An Introduction to Aston’s Digital Environment
Your first step should be to take a look at the Introduction to Aston’s Digital Learning Support Environment guide. This will give you an overview of some of the IT systems that make up Aston’s digital environment. It should help you visualise how the different systems fit together and explain some acronyms that your colleagues are likely to use.
A Module Specification is a collection of information about a module of study. It is the responsibility of the Module Leader to ensure the Module Specification, associated assessment criteria, and the record of the module as it appears in the University Module Database (UMD) are up to date.
If you are taking over a previously run module, this might mean simply updating the module tutor information and changing the assessment dates. However, you should consult with your Program Director and Quality Officer for your school, of which contact details can be found on the Quality team website. Expand the “Who we are” section.
If you require assistance with UMD please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
UMD approval is extremely important. Once you have an approved module descriptor, the SITS record will be updated and you will be added as module leader. An empty reading list template will now be created and automatically integrated into your Blackboard module. The Blackboard module will also be created by the system and you will be automatically given the instructor role, allowing you to access and edit the module to your own requirements.
MAP will also be updated, giving students access the relevant module documentation.
You should now be thinking about populating your Reading List and Blackboard module content.
The universities reading list service is called My Module Reading List; The software behind this is Talis Aspire. You can find out more information and guidance on the LibGuides website.
For training support please contact your Information Specialist.
If are experiencing technical issues such as login problems or you are missing your list in your Blackboard module please contact Caroline Long email@example.com or 4488.
Introduction to Blackboard
Blackboard is Aston’s Virtual Learning Environment.
Log in to Blackboard at vle.aston.ac.uk using your Aston username and password.
On the Welcome page, under the My Courses title, you can see a list of modules available to you. Working on the basis that you have an approved UMD module descriptor you should be able to see any modules that you are teaching in this list. If you are missing modules from this list, please contact the relevant Programme Support Team for your School.
Once you have confirmed that you have access to the required modules you should follow The Blackboard Environment & Content guide. This will give you an overview of the module interface and show you the basics of building your content. If you are familiar with Blackboard already you can skip this step.
Accessibility and Usability
You are reminded that all content you provide for students should be usable and accessible, to those who may have disabilities which affect how they consume online content. It is part of your moral and legislative responsibility to make reasonable adjustment to accommodate these students. For some practical guidance please see:
If you are teaching a module that has previously run you may want to Course Copy content to use as a starting point. It is likely that you will not have access to the previously run version of the Blackboard module, to be able to do this. Please get in touch with the administration team in your school/college to request access. Additionally, even if you are experienced at using Blackboard, if this is your first time Course Copying content at Aston it is suggested that you request support from the team.
There is a general expectation that lectures will be recorded where appropriate. You must decide if your lecture is appropriate to be recorded. When you record a lecture (and indeed when you create any resource) you should be mindful of the content that you are using. Please see the following copyright guidance.
If you decide not to record your lectures or your learning design makes lecture capture irrelevant (Flipped Classroom for example) you might want to create alternative resources for students instead. Often this may take the form of “voice over slide” content. Panopto can also be used to create this sort of content, as can Power Point. You are encouraged to contact the Technology Enhanced Learning Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance and help on creating resources for your students.
If you do decide to record your live lectures, Aston Replay is the name of our lecture capture service; The software behind this is called Panopto. At Aston, Panopto and Aston Replay can be considered as the same thing.
In order to record a lecture you first need to Provision your Blackboard Module to the Aston Replay system. Once that step is complete you can make a Recording in a Pool Teaching Room that will automatically be uploaded to your module, where your students can access it.
For more information on all of the ways that you can create using Aston Replay and guidance on many of the other features available, please take a look at the Aston Replay Help Guide.
There are a number of ways in which you can communicate with your students.
For Office Hour’s bookings, Aston uses WASS.
For more information on WASS please see the IT Services WASS Guide.
It is generally advisable to use a consistent communication method with your students. For one-to-many (full cohort) communications this will normally be the Announcements tool in Blackboard.
Blackboard also has a number of other tools which are suitable for differing types of communication depending upon context. It’s fine and often advisable to use these methods as well, but ultimately you should have one consistent and inclusive method that can always be relied on to have the latest information.
Please see the Communicating Mini Guide guide for more information.
Assessment Regulations, Policies and Guidelines can be found in the A-Z of Academic Regulations, Policy & Procedures.
For guidance on setting up submission points and electronic grading and feedback please take a look at the Assessment Guide.
Make your Module Available
By default, your module will NOT be available to your students until you make it available.
Once you have completed all of the above steps you will need to Make Your Module Available to your students. At the very least your module should be accessible to students on the first day of the relevant term. Ideally, your module should accessible at least 1 week before this.