York Tech for York Pedagogy Webinar Recording
- Training: Development Opportunities and Bespoke Training
2017 Summer VLE Upgrade
We are pleased to report that our annual upgrade of the VLE was completed successfully on 11th July.
The upgrade brings with it a number of new features, as well as some changes to existing functionality, as a result of the upgrade. Some of the new features and enhancements included in this release are:
- Submission Confirmation Receipts
- Submission Reminders
- Fewer ‘Needs Grading’ Items
- Updated Form Submit/Cancel Button Behaviour
- Drag and Drop Files
- Improved Behaviour for Self and Peer Assessments
- Content Tool Icons
- Course Activity Report Enhancements
- Content Collection Search Permission
There are also many bug fixes and stability improvements which will improve the experience of all users for the next academic year.
If you have any questions please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
VLE Content Collection Issue
We have encountered an issue with the VLE Content Collection which has resulted in some departmental/institutional content areas having files deleted from them. Some of these files are linked to/used by current taught modules. We have detected this situation before the materials have been permanently deleted and they can be recovered from a backup.
Module sites which could be affected are:
- Those which use a default course files area located inside an institutional area
- Sites that contain links to content from Y2011 modules or before
Some module sites are affected in a minor way with only a single broken content link, whereas others contain many more broken links.
Please do not attempt to modify the default course files area of any module site or request module site deletions. We need the existing settings to be maintained so that we can determine which areas of your institutional area may have been affected by the deletion and where content was originally linked to.
Files have been deleted due to a combination of factors:
- Historically departments were encouraged to store module resources in their institutional areas
The most recent advice (for at least the last three years) has been that all teaching resources related to a specific year’s instance of a taught module should have their resources stored in the local course files area.
- Some departments or modules use the institutional area as the default area for module files
Again this is a historical thing, and may have possibly been held over for convenience as the institution area would open when attempting to attach or upload files. Modules have had their own local storage for many years now and we can see this has been overridden for many modules on the system.
- A bug, or incorrect information, in the module purge which deletes content from institutional areas
The effect of this was not noticed until departments reported links to content were showing as broken.
These content collection deletions have occurred as an unintended side effect of the module purge earlier this year where modules over five years old were purged from the system. Files were initially soft deleted and moved to recycle bins by the module purge process (in March) and then fully purged from the recycle bins 90 days after that (in June). It was after this point that the issue became visible to users as broken file links in module sites, whilst the files were in the recycle bins they were still accessible just like any other file.
Fortunately as we keep a 90 day backup after the 90 day recycle bin timeout, the files have not been permanently deleted and they are available for recovery. Unfortunately links to these files from module content items will be broken as we have to recover the files from a backup instance of the VLE and copy them into the live instance, these links will require manual intervention to correct.
What we will do next is:
- Recover all the deleted content from the recycle bins and restore it to its correct locations in the relevant departmental/institutional areas
- Contact the VLE Coordinator in each department advising which content collection areas were deleted/restored, which modules were affected and also the volume of broken links for each module affected by this issue. Depending upon the state of modules in your department and the usage of the institutional area for course files, we will agree a way forward to relink content for current (or previous year modules that may need it) and provide a fix going forwards.
- We will follow this up with information and guidance on the use of the content collection in line with current policy and best practice. This material will cover the correct configuration and use of the default course files area, where different types of files should be stored, how files should be managed such that a record of what has been used for teaching is maintained and a new set of resources is provided for the next cohort, etc.
We have already received a number of content related support requests and we will deal with these based on their urgency. If you do have any queries about this message or have content issues please submit further support requests to email@example.com
Please disseminate this information to those in your department who use the VLE.
The E-Learning Development Team apologise for any inconvenience caused.
If you have any questions please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
UCAS Embargo and VLE Data Feed
Please note that this year the UCAS Embargo will be in effect from 0900 on Thursday the 10th of August until 0800 on Thursday the 17th of August.
During this time, all applicant accounts in the VLE will be disabled such that changes to their account status would not reveal a change in their UCAS status before it is officially announced and released.
The VLE data feed is also currently suspended whilst the SITS Progression and Registry Academic Year Rollovers takes place. As the feed is disabled no daily enrolments will be made using SITS or People group users until the feed is resumed.
We expect the feed to resume after the UCAS Embargo period ends on Thursday the 17th of August. Prior to the UCAS Embargo there is expected to be a single run of the data feed on Wednesday the 9th of August.
If you have any questions please contact us at: email@example.com
Change to Lecture Capture Retention Policy
In previous years, Timetabled Lecture Captures were retained and made available for the subsequent academic year following recording. After which time they were permanently deleted.
Henceforth, this retention period will be extended from 2 to 5 years – placing the retention of lecture recordings in– line with the VLE module site lifespan. With the new policy, recordings will be permanently deleted starting 2021, as part of an annual deletion process in late August/early September at the end of the Summer Vacation. For example, a lecture capture made in the Spring Term of 2015 will be automatically deleted at the end of the Summer vacation in 2021.
Previous viewing habits have shown that for the vast majority of recordings, students only use them during their studies on a given module. After which point, the utilisation drops off considerably by the end of the subsequent academic year. As such, current recordings will continue to be made ‘unavailable’ to students after 2 years, but will still be accessible and visible to staff in an archived state. This will provide departments with the flexibility to give students access to older recordings where a need exists.
As was the case previously, recordings using Personal Recording software or uploaded video resources, (i.e. those not made using the timetabled Lecture Capture service) will not be made unavailable or automatically deleted as part of this policy and will therefore remain available for viewing on an ongoing basis.
Affected staff will be notified again prior to recordings being made unavailable in September after any Summer assessment resits.
Lecturers may download an archival copy (see http://www.york.ac.uk/replay/ for guides) or delete a recording at any time.
The change is now reflected in the Replay policy and guidance.
Please direct all questions and queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Turning Point Software Update
A new version of Turning Point has replaced Turning Point Cloud on Lectern PCs and Managed PCs across campus. This change is also now reflected in the Software Centre. If you are using Turning Point Cloud, please install the new version of the software. Your existing login credentials and old presentations will continue to work as normal.
FAO Turning Point 5 Users
With the ongoing move from Windows 7/Office 2013 to Windows 10/Office 2016 on lectern PCs across campus, compatibility issues have arisen with an older version of the software (Turning Point 5 ) which has caused disruption when using presentation slides created using this version of the software.
Having consulted with the Desktop Team in IT Services and with the software vendor, Turning Technologies, our advice to staff who wish to use Turning Point functionality within their lecture slides, regardless of the previous version used, is to start using the new version of the software, Turning Point
Turning Technologies is no longer supporting Turning Point 5 on Windows 10. As such, going forward, any changes to hardware or software on University PCs may cause further issues with this old version which the product vendor will not provide us with support for.
What do I need to do?
As computers across campus upgrade to newer versions of Windows and Powerpoint, you will need to use a newer version of the software. As a result of this, some of your older presentations may fail to initially work as expected or take a very long time to load. In order to prevent this, you will need to:
- Stop using Turning Point 5 to create new presentations. Install and use Turning Point going forward.
- Re-save and optimise your old presentations within the new version of the software.
How do I do this?
- On a Managed Windows PC on Campus, you can install the software via the Software Centre.
- When installed, set your region to ‘Europe/Africa/Middle East/Russia’
- If you have not created an account, select ‘Create Account’ and use your University (@york.ac.uk or @hyms.ac.uk) email address.
- Open your old presentation slides with the new version of Turning Point
Note: it may take some time to pre-load old graphs the first time a presentation is opened.
- Important: Press file > Save As to save a new version of your slides. Once converted, your old slides will no longer be compatible with old versions of Turning Point.
When do I need to do this by?
To limit disruption to your teaching, users should look to update to the new version and update their slides before the start of teaching the 2017 Autumn Academic Term.
Who can I contact if I have questions about this?
Please direct any queries to email@example.com
Info: Replay Maintenance Downtime: Saturday August 12.
Due to an upgrade, Panopto – the Cloud Platform that we use to deliver our Replay Service, will be unavailable for users between 20:00 and 23:00 on Saturday August 12.
Users should be forewarned that the service will be completely unavailable during this period. This includes access to Replay lecture captures within the ‘Replay Content’ tool link on Yorkshare VLE sites.
To see a full run-down of new features that will come in Panopto 5.5, see the official release notes. [External Web Link]
New Reading List Software: Summer Training Sessions
The University of York will be introducing a new Reading List system in time for the beginning of the 2017/18 academic year to replace EARL.
The Library team are currently in the process of extracting data from EARL and course information from the VLE, which is being used in a test environment to configure the new software. Near the end of the Summer Term we will be holding drop-in sessions and showcases to demonstrate the new system, dates & locations of these will be provided to departments by Academic Liaison Librarians.
During the vacation, the Library are offering Reading Lists workshops, designed as practical sessions to help you edit your own reading lists, and ask any questions you may have about the system. The workshops will last up to two hours and will take place in the Library (LFA/015). You can book your place online. [Web Link]
You can read more about the migration process on the Library’s website [Web Link].
If you have any concerns or would like any additional information, you can pass this on through your Academic Liaison Librarian, or contact our Reading List team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Info: Blackboard Collaborate Ultra has been Updated
As part of our recent upgrade activities, there is now new functionality available within Collaborate Ultra. There will be full details around these updates in next month’s newsletter, but if you want to find out more before then please email email@example.com
New features include:
- Plan Ahead – Build and configure future meetings/webinars in advance using Sessions.
- Webinar recordings can now include the text chat pane.
- Recordings made in-session can now be easily downloaded (as .mp4), as can text chat transcripts (as .txt)
- Use session attendance reports to see who joined your webinar and for how long.
- Lock your room when not in use, so participants cannot enter.
Info: VLE Mobile App Update
There are currently five main mobile apps available for use with Blackboard products, allowing you access to many facets of the VLE on the go. In order to generally simplify their mobile offering, Blackboard are retiring the following three apps in 2017:
- “Mobile Learn” (already retired – August 1st 2017)
- “Bb Grader” (TBC – by end of 2017)
- “Blackboard Collaborate” (TBC – by end of 2017)
This will leave the following two apps available for use by the end of 2017, only:
- “Blackboard Instructor” – For use by staff
- “Blackboard App” (formerly known as “Bb Student”) – For use by students.
Much of the functionality provided by the Mobile Learn and Blackboard Collaborate apps will be added to Blackboard App and Blackboard Instructor in the future, if not already available. Much of the grading functionality provided by Bb Grader should be available within Blackboard Instructor by the end of 2017.
2017: York Tech for York Pedagogy Webinar Recording
Departments are currently engaged in mapping activities and developing enhancement plans for their undergraduate programmes as they seek to implement the principles of the York Pedagogy.
Learning designs that utilise technologies in a considered and structured way can have a significant impact on student learning, supporting a range of learning approaches and experiences. Over the summer, the E-Learning Development team delivered a series of sessions that demonstrated how centrally-supported learning technologies have been embedded into individual module and programme designs to address specific learning outcomes, support effective staff-student contact and scaffold student work.
The key messages from these sessions have been captured in a webinar recording, which is available now for viewing. The webinar presentation explores the principles of the York Pedagogy and discusses how the e-learning tool-set can be employed to provide opportunities for students to rehearse and articulate their knowledge as part of their independent study.
You can view the Webinar Recording on our E-Learning Blog.
Development Opportunities and Bespoke Training
VLE Induction – Getting Started with Yorkshare and Baseline Approaches
This can be tailored to an academic or support staff context, specific to your use of the VLE in your role – ideal for those who are new to using Yorkshare or who may need a refresher on certain tools and functionality. Section 1 of the York TEL Handbook also covers recommended good practice for baseline use of Yorkshare. As well as 1:1 consultations at the modular level, we can tailor this session to programme teams for a more holistic overview.
VLE Induction – Yorkshare Administration
Yorkshare Administration training is for departmental administrators who need to create and manage Yorkshare module sites and content system privileges.
VLE Induction – Self-paced Getting Started Tutorial
Additionally, you can self-enrol on a tutorial VLE site that you can work through (or use as a reference source) for your basic VLE site development and maintenance needs. The Tutorial comprises of short narrated walk-through videos (hosted on YouTube) contextualised into a logical tutorial framework that you can follow at your own pace. To self-enrol on this VLE site, log-in to the VLE and then hit the following link: Self-paced Yorkshare (VLE) Getting Started Tutorial (click the ‘+Enrol’ button at the bottom of the left menu).
All the videos from the Getting Started VLE site are also publicly available and can be accessed via our website: Getting Started with Yorkshare – New Online Support Resources.
You can view a more comprehensive list of the professional development opportunities that we offer on our E-Learning Blog.
To request a session for either yourself or to make a booking for your department, please contact us at the earliest possible convenience at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, we welcome any feedback and suggestions on how we can support e-learning and use of the VLE and other technologies within your departments. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch at email@example.com.