Updates and Information on your Digital Learning Environments.

Welcome (back) to all students from the Digital Education Office. Over the summer, we have been working to improve your digital learning environment and continue to ensure you are ready and able to work with the various online tools we support. 

  • Are you Digitally Ready?: If you are new to the university or need a helping hand with the wide array of digital tools and environments we use, take a look at our Digitally Ready course. It is designed to equip you with the tools and competencies you need to engage with digital learning at the university. 
  • Blackboard’s new look: Over the summer, Blackboard was upgraded to a newer version called, “Ultra Base Navigation”, or UBN for short. It is intuitive to navigate, but you can look here for a guide on how to use it. The most important thing to know is that the submission systems haven’t changed, so you can confidently approach your assessment knowing it should be familiar to you. 
  • Recorded Lectures available within 24hrs: We’ve greatly improved the speed at which lecture recordings become available in Re/Play, with most now being ready for you to view within 24 hours of their being recorded.  

Good luck with starting or resuming your studies and we all hope you enjoy the winter term! 

Appinions – Artificial intelligence

Appinions banner

A great app will keep you glued to your device. Whether it’s lifestyle, social media, utility, gaming, productivity or news; apps are an essential part of student life.
Each month we challenge our Student Digital Champions to delve into a new category, delivering fresh perspectives and making proclamations for essential applications. Which features are dumb? What should be at the tip of your thumb?

Written by Bibiana Lebersorger, Hannah Harrison, Emma Yi Kwan Lau, Samantha Travers-Spencer and Katie Stoker.

HannahEmmaSamanthaKatie

August – Artificial intelligence

This marks our final Appinions blog post. Thank you to our regular readers and to all our marvellous Student Digital Champion contributors.

AI is no longer a sci-fi buzzword. For many, it is already integral to our daily lives. Although, in terms of potential, we are still in the early phases of an era that promises revolutionary benefits, with stark warnings of dire consequences if this technology is misused. Every week there are more claims of new, game-changing AI tools set to transform the way we live and work. Knowing which ones are worth investing our time, effort and money in is difficult.

Using AI effectively will be a valuable skill to develop for a wide range of careers. Unless you have been told otherwise by your school or lecturer, using AI to create any content that you submit as your own work is a form of contract cheating. It’s important to make sure you understand what constitutes good academic practice. You can find out more from the University’s pages on Academic Integrity. However, AI can be used in a variety of positive ways to help you in your Uni life. The Library have some great information about using AI in research, and there will soon be Study Skills resources to help you navigate effective and ethical use of AI in your studies. For now, let’s see what our Student Digital Champions thought of these AI tools!

Elsa Speak

ELSA Speak app icon

ELSA, or English Language Speech Assistant, uses AI technology to create a personalised English language learning experience, no matter your native language. Powered by AI, ELSA listens and speaks back to you, helping to fine-tune your English pronunciation and get you practising English with ELSA: the app aims to become ‘your very own personal tutor’. During the set-up process, the app prompts you to input your native language, your proficiency level and whether you’d like app reminders to practice. Once on the app, you can access bite-sized English lessons under the ‘Study by Topic’ section (or ‘Practice Daily Lessons’ if you have Premium), practice your pronunciation and keywords under the ‘Improve Pronunciation’ section, or even access, at varying costs, courses that help you prepare for internationally accredited language certificates such as IELTS or TOEFL.

Pros

  • Completely free to access the ‘Improve Pronunciation’ AI-powered feature, which is the real unique selling point of the app.
  • 7-day free trial for the Premium subscription (which includes a daily training plan and feedback on all words practiced).
  • A good option if you want to practice your English-speaking skills without fear of judgement.
  • Caters for all English levels, from complete beginner to advanced/near fluent.
  • The ‘Study by Topic’ section has a wide range of nearly 200 useful topics to explore from Health to Travel, and even using informal English.

Cons

  • Certain features can only be accessed with a paid subscription, for example, the daily training plan and ad-free experience will set you back £9.07/month, or the Premium options offer IELTS practice and grade predictions for a cost £12.08/month, both of which are pretty pricey.
  • The app uses American English as standard, and there aren’t currently any options to switch to British English, so this will throw up some difficulties in word pronunciation.
  • Although there are 44 foreign languages currently supported (e.g., Hindi to English, Spanish to English), this selection might not include your native language, so the pronunciation suggestions’ accuracy may be off.

This app is not targeted towards native English speakers like me. Nevertheless, I can appreciate the utility and importance of the tools that ELSA offers. During my time at UoB, I volunteered with Bristol Student Action for Refugees, where I helped run an informal conversation club for those from an asylum-seeking or refugee background. As a language learning tool, I would have recommended ELSA If I had known about it, as I often got questions from learners asking to practice their pronunciation of tricky words or phonetics. I think that the AI technology that powers the ‘Improve Pronunciation’ feature is the most unique and impressive feature on ELSA, but I’m not sure I would recommend the Premium feature as it’s quite expensive and doesn’t even give you access to the IELTS prep courses (you pay for these separately).

Reviewer: Bibiana Lebersorger

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Alexa

alexa app icon

I’d be surprised if anyone reading this blog post hasn’t heard of Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant technology, which can check the weather, play your favourite music and answer all your burning questions. The technology relies on natural language processing and machine learning, and it works by listening for a ‘wake word’, after which it begins a recording. The subsequent audio is then sent to Amazon servers for interpretation, and the command is executed. Alexa is also capable of controlling smart devices such as lights, thermostats and plug sockets, taking away a lot of reasons for getting up from the sofa!

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Ability to set personalised commands and routines.
  • Timers, alarms, reminders and music without needing to pick up your phone.
  • Can control compatible smart devices.
  • Variety of Alexa smart speakers, with budget options available.

Cons

  • While the Alexa app can technically be used on its own, for it to be useful you need an Alexa device which can be pricey.
  • Sometimes it mishears. Commands need to be very specific for Alexa to understand.
  • Requires a good Wi-Fi connection.
  • Privacy concerns: amazon analyses ‘a small sample’ of anonymised clips to improve Alexa’s performance, so if this is a concern, then you’ll need to opt out of saving voice history.

I personally own an Alexa smart speaker and a smart light bulb, which is set to wake me up in the morning by turning the lights on and playing an overview of the news and weather. I find this helps me wake up more quickly than a regular alarm, and it’s difficult to hit snooze if the lights are already on! The other main benefit I find, as a student, is that it enables me to play music and look up the answers to questions without grabbing my phone, resulting in fewer distractions. Alexa is a very flexible technology, and it is easy to set up routines and unique voice commands to suit your needs, so I’d definitely recommend giving it a try if you get the opportunity!

Reviewer: Hannah Harrison

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Grammarly

Grammarly app icon

Grammarly is a daily writing assistant app. In the current digital era, we must do many things online. Writing and replying to emails has become part of our daily routine. We always want to make sure our email can deliver the correct message clearly and appear professional. Grammarly is particularly useful in these situations for quick spell and grammar checks. Not only does it check for basic grammar and spelling, but it also checks for clarity and delivery of the writing. Since we must write quite a lot of emails every day, it is not difficult to make some accidental writing mistakes. Therefore, a writing assistant such as Grammarly is ideal.

Pros

  • Free version is often sufficient for daily use.
  • Can apply as an extension in the web browser.
  • Make checking grammar and pronunciation quicker and easier.

Cons

  • Some suggestions sometimes do not fit with the context of the piece of writing.
  • Spellchecker cannot detect certain medical and other technical terms.

I would recommend to everyone reading this blog, to download Grammarly for day-to-day use. Although I have always been careful with my writing, there often were times that I made silly mistakes. It would have been a lot easier to spot those flaws using the Grammarly detector.

In the past couple of years, artificial intelligence has started blending into our everyday life. One of the examples will be the newly introduced function called Grammarly Go. It uses artificial intelligence to offer an on-demand communication aid to help users develop high-quality writing by understanding our personal voice, setting, and writing purpose. This use of artificial intelligence in the Grammarly service has made proofreading and writing even easier. In combination with the existing functions, it is making clear and concise writing more accessible. While tools for improving writing skills and enhancing communication, such as Grammarly Go, can be valuable, it is important to use them ethically and thoughtfully, maintain originality, avoid overreliance, adhere to academic integrity guidelines and be mindful to keep sensitive, personal, and confidential information private.  

The ability to present our message appropriately in written language is undoubtedly important. People may have different preferences on the tools they need. Therefore, I would suggest having a look at other similar tools too, but Grammarly is my choice. 

Reviewer: Emma Yi Kwan Lau

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

SeeingAI

SeeingAI app icon

SeeingAI is a free app developed by Microsoft which narrates the scene shown through your camera. It is designed as an aid for visually impaired users, and has capabilities ranging from reading text, giving product information from barcodes, and even identifying how many people are in a room, and how far away they are. It also has functions for identifying colours, narrating the room in front of you, and has recently been updated to allow users to explore photos stored on their phone.

Pros

  • Entirely free.
  • Scans barcodes and identifies the product.
  • Can read packets to give nutritional information.
  • Identifies colours, and objects such as doors and furniture.
  • Helpful for reading expiry dates and important documents.
  • Able to recognise currency.
  • Development led by community feedback.

Cons

  • Only available on the App Store.
  • Can only identify people by faces – not useful if someone has their back to you.
  • Not always accurate, sometimes mistakes colours and letters.
  • Sometimes reads out numbers like barcodes and copyright information which can take a long time.
  • Starts reading text from the beginning again when it gets a clearer picture.
  • Not very clear when pointed at an area with a lot of text, such as a bookshelf.

I tested this app out with my partner who has a visual impairment, and we found the most useful feature was the ability to read the text on labels, and in particular expiry dates, as these are often printed very small and are essential for making sure food is safe to eat. Furthermore, being able to distinguish between packets that are very similar helps with things like putting a food delivery away. The app can also read out labels at museums which don’t offer audio tours, making more places accessible without a guide. The narration isn’t always accurate – we were particularly amused when it consistently read ‘unique’ as ‘uniglue’, and the narration of the scene in front of you is very basic – only identifying things such as doors, sofas, and the fact that you’re inside. However, despite these issues, this technology has the potential to aid independence and make more places and activities accessible for those with visual impairments. We are excited to see what new features future updates will bring as AI develops!

Reviewer: Hannah Harrison

Download links:

app store link

Chat GPT

Chat GPT app icon

Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT (GPT-3.5) is a free app and online chatbot tool based on an AI generative language model, capable of producing human-like written responses.

Some of its main features include answering questions or providing explanations, engaging in conversation, content creation, brainstorming ideas, and completing a range of language-related tasks including language translation and summarising texts. ChatGPT can be used as an assistive tool for academic research, for example for developing and refining research questions or for generating alternative search terms and synonyms required for database searching. 

As part of my exam revision and preparation, I used ChatGPT to generate short answer practice exam questions for different topics that were suitable for undergraduate degree level. The questions the chatbot generated were very useful for revision and included many questions I had not previously considered. ChatGPT could also produce the answers and a marking scheme to the questions it had generated, however not all the information aligned with teaching materials, making it essential to check the answers for accuracy and for context. Although checking the answers proved quite time-consuming, it enabled me to reflect upon and develop my research skills and knowledge of the topic. 

Pros

  • Versatile functionality.
  • Rapid access to information at your fingertips.
  • Straightforward to use.
  • ChatGPT-3.5 is currently free to use both online and via the app, although requires signing in via an OpenAI account or through a Google, Apple or Microsoft account.
  • Dictation can be enabled to verbally ask questions.
  • Can be used to mitigate language barriers.
  • Chat history is synced between devices, allowing you to pick up from where you left off.
  • Useful option to search through previous chat history to locate information.
  • Simple to share chats with others for collaboration.
  • Time-saving custom instructions feature enables you to set preferences for subsequent conversations, reducing the repetition of inputting information.

Cons

  • The model has reduced knowledge of information and events after September 2021, compromising information outputs.
  • Access to enhanced features, including access to the next iteration of ChatGPT-4, requires a subscription to ChatGPT Plus, currently priced at £19.99/month.
  • It is sometimes not possible to use ChatGPT-3.5 during peak times.
  • Can produce harmful, incorrect, inaccurate, biased or misleading responses. You need to critically evaluate everything it gives you and make your own decisions.
  • Privacy issues: Conversations are stored and may be viewed by AI trainers. Personal and sensitive information should not be disclosed. You can minimise the extend to which this is visible by turning off ‘Chat history & training’ in app settings.
  • Chatbot responses depend on the specificity of the user’s inputs and prompts—takes time and practice to develop and refine the skills required for this.
  • Requires an internet connection to use the app.
  • No text-to-speech option for responses.
  • Cannot provide references or sources for the information provided.

ChatGPT is a powerful assistive tool with diverse functionality and exciting capabilities that are still being continuously refined. These capabilities can be applied to aid learning, develop understanding and assist with problem-solving. Although it is time-consuming, checking and verifying the outputs provided by ChatGPT is crucial to ensure the information is correct, accurate, up-to-date and unbiased.  Using ChatGPT for academic purposes that are in line with the University’s academic integrity values requires the application of both critical thinking and analytical skills to ensure it is not being inadvertently used as a form of contract cheating. Further information on contract cheating can be found here. 

Looking forward, it will be exciting to see what future developments and refinements are made in later iterations of the GPT models! 

Reviewer: Samantha Travers-Spencer

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Plaito – Your Personal AI Tutor

Plaito app icon

Plaito is a tool which provides one-on-one tutoring and coaching, allowing AI-guided student learning on a step-by-step basis. The tool offers academic assistance in several ways, including short-answer questions, essay writing, summarising and textbook chat.

To get started with Plaito, you must first sign-up and make a Plaito profile. Here, you can personalise the tool by selecting your education level and age. You will then have access to your dashboard which contains the Plaito tools, session board to track what you have been previously working on and a practice streak to track how many days you studied.

The Plaito tools are super simple to use. For example, the summariser tool can be a great way to learn difficult to understand concepts. Simply copy or type in text to the summariser tool, then select whether you want the summary in paragraph or bullet point format. This tool can be a great way to get a personalised description or explanation of a concept that you might be struggling with.

The essay writing tool can similarly be used to generate a more comprehensive piece of work. The tool requires an essay prompt or topic to get started, alongside a desired word count. Plaito then generates an essay based on this, alongside references and the option to make edits. It is to be noted that Plaito is simply a drafting tool, and cannot be solely relied on for accurate content. This is clearly stated on the screen and must be agreed to before an essay is generated. The essay writing tool should not be used to write university essays, however it does offer a good starting point or essay plan!

The homework tool allows users to input specific questions. In return, Plaito offer three help tabs. The first is the hints tab, where Plaito suggests ways that you should approach the question. Next, the explain tab offers some advice on how to best structure your answer. Finally, the solution tab offers an answer to the question. Overall, the homework feature is a great tool for exam practice.

Pros

  • Can add friends or ‘study partners’ using a unique sharing link.
  • Simple interface which is easy to navigate.
  • Track previous work.

Cons

  • Plaito is in American English, with no clear way of changing to British English.
  • Misuse of the tools is a danger to academic integrity. For example, the university states that submitting AI-generated content as your own work counts as contract cheating. Click the link to learn more about contract cheating and how to avoid it!

Overall, Plaito is a simple to use tool which offers several helpful features. It offers great prompts which can be used to help answer exam style questions, introduce complex topics and generate essay plans. While all information presented on Plaito must be fact checked, following the appropriate references is simple and provides a great starting point to carry out your own research. The university offers a range of advice about AI in research, including guidance on the best ways to appropriately use AI, and its limitations.

Reviewer: Katie Stoker

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

These apps aren’t supported or managed by the University of Bristol. Don’t forget to think about what data you are adding to these apps if you decide to download and use them. Our Online Identity video highlights some of the factors you may want to think about when you are online.

Cybersecurity: Top tips from a Student Digital Champion

Written by Hannah  Harrison, Student Digital Champion

Hannah

In this digital age, where our lives are intertwined with technology, it’s crucial to arm yourself with the knowledge and skills to safeguard your online presence. From browsing securely and using multifactor authentication, to spicing up your passwords and staying updated, the tips in this blog post will empower you to navigate the digital landscape with confidence. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.

Keep tabs on your browsing

Whether researching for an assignment, browsing news articles, or just looking for a recipe to make for dinner, most of us visit many websites every day, but how often do you check the search bar?

The content you look at on the web, the links you click and even the order in which you visit websites can provide information about you, and your interests, that is best not shared. To ensure that all your communications are protected from eavesdropping as they travel between your browser and the websites you visit, it is important to check that all of the sites you are using use ‘HTTPS’ (secure HTTP) rather than just plain ‘HTTP’. Many browsers indicate that a site is secure by displaying a padlock on the left hand side of the search bar, and so quickly checking for this when you enter a new website can really help to keep your information safe. Luckily, most browsers (such as Google Chrome and Safari) will warn you not to enter an insecure web page which asks for personal information such as passwords, as data in unsecured web traffic can be easily nosed into. Of course, using HTTPS only ensures that your web communications are encrypted and so doesn’t provide you with complete protection, but it does make your information much harder to decipher.

Use MFA (Multi-factor authentication)

I’m sure we’ve all experienced the groan after you’ve sat down at your desk, opened up some work only to be prompted to use the authenticator on your phone which is inconveniently on the other side of the room. Maybe this has you wondering whether it’s really worth having at all. However, data provided by Microsoft and Statista indicates that MFA has the power to prevent up to 99.9% of automated cyber-attacks, decrease the number of phishing attempts by 75%, and reduce rates of unauthorized access by 56%1 – so it’s definitely worth the extra bit of time and effort to keep your details safe! You can find more information on setting up MFA on the University website.

Image of the MFA screen

Spice up your passwords 

I’m sure many of us are guilty of using the same, or variations of the same passwords for different accounts to save forgetting them. However, the foundation of your cybersecurity relies on having strong and unique passwords. In particular, making sure that your passwords aren’t made up of information that can be found online such as pets names and birthdates can make your passwords less guess-able. If you’re worried about forgetting passwords if they are all different, then it’s definitely worth considering using a password manager such as NordPass, which securely stores all of your passwords in one place.  

Lock up when you go

Taking a break from work to grab a snack from the vending machine or take a quick stroll can be great for your mental health and productivity, but leaving your computer unlocked whilst you’re away can be dangerous. Although it’s unlikely that someone is lying in wait for you to leave your account open, leaving your device unlocked can give anyone the chance to snoop on your files, mess with your settings or even install malicious software to spy on you, and so it is always better safe than sorry! Even if the result is just one of your friends using your account to post on social media as a joke, there can sometimes be undesirable consequences to having something that you wouldn’t have said under your name online, and it can be difficult to truly delete something once it’s been posted. Locking your laptop or computer whilst you’re away can be done in a few seconds using the shortcut Windows+L  on Windows or  Control+Command+Q on a Mac, and stops anyone from entering your account without a password.

Padlock with blue background. Photo by Muhammad Zaqy Al Fattah on Unsplash

Keep an eye on your emails

One of the most common types of cyber-crime is phishing. This is where an attacker poses as a legitimate organisation and attempts to persuade the victim to divulge personal information. This type of attack is so common because it is one of the cheapest and easiest attacks for criminals to deploy, and with so much information available about individuals on social media, it is possible to make phishing attempts highly targeted (sometimes known as spear phishing). To keep yourself safe, it is important to trust your instincts regarding suspicious emails; would your lecturer really have sent you a link to a textbook in the middle of the night? Would your bank really ask you to suddenly verify your information via email? According to Proofpoint’s Annual Human Factor Report2 (a paper based on 18 months of their customers’ data), up to 99% of phishing attacks rely on the victim clicking on a link, and so the number one thing you should keep in mind when considering a suspicious email is; don’t click anything! You can also look out for spelling mistakes, check that the sender address matches the one listed on their website and be sceptical of surprising offers. As the common saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Social Media Privacy

Having personal information available online gives criminals the opportunity to make much more sophisticated and compelling attacks, as putting you at risk of identity theft. Although sharing online can be fun, it is important to take control of your social media privacy settings to limit the amount of personal information visible to others, and consider only sharing personal posts with friends and family. It can even be a good idea to have separate accounts or profiles for sharing your life, engaging with strangers, and sharing thoughts publicly so that you can still do everything you want to on the internet without giving away too much information.

Phone showing social media icons. Photo by Adem AY on Unsplash

Back up your data

Regularly backing up your important files and documents to an external hard drive or cloud storage provider such as OneDrive protects your data from unexpected events like hardware failures or accidental deletion, as well as ransomware attacks. A ransomware attack is a type of malicious software that threatens to publish the victim’s data or permanently block access to it unless a ransom is paid off. These attacks are often targeted at universities, and it is estimated that around a third of UK universities have been targeted with ransomware within the last 10 years3. Therefore having additional copies of your files can be a lifeline if you become a target.

Stay up to date

One cybersecurity tip that is often overlooked is regularly updating your software, web browsers and operating systems. Updates often patch over security concerns and vulnerabilities identified by the developers, and attackers can exploit these weaknesses. These kinds of attacks have affected companies as large as Facebook and Amazon, and so allowing update notifications and installing them as soon as you can is vital for keeping your information safe.

Laptop screen showing a system update

Digital practices and software are ever evolving and so there are always new avenues for attackers to exploit. While you can never be 100% safe from cybercrime, keeping these 8 tips in mind can significantly decrease your risk, while you navigate the digital landscape with confidence and peace of mind. 

Useful links

References 

Gitnux. (n.d.). The Most Surprising Multifactor Authentication Statistics And Trends in 2023. Retrieved from Gitnux: https://blog.gitnux.com/multifactor-authentication-statistics/#:~:text=The%20statistics%20presented%20in%20this,unauthorized%20access%20rates%20by%2056%25. 

Network, U. (2023). A Third of UK Unis Hit By Ransomware In Last 10 Years. Retrieved from Urban Network: https://www.urbannetwork.co.uk/a-third-of-uk-unis-hit-by-ransomware-in-last-10-years/ 

Proofpoint. (2023). Human factor report 2023. Retrieved from Proofpoint: https://www.proofpoint.com/us/resources/threat-reports/human-factor 

Appinions – Content creation

Appinions banner

A great app will keep you glued to your device. Whether it’s lifestyle, social media, utility, gaming, productivity or news; apps are an essential part of student life.
Each month we challenge our Student Digital Champions to delve into a new category, delivering fresh perspectives and making proclamations for essential applications. Which features are dumb? What should be at the tip of your thumb?

Written by Hannah Harrison, Bibiana Lebersorger, Samantha Travers-Spencer, Emma Yi Kwan Lau, Katie Stoker, Conor Macdonald, and Gen Kawaguchi.

HannahEmmaSamanthaKatieConorGen

July: Content creation

Social media is a platform where amateur content creators have an opportunity to shine. Professional content still has its place, but doesn’t dominate the market. Amateur creators may not have the same level of technical expertise, resources, or production value. But make up for it with authenticity, uniqueness and artistic freedom.

It’s now possible to generate captivating content merely with an original idea, enthusiasm, and a mobile device. With the continued emergence of generative AI tools, it is possible to fill gaps in your skillset, bypassing these would-be stumbling blocks. For better and for worse, these digital platforms are more egalitarian, fostering a greater equality of opportunity.

CapCut

capcut app icon

Capcut is an all-in-one free video editor, available both on computer and mobile app. With a huge range of visual features including filters, overlays, stickers and text, coupled with audio editing features such as adding sound effects and TikTok music, the creative possibilities are endless. Capcut also includes features to improve accessibility such as auto captioning, and is perfect for beginners to video editing, as it is easy to use and there are many tutorials online. Recently, CapCut has also added AI driven features such as auto-cut, colour correction and a ChatGPT-esque script generator.

Pros

  • Completely free, with hundreds of features
  • Easy to use layout
  • Option to crop video before upload – saves time
  • Option to add captions to make your videos more accessible
  • Copyright checks available
  • Options to remove audio or overlay with different sounds
  • Compatible with TikTok
  • Templates available and sorted by category so you can find the right inspiration
  • Integrated AI tools
  • Collaborative options for sharing and working on content as a team

Cons

  • There are so many options for visual effects it can be hard to find what you’re looking for
  • Adjusting the playback speed can result in blurry videos
  • App can lag, and uses up a lot of storage

The CapCut app is sleek and very easy to use. Tools are sorted by type and I found it easy to find what I was looking for, as well as discover new options. I particularly liked the fact that the app prompts you to trim the video before uploading, which minimises both upload time and data usage. Whilst I would recommend using a desktop editor for more professional projects (as the editor can be a little fiddly on mobile) CapCut is perfect for creating fun and engaging videos on the go, and I definitely recommend testing it out. I’d also recommend having a play with the AI tools as these can be a lot of fun – I created quite an amusing advert for an extremely red tomato!

Reviewer: Hannah Harrison

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

PowerPoint

PowerPoint app icon

The PowerPoint mobile app combines all the design features and functions of the desktop application, with the portability and accessibility of your iPhone, Android or iPad for on-the-go use. With the PowerPoint app, you can create, edit, and view presentations from anywhere. You can design a presentation from scratch with all the usual tools and features available; edit slides, alter transitions, and insert animations and images with the tap of screen. Using your Microsoft 365 subscription (which is provided for free through the University), you can sync all PowerPoints and documents across all devices with OneDrive. The ‘Share’ feature lets you share your documents at the touch of button via mail, AirDrop, WhatsApp and more. An active Microsoft 365 subscription gives you access to Presenter Coach, an AI tool created to help you practice public speaking by giving real-time suggestions to speak more confidently and to alter pacing.

Pros

  • Free to download.
  • Syncing available with OneDrive and a Microsoft 365 subscription to avoid annoying duplicates.
  • You can create and share a PowerPoint from almost anywhere without needing access to a laptop or computer.
  • The app provides pre-made presentation designs and formats for ease of use.
  • You can manage who has access to your files with 1-click sharing.
  • Great for on-the-go or last minute edits in preparation for a group project.

Cons

  • On a small screen of a phone, it can be quite fiddly to add text and images to the presentation.
  • To share over 5 GB of files, you need to have access to an active Microsoft 365 subscription.
  • Some features, such as the Presentation Coach, is only available for those with a Microsoft 365 subscription.

I would recommend PowerPoint mobile for anyone who wants to be able to access and make small edits to their presentations on-the-go but have found that creating a presentation from scratch on my iPhone was a little fiddly and time-consuming! I did find it useful to be able to go over my PowerPoint on the bus to Uni in preparation for my summative group project that I was co-presenting, making me feel well prepared for the upcoming assessment. I haven’t yet used the Presenter Coach tool, but I think it’s great that Microsoft are incorporating AI features into their products and will definitely try it out when preparing for my next presentation!

Reviewer: Bibiana Lebersorger

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Adobe Express

adobe express app icon

Adobe Express (formerly Adobe Spark) is a free mobile and online design and photo tool app that enables you to effortlessly create eye-catching graphics for social media posts, flyers, posters, short videos, web pages and more. The simple, easy-to-follow layout of the app allows you to create media content from scratch or from a large collection of existing templates, to give a professional finish.

Features such as the ability to trim, edit, crop and resize video content, convert between PNG and JPG files and resize images makes this app a useful (and free) companion for university coursework. The new beta version of Adobe Express incorporates the exciting new possibilities of AI into its current features.

Pros

  • Easy to create a free account, plus an alternative option to sign in through Google, Apple and Facebook.
  • No design knowledge is necessary — you can create media content from a vast array of existing templates.
  • You can save your templates to use again, share with others or adjust them for later!
  • You can quickly remove backgrounds from photos using the background remover tool.
  • Seamless integration with other Adobe creative apps such as Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • Allows you to convert from pdf format to Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents without disrupting the formatting or fonts.
  • Lots of features are available to use on the free version.

Cons

  • A monthly subscription is required for access to premium content, but a free 30-day trial period is available.
  • Only 2GB of cloud storage is available on the free plan.
  • Despite the huge variety of different fonts, it can be a bit fiddly to edit text on the mobile app!

Overall, I would highly recommend Adobe Express for time-efficient creation and editing of graphics on the go without compromising quality. Even with the free plan, there are plenty of helpful and time-saving features to use, making it a very versatile design app.

Reviewer: Samantha Travers-Spencer

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Snapseed

snapseed app iconSnapseed is a simple and easy to use photo editing app, which can be used to make a whole range of different adjustments to your photos. While the app offers the user a lot of creative freedom, it takes no time to learn how to use and navigate the different tools.

The app interface is very clean and simple. At the top of the screen is the option to open your camera roll and select photos, a button to review, redo and undo changes, an information tab, and settings where you can get help and view tutorials. At the bottom of the screen are three tabs: looks, tools and export. The looks tab opens up a range of different pre-made filters which can be instantly applied to photos. While there are only a few filters available, they are a super quick and easy way to make instant changes to your photo. However, if you want to make more specific, fine-tuned changes, the tools tab contains many more options such as contrast, grain and white balance to name a few. Here you can make more subtle edits, or even add text and a frame.

Pros

  • Easy to use and navigate
  • Takes very little time to learn how to use app features
  • Pre-made filters
  • A range of tools available
  • Option to export edited photos in several different ways
  • The app is free

Cons

  • Many of the tools available can already be found built into your device’s photo app (for example, iPhone already offer a range of tools to edit photos in your albums)
  • While the app is great for casual photo editing, it might not be great for those who need to edit photos for more professional purposes
  • No option to save edited photos in the app. This would be useful if you want to go back and re-edit previously edited photos

Overall, I think that Snapseed is a good photo editing app. It is easy to use and takes no time to learn how to navigate. All tools are available for free, so no paid subscription is required. However, there are many photo editing apps out there, and I fail to see how Snapseed stands out. While it offers a range of standard tools, I will personally continue to use Apple’s built-in photo editing tools. Despite this, I would definitely give Snapseed a go to see if it suits you!

Reviewer: Katie Stoker

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Jetpack – Website Builder

jetpack app icon

WordPress is a free and open-source software that is popular for web content management. It can help us to publish our own website or start our own blog. After creating the content, we can monitor the browsing frequency and exposure of our website to the public. Jetpack is a plugin developed by Automattic, Inc. In addition to the functions WordPress offers, Jetpack allows safer and quicker website creation and ongoing maintenance.

Pros

  • Free to use
  • Templates are available for use
  • Easy to use as there is step-by-step guidance for users to create a website
  • Shortcuts to promote the website instantly
  • Can exchange opinion and experiences of content creation with other authors using WordPress.com Reader

Cons

  • Need a WordPress account to use Jetpack plugin
  • If you want a domain for your website, you need to pay £16/ year
  • Can be difficult to format the website or blog using the mobile phone as the layout can appear different from what readers using a computer may see

I never thought that I would be able to create my own website. I always associate content creation with very difficult work. However, it is manageable even with minimal experiences by using WordPress/ Jetpack. In fact, it only took me a couple of minutes to set up my own website!

Reviewer: Emma Yi Kwan Lau

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Canva

canva app iconCanva touts itself as an all-in-one package for content creation. It’s best known for its image editing capabilities, but in recent years it’s expanded its offering with video editing tools too.

Canva is great for those who want to post content directly to social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. It offers direct integration, meaning as soon as you’ve finished editing content it can be directly uploaded to those platforms.

Just like many other apps in the content creation sphere, Canva has now started offering AI tools. These can be used to create an image from just a description. Along with the AI tools, Canva also offers its users a myriad of templates as well as stock images and music.

Unfortunately, many of Canva’s features are behind a paywall. Whilst this isn’t a huge problem, some may consider a lot of the paywalled features to be necessities, such as resizing an image or accessing ‘Pro’ templates.

Video editing, is also a capability within Canva, although it’s arguably not on par with applications such as Premiere Pro. Canva’s offering is more in-between PowerPoint and iMovie – you can create good animations and cut video simply. But other than that it offers little flexibility. It’s a good starting point but those with little video editing experience may find it lacking.

Pros

  • The base programme is free
  • One of the best user designs on the market
  • It’s an all in one package for both photo and video editing

Cons

  • Some features are paywalled
  • By being an all-in-one package, it’s not the ‘best’ at anything
  • Limited to only simple export options such as PNG, JPEG, and PDF. Other applications offer greater flexibility

Canva’s unique selling point is its intuitive user interface, arguably the most important feature of content creation programmes. This means that users with little to no experience in this field can quite quickly learn to use the programme and create content. Not to mention that, apart from the paywalled features discussed earlier, the programme is free.

Reviewer: Conor Macdonald

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

OpenShot

openshot app icon

If you’re looking for a simple & powerful, yet free video editor, OpenShot would be a great choice! 

OpenShot is an open-source video editing software that allows you to easily create and edit video projects. It’s designed to be easy to use and quick to learn for beginners, so the main functions of the software can be easily navigated! For example, you can slice the video just by clicking on the scissor button, and trim it by deleting the unnecessary sections. What’s more, transitions are automatically added when the clips overlap, so there’s no need to set them up each time! 

Finally, the software is completely free to use and there’re no ads! You’ll never be frustrated by being asked to pay for subscription, or being forced to watch ad videos when using OpenShot 🙂

Pros

  • Free to use!
  • No ads
  • User-friendly interface
  • available on Windows, Mac and Linux

Cons

  • Only covers the basic functions
  • Not available on smartphones

It’s pretty good! It’s free, there’re no ads, a simple user interface, and powerful functions … It covers almost everything! I tried to create a short video clip, and I could easily create it without any frustration 😊

If I mention some drawbacks, OpenShot does not cover very advanced functions like Adobe Premiere Pro does, so it may not be suitable if you’re an advanced video editor. You’ll also need to keep in mind that it doesn’t work on smartphones, as it only works on Windows, Mac and Linux.

However, even with these disadvantages, I would still recommend this software because the app itself is great and free to use. If you’re a beginner and want to learn how to edit videos, I’d say OpenShot would be one of the best choices to kick-start editing videos!

Reviewer: Gen Kawaguchi

Download links:

Google Play link

visit OpenShot for macOS download.

These apps aren’t supported or managed by the University of Bristol. Don’t forget to think about what data you are adding to these apps if you decide to download and use them. Our Online Identity video highlights some of the factors you may want to think about when you are online.

Next month: Artificial intelligence

Blackboard has a new look

The Blackboard upgrade to the new Ultra Base Navigation has been successfully completed. You will see the new-look Blackboard the next time you log in. Your courses haven’t changed, but the way you navigate around Blackboard should now be easier and more intuitive, whatever device you’re using.

We’ve been working with our Student Digital Champions on some of the decisions around the look and navigation – thank you to everyone who contributed!

“I really like the ease of navigation of the updated Blackboard.”
– University of Bristol student

You can find more information and guidance in our Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation guide.

Screenshot of the new Blackboard log in page

 

Digital Education service improvements planned over the summer 

Each year, the Digital Education Office delivers a summer plan of work on our digital education environments and systems. This plan includes any significant system changes or software upgrades, which are done at a time that will least affect staff and students. However, it also includes more minor changes to systems and processes, ensuring everything works well for the next academic year.  

To keep everyone updated on the work taking place, we update a Service Improvements page over the summer, documenting and advertising expected and completed work. If you are interested in keeping up to date, it is worth bookmarking the Service Improvements Page. Anything that we think you need to know will also be communicated out from your schools, or via usual channels and bulletins, so don’t worry about missing anything important! 

We’ve worked in various ways to talk to students and get their views on your Digital Learning Environment, including surveys, workshops, focus groups, and of course ongoing co-creation and consultation with our Student Digital Champions. A lot of the Re/Play improvements this year will be a result of suggestions directly from students, so thank you to everyone who has given us their views and ideas.  

Blackboard’s Look and Navigation is Changing, Wednesday July 5, 3.45pm – 6pm

On July 5, we’re updating Blackboard to use the new Ultra Base Navigation. This update will give Blackboard a modern look and feel and provide easier access to important information.

Ultra Base Navigation has a modern, intuitive navigation menu that sits outside of courses and is always available.

Your courses will not change, and you can submit work just as you are used to. They will look and operate exactly as they do now.

The benefits of Ultra Base Navigation include:

  • A modern, intuitive user experience.
  • Improved accessibility.
  • It works well on mobile devices. This navigation is designed to work well regardless of what device you’re using.
  • Just one click away. No matter where you are, UBN provides clearer paths to where you want to go, minimizing clicks and saving time.

To enable Ultra Base Navigation, Blackboard will be unavailable for a short time on the afternoon of July 5, between 3.45 pm and 6 pm. After this, you will see a redesigned login page for Blackboard and can use the new navigation as soon as you log in.

You can find more information, with screenshots, on the project webpage: Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation.

Appinions – Wellbeing

Appinions banner

A great app will keep you glued to your device. Whether it’s lifestyle, social media, utility, gaming, productivity or news; apps are an essential part of student life.
Each month we challenge our Student Digital Champions to delve into a new category, delivering fresh perspectives and making proclamations for essential applications. Which features are dumb? What should be at the tip of your thumb?

Written by Bibiana Lebersorger, Emma Yi Kwan Lau, Hannah Harrison, Katie Stoker and Nia Burkinshaw

EmmaHannahKatieNia

June: Wellbeing

Using a mobile device to improve wellbeing is counter-intuitive. In general, minimising screen-time is a good way to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, as well as improve sleep. Yet there are specific ways in which we use our devices which are more problematic than others, such as compulsive checking (especially before bed), doom scrolling, obsessing over social media and prioritising use over developing real-life relationships.

It is important to be aware of the pitfalls and focus on developing and maintaining healthy habits. Prioritising your wellbeing is an investment that will not only benefit your academic performance, but also enrich your overall university experience and help you find the zen amidst the chaos.

Calm

calm app icon

As the number one app for sleep, meditation and relaxation, Calm focuses on slowing down and focusing on mindfulness techniques to help you lead a happier and healthier life. The app lets you tailor your Calm experience by allowing you to focus on certain goals, such as ‘Reduce Stress’ or ‘Develop Gratitude’, in order to personalise recommendations. On the home screen, you’ll find recommended videos and courses relating to your goals, with the option to favourite videos that work for you. The app really tailors its suggestions based on the user for example, as someone new to meditation, I was directed towards the ‘Mindfulness for Beginners’ course. Next to the home screen icon, you can find the ‘Discover’ feature, which allows you to find other categories such as ‘Music’ and ‘Soundscapes’. Another option here is to filter by goal or time, which is great if you have a specific element you want to improve or are short on time.

Pros

  • 7-day free trial offered which allows you to test out whether the app suits you and your lifestyle
  • Allows you to tailor your experience according to your happiness/health goals
  • The ‘Profile’ feature allows you to track your stats, or as Calm calls it, your ‘Mindful Days’
  • Named Apple’s App of the Year in 2017
  • You can sync the app with Apple Health to better track your health
  • The app background and home screen sounds are completely customisable in settings
  • Available on both iPhone and iPad

Cons

  • The cost is quite high, at £39.99/year or £3.30/month
  • The videos won’t load without internet, so be sure to download anything you want to watch or listen to when you have Wi-Fi

I would really recommend this app to anyone who wants to focus on slowing down by implementing daily mindful habits. During exam season, I really wanted to focus on getting good quality sleep and avoid mindlessly scrolling right before bed, so I tested out the ‘Fall Asleep’ section. Here, you can find lots of different options to help you drift off, from peaceful soundscapes to sleep stories read by your favourite celebrities, and even podcasts by sleep experts who share their bedtime tips. I found the soundscapes great to put on before bed, and I think they did help me drift off quicker. Because Calm’s content is so varied, with new stuff being added each week, there are so many opportunities to discover what works for you.

Reviewer: Bibiana Lebersorger

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

WorryTree

worrytree app icon

WorryTree is a simple mobile app that helps users to record and manage their worries in any location. It asks users to record things that they are concerned about, followed by a few short steps to guide them to reflect and create an action plan to resolve the problem. It is based on a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy technique (The worry tree technique) to enable us to track and challenge our worries.

There are two available plans for WorryTree users – Basic and Plus. Plus is the premium upgrade that is available via an annual or monthly subscription. Extra features in Plus plan are adding actions and events to your own calendar, an uncertainty-challenging tool, a gratitude journey, and having a negative thought-challenging tool.

Pros

  • Help to develop a habit of self-reflection by recording and solving worries
  • Have four guided sensory practices to help users to relieve their worries
  • Seven days free pro subscription to access all functions before deciding to buy
  • Free and Plus plans almost have identical functions so may not necessarily need to buy Plus plan

Cons

  • Does not offer options and advice for you to solve the problem in both versions of the app
  • Need to pay for full access to all functions e.g., Gratitude journal, Challenge a thought, Practice gratitude, Embrace uncertainty
  • Only four focus practices are available to use in the application for both free and Plus plan

Recognising thoughts and recording worries can be difficult without guidance. WorryTree is a good starting point to begin keeping our own thoughts in a journal to support our wellbeing.  An important aspect of wellbeing is the ability to manage stress. Some examples of skills that can help to improve our well-being include positivity, emotion regulation, and mindfulness. All these skills can be gradually developed or enhanced with the help of WorryTree app. I would definitely recommend the app to any student. There were times that I was unable to balance my work and social life. If I had used the app then, it would have improved my thinking to recover my wellbeing quicker.

In addition to the resources in the app, the service also offers advice on their website through blogs and podcasts (https://www.worry-tree.com/blog-categories; https://www.worry-tree.com/podcast). All of these offer extra support to users and even to non-users. All the blogs and podcasts are nice and precise. None are excessively long that I lose focus reading or listening to the whole piece. I personally found the information on their website very useful and is a great starting point to help me recognise little things I can do to solve my worries. Even if you are not planning to download the app yet, you may still want to have a read or listen to the resources available on their website for general tips and advice. They are simple, but I would say they are useful life tips!

Reviewer: Emma Yi Kwan Lau

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Sleep cycle

sleep cycle app iconDo you have trouble waking up in the morning? Find yourself endlessly hitting the snooze button? Sleep cycle is a smart alarm clock designed to help you wake up feeling energised and ready to tackle your day.  It uses the sounds you make while you sleep combined with past data to analyse your sleep patterns and gently wake you up while you’re in your lightest sleep phase. Sleep cycle also provides detailed sleep analysis including ambient noise, time spent in bed and how long it took you to fall asleep, which can help you to understand your sleep cycles and find ways to ensure you always get a good night’s rest.

Pros

  • Free version available and 7 day trial for premium
  • ‘Smart alarm’ wakes you up in light sleep
  • Includes sleep aids such as relaxation exercises and stories to help you fall asleep
  • Contains programs to help reduce the effects of factors such as screens and stress on sleep
  • Option to analyse sleep without an alarm
  • Set ‘wake-up window’ so that the alarm will always wake you up on time
  • Sleep statistics track ambient noise, sleep quality, time in bed and how long it took you to fall asleep
  • Feature to sync with smart watch in development

Cons

  • Features such as sleep statistics, sleep aids, sound tracking and online backup require premium subscription which costs £29.99/ year
  • Have to remember to manually set the alarm each night
  • Not many options for alarm sound in the free version
  • Have to sleep with phone very close so it can pick up sound

The sleep cycle app has a sleek layout, and is very easy to use. When you first open the app, you are prompted to create an account and then you are immediately taken to the alarm page, where you can set a deadline for the app to wake you up. The default ‘wake up window’ is 30 minutes, however you can customise this if you want to make sure you aren’t woken up too early! Once you’ve set an alarm, the app immediately starts recording sounds to track your sleep. This does mean that you have to manually set up the alarm each night to start the sleep tracking, and I found that your phone has to stay quite close to your face in order to pick up your breathing, which can be difficult if you don’t have a table or plug socket near your bed. However, it is interesting to track your sleep patterns, and there are programs in the app to help with identifying factors which may be impacting your sleep, such as screen time, ambient noise and even the weather! Overall, if you’re worried about your sleep, or struggling to wake up in the mornings, Sleep Cycle is definitely worth a try.

Reviewer: Hannah Harrison

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Finch

Finch app icon

Looking for a self-care app to support yourself? Finch would be a great choice! The app will give you a self-care companion pet that will grow with you. The aim of the app is to make daily self-care feel rewarding and fun. Completing daily self-care exercises will help you grow your pet and help with your own wellness. You can also invite friends and family to join you on the journey. The app enables you to create a tree town to support your loved ones. The app developer also offers a wider community support Discord and Facebook group for users to connect with one another.

Pros

  • Easy to set up the app and daily goals
  • Can convert into a widget on the screen to watch your self-care pet
  • Give users regular reminders throughout the day for reflection and check on their pet
  • Provide users with positive quotes and statements when opening the app
  • Help you to set daily goals when setting up the app
  • Include stretches, exercises, relaxing soundscapes and a First Aid section to help us to get through intense exam stress

Cons

  • Not all functions are unlocked in the free version
  • Can be quite confusing when setting up the app as they will offer a 7-day free trail for Pro subscription that may not be what users are looking for
  • Does not have a tutorial for new users to navigate different functions

I started using this app earlier this month, because I felt overwhelmed and stressed during the assessment period. Therefore, I started looking into apps that can help me to understand myself better and support my wellbeing. I tried various self-care apps which all offer great advice and guidance. However, those apps lacked a way to keep me motivated to use the app regularly and achieve those daily goals. I personally found the pet in Finch boosted my motivation to achieve daily goals and complete daily reflection, because I knew that there is a companion with me and will continue to grow with me. I really enjoy using Finch and would recommend it to any student!

Reviewer: Emma Yi Kwan Lau

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Headspace

headspace app icon

It is super important to ensure that you are looking after yourself, both mentally and physically. While it can be difficult to take time in your day to relax and switch-off, there are plenty of apps available which can help you get into the routine. Headspace focuses on integrating meditation and mindfulness into your day, both of which help you focus, reduce stress and improve sleep. For a beginner or those not familiar with meditation, Headspace can be a super helpful guide.

Headspace also focuses on additional aspects of wellbeing too, making it a well-rounded app with all your wellbeing needs in one place. For example, the app offers workout routines such as yoga, dance breaks, mindful cardio, and quick workouts which can be easily slotted into a busy schedule (all exercise routines are guided by an instructor). You can also find a range of sleep-inducing podcasts such as those using narration, white noise, calming music or soundscapes. This is in addition to a selection of podcasts which discuss mental health, pushing through challenges, being creative and even making more time for yourself and the things you love.

Another great feature of Headspace is the music section. As a student, I understand how focusing can be difficult sometimes. However, music can be an excellent method of shutting out distractions and focusing on work. There are a selection of different playlists available which suit a range of needs and preferences.

You can set-up a personalised Headspace profile and select the areas you want to focus on e.g. managing stress and anxiety or improving sleep. You can then check-in to track your progress over time and review your activity history. You can also set-up several different preferences, such as linking Headspace to Apple Health to track ‘mindful minutes’, or making Headspace more accessible via audio-narrated description of the visual elements of Headspace videos.

Pros

  • Easy to navigate
  • Broad range of options
  • 14 day free-trial can be used to give the app a try
  • Can enable notifications to receive meditation, bedtime, or wakeup reminders. Great if you are forgetful or when you are only just starting to integrate Headspace into your daily routine
  • Tracks app usage and progress
  • Can make your own personalised profile

Cons

  • Many of the features are locked in the free version. Annual (£49.99) or monthly subscriptions (£9.99) are available. However, there is a refer a friend scheme which offers a 30 day guest pass for one of your friends/family.
  • While guided programs are available, Headspace has quite a busy interface which some might find overwhelming or confusing.

Overall, I would definitely recommend giving Headspace a go. The app offers a massive range of resources focusing on all areas of wellbeing. The free trial can be a great opportunity to test Headspace and see if it is right for you.

Reviewer: Katie Stoker

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

Sleepful

sleppful app iconSleepful is a free app primarily aimed at helping people overcome insomnia (difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep.) In the app, you can track your sleeping patterns and hopefully see it improve. You input a number of details such as the time you went to bed, the time you fell asleep, and the time you spent awake in the night. With this data the app calculates your total sleep time and compares it to time in bed to calculate your overall sleep efficiency, presenting this information to you in a chart.

The other part of the app is related to CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy.) It offers a practical guide on improving your sleep with eight steps, each containing three activities to complete. These activities range from watching short informative videos to learn more about sleep and how to better control it, to practical steps which you can implement to increase your sleep efficacy (for example, on of the activities focused on five ways in which you can make your bedroom a better place to sleep.) These activities are fairly short, have no time limit, and can be completed at any time by the user. This means you can spend as much or as little time on them as you prefer.

Pros

  • It’s free which is excellent considering it provides such detailed support
  • All of the advice is based on science and studies and implemented CBT strategies
  • The app also has an alarm feature

Cons

  • It can be difficult to track your sleep accurately. It is difficult to know when you actually fall asleep without technology to help (such as a smartwatch)
  • I found it really difficult to set up an account on the app, and had to visit their website
  • The graphics feel a little basic

Overall, I feel the app would be very good for those who suffer with insomnia and are seeking a free way to take practical steps to improve their condition. The advice is presented in a very clear way and backed by scientific knowledge. Therefore, the app offers more than just sleep tracking, compensating for the relatively basic graphics. If you are solely interested in tracking your sleep, there are other apps with more visually appealing features that may be more enticing. One point worth noting is that I initially struggled signing up and creating an account on the app as none of the options seemed to work. However, I managed to resolve this issue by creating an account on their website, although the process felt a bit lengthy.

Reviewer: Nia Burkinshaw

Download links:

Google Play linkapp store link

These apps aren’t supported or managed by the University of Bristol. Don’t forget to think about what data you are adding to these apps if you decide to download and use them. Our Online Identity video highlights some of the factors you may want to think about when you are online.

Next month: Content creation

Posted in Uncategorised

International students – Take part in our Digital Insights Survey!

Have you got time to tell us about your experiences of digital teaching and learning within the University’s online environments? This month we are running the International Students’ Digital Experience survey to gain a better understanding of the digital experiences and expectations of international students, and the survey is now open!

Image of person sat at a laptop
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Responses are anonymous but play a huge part in the development of our digital development. This year it’s more important than ever to have your say, as the University is looking at the Digital Learning Environment in order to make tangible improvements to your learning. The Jisc International Students’ Digital Experience Insights Survey aids us in our work to continuously enhance the student experience. As well as looking at our own data, we will be able to compare our results with other education providers and benchmarking data across institutions. This survey is designed to be answered by students who have travelled from other countries to study in the UK.

Find a link to complete the survey here, it takes ten minutes to complete: International Students’ Digital Experience Survey.

The deadline to complete the survey is the 30th June.

 

 

The look of the Blackboard submissions page is changing.

The interface for Blackboard submissions such as essays, some timed assessments and some exams is changing on the 2nd of June 2023. There is no change to functionality, but you should familiarise yourself with the difference before any deadlines.  

After the 2nd of June, if you need to upload a submission, this option is contained within a concertina menu. This makes the interface less confusing, allowing you to select the options you need without having to navigate the options you dont.

Below are three images: one showing the current interface and two showing the new interface.

The old interface has all the ‘Attach Files, ‘Write Submission and ‘Add Comments’ functions on display. 

Old submission point: this is the old submission point for Blackboard which has all upload options on display.

 

The new interface places the features you are used to behind concertina menus.

 

New submission point (unexpanded): the new submission points have three clickable options: one called "Create Submission", one called "Upload Files", and one called "Add Comments"

 

Once expanded with a click, the same options are available to you. 

 

New submission point (expanded): once the "Upload Files" option is clicked, three buttons are revealed; one for "Browse Local Files", one for "Browse Content Collection", and one for "Browse Cloud Service". 

 

 

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