This summer, CTIL will implement a new process for creating modules in Blackboard (My Dundee) as a first step in a series of planned improvements to how we manage our digital education services. The old manual method will make way for an automated one that works on the basic principle of ‘If it’s in SITS, then it will appear in Blackboard, whatever the time of year’. This change will have implications to instructors so read on to get the full picture.
IT have developed a process that creates modules in Blackboard based on the information entered SITS. Practically this means that when a course is registered in SITS, that information is used in an overnight process to create a blank module in Blackboard based on the template* registered to your school/discipline.
These new modules will appear in your Blackboard module lists in the following state:
- It will be unavailable to students until you manually release it at the appropriate time.
- No student will be enrolled until registry release the data (i.e. UCAS embargo).
- The lead academic specified in SITS will be enrolled as an instructor.
- All the active instructors from the previous year will be enrolled.
- The module will be blank except for content specified in the template (see below)
*Templates are modules that are used as a basis for new ones. Similar to PowerPoint templates, they can include a standardised layout and content that you can then edit further as required. These templates are currently assigned based on the first two letters of your module code. Currently ~90% of the modules on Blackboard are using the same standard template so if you’re unsure about templates – don’t worry – your module will be created based on the standard template. Over the next academic year, we will be contacting each Discipline to discuss creating bespoke templates for their courses.
Why the change?
The old process for creating modules is inefficient, inaccurate and resource heavy for both schools and for CTIL and resulted in frustration for instructors and students alike.
Benefits for Schools/Disciplines/Instructors
- Near on-demand course creation, any time of the year. Register your course in SITS and start working on it the next day.
- Follows best practice across the rest of the HE sector.
- No more messy spreadsheets being sent to CTIL each summer.
- No more replication of effort.
- Starts putting control of Blackboard module back in your hands.
Benefits for the Institution
- Significantly more efficient (CTIL would previously spend six solid weeks collecting and processing the data each summer)
- One Dundee approach (centralised, standardised process)
- The first step in a series of improvements such as automated grade returns from Blackboard to SITS (this one is our most requested change from administrators across schools)
How will it affect me?
The main change instructors will see is that their modules will no longer be automatically cloned from the previous year – modules will be created based on a template but will not have the content (assessments, forums etc.). However, the option to copy this content will still be available: Instructors can manually copy content from previous modules using a simple new process that takes 5-10 minutes.
This change does involve a small amount of work for Schools/Disciplines/Instructors who choose to clone their courses each year, but it also delivers more control over to the owners of those modules.
What help is available for preparing my modules?
To help instructors who wish to copy content from their old modules, we have created a simple guide: Copying Content Between Blackboard Modules
We are also working on other guides on finding modules, enrolling other members of staff, filtering your My Courses view and more. These new guides will appear on our new resource portal in Blackboard called My Dundee Guides, which now appears in under the ‘Guide’ tab in Blackboard for all staff.
Finally, we will be running drop-in sessions throughout the summer for anyone with questions about how to prepare their Blackboard module ready for the new term:
Blackboard Drop-in Sessions:
CTIL are running drop-in sessions throughout the summer starting on the 7th June:
- Twice-weekly every Tuesday & Thursday
- 10am – 2pm
- Peep-O-Day Lane (1st floor of main library)
We may adjust the frequency of these sessions if required.
How will student enrolments work?
Student enrolments will still work in the same automatic way as they have previously. This means that if the student is in SITS, and they are cleared to be added to their module (e.g. not under UCAS embargo) they will be added. Most enrolments work by matching a student to a module by the module code (one-to-one relationship)
A merged module is where you have multiple cohorts in SITS being enrolled in on a single module in Blackboard (many-to-one relationship). This is manged with what IT call ‘enrolment rules’. These rules currently need to be manually created to ensure that the right students appear in the right places (we are working on improving this in the future). We will be in touch with Schools/Disciplines directly over the summer to ensure that these enrolment rules are ready for when students start appearing.
Split modules are where a single cohort of students are split between multiple Blackboard modules (one-to-many). We do not advise this method as it is administratively confusing and inefficient; we recommend using the Groups feature which allows you to split a single cohort into different sections within a single module. However, if you are continuing to use the split method and have arranged with registry to have the required course codes in SITS, then your modules will continue to be created with the appropriate enrolments.
Will there be issues with this new process?
Obviously, we endeavour to ensure that this process goes as smoothly as possible; however, we’d be naive not to expect some issues. It’s important however that we make this change to clean-up our administrative processes and address the ever increasing complexities and frustration that these have created with the administration of Blackboard over the past years. Both CTIL and IT are committed to thoroughly testing these changes, supporting staff and students as we roll them out and efficiently dealing with any issues that arise.
As previously mentioned, this is the start of a series of improvements we are planning and as we progress will communicate what we’re doing as clearly as we can through the standard university channels as well as on our Blog and in Blackboard itself.
So, when will my modules appear?
We will begin a phased process of this from the 4th of June, implementing by School/Discipline. The reason for this phased approach is so that we can carefully monitor the process and ensure that each school/discipline is supported. Instructors will be notified of when they can access their modules and we aim to have the new process fully implemented by the end of June.
After the process is up and running new modules entered in SITS will appear in Blackboard through the overnight process.