Preparing to Teach Online
FBMH eLearning Update
7th August 2020
eLearning Live Chat
The FBMH eLearning live chat was recently launched to enable staff to ask quick or straightforward questions, where a member of the team will be on hand to help you out.
The chat function is available every day between 10-12pm and 2-4pm.
Blackboard Downtime 04 – 10th August 9am
Blackboard is currently unavailable while an upgrade is being carried out. The upgrade to SaaS (software as a service) should mean that we won’t need to experience any periods of unavailability for upgrade purposes in the future.
Course Unit Activation
ITS have now advised that course unit activation be paused during the upgrade. If you have been activating courses since 4th August and when Blackboard becomes available find that the courses have not appeared, please get in touch.
Manual course activation may resume when downtime ends, after 9am on 10th August, when you may find these knowledge base articles useful:
How to manually activate Blackboard courses
How to copy folders and items between courses (must be logged in to support.manchester.ac.uk to view)
If you need to copy entire courses from one space to another, please contact the eLearning team using our chat tool.
Changing Course Unit Codes Post-Activation
We have recently found that if a course is activated and the code is subsequently changed (for example, changing MEDN12341 to MEDN12342 to take account of semester changes), this causes a new course space to be created any recent updates made to the original 2020/21 course unit may be lost. Therefore if needing to make changes to a course unit code, we recommend that these changes are made first, then that the new course that is created is activated. From there, you can begin to update the new 2020/21 course unit space. As always, if you need assistance, please contact the eLearning Team.
HTML Pages Don’t Look Right?
When copying html files please check to make sure they appear as expected in the new course. If something doesn’t look right, please contact the eLearning team for assistance.
Blackboard Community Spaces and Programme Spaces
As with course unit activation, IT Services have recently advised that, during the period of Blackboard downtime, the eLearning Team should pause acting on requests made for new programme or community spaces (organisations).
However, in the meantime please do send us any requests for the creation of new programme or community spaces or to make changes to enrolments on these. To submit these sorts of requests, please visit the Support Portal: Request Support, then click on the Blackboard, Turnitin and eLearning request tile. If you would first like to have a chat about your needs, please use the chat tool.
Podcast Studio is a new University-supported tool that makes it simpler to record your lectures. Once recorded and edited (a simple top and tail) there remain just a few short clicks to upload your video to the Video Portal. To edit additional sections, make sure you select ‘edit before publishing’ prior to upload.
Colleague Dr Ralph Becker has helpfully uploaded a video guide to using Podcast Studio, which you can see here.
Once uploaded to the Video Portal we would also recommend requesting subtitles.
However, please follow the advice of Media Services below if your 2020/21 course space does not appear as an option when you come to choose where to upload your video to.
Uploading videos to the video portal
An update from our colleagues in Media Services: Until the timetabling exercise is complete sometime in August, 2020/21 course units won’t be available in the Podcasting system, so it is recommended that videos are uploaded to a School area for the time being, and made private (i.e. visible to ‘only me’). When courses for Semester 1 do become available, podcasts can be transferred to the course area in the My Videos tab of the Video Portal.
This advice applies when uploading any video to the Video Portal, not just those created in Podcast Studio.
For further information, see: Using podcasts in Semester 1 teaching for 2020/21 courses
Flash-Based Resources End-of-Life December 2020 – Act Now
Adobe will end support of Flashplayer on 31 December 2020. Flash-based content will be blocked from running in Adobe Flash Player after this date – this change affects all browsers.
If your Blackboard or Canvas course depends upon any Flash-based content, it is recommended that you seek out an alternative resource in time for the coming academic year. Using Chrome version 76 or newer, you should already see a pop-up message telling you that your resource will not play or load. If you are not sure whether your resource is Flash-based or not, please send details of the course unit code, location within the course and title of the resource to the eLearning team for checking.
If your Flash-based resource is critical to teaching and you cannot find a suitable replacement or devise a workaround, the eLearning team can provide you with a project proposal form with which to request a replacement resource.
Other Useful Links
UMITL teaching toolkit
FBMH – Minimum expectations of online/blended teaching delivery
Information on how to book rooms for preparing online teaching content
Additional resources to support the move to online blended delivery
(includes the Oversight Groups’ recommendations)
FBMH eLearning – Training