What’s New Summer 2010 for Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment. In this presentation we will briefly overview the changes in our virtual learning environment. If you want to learn more about any of these changes there are links to help resources and a comparison summery on the last slide of the presentation. There are also updated help guides and a number of “quick start” videos available in the help portal on of the new VLE. The next slide summarises what’s changed.
These changes both improve the look and feel and offer additional features in response to the requirements that have been gathered from users. In addition, the VLE has a new name: Learning Central. Previously called CUE but commonly known as Blackboard (and briefly known as OLIE prior to this launch) the VLE has been commonly identified with Blackboard, but reflecting the fact that multiple software packages are available through the VLE (Turnitin, Campus Packs and now Wimba Voice, for example) the name Learning Central provides an umbrella term. The improved interface has been available since July, and the last of the new features should be available from the beginning of September. The next slide expands on the improved interface and the new features.
The most noticeable result of the changes to the interface is that far fewer mouse clicks and page reloads are required to accomplish tasks in the VLE. For many tasks you can now act directly on items, and the control panel is always available to instructors, giving access in one or two clicks to most resources. In the blogs and wikis, the ability to tag content addresses a key user requirement, and activity feeds have been added. For wikis, a side by side version comparison is now available. Voice recording within the browser brings voice email (for example for audio feedback), voice message boards, very simple podcasting or simply posting an audio message for students. Social bookmarking in the form of Blackboard Scholar allows participants to tag and share web resources with others on their module, other modules and other institutions. And the facility to search and embed Flickr, Slideshare and Youtube resources directly from within the VLE will be available from September. The next slide describes what’s been kept…
Despite all these changes, all the data and features from the VLE are still there, so courses will have rolled over in the usual way and the features you are used to using will still be present. The underlying structure is still the same, and the terms used to describe features are largely unchanged. The next few slides look at the improved interface in more detail.
The following slides include a few short videos which illustrate the changes in the interface. The next slide shows drag and drop with portlets.
This video illustrates how drag and drop works with portlets. As well as on the welcome and help pages, you can now add portlet pages to your modules, with portlets for announcements and alerts, for example. The next slides shows drag and drop again, but with content items within a course area.
This video illustrates how drag and drop works with items within content areas. When, as an instructor, you put a module into edit mode these double headed arrows appear beside each item. Click and drag on these to rearrange the order they appear in. The item is moved as soon as you release your mouse button – in one click. The next slide shows how drag and drop works with the module menu.
When in edit mode, the double headed arrows appear by each item in the module menu. As with content area items, just drag and drop these to rearrange the menu items. The next slide highlights a symbol that appears right across the new interface…
This is the chevron, which appears in many places in the new interface. The next slide describes how clicking on it reveals a pop up menu.
Clicking on the chevron beside any item displays a contextual menu of options which will allow you to act directly on that item (rather than, for example, going via the control panel). The chevron indicates that the contextual menu is available. Click on it to see what you can do directly to the item. The next slide includes a very short video just showing how a menu pops up.
Clicking on the chevron next to the title of this item displays the menu. You can see the range of actions you could take from the menu: for example editing the item, controlling the adaptive release rules for it, setting its review status, copying it or deleting it. If you don’t want to choose any item from the menu, click anywhere else. This allows you to edit or remove items. The next slide shows how you can add items directly when in edit mode.
This short video shows how when you switch edit mode on, a set of buttons appear across the top of a content area, each of which contains a menu of items you can choose to add to it. These are grouped into content (items like files, folders, links, bookmarks or pictures, presentations and video), assessments (online quizzes, assignments) and interactive tools (such as blogs, wikis and discussion boards). Just click on any menu item to add… All these changes mean you will visit the control panel far less often. The next slide describes how you now access the control panel.
The control panel now sits underneath the module menu and it is always onscreen for instructors in a module. Because many of the functions are now accessible directly through contextual menus it is much smaller. Because it is always on screen you can reach any item in the control panel in a couple of clicks. The next slide shows how each section on the control panel expands so you can access its content.
Clicking on any section within the control panel expands it so you can see all of the options within. Click on these to bring up that screen. The control panel menu remains on screen. For example expand module tools to access announcements. Or click on style to bring up the customisation options. You can collapse a section by clicking on it again. The next few slides explore the new features.
The following slides include some video and screenshots which illustrate the new features. The next slide shows tagging for blogs and wikis.
Any post in a blog or page in a wiki can now be tagged, and content can be accessed through tag clouds. This video shows a page with three tags on it. Initially these are the only tags in the wiki, so they are the only tags shown in the tag cloud. Tags are added to another page, which has no tags. To tag the page, just click the edit link next to the tags in the page header, and then type in the tags separated by commas. The tag cloud now emphasises those tags that have been used more frequently by making them larger. The next slide shows the activity feeds generated from blogs and wikis.
Recent activity for a site or a group are now shown in streams, so you can instantly see what has been added, updated or changed recently. The next slide shows side by side comparison for wikis.
You can compare two versions of a wiki pages side by side now, with the differences between them highlighted (for example here the word Johannes has been deleted from the page by Oscar Johnson). The next slide shows how audio can now easily be recorded.
As an example of audio recording, this video illustrates adding “audio authoring” which means adding a single audio item to a content area. Under add interactive tool, select this option, add a title for the recording and then click record. When finished recording, click stop and submit. The audio will then be published and is ready to be played back instantly. The next slide describes where audio recording can be used in the VLE.
As well as for posting single audio recordings, this tool can be used for: sending voice emails to any (or several) recipients from those enrolled or instructing on the course, voice discussion boards, or creating a podcast feed (a series of audio recordings which can be subscribed to). The next slide describes social bookmarking with Scholar.
Blackboard Scholar is now integrated into Learning Central. This allows students to sign up for an account which allows them to bookmark webpages and take their bookmarks with them beyond university. They can tag and share bookmarks, and streams of bookmarks (for example those with a particular tag or tags) can be added into Learning Central modules. The next slide illustrates searching and adding a Youtube video in Learning Central.
In this video, a Youtube video is added to a content area. The process is very similar for a presentation or photograph. Enter a search term, and select a video from the results (you can preview the videos if you’re not sure whether they’re what you want). You can then add a description and/or attach a file if you choose, and decide how to link the video. Here it is embedded, so students can play it back directly from within your module content area. The next slide describes a few of the other new features to look out for…
Portlet pages, as illustrated earlier, are now available within module. All users now have a “my notifications” area where they can see all the announcements, new material, to do items, etc. across all their modules in Learning Central. They also can choose when and how they should be alerted by email (for example instantly or in a regular digest). Questions in assessments can be easily reused in multiple asessments and the group management features have been improved to allow random allocation by group numbers or number of groups. The last slide describes the further help available.
In the Learning Central, click on the help tab and then the staff help tab to access this presentation and a range of other resources. In particular there is a side by side comparison showing the key differences in how the most common tasks are performed using the new interface. The help guides have also been updated with screenshots from the new interface and there are a handful of new quickstart videos in addition to links to videos from Blackboard.
What’s New Summer 2010 for Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment This presentation is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales Licence.