I have had the pleasure of seeing and meeting many staff at the recent Pre-Term Toolkits; a welcome return or what was an annual workshop fixture until 2020. The last Pre-Term Tookit workshop ran yesterday and over the course of the workshop sessions myself and colleagues received several questions. I would like to respond to your collected questions here, as I am sure that these questions apply for many folks and may be helpful to those who could not attend. I have grouped the questions thematically below. You can use the contents list below to quickly navigate to specific questions.
- Answers to your questions
- Preparing my modules
- Supporting students
- Communicating with students
- Help for academic staff and support staff
Answers to your questions
Preparing my modules
All guidance related to preparing your modules for the term can be found on a dedicated page at the top-level of our new Digital Tools site on Sharepoint Online. Here is a direct link to the preparing your modules page. The follwing sections adress specific questions that we have received.
How can I re-use my Panopto videos from 2020 in 2021?
Where you have permission to re-use videos, as with videos you recorded yourself. We have step-by-step instructions explaining how to safely copy your videos from 2020 modules to 2021 modules. It is very important that you follow the instructions otherwise your students will not be able to access the videos. It is not just the case of copying the folder containing the video from the 2020 module to the 2021 module.
If you require assistance or training for Panopto please attend a Pre-recording content with Panopto workshop. Learning Technologists may not have capacity to provide one-to-one training unless there is a specific technical issue, so attending a group session is the best route for general support. A few folks have asked about using PowerPoint to record videos of lectures rather than Panopto. This is not supported practice and I have addressed this question at the bottom of this post.
How can I create new clips from my existing Panopto videos?
We have a workshop explaining how to do this Reusing Panopto Content and Watch Parties, there are two additional dates for these at the time of writing (30th Sept at 11am; 6th Oct at 10.30am). If you cannot attend a workshop, step-by-step tutorials are provided on the top-right of the Teaching support page on the Digital Tools site.
How can I add new instructors and support staff to my module?
You can do this quickly and easily yourself. Here is a link to the instructions at Blackboard’s website. Here is a helpful video explaining the process step-by-step as well.
How can I update the Module Contacts in the Module Information area?
The module contacts information is based on the instructors who are enrolled on the module (as in the question directly above). If you add or remove instructors these changes will be automatically reflected on the Module Contacts the next day as the information synchronises in the evening. If the Module Leader/Coordinator is not listed or is the wrong person on the Module Contacts, contact your school office. This information needs to be updated by the school office in SITS.
How can I copy my module content from 2020 to 2021?
- Here are step-by-step instructions for how to copy your Study Materials module content from one module to another.
- For other types of content such as copying tests/exams please refer to the guidance on the Preparing your modules page.
We have had a lot of questions about bulk copying of content which is something that folks used to do. Learning Technologists are no longer able to support bulk copying for two key reasons:
- Blackboard have instituted a 2.3GB storage limit on each module.
- Bulk copying not only brings over the content that you can see ‘on stage’ in the content areas that students see, but also all the historic content including every single module copy made during previous years to the files area of the module. Much of this content is no longer in use and will exceed the 2.3GB limit, meaning that the copy itself will not go through.
Best practice has always been to copy resources from the previous module to the new one, by copying content folders as outlined in the instructions linked above – this is now the only supported method for copying Study Materials content.
How can I tell new students about the tools for learning?
Here are a few key permalinks (stable links) and resources which you can share with students to help with this:
- Video about Digital Tools at the University for students
- The same information as a set of slides for you to use in student inductions – tools for remote learning 2021 slides
- Joining a Microsoft Team with a code for students
- Joining a Microsoft Teams call for students
- Microsoft Teams for students page
- For new and returning students: Navigating My Studies
- What is Office365 for students
How can I tell new students about the IT requirements for learning?
The IT requirements per course are provided as a list on the IT Services pages. As part of the My Studies Essentials checklist, module leaders also need to provide an overview of the technology used on the module and should also list this information, where relevant, on the module roadmap. For example, if your weekly large lecture is held on Microsoft Teams then it is useful to explain this in your Module Information area and to recommend that students will have the best experience using Teams on a laptop or desktop computer. You could use this as a opportunity to link to the Teams videos (above) and the Teams for students page.
Where can I refer students who need help with technology?
All student technical enquiries should be referred to Service Desk (email@example.com or 01273 644444). Service Desk will either answer the question or refer on to the correct team. There is a Study Skills page with guidance for students if they need assistance with library services. For general software help and skills, the how to use LinkedIn Learning course may help students to access the wealth of self-service videos available in LinkedIn Learning.
Communicating with students
This section outlines the communication methods supported by DLPIS, our focus being My Studies, so please continue to work with Marketing and Communications and via other approved channels.
How can I communicate with students at course level?
To communicate with all students on a course you can still use an ‘announcement’ or the ‘send email’ tool within the course are on My Studies.
For course leaders – the list for course and level email addresses which has been updated and has been shared as a spreadsheet on the Microsoft Team called: Group-All University Course Leaders.
How can I communicate with students at module level?
You can use an ‘announcement‘ to communicate with all students at staff at the module level. Here is a Sway tutorial going through best practice for creating announcements. You may find this copy-and-paste friendly template for weekly announcements helpful. You can also the use the ‘send email’ tool which is available in the Course Tools menu.
Discussion boards are a way that you can communicate with students and minimise the number of emails that you receive. We are still migrating content to our new Sharepoint pages, but here some help materials for last year about discussion boards. Here are general setup instructions for discussion boards from the Blackboard help site.
Help for academic staff and support staff
I need a refresher on Teams/Panopto/My Studies?
As previously mentioned the DLPIS team are running workshops to help both new and returning staff. The full list of workshops and joining details are included on this page.
For step-by-step guides and FAQs by tool, please refer to the Digital Tools A to Z page.
We also post news about recent updates on the Digital Tools page on the right-hand side and would draw your attention to the post about new features in Microsoft Teams.
Can I use PowerPoint to record video of my lectures?
This question has come up a lot. We realise that many folks made use of PowerPoint to record lecture videos due to the pressing need to create lecture content last academic year. However, we must recommend that you now switch to using Panopto for recording your lectures.
There are three key reasons for this:
- Recording a video in PowerPoint and then uploading that video to Panopto means that your students miss out on key functionality in Panopto. Specifically the ability to use the slides in your presentation to navigate through the timeline of content. This is a key benefit to students and will enable them to revisit content more effectively.
- The videos produced by PowerPoint are transcoded in a specific way which means that they often do not upload sucessfully to Panopto. This leads to a range of glitches including issues with synchronisation between audio and video in the recording. As you may not have time to review your entire recording, you may not notice this initially, but it is an issue that students have reported to service desk. Where this occurs it cannot be remedied by IT staff and can be avoided by recording in Panopto from the get go.
- Where videos have not been successfully uploaded to Panopto for the reason above, some staff have uploaded videos or narrated PowerPoint files to the module directly. These practices do not meet university accessibility requirements because the video file or narrated PowerPoint file will not have closed captions (on screen subtitles) and the resulting files, even the supposedly web-safe export, are too large for students to download if they are on a data plan or limited broadband.
If you cannot install Panopto on the computer that you are using because it has an older operating systems, then you can access the web recorder at Panopto.com/record.
Can you provide these brilliant blogs as downloadable pdf files so I can stash them as files? I tend to lose URLs (and still use index cards…)
Hello Simon, I have added a Print/PDF button at the top of the post for you. This will allow you to generate a PDF of the post to download and keep (you may need to agree to the cookies, sorry there is nothing I can do about that as it is related to the plugin which makes the button work). I would also point you towards the ‘recents updates’ space on the right-hand side of the Digital Tools page on SharePoint Online. This is the new place for Digital Learning updates and might helpful so that you can look back through archival information.