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Category Archives: eLearning

Automate, automate, automate

eLearning is pleased (let’s be fair I’m pretty ecstatic) to announce that on Wednesday, 8 February 2017 a new version of the Blackboard Administration for Staff application is being released. We’re very excited about this release as it introduces a lot of new features designed to save everyone a lot of time and provide a better experience for users.

Did you know that our current rollover process goes a little something like this:

  1. Staff member requests a rollover by filling in a rollover form online.
  2. Rollover form details get sent by email to the ITS Service Desk.
  3. ITS Service Desk copy all the details from the email into an Ask IT call and double check things.
  4. The Blackboard Administration team get the Ask IT call and copy the details from there into their Blackboard Administration application, then they do lots of mouse clicks and a little bit of magic (70+ mouse clicks) and finally they let the requester know it’s finished.
  5. Then rinse and repeat at least 1500 times a year.

The new application automates a lot of this process – but don’t worry, if you need help there is still a real person you can call for help.

The new features include:

  • Request your own Blackboard rollovers – if they’re standard ones they’ll finish in 15 minutes rather than 5 days.
  • Register new Blackboard papers – again if it’s a standard request it’ll take 15 minutes.
  • Check the status of your Blackboard paper – easily see when your students are going to get access.
  • Find out how much space your paper takes up on Blackboard.
  • And much more…

Who wants a sneak peek at what things are going to look like? Go on…

Screenshot of the Blackboard Paper Administration Application home page.

On the home page you can see all the Blackboard papers you have access to as well as all your Blackboard requests. From here you can request rollovers, new papers and manage the staff in your papers.

Screenshot of the new paper request screen from the Blackboard Paper Administration application.

This screen shows you how easy it is to request a new Blackboard paper. Find your class lists and select the dates for when your students need access. Click submit and wait 15 minutes. Voila!

Screenshot of the rollover request page in the Blackboard Paper Administration application

This screen shows a rollover request. Simply select the class lists for the new paper and update any of the other details, click submit and off you go.

eLearning received a lot of help from end-users so we’ve been able to work closely with the application developer to make it user friendly and intuitive. Hopefully you’ll find it as easy as we hope you will.

You’ll be able to find information on how to use the new features on the Blackboard help site and within the application itself: Blackboard Help site – Blackboard Paper Administration Application .

Embedding Videos with Unitube

Unitube and Otago Capture both have the ability to have their videos embedded inside other applications or websites. This means the video is still stored on Unitube or Capture but will play through the webpage or application you have embedded it into, and this will not affect the size quota you have on that application or website.  It can be quite a powerful tool in your teaching or research.

One example we’ve seen of this in the past is using Unitube and the Qualtrics Survey tool. At the moment we do not have the ability to add videos to Qualtrics directly.  But following these few steps you can embed them.

  1. Sign up for Qualtrics through ITS. It’s a fantastic survey tool that is free to use at Otago.
  2. Upload the video you wish to use to Unitube 
  3. After the video has been processed copy the embed link
    Where to grab the embed text on Unitube

    Embed Text on Unitube


  4. In your Qualtrics survey:
    1. Add a new question, make that question type Text/Description
    2. Change to HTML view

      Change to the HTML View

      Change to HTML View

    3. In this view paste the embed link from Unitube.
    4. Lock the survey and distribute it.
  5. Check the video works on Qualtrics.

I’ve created this survey using Qualtrics and the University of Otago Theme so you can see how it works for participants.  The survey can be found in this example survey.

If you want to know more about using any of these tools please get in touch.

Blackboard wikis and student group assessments

Wikis are a terrific – and underutilised – tool for enabling students to work collaboratively on projects.

There are two separate wiki systems available to Otago staff.  Otago Wikis is a standalone offering with advanced features, which can be made available to the public.  Blackboard wikis (which I will focus on today) is a more basic system that is available within Blackboard.

Wikis are easy for any coordinator to set up within a Blackboard paper, and offer a powerful resource for allowing groups to build up a large document with contributions from many individuals.

If you assign group projects in your course, wikis represent an effective way for your students to collaborate on the manuscript for a presentation or report.  An additional benefit of wikis in this context is that the input of individuals is tracked, so it is straightforward to gauge and grade not only the final product of the group as a whole, but also the contributions of given members.


To set up a wiki, select the ‘Wikis’ option in the ‘Course Tools’ menu in your Blackboard paper.  Once it is set up and students have built a page, you can investigate the history of that building process using the ‘Participation Summary’ function.  These links are highlighted in the screenshot above.

Within the Participation Summary, select a given user to track and (if desired) evaluate the contributions she has made to the overall project.  This information can be presented in a helpful ‘Page Comparison’ view, as in the example shown below.


Beyond student group assessments, there are many possibilities for incorporating wikis into your teaching praxis.  For example, some lecturers use wikis so their students can contribute to building up an annotated bibliography as the course progresses.  Others use wikis as an ongoing lab journal.

More information on setting up and using Blackboard wikis can be found on our Otago Blackboard helpsite for staff.