E-Learning Newsletter – June 2021 Edition

Welcome to the June edition of our newsletter, which summarises the latest news on technology enhanced learning provision across the University. You can use the links in the contents below to navigate through the different sections of the newsletter.

You can stay up to date with us by visiting our website: https://elearningyork.wordpress.com/ or following us on Twitter: @UoY_Yorkshare (Service) & UoY_TEL (Pedagogy)

For an entry point to our key resources, please see the following pages:

Planned System Outages – VLE Summer Upgrade July 13/14th, Panopto June 26th, Collaborate Ultra June 10th

Remember: You can always find summary information about planned outages for all our systems on our System Availability page.

VLE Outage

We are now in the final stages of testing and configuring the target release for the summer upgrade of the VLE. Further information on the specifics of the new release and other service news has been communicated to departments via their VLE coordinators at the VLE Coordinators meeting held on the 27th of May. If you need to know more, discuss this with your coordinator who can share this information with you. We would like to remind departments that the VLE and Replay Lecture Capture will be unavailable to all users all day Tuesday the 13th July and Wednesday the 14th of July 2021.

Please ensure that these dates are shared widely within your Department. If you are aware of any planned teaching and learning activities that are running during these upgrade periods, please contact the Programme Design and Learning Technology Team as early as possible at vle-support@york.ac.uk and we will endeavour to find a solution for you.

Panopto Outage

On Saturday, June 26, Panopto Cloud will be upgraded to the latest cloud release. This upgrade will require downtime and Panopto/Replay will be unavailable to users while work is being carried out. Recordings can still be made using the At-desk recorder but will not be uploaded to the Panopto server until the work is complete.

The downtime is expected to last for 3 hours between 7pm – 10pm BST (TBC) – confirmation of exact timings will be announced officially in the June issue of this newsletter along with details of new features.

Collaborate Ultra Outage

Collaborate Ultra is updated roughly once a month by Blackboard, which requires a four hour period of down time where users cannot use the system. The next planned update is overnight between Wednesday June 9th and Thursday June 10th – 00:01 to 04:00 BST.

The main change relates to the Blackboard apps: Collaborate recordings will become more easily accessible via the apps after this release. See Collaborate’s Release Notes page for more information.

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PDLT Late May Bank Holiday Support

On the Late May Bank Holiday, on Monday the 31st of May, we will be offering a reduced level of support for enquiries by email only (vle-support@york.ac.uk); no telephone support will be provided. Our full level of service will be available again as normal from Tuesday the 1st of June.

Should you require support for systems or services not supported by PDLT, our colleagues in the IT Support Office (ITSO / itsupport@york.ac.uk) will also be offering a similar service to ours (email, no phone).

Wishing you all a restful bank holiday weekend.

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Removing video from the VLE content collection

As we approach the next module rollover, all staff are encouraged to review their Y2020 modules to ensure that they have cleared-out any videos or equivalent large media files that may have previously been uploaded directly to the VLE’s content collection. (This does not apply to videos that have been uploaded to Replay/Panopto.

This new step-by-step guide explains how you can access your VLE module’s content collection, and easily identify and remove large media files. 

Videos that may still be accessed by students or will be used in the future should be transferred to Replay/Panopto.  The following guidance document provides specific information on how to upload pre-existing videos to Panopto, and/or transfer media files from the VLE to Panopto: Video – Inappropriate Uploading/Sharing Methods to Avoid

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Planning blended learning and delivery

Available now:

Flipped Learning Toolkit: A concise, searchable introduction to the core principles of flipped learning, and how to approach introducing flipped learning to your module or programme of study.

2020-21 Learning and teaching Conversations: Recordings and resources from two workshops organised by the Learning and Teaching Forum in collaboration with the PDLT to share experiences and effective practices from 2020-21: 

  • What have we learned from our experiences of teaching and learning during the Coronavirus Pandemic online and on-campus?
  • What positives can we take forward and share from these experiences in the immediate future and in the post-COVID University?

Coming soon:

Blended Learning-Integrating in-person and online learning and teaching:  VLE Module for staff to update the Preparing for dual delivery (2020-21) & Webinars 2020 sites

July webinar series: Sessions on course design, evaluation and analytics, inclusive practice, digital content and resources, assessment design, and approaches to feedback

For these and further resources, please see our “Staff: Online/Dual Delivery Teaching & Learning One Stop Shop” page.

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Video of the month

What happens when office hours are reframed as a group activity rather than an individual one?  In this month’s ‘video vignette’, Thomas Ron (Politics) outlines his experiences and points to benefits in terms of attendance and engagement  

The effect of presenting office hours as a group activity (UoY log in to Panopto required)

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Recap: Xerte user group meeting 4 May

The recording from the Xerte user group meeting on 4 May is now available, with contributions by James Lamont (IPC), Lilian Soon (PDLT), Maria Muradas-Taylor (LLS) and David Anderson (IPC). Many thanks to attendees for sharing.

We’ve added two pedagogical models as examples in our Xerte website.

Find out more about Xerte.

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PDLT present at two international conferences

Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference 2021

Richard Walker and Amy Eyre from our team have presented at the virtual Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference this week, giving a talk on “Pedagogical redesign during the pandemic: Using Collaborate to drive new modes of student engagement”. Their talk shared three case study examples of COVID Collaborate use here at York:

  • Prof Alistair Boxall – Moving from a physical field trip and research project to a virtual equivalent
  • Sinéad McCotter – Moving an existing assessment online
  • Sinéad McCotter – Creating a new assessment for online

You can view the slides from Richard and Amy’s presentation from the following link:

Pedagogical redesign during the pandemic: Using Collaborate to drive new modes of student engagement (pptx)

Virtual Campus: The Future of Education Forum. Re-envisioning Education with Blended & Remote Teaching

Richard Walker’s talk on “Inclusive learning design for online learners” presented some key lessons learned from the University’s teaching experience during the pandemic, focusing on how we have refreshed our inclusive learning strategies in the light of the pivot to online learning delivery.  It drew upon some of the research findings from the Inclusive Learning, Teaching and Assessment project group, as well as inclusive instructional design by Prof. Martin Suckling, Department of Music.

You can view and download Richard’s presentation from the following Slideshare page:

Inclusive learning design for online learners

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Webinars and meetups: York, AbilityNet, Texthelp and JISC webinars

Each month, the University of York, AbilityNet, Texthelp and JISC run webinars on digital accessibility and related topics. 

View the e-accessibility calendar for these and other events.


3 Jun, 12pm to 1pm. Let’s get digital: equations and symbols.

11 Jun, 10am to 12pm. Creating Accessible Documents.

18 Jun, 12pm to 1pm. Accessible Documents Group meetup.

Internal and external

24 Jun, 1pm to 2pm. Future Teacher – Designing online activities and resources


1 Jun, 1.00pm to 2.00pm. AbilityNet: Smart Home: Tech tips for independent living.

2 Jun, 12.30pm to 1.30pm. JISC accessibility drop-in clinic – Organisational change.

8 Jun, 1pm to 1.30pm. Abilitynet – Accessibility insights with Larry Goldberg, Verizon Media.

10 Jun, 10am to 12.30pm. Kent webinar series: Pedagogy and practice.

14 Jun, 1.00pm to 4.00pm. Academic Libraries North, NC Enabling Group: Accessible reading materials.

23 Jun, 1.00pm to 2.00pm. Texthelp guided tour: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

NADP webinars

The National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP) are running a webinar each week in June:

  • 2 Jun, 1.00pm to 2.30pm. NADP webinar: Exploring the roles of the disability practitioner

  • 9 Jun, 1.00pm to 3.00pm. NADP webinar: New technologies and improved accessibility

  • 16 Jun, 1.00pm to 2.30pm. NADP webinar: Transition in an online or blended world

  • 23 Jun, 1.00pm to 2.30pm. NADP webinar: UDL – the next steps / Future steps for inclusive learning

  • 30 Jun, 1.00pm to 2.30pm. NADP webinar: CPD and Critical Analysis in the Workplace

Why not watch some recordings from previous webinars? 

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Funding for digital accessibility projects

Departments are invited to apply for funding to progress their digital accessibility action plans. This funding round targets departments with mathematical or STEM material. Deadline extended to 4 June. Find out more.

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E-accessibility News

Event: Let’s get digital, equations and symbols • 3 Jun • 12pm to 1pm

Create professional-looking documents that include all the mathematical, graphical or chemical elements that you want in them.

You don’t need LaTeX to create these! You can copy, edit, hand draw, dictate or just type in EquatIO. This software inserts your input into your document, whether it’s Word, Google Doc or any digital document. EquatIO has the tools to support equations and symbols in every discipline and STEM subjects as well. Learn the basics in this webinar run by a Maths student and the Maths Skills Centre. Sign up for the digital equations and symbols workshop.

Webinar: Attempting to create order in a chaotic world! • 18 Jun • 10.30am to 11.30am

Our Digital Accessibility student champions have been delivering workshops as part of the Academic Skills Community. Amanda Hickey (who is also an Associate Lecturer in Psychology) presents this workshop:

Finding it hard to keep things organised? Juggling too much and need help making sense of multiple things? Amanda shares a core process you can apply to find your own personal approaches to managing chaos. You will be encouraged to share things that have worked for you too. Sign up for the Chaos workshop.

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Recap: Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) • 20 May

Missed out on attending any of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day events? 

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Training: Creating Accessible Documents • Online using Collaborate Ultra • 10am to 12pm • 11 Jun

1320 – the number of attendees who have attended the workshop so far! Latest feedback includes:

“This was super useful and I’m seeing incorrect hyperlinks everywhere now! Already thinking about how to make our Wiki better – I have trouble viewing it myself because my browser has to be at 120% for my eyes. Thanks very much.”

The workshop demonstrates how ‘universal design’ can help everyone, and not just those with an accessibility need. Practise creating accessible documents using your own documents or using sample documents. Find out more and sign up for the workshop. You will be sent a Zoom link to join the online training room.

Find other events at http://bit.ly/eaccess-calendar.

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Accessible Documents Meetup Group  • 12pm to 1pm • 18 Jun

“I really enjoyed this session and I think it is very useful…You can learn so many new things.”

Interested in making accessible content and resources? Join our online monthly meetup to share resources or discuss a challenge you would like help with.

Accessible Documents Meetup Group information and sign up

Bespoke training

If your department has specific questions about the kind of documents you produce and how accessible they are to users, why not book a bespoke training workshop where we go through the principles and use your documents as examples? Contact lilian.soon@york.ac.uk to make arrangements.

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Blackboard Ally News

About Blackboard Ally.

Up to 28 May 2021, there were 5,864 launches of the instructor feedback. That’s the green, orange or red dials next to the files uploaded to the VLE. It’s great that people are using this as part of a process for accessibility feedback and checking. Find out more interesting statistics on our BB Ally site linked above.

All courses on Blackboard will have Ally enabled from the end of term onwards. This will help all colleagues as they prepare their sites for a new term. Need help getting your site and documents ready? See 

Funding for digital accessibility projects for more information.

Please help us find out more about how students use alternative formats by asking them to complete our survey on student use of Ally. We really appreciate it. 

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Texthelp Read&Write and EquatIO

See our event, Let’s get digital, running on 3 June as part of the ASC series of workshops. 

We now have 606 users of Texthelp tools. Do continue to promote these tools to colleagues and students. 

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FT Webinar: Designing online learning activities and resources, 24 Jun 2021, 1pm

The May Future Teacher webinar was on the topic Designing Technology Enhanced programmes and saw over 85 participants across the UK and beyond. Want to find out how to create more inclusive programmes while blending f2f and online approaches? View the recording on the Future Teacher website.

Our next webinar on Designing online learning activities and resources on 24 Jun 1pm will feature Jon Fanning from UYMS. We like to feature speakers from the University whenever possible. You can also contribute by reviewing the content from the previous webinar and providing a fresh literature review! 

The Future Teacher series of webinars has been running for 4 years! We are re-running the topics from the beginning, adding fresh input by guest speakers and updating resources as we go, to ensure that these open source materials continue to benefit everyone.

If you have a minute to give us some feedback (feedback form), just let us know what you’ve gained from the FutureTeacher sessions or how they’ve influenced your teaching.  

Interested in presenting? Please do get in touch with lilian.soon@york.ac.uk.

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Standing item: Future Teacher Webinars

Future Teacher webinars have been running once a month at lunch time for over two years.  Previous sessions have featured various University of York staff or resources and covered:

  • Online learning – what works?/li>
  • The Flipped Classroom
  • Knowing what they know – getting feedback from students (Alex Reid, Psychology)
  • Collaborative teaching and learning – inside and outside the classroom
  • Strategies to support reading
  • Strategies to support writing (Lou Stringer, Learning Enhancement, Jenny Threlfall, SPSW)
  • Self-assessment and mastery learning (Stefan Wytwyckyj, IPC)
  • Using Social Media in Teaching and Learning (Glenn Hurst, Katie Lamb, Chemistry)
  • Inclusive Practice (Emily Brunsden, Physics, Penny Spikins, Archaeology)
  • Working with Rich Media – Images (Sandrine Devlin, LFA)
  • Working with Rich Media – Audio (David Beer, Sociology, Barry Lee and Chris Jay, Philosophy)
  • Working with Rich Media – Video (features our Replay guides, Martin Suckling – Music , Sally Quinn – Psychology)
  • Getting Savvy with digital tools and resources
  • Designing appropriate assessments (Scott Slorach, Law)
  • Designing for technology enhanced programmes
  • Designing and Creating Online Learning Activities and Resources (Sociology’s resource ‘The Bureau of Applied History’ was added to the inspiration board)
  • The wonderful world of webinars (Amy Eyre, PDLT)
  • Future Proofing Future Teacher – including sharing and reusing our Journeys
  • Learning Analytics (Jess Wardman, TYMS and James Youdale, PDLT)

Access previously recorded webinars and the interactive learning resources from our Future Teacher WordPress page or directly from the Future Teacher web site.

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Standing Item: Departmental training sessions

As part of our remit to provide advice and support to academic Departments, we can work with you to design and deliver sessions focused on a range of programme design and learning technology matters.  

You may be planning some specific programme developments or looking to explore the potential benefits of different approaches or tools within your learning, teaching and assessment within and across modules.  Or you may want to address some particular learning, teaching and assessment challenges or opportunities within your Department. Themes that we have helped to address recently include:

  • Facilitating interactivity and engagement within large lectures using Electronic Voting Systems and synchronous discussion tools
  • Enhancing student engagement with learning outside class contact time and between scheduled sessions using the VLE

We can provide bespoke input informed by case studies on subjects such as: 

  • Learning and teaching in large groups or in small groups
  • Supporting independent study
  • Maximising the benefits of live learning and teaching activities through activities carried out in between sessions (front-loading, flipped learning, ‘blended’ learning)
  • Enhancing formative assessment
  • Enhancing feedback processes
  • Developing assessments to maximise learning (e.g. assessing process elements as well as end products; incorporating collaborative working; integrating skills)
  • Approaches to ‘engagement’ in assessment: Active learning and assessment; ‘real-world’ / authentic assessments; integrating transferable skills

You can also view a comprehensive list of the professional development opportunities that we offer for staff 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: vle-support@york.ac.uk

Information on available induction information for staff and students can be found here: Induction Resources for Staff and Students.

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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 vle-support@york.ac.uk.

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