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Start of learning activities in Blackboard

After focusing on the technical implementation of Blackboard at Health during the past year, attention is now switching to utilising the educational and teaching aspects of the system in online learning.

Teaching staff at Health will now begin to experiment with online learning.
Teaching staff at Health will now begin to experiment with online learning.

The implementation of Blackboard at Health has so far focused on the IT-aspects and getting the different systems to communicate with one another, as well as teaching employees about its basic functions. Focus is now switching to the educational opportunities that the system contains – which were the whole rationale for introducing it in the first place.

"At the moment teaching staff are primarily using Blackboard to share information like they did when using AULA. Now we will begin to teach them about the more advanced ways in which Blackboard can be used to optimise teaching. This can be via flipped learning, which is when the lecture takes place between the lessons and the time spent with the students is instead used for reflection and discussion," says Janne Saltoft Hansen, project manager at the Centre for Health Sciences Education (CESU) and the person responsible for the implementation of Blackboard at Health.

Initially the more advanced courses will be aimed at the permanently tenured lecturers so as to utilise resources in the best possible way. In the long term, part-time members of the academic staff will also be included.

Teaching must be rethought

Video, podcast, blog, wiki and tests are just some of the tools that lecturers can make use of.

"Redesigning a course to make it suitable for online learning is obviously a challenge that requires a lot of time to begin with. On the other hand, you reap the rewards later, because you can utilise lessons more effectively. For example, students can have heard a lecture at home and already sent questions to the lecturer or have completed a test, so the lecturer is aware of the challenges they face before the lecture starts," says Janne Saltoft Hansen.

Several departments are now starting pilot projects to gather their first experiences, which can also act as inspiration for others. Beginning in the autumn, CESU will offer courses in the more advanced functions in Blackboard. Health's Blackboard team will also draw on the experience gained at the University of Southern Denmark, where Blackboard has been used for the past decade.

Superusers help Health get started

Around 4,000 students at Health have switched over to Blackboard during the recent year, while 400 employees have been on courses and 25 superusers at the departments have been trained to provide help for their colleagues. And despite bumps along the way, the new platform has generally been well received.

"We have succeeded in getting the great majority of employees to start using the system, not least thanks to the superusers. There are still technical aspects that can be improved and we will continue working on these. We have an on-going dialogue with both students and staff about the improvements they wish to see," says Janne Saltoft Hansen.

Important to hear what the students think

The students will come to play a bigger role in connection with the future use of Blackboard. A student from the Medicine Students’ Council is now part of the steering committee for Blackboard at Health, while Blackboard is also being discussed in a new user panel with representatives from student associations and the administration centre at Health. 

"To begin with we focused on the employees as their competences form the basis of the students' use of Blackboard. But now we can also include the students, so we can take action on the basis of their user experience and wishes, also in relation to pedagogical wishes," says Janne Saltoft.

By 2017 all faculties must have an action plan for the teaching elements that can be rethought with the aid of Blackboard. The initiative is part of AU's development contract, which has modern and relevant courses as one of the goals for creating better quality in the study programmes.

See when CESU is holding the next Blackboard courses (link in Danish only)

Yderligere oplysninger

Projektleder for Blackboard på Health Janne Saltoft Hansen
Aarhus Universitet, Center for Medicinsk Uddannelse
Direkte telefon: 8620 5230
Mobil: 2184 4530