This post is a further update to the issue first identified on 07 February, where students were seeing an error message when trying to use the Re/Play link in the Blackboard left-hand menu.
As reported yesterday, all students should now be able to access Re/Play materials shared via left-hand menu links in Blackboard. Automated recordings have not been affected, and no recordings have been lost. Recordings will be available after 48 hours or when published by the academic staff member, as usual.
However, we are still applying fixes to some pre-existing problems with Re/Play which might affect whether you can view some videos in Blackboard. Yesterday, there were some sporadic reports of videos being unavailable if added into Blackboard so that they appear as a thumbnail image and a link within a course page.
If this is affecting you, first try to access any unavailable videos via the Re/Play link in the left-hand menu of your course, if that is available to you. If the problem persists and you need urgent access, please contact your school, or the IT Self Service site Home / IT Services Self Service (ivanticloud.com).
We hope to have this issue resolved as soon as possible and are still actively working on solutions.
From the afternoon of the 7th February 2022 to 11.30 am today, the 8th February 2022, there was an error in the connection between Re/Play and Blackboard, meaning that you may have been unable to access your videos from the Re/Play link in Blackboard courses.
We believe this issue has been resolved, and you should now be able to view your videos as normal. We are now in the process of thoroughly testing this fix, so there is a possibility some access is yet to be restored in all instances.
We sincerely apologise for any disruption this issue has caused you. Please be assured we have been doing all we can to resolve it as soon as possible.
Suzanne Collins: Digital Education Office
From the 31st of January, we’re making a change to the way captions get added to video content in Re/Play. Instead of lecturers having to add captions manually, Re/Play will now add them automatically. This is good news for all of you who have said that having captions on video helps you to learn, and it also means that we will be working towards making your learning material as accessible as it can be.
“I use captions whenever I am watching a video. I find it really helps me to process what someone is saying. The Powerpoint slides help me to clarify any inaccurate captions.” UoB Student, Autumn 2021
The software that will add the captions does so using a computer, not a human, so there will inevitably be mistakes in the captions. Therefore, it’s really important to see captions as a way to support your learning, not as a replacement for the video content. They will not be accurate enough if you rely on captions to learn for accessibility reasons. If this is your situation, there is a separate support route in place where human written captions can be provided for you – get in touch with Disability Services who will be able to help further. For recordings of in-person lectures (lecture capture), captions will be added once the recording is published. If you don’t immediately see captions available, check back in an hour or so.
“When there are no captions, I am much more likely to need to keep rewinding to listen again.” UoB Student, Autumn 2021
If you use captions as a support to your learning, you’re adding to your set of study skills, as well as your digital skills! If anything doesn’t look right, especially terminology or names, double check against what’s on the slide, in handouts or reading materials, or listen to that section if you can. Captions should never be used as the sole source of information, especially for assessments and revision. Always check with your lecturer if you don’t understand something important.
To turn the captions on or off on a video, look for the small ‘CC’ icon at the bottom of the video. Captions will appear at the bottom of the video.
If you play the video full screen, you’ll also see a small magnifying glass icon. Here, you can search the captions and go straight to where a key word is mentioned by selecting the caption you want to see.
Written by Suzanne Collins, Digital Education Office
Take 10 minutes to help us improve the digital learning experience at Bristol!
Follow this link to go straight to the Digital Experience Insights Form
As the year draws to a close, it’s a good opportunity to take some time and reflect on how things have gone so far this academic year. For the past few years – even before the pandemic changed the way we teach and learn – we’ve asked students to tell us what they think about our digital learning environment. The questions range from asking about you and your technology, to asking about how much support you feel you’ve had, where you go for help, and what we could be doing better. The survey is coordinated by JISC, which is a national organisation, so we are also able to see where we are in the sector, and work out what we’re doing well and what we can improve on.
The 10 minutes it takes for you to complete the survey are so valuable, as without hearing your experiences, we can’t work to change things for the better!
What we’ve done based on previous results
In previous years, we’ve used the results from this survey to make direct changes to the experience of students.
- Improved the consistency of Blackboard courses through new templates and core standards
- Developed a new range of direct support for students (including the new digital induction, guides and contextual help)
- Recruited 12 Student Digital Champions to inform the development of the digital environment and improve our support for students
- Introduced new tools to support teaching and learning
- Acquired a digital skills building tool for students and staff, to be piloted in 2022/23
Digital Education Office
Since November 2020, we’ve been lucky enough to have worked with a team of Student Digital Champions from across all six faculties in the Uni. They’ve been out and about, talking to students and course reps to tell us what’s important to students in their digital learning experiences.
This summer, we have had a new team with us, who are helping us with key work we’re now doing to prepare for the new academic year ahead. They’ve been looking at assessment guidance, hybrid learning, support for students using MS Teams for learning, improving our digital skills courses Digitally Ready and Digitally Ready: Reflect and Reboot (which you can find from our Student Support page), and more. We also have a dedicated team of Student Digital Accessibility Champions, as accessibility and inclusion is going to be a real focus for all our work over the next year.
This summer, we’ve been working with:
Annie Walsh (UG) and Hollie Smith (UG)
Deepthi Nanduri (UG) and Gloria Bosi (UG)
Jessica Mounty (UG) and Emma Ford (UG)
Leah Parker (UG) and Helena Thornton (UG)
Hamzah Teladia (PGT) and Estefania (Nia) Deniz Fuentes (UG)
Social Sciences and Law
Olivia Muggleton (UG) and Alex Maskell (PGT)
Our Student Digital Accessibility Champions are:
Freya Selman – Social Sciences and Law UG
Elizabeth Hodge – Life Sciences UG
Georgie Pitts – Social Sciences and Law UG
Isabella Coombs – Engineering UG
Reflecting on the Student Digital Champions in 2021
At the end of our first group of students, we made with them a short video reflecting on our experiences, which you can watch here.
Written by Helena Thornton
Student Digital Champion and Undergraduate student of Psychology
When I began at the University of Bristol in September 2020, I had no idea what to expect. If university at all is a big step to take, moving across the country to start my degree in the middle of a pandemic felt like a giant leap. There were so many unknowns: of course, I had the more usual university concerns of whether I would like my flatmates, learning to cook for myself, and working out how to write a university-style essay. However, alongside these I faced Covid-specific questions: How I would receive my teaching? What would online teaching look like? Would it be accessible and engaging, or isolating and frustrating? Could I still build a social life with impending lockdowns and restrictions?
A year on, many of these questions have been answered in some way or another. And, I am pleased to say that, while my first year of university was certainly a strange one, there were definitely positive elements of the experience. A lot of this has been down to how the university has managed to facilitate learning and even social opportunities online over the past year.
Online learning took a while to get used to. One of my favourite things about it has been the flexibility it provides: I have enjoyed being able to watch pre-recorded lectures wherever and whenever during the week! This has been particularly helpful for me as someone with a disability: being able to break a lecture up across a longer period of time when needed, or spend a bit of time re-playing a part I didn’t understand, has definitely made the content more accessible.
As expected, there have also been difficulties associated with learning almost completely online: from the more general problems, such as feeling more isolated from others on the course, to the more specific confusions around how to get Blackboard and other pieces of software to work!
As the year progressed, I began to realise that, despite having almost exclusively online learning, there were still a lot of ways I could get involved with the University, and with other students. I started off by joining societies, and as I had an interest in Accessibility and Inclusivity, I sat on various committees as a Disability & Equalities Representative. This was a great way to meet people, and to help to build student communities online, by organising virtual events and participating in campaigns.
It also made me realise the huge variation in student experiences of online learning, and of university as a whole. The switch to remote learning and online assessments has been much easier for some than others. It’s so important that anyone disadvantaged by the new systems, or struggling to adapt to them, is given a voice, and access to the support and resources that can improve their experience.
With this in mind, this year I have started as Chair of the University’s Disability and Accessibility Network, leading the student platform for students with a disability, mental health condition or neurodivergence. This is an exciting opportunity to work with other students, finding ways to amplify their voices and improve their experience.
As well as this, this role – alongside the others I have had in the past year – have (and continue to) offers fantastic opportunities to work with University members of staff, particularly those focussed on improving the student experience. As someone both with a disability and in a representation role for other disabled students, it has been really great to get involved in this type of work, being able to feed back about the different experiences students have had, and looking at ways to resolve the difficulties that come up.
When students are placed in a position where they can speak and be listened to about the problems – and successes – of university learning, powerful changes can be made. For example, last year the Disability & Accessibility Network worked with the University to highlight the gaps in disability accommodations being provided in online assessment formats. As a result, new solutions were found, which have had an important impact across the University to the student assessment process.
Going into second year, I have also started working with the Digital Education Office as a Student Digital Champion, a student role where I can give feedback, work on projects, and create resources alongside the DEO staff members. Although I haven’t been in the role very long, working with the DEO has been a really positive experience: it not only gives students a voice, but also provides a channel through which to collaborate with staff at the University to improve the resources available to students ourselves.
The Student Digital Champions, alongside the DEO, are able to work together to improve the online learning experience for students. As we all have unique experiences of online learning and assessment, we can use these to ensure that the DEO’s priorities are as relevant as possible, and are approached in ways that can make a lasting impact for students.
As a result, I am now not only able to answer the questions I had as a new student facing online learning, but am able to help create these answers myself! At a time when there has been so much change to the university learning experience, this is a great way to ensure that the new systems and ways of learning are positive changes, and I am very pleased – and proud – to play a part in that.
If you would like to find out more about the Disability and Accessibility Network, feel free to visit our SU Network Page: https://www.bristolsu.org.uk/groups/bristol-su-disability-and-accessibility-network, or our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BristolDSN,or join our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bristolsudisabilityandaccessibilitynetwork/.
If you are submitting work to Turnitin through Blackboard, please ensure your Edge or Chrome browsers are up-to-date, or use a non-Chromium browser such as Firefox or Safari. If you don’t, you may find your ‘resubmit’ button doesn’t work.
Knowing how to keep your browsers, software, and apps up to date is a really important digital skill. Often, updates fix known problems, improve security, and give you a better experience. As in this example, sometimes older versions of software experience bugs or problems, which can impact you at important times like when you’re submitting assessments. Most of the time, you’ll find the option to update your software in that software’s settings. If you follow the links in the post above, you’ll see how to do this in Edge and Chrome.
It’s no surprise to anyone that a lack of social interaction has been really difficult for many of us this past year. In our context of university life, this has shone a light into what a social experience learning really is for a lot of us, and what a huge loss there is when suddenly you’re studying alone. Learning together adds motivation, a sense of belonging, a sense that others are in it with you, a way to sense check your own ideas. It’s that intangible magic of feeling like you’re ‘at university’ which is easy to lose online. How can we possibly foster that feeling when we’re all in our own four walls and without the atmosphere of a lecture theatre, library or seminar room?
This year, the DEO have been working with a team of Student Digital Champions, spread across all faculties in the university, to try and find out. They were tasked to listen to students, hear their concerns and bring them to us so that we could foreground that student voice in our work. They didn’t stop there though, once they identified common issues arising in the student experiences of online learning, they wanted to do something about it.
One thing they head from students is just this problem of isolation: students were finding the experience of online learning lonely, and felt that they are missing out on the social aspects of university study. We know that a lot of work has already gone into solutions for this problem across the university. The brilliant Study Skills team ran ‘Study Lounges’ as early as last summer, and we at the DEO worked with them to make a toolkit for these sessions, so that anyone could run them with their students too.
The Student Digital Champions decided they too wanted to do something practical, and worked with staff and students in their schools to develop and pilot a series of toolkits and case studies for different kinds of events and activities aimed to bring students together online. The idea is that staff or students can use these as inspiration and practical help to run a session like these in their own contexts.
All of our Student Digital Champion case studies can be found from the DEO Case Studies page. Here are a few examples which are all focused on increasing a sense of belonging and overcoming student isolation when studying fully online, whether that’s within an online session, at a school level, or as a networking or social event.
Working with the students in this way this year has been incredible for us in the DEO. They’ve been coming up with ideas and suggestions for how to make positive changes, and we’ve been co-creating solutions which are already impacting the current cohort of students. It’s not always been easy, and these aren’t magic bullets, but maybe they’re a step in the right direction?
If you want to try out any of these ideas, why not find a few likeminded people in your school and give it a go. Don’t forgot to let the DEO know how you get on, we’re really interested in hearing from students and staff about whether these suggestions are helping to make a difference.
This blog is a work in progress. It’s being created by the Digital Education Office in collaboration with our Student Digital Champions.
In time we hope it’s a space full of ideas, contributions and tips by students for students on all things digital learning. It’s also a space for the DEO to alert students to news or information on our software.
For all things digital education, contact the DEO via the usual channels, or visit our website bristol.ac.uk/digital-education
Find out more about the Student Digital Champions