Web Conferencing Options

Information Services at the University of Stirling supports the use of two key web conferencing systems, Skype for Business and Blackboard Collaborate. This article talks about each in turn and when you might want to use them.

Skype for Business

Skype for Business is a peer-to-peer communication tool, Microsoft’s business version of the popular Skype communication platform that it acquired in 2011. Skype for Business is part of the Microsoft Office 2013 suite of programs and is thus already installed on all University of Stirling staff computers (you’ll find it in the Programs menu, under Microsoft Office 2013). As it is integrated with Outlook, Skype for Business shows your availability for meetings based on your Outlook calendar, although you may update your availability status in Skype for Business if you wish. It can be used for meetings with other University of Stirling staff, but also for meetings with external persons, who may be invited to join a Skype for Business session by email. Meetings may be scheduled in your Outlook calendar and may be recorded for later revisiting.

Once in the tool, Skype for Business supports online chat, delivery of PowerPoint presentations, application sharing and multiple whiteboard areas. Attachments may also be sent between meeting participants. Attendees of meetings may use all the features of the package.

Skype for Business is ideal for use in communicating with other University of Stirling staff who use it or for communicating with users off campus for meetings in a business context. The wide general use of the sister product Skype means that many users will pick up Skype for Business’ features quickly and anecdotal feedback suggests its audio quality is superior to that of Blackboard Collaborate.

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate is an online virtual classroom/meeting space that allows users to connect via audio, see each other via webcams, use a chat tool, collaborate on documents and view presentations. It requires an up to date installation of Java on your machine to run effectively.

Its strengths lie in its use as a teaching and learning tool, although it also works well for online meetings. Meetings/teaching sessions may be scheduled using the web-based Blackboard Collaborate Session Administration System (SAS) and users may be sent email invitations with links in, which they then click to join the session at the relevant time. Users may be in one of two roles in the session: Moderator (teacher, chairperson of the meeting) or Participant (student, or meeting attendee). Moderators have privileges to turn the tools and features in Blackboard Collaborate on and off, better to tailor the session to their needs. All users may use a web cam and microphone to communicate, although in larger groups it’s worth knowing that Blackboard Collaborate will only support up to six open web cam and audio feeds at any one time. The Whiteboard area of the display in Blackboard Collaborate allows the session Moderator to do three tasks. First, they may load slides for presentation. The presentation feature allows slides to be annotated to enhance clarity and understanding. The second option is application sharing. This could be used, for example, collaboratively to work on a document, with Moderator handing control over the shared application to other users, so everyone may contribute to building up a resource. Finally, the Moderator may take session attendees on a web tour of a web site. Sessions in Blackboard Collaborate may be recorded for later playback.

Blackboard Collaborate is best used in a teaching and learning context, when a Moderators (presenter) wishes to run a session and have greater control over the other session participants. It has been used with great success in many Master’s programmes, especially in the School of Health Sciences.

For more details on using either Skype for Business or Blackboard Collaborate, please contact your eLD representative: http://www.stir.ac.uk/is/staff/about/teams/aldt/#eld.

Teaching Bites

The next set of Teaching Bites are mainly on the theme of employability and will be delivered by the Career Development Centre.

Thursday 19th November, 1-2pm, S10: Planning and evaluating employability in the curriculum

This session will explore the values and benefits to pro-actively planning and evaluating employability in the curriculum. It will also outline a variety of approaches and share existing best practice.

Pam Crawford/Lesley Grayburn, CDC

Thursday 26th November, 1-2pm, S10:  Development of career management skills in the curriculum

Equipping Stirling’s students and graduates with career management skills is a key goal of the University’s Employability Strategy. These skills are key to successfully managing the transition from University and a graduate’s longer term career development. This session will look at what career management skills are, why they are important, and approaches to embedding them in the curriculum.

Pam Crawford/Lesley Grayburn, CDC

Wednesday 2nd December, 1-2pm, S10: Learning Outcomes and Assessment: How do we align them?

In order to support our students by helping to direct their learning, we need to be clear in our expectations of the level at which they engage in our modules and across our programmes. This session will look at a model of curriculum development that helps us to align our module learning outcomes with the ways in which we assess our students. Participants are encouraged to bring a module outline with which they are familiar, with them to the session.

Dr Mary McCulloch, Academic Development Team

Thursday 10th December, 1-2pm, S10: Delivering work based learning and placements

With many employers increasingly looking for experience as well as academic achievement in candidates, work placements and work related learning have an increasing importance in gaining graduate level employment. This session will look at the issues involved in the delivery of work related/based learning.  Perspectives and practice will be taken from the learning achieved through Making the Most of Masters that develops masters dissertation projects with external organisations and will also cover the development of undergraduate placements.

Eunice Atkins, CDC

Wednesday 13th January, 1-2pm, S10: Learning Outcomes and Assessment: How do we align them? (Repeat session)

In order to support our students by helping to direct their learning, we need to be clear in our expectations of the level at which they engage in our modules and across our programmes. This session will look at a model of curriculum development that helps us to align our module learning outcomes with the ways in which we assess our students. Participants are encouraged to bring a module outline with which they are familiar, with them to the session.

Dr Mary McCulloch, Academic Development Team

Thursday 28th January, 1-2pm, S10: Enhancing conversations using Talking Mats

Talking Mats is a visual card sort tool that is highly effective in enabling students to express their views or plan and organise their thinking.
This session will look at ways in which staff in the Career Development Centre have been working with the Talking Mats team who created the tool to research its uses in a Higher Education setting and will explore it’s potential uses for Personal Tutors, Advisers of Study and its scope for use to great effect in teaching sessions, seminars and tutorials.

Elaine Watson, CDC

Monday 1st February, 1-2pm, S10: Engaging employers in the curriculump

Research underpinning the development of employability in higher education places high importance on the value of employer engagement. This applies to both vocational and non-vocational subjects alike. This session will explore the different forms of employer engagement and how to progress their development in the curriculum.

Pam Crawford/Lesley Grayburn, CDC

Thursday 18th February, 1-2pm, S10: Students as reflective learners

This session will explore practical tools and strategies which staff can employ to help develop students’ reflective practice. We will be discussing:

  • What a reflective learner is.
  • The issues students face in trying to self-assess what their strengths and development needs are.
  • Practical strategies to help students learn to reflect.

To book, Succeed -> Learning and Development – My Learning -> Teaching Bites -> and booking into the relevant session(s)

Flipping the Classroom

A special e-Learning Forum is planned for later this month on Thursday 29th October, 11.00 – 15.40. The subject is Flipping the Classroom and we have arranged a number of speakers. The event will be held in the Enterprise Zone on level 3 of the library.

11.00 – 11.10 Welcome: Tim Whalley
11.10 – 11.40 Alan Masson
11.40 – 12.00 Rhian Williams
12.00 – 12.20 Kevin Tipton

12.20 – 13.30 Lunch

13.30 – 14.00 Sheila McNeill
14.00 – 14.20 Tim Whalley
14.20 – 14.40 Hollie Cameron
14.40 – 15.00 Eddy Moran

15.00 – 15.20 Discussion: What Next
15.20 – 15.30 Closing remarks: Mary McCulloch/Simon Booth

Dr Alan Masson – Senior Manager, International Customer Success, Blackboard.
Reimagining the flipped classroom?
This hands on interactive session will use recognised principles of assessment and feedback and educational interactions to articulate an aspirational vision for the educational design of blended learning / flipped classroom. This vision will then be used to inform the development of a learning design framework and patterns of Blackboard tools and resources to best address these educational requirements.

Dr Alan Masson is the Head of Blackboard International Customer Success. Previous to this role he was the Head of Technology Facilitated Learning at the University of Ulster where he led a number of national projects in the areas of Assessment and Feedback, Learning Design and Curriculum Enhancement. He has extensive experience of delivering assessment and feedback enhancement workshops to a range of UK Universities and has acted as a critical friend to the QAA to support the development of curriculum innovation toolkits. This workshop is part of an academic success initiative which is seeking to support Blackboard customers to get the best educational value and impact from their Blackboard investments.

Ms Sheila McNeill – UK Learning Technologist of the Year, 2013, Glasgow Caledonian University.
What the Flip?
Flipped teaching approaches are becoming increasingly popular and are even being hailed as the future for all learning and teaching.  More and more educators are flipping their classrooms, but there are many who are still unsure about what flipping actually means, how and what to flip in their contexts. As well as exploring the concepts of flipped teaching, this presentation will share an example of how a course team at GCU restructured their modules using a flipped approach. The team abolished lectures and moved to a more self directed and discursive workshop approach. This has led to increased engagement (and enjoyment) for both students and staff.

Sheila MacNeill is a Senior Lecturer in Blended Learning at Glasgow Caledonian University, where she works as part of a team who provide strategic direction, pedagogic guidance and practical support to staff embedding digital, blended online learning across the curriculum. Open-ness is at the heart of Sheila’s professional practice and she regularly blogs about her adventures and musing in and around the use of technology in education at www.howsheilaseesit.wordpress.com and can be found on twitter @sheilmcn.  Before working at GCU, Sheila was one of the Assistant Director’s at Jisc Cetis, a national innovation support centre for the UK HE Sector. She was the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year 2013.

Dr Rhian Williams – English Literature, University of Glasgow.
Poetry Podcasts
I will be talking about the ‘Poetry Podcasts’ project that she developed with then-colleague, Professor Kirstie Blair in 2011. The podcasts appear on iTunes and online and have received a significant number of ‘hits’. The project was aimed at school leavers and first year University students, but has scope for wider application.

Dr Rhian Williams is a lecturer in English Literature at the University of Glasgow, specialising in teaching poetry. She is the author of The Poetry Toolkit: The Essential Guide to Studying Poetry (Bloomsbury, 2nd Ed. 2013), which appears on many reading lists in the UK and USA

Professor Kevin Tipton – School of Sport, University of Stirling.
Experiences with flipping large sports science classrooms
I will discuss some methods that I’ve used in sports science classes to enhance learning despite increasing number of students. These methods are designed to provide an interactive learning environment for students in large classrooms. The basis for these sessions are video lectures that are uploaded onto Succeed. In class, I have used Peer Instruction and Think-Pair-Share and other methods. Finally, I have used Twitter to stimulate critical evaluation of research papers.

Kevin Tipton is a Professor of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences at the University of Stirling in Scotland. His research is focused on exercise, nutrition and muscle metabolism. He is an author of over 80 papers, book chapters and review articles. His interest in exercise nutrition extends to application of the science to athletic populations. He served on the USA Committee for Military Nutrition Research and helped develop sports nutrition consensus statements for the IOC, FIFA, FINA and IAAF and has served on the UK Sport Nutritional Supplements Advisory Board. When not working he enjoys walking the hills and muirs with his dog, Reiver.

Dr Tim Whalley – Dean of Students, University of Stirling.

Ms Hollie Cameron – VP Education, Students’ Union

Dr Eddy Moran – School of Education, University of Stirling.
Is It Real Teaching? Post-Graduate Students’ Perceptions and Use of Online Video Tutorials
This presentation reports a small scale study funded by SELF of post-graduate students’ perceptions of online video tutorials compared to face to face lectures, their use of the videos and the learning strategies they employed while watching them. Data was collected from online tracking of user-interaction, usage statistics collected by Succeed, and semi-structured interviews. Findings suggest that while learners recognise and value the strengths of online delivery of teaching input and interact with the material in purposeful ways, they also recognise and value the social interaction of face to face teaching and learning

Eddy Moran is a teaching fellow specializing in Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) in the TESOL unit of the School of Education. He also contributes to courses on TESOL theory and methodology and language assessment. His research interests are language learners’ epistemologies of learning, learner interaction with CALL software, and the application of blended learning for taught postgraduates, particularly the use of online video.

This workshop takes ‘Flipping’ to mean any activity that replaces a traditional lecture with an activity designed to improve student learning. We don’t simply mean replacing a lecture with a Listen Again recording but any prior activity undertaken with the purpose of making the lecture time more valuable for student learning. Come along and listen to a range of perspectives on flipping and ways to flip from staff at Stirling and elsewhere.

To book, Succeed -> Learning and Development – My Learning -> Teaching Bites -> e-Learning Forum: Flipping the Classroom.

Bristol Online Surveys downtime

Between 4pm and 6pm on Thursday, 24th September 2015, the Bristol Online Surveys (BOS) service will be unavailable while system maintenance takes place. During this two-hour period, survey authors and administrators will be unable to sign in to BOS, and survey respondents will be unable to complete surveys. BOS is being made unavailable to allow their technical team to safely carry out preliminary work relating to the upcoming enhancements described in this blog post on their web site: https://www.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/upcoming-enhancements/

Teaching Bites

eLD and the School of Education are running some ‘Teaching Bite’ sessions.

To sign-up for any of the talks below (eLD) simply go to Succeed -> Learning and Development – My Learning -> Teaching Bites and then select the talks you wish to attend.

Wednesday 16th September, 1-2pm, S10: Module Design — Make Your Succeed a Better Place
Building a module in Succeed where the content is easy for the students to navigate is not as straight-forward as it might first appear. This session looks at some easy wins:

  • Using Content Areas affectively
  • Naming Content and the Description area
  • Use of the Table of Content (left-hand menu/navigation)
  • Consistency

Thursday 17th September, 1-2pm, S10: Mobile
The wireless service at the University opens up some exciting possibilities for student engagement in teaching and learning – laptops, tablets and smart phones can now quickly and easily connect to Eduroam and get Internet access. Students amongst other things can then participate in polls (rather similar to clicker technology) or tweet questions/comments.

Thursday 24th September, 1-2pm, S10: Turnitin – GradeMark
Turnitin offers much more than plagiarism detection. It has tools to facilitate peer marking and online marking (‘GradeMark’). This talk will demonstrate how to use GradeMark and discuss the positive and negative features of marking online.

Thursday 1st October,  1-2pm, S10: Quizzes/Surveys
The session will look at the Tests, Surveys and Pools area of Succeed. Users will be shown how to set up a test or a survey and how to add questions to it. An explanation of the available question types will be given. The session will also cover how to edit the settings for a test or survey so it is made available to the relevant users at the relevant time, including how to set up exceptions for AAA students who require more time to complete their assessments. An explanation will also be given of the question pool, and how to add questions to this pool, and how to select questions from the pool to add to tests and surveys.

The School of Education are also running a series of seminars that are open to all staff. To sign-up for these sessions please email ‘Education Admin’.

Wednesday 23rd September, 1-2pm, C25:  Discussion Tool, Blogs and Wikis
This session will look at some of the collaboration tools within blackboard, these tools can be used to help build a sense of community in modules, can be used for group working, social interaction and the exchange of ideas.  The session will look at the discussion tool, blogs and wikis and give examples of where these might be used successfully within your succeed module.

Wednesday 30th September, 1-2pm, A5: Collaborate
This session will look at the peer-to-peer Conferencing tool Blackboard Collaborate (Succeed Classroom) and how you may use this in your teaching. Collaborate allows a meeting or teaching session to take place online, with audio, video and a working whiteboard area which can be used to share slides, work collaboratively on documents or conduct a web tour. The session will cover the equipment needed to run a Blackboard Collaborate session, how to set a session up, get started and some tips and tricks on its use.

Wednesday 14th October, 1-2pm, C25: Digitial Tools in Assessment
This session will look at how digital tools can be used enable different forms of assessment. It will look at assessments using student journals, wikis and digital video and consider the benefits and potential problems of these.

Wednesday 28th October, 1-2pm, C25: VoiceThread
VoiceThread bridges the gap between real-time discussions and online presemtations. The simplest way to view this tool is like a spoken discussion board not a written, text-based board and best way to find out more is a attend this session.

To attend one of the School of Education


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).

Succeed Training: Introduction to Succeed

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.

Teaching Bites: Open Badges

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

Turnitin: Email non-submitters

Turnitin have recently added a new feature to their product that appears to allow Succeed Module Instructors to email students who have not submitted to a Turnitin assignment. The purpose of this blog posting is to warn you that this new “Email non-submitters” option DOES NOT CURRENTLY WORK. Perhaps even worse, the new functionality does ‘appear’ to work.

When viewing Turnitin Assignment submissions in the Assignment Inbox area, a new option appears to ‘Email non-submitters‘ (circled in the image below):


When clicked the following form appears:

Email Non-Submitters Form

If a subject and message are added to the form, the ‘Include me‘ option is ticked and ‘Send‘ is clicked then the staff member will get a copy of the message as an email but the students who should also get the message WILL NOT.

Turnitin are working on a fix and hope to have a working feature before semester starts. If a fix cannot be found then the button will be removed.

In working condition such a feature would be particularly useful with anonymous assignments as it would allow a quick and simple way to alert students that they have missed a deadline (although it will not know about students that have been granted extensions).

Some background to this situation: Turnitin have two integrations with Succeed: ‘Basic’ and ‘Direct’. Stirling uses the ‘Basic’ integration and currently this is Turnitin’s favoured route for moving to their forthcoming integration (called ‘Next’, possibly arriving in Summer 2016). ‘Next’ will offer a host of improved features, including a modern interface. The ’email non-submitters’ feature does work with the ‘Direct’ integration. It is clear that Turnitin slipped up with their testing before releasing this feature.