Following the feedback sessions that ran for staff and students in January and February, the University has now gone out to tender for a new VLE (currently Succeed) for implementation for academic year 2017-18.
The interested suppliers will be presenting their solutions to the University as follows:
Wed 5 April
9.00-10.30 – Canvas, Pathfoot C21
11.00-12.30 – Brightspace, Pathfoot C21
Thur 6 April
11.00-12.30 Synergy Learning (Moodle), Cottrell 2B87
Fri 7 April
11.00-12.30 – Blackboard, Cottrell 2B87
All staff are invited to attend these sessions – please sign up at https://stirling.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/vle-presentations-2. Student participation is being co-ordinated by the Students’ Union.
In addition, there will be a drop-in session in Training Room 1 in the Library from 10am to 4pm on Monday 10 April where all students and staff are invited to test each of the systems and provide feedback.
The sign-up sheets are now available in Succeed for staff members to sign-up for a VLE Feedback Session.
To book, go to Succeed -> Learning and Development – My Learning -> From VLE to LMS – Digital Learning Environment – Feedback Sessions-> and book into the relevant session.
If you would like to arrange a session specifically for your faculty please contact Sarah Grayston or Kirsteen Young.
Please see the previous blog post From VLE to LMS : Next Generation Digital Learning Environment for further information.
Information Services (IS) is beginning a tendering process for the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) with a view to implementing a new integrated, next generation Learning Management Sysetm (LMS) in time for Academic Year 2017/2018.
IS is interested to hear colleagues’ views on what a digital learning environment should offer and are keen to hear of positive and negative experiences with the current platform, Succeed/Blackboard. Over the coming weeks a series of feedback sessions will be held, and academic and support staff are invited to attend these to share their views. The sessions will be arranged with each faculty and colleagues will receive further details on times and locations when these have been confirmed.
Please contact Sarah Grayston (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further details and subscribe to this blog for updates.
The latest release of Succeed will be installed in on Saturday 6th August. This particular release, called Q2 2016, is mainly technical changes but does bring a major enhancement to the user interface as it incorporates a responsive design, meaning that Succeed will play nicely with smartphones and tablets. The technical changes are an update to the Java version used by Succeed which incorporates a number of security updates — this change has no effect on your PC/Mac — and an early release of the new REST API.
Also, included are the updates that came with the Q4 2015 release. The headlines here are:
Goal Performance Dashboard
A competency-based education Building Block to map goals to courses within Learn. The Goal Performance Dashboard evaluates evidence of competencies individually, allowing for true measurement of mastery.
Grades Journey integrates your institution’s Student Information System (SITS) with Learn. Grades Journey allows you to exchange grade information between two separate systems. Note implementing this is a major piece of work (if we decide to do this) from both a technical and procedural prospective.
For both releases there is a long list of bug fixes.
By way of comparison, here a screen from a phone using the current version of Succeed:
and the same page on a smart phone from Q2 2016:
Note how the responsive design is laid out sensibly on the phone as opposed to the standard web page being scaled (on the current system). The left-hand menu is hiding under the blue-bar along the left-hand side and tapping on this bar reveals the menu:
Note that the colours are different and these can’t be changed with the current release of the responsive design. This means that modules with modified colours schemes are not supported. All-in-all the responsive design makes Succeed work very nicely on a smartphone/tablet.
On the desktop, Succeed will look like:
The main difference is the use of a modern typeface and the colour scheme taken from Blackboard’s new design language (as the company) refers to it. Overall it gives Succeed a much more modern look and feel. The typeface is local change and aligns the typeface between the phone and desktop versions. This typeface is much more elegant than Arial which is used in the current version of Succeed.
You may have spotted that the Resource List links disappeared from all the modules you are taking as a student or looking after as a member of staff. The cause we know was an update to the underlying tool in Succeed which links the Succeed module to the corresponding Resource List but why this happened we do not understand. We are working with the providers of Succeed (Blackboard) to understand the causes so that it can be avoided in the future.
In the meantime, we have developed some software to add the links back into modules and was run in this morning (Friday 10th June) and so the links are now back. The one item that can not be guaranteed is placing the links back in the same position in the left-hand menu but it will be there.
The My Resource Lists panel also was removed from My Succeed at the same time and this needs to be added back via Add Panel, My Resource Lists.
ActiveMQ is a background process in Succeed that keeps the peace between the three servers that form the Succeed application cluster — there is a load-balancer in front of the application servers and database behind them. The role of ActiveMQ is to manage the communications between the three application servers (these are the machines you actually connect to when using the Succeed). ActiveMQ can be a tricky process to manage and most Succeed (Blackboard) admins have some experience of it not working correctly!
When ActiveMQ is not working correctly various bits of the admin console stop working but most importantly the process that uploads students into modules can stop working — that is where we are at the present time. Other user features such as Item Analysis of quizzes also stop working.
Students are uploaded into their modules starting at 7.05am and so ActiveMQ needs to be fixed well before 7.05am (as other processes that also use ActiveMQ run prior to that).
We are offering two Introduction to Succeed training sessions for staff in August and September.
The sessions will cover the basics you need to get started with Succeed (adding files, content folders, Turnitin, Announcements and adaptive release amongst other materials) as well as an understanding of the tools available to support eLearning at Stirling.
The dates and times are:
Monday 31st August, 14.00-16.00
Wednesday 9th September, 9.30-11.30
They will both take place in Training Room 2 (Library, level 4).
To sign-up, go into Succeed and then to Learning and Development – My Learning, IT & Information Skills, Succeed Training.
If you have any questions please email Kirsteen Young.
Open Badges: Creating a New Learning Currency – Wed 12th August (13.00-14.00) in Cottrell W1
Grainne Hamilton, DigitalMe
Open Badges provide a way to earn, issue and share achievements across the web and represent a paradigm shift in how and what we recognise in terms or a person’s ability. They can help people to evidence their skills, personal attributes and interests and are being issued by employers as well as educational institutions to link people to employment, apprenticeships and further learning. There have been a number of developments recently in the Open Badges sphere, both to the Open Badge specification and around uptake.
Grainne Hamilton will discuss these, highlight some current projects and developments in industry, further and higher education and share some of the thinking influencing technical developments at DigitalMe.
To sign-up for any of this talk simply go to Succeed -> Learning and Development – My Learning -> Teaching Bites
We plan to upgrade Succeed to the latest release (October 2014) on August 1st. There are two reasons that we wish to upgrade:
(i) The underlying Oracle database needs upgrading and only the October 2014 release supports the appropriate release of Oracle
(ii) In the short-term, Blackboard have changed their release process away from two major releases a year (April/October) to one of smaller incremental upgrades and only the October 2014 release gets these, as say are called, cumulative updates. Thus we’ll be in a position to install security fixes, if needed, and add new functionality, if required.
Blackboard intend to return to their bi-annual release policy in April 2016.
The good news about October 2014 is that it is primarily a bug fix release and does not introduce a host of new features or modified workflows. Thus both staff and students should find that nothing or very little changes with the upgrade.
As we are upgrading both Succeed and the underlying database we expect Succeed to be down for the majority of 1st August (9am – 5pm). Obviously let us know if this date causes issues with planned activities.
If you use the Google Chrome browser and have recently experienced some features stopping working properly then this posting may be relevant to you. From Chrome version 42 onwards Google have stopped supporting a plugin protocol called NPAPI (Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface). This plugin is used to make the following items launch or work from within Chrome:
- Authored contents that require Java; for example, some older SCORM packages or publisher content
- The Blackboard Virtual Classroom and Chat Tool (not much used in Succeed)
- Multi-File Drag-and-Drop in the Content Collection or Course Files area
It’s the last one of these which could prove most problematic, the file drag and drop into Succeed.
You can temporarily turn the NPAPI plugin back on, but by the time Chrome has received version 45 (September 2015) this option will itself be disabled. We were hoping by then that Blackboard would have handled this issue with an alternative solution so files may be dragged and dropped into the file store in Succeed, but this is only being indicated as being fixed in a ‘Future Release’ of the VLE.
To turn the NPAPI plug in back on temporarily until September 2015, open a Chrome session and input in to the address bar:
This will open a page showing the NPAPI plugin option. Click Enable under the NPAPI option, then restart Chrome to allow this plugin to work for another couple of months.
After September 2015, if there’s no solution in place from Blackboard all we can recommend for the dragging and dropping of multiple files to upload into Succeed is to use another browser (preferably Internet Explorer 11, as Firefox will also be subject to the NPAPI plugin being turned off in the future, though not as soon as September 2015) .