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Educational Design and Engagement

Educational Design and Engagement

Enriching the student learning experience & supporting development of on campus and online courses.

Scot-bug: Bridging [in] Formal Learning 27th February 2014

Report on Scot-bug meeting held on 27th February at the University of Aberdeen. Scot-bug is the Blackboard users’ group for Scotland. Scot-bug draws its membership from all of Scotland’s HE and FE institutions and holds three to four meetings a year in institutions around the country.

Learn Analytics

Richard Burrows of Blackboard announced that a Learn Analytics special interest group has been established and invited Scot-bug members and their colleagues to contact him if interested in being involved.

New Blackboard Account Manager and Client Manager

Alistair Brook was introduced as the new Account Manager and James Dean as the new Client Manager for the Scotland area.

Alistair Brook outlined Blackboard’s strategy for the coming months, which would focus on the global educational environment and emphasise support for institutions at five stages of learning technology implementation, namely: Technology adoption, Exploratory, Supportive, Strategic, Vision Critical and Transformative. Alistair also announced the Blackboard Teaching & Learning Conference, to be held from the 29th April – 2nd May at University College, Dublin. The conference will include special sessions for developers, and a free content workshop.

James Dean outlined his role as client manager. The main aspects of the role include directing clients to Blackboard resources and events, improving transparency with Blackboard, and escalating cases of client dissatisfaction. The role also involves helping to prioritise product enhancement requests received through the Blackboard users’ suggestion box.

Cloud Tools : Updates for the European Market : Julie Usher (Blackboard Solutions Engineer)

Blackboard have been working on improvements for their social based cloud tools.

Current issues include: users don’t have the option to participate (e.g. opt–in or out); ‘Classmates’ may be on a different programme or year of study, programme or year level courses; and social media is not appropriate for all users, (due to age, for example).

Blackboard has taken the following steps to address these issues. Users will be required to endorse a user agreement before using cloud tools. This agreement is generic but institutions will be able to add local policies. Users will also be able to delete their Blackboard profile.

Users will initially have a Basic Profile which consists of name, subject area and can only be viewed in their institution. They can expand this profile and create a full profile which will consist of:

  • Profile wall
  • Messaging
  • Space creation – allowing users to create group spaces if they have a Community licence
  • Social tool connections for Facebook, Twitter etc.
  • Privacy settings
  • Alternative email address not affiliated with the institution to allow for a profile for life
  • Abuse reporting

Open Badges and Accreditation of Prior Learning : Grainne Hamilton (JISC RSC), Sara Preston (Aberdeen University), Phil Richards (North East Scotland College NESC)

Open Badges recognise learner’s achievements, enable competences to be certified and offer encouragement and support for students. NESC have created Blackboard Learn courses where users receive a badge upon course completion. Badges are issued on successful course completion via adaptive release.

Social Media (ETNA data) : Celeste McLaughlin (JISC RSC)

This presentation was based on data about Social Media drawn from the 2012 ETNA survey conducted by the JISC Regional Support Centre. The ETNA survey focuses on FE Colleges. It aims to help  identify training needs, and inform strategic planning and decision making. The full survey report is available as a PDF at:

The main points of the presentation in relation to Social Media were as follows:

Social Media Developments

There has been a significant growth in the use of social media within both student social space and the learning and teaching environment.

Access to Social Media Technologies

Social media tools are widely available across FE colleges. However, a small number of colleges have blocked access to certain social media tools.

Social Media and Engagement

There is notable variation in how the social media tools are used.  YouTube was the most commonly used tool, and was mainly used by academic staff and learning technologists. Less use was made of Twitter and Facebook.

Social Media and Academics

Around 70% of academic respondents agreed that the use of social media tools enhances the learning experience, and that students were confident with social media tools. Some felt the tools were a distraction from learning and teaching and should remain in student social space. Institutional restrictions also limited use of social media.

Social Media Training

Less than 10% said that they had received training in social media. A need for staff training was identified by over a third from staff groups. It may be that there is a need for general guidance and support for social media within a teaching and learning context. Findings support the conclusions that social media tools have the potential to enhance the student experience, and that students typically engage well with them.


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