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Frequently asked questions about the transition from WebCT to Blackboard Learn are displayed below. We will continue to add to this list throughout the transition process, so please check back regularly.

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1. When can I expect my course materials to be migrated from WebCT and available in Blackboard Learn?

Semester 1 courses will be available in Blackboard Learn in April 2011, other semesters will be available as soon as possible after the teaching period has finished (check back for updates). This should allow you plenty of time to prepare your courses in advance of teaching for that particular semester.

Update: All 10/11 modules are now available in Blackboard Learn, except for Semester 3 modules.

2. Will I have time to check my content in Blackboard Learn before teaching begins?

Yes. The transition approach has been carefully planned to allow staff adequate time to prepare their courses for teaching. Semester 1 courses are available from April, in advance of teaching in September time. All other semesters will be available as soon as possible after the teaching period has finished (check back for updates).

3. What support is available to help with revising my migrated content?

Training and support will be available to help you revise and prepare your migrated course for teaching.
Details of all the training workshops are listed here.
Details of the dates of all the training workshops are available here.
A list of support resources are available here.

The Welcome to Blackboard Learn workshop provide an overview of Blackboard Learn and guidance on getting started with a course migrated from WebCT. The Migration Checklist (pdf), Tidying up the Homepage of a Migrated Course (pdf) and Getting Started with a course moved from Vista 8 (pdf) handouts support this.

It is recommended that you attend this workshop to know what will be involved to prepare your course.

Further training sessions are also available, including Drop In Clinics from 22nd August 2011, available across all campuses.

4. What help is available if I want to pedagogically enhance my online course?

As part of the course migration process and preparing your course for teaching in 2011/12, we would recommend that you begin to think about how you could pedagogically enhance your course using the new tools and functionality that are available whilst considering the aims of the University’s current Teaching and Learning Strategy. Opportunities will be highlighted in the Blackboard Learn training workshops.

The Possible Course Enhancements page provides some ideas of how to improve your teaching and learning using the new tools and functionality in Blackboard Learn.

Specialised teaching and learning themed workshops are planned for the next academic year (2011/12) to address pedagogical enhancements. An Assessment and Feedback Support Course has been set up and is available in the Blackboard Learn Live System at http://blackboard.ulster.ac.uk. This course takes an educational approach to encouraging the application of technology. It aims to show how the Blackboard Learn assessment and feedback tools can be used to apply assessment and feedback best practice.

Further information about all Blackboard Learn training is available in the Training Workshops area of this online Information Point. Please check back regularly for updates.

5. Is the Blackboard Learn 9.1 technology proven?

The Blackboard Learn 9.1 technology has been installed and used at Ulster since April 2010. The Blackboard Learn Live System (http://blackboard.ulster.ac.uk) is now available and a Blackboard Learn Test Environment (http://bblearn.ulster.ac.uk).
System testing and development is ongoing. Several patches and updates to the system have already been added. Staff feeds from the RAD system have been successfully implemented. Semester 1 modules from WebCT have been successfully migrated to the live system in March/April 2011. There are several things to look out for in a migrated course, and these will be shown in the training workshops that are available to Ulster staff.

Other universities are at various stages of upgrading to Blackboard Learn 9.1. Two universities that have recently made the transition successfully include University College Dublin (UCD) and Sheffield University.

6. Will there be a lot of work involved in preparing my course in Blackboard Learn?

There will be a few things that you are recommended to do, and look out for, when you are preparing your migrated course for teaching in the Live System of Blackboard Learn.

The Welcome to Blackboard Learn workshop provide an overview of Blackboard Learn and guidance on getting started with a course migrated from WebCT. The Migration Checklist (pdf), Tidying up the Homepage of a Migrated Course (pdf) and Getting Started with a course moved from Vista 8 (pdf) handouts support this. It is recommended that you attend this workshop to be aware of what will be involved with preparing your course.

Further training sessions are also available, including Drop In Clinics from 22nd August 2011, available across all campuses.

7. Will library integration be available in Blackboard Learn?

Yes. Library integration will be available in Blackboard Learn and will function in a similar way to WebCT. This is now available to add to your course via the left menu or to a content page from the links Library Services and Reading List.

8. Will the Wimba Voice Tools and other additional tools (e.g. Turnitin) be available in Blackboard Learn?

Yes. All additional tools that are currently available in WebCT should be available in Blackboard Learn for teaching in September 2011, if not a few months earlier. These will be integrated into the Test System and tested fully before being added to the Live System. Currently Turnitin is available.

(Additional tools include: Confluence wiki, Respondus, Turnitin, Wimba Voice Tools (Board, Email, Presentation, Recorder, Podcaster, Pronto), Module Survey and Grade Book Writer.)

Update: Wimba Voice Tools should be available towards the end of October 2011.

9. Will the upgrade affect student and staff feeds into the VLE?

No. Student feeds (from the Student Information System, Banner) and staff feeds (from the RAD system) will be updated into Blackboard Learn using the same automated system that is currently used in WebCT. Changes are normally updated within a 24 hours period, 7 days a week, from both the Banner and RAD systems.

10. Will the upgrade make it easier for associate staff (without ‘e’ numbers) and students (without ‘B’ numbers) to get access to the VLE?

No. Blackboard Learn can assign various bespoke roles, however denial of access for associate staff and students without the required credentials is an institutional policy at present. The VLE upgrade from WebCT to Blackboard Learn will not affect this policy.

11. Will there be any limits to storage or file size in Blackboard Learn?

There will probably be a set limit in place with regard to file space available per user and for individual files that are uploaded. Any restrictions set should be more than adequate for teaching and learning requirements. The limits will be communicated on this Information Point when known but will not be less than current WebCT quotas.

12. How will the new online copyright rules affect my course content?

It is recommended that you review your online course materials to ensure that they adhere to Ulster’s copyright guidelines, as endorsed by the Copyright Management Group. The migration of your course materials from WebCT to Blackboard Learn provides the opportunity to review your materials and ensure compliance.

Copyright resources will be circulated at the Blackboard Learn training workshops and further information is available at: http://www.ulster.ac.uk/copyright. An online Copyright course is also available in the new Blackboard Learn system (http://blackboard.ulster.ac.uk) and in WebCT.

When you request module access to your module for the AY 2011/12, you will be required to confirm that your course complies with the Copyright Guidelines. See question 21 below.

13. What if a current course that I am teaching in WebCT in this academic year (2010/2011) doesn’t finish until after September 2011, e.g. a S3 module?

If this is the case then you will still be able to finish teaching the course in WebCT. You will need to let us know about this and you can do this by emailing the WebCT Helpdesk at webcthelpdesk@ulster.ac.uk or Blackboard Learn Helpdesk at blackboardhelpdesk@ulster.ac.uk.

14. When will students be told about the upgrade? What support will be available for them?

We will communicate with returning students in early April 2011. This will include an all-student email and announcement in WebCT that will provide information about the change and relevant support, so that they can prepare for the transition.

Students will be emailed in early September to make them aware of the new VLE.

There is information available for students here, including a flyer and induction slides. Staff can tailor the slides to their induction training needs.

There is a Student Orientation Course available for all students within Blackboard Learn. This area lets them be come familiar with the environment and provides instruction about the key tasks they would use the environment for.

New students will be informed about the Blackboard Learn VLE in the induction period, via flyers and posters in the LRCs and via ICT Library Student Induction Sessions.

15. I am involved in a Direct Learning Course – is it possible to request bespoke training for my direct learning team?

Yes. We welcome all requests for focused training for staff clusters at course, subject, school, faculty or dept basis. Please email Colette Murphy with your request.

(Colette Murphy, Technology Supported Learning Facilitator, Access and Distributed Learning, c.murphy1@ulster.ac.uk)

16. With the new Edit ON/OFF button, are 'Teach' and 'Build' access now the same?

No.The Edit ON/OFF functionality allows staff to toggle to student view without having to switch between tabs. There are a range of staff roles available in Blackboard Learn, including the 'Instructor' (similar to Teach in WebCT) and 'Course Builder' (similar to Build in WebCT) roles. Access to both these roles is available via Edit ON/OFF, however access to certain areas is restricted with Course Builder access, e.g. the Evaluation and Grade Centre in the Control Panel.

17. Will I be able to send external emails via Blackboard Learn?

Yes, the Email tool in Blackboard Learn allows users to send and reply to external email addresses. This goes to the students default University of Ulster email address. The Mail tool in WebCT is now called Messages in Blackboard Learn.

18. What group/collaboration tools are available in Blackboard Learn? Any improvements on WebCT?

The Groups tool in Blackboard Learn offers new opportunities for student collaboration. The tool provides a private area for learners to collaborate on group activities. They can make use of the Blackboard Learn communication tools (Blogs, Wikis, etc), share files, email each other and personalise the look and feel of the area. This allows the group to develop a learning community and provides instructors with evidence of group work.

19. Will training be offered at different levels - if I want to find out about how I can enhance my practice rather than just finding out about how the tools work?

Yes, we aim to tailor training to individual group needs.

Further information about the training is available here.

20. Do I need to do anything before courses are migrated from WebCT?

No - you do not need to do anything to your course areas before they are migrated to Blackboard Learn. Your semester 1 modules are now available in Blackboard Learn. Your other modules will be available after the teaching period ends.

21. Why do I have to Request Module Access at the end of August 2011, after I have edited my migrated course in the Live Blackboard Learn System?

Your migrated course area in the Blackboard Learn Live System is a copy of your Academic Year 2010/11 course.

When you are satisfied that your module is ready for teaching in September 2011, you need to request access to it so that it is available for AY 2011/12 with the correct CRN number, as each academic year new CRN numbers are applied to modules. Also, making a Module Access Request complies with the University’s Copyright and Acceptable Use policies.

This can be requested from the end of August, using the Module Access Request form at: http://athens.ulster.ac.uk/ModuleAccessRequest/

22. How do I contact the Blackboard Learn helpdesk if I have any technical problems using the Blackboard Learn VLE?

You can email the Blackboard Learn Helpdesk at blackboardhelpdesk@ulster.ac.uk.

23. When will course support areas be migrated from WebCT to Blackboard Learn?

Course support areas will be available to request using the Module Access Request Form in September 2011. An all-staff email notification will be sent with regard to this. In the meantime, please continue to use your WebCT course support areas.

24. What support is available from within Blackboard Learn?

Orientation courses are available from within Blackboard Learn for both Staff and Students. Staff will have access to both course areas and all students will have access to the student area. Staff can point their students to this support resources, so that they can become familiar with the environment.

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