On 6-8 January 2020, Durham University hosted its 20th annual Blackboard User’s Conference. In line with the recent changes in regulations governing the accessibility of websites and apps, this year’s event was themed ‘Access All Areas’. A small number of UoR TEL and Digital Technology Services (DTS) staff attended the conference which has become a key event in the Blackboard community’s calendar. Among useful sessions on the two day programme this year were: digital accessibility and Blackboard’s accessibility Ally tool; assessment rubrics; experiences of the new Blackboard Learn Ultra interface; using Padlet for collaborative and inclusive learning (including the use of an escape room activity!); use of MS Teams, and using learning capture to support active learning.
Katie Piatt (University of Brighton) used the Nearpod tool to enable the audience to participate in her keynote speech about playful learning in relation to Blackboard. Katie shared how Brighton has achieved positive student engagement and feedback about the use of Blackboard in T & L by including fun, topical, interactive activities and using changing images to keep the look of modules fresh.
Key messages for our staff:
- There was positive feedback about the new Blackboard Learn Ultra interface (on our road-map for Blackboard here at Reading);
- Blackboard will be improving the data and analytics available to staff to help the monitor student activity;
- Beelline reader will be available via the Ally tool within Blackboard as an alternative format to help make on-screen reading easier.
Andy Turner (TEL) and Jonathan Rajadurai (DTS) presented about our work on electronic management of assessment and the journey of the grade through the full assessment cycle . Daniel Barker and myself (TEL) shared our experience at Reading of rolling out the new Blackboard Ally accessibility tool and supporting staff to make use of it to help provide accessible content. Our presentations were well received and it was rewarding to have the opportunity to contribute to the wider TEL community.
Lauren McCann (CQSD TEL)