Update: Key changes to tools for teaching and learning online – guidance for staff

Key News

Blackboard migration to the cloud
A reminder that Blackboard will be migrated to a new cloud-based infrastructure during this weekend (28 August – 1 September). Blackboard will be unavailable Friday 5pm-Saturday morning, followed by a read-only period until 1 September where changes should not be made in Blackboard though files can be downloaded for reading or marking offline. It should be fully available again by 2 September. Read more about the migration and its benefits.

Blended/hybrid seminars
We have created a video about delivering to students in the classroom and online at the same time, that explains teaching approaches that can be done and shows the technology available in our rooms to facilitate this. Staff development sessions in teaching rooms are being planned for September: more information will follow later.

Course Welcome videos
We have received some queries about how to host the Course Welcome videos teams have made, so we have created guidance on how to add your course welcome video into Panopto.

Grade Centre automatic setup
Each year Blackboard submission points and Grade Centre columns are set up automatically based on summative assessment data provided to SAS by academics. We recommend staff do not set up submission points in Blackboard manually until this process is complete to avoid duplicate Grade Centre columns. Unfortunately, this year there have been some delays in the data collection exercise which underpins creating the submission points due to COVID-19 course changes, so the setup process is scheduled for 17 September. If the later submission point set up is likely to be problematic for your course, please contact digitallearning@shu.ac.uk with more details.

Reminder of recent changes

Panopto is now available to all staff to support the creation and hosting of recorded lectures and other learning materials for students. Panopto will integrate closely with Blackboard (scheduled for w/c 14 September) and can be used both to record new material and also to upload existing videos created in other software, simplifying the recording and sharing of materials to students.
The system features automatic subtitling, the ability to add interactive quizzes to videos, facility for staff-student discussion linked to content of recordings, unlimited storage, in-video searching and reporting on student engagement with learning materials. Video guidance on Panopto is available along with written Panopto guidance and a recorded session on Panopto.

Further local staff development sessions on Panopto can be arranged with your department’s Principal Learning Technologist.

Bb Annotate
The Box online feedback tool inside of Blackboard has been replaced by an improved tool called Bb Annotate. This tool can potentially save staff time in marking by not needing to download and upload work, instead providing feedback directly on the document in the web browser. Please see our guide to Bb Annotate and a recorded session on Bb Annotate.

For further staff development sessions on Bb Annotate, departments can liaise with their Principal Learning Technologist.

Blackboard Ally
Blackboard Ally is a new tool available to support staff with ensuring the content on their Blackboard sites is accessible to all of their learners. It scans many types of content to provide a report on the accessibility of the file, and steps staff through how to fix the issues identified. It also generates alternative accessible formats for uploaded files that students (and staff) can download for their personal use. Please see our guide to Blackboard Ally and a recorded session on Bb Ally.

For further staff development sessions on Bb Annotate, departments can liaise with their Principal Learning Technologist.

Google Chrome update needed for Blackboard Collaborate
This is a reminder that older versions of the Google Chrome browser no longer work with Blackboard Collaborate. This is unlikely to affect staff or students accessing on a personal computer as Chrome will update itself automatically. However some staff who are using Sheffield Hallam laptops may have an older Chrome version that no longer works with Collaborate, as automatic updates are disabled in Chrome on those laptops.

To test if you need to update your version of Chrome, we recommend you try to connect to the Digital Learning team support room which is based in Collaborate. If you can enter the room then you do not need to update Chrome. If you see an error that your browser version is no longer supported, then you follow these instructions to update Chrome on your laptop. If these instructions do not work for you then please contact IT Help for support in updating Chrome.

Other support information

Digital Thursdays
The cross-University Digital Thursdays staff development programme covers a range of digital topics. Please have a look and see if any of the sessions would benefit you.

Support for Digital Learning
For any digital learning queries, please either email the team at digitallearning@shu.ac.uk or use our drop-in support room, available Monday-Friday, 9-5 (use Google Chrome browser).

The Digital Learning Team