E-Learning Newsletter – October 2021 Edition

Welcome to the October 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:

  • Info: Returning to lecture capture of live teaching
  • Info: Preparing your videos for reuse
  • Info: Yorkshare VLE – New Text Box Editor
  • Info: Planned System Outages
  • Info: Mentimeter: University licence now available
  • PDLT webinar 8th September 2-3pm: Collaborate Ultra – New Whiteboard
  • Resources: Blended Learning Design and Delivery and Tutoring Online VLE sites
  • Resources: Start of Term Readiness – Technical checks for teaching and admin’ staff to ensure their VLE sites are ready for use
  • Resources: E-Learning at York – Orientation For New Staff
  • Resources: Video of the month – Guest speakers in digital learning
  • Call for Participation: CMALT Cohort (2021-22)
  • Blog post: Building community through Slack: a student-owned digital space for connectivity and collaboration
  • PDLT Webinar: Mentimeter @UoY
  • Webinars on digital accessibility and related topics: York, Texthelp, AbilityNet and JISC webinars
  • Student webinars: Things to know live events for students
  • Info: Digital accessibility projects
  • E-Accessibility News:
    • Interesting reads
    • Training: Creating Accessible Documents, 11 Oct,10am to 12pm
    • Meetup: Accessible Documents meetup group 18 Oct, 12pm to 1pm
    • Meetup:The Distractibles, 29 Oct, 12.30pm to 1.30pm
    • Bespoke Training
    • Update: Blackboard Ally News
    • Update: Texthelp Read&Write and EquatIO
    • Webinar:Introduction to Texthelp Read&Write – by our students. 15 Oct, 2pm
    • Standing item: Future Teacher
    • Standing item: Departmental training sessions

    Returning to lecture capture of live teaching

    The new term will see many staff using live lecture capture for the first time in over a year. If you want to refresh your memory of how the system works, key information and links to guidance are available on the timetabled lecture capture web page. In addition, guidance is available on captioning requirements for recorded live lectures, which supplements the University’s existing policy on captioning pre-recorded videos.

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    Preparing your videos for reuse

    In the following blog post entitled ‘preparing your videos for reuse’ 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 new students can access them.

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    Yorkshare VLE – New Text Box Editor

    The text box editor (aka the “VTBE”) used to create and edit most content types in the VLE was changed during the 2021 Summer VLE Upgrade.

    We have summarised key guidance around using the new VTBE in a new guide: Using the New Virtual Text Box Editor (VTBE) in Blackboard.

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    Planned System Outages

    Collaborate Ultra, 14th October 2021

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

    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 00:01 and 04:00 BST on October 14th.

    This release should enable users to alter the playback speed of Collaborate recordings.

    VLE Mini-upgrade, 7th and 8th December 2021

    Colleagues should also be advised that we will also be carrying out further necessary system maintenance in December of 2021. This Winter ‘Mini-Upgrade’ will take place over a two day period, requiring Tuesday the 7th and Wednesday the 8th of December inclusive. As with the Summer upgrade, the VLE and Replay Lecture Capture will be unavailable to all users. This work is to ensure that the service continues to be robust and stable for the busy assessment periods in the Spring and Summer terms.

    Please ensure that these dates are shared widely within your respective 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.

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    Mentimeter: University licence now available

    If you have never used Mentimeter before, or if you have a free account linked to your University of York email address (firstname.lastname@york.ac.uk for staff and username@york.ac.uk for students), you can simply use the University of York Joining link to create your account.  Any existing presentations will be waiting for you when you arrive in your new account.  

    If your free account was set up using any other email address and you would like to be able to transfer your existing presentations into your University of York account, you will need to change the account email address first.  This applies to accounts created with personal email addresses or staff accounts created with email addresses in the format username@york.ac.uk or @hyms.ac.uk email address. You will need to do this before you log on to your institutional account for the first time. Accounts cannot be automatically linked afterwards. Once you have done this, your old account will be merged into your new one.  Any existing presentations will be waiting for you when you arrive in your new account but you will no longer be able to access it with your old email address.

    Once your account is set up, you can log in via SSO on the Mentimeter home page (“Company name” = University of York).

    Further details on how to get started are available in the Mentimeter: University licence now available blog post and if you have questions or problems, please contact us at  vle-support@york.ac.uk.

    Webinar: Mentimeter@UoY

    If you are interested in finding out more and exploring ideas for how you can get the most out of using Mentimeter to support active learning and engagement in your own sessions, please feel free to sign up for the PDLT Mentimeter @ UoY  Webinar (1-2pm on Tuesday 19th October).

    Sign up for the webinar

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    Collaborate Ultra – New Whiteboard

    As of mid-August 2021, Blackboard has introduced a new version of the Whiteboard tool in Collaborate Ultra. This new version of the whiteboard uses a pared-down version of Blackboard Annotate, the tool used to mark up student submissions to standard assignment submission points on the VLE.

    You do not need to do anything to get access to the new whiteboard, just enter a Collaborate session, open the right hand panel, go to the “Share Content” tab and share the whiteboard as normal.

    This version of the whiteboard is temporary, with a further improved version aiming for release in early 2022 – We’ll share more information on that once it becomes available.

    The main benefits of this interim whiteboard are as follows:

    • Annotations made on the whiteboard (or on uploaded files) are no longer lost when you navigate away; eg. if you open up slides after using the whiteboard and then re-open the whiteboard in the same session the annotations should still be there
    • More varied and improved drawing tools, including pen types and thickness and an eraser for individual elements rather than just being able to clear the whole board.

    For more details about the new whiteboard, see Blackboard’s own help page on “Collaborate Annotation Tools”.

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    Blended Learning Design and Delivery and Tutoring Online VLE sites

    The “Blended Learning Design and Delivery” resource continues to be available for staff on the VLE.  Produced in collaboration with the Academic Practice team, 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. 

    Blended learning design and delivery 

    All staff should automatically have been provided with access to the site and there is also a GTA Access to the “Blended Learning Design and Delivery” VLE Site request form if needed.

    The design sections of the site focus on combining in-person and online modes of delivery to best effect. They include links through to the  Flipped Learning Toolkit for those looking for more in-depth guidance on this form of blended learning design and 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. 

    For those looking for a more in-depth focus on online teaching/facilitation, the tutoring online course is also available on request. Our new blogpost Tutoring Online: an introduction to our resource provides a quick overview of the course, including the topics covered and how you might benefit from accessing it.

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    Start of Term Readiness – Technical checks for teaching and admin’ staff to ensure their VLE sites are ready for use

    A reminder that we have a central guidance document available for both teaching and admin’ staff on how to help ensure VLE sites are ready for the start of term: VLE Start of Term Site Readiness. This provides general housekeeping guidance covering how to get ready for a new term.

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    E-Learning at York – Orientation For New Staff

    For colleagues who are assuming new teaching responsibilities at the University in the coming academic year, we have composed a brief introduction to the ecology of e-learning services and platforms that are centrally supported and available for you to use.

    This may also serve as a refresher for colleagues who are returning to teaching following an extended period of absence on research leave.

    E-learning at York for new staff.

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    Video of the month

    In the following Learning and Teaching Conference video poster (9 mins 41 secs), Carol Robinson, Department of Sociology, reflects on the experience of integrating contributions from guest speakers into digital learning in Criminology. Carol explores how integrating guest speakers’ contributions into digital learning resulted in some obvious benefits, including the opportunity to expand the number of contributions. Less obviously, it also enabled the creation of learning material that could be used in various ways, and led to improvements in the quality of question and answer sessions once they became asynchronous.

    Guest speakers in digital learning (UoY log in to Google sites and Panopto required)

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    Call for Participation: CMALT Cohort (2021-22)

    Would you like to gain professional accreditation for your learning technology skills and experience? We will be running a programme of workshops over the autumn term, supporting staff who wish to receive CMALT accreditation, starting with a kick-off session on Friday 24th September (11am-12pm). This would be an ideal opportunity to find out more about the programme and how the monthly workshops will run.

    CMALT is a portfolio-based peer-reviewed accreditation, organised by the Association for Learning Technology, for which the University of York is an organisational member. CMALT aims to foster an appreciation of the interplay between learning and technology as well as provide a platform to allow educators and those involved in supporting education to learn from each other and evidence that they have done so.

    To get started in finding out more about CMALT, please take a look at the information on our CMALT group information page.

    If you would like to register your interest in the autumn programme and attend the kick-off session on 24th September, please get in touch with Richard Walker: richard.walker@york.ac.uk 

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    Blogpost: Building community through Slack: a student-owned digital space for connectivity and collaboration

    This blogpost summarises a presentation of the same name which was recently delivered by Richard Walker and Nathan Page at the Association of Learning Technology’s annual conference. It reports on a pilot study in which postgraduate online Management School students were given Slack accounts and the opportunity to collaborate in a workspace for community building/informal learning. The findings and implications of the pilot may be useful for anyone with an interest in digital communities for higher education.

    Building community through Slack: a student-owned digital space for connectivity and collaboration

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    PDLT Webinar – Mentimeter @ UoY – Tuesday 19th October 1-2pm

    We recently announced that the Mentimeter institutional licence is now available for staff who would like to use it for interactive polling, questioning and voting within and between teaching sessions.  You can use it to display a range of question types to your students, allow them to respond using any internet-enabled device, and access or share these responses.

    This webinar provides an opportunity for staff to find out more and share experiences. It will begin with a short overview of Mentimeter, with signposts to resources and how to get started with your institutional licence. This will be followed by a presentation from Dr Gerhard Kristandl from the Department of Accounting and Finance at the University of Greenwich. As a Mentimeter ’empowered presenter’ Gerhard will provide some examples of how Mentimeter has been used at Greenwich to support innovative and engaging learning, including its application in the “pub quiz league”. There will then be a contribution from Emily Patterson (Third Year BSc Interactive Media student) and Jekaterina Mihhaljova (Master’s student in International Business and Strategic Management) who will provide an overview of recent research they carried out with University staff and students into the design and use of interactive polling for remote learning at the University. We hope that you will leave with ideas for how you can get the most out of using Mentimeter to support active learning and engagement in your own sessions.

    Sign up for the webinar

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    Things to Know – live events for students

    Encourage your students to attend our “Things to Know” webinars, run by Learning Enhancement, Teaching and Learning and PDLT to introduce students to the range of resources, skills sessions and tools at their disposal. Look up Things to know live event

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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

    A blog post on accessible maths at the university has been published. Find out what we’ve done and plan to do. Read the Accessible Maths blog post.

    E-accessibility News

    Interesting reads:

    Dyslexia week 4-10 Oct

    1. Read Arnold’s story to get a sense of how his dyslexia affected him during his time at the university.
      Read the student stories on our e-accessibility mini-site.
    2. View our report on the staff experience of digital accessibility where several dyslexic staff and a hearing-impaired member of staff share their experiences: Staff experience of digital accessibility, including those with dyslexia.
    3. Why not attend our Texthelp Read&Write webinar to find out more about a tool that can help those with dyslexia. It’s not just for reading and writing, it does screen masking, note-taking and organising of highlighted text too. Delivered by two digital accessibility champion students.
      15 Oct 2pm to 3pm,  Introduction to Texthelp Read&Write – online
    4. Share our resources with students to help them: https://subjectguides.york.ac.uk/learning-tech/accessibility
    5. Library stand – we’re giving out information on learning tools and the library on Tuesday 5th Oct and Thursday 7th October. Encourage your students to speak to staff and pick up information flyers at the library.
    6. Texthelp Festival of Inclusive Education, Free, 20 Oct 2021.
      The opening keynote address by Kate Griggs from Made by Dyslexia will set the scene for the festival and our theme of Redefining inclusion, Redesigning learning. Kate will help us rethink our approach to learning differences in our day-to-day lives. Includes a session on Accessible maths and its benefits to students by Lilian Soon.
      Register for the Texthelp Festival of Inclusive Education, Free, 20 Oct 2021.
    7. Find out more about Dyslexia week.

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

    1394 – the number of attendees who have attended the workshop so far!

    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 • 18 Oct

    “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

    The Distractibles Meetup • 12.30pm to 1.30pm • 29 Oct

    Finding it hard to focus and plagued by distractions? Join The Distractibles Meetup on the last Friday of each month, 12.30pm to 1.30pm. We are a support group of staff and students with small group chat and an ideas bank of things to try.

    View the event and add to your own calendar to get the Zoom link.

    Introduction to Texthelp Read&Write • 2.00pm to 3.00pm • 15 Oct

    Read&Write is a discreet toolbar that helps you to read course content and write coursework more effectively. It’s available on Campus computers and you can access it as a Chrome browser extension. Students Kaye Bennett and Rowan Casey show you how to use this useful toolbar and explain how it helps with their work. Sign up for Introduction to Texthelp Read&Write on 15 Oct.

    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

    Our scores are looking great at 91.5%! Keep up the good work! Academics can always look at their own modules’ accessibility scores by going to Course Tools > Accessibility Report. Go for quick wins like removing old materials that are no longer needed. Departments can view their scores by going to the Ally spreadsheet on our Blackboard Ally mini-site.

    Need advice on making PDF documents created from LaTeX more accessible? Consult our Accessible Equations web site. We have published v1.0 of our LaTeX template following the STEM Digital Accessibility project. 

    About Blackboard Ally.

    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.

    Texthelp Read&Write and EquatIO, OrbitDoc

    We’re giving out flyers to students about Read&Write, EquatIO and OrbitNote, as well as Ally and using Alternative Formats. 

    Print these off for your own distribution if you like. There are 3 flyers per A4 sheet, double-sided.

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    Standing item: Future Teacher Webinars

    Next webinar 21 Oct, 1pm is on The Wonderful World of Webinars. 
    Webinars and online seminars may have become a mainstay following lockdown but have we really become expert at stimulating learning and engagement through online platforms? How can we be more inclusive in our webinar practice? And how can we use the webinar environment to build our own communities of practice maximising informal learning? Join our speakers to discover some great practice and contribute your successes and ideas.

    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.

    The next webinar will run on 21 October 2021 at 1pm.

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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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