E-Learning Newsletter – July 2021 Edition

Welcome to the July 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:

Awards: Blackboard Catalyst winner in two categories

Congratulations to Amy Eyre for her Blackboard MoCo Community Engagement award and to the University of York’s E-Accessibility Working Group for the Inclusive Education award, recognising the success of our digital accessibility initiatives across the institution.

PDLT are also pleased to have received a Making the Difference award from the University. 

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Planned System Outages – VLE Summer Upgrade July 13/14th, Panopto June 26th, Collaborate Ultra July 7th

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.

Collaborate Ultra Outage

uires a four hour period of down time where users cannot use the system. The next planned update is overnight between Wednesday July 7th and Thursday July 8th – 00:01 to 04:00 BST.

This update will bring improvements to the Video Gallery, helping users on slower internet connections still have a good experience. Some other background changes are also being introduced. See Collaborate’s Release Notes page for more information.

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Preparing your videos for reuse

Many educators at York will want to reuse videos they created as part of their teaching this year in future teaching, either as core learning materials or additional resources to support students. 

In this blog post you can find a simple checklist of key steps to consider when preparing to reuse video materials. An accompanying video (UoY log in to Panopto required) explains how to manage your videos in the University’s Replay/Panopto system to ensure future students can access them.

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Blended learning design and delivery

We are pleased to announce the launch of a “Blended Learning Design and Delivery” resource for staff on the VLE. This is a revised version of “Planning for Dual Delivery 2020-21” which refocuses support for the academic year 2020/21 towards ongoing design and delivery of integrated in-person and online teaching and learning.

The design sections of the site focus on combining in-person and online modes of delivery to best effect. They also offer support with planning assessment and evaluation of blended learning modules.

The teaching/facilitation section focuses on supporting inclusive learning communities and groups and designing and facilitating synchronous and asynchronous learning activities in-person and online.

Supported by examples, the site is targeted at module leaders and all staff who teach or support student learning, including Graduate Teaching Assistants.

The site contents can be accessed in sequence to support staff designing and delivering all aspects. Signposts to key sections of the site are also offered for module leaders looking for support with different elements of module design or for staff who teach who are looking for support with different types of teaching activity.

Blended learning design and delivery (Please log into the VLE before you click on this link) 

We will also be offering summer webinars in collaboration with the Academic Practice team on aspects of designing and delivering blended learning.  These will include the following themes:

  • Inclusive learning and teaching
  • Blended learning module design
  • Weaving in-person and online learning activities
  • Student engagement in synchronous and asynchronous online learning
  • Time-Limited Take-Home Exams
  • Evaluating blended learning

If you would like to suggest any additional themes that you would like to see included, please let us know (vle-support@york.ac.uk). 

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Video of the month

In the following ‘Future Teacher’ video (11 mins), Scott Slorach, York Law School, describes how a third year undergraduate law module assessment is designed to allow students to ‘flourish’ by exploring their interests and personalising learning and assessment whilst demonstrating relevant practical skills as well as knowledge. In the two-part assessment, students are asked to:

  1. Collaborate to analyse and explore a problem incorporating individual research (30%).
  2. Propose two practical outputs based on this analysis and chosen to demonstrate the learning outcomes (70%).
    (e.g. journal article, case analysis, training materials for specialist and non-specialist audiences, op-ed newspaper piece, pitch for a radio programme, parliamentary committee submission)

This gives students freedom to explore their interests and preferences whilst also encouraging a sense of control and ownership over how the learning outcomes can be met and demonstrated. Scott describes the assessment, its rationale and its outcomes.

Designing appropriate assessments (UoY log in to Panopto required)

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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.



Why not watch some recordings from previous webinars? 

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Digital accessibility projects

The following departments are now progressing their digital accessibility projects following their successful bid for funding:

  • Academic Integrity Tutorial
  • Chemistry
  • Economics
  • Environment
  • IPC
  • Natural Science
  • Physics
  • UYMS

We will provide updates on their progress in next month’s newsletter.

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Live polling survey

We are currently reviewing our live polling options and your feedback is much appreciated

Two Uni of York students are doing some research into the effectiveness of live polling with remote learning. This research project is sponsored by Turning Technologies who are our ResponseWare suppliers. 

Please help them to complete their research by answering a short Educator Questionnaire. We look forward to inviting some academics to a focus group too. 

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E-accessibility News

Grackle: New accessibility checker for Google Docs

We are pleased to announce that we now have an organisational licence for Grackle, an accessibility checker for Google Docs and Presentations.

In a Google Doc menu, go to Add-Ons > Get Add-Ons and search for Grackle to install it.

Read more about what Grackle can do. 

A great feature is being able to export a Tagged PDF from a Google Doc, something we can’t currently do easily! Bonus!

MindGenius Online

We have a limited number of licences for MindGenius online. Staff and students can already download and use MindGenius, a mindmapping tool, on their computers. See IT software, Mindgenius. However, we now have a number of online licences available. Want to try this out? Fill in the form to request a licence.

Presentations galore

June was a busy month for the team, winning awards and doing presentations. Some of our presentations included:

Also, one podcast was recorded with Texthelp: Making maths accessible.

Training: Creating Accessible Documents • Online using Collaborate Ultra • 10am to 12pm • 8 July

1338 – the number of attendees who have attended the workshop so far! Latest feedback includes:

“The session was really informative and I look forward to applying all I’ve learnt, in particular to my emails and docs going forward.”

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.

Accessible Documents Meetup Group  • 12pm to 1pm • 15 July

“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.

Welcome to Chemistry, Physics and Environment who have agreed to turn on Blackboard Ally for the department. All sites will now have Blackboard Ally turned on by default.

Our Blackboard Ally spreadsheet now includes the department’s average Accessibility Report score. This is linked from our Blackboard Ally mini-site

We have had 106,877 downloads of alternative formats from Blackboard since 28 Sept 2020.Find out more interesting statistics on our BB Ally site linked above.

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

We recorded a podcast with Texthelp on Making Maths Accessible. View the recording and transcript.

Our webinar with the Academic Skills Community called Let’s get digital: equations and symbols introduced a few new people to EquatIO. View the webinar recording for Let’s Get Digital.

We’ve also written up A Mathspace Story following an interview with a Maths Skills Centre GTA.

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

The June Future Teacher webinar was on the topic Designing online learning activities and resources and saw over 85 participants across the UK and beyond. Jon Fanning, UYMS and two of his GTAs, Jialu and Jialing presented on the activities and resources used to support the Strategic Management module. View the presentation at http://bit.ly/ft20ukpage and a longer recording on Interactive teamwork: playing games online with your students, Passcode: 0ME4=FX3

Want to find out how to create more inclusive programmes while blending f2f and online approaches? Join our next webinar on WWW, the wonderful world of webinars 21 Oct. We like to feature speakers from the University whenever possible so please do get in touch if you would like to present. 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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