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15th Annual Durham Blackboard Users’ Conference – Students as Partners #durbbu

Here is the final version of the Conference Programme with all abstracts etc

I will be blogging live from this event.  I will try and keep my comments accurate, well written and legible.  I will edit them after the event too.  All comments welcomed and please feel free to share with attribution and a link back to .

Formal Welcome

Malcolm Murray

Durham University

Great introduction from Malcolm.

Keynote 1

Engagement Through Partnership

Abbi Flint Consultant in Academic Practice (Students As Partners), Higher Education Academy @HEA_SaP

Introduction to keynote followed by an introduction to what the HEA is an do.

Student engagement does not have a common definition.

Being asked to consider the following two questions:

  1. What does ‘Partnership with students’ mean to you?
  2. Why are you interested in partnership in learning and teaching?
HEA focused on pedagogical rationale.

Three main perspectives of student engagement:

  • Behavioural perspective
    • Student behaviour
    • Institutional practices
  • Psychological perspectives
    • Cognitive
    • Affective
    • Relational
  • Socio-cultural perspective
    • Social context
    • Culture
    • Discourse
Engaging through partnership

Focus on Learning relationship as well as working arrangements

Partnerships among staff and students and students and students.

Exact form of partnership is contextual.

  1. Consultation
  2. Involvement
  3. Participation
  4. Partnership
(Student Engagement Toolkit)
Partnership Values:
  • Authenticity
  • Inclusivity
  • Reciprocity
  • Empowerment
  • Trust
  • Challenge
  • Community
  • Responsibility

Partnership isn’t going to drop easily into existing processes. Need to take a step back.

Some areas are paying students to partner with academics to undertake research related to their subject (Subject-based research and inquiry)

Typical to have students evaluate a course but better to get students involved at the curriculum design phase. Typically paid. Typically challenging but can have great results is barriers are broken down.

Tensions and opportunities:

  1. Inclusivity and scale
    1. Who engages and who doesn’t
  2. Power Relationships
    1. Empowerment and responsibility are important but how does this work? How can power be shared between staff and students?
  3. Blurring identities
    1. Rethink the roles staff and students are typically put in. 
    2. Don’t use ‘Students as’ as it infers that this isn’t part of their role but an add on.
  4. Terms of engagement
    1. Staff usually undertake as part of their paid role.
    2. Students this can be very different.  This needs to be considered carefully.
Areas of Further Exploration:

  • Pedagogies of partnership
  • Learning from ‘failures’
  • Impact
  • Ethical implications
Great presentation leaving me with some great ideas to put to staff back at Keele.

Panel Discussion

Students As Partners

A good course / project / module should constantly be refreshing and changing through partnership with students and staff.

Lecture theatres would be empty if they existed at all – what does student partnership look like?

The staff voice is just as important in these partnerships and this needs to be remembered.

Should you look at bringing Alumni back to partner in the curriculum design / review process?

20% of audience have taken part in a partnership with students.

When you pay / reward students they are more likely to buy in to the idea of partnership and you’re more likely to get more engagement.  Students will feel more valued and will usually result in much greater input.

Highlight how the partnership will benefit all involved.

Should all partners be inducted / shown how to engage in the partnership?

Strand A Sessions

Engaging Students at GCU: The Story So Far

Jim Emery & Stephanie Noble* Glasgow Caledonian University

Their structure for the student contribution to learning and teaching:

  1. Non-involvement
  2. Involvement
  3. Participation
  4. Engagement
Key point is to move towards engagement – not just in their course but in the university
“strategy before structure” AD Chandler Jr
  • Engaging students in their own learning and teaching
  • Engaging students in the development of their learning and teaching
Created a student engagement group that feeds into the university committee structure.
Why engage?
The ‘wiifm’ factor
Extending the student network beyond the institution.
  • Started to engage from 2nd year.
  • Joined the student engagement committee
    • Currently looking at things like:
      • Timetabling
      • Social media policy
      • Student Experience Summit
      • Online assessment, feedback and submission
    • No more tickbox consultation
    • Widened participation
    • Better representation of what is an extremely diverse student population

Strand B Sessions

Learning and Assessment with Social Media: A Case Study with ‘Manipulating Media’

Bex Lewis Durham University +Bex Lewis 

constructionist framework

Students saw assignments as separate to learning – more of a tickbox to get out of the way.
TESTA wanted to change and improve this.

first 6 week – 3hr lectures in a traditional lecture theatre.
then set up a blog -asked students t comment on a post about student recruitment.  just under 50% engagement.
Students were asked and some wanted it in their VLE not wordpress so staff duplicated it.
Next students were asked to set up their own blog.

60% chose tumblr

required students to blog once a week minimum and there was a minimum length required.
Must be constructive comments if reflective on issues.

Created a Facebook Group for the class.  one student didn’t like facebook but joined one week later after seeing the benefit offered to the other students.

Students who were strong ended up producing excessive amounts in their blogs as the score was so wide.

Staff created a twitter account for the course.  Used this to distribute photos of in session created resources – e.g. whiteboard etc.

Groups were required to produce a short video (strictly <3 minutes long). Assigned roles with tasks to students. This allowed staff to better assess student input to the project.

Next each student was asked to produce a narrated powerpoint of 5 minutes – this was to replace and essay.  This was then shown to class.

What did students get:

  • Work goes out publically
  • Ownership
  • Engagement
  • Using the tools they are more familiar with
  • Ongoing feedback
Student Feedback:
Lessons Learnt:

Strand C Sessions

Using Open Badges to Encourage Student Participation in Class Rep Activities

Josephine Kinsley & Tanya Lubicz-Nawrocka* The University of Edinburgh

Each of the 22 schools has it’s own student rep structure.

Class reps gather students views and represent these at committees.

Class reps wanted more interaction and sharing of ideas.  Also wanted more training.

Need to make students aware of the role and what is in it for them to become a rep.

Staff needed to be made more aware of the role and how to best engage with it.

Open Badges:

  • Providing more structure to the class rep role
  • Helping class reps share their success stories
  • being more accessible to all class reps
  • acting as stepping stones for those who were working on the challenging Edinburgh Award

Firstly considered Bronze silver and gold level badge.  But then went with a themed model after consultation with the students:

  • Student Representation badges
  • Research and Communication badges
  • Student Development Badges
If they get three or more badges within one of these groups they get a badge for that group overall.
Well laid out structure to what you need to do to get each badge with overviews and criteria:
Using Blackboard Grade Centre to calculate and record who has achieved each badge.

Strand D Sessions

Solutions for Detecting & Preventing Plagiarism A community session: SafeAssign and Turnitin – Discussion

Jonathan Knight Keele University +Jonathan Knight

Long list presented by Jon as to why this debate had been started at Keele.

Is there a debate at your institution?

discussion around size of comparison database size – Perceived Turnitin has larger of student papers

Discussion around the Tii integration methods.  Agreed we need a better solution ASAP.
Discussion was around how Tii are keeping us updated – they’re not really, and what might get Tii to change how they are operating.

Interesting discussion around Tii requests to see matched student paper from other HEI – do we have the right to send a students work?

Confirmed – there is no limit on using SA within your current license.

Turnitin can put comments and grades in wrong submissions if multiple markers in same assignment and or with multiple papers open in different tabs.

Limit of 10mb on SafeAssign is being worked on currently.

Community created comparison list of features for SA and Tii:
(Please feel free to contribute anything that is missing)

Partnership: The Blackboard Perspective

Alan Masson Head of International Customer Success, Blackboard Inc

Reassurance that Blackboard is well used and love at your HEI.

Partnership support employability skills.

Key Trends:

  • Empowering Learners
    • Recognising achievements
  • Students as change agents
  • Informing the enhancement conversation
How can BB support these trends???
BB Hosted Class Rep courses – foundation of student partnership initiatives
Tend to be designed by students for students run by students
Class reps running organisational spaces that have all students enrolled in.

Use of badges to help highlight achievements.

Enhanced Cloud Profile (MyEdu) to come

Students as change agents:

Students develop uni mobile app for students.

Student nominated awards for best on VLE

Students informing change:

Students involved in curriculum review process


Student performance data

Feedback from module evaluations

Focus on performance and satisfaction

BB looking at providing toolkits to help you facilitate an informing debate with your students.

Async v sync communication – needs to be considered in partnerships

BB Events to enable sharing:

  • BUGs Events
  • BB TLC
  • BB world
  • BB Catalyst Awards
  • Reference Case Studies
    • webinars

Blackboard Roadmap

Paul Wigfield

Looking at country specific requirements
Available to run moocs for free
Contact account manager for user account

3 deployment options:

  • Cloud
  • Hosted
  • Self-hosted

Instructor Grading App
Available now
iOS ONLY!!! 🙁

Offline student access [Beta] planned to start in January

Students download a zip of course inc. a viewer to make it look like they are still in BB

MyEdu Coming before June

students can currently use as a standalone tool

Once BB better integrate students will be able to move assets between VLE and My EDU to keep access after completion of course.

Issues with analytics when students are accessing content via mobile.
BB will be working on a solution.
Too early to give information.

“My EDU trying to make an academic LinkedIn”

From May you’ll be able to install BB Ultra as a self-service trial

Plan for July 2016 to upgrade to this.

New user interface – as user logs in they are taken to an activity timeline.

will be full drag-and-drop

Responsive design.

New mobile learn app (student app) due in June 2015 – moving towards looking like new ultra design.

students will be able to submit assignments (to BB) from mobile device.

BB Grader app to become instructor app

New Collaborative experience.
Java free
plugin free

Available from June 2015 in ver 1 form
Mobile app for full function to come around June

Strand E Sessions

Blurring The Boundaries: Putting Students at the Heart of Programme Delivery

Paul Scott, Aseem Mishra*& Edward Miller* Hull York Medical School

>850 teachers
~750 students

Drivers for more student Inclusion:

  • Regulation
    • QAA
    • GMC
  • Community
    • HEA
    • AMEE (Aspire to Excellence)
  • Reputation
    • KIS
    • NSS!
  • Opportunistic
    • Curriculum Review, Changing Learning Landscape project
    • Student demand, new Dean!
“Technology enhanced learning should be one of the cornerstones of the curriculum”

Students are on all key committees in the school (with exception where not appropriate)

Students are part of the e-learning team over the summer. help to check content and update it.

Developed app dedicated to supporting Hull York Medical students.

Not just a token gesture being on committee

Student feedback built in to agenda – not as last item at the end of the agenda.

Using a ‘You said – we did’ website to highlight impact of student partnership

Strand F Sessions

Grades Journey

Paul Wigfield Blackboard Inc

BB SITS integration for the transfer of grades

Should be out Jan / Feb 2015

Sync between BB Grade Centre and SIS

LIS 2.0 standard –
Open standard

Assessments in SIS create columns in BB Grade Centre

Once populated there is a grades approval and release to allow the grades back into the SIS

New role to be created to allow for the management of the return process.

Grade centre will be locked during approval process

After approval read only view in GC

Administrators to be provided with tools to spot exceptions, repair columns etc.

Tii grade change? no idea!
Read only on column or all? Still not sure!
Will admin tool to repair etc be in Jan? Yes.

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