Reviewed: 17/06/2020

Information about software during Covid-19 situation

During summer of 2020, the team is working hard to ensure that all staff have access to software and training that they will need to teach online in the 20-21 academic year. Please note that work is ongoing and all information on software is subject to change as we adapt to the Covid-19 situation. Software that has been used by the faculty in previous years will still be available wherever possible for teaching in the 20-21 academic year. The university may decide to release software (that is not currently available) to the entire campus  [accurate as of 17/06/2020] or new software may become available as time progresses in this developing situation.

Many of our staff have been asking us: “How am I supposed to know what software I should use?”, to help you to identify the most appropriate software available to you, we are putting on a series of “Digital Teaching Showcases” over the summer.

Software Commonly Recommended by the FBMH eLearning Team

The eLearning Team use a lot of software to create interactive eLearning in courses. However you don’t need to be a technologist to add technology into your courses. Below you will find a list of technologies that are easy for you to bring into your course with very little training.

If you are interested in expanding the use of technology in your Programme, Course or Community, then please contact the eLearning Team to discuss your requirements or gain training and/or licences.

What do I want to make/do What software should I considder?
Content that can be read inside the Blackboard window Blackboard Items
Text heavy content that appears as a handbook or small website. May include some formative interactive activities. Softchalk
An interactive training guide Powerpoint, ISpring
A live online lecture or small group teaching session with or without interaction Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom, possibly Nearpod
A shared document/area for a group of students to work on Wiki
A Wiki Wiki
Make a video available to my students Video Library Service
Put a video/movie into Blackboard Video Library Service; using the embed code to add into Blackboard.
Make an online lecture Powerpoint/Lecture Capture System/Blackboard Collaborate
Upload a short talk by me on a specific subject Blackboard Collaborate

More Information

Running Online Lectures

Online lectures can be broadly split between the catagories “Asynchrounous” (recorded) or “Synchrounous” (live), though you can run live lectures with recording for playback later. When recording Live lectures, please note that any Q & A or interactivities that you run, will not have the same impact on those who view the recording at a later date.

Live lectures can be run via Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom, both come with options for sharing video, sound, chat and some levels of interactivity such as polling. In testing we find that Blackboard is easier to integrate into a Blackboard course and to provide your students access, whereas Zoom tends to be a little better when working with lower bandwidths.

Recorded lectures can be intially recorded via Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom just as with live lectures, however you dont have the freedom to edit the final recording as much as you might like. Therefore sometimes it can be better to use Powerpoint to record naration against the slides you need and give yourself the opertunity to do it one bit at a time.

For those of you who are more adventurous with technology, you can make your own videos to post online using software covered in our Training section.

Some of our Academic staff have mentioned that they would be happy (when campus re-opens) to attend an empty lecture theatre and simply record the lecture as normal. While this may be the easiest option for some, we do not currently have any advice on this option at this time as it is unclear as to when campus will re-open.

To get started with arranging your online lectures, we suggest looking at our Showcases and training pages.

Creating Textual Content

You may wish to deliver your content as textual content for students to read, there are several options to choose from:

Where your content will be delievered soley in Blackboard, we recomend learning about Blackboard Items, but looking into some more of the advanced options to make sure that your conent looks great and is well organised.

Where your content should not be viewed within a Blackboard window, or is acting like a basic teaching handbook (like a lab handbook) or requires some formative activities, we recomend Softcalk, as this is a simple editor that allows simple editing and includes a lot of options for small interactive activities.

For Programme Directors or Programme Administrators, you may wish to create a fully online informational handbook. In these cases we will recomend you contact the team to discuss your needs and to see if you qualify to be added to the Faculty’s Handbook worrdpress site. Training is available where needed.

What is a Wiki?

A Wiki is an online space (single page or multiple interlinked pages) that can be created and edited by multiple people through a web browser.

Effectively, it is like sharing an online document that everyone has rights to edit. One of the most well known “Wiki’s” is “Wikipedia”, where users from across the world add and edit pages on thousands of subjects constantly, in order to make an up to date online encyclopaedia.

Just like all technologies that allow multiple users to make changes to information, a Wiki should be monitored to ensure that users are not adding false information. However in most cases, Wiki’s also contain the abilities to track who is making changes.

Blackboard contains its own Wiki software that you can use in your courses. You can add one to your blackboard course by using the link in the “add content link” menu.

How can you use a wiki in teaching? One academic in FLS used a wiki in his Contact Lens course to get students to all contribute to create their own online text book as part of a piece of assessed work where each student contributed 200 words. They can also be used for group work as it will allow each member of the group to easily edit a shared document.

Creating Interactive Resources

Many people ask for “interactive” resources but dont really know what they want. Others think that such things are extreamly difficult to make with a lot of lot of complex softwares to learn. In most of these cases, people just dont know what they already have at their fingertips, Enter; Powerpoint.

Powerpoint is not just a tool used for presenting content, it contains a wide array of functions that enable teachers to create quite in depth interactive resources. If anything, people are often only limited by their imagination.

We are splitting our interactive resources information and training into 3:

Resources which are primarily narated slides, Resources which have clickable buttons or animations, OR Resources with inbuilt questions that need to report some scores into Blackboard.

To get started, just begin in powerpoint, take a look at our training and (if needed) book onto one of our face to face sessions.

Hosting online videos for your courses

The video library service is an area on the University website where video clips and movies can be stored and then shared. Much like “YouTube” the clips added to this area can be integrated into your blackboard pages using a small piece of computer code into your content webpage.

Videos/movie clips can be uploaded in a variety of formats and can be viewed by the majority of users without them having to obtain additional software. The service also gives you the options to restrict the clip to UoM/faculty use, or make it available to the general public.