2017 New Year – back to VITAL!

A slightly belated Happy New Year to everyone and in this truly chilly January we hope this post will help defrost VITAL for you, ready for the new term. We’ve put together a checklist with follow-on links and resources on:

  1. Finding a missing VITAL module
  2. Course copy (copying module content from previous/other modules)
  3. The VITAL Baseline
  4. E-submission and e-marking support
  5. Was there anything new in VITAL this year?
  6. Known Issues and Bugs
  7. More help and training for VITAL

1. I can’t see my module in VITAL! Where is it?

If you log in to VITAL and cannot find the module(s) on which you are teaching this coming year in your module list then for most standard taught modules click here for a checklist on how to resolve this problem.

2. How do I copy content over from another module?

The easiest way to copy the bulk of your content from another module (e.g. last year’s version) is to use the Course Copy facility. You need to be at the Instructor level on both the source and destination modules. Here is the latest version of our guide to the course copy process. The screenshot here shows you where to locate this facility on the Control Panel menu. Once on the course copy page do use the Browse button to find the Destination Course ID and do not  select the Include Enrolments in the Copy option (at the bottom of the copy page). There are also some useful tools and tips on course copy below this screenshot.

Course copy – useful Link-checker tool. See all of the weblinks in the copied module content on one page and check whether any are broken so that these can be hidden and/or fixed. Access this from the module’s Control Panel in the Course Tools section. When you click the Link Checker link the tool will start the checking process so there may be a few seconds until the results display.

Course copy – Date-manager tool. See all of the due dates, availability dates and date adaptive release rules for the copied module content on one page and adjust these for the new academic term (also useful if you need to make changes to the schedule of a module during term-time). Again, access this from the Control Panel in the Course Tools section. Click the Date Management link here. Select the List all Dates for Review option at the start of the process to see and adjust dates individually. 

Course copy – Tidy up modules. Course Copy is also an opportunity to think about tidying up modules. For example, does every content area from the older module still need to be copied over? You can specify which sections you want copying and which to leave (and you can always come back and copy individual sections over if it turns out you need them after all). Thinking about the VITAL Baseline, are the sections you have copied over organised in a structure that is easy to navigate for your students and are folders, content areas and files clearly labelled? The VITAL Baseline guide below offers some advice on doing this. A word of caution though, there is no Undo facility in VITAL and if you delete anything it cannot currently be recovered.

Course copy – Video content. Something else to think about is any video content uploaded directly to your module. Firstly, please do not upload any further video content to VITAL modules, it is too large and the way that VITAL works means that students have first to download it before they can view it which can be highly problematic. Instead, where you own the copyright to the video then use the University’s streaming media service to host and to stream the videos. If the video is hosted on another streaming site (YouTube for instance) you can embed it in your VITAL module. For material broadcast on UK television you can use the Box of Broadcasts service and stream full programmes and extracts from here. For video that does not fall into these categories then please contact the eLearning Unit for help. Then for video content that is already in the module please have a chat with CSD technical team about moving your video content out of VITAL and storing and streaming it elsewhere. For advice on copyright of video please see this library guidance site.

Copyright – scanned journal articles/book extracts. One more thing to check for is the copyright status of materials in your module, in particular what to do about journal articles and extracts from books which you have scanned/have previously been scanned from a hard copy and then uploaded to VITAL. If you do have items like this and they have not been uploaded by following the CLA clearing process detailed here (click on the ‘Procedures for VITAL’ section) you need to ensure that these items comply. You can make things easier by using the library’s new digitisation service and offering the resource through Reading Lists @ Liverpool (click the ‘Digitisation Service’ link on the same page). Your liaison librarian can help you with this.

3. What’s the VITAL Baseline again?

Once course copy is completed, check that the module will meet the VITAL Baseline. The Module Overview page link and the Exam Resources section now appear by default in your module menu. You will still need to manually add a link to any Reading Lists @ Liverpool list you have set up for a module. This quick guide to the six elements of the Baseline shows you how to add this link and for you to check your module meets all six elements. There is also a module in VITAL on which you are enrolled ‘VITAL Baseline and guidance’ which takes you through the Baseline in more detail.

You’ll notice another default section in your module called ‘Stream Lectures’. If you are using Stream Capture to record Orbit-timetabled lectures then this is the section of your module where the recordings appear automatically. If you are not then this section will not appear to students (as does any empty module section).

4. What help is available for e-submission and e-marking?

The e-submission project has a regularly-updated project page here which contains some details on how it is managed and what work is going on at the Institutional level to facilitate the e-submission policy. You will also find a list of school/departmental contacts who you can contact about local implementation and approaches. If you would like to attend a workshop where you can find out how to use the tools supported centrally, their uses, limits and feedback contexts then we run monthly e-submission and e-marking days looking at Turnitin and Blackboard Assignment tools (dates below). In the VITAL Baseline and Support module you will also find a section on e-submission and e-feedback tools and workflows, current recommendations and so on. We will also be moving to a new-look Turnitin GradeMark called Feedback Studio and will be running sessions on this in the summer and into the new academic year, as well as providing online support materials. The eLearning Unit will help your school or department plan your approach to e-submission and e-marking, run training sessions for your staff and offer ‘phone and email helpdesk support.

E-submission days.

We run three sessions on one of our e-submission ‘days’. The titles and times they run are:

  • An introduction to e-submission (09:30 – 10:30)
  • The Turnitin Assignment tool for e-submission and GradeMark for feedback (11:00 – 13:00)
  • The Blackboard Assignment Tool For e-submission and feedback (14:00 – 16:00)

And the dates they are running this year are:

  • Weds 22nd Feb
  • Weds 15th March
  • Weds 26th April
  • Weds 14th June

You can book onto any of them at the CLL booking page here.

We also have a set of student guides and videos on submitting work and accessing feedback which are held on this page and which you are welcome to adapt for your own use (please note these pages are currently being redeveloped).

5. Was there anything new in VITAL this year?

No major additions to the toolset were made in the summer upgrade, which was mostly focussed on bug fixes and improvements to the hardware running our installation of VITAL. The Retention Centre was restored and the Self and Peer Assessment tool is now working fully. There were some important new features added to VITAL in the December 2014 upgrade, including a student preview mode,  anonymous marking for Blackboard assignments and delegated marking for Blackboard assignments which allows double marking and moderation of Blackboard Assignments (this does not apply to Turnitin assignments).

From previous upgrades to Turnitin there were a couple of useful enhancements, most importantly the file size limit for student assignments has doubled to 40 MB. You can also directly email late-submitting students from the assignment’s Turnitin classlist.

6. Any problems you can tell me about now?

There is a regularly-updated Known Issues page here which also covers Turnitin and Campus Pack problems. Some of the main current problems are:

  • Tracking statistics reports do not include Mobile app access of modules.
  • Bringing forward the post date of a Turnitin assignment marked with GradeMark  appears to make any final grades entered go missing (in fact they re-appear later on but this is alarming to see).

If you encounter a problem with VITAL which is not listed on the Known Issues page please do report this to the CSD ServiceDesk.

7. Where can I get some more help, training or online resources for VITAL?

Workshops. We’ve just run our 2017 Winter School and are now in the process of scheduling in workshops for the rest of the year. As well our Summer School (7th – 16th June) we’ll be organising a new ‘mini’ Easter School, and yes there will be chocolate eggs. Our e-submission and e-marking days run every month and are all bookable from the CLL booking page here (and see above). If you want a session running for your school or department then please contact us to arrange this as soon as possible.

VITAL Help Module.  All staff are enrolled on the module VITAL Baseline and guidance which has support sections for:

  • how to meet the Baseline standard (and get a basic introduction to VITAL)
  • e-submission and e-marking
  • lecture capture and screencasting

If you come on one of our workshops you will also be enrolled on our workshop resources module which contains further guides, examples, case studies, research and more on the specific sessions that you attend.

Guides. VITAL Self Service has searchable FAQs and Known Issues as well as some useful administrative tools for working with VITAL.This A-Z guides page has functional help on setting up and using the toolset in VITAL. If you don’t see the guide you need just ask us and we’ll find something for you!

Email and ‘phone support. Contact us for advice and help. We also run a bookable Studio Wednesday drop-in.

Is there anyone else out there I can talk to?

As well as the eLearning Unit (we’ll help with how you can use these technologies for your learning and teaching) and CSD Servicedesk (who will deal with all student queries and all technical problems like enrolments, error messages and so on) if you want help with the Reading Lists @ Liverpool tool or digital copyright then please contact your liaison librarian. There is also a University mailing list for people interested in learning technology where you can ask questions and get updates on what is happening with learning technologies around the institution, find out dates of upcoming workshops and e-learning network meetings and other similar groups around the University; get in touch with the eLearning Unit if you want to join.

Dan

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