Julian Beckton (CERD) has been blogging about the features of 9.1 for a while. The upgrade happening this summer is an opportunity to review how the Library is using Bb, as well as a chance to check for any potential problems / compatibility issues with the change in versions.
So, where does the Library turn up in Blackboard at the moment?
- We have a Bb Library ‘tab’, existing both pre- and post-login, which contains a range of Bb widgets advertising and linking to various Library’s services:
- Library quick links
- Blackwell Online Bookshop
- Off-campus access to University Portal pages
- My Library Account [post-login only]
- How to renew your Library books
- Visiting our Libraries [pre-login only]
- About the Library[post-login only]
- Library Catalogue
- Electronic Journals A-to-Z[post-login only]
- Library Communities
- Library News
- Maths. and Statistics Support Centre
- We’re using Talis Keystone to provide an overview of each Blackboard user’s library borrowing activity. The ‘My Library Account‘ widget (mentioned above) displays a summary of a user’s borrowing, derived—in real time—from their own Horizon account. Future iterations of the same widget will allow users to pay library fines online (imminent!) and to view and interact more detail about their borrowing. There’s also a shorter, ‘My Library Account (Overview)’ widget, which appears on the Blackboard home page tab.
- We also use Blackboard to manage our digitisation (under the CLA Comprehensive HE Licence for photocopying, scanning, and digital copying). Bb’s Content Store [Content Collection? I'm not sure of the terminology] provides a pretty simple file storage tool, with access via the browser or WebDAV folders. It also allows us to set file & folder permissions for student/staff users and for ‘authorised persons’—i.e. Library staff—for individual courses of study (=modules, usually), as specified by the CLA licence. Academic staff are then given the deep-linking URLs for ‘their’ digitised extracts, which they can add to their Bb module Sites. We just use ‘normal’ Bb folders for our digitisation – Blackboard also offers a dedicated ‘eReserves‘ feature, but when we initially configured Blackboard—in 2007/08—we decided not to use it and now I can’t remember why. The Content Store works well enough for managing digitised extracts, although it’s rather labour-intensive. We could really do with a dedicated Digital Asset Management (DAM) tool.
- Reading lists: we pay an annual subscription for a reading list management application called LearnBuild LibraryLink. This comes with its own Blackboard plugin, which generates and associates a reading list (or multiple lists) with a single Bb module Site. I’m going to be talking about reading list management, and our use of LibraryLink, in a separate blog post very soon.
- My colleagues the Academic Subject Librarians are involved with the teaching-and-learning / delivery / ‘subject’ aspect of Blackboard. This involvement can take many forms: training students on the use of Bb at induction; assisting CERD in supporting academic staff use of Bb; maintaining dedicated sections of module Sites and Bb subject ‘communities’ to house links to library resources and help guides; the occasional foray into plagiarism detection using the Turnitin plugin; and developing information-literacy-type materials under the University-wide banner of Learning Development.
- Finally: I’m a SysAdmin for Blackboard, so I occasionally get called upon to assign Site permissions, create page widgets, troubleshoot, etc. This does only happen occasionally, because there are other SysAdmins in CERD and University ICT Services who spend far more time with Bb, and know more about it, than I do.
These six areas are what we’ll need to bear in mind as we plan for Blackboard 9.1. I’ll address each one of them in a future blog post, and I’ll be working with ICT and CERD staff to look at how they might be affected using a test installation of 9.1 – I’ll also take the opportunity to make recommendations about how we might be able to do things better in future.