The staff training on Brightspace began with a full day session on Monday. 10 staff members attended the first day and the plan is to train another 350 staff in the next 5 weeks.
The training is split into two sessions. Session A introduces Brightspace and demonstrates the features and benefits to staff. Session B introduces staff to their own test unit in Brightspace, called a sandbox, where it is possible to try out Brightspace by creating unit structures, adding content, discussions, quizzes etc. The benefit of using a sandbox is that it is an area where staff can become familiar with Brightspace and see which features work best in their environments and the many options for configuring them. Another benefit is that elements from within the sandbox environment can be copied to live units when they become available around August.
During the training we use the analogy of moving house. Moving from myBU to Brightspace is very similar because we have to decide what to take with us.
We can take everything but we can also use the opportunity to see what needs to go. Creating my units in Brightspace has allowed me to reflect on material I created some time ago and, attached to it though I am, it really is not fit for purpose and there are now many better ways to enable students to learn the concepts and ideas contained in my old material. Creating new materials does take time but we hope, by starting the training early, that staff can use the coming months to mould the options and features of Brightspace into units which are very engaging for students and develop, test and expand their learning.
This tranche of training focuses on academic staff who are in the first phase of the Brightspace implementation (all of HSS and some from the other faculties). Once we have completed this tranche, we will then begin training for administrative and professional services staff.
Over time, virtual learning environments (VLEs) become very integrated into the systems and processes of an organisation. We can see this with myBU which has been integrated with a number of third party application such as Turnitin, Talis Aspire etc to provide the range to functionality we require. This tranche of training focuses on the features and functions of the Brightspace application because they are fully working and available to us. Teams from IT, CEL, Library and Learning Support and faculty representatives are working to integrate Brightspace with our existing applications and, because this work is not yet complete, they have been excluded from the scope of the training. We will provide training and support on assessment, grading and the other application in due course.
The training has been going very well so far. It is early days as we have completed only 2 sessions from over 50 so far. One attendee at the first session noted in their evaluation how “Contents and delivery were good and all instructors very nice and helpful.” Overall, the feedback has been positive and we are working to improve the quality and usefulness of the sessions by reviewing each one and taking on board the staff feedback.
We will provide more updates on the training in the coming weeks.
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