Digi Know: Adding Twitter feed to Blackboard

Are you interested in using Twitter in your teaching, may be encouraging students to collate useful resources under a hashtag, or just share your own twitter feed? For more ideas of how to use Twitter in your teaching check out TEL me more about…Twitter

Academics often have concerns about using Twitter as part of their teaching, as they don’t want to exclude their students that might not be signed up to the service.  However, it’s possible to add a Twitter feed into your module page in Course Resources, meaning all students will be able to have access to and follow the current tweets.

For help making a Twitter feed available in your module, see this guide: Adding a Twitter feed to Course Resources

Digi Know: Group Spaces in Course Resources

Did you know that Course Resources has a range of tools available that can support student group work?

Using the Groups facility in Course Resources means that you can randomly assign students to a group, or specifically add students to groups for practicals/tutorial work or for group projects. The group space then gives that group of students a private group area to collaborate in.

The Blackboard Groups can be set up either as a single one off-group (this may be for a special project), or you can create multiple groups using the Group Set option (this might be useful if setting a group assignment for the whole class).

create_groupsUnder these two types you then have the option to manually enrol the students, students can self-sign up to a group depending on a topic/interest/friends, or for group sets you can set Blackboard to randomly assign the groups for you.

Group tools

groupsOnce the students are allocated to groups, they can have access to a range of tools (you decide the tools they need access to), and these are accessed through a new link called My Groups that appears under the left hand menu. This is only visible to people allocated to a group, so as a staff member you won’t see this.

The tools they have access to include blogs, discussion boards, email, a file area, tasks and wikis.  All of these tools can be accessed by everyone in their group, and any staff enrolled as Instructors on the module.

Students can begin to use this space to record discussions that have taken place in group meetings, any actions that are assigned, and upload documents. All documents, discussion board posts and blog entries are time stamped, so can be used to help the students track and monitor group project work.

Group Assignments

Once a group has been created, you can then create a group assignment.  This will only work with the Blackboard assignment tool, (not Turnitin), but once created, one member of the group will submit the assignment on behalf of all the group members.  This means that when they then give feedback on that once piece of work, all group members will receive it. Blackboard help pages provide more information on Group Assignments.

The Blog and Wiki tools can also be setup as a group assignment meaning grades/feedback can allocated to any work done in the area.

Releasing specific material to different groups

Once your groups have been created and students assigned, you can use another Blackboard tool called “Adaptive Release” to make different content available to various groups. This could be useful when creating you’re setting up some classroom debates or activities and want to provide the different groups with different information to prepare for the session.

Further help

For support on using the Groups Spaces, see Blackboard’s help guides on Users and Groups.

If you would like to investigate using groups in your own Blackboard modules and have more questions, then you can contact the Learning Technologists on tel@derby.ac.uk or call us on x1865

Appy Monday – Wunderlist

Banner showing Digital Derby and Appy Monday: Exploring mobile apps for learning and teaching

What is Wunderlist?

Wunderlist is a task management and organisation tool, available on the web and as an app.

What can it do?

  • Enables you to areate a series of to-do lists to help organise your learning tasks.
  • Reminders can be set for tasks that need to be completed soon.
  • Lists can be shared with others and use the comments feature to communicate about shared tasks.
  • Lists can be accessed across your different devices (e.g. on smartphone, tablet and computer).
  • Lists can be printed.

Download it now

Download for a range of devices from the Wunderlist site

How could it be used for learning, teaching and assessment?

  • Introduce students to this as a tool to help with group project management
  • Introduce students to this tool to help them manage their own workload

Short task:

  1. Sign up to Wunderlist
  2. Create a new “to do”
  3. Add a reminder to this “to do”
  4. Create a new list
  5. Move your “to do” to the new list
  6. Share your new list with someone

Important note

Before using any mobile application or online service please check the terms and conditions to ensure you are aware of the implications of using the service. In particular, look out for items covering data security, ownership of content and public/private sharing options.

Further support

If you would like further support to get an idea of how you could use Wunderlist within learning and teaching, please contact the Technology Enhanced Learning team on tel@derby.ac.uk or ext 1865.

Useful resources

TEL Me More – June 2016

June’s TEL Me More event was a fairly informal session with the Learning Technology Advisors talking through some of the technologies they’d worked with over the last year and sharing ideas with the attendees.

Some of the things looked at included Augmented Reality (Aurasma), which had formed part of a student assignment over the last semester.  Student’s had been asked to create posters with accompanying videos that could be accessed through the images on the poster that were the Aurasma triggers.

The TEL team have recently purchased a Swivl robot for testing, which is a small device that a tablet/mobile device can be placed in, and then linked with a microphone that a speaker/lecturer will wear. The tablet/mobile device can be set to record, and as the speaker moves around with the microphone, the small robot turns to face them, meaning they can walk and present and still be captured on video.

Using a mobile virtual reality headset, the team showed the attendees a 360° video and discussed how this technology could be used in psychology to place students within simulated scenarios and the ethical implications which this raises.

Digi know: Organising content with folders in Course Resources (Blackboard)

Image from: Quinn Dombrowski shared under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

Image from: Quinn Dombrowski
shared under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

All content in Blackboard can be organised through folders, just like on your computer.

Folders can be used to organise content by week or topic – depending on how you want to present your course and what types of material you are making available to support the students.

Once the folder has been created, you have a new Content Area to begin adding all your normal resources, links and assignments.

Organise by topic

If you have a variety of content for a specific topic area; such as PowerPoint slides, lecture recordings (Panopto), screencasts, extra reading, web links (this list could go on for a while), you could break your course down into those individual topic areas and make all these topic-related resources available under that one folder. This means that when a student is looking to revise a specific area, they know they can find all the support material in once place.

Organise by week

You might decide that organising weekly would make more sense to your teaching structure, this might be because you have weekly tasks or tests. If organising this way, it’s worth adding descriptions to your folders reminding students what was covered under each week.

Creating folders

Creating folders is easy, full instructions for adding content (including folders) can be found on the Blackboard help pages.

Limiting availability

Once folders have been created, you can limit availability based on time (i.e. create now, make available to students later), or on membership (i.e. make available to a specific users or groups). More information on limiting availability using adaptive release is available on the Blackboard help pages


TEL Me More about…PebblePad

At April’s TEL Me More session, Kevin talked to us about student’s creating webpages using Wix for one of their assignment. The idea of the assignment was to encourage students to apply the knowledge they had learned in their neuropsychology module and then write guidance and information for a specific audience on a disorder, for example a carer, a relative of a sufferer, an A-Level Student, or an expert in the field of neuropsychology.

Student’s are used to being asked to write essays and reports, but this allows them to be more creative and think about the type of language needed for their audience, the layout of the information and the type of information they’d include. Although this assignment was looking at neuropsychological disorders, it could be used for almost any discipline, where an “expert” is asked to interpret specialist information for a member of the public.

Although the overall lay out and presentation of the work is very important, the students are not marked on their web design skills, but on the content of the website, ensuring they have included theories, critical evaluated treatments available, used language their target audience would understand etc. These are all very relevant work-place skills, but drawing on the students academic knowledge.

Kevin was exploring the use of Wix, a free website building tool as it’s something he used himself, students were also given the option of using the Blackboard in-house wikis. However, there are other tools available, for example we are currently trialing the latest version of PebblePad and will be making this more widely available across the university from September 2016.

Some of the key features of PebblePad that could be applied to this type of assignment include the creation of portfolios.  As with Wix students can add multimedia, such as video, images and audio.  These can be made be public and shared with anyone who has the link.  As PebblePad is an internal system students can submit their work to lecturers and lecturers are able to archive students submissions so that they always have a copy of the students work to refer to in the future.

Other features of PebblePad include a blogging tool, templates and workbooks that can be created for students to complete.  Students can also request for a free Alumni account that permits students to continue using PebblePad once they have graduated the University and ‘take with them’ any work that they have created whilst at University.

If you’re interested in exploring these types of assessment further, then contact the TEL team on tel@derby.ac.uk

Digi know: Compressing images to reduce file size

Keep file sizes down for Microsoft Office Word and Powerpoint if using a lot of images. Particularly important if you need to email or upload the file, and great advice to pass onto students submitting assignments through TurnItIn.

  • Click on one of the images in your document
  • Under Picture Tools, Format, click on Compress Pictures

Compressing images

  • You have the option to apply only to this picture – to apply to all pictures untick this box

Applying compression







Digi Know: Adding images in Course Resources

Adding images to the pages in your Course Resources module can make it more appealing, can be used to illustrate or explain a complex point or can help theme your content. Whatever your reasons for wanting to add images, it’s easy to do!

Selecting an image

Finding the right image can be difficult, and you need to ensure you have permission to use that image – even if you’re adding it to a password-protected page such as Course Resources. The library offers some helpful advice on finding and citing images.

Resizing the image

Often images we retrieve from the internet can be quite large, and Course Resources doesn’t automatically resize them. This short guide from Microsoft shows how to resize them using Paint (which should be available on all Windows computers).

Adding the image

When adding a content item in Course Resources, select the Insert/Edit image button in the content editor.

Image to show how to add images to Course Resources

A new browser window will open, select Browse My Computer to locate the file, then enter an image title and description.

screenshot to show the screen for uploading images in course resources

Accessibility – ALT text

The description is for the benefit of visually impaired users who rely on assistive technology such as screen readers. Therefore an accurate description of the image that will provide an equivelent experience for visually impaired readers is needed.

If the image is purely decorate, then a description is not needed. For examples of when to use alternative text see the RNIB Accessibility guidelines for alt text.

Digi know: Creating marking criteria (rubrics) in Turnitin

Rubrics and marking grids in Turnitin can be used for evaluating student work based on a set criteria, enabling consistent marking across teams.

Benefits of using rubrics includes:

  • Help students understand what is required for an assignment, see why they’ve received a particular grade and understand what would be required to reach a high grade bracket
  • As well as being reusable across various assignments, they can be quickly customised for different assignments
  • They can be shared with colleagues

The two main types of rubrics used are:

Qualitative Rubric: Allows you to create a rubric that has no numeric scoring; this rubric allows you to provide standard feedback. Grade boundaries are added across the top (scale), and criteria such as Introduction, Critical Evaluation, References are added down the left hand side (criterion), and description of what is needed to achieve a grade boundary for each criteria is added to the cells.

When marking, you then highlight the relevant cell/description for each criteria to help guide the overall final grade.

Rubrics in Turnitin

Example of a Qualitative rubric in Turnitin

Grading Form: Allows you to create a set of pre-defined criteria, and then when marking you can add your own feedback under each heading.

Turnitin Grading Form

Example of a grading form in Turnitin

For more information of Turnitin rubrics and grading forms see:

or contact tel@derby.ac.uk to discuss your own rubric needs.

TEL Me More – April 2016

April’s TEL Me More had a couple of interesting sessions looking at simple website creation and producing instructional lab videos.

Firstly we had Kevin Silber from Psychology talking through the last assignment his final year student’s would complete.  The students are asked to produce a website to communicate information about a neuropsychological disorder, with the key focus being on targeting the information at a specific audience, which could be relatives of the sufferer, an A-Level Student, and Expert in the field, a carer etc. In the past Kevin had asked his students to create the website using a wiki tool that is no longer available, and felt it would be good to give the students the opportunity to create a website instead. The system he used is called wix but there are other free website spaces available as well. The students have to take into account their use of language, the types of references they refer to and the usability of their site.

Kevin gives the students an introduction to Wix to his students, making them familiar with the site and it’s capabilities, he provides example websites for the students to refer to and he’s also building his own resources that will support the students within the Wix environment. Although Kevin has only been using Wix this semester, he’s been running this assignment style for a while and the students have enjoyed it, and writing in a non-academic context is a practical, useful skill the students can take away at the end of their degree.

Sam Drake from Forensics has created a batch of videos for students on how to use the equipment and carry out specific experiments within the labs. These videos could be accessed prior to the lab session, or during the lab session on machines set up in the dry area of the lab. The videos meant that students were able to support and help themselves if they had basic questions about the experiments leaving the staff to assist in more complex queries.