So the new Blackboard is launched and we are collecting feedback from students and staff. Towards the end of November we will review the feedback with a view to making some further improvements potentially for semester 2.
In the meantime if you’ve not accessed Blackboard or have but not fully explored it why not take a look at this brief tour for students.
Pre-arrival Blackboard sites have now gone live for each Faculty. These sites contain a range of existing materials designed to help student think about some of the tools and systems they will need to engage with in their first few weeks at Westminster. Most of the information in the sites is in the form of signposting to existing sources. There are some new materials around using facilities at Westminster and there is also a feature called Chapter 2 developed by existing students. The sites include as a minimum the below but some of the faculties also have some Faculty specific information and activities that students can link out to.
Here is the basic site guide:
|Site Resource||Brief Description|
|Welcome||Two very short video welcomes. One to the University and the other more specifically about the Faculty you are joinng.|
|Enrolment and Orientation||A brief description of how enrolment and orientation work at the university|
|Key Applicant Information||Links through what you need to do to complete enrolment; details of fees and guidance for international students|
|Chapter 2||An interactive questionnaire, designed by our students, to take you through the basics of your first few weeks at uni|
|Feedback+||A questionnaire to help you think about some of the skills you will need to develop as an undergraduate student|
|Great Start||Information through to the network of face to face support you will have to welcome when you get to university|
|Studying at University||A range of useful videos and guides to get you started with using the IT you will need to support your studies as well as services and systems like Blackboard, the library, SRSWeb abd your university email. In addition find guidnacehere on study technqiues that will help you to succeed.|
|Useful links||Hyperlinks to useful additional resources for living and studying in London|
Plans stay more or less on track on this project. The Blackboard pre-arrival sites are taking shape and should be released to students coming to the University in September at the beginning of the second week in August or thereabouts.
The new ‘main’ Blackboard is at an advanced stage of preparation. The design has more or less been chosen (see earlier post) and the wireframes are now in the hands of technicians at Blackboard who will start working on turning the designs into reality.
More to follow soon.
Here are the likely designs to go out to students for voting.
Click on any image to enlarge.
All strands of the project have made good progress int he last few weeks.
14 student helpers have been employed and they are supporting drop-in sessions for staff across the 4 Faculties with a specific aim to help staff better manage their Blackboard sites. Already nearly 100 academic staff have booked on. If you are interested to attend a workshop then use the links below to book a slot.
The information architecture for the new Blackboard is more or less agreed sufficiently to generate a ‘mock-up’ (see below – NOTE YOU CAN CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO MAKE IT LARGER). Later this month we will release a video tour of the ‘mocked-up’ Blackboard on our test server for people to comment on. Alongside this the design consultants Syndicut have been working to generate 4 or 5 possible ‘new looks’ for Blackboard based on the student responses to the earlier ‘mood board’ questionnaire. We hope these options will very soon be available for students to vote on.
Finally the pre-arrival Blackboard experience is developing. A major step forward has been completion of purely technical work which will allow us to provide students coming to us in September with a Blackboard experience which is fundamentally different (in terms of both look and content) to that which students actually starting their studies will see. Central tot he pre-arrival experience will be access to a wide range of induction type information about services.
The external designers tasked with creating a special look and feel for Westminster on Blackboard have conducted a survey with our students. The students were asked to give their views on 10 quite different looking websites so as to gauge the ‘mood’ of students in respect of a range of styles. Over 350 students responded to the survey (see the survey) and the 3 websites below came out as the top 3.
Manchester City Council
Although appreciable numbers of our staff and students have been involved already in providing feedback and ideas on the the changes to be made to Blackboard, there will still be an awful lot of folk out there who wont know in detail what is happening.
In the last couple of weeks there has been progress across all strands of the Blackboard portal project.
We are on the verge of appointing up to 14 students to help over the Summer engaging with academic staff to help them learn more about the basics of Blackboard with a specific remit to ‘tidy up’ the navigation menu in sites to make them look simpler and cleaner.
The external design company that will provide the new look and feel for Blackboard have made available a ‘mood’ questionnaire to our students to get a feel for ‘likes and dislikes’ across the student base with respect to web design.
One of our students, from Media Art and Design, has entered a JISC competition to win further support for his idea for ‘Chapter 2’, an online resource to support student prior to arrival at the University. You can find out more and vote for his idea via this web page.
The Blackboard portal work continues with its various strands. Soon the project will appoint a number of student helpers to engage with staff on a ‘tidy-up’ of Blackboard sites over the Summer. They will be offering drop-ins and surgeries to support staff in making their site simpler and more consistent.
For our pre-arrival Blackboard offering work has started to identify some of the likely content of the pre-arrival experience. This is likely to include links mainly to existing information needed for enrolment and induction; specific information for international students and a range of help resources which will give students the opportunity to find out about services (including of course Blackboard), processes and procedures which they would normally only become familiar with in face to face induction week.
We also plan to have some ‘fun’ things for pre-arrival and students are helping us design a treasure hunt online for which there will be attractive winner prizes.
The project now has an advanced plan for the information architecture of the new Blackboard and meetings have been arranged with an external design company to begin to look at how to provide each Faculty with their own look and feel.
More updates to follow soon.
In order for Blackboard to function as a portal we need to use the Community functionality of Blackboard. Community allows specific roles to be defined behind the scenes (e.g. undergraduate from Faculty of Science and Technology) so that information can be targeted to specific individuals based on their role definition.
Last week, as part of progressing this project, staff in the education technology team were trained by an external consultant to be able to fully utilise the Community function. This means that as soon as we receive the final report from Blackboard from the staff and student engagement work, we will be able to begin building a prototype portal.
To learn more about Blackboard Community functionality please look at this web page.