From Brightspace basics to learning how to migrate: lecturer training has begun
For years Blackboard was the digital hub for courses and programmes at Leiden University, but in September it will be replaced by Brightspace. To help lecturers get to grips with the new system, a whole range of training courses have been made available. Trainer Esther Bliek tells us all about these.
From the next academic year, Brightspace will be the new digital learning environment at Leiden University. ‘After 20 years of Blackboard, the new system will be a big adjustment for the University and many users,’ says Esther Bliek. The faculties have all started using Brightspace, but as with all new systems, it will take some time to get used to. Bliek: ‘The time required can be a challenge for lecturers, so we want to help them as much as possible. For students the proverbial fruit will be hanging that bit lower: they will no longer have to register in two different places for one course.’
Esther Bliek works as a trainer on the Brightspace project team. ‘To try to meet the different needs of lecturers at the different faculties, I have developed a wide range of training courses.’ Although the idea was to provide the training on campus, the rules on working from home have put a paid to that. ‘Despite all the limitations, the enforced acclimatisation to working from home fortunately also offers plenty of options in the area of teaching technology. Digital teaching has become the norm in a short space of time and hopefully technology is seen as more of a useful tool.’
Migration and more
At the moment, all completed courses are being migrated from Blackboard to Brightspace. The Faculty Implementation Teams consult their lecturers to see what they prefer: to do the migration themselves or have the project team do it for them. Anyone wishing to do the migration themselves can receive personal support in the form of an online appointment. There is also a checklist of what to do to make sure that a course is ready for use.
Bliek: ‘Alongside the personal support, we have developed on-demand training materials that lecturers can use to learn more about topics that are relevant to their own course or courses at a pace and time that suits them.’ One example is the Brightspace Online Training, which is available as a course in Brightspace and covers the main features of Brightspace.’ ‘This gives lecturers a good idea of the range of options that Brightspace provides.’
Training and working from home
‘It’s logical that working from home poses an extra challenge for lecturers. With our Brightspace Basics demo training, we hope to introduce them to the basics of the new system.’ The demo training is available as a web lecture, but this online training can also be followed live as a webinar, giving participants the opportunity to ask any questions. ‘This gives lecturers a good idea of the range of options that Brightspace provides.’
‘Lecturers can also ask questions at one of our drop-in sessions. And autodidacts or anyone wanting to know the finer points of the program can always visit the project team’s support page. This is an extensive search engine with descriptions, pdfs and even additional videos grouped by theme. ‘Ideal for anyone who likes to do things in their own way and time. I think that they really do answer any question you may have,’ Bliek laughs.
There’s more in the pipeline, says Bliek. ‘We are going to add theme bites to the training programme. These are sessions that give more opportunity to delve into the functionality or different uses of the system. We are working on this with our colleagues from the Center for Innovation.’
Members of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences may know Esther Bliek as the administrator and coordinator of teaching technology at the Faculty’s SOLO department. She has been following a master’s programme at the University since September and has now joined the Brightspace project team as a trainer. What is it like for a student to train lecturers? ‘During the switch to online teaching, I witnessed the accompanying teething problems, for lecturers and students alike. This made it clear how important it is to have some knowledge of the systems. My main hope is that our efforts will make life easier for lecturers – and I sincerely think they will. But if I’m brutally honest deep down it does feel cool to be able to tell my fellow students that I train lecturers.’