Wednesday, 4 September 2019

The BLE Highlight Report is now available!

BLE Report cover

One of Sarah's last big jobs before heading off for maternity leave was to work with me (Nancy) on gathering together all the projects, events, changes, news, awards and accomplishments for the period 2015-19 and present them in a form that wouldn't put the reader to sleep. I think we've managed that by creating a document that balances coverage with brevity.

If you'd like to see what the BLE has been doing for the last four years (or to remind yourself what you've done, if you've been involved in any of our projects or events) you can download a copy from the BLE website ble.ac.uk/about (direct link to report).


Friday, 30 August 2019

Au revoir!

After 12 years working full-time for the fantastic Bloomsbury Learning Exchange, I will now be heading off on maternity leave for one year. I wanted to announce the arrangements for my cover during this time.

My official maternity cover is Julian Bream, who has impressive skills in facilitating meetings, coordinating TEL-related events, and engaging and driving the use of digital education to different stakeholders. Julian will work flexibly for two days per week to maintain the BLE Special Interest Groups and relationships with our providers, ensuring seamless service delivery. I have every confidence and faith in Julian and am delighted that he will be joining the BLE Executive.

Nancy Weitz, the BLE’s Digital Learning Consultant, will increase her days working for the BLE. Her key activities will be supporting the Digital Skills Awareness course (DSAC) and the BLE MOOC; she will be driving the development of a teacher version of the DSAC and progressing the partnership between the BLE and FutureLearn.

Julian and Nancy will now be pleased to respond to your queries. In the first instance, you can contact them via the BLE website.

With very best wishes to all BLE supporters,
Sarah

Monday, 15 July 2019

The BLE is renamed!

BLE logo no.3After over 15 years, as the "Bloomsbury Learning Environment", the BLE has (slightly) changed its name. Now known as the Bloomsbury Learning Exchange, the BLE Executive Team and Steering Group agreed that this much better reflects the nature of the collaboration.

A brief history of the BLE
BLE Logo no.2Established in 2004 by LSHTM, SOAS and the Royal Veterinary College, the Bloomsbury Learning Environment service was set up to provide a joint virtual learning platform, Blackboard. The Institute of Education and Birkbeck joined the consortium soon after, and all five partners were using this shared platform. Blackboard was cleverly set up so users didn't realise they were actually using the same system. In addition to Blackboard, a number of additional shared software licences were negotiated and introduced. In 2012, we migrated away from Blackboard and each partner moved onto their own instance of Moodle.

The present
BLE logoThe BLE is no longer a shared platform - although the partner institutions still benefit from preferential software licence deals, negotiated by the Service Manager. Today, it is much more about sharing, collaborating and improving the use of learning technology and the exchange of good practice in digital education to enhance learning and teaching across the partnership institutions. Therefore, 'Bloomsbury Learning Exchange' is a much better fit to represent what we do.

"In my opinion, the modification of the BLE's name is a no-brainer and took the Steering Group no time at all to approve. I'm proud to support and continue to Chair this valuable and successful collaboration". Jonathon Thomas, Chair of the BLE Steering Group.

"The new name offers much stronger reflection and more representative connotations for what the BLE service provides its partner institutions. I'm delighted that the Service continues to make strides in supporting and improving the application of digital learning and teaching". Dr Mandy Bentham, Founder of the BLE.

What does this mean for the service?
BLE logo no.4Other than some tweaks to our beautiful branding, designed by the BLE's Digital Education Specialist Nancy Weitz, nothing will change. The Service will continue to provide support to staff in the BLE's partner institution (including academics, academic support, learning technologists, librarians and other professional services) and students to explore the opportunities that digital education lends to improving practice. We do this by arranging meetings, events, webinars, workshops, demonstrations and developing resources (such as our MOOC for teaching staff and Digital Skills Awareness course for students).

For more information and to get in touch, please visit our website: www.ble.ac.uk 


Friday, 28 June 2019

BLE runs its first webinar

On Tuesday 25th June, the BLE organised and ran its first webinar, which focused on a mentoring scheme managed at LSHTM. The purpose of the session was to share the method used to recruit and train alumni mentors in order to enhance students’ learning experience. This has transferability across different HE contexts.

Dr Anna Foss, Associate Professor in Public Health Education & Mathematical Epidemiology at the School presented her work in such a way that colleagues will be able to take lessons learned and the model she used to apply to their own contexts.

The aims of the session were therefore to
  • present key findings from the group mentorship scheme in which alumni support Public Health MSc students undertaking a research project via distance learning through LSHTM
  • discuss the relevance for other contexts of the transferable lessons learnt
  • outline and share resources (e.g. mentor training slides www.bit.ly/m150319, code of conduct and template emails) that may be adaptable to other contexts
  • gain insights from participants on whether these resources are useful / adaptable to different contexts, and whether this mentorship scheme is likely to be transferred elsewhere
You can watch the recording from the session here:
and access all the resources from the session via the BLE website: www.ble.ac.uk/events.html

Thursday, 20 June 2019

BLE's Digital Skills Awareness Course is now available


                                                                         
Course logo
The Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE), a digital education partnership of the Bloomsbury institutions and the University of London, has created a free Digital Skills Awareness course for higher education (HE) institutions to roll out to students before they start university. This resource will provide new students with advice and guidance to help them have a successful learning experience at university.
The course, available for Summer/Autumn 2019, outlines the key digital skills students need for their studies and helps them identify the skills they have and the ones they need to acquire or improve. While the course doesn’t focus on teaching practical digital skills, it provides valuable tips from a variety of sources, including university support staff and students, as well as helpful resources and videos.
Each unit focuses on a particular topic:
  1. General Technologies
    Working with files, Microsoft Office applications, browsers and search engines
  2. Learning Technologies
    Online learning environments, forums, assignments/assessments and video
  3. Access, Sharing and Safety
    Accounts/access, safety, social media and sharing
  4. Getting Organised
    Notetaking, referencing and digital wellbeing
Licensed under Creative Commons, this generic Moodle course can be tailored and personalised to fit the local needs of your university once installed on your own Virtual Learning Environment.
Sarah Sherman, BLE Service Manager, said:
“Our pilot went really well, and students provided us with excellent feedback. We have had so much interest in our course already from across the UK. We are now really excited to be able to share our work with the wider HE sector and look forward to fostering a course community.”
The BLE collaboration comprises Birkbeck, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), SOAS, UCL and the University of London.

To access the demonstration version of the course and find out how to request a copy, please contact the BLE at www.ble.ac.uk/contact