Important information on eLearning.
08 Aug 2008
The closure of WebCT is ‘virtually’ here.
As many colleagues will be aware, the University has been in the process of upgrading its virtual learning environment (VLE) from WebCT to Blackboard.
There has been significant communication about the closure date for WebCT, which is 19 September 2008. This message is aimed at reinforcing this important date along with providing all staff with information relating to Blackboard to ensure we have a smooth transition from one system to the next at the turn of the academic year.
Information and support for students
A number of methods of communicating the change of VLE interface to students are being used.
A student support website is being finalised at:
which contains a range of information on how to access Blackboard, getting technical help and a number of short videos on using the software.
A Student Guide to Blackboard (PDF) has also been developed and is available on the student support site. This document has also been widely disseminated to staff working with students. Additionally, a message about the change of VLE has been added to the front page of StudentNet and the direct link to WebCT has now been changed to take students to the Portal; the preferred route for students to login to Blackboard.
The IT Helpdesk staff are well informed of the change of VLE and how to support students who have difficulties with accessing the VLE.
School staff are asked to ensure that they communicate with students on which of their units have a Blackboard module and on specific requirements for using the VLE for academic work.
Information for staff
Until such time as there is a staff portal, colleagues can access the VLE by going to:
and entering their University username and password. You will find a number of courses that you can self-enrol on which are designed to help you become familiar with the software.
There is also an extensive support site containing a wealth of materials, including video interviews with academic staff who have been using Blackboard and guides on how to do particular key activities. Through that website you can also join the Blackboard mailing list which will help to keep you informed of important operational issues and newsand help to ensure we have good lines of communication around this important system.
The Teaching and Learning Support office has been working with Associate Deans for Teaching and Learning and others to ensure that existing policies for teaching, learning and assessment take account of eLearning. Further details of this work will be made available shortly to help assist colleagues in managing the growth in the use of learning technologies in teaching and learning.
Training and support
Over the last year a significant amount of training has been provided to pilot users and then more widely to the whole academic community. In excess of 600 people have received training to date and further sessions are available on an ongoing basis. If you would like to find out further information about the training sessions please visit:
In addition to centrally provided courses Faculties are also providing drop-in sessions and support for academic staff in developing level 1 courses, migrating courses from WebCT and developing interactive learning materials. For further details, please contact your eLearning team at:
So from the 2008/09 academic year, Blackboard is here, available to every member of staff and waiting to be used so why not log-on, explore what it can do and talk to your eLearning team about using it in your teaching and learning.