Oxford_Street_W1This was my first BUG, though having been to other blackboard events I met some familiar faces. It was great to see the enthusiasm and there was no shortage of speakers!! I’ve summarised some of my highlights below:

Anu Sharma (Brunel University) gave a talk about her institutions use of Enterprise Surveys for student evaluations. What was interesting was to hear how, like many institutions, the process of gathering student feedback is still not centralised, with schools/faculties doing their own thing. Like us, Anu and her team have found many bugs, however these have been reduced with new releases of learn. It was also interesting to see how many institutions hadn’t taken the plunge and used the tool.

Manuel Frutos-Perez (University of West England) gave a short talk about the challenge of getting 900 students to capture video and submit as an assignment to Blackboard as part of a week long course. Unfortunately there was not time to go through in detail, but it involved the use of Kaltura…

Chris Boon (City College, Norwich) discussed their use of the blackboard assignment tool in FE provision. What was interesting was the level of input from his team – they handbuilt course areas for teams, and also set up submission points. They were particularly pleased with the new SafeAssign integration. I was interested to hear that they had customised the language pack to display a confirmation screen when submitting an assignment (asking for students to confirm they hadn’t plagiarised)

There were also some great talks about the Catalyst Awards scheme, and also the open education platform which Regents University are using to great effect with the ’12 Apps of Christmas’ – a ‘SHMOOC’ as Bryony put it :-). Check it out for useful app-related ideas.

The Q&A with Blackboard was interesting, with questions raised about the new ‘Ultra’ interface. Similar to the recent ‘Bb on tour’ roadshow, staff indicated how a mobile responsive design is needed now, whereas most of us will need to wait until Summer 2016 to upgrade. I also got the feeling that there will be limited improvements to the current Learn functionality in the next year, as all efforts are focussed towards Ultra. Folk also expressed their concern that UK staff are not being consulted in the development of Ultra. This was a fair point, as I myself have signed up to the ‘Blackboard Ideas Exchange’ but have not heard anything. We were also promised involvement in working groups at the On Tour Roadshow – so watch this space….


Big thanks to everyone involved and to Bryony Bramer for organising the event.

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