Supporting and delivering teaching with USW's digital tools

There are many digital tools available to you to support all teaching and learning at USW. Unilearn is the umbrella term used for our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that incorporates the core learning systems at USW including: Blackboard, Panopto, Turnitin, and Vevox. Because you will access most of these tools through Blackboard, you may hear colleagues refer to this set of tools as Blackboard, as Unilearn, or by their individual names. You may also use Office365 for teaching and learning. These digital technologies combined will help you support and deliver all teaching, learning and assessment at USW. You can find out more about these tools below.

Blackboard is the primary virtual learning environment (VLE) at USW. Each module and course has a Blackboard area where you can provide content, information, activities, assessments and feedback as necessary. Make sure you can see all the modules and courses that you expect on you’re my Modules and My Organisations tabs in Blackboard. If you can't see or access all your modules please contact the course/module leader and ask them to add you as soon as possible. 

The baseline requirements for the VLE sets out the absolute minimum content that must be provided for your students within each module or course organisation on Blackboard. Even when teaching is entirely on campus, you are expected to provide students with a blended experience to ensure that learning is accessible to them regardless of time and place. 

Blackboard itself can do lots of things such as add text, images, videos and files, run blogs, discussion forums, provide spaces for group work, and much more. In addition, we have the rest of our Unilearn tools for you to make use of. The Digitally Enabled Education webpages provide you with guidance on the key Unilearn tools; Blackboard, Assessment and Feedback, Vevox, Panopto. 

There are lots of digital tools outside Unilearn that you may want or need to use. This may include Office 365 (Office Suite, Teams, OneNote, Outlook etc), specialist software or hardware for your subject area (eg autoCAD, visual effects software, graphics editors, etc), along with all kinds of other tools for research and teaching. Many of these are available via UniApps which lets you access lots of the software provided by USW without needing to use an on-campus computer. UniApps is available for both staff and students. 

Support for other tools such as Office 365, Teams, specialist software, IT hardware problems, printing, etc can be found on the IT Services website. Some department specific software and hardware will be managed and supported by your faculty resources officer in conjunction with IT. Speak to your line manager for more information. 

If you need to provide synchronous online sessions for students, then the University provides several options. Blackboard Collaborate is a webinar tool that is built into every module and course. Microsoft Teams can provide live teaching/meeting spaces if this tool is preferred. And if you want/need to provide synchronous sessions for a combination of both on-campus and online students then support is provided on the BYOD In-Class Teaching page which sets out how to achieve this depending on the equipment available in your teaching room. 

Because choosing the right tool can be a challenge, we’ve also designed several decision trees to guide you through the process of selecting the most appropriate Unilearn tool for assessment and feedback, communication and collaboration and content creation. 

The Digitally Enabled Education (DEE) team is there to help you choose the best tools for your pedagogical aims and the practical needs of your students. Feel free to contact them for support about which tools to use, what they can do, and support with using them/getting activities set up. 

The UK Accessibility Regulations set out the key requirements we must adhere to when delivering in person and online. Whichever digital tools you are using to provide content, learning activities and assessment for your students, don’t forget that you need to make it as inclusive and accessible as possible. Visit the Digital Accessibility pages to understand the key requirements that relate to technology enhanced learning. Many of our tools include features that can help you to meet the accessibility requirements. For example: 

You can also find further support for delivering in an inclusive and accessible way on the CELT Inclusive Practice web page and the Disability Service website, including a list of Assistive Technologies available to staff and students at USW.