Tuesday, 29 July 2014

LearnUCS Supported Browsers

Following the recent upgrade to LearnUCS we are publishing Blackboard's minimum browser requirements.

As you will read below Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 is no longer supported, as well as the latest releases of Internet Explorer making some LearnUCS features difficult to use.  The Elevate team recommend using one of the 3 other browsers when accessing LearnUCS.


Supported Browsers

Four primary browsers for LearnUCS current release.

Automatically Updated Channel-based Browsers

The dates listed are the latest numbered patch release dates.

  • Firefox® 28 (stable channel) from Mozilla (18 March 2014)
  • Firefox 24 (ESR channel) from Mozilla (17 September 2013)
  • Chrome™ 34 (stable channel) from Google (8 April 2014)

Traditionally Released Browsers

The dates listed are the original release dates for general availability.
  • Safari® 7 from Apple (22 October 2013)
  • Safari® 6 from Apple (25 July 2012)
Safari for Windows is unsupported. Apple's continued support for this browser is unclear, and Blackboard does not test it.
  • Internet Explorer® 11 from Microsoft (17 October 2013 for Windows 8.1, 7 November 2013 for Windows 7)
  • Internet Explorer 10 from Microsoft (26 October 2012 for Windows 8, 26 February 2013 for Windows 7)
  • Internet Explorer 9 from Microsoft (14 March 2011)
Some configuration options for Internet Explorer might make some features of Blackboard Learn difficult to use. To learn more, see Internet Explorer Security Zones and Compatibility View topic in this section.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

e-submission Review at UCS: Electronic Management of Assignments (EMA): Draft Report

The following is a draft for consultation and will be presented at the next AMC meeting. If you have any comments or observations, please contact Andy Ramsden (a.ramsden@ucs.ac.uk)

  • Andy Ramsden (e-Learning Development Manager, UCS)
  • 7th July, 2014


The author would like to thank the following people for their active role in the Task and Finish Group. Without their input it would have been a longer, harder journey.
  • Aaron Burrell
  • Faith Hicks
  • Matt Hirst

Executive Summary

The aim of this review was to answer the following questions, how can we enhance the workflow of EMA at UCS? How can we increase adoption of good practice across the institution?

The discussion highlighted EMA is viewed positively by all stakeholders. There are a number of recommendations to enhance the effective implementation across UCS. These recommendations have been appropriately resourced and prioritised.


The Review of e-Submission, e-Grading and e-Return paper was presented to the AMC meeting in March 2014. The paper proposed given there has been a gradual roll-out and take up of electronic processes available to support online submission, grading and return across UCS, and the last review was undertaken in 2011/12, it would be appropriate and timely to undertake another review.

The aim of this review was to answer the following questions, how can we enhance the workflow of EMA at UCS? How can we increase adoption of good practice?


The Task & Finish Group - comprised of:
  • Aaron Burrell - Elevate Team
  • Faith Hicks - Academic Services
  • Matt Hirst - Academic Services
  • Andy Ramsden (Chair) - Elevate Team
The Task and Finish Group identified a number of key stakeholders to approach. These included:
  • Student (n=1) Semi structured interview and desk study from Course Reports
  • Lecturers (n=17 (2 from Otley)) - semi structured interviews (1-2-1)
  • Course Admins (n=4) - focus group 
  • Health & Safety (n=1) - email correspondence
  • IT Services Helpdesk (n=1) - email correspondence 
  • Infozone Manager (n=1) - semi structured interview 
    • Total (n=25)
The Heads of Department were asked to recommend staff to participate.

The data (interviews, focus groups and email correspondence was undertaken during May & June 2014.

As would be expected from this approach, a number of caveats exist:
  • Small sample size means it is not a significant sample
  • Sample bias as the Task & Finish Group selected the people to interview
  • Interview bias as “they may say what they think we want to here, not what they actually think


The original workflow has been implemented in a variety of models at UCS. The analysis identified a lot of positive feedback for benefits of EMA across all stakeholders at UCS. The Students commented about the ease of submission, and no printing costs. While Course Admins identified efficiency gains and easier monitoring, and Lecturers discussed the benefits of streamlining the marking and feedback cycle.

How can we improve the workflow?

Some people were not aware of the workflow. However, the principle of being explicit about roles and responsibilities was positively received across the stakeholders.

The latest iteration of the workflow is available below.

Some of the suggested enhancements were:
  • ensure a meetings are undertaken between the course team and the course administrator to agree who is responsible for the various parts.
  • clear up misunderstandings between ratified and unratified grades for students
  • include external examiners within the process, and ensure they are supported
  • re-design the workflow to accommodate the enhancements to the LearnUCS software.
There were a number of requests for software improvements. The Elevate Team will continue to monitor enhancements in the Blackboard software and feed these back the UCS community.

How can we support the implementation of the workflow?

A consistent message emerged from all the stakeholders around needing clarity of “who is responsible for managing portals?” This implies the current workflow has not embedded across all the course teams, and we need an effective marketing and communication strategy aimed at all stakeholders.


A common thread throughout the staff discussions were issues around the required hardware and software to complete the e-grading and e-return. Staff did not find the current arrangement of workstations with small monitors in open planned offices conducive to the process. In addition, a number of concerns were raised around health issues associated with spending long periods of time marking online, and the frustrations of excessive scrolling due to small monitors.


  1. A few issues raised the need for consistency across Departmental implementations. There existed significant differences in practice.
  2. A question asked by some was, "what does good practice look like? What should I be aiming towards?"
Course Administrators
  1. They acknowledged a variety of approaches were adopted by different course administrators. They saw an opportunity to learn from each other, and move to a more consistent implementation.
  2. More consistency across UCS with respect to the management of extensions
  3. More effective and efficient support for External Examiners
  4. More support sessions for academic staff around inline grading (e-grading, e-feedback)
Student Perspective
  1. Clearer guidance on who to contact with respect to availability or issues with the submission portals.
  2. Earlier communication if there is an issue with the format of the submitted file.
  3. Encourage consistency within course teams on when and how EMA is used
  4. Simplify the need to manage all the other files (cover sheets, marking grids) which need to be submitted with the assignment
System Integration
  1. The Course Admins discussed if there existed opportunities to integrate the Student Record System (SITS) with LearnUCS. The hope was for two integration. For instance, the automatic creation of online submission portals based on assessment diets from SITS, and the push of appropriate and selected data from LearnUCS gradebook into SITS.


The recommendations have been organised through a MoSCoW analysis.

  1. Creation of a dedicated EMA support area for Staff and Students to support and inform them of the process. This will be linked to from each LearnUCS course, and the UCS Assignment Toolkit [Owner: Elevate (Aaron) - By: July 2014]
  2. Redesign the submission portal to improve access to FAQs, links to academic skills support, clearly identify people / roles who support the process, and make this support material multimedia rich with screencasts [Owner: Elevate (Aaron) & Acad Services (Matt) - By: July 2014]
  3. Provide student focussed posters at key times of the year within student learning spaces which focus on how to submit work and access feedback. [Owner: Elevate (Aaron) & Acad Services (Matt) - By: December Campaign]
  4. Provide awareness raising posters (lecturer audience) at key times of the year, distributed within staff spaces and offices which focus on the EMA workflow, the benefits, where material resides and contact names [Owner: Elevate (Aaron) & Acad Services (Matt) - By: December Campaign]
  5. Improve the communications with new lecturers as part of their induction. Provide a clear and consistent message around talking to their course administrator about the process. [Owner: Elevate (Andy) & Acad Services (Matt) - By: July & Ongoing]
  6. Run training sessions twice a year for course admins to ensure they have collective ownership the emerging good practice around EMA. Create regular bulletins. [Owner: Elevate (Aaron) & Acad Services (Matt) - By: July 2014 & December 2014]
  7. Develop online guidance for lecturers on the common issues and questions. Ensure this is easily accessible for lecturers in LearnUCS when they are marking. [Owner: Elevate (Aaron) & Acad Services (Matt) - By: July 2014]
  8. Be more explicit about the available support and advice on Health and Safety. Include in Online Support Material [Owner: Elevate (Andy) - By: October 2014]
  9. Group meet to review implementation plan, and write a new short term plan for Jan to June 2015 [Owner: Elevate (Andy) - By: December 2014]
  10. Dissemination strategy, including Meetings (AMC, LTAG, Faculty), MyUCS Announcements [Owner: Elevate (Andy) - By: Sept - Nov 2014]
  1. Look at opportunities to create e-grading and e-feedback dedicated workstations or rooms. These would include machines with large monitors, and meet the minimum browser requirements. [Owner: Elevate (Andy) - By: ongoing]
  2. Train all course administrators on the functionality of the inline grading tool, and collectively author FAQs from the lecturer and student perspective [Owner: Elevate (Aaron) & Acad Services (Matt) - By: October 2014]
  3. Explore file conversion software for course admins [Owner: Elevate (Aaron) & IT Services - By: October 2014]
  4. Blog post to engage in the wider UCS discussions around browsers, in particular issues around the performance of LearnUCS in Internet Explorer [Owner: Elevate (Aaron) - By: October 2014]
  5. Explore the current situation with respect to SITS and LearnUCS integration [Owner: Elevate (Aaron) - By: October 2014]

  1. Pay for Blackboard bespoke developments for SITS integration, and Email Receipts
Image Source: http://www.azproarte.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Online-submission.jpg

Saturday, 19 July 2014

LearnUCS Upgrade - Complete

The LearnUCS upgrade is complete and login is now active again.

As will all upgrades we have tested the site as much as possible and believe the system is working as expected. If you do find any issues please contact the Elevate Team at elevate@ucs.ac.uk

Below are a number of changes that you may notice when using the system:

Staff and Student - Profiles

If you have uploaded a profile photograph or connected LearnUCS to Twitter or Facebook you will need to agree to a new set of terms and conditions for Blackboard and their Cloud Profiles.
This is a very simple process and only takes a few minutes. You need to access your profile by clicking the dashboard button, top right of your screen, where you would normally see your profile picture, as seen below highlighted in red:

Once you click the profile you will see the screen below, this is where the new terms and conditions are:

When you have agreed to the terms and conditions, your profile will reconnect to the one previously setup.

Student - Assignment Submission

There have been a couple of changes in the upgrade that you may notice, the layout of the submission screen has slightly changed, with the grades 'points possible' and the due date being boxed near the top.

New functionality now means that all work is directly submitted to SafeAssign, the plagiarism checking tool used at UCS.  You will notice a new tick box asking you to agree to submit your work to the 'Global Reference Database'.  

Agreeing to this is in your benefit.  It means that if you agree, a copy of your work is held securely in a database.  That all future work from any worldwide University/College using SafeAssign is then checked against, to make sure your work hasn't been copied.

Below is an example of a new submission page, showing the new location for the points possible and due date, as well as the agreement for SafeAssign's Global Reference Database.

Staff - SafeAssign

As above, SafeAssign is now fully integrated into the Submission process.  You are now able to see the plagiarism score in the GradeCentre's Inline Grading view, as shown below:

Please see links below for additional info on some new grading features:

The latest version will provide some enhanced functionality around common tasks, often requested by Staff and Students. These include:

LearnUCS Upgrade - Testing Phase

We are pleased to be able to announce that phase 1 of the upgrade has completed.

This now means we can move to phase 2, the testing phase. The Elevate team are currently testing the upgrade to make sure the system is responding as expected.

Phase 3 will be testing the new features, ready for allowing users back on to the system.

Check back later this afternoon for further updates.

Friday, 18 July 2014

LearnUCS Summer Upgrade Underway

The LearnUCS upgrade has started, login access has been removed, both directly into LearnUCS and from MyUCS.

We will be updating this bog as the upgrade progresses, please check back Saturday afternoon for more updates.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Great Yarmouth: HE Professional Discussion Day

The Elevate Team ran a two hour discussion as part of Great Yarmouth College's "HE Professional Discussion" day on the 16th July.

The slides are available below. The intention was to start lots of conversations around current and potential use of technology enhanced learning within their course design. The focus was to pitch it around how people could discover and share ideas. Therefore, we spent time unpacking support routes and communities of practice, fed by information from the Elevate Team blog.

From my perspective the session went very well, we managed to surface lots of practice which was currently going on across the course teams, and explore how we could implement a very straight forward learning design based on the flipped classroom model.

The learning model seemed to find lots of traction within the group (unless they were agreeing in the hope I'd go away). We worked through:
  1. tweaking the menu on LearnUCS so it is really clear what students need to do (so lots of task 1, task 2).
  2. including clear instructions at the start of each task
  3. embedding a youTube video (which they might create as a talk over powerpoint) or a twitter discover and share activity
  4. followed by a short quiz which asks questions about the embedded activity, including a free text question
  5. the final activity (post taught session) was to use a course blog to capture what key concepts the student took from the session (similar to a two minute essay)
The discussion then shifted to using tools and strategies to help ensure this became effective. Including the effective use of the retention centre to help communications, rubrics to speed up feedback, and how to use pre-session activity could be embedded with the taught session.

The session was left where we would follow up at start of next academic year, unless we could help over the summer.

If you'd like a similar session with your course team, Department of Learning Network, then email the elevate team (elevate@ucs.ac.uk)

Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Yarmouth

Monday, 14 July 2014

Issuing Open Badges at UCS - Where are we?

After the development and completion of the Open Badges Generator (http://goo.gl/Vj0ymZ) we trialled the use of open badges at various events over the last few weeks here at UCS. These included the annual Learning and Teaching Day, AMC Development Day and the Research Colloquium as well as badges for attendees to our Digital Literacy Programme courses.

The objectives needed to obtain the event badges were not to simply turn up, but to submit a short (~150 words) reflective piece reflecting on a key message that you had taken away from the event or workshop and how you could use that in your everyday work. This method also helps to provide event organisers with a source of feedback.

These reflections were captured using a Google Form and attendees were given two weeks to submit the form.

After the two weeks had past, a member of the Elevate Team would simply open the Open Badge Issuer selecting the correct badge and using the form information to issue badges to those who submitted their reflections.

We issued 41 badges in total over the various events and workshops.

Here is a brief overview of the process:
  1. Initial meeting with event/workshop organiser explaining 'What are Open Badges' and how they could be used for their sessions - 15m
  2. Create Google Form (Name, email address, reflection) and send link to organiser- 5m
  3. After event, Issue badges - ~30s per response

We have a main open badges page which can be found using the link below which details how we are using Open Badges at UCS.

Looking back over the whole process it's clear to see that for quite a significant result, I.e issuing an Open Badge, the process it self was very administration light.

The only issue we had with this process was one recipient having issues logging into their Mozilla Backpack, the issue was resolved by getting the recipient to use a different browser such as Mozilla FireFox or Google Chrome rather than Internet Explorer.

Each badge that got issued points to a 'Criteria' page on the UCS website where information about the badge is stored. 

Some questions for future use have arisen from the recent use of badges for these events. These include:
  • Does there need to be a review of the quality of reflections before issuing of badges and if so, who would do this?
  • A need to revoke or expire badges if the badge is for a re-occurring event or CPD which continually needs updating.
The expiring of badges is on the development list for our next sprint with this project. We will also look at scripting in some unique identifiers for each badge to help us track and maintain a clean and error free database. 

With word spreading and interest climbing for the use of Open Badges for face to face workshops and events, scripting in some sort of analytics would help us track 'number of badges issued' for individual events/workshops.

If you are a member of staff at UCS and would like to know more about Open Badges or how you could use them, feel free to contact us :)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

LearnUCS Upgrade - Staff Awareness Drop-in Sessions

The Elevate Team are offering staff awareness drop-in sessions to those lecturing staff that would like to see the next release of LearnUCS before it goes live.

The sessions will be primarily looking at:
The session will run on the following dates and times:
  • Wednesday 16th July - 10am to 12noon
  • Thursday 17th July - 12noon to 2pm
The session are being run on a drop-in basis, so please turn up at any point during the time period.

The Elevate Team will be running these sessions from the 4th floor of the Waterfront building.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

What is LearnUCS and how might it be used?

What is LearnUCS?

LearnUCS is the name for the University Campus Suffolk's virtual learning space. It is a password protected area for staff and students at UCS to share materials, interact with staff and students, communicate and complete tasks.

You can access LearnUCS, using your UCS username and password at http://my.ucs.ac.uk or directly via http://learn.ucs.ac.uk.

How might it be used on my courses?

LearnUCS can be used in many ways on your course during your time at UCS.

Most commonly you will find module information such as, handbooks, reading lists, timetables available from the "Information" menu inside of the module homepage. Most lecturers will also add their lecturer notes, presentations and resources available from the "Learning Materials" menu.

You may also be asked to submit your assignments online through LearnUCS, this feature also allows for plagiarism checks to safe guard your work from being copied.

An increasing number of courses are starting to take advantage of the many features available, you may be asked to participate in:
  • Online Discussion Boards
  • Using blogs and journals
  • Tests and Quizzes
  • Listening to Podcasts
  • Watching Videos
Another feature that will be very important to your studies is the Assignment Toolkit. The library contains a very large e-Resources area, allowing you access to many e-Book, e-Journals, databases as well as offering help on referencing for your assignments. The Learning Services also offers a vast collection of resources that will help you through your studies, guides on academic writing, presentation skills and many more.

You can access both the Assignment Toolkit and Learning Services resources by clicking the resources menu option in your module menu.

How to open a submission point

Below is a video showing how to open a submission point in LearnUCS:

The video shows the creation using standard settings, no anonymous or delegated markings options with the use of the UCS Grading Schema.

Why isn't my module listed?

Why isn't my module listed?

A module on LearnUCS is made available by the teaching team. Therefore, if there is no module on LearnUCS this is probably because the course team aren’t using LearnUCS in the particular module. 

You are advised to ask your lecturer if they are using LearnUCS or speak with Academic Services.

Opening a submission point with Delegated Marking

Below is a video showing how to open a submission point in LearnUCS including adding Delegated Marking:

The video shows the creation using standard settings, with delegated markings options with the use of the UCS Grading Schema.

How do I submit an Assignment in Learn?

How do I submit an Assignment in Learn?

Many courses in Learn are starting to use the Assignment Tool to allow online submission of your work.

This FAQ provides you with support on how and what to submit. Please note, your lecturer will have set the submission points to meet the assignment needs, so the details in this FAQ might not match exactly.

To confirm you are submitting your work via the Assignment Tool you should see the following image in the Assessments area:

The steps are as follows or view the video at the bottom of the FAQ

  1. Access Learn (http://learn.uos.ac.uk) - and access the module where you need to submit your assignment. If the module is not showing on Learn, you need to speak to your Course Administrator in the Academic Services Office to ensure you are enrolled correctly
  2. Locate the assignment submission point. We recommend to staff to have an area named "Assessments". If you can not find the submission point on the course, you will need to contact your lecturer to ensure they have made it available.
  3. Ensure you have followed the instructions, for instance, used the correct file format, marking criteria references, word counts etc., We recommend to staff they include information and advice on these issues.


    You should be aware that only one file can be submitted, make sure you have your coversheet, assignment and references all in one Word file before attempting to submit.

    Ensure you are using the correct file format. Even though the software will let you submit a range of file formats, most staff at the University of Suffolk will use Microsoft Word. You must submit in the file format they recommend
  4. To submit your file, click on the assessment name - a new page will open
  5. Click on “Browse for local file”
  6. Navigate to your file and click “Open”
  7. Now click on “Attach File” or click “Do not attach” if you have selected the wrong file, repeat this step to select the correct file
  8. Now click “Submit”
  9. Once the document has successfully been submitted a green information bar will appear at the top of the screen giving you notification of a successful upload (as shown below), if you are submitting a Microsoft Office document you will also be able to browse the document after it has uploaded.
Currently there is no email notification of your successful submission, we recommend you either print the page with the green information bar or take a screen capture of it.

Alternatively, if you are unsure if your submission worked, you can click on assessment link again, if you were successful you will see the date and time of your submission, along with the file you uploaded.

Below is a video "How To" showing the above process to submit your assignment.  This link contains a PDF of the submission process with screenshots of what you can expect to see when submitting.

File names for online submissions

File names for online submissions

When submitting assignments via the online submission area please use the following naming conventions: 
  • Keep file and folder names short, but meaningful. 
  • Avoid unnecessary repetition and redundant words in file names and file paths. 
  • Do not include spaces, use capital letters to delimit words. 
  • If using a date in the file name always state the date ‘back to front’, and use four digit years, two digit months and two digit days: YYYYMMDD. 
  • When including a personal name in a file name give the family name first followed by the initials. 
  • Avoid using common words such as ‘draft’ or ‘letter’ at the start of file names, unless doing so will make it easier to retrieve the record. 
  • Avoid using non-alphanumeric characters in file names. 
Assignments with file names in excess of 100 characters may not successfully upload and you will receive a null pointer exception error. If you have any queries, please contact your course administrator.

Using student preview to submit an assignment

Using student preview to submit an assignment

LearnUCS has a new feature allowing you to enter a "Student Preview" mode, creating you a student account to test our your module.  This account is a real student account, meaning you can actually submit an assignment, using the same process the students use.  When you exit out of the Student Preview you are asked if you would like to save the data, if you choose to save the data you are able to find this in the Gradecentre and therefore grade the submission.

Below is a video showing the "Student Preview" mode and how you can submit an assessment.

Who should I talk to if something has gone wrong with the submission process?

Who should I talk to if something has gone wrong with the submission process?

If you are experiencing problems submitting your assignment, make sure you have read your lecturers instructions and followed the advice in these FAQs for submitting your assignment.

If you are still experiencing problems you will need to contact the InfoZone on 01473 338833 or email them at info@ucs.ac.uk.

I need to submit my assignment, but the submission point is missing

I need to submit my assignment, but the submission point is missing

Many courses use online submission as the means for you to submit your work. This tends to be managed through LearnUCS, using the Assignment tool.

If you have been told to submit your assignment and you go to your module and you are unable to see the submission point you need to contact your lecture or the course team in Academic Services - 01473 338450.

If your lecturer is using the Assignment Tool for your submissions, you'll know if the submission point is available, as you will see the image below:

If you see the above image, you just need to click the "Assignment submission point" link and follow the instructions in this post.

Exiting Student Preview mode

Exiting Student Preview mode

When exiting Student Preview mode you are offered a choice to either save the data or not.  If you choose to save the data, when you next enter Student Preview the previous data would load.  Meaning if you had submitted a test, quiz or assessment, the system would remember that.

It is possible for you to submit an assignment as a student, then exit and save data.  You could then grade the submission using the inline grading tools, or upload feedback.  When you then next enter Student Preview you would be able to access the grade and/or feedback as a student would.

Below is a video showing exiting Student Preview with the option to save data.

How do I access my Feedback and Unratified Grades?

How do I access my Feedback and Unratified Grades?

The video below shows how to access your feedback and unratified grades after they have been released by your lecturer.  You can also access a PDF version here that you can print if you would like to.

Adding feedback and grades

Adding feedback and grades

The video below shows how to attach a feedback file and enter the grade in the Gradecentre.  The video uses the UCS Grading Schema on the 12point system.

Inline Grading

Inline Grading

The video below shows how to use the Inline Grading tool in LearnUCS.  Inline grading allows you to annotate feedback directly onto the students assignment submission.  No need to download the file, and therefore no need to manually upload the work back.

Using the discussion boards

Using the discussion boards

Below is a video showing how to use the discussion boards. This video is produced by Blackboard, therefore the look and feel along with some terminology with differ from LearnUCS.

Creating and editing a blog entry

Creating and editing a blog entry

Below is a video showing how to access a blog, create and edit an entry.   This video is produced by Blackboard, therefore the look and feel along with some terminology with differ from LearnUCS.

Releasing unratified results and feedback

Releasing unratified results and feedback

Below is a video showing how to release unratified results and feedback once ready.  There is also a PDF version here.