We’re updating Weblearn to incorporate the new Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation this summer (exact date tbc). This new navigation has a sleek, modern look and feel and will save you time with simpler workflows and easier access to important information.
What is the Ultra Base Navigation?
It is a modern, intuitive navigation menu that lives outside of modules. It includes links to new pages such as the Activity Stream, Calendar, Messages, etc. that provide quick access to the most critical information consolidated from all your modules.
Your modules will not change. They will look and operate exactly as they do now
Once Base Navigation has been enabled you will see the new navigation as soon as you log into Weblearn
The Weblearn start page will be replaced by the ‘Activity Stream’ showing all recent activity on your modules and course sites
Your modules will be available on a ‘Modules’ link in the new navigation menu
How will this enhance your efficiency and experience?
Works well on mobile devices. This navigation is designed to work well regardless of which device you’re using.
Aggregates important information. Allyour module and organisation information – like calendar, messages and grades – is now consolidated into one global view, minimizing the time spent navigating into each individual module.
Only one click away. See something that needs your attention? Just click on it and you will be taken directly there, minimizing clicks and saving time.
Communication. A new messages tool will become available, allowing students check all of their Weblearn messages from a central page. This is a great new tool for users who are less likely to check their university email
Piloting Ultra Module View. Interested staff will be able to pilot Blackboard’s new module interface, the Ultra Module View.
Will I be affected by downtime?
The upgrade will take hours rather than days. It will be scheduled for an evening or weekend slot after the main teaching and marking period for this year is over.
Once you access the upgraded version, the first page you see will be the activity stream and all modules will appear on the ‘Modules’ tab. Your modules will be exactly the same as before, so there is no need to get your head around new functionality or tools immediately.
What will the change look like?
The current Weblearn landing page will be replaced by a menu on the left that allows you to access essential functions in one click.
You’ll find all of your modules and organisations under links on the new menu
When you access a module, it will open as a layer over the new Ultra Base Navigation menu. Everything in the module will be exactly the same as on our current Weblearn version.
Weblearn will be unavailable from 1am on Sat 27 June until Mon 29 June as we move to the most up-to-date version of Blackboard Learn.
Weblearn downtime – 27th to 29th June
The work will start at 1am on Sat 27th and should be completed by Mon 29th June. Weblearn will be unavailable to users during the upgrade. We will aim to make the system available again as soon as possible on Monday.
What is included in the yearly upgrade?
As part of the upgrade, Weblearn is moving to a cloud hosting platform called Blackboard SaaS (Software as a Service).
No more downtime for upgrades!
Applications need to be upgraded regularly to get access to improved or new functionality and to make sure they remain secure. Since updating a large application like Weblearn takes a fair amount of time, we currently need 2-3 days downtime to apply an upgrade.
Once we’re on SaaS hosting, upgrades can be applied throughout the year in small increments without the need for 2-3 days downtime over summer.
What else is changing?
The upgrade consists mainly of bug fixes and security updates, and Weblearn will look the same as before.
Grading Weblearn assignments – moving from Box View to Annotate
On June 22nd Blackboard will change the current Inline Grading tool for Weblearn Assignments (not Turnitin) from Box View to a new tool called Annotate. Annotate will provide improved functionality and all pre-existing annotations created through Box View will be migrated and visible in Bb Annotate.
On 22 June Weblelarn Assignments (not Turnitin) will transfer to Bb Annotate, the new inline grading tool provided by Blackboard. The transfer will take a few days to complete and you can continue to access and work on assignments during this period.
Annotate was created in partnership with institutions across the globe and it will replace the Box View grading tool. The new customisable feature set includes:
Selection of document view settings
Comments (similar to the Turnitin Bubble Comments)
Annotation tools such as free hand drawing, shapes, highlighter pen, customisable stamps/images and text
If you are actively annotating a file using New Box View during the migration, the file will not migrate to Bb Annotate until you have completed that session. Upon loading the submission file again, it will display in the Bb Annotate viewer. You will be able to delete annotations as well as add new comments to any existing comment created using New Box View.
I recently dipped into Digifest 2019, an annual edtech event for staff in higher education held over two days every year in March. This year we were in Birmingham and the focus was shaping education for a hyper-connected world.
One of the keynote speech slides which lists the top ten skills most likely to be in greater demand up to 2030.
The opening keynote speech was delivered by Joysy John director of education, Nesta. (Nesta being an international innovation foundation). She attempted to answer the question ‘How, in a rapidly changing world, do we create an education system that prepares all learners to thrive in the future world of work?’ She based her answer on Nesta’s research concerning the future of skills which shows that skills like creativity,communication, problem-solving and resilience will be more important than ever.
Making more effective use of technology and data can help make education more convenient, accessible and effective. Businesses, academia and government will need to work in partnership to ensure that the education system is fit for the future.
Turnitin are sponsoring a competition in a bid to raise student awareness of contract cheating. Please tell your students that they have until Friday 2nd November for the chance to win £1,000. To receive the money they need to submit the most creative way of making students aware of the risks / inacceptable nature of contract cheating.
Contract cheating occurs when one person completes academic work (e.g. assignment, exam, test, quiz, exam) on behalf of another person who then submits it for academic credit. This behaviour undermines the quality and integrity of the degree, and it undermines the entire education system.
A whiteboard declaration ahead of the International Day of Action Against Contract Cheating.
From Thursday 21 June at 5pm there will be temporary disruption to the normal Weblearn service as we begin the move to managed hosting from our current self-hosted provision.
Managed hosting will give Weblearn the higher performance and reliability that is associated with powerful cloud computing. In addition, we will benefit from round-the-clock technical monitoring and support from Blackboard, and upgrades to Weblearn will subsequently occur immediately, resulting in minimal downtime for London Met users. The migration will coincide with an upgrade to the latest software version of Blackboard Learn.
All content and data will be transferred to the managed hosting version of Weblearn which will take a few days. During this time period Weblearn will become read only. This means that you will be able to view and access Weblearn content but if you make any changes during the ‘read only’ period all changes will be lost and will not be recoverable.
What can I do during ‘Read Only’ access?
Do: access existing content and feedback
Do not: make any changes to content or assessments and feedback because these changes will be lost
Arrangements for online submission
All assessments scheduled during the migration period have been moved or paper submission has been agreed.
Key dates to remember:
Thursday 21 June at 5pm: Weblearn will be completely unavailable as data is transferred.
Friday 22 June: Unavailable then read only access to Weblearn from approx 5pm
Monday 25 or 26 June: Weblearn will become unavailable for 3-4 hours for further configuration
If the migration goes smoothly, Weblearn will be fully available after 5pm on 26 June. If the downtime period needs to be extended further announcements will be posted.
This summer, Weblearn will migrate to a managed hosting arrangement with Blackboard, the company who provide the VLE software.This means that Weblearn will no longer run from our local servers, but instead will run directly from Blackboard’s servers.
When will the migration take place?
The migration will take place from 22nd – 29th of June, 2018.
What are the benefits of managed hosting?
Managed hosting will give us the higher performance and reliability that is associated with powerful cloud computing. In addition, we will benefit from round-the-clock technical monitoring and support from Blackboard, and upgrades to Weblearn will subsequently occur immediately, resulting in minimal downtime for London Met users. The migration will coincide with an upgrade to the latest software version of Blackboard Learn.
How will the migration affect me?
The switch from a self-hosted VLE to a managed-hosted VLE will inevitably mean a temporary suspension of normal Weblearn service. From Friday 22nd June 2018, Weblearn will be completely unavailable for a day-or-two as data is transferred. Weblearn will return in a read-only state for the remainder of the week; during this time, no new content can be uploaded, and user data is not recorded, but users can view and download existing Weblearn content as normal. Weblearn will return to full access from Friday 29th June 2018.
There may be occasional down-time prior to the migration to test the transfer will run smoothly. Keep an eye on the Weblearn homepage for news about the migration project.
The digital discovery tool is an online resource developed by Jisc, the body responsible for the Joint Academic Network. The tool enables you to explore the different elements we call ‘digital capabilities’ and find out more about your own digital practice.
The digital capabilities framework
Through a series of reflective questions, the digital discovery tool gives you an opportunity to reflect on your own confidence and ability in each element of the Jisc Digital Capability Framework (see diagram). There are three kinds of question relating to each element:
Confidencequestions – you rate your confidence with a digital practice or skill
Depthquestions – you select the one statement that best describes your approach to a digital task.
Breadthquestions – you select all the digital activities that you engage in.
Once you’ve signed up, you will find the discovery tool on your dashboard. If you’ve created an academic profile, you will also have an additional reflective survey about specialisms relevant to your role.
Your personal report
A rose diagram summarizing your digital capabilities. Each wedge is a percentage score for that element.
When you have answered all questions, you will receive a personal report. For each element of the framework, you will see:
A visual summary of your overall capabilities (see diagram)
A capability level. corresponding to one of three available levels: developing, capable or proficient.
Advice about ‘next steps’ to consider if you want to develop further
Links to relevant resources to help improve, consolidate, or gain recognition for your skills in this area.
You can download a copy of your report to review in your own time – we hope it will encourage and inspire you! You might want to share your report with others, for example during appraisals and as part of your professional development process. This is your choice.
Your individual test data is private, and will not be made available to anyone else. Jisc provides London Met with anonymised information about the number of people who have used the discovery tool, and their aggregate capability levels.
Behind the scenes of the instructional video shoot.
As well as providing insights in the student experience of Weblearn (as detailed in this post), London Met placement students on work-related learning modules have also been engaged in creating instructional videos for their peers in liaison with ITS staff.
London Metropolitan University offers a wide range of work related learning opportunities, some of which are project oriented and based with professional service departments within the University. In October 2017 three placement students from the School of Business and Law undertook a product review and data analysis project with the Weblearn team in order to improve the Weblearn experience for students.
As a starting point the students produced a preliminary report based on their own experiences of using Weblearn by reviewing their current teaching modules and the Weblearn resources available to them. They then produced a questionnaire to elicit responses from a wider group of students.
After reviewing their initial findings and analysing the data gather from the questionnaire, the students produced a final report which made the following conclusions: