E-Learning Newsletter – November 2021 Edition

Welcome to the November 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: Planned system outages (including VLE Mini-upgrade, 7th and 8th December 2021)
  • Info: PDLT Support During the Christmas Vacation
  • Info: VLE Module Site Purge
  • Info: MacOS Monterey and the Panopto Desktop Recorder
  • Info: eAssignment Readiness – Guidance for Staff and Students
  • Info: Xerte single sign on
  • Update: VLE transformation project
  • Resources: Mentimeter webinar recording and resources now available
  • Resources: Video of the month – Creating accessible and inclusive videos
  • PDLT Webinar: Digital Accessibility, developing departmental practices
  • Other webinars on digital accessibility and related topics: York, Texthelp, AbilityNet and JISC webinars
  • E-Accessibility News:
    • Coming up: 3 Dec International Day of Persons with Disabilities
    • Interesting reads
    • Training: Creating Accessible Documents, 12 Nov,10am to 12pm
    • Meetup: Accessible Documents meetup group 19 Nov, 12pm to 1pm
    • Meetup: The Distractibles, 26 Nov, 12.30pm to 1.30pm
    • Meetup: Texthelp Read&Write, 25 Nov, 1pm to 2pm
    • Bespoke Training
    • Update: Blackboard Ally News
    • Update: Texthelp Read&Write, EquatIO and OrbitNote
    • Standing item: Future Teacher, 26 Nov, 1pm. OER
    • Standing item: Departmental training sessions

    Planned System Outages

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

    Collaborate Ultra, 11th November 2021

    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 GMT on November 11th.

    We are still awaiting full details of what changes/improvements are coming in this upgrade. See Collaborate’s own Release Notes page for more information as it is released.

    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 downtime on 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 Department. If you are aware of any planned teaching, learning or assessment 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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    PDLT Support During the Christmas Vacation

    The PDLT will be providing our usual level of support up until Friday 24th December.  Thereafter, we will only be able to respond to emergency issues up until 3rd January, when a full service will resume.

    We would therefore very much appreciate it if any urgent training or support issues are communicated to us by Friday 17th December to ensure that we can guarantee our usual level of response.

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    VLE Module Site Purge

    It is time to prepare for the purge (deletion or removal) of old module sites and their content from the VLE for academic years prior to 2017. The VLE Archiving Policy states that VLE module sites will be retained for 5 years only and then purged from the system. This means that module sites from the academic years prior to 2017 will be purged in the final week of January 2022 (between the 24th and 29th).

    As the VLE has no notion of a single module owner, all VLE users with an Instructor role on 2016 academic year module sites will be emailed individually with:

    • a link to a VLE Self Service Dashboard report showing modules they are enrolled on as an Instructor

    • an explanation of the module purge process

    • instructions on how to preserve module content or entire module sites

    Departmental coordinators will shortly be issued with a link to a report so that they are able to view all modules that are categorised for their department which are scheduled for deletion. If you think there are any module sites, or content within them, for these academic years which you may need retaining please contact vle-support@york.ac.uk along with an explanation of why you would need to retain the sites or content. Also feel free to contact us if you have any queries about the module purge process.

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    MacOS Monterey and the Panopto Desktop Recorder

    The roll-out of Apple’s new OS, Monterey, began on 25 October.  Panopto have notified users that their Desktop Recorder doesn’t currently offer guaranteed support for Monterey. If staff want to use the Desktop  Recorder on an Apple MacOS device without potential disruption, they are advised to delay upgrading until an updated Panopto application is available. Alternatively, if they do upgrade, staff can use Panopto Capture to make recordings directly from their browser.

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    eAssignment Readiness – Guidance for Staff and Students

    A reminder our support materials for staff and students around electronic assignments run via the Yorkshare VLE, both formative and summative:

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    Xerte – single sign on

    We are implementing single-sign on for Xerte this week. There should be no interruption to your experience except that you’ll now be able to login seamlessly! No more will you have to remember your chocolate-flavoured password. If this does not work for you, you will be redirected to our IT page for Xerte. Account holders, do get in touch if you encounter any issues with signing into Xerte. If you don’t have a Xerte account but you’re curious, visit our Xerte web site for more information. 

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    Update: The VLE transformation project approach has been approved

    The VLE transformation project approach has been approved

    After engagement and demos with 7 suppliers of VLE systems and a thorough analysis of implementation options, change impacts and change readiness we have made a decision to undertake a cloud migration and full upgrade with Blackboard for our Virtual Learning Environment.

    In the UX survey earlier in the year you said you wanted a system that was easy to use, reliable and brings a consistent experience whilst providing flexibility in how it can be used for teaching and learning activities. We believe that Blackboard Learn Ultra will be able to meet this need, and we can be just as transformational with how we choose to use it, and this approach gives us time to be able to do that and dedicate time for training and support. This was also the recommended approach as it allows us to better control and manage the impact of this on staff at a time of significant change for the institution.

    The first phase will move the service into the cloud to provide a scalable and reliable foundation, without impacting course sites and content. We expect this to take place in July 2022 during a short downtime window.

    More communication will follow as we kick off the project and work with the supplier. Read more on our project site.

    Do feel free to contact one of the project team if you have any questions, or want to make us aware of anything at this stage or you can fill in the VLE transformation project feedback form.

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    Mentimeter webinar: Recording and resources available

    The recording and resources are now available from the recent PDLT webinar ‘Using Mentimeter for interactive polling and questioning in learning and teaching’.  55 staff from a range of departments came along to the webinar which offered ideas, examples, and recommendations from both instructor and student perspectives.  There were presentations from Mentimeter ‘Empowered Presenter’ Dr Gerhard Kristandl from the Department of Accounting and Finance at the University of Greenwich who provided some examples of how Mentimeter has been used at Greenwich to support innovative and engaging learning, including its application in the "pub quiz league".  This was followed by Emily Patterson (Third Year BSc Interactive Media student) and Jekaterina Mihhaljova (Master’s student in International Business and Strategic Management) who provided an overview of recent research they have carried out in collaboration with the PDLT into the design and use of interactive polling for remote learning at the University.  Further information is available in the following blog post: Webinar recap: Using Mentimeter for interactive polling

    You can view the recording and resources from the PDLT Webinars page

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    Video of the month

    In the following video, Penny Spikins from the Department of Archaeology reflects on her experiment with audio description and ‘podcasting’ approaches to meet the needs of different students in her cohorts, including those with disabilities. She notes how the podcasts have brought opportunities to maintain and rethink ‘personal’ contact, and to stimulate thinking and engagement with students in different ways. 

    Exploring new learning spaces – pre-recorded lectures and accessibility (UoY log in to Panopto required)

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    PDLT Webinar – Digital Accessibility, developing departmental practices • 29 Nov • 12.30pm to 1.30pm

    Colleagues from Chemistry, Archaeology, Education, SPSW and York online programmes will share their approaches to improving digital accessibility practice and the impact this is having on students. We will also share with you the University of Reading’s Impact by Design framework as a useful tool departments may wish to adopt to help them plan further progress.

    Sign up for the webinar

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

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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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    E-accessibility News

    Coming up: 3 Dec, International Day of Persons with Disabilities

    The UN established this annual day to encourage awareness-raising actions. Could you do something in your department to contribute to awareness-raising on this day? Read more about International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

    Interesting “reads”- accessible maths

    Ever wondered how to ‘do’ accessible maths? This 10 minute lecture recording provides you with some ideas of how learners can make maths more accessible for themselves

    Find out more about accessible maths at the University [blog post].

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

    1410 – 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 about Creating Accessible Documents workshop and sign up. 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 • 19 Nov

    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 • 26 Nov

    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 Distractibles site and sign up to get the Zoom link.

    Texthelp Read&Write Meetup • 1.00pm to 2.00pm • 25 Nov

    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 run a meetup for all staff or students to share tips on how to use this useful toolbar. Find out more about Texthelp Read&Write and register.

    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.

    Blackboard Ally News

    Our scores are still looking great at 91.5%

    Unfortunately, until we upgrade the VLE in December, we have limited reports from Ally. Students can continue to create alternative formats at http://ally.ac/covid19.

    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, OrbitNote

    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 26 Nov, 1pm is on OER and sustainability. 

    If you have never explored OER (open educational resources), there is a wealth of free to use online content. From podcasts for car mechanics to video collections on anything from hairdressing to psychology, the Internet makes quality content to support learning easy to share and re-use. And it’s not unusual to find open educational content with better accessibility than commercial or home grown alternatives.

    This month’s Future Teacher session – 13:00 (GMT) on Friday 26th November 2021 – explores the potential… as well as the pitfalls. Building on our June 2019 session on open educational resources we’re looking to update links and source three practitioners who have free or shareable content baked into their practice.

    If you’d like to contribute to a ten minute slot and the ensuing discussion we’d love to hear from you.

     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 (Jon Fanning, UYMS 2021, Sociology’s resource ‘The Bureau of Applied History’ was added to the inspiration board)
    • The wonderful world of webinars (Amy Eyre, PDLT, James Lamont, IPC)
    • 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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