Communicating with students – Announcements.  

Use Announcements in Blackboard to inform students of the adaptions you are making and ensure the module information is updated accordingly.  

  • Take a coordinated programme approach on how to schedule and deliver announcements across current modules.  
  • Consider a programme naming convention for the titles of important announcements. You might also want to commit to posting important announcements at specific times of the day.  
  • Remember that the Email Announcement option will send the announcement to the unimail address for all students. All staff on a module will get a copy too.  
  • Remind students that they can access previous announcements via the News menu item.  

Please view the Blackboard guide on announcements for more information. 

Delivering lectures 

Record all lectures via Panopto, notifying students when new material is available. 

You should record any scheduled lectures using Panopto.  This can be done using the Panopto recorder on your desktop or laptop computer, or from any of our learning spaces. 

If you don’t already have the Panopto recorder on your University managed computer you can download this from Software Centre.  You can download the Panopto recorder onto a personal computer too. 

Recording Guide for PC and Recording guide for Mac 

We would recommend that these are pre-recorded and are shared with students at or before the time of their scheduled lecture. Notify students through announcements in Blackboard when the recording is available. Additionally, continue to share your slide deck in the Study Materials.  

If you are confident with the technology, it is also possible to live stream a session through Panopto. In this scenario, your students would access your lecture as you are presenting. There will be a 30-45 second delay for students viewing the live stream but it will enable you to answer any questions that students may raise through Panopto during the session.    

Give students the opportunities to ask questions about their recorded lectures. This can be facilitated through a dedicated discussion board in Blackboard, Padlet notice board or existing Teams site. 

Webinars & Office Hours 

Host Webinars where students can participate remotely. These can be used for tutorials or office hours. Students will need to be informed of expectations on participation. 

webinar is designed to replicate the classroom experience. Students will participate remotely and simultaneously. Try and incorporate a weekly webinar.  

  • For a successful webinar, consider the following;  
  • Communicate expectations to students, 
  • If you are unfamiliar with Collaborate Ultra, practice with the technology and ensure your audio and microphone are working correctly, 
  • Prepare your slides and plan how to manage the session 
  • Record the session, so that absent participants can view the content later 

A comprehensive set of tips and advice on running a webinar is available through the Digital Practice Handbook.  

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is the University webinar technology and is available in Blackboard. You can also invite users external to the University to participate.  

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra can also be utilised for conducting 1-2-1 Office hours or personal academic tutoring. 

For full details on how to setup a Collaborate Ultra webinar, please view our Collaborate guidance. 

Student and Staff interactions 

Setup a Discussion board, Padlet notice board (linked in Blackboard) or use an existing MS Teams site to facilitate student and staff interactions 

Use an asynchronous communication method whereby you and your students can interact together. You might want to use it for the following tasks; 

Q&A around general questions about the module delivery.  

Set formative assessments. Use a discussion to get students to think critically about lectures or coursework and encourage students to interact with each others’ ideas 

Promote peer support. 

Here are four general steps to developing successful online discussions to help build engagement and complete tasks.  

  1. Define participation requirements.Share your expectations. 
    • This could include your response time and general etiquette. Model proper online interaction and reinforce appropriate behaviour with public recognition.
  2. Craft an effective question. 
    • Incorporate multimedia resources into your questions to reduce the monotony of purely text-based interactions. Use a lecture recording, Box of Broadcasts or YouTube video, to ask students to view a clip and ask for responses. 
  3. Encourage new ideas. 
    • If discussion posts contain too much agreement and not enough questioning of ideas, assign students with the last names A-M to support one side and N-Z to support the other. 
  4. Moderate. 
    • Establish your presence. Ask for clarification, resources, or input from silent participants. 

There are several digital technologies that you can use;  

Option 1 – Blackboard Discussion Board 

You would need to create a new Blackboard discussion board and add it the left menu. Set clear expectations on the use of the discussion board.  

As a tutor on the module, you own the discussions. After you start a discussion, you can post your own comments to guide and encourage the student, as well as providing feedback.  

The main discussion board page displays a list of forums. A forum is where participants discuss a topic or a group of related topics. Within each forum, users can create multiple threads. A thread includes the initial post and all replies to it. You can create forums and threads to organize discussions into units or topics relevant to your course. 

Discussions appear sequentially so all course members can follow the conversation. 

Please view the Blackboard guide on discussions for more information. 

Option 2 – Padlet 

Padlet is an online notice board, where users can post ‘notes’ which can include text, images, audio, video and web links. Users can ‘like’ and comment on the notes. 

This is an external service and the University subscribes to an institutional account. Please ensure you use the University of Derby Padlet service rather than the open and free version.  

Create a Padlet board, and be mindful of the ‘People and privacy’ settings. The ‘secret’ option works for most teaching scenarios.  

Once created, it is advisable to link to or embed the Padlet within your module in Blackboard.  

Please view the Padlet guide for full guidance. 

Option 3 – Microsoft Teams 

Microsoft Teams is available through the University Office 365 account. Utilise an existing team for communication.  

Adhere to the University Microsoft Team usage policy. Ensure that you have multiple Team owners and are aware that unlike Blackboard, enrolment is manual. You need to ensure that all students have access and be mindful that students can leave the Team.