Notes from the Scandinavian User Group in Newcastle 2019

Blog Post created by js0056397 on Jul 8, 2019

About Ultra

A group assignment to discuss various aspects of Ultra adoption.

Which methods and criteria can help you determine if Ultra is ready for your institution?

Group 1

  • Hard to define criteria. Need to check the needs of the faculties and see if it matches what is available in Learn. Surveys that asks faculty what they are actually using.

Group 2

  • Who makes the decision? Assessment of the teachers is very important/crucial. How to ensure you get this info? Pilot project with lots of communication with the teachers. Maybe a reference group? Need to create feature parity.
  • An Ultra evaluation should originate from that parity list and focus on a course level. It's important to do the evaluation thoroughly and not haste.

Group 3

Information level - knowing as much as possible about what the systems contain, and the gaps. Then evaluate how important the gaps are for the institution. Need info from Blackboard, but also about usage locally - f.ex. from Eesysoft (which tools are adopted broadly, and which are not?). What are the dealbreakers in these gaps? Roadmaps also very useful for evaluation: long term roadmap with some uncertainty is better than short term with certainty, for this purpose.

Group 4

  • Difficulties comparing Learn & Ultra: features that do the same have different names - which are which? And for features that are called the same, what do they actually support compared to each other? It would be useful to get help from Blackboard to understand how to apply the methods we use in Learn, in Ultra. F.ex. wiki - how to use that method/get the same result with other functionality in Ultra? Focus on the outcome that we need to achieve and then map how you would do that in Original versus Ultra.
  • Ease of use: stripping functions to make it easy is counterproductive. How to satisfy the savvy users with a simplified LMS? How about this idea: Simple and powerful - rich settings for functions (f.ex. like assignments in Learn), but machine learning shows you the settings you use a lot and hides the rest.

Group 5

  • Decision to go to SaaS is also hard to evaluate. Evaluate building blocks support and LTI support both for SaaS and Ultra.
  • Compare functionality.
  • Training for all levels of users.
  • During implementation: ramp up support - consider it like a new LMS, and needs to be treated that way.
  • Evaluate if the organization/team who runs the LMS is ready for the change in practice and daily management that SaaS requires: monthly updates vs. twice a year/less. Is it more work, or different work? How can we organize our team so we can handle this change?
  • 3rd party roles vs. onboard functions - often a trade-off. How to evaluate this difference? What is the strategy in the institutions and at Blackboard? How will Blackboard and 3rd party tools deal with the fact that institutions weight these decisions differently?

Which features do you require of an LMS, and which priority do they have?

Must have, should have, could have?

Group 1

  • Big online tests w/ many types of questions
  • Guest access / read access
  • Letter grades - not points (qualitative, non-points-based grading)
  • Grading scheme - more than 1
  • Groups with self-enrollment
  • Anonymous grading
  • Peer review
  • Portfolio
  • Signup sheets/registration sheet

Group 2

  • Group management and use etc.
  • Administrative efficiency with for instance multi-level enrollments
  • Peer Review
  • Qualitative grading and criteria - not calculated, not points based.
  • Must have tools for student active learning

Group 3-5


Ally implementation @Lund

Magnus from Lund told us about the experiences at Lund with using Ally.

It was clear to them that OCR is not enough - proper tagging is required as well. It is usually a manual process, best quality if done in Word. It is a quite a bit of work, but valuable to all students.
Legal obligations: is it enough? If we cannot provide the perfect documents, we need to provide alternative formats. Legally speaking, this keeps you covered.
Do you know which alternative formats students prefer? Students with disabilities choose either Word/openLibre, or mp3. Tagged PDF and HTML seems to be the most popular in the EU region.

BBUG going forward

The Swedish universities would like to continue meeting often and it was agreed that other Nordic institutions should be invited as well. A suggestion was a consious plan to combine Swedish-speaking meetings and English-speaking ones.