Currently viewing the category: "NILE Updates"

As part of our work improving and updating NILE, we are making some changes to the way that you log in to NILE, with the aim being to make accessing NILE both simpler and more secure.

You will still use your current University of Northampton username* (your student number, or staff ID) and password to login to NILE; these will not change. In fact, most of the changes will be made behind the scenes as we upgrade to the latest and most secure method of authentication, but there are one or two changes that you will notice.

NILE

Firstly, once you have logged in to the Student Hub or Staff Intranet** you will no longer have to log in to NILE again. Just click on the NILE link, and you’ll be taken directly into NILE without having to enter your username and password again.

Secondly, if you access NILE directly via nile.northampton.ac.uk, then for a limited time you’ll see that you have two login options. You’ll have the regular username and password option, but you now also have an option to use the new ‘Log in to NILE with your UON ID’ option. If you prefer to access NILE directly, rather than going via the Student Hub or the Staff Intranet, we encourage you to start using the new ‘Log in to NILE with your UON ID’ option.

Log in to NILE

When you use these new NILE login options, then when you come to log out of NILE you’ll see that you are presented with two choices: you can either log out of NILE only (which logs you out of NILE, but keeps you logged in to other University systems, including the Student Hub, Staff Intranet, and your University Office 365 and OneDrive accounts, etc); or you can securely log out of NILE and all University systems at the same time.


*Your University username will be in one of the following formats:

  • Students: this is your 8 digit UON student number;
  • University of Northampton Staff: this is your UON staff username, usually comprising your initial(s) and the first few characters of your last name;
  • Staff working at partner institutions: this is your ARMS account ID, and is an 8 digit number beginning 999.

**Please note that only University of Northampton staff can log into the Staff Intranet. Partner staff will always need to access NILE by going directly to nile.northampton.ac.uk

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The University of Northampton’s chosen software for virtual classrooms, Collaborate Ultra, is deployed by the vendor Blackboard via a ‘software as a service’ method (SaaS). One major benefit of this deployment method is that users receive improvements soon after they are developed and released by the company, which can be as frequently as every month. Other software deployment methods can leave users waiting for annual or bi-annual major releases.

Below are details of two minor-but-useful feature updates scheduled for release on 12th March. LearnTech hope you enjoy these new features. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Download poll results

Anyone making use of the polling feature with their students or attendees will be able to download a report after the session. The report includes the poll question and how each attendee responded. It will be available to moderators and instructors from the same location as the attendance report.

Whiteboard updates

The use of a whiteboard in the virtual environment continues to improve for all users. This very minor update makes it easier to select and rotate individual items, removing frustration for those users who like to be a little more creative with the content editing tools on the whiteboard.

Perhaps an unruly dog ate a student’s earbuds and there’s your essential video lecture on Ethical Engineering they simply have to watch in the jam-packed silent carriage of the 8:50 from Leamington Spa. In this all too common circumstance captions are key.

What if you have an especially grating tone and listening to you might drive your students mad and you fear they might explode? Captions could well save the day.

Maybe they are unable to hear sounds or find it difficult listening for long periods and so want a transcription to peruse at their own pace. Students undoubtedly love your educational videos but sometimes you mumble, sometimes you drone and at times you rattle along with such fury you sound like you’re being hunted by assassins.

Captions can be the solution to many physical, practical, social or emotional situations. In fact, students can expect video captions for any good or silly reason and of course you would want the captions to be there just when they need them. You’d not expect them to make a special request. Nor would you force them to fill out endless forms justifying why, for heaven’s sake, they could possibly want captions. It’s not an unreasonable request. They’re not demanding the hour-long presentation on 18th century macroeconomics is transcribed into semaphore, are they? Now, that would be a stretch. No, video captions are not an eccentric request in these modern times with cinematic teaching so twenty-four everywhere.

And so, we at the University of Northampton provide machine-generated captions for each and every one of your video masterworks sat on our MediaSpace platform. Hurrah, you yell inwardly in the slowly shuffling lunchtime queue. But hold your horse! Machines are, in many ways, remarkable but in other ways they are, like many a politician or pig, decidedly lacking in wisdom, wit or common sense. Captions are one such area where machines often fare poorly.

Consider an average video about a common subject, like making a pot of tea. How does a machine make sense of the clear instructions provided by the skilled and softly-spoken tea-maker? Utter gobbledegook, dear reader or listener. The machine’s algorithm struggles with even the simplest step. How does the mighty machine transcribe the modest instruction of leaving the tea-bag to sit in the pot and brew?

“Leave the tea bark in the pottery and lettuce prove.”

Ridiculous twaddle.

And so, in truth, though you may have many videos in your MediaSpace account with automatically-generated captions, the understanding of this machine-made text can be like tumbling headfirst into word casserole. A linguistic hell for those with a dyslexic mind or for that matter anyone with a passing knowledge of the English language.

A potential calamity.

Thankfully, one solution is provided in the form of a simple caption-editing interface. This electronic instrument enables the gentle presenter to easily tweak the nonsense generated by the machine or equally the nonsense generated by the presenter themselves.

I should also point out if a student has a specific need for captions, you can ask for a human being of immense skill and dexterity to write the captions manually with the machine as a mere assistant to the process. Thankfully, this service does not require any form-filling nor nosey interrogation but is instead founded on unconditional trust and the belief it is not merely a trick on the part of the video author to avoid undesirable finger-strain.

So, in the concluding stage of this somewhat rambling essay can I offer my modest advice on some good practice, if you’re to provide captions to your audience with the least amount of extra work. Academic life is ordinarily bursting with work, so to add more without need is surely a woeful circumstance.

My first tip is to be clear.

Be clear in both in diction and in content. That is to say, don’t mumble or speak with your mouth full, as all good children are taught. Don’t assume your audience has the faintest idea what you are talking about. Don’t assume your audience even cares what you’re talking about. Sure, they may need to understand the knowledge you are trying to transfer but don’t confuse that with thinking they want to listen to you. If this is about knowledge transfer and not a fascinating fireside yarn of monsters and magic, then be clear. If, of course, your video is precisely a story of monsters and magic, accept my earnest apology and kindly share the link as I am exceptionally partial to such tales. This leads me to my second and mercifully final piece of advice.

Keep your video short.

Surely an irony coming from one such as I, able to spin a lengthy yarn from such meagre thread? Like the best party food, learning is sometimes best consumed in small bites and if you cannot keep it short, then please keep it engaging. Tell a story. Your audience may forgive you if your story interests them, but a limp string of facts is no better than a shopping list. Be clear and be interesting and your video captions will sing.

Now, go on your way and teach the world to sing.

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From Weds 5th Feb, the Kaltura Mashup for Blackboard is going to change by the smallest amount. Almost every single part of it will remain utterly unchanged except the Select button will now be labelled Embed.

A screenshot of the new Embed button for the Kaltura Mashup tool in Blackboard.

That’s it. Nothing else will change.

This means when students submit video for assessment they use the same set of steps they’ve always done. Nothing will change except the name of the button. If any student is unsure, the FAQ guide has been edited to reflect the new button name. The process for submitting video for assessment remains the same.

How do students submit a video or audio file to NILE for assessment?

The process for staff embedding video in their Blackboard modules also remains 99% unchanged, it is only the name of the button which has changed.

The reason the button name is now Embed is because behind the scenes the Mashup tool is preparing for new and exciting features which I’ll post on when they’re ready to be unleashed.

For now, this is the end of the momentous news that the Select button in the Kaltura Mashup is now called Embed.

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NILE will be down for scheduled maintenance. Between the 28 December and 29 December you will be unable to login to NILE to access resources or submit any assessments online. Other University systems should not be impacted by this work. [Detailed information about the nature of the maintenance is shown at the bottom of this posting.]

If you were planning on making use of the Christmas vacation to get a lot of work done that involves NILE, please make sure that you log-in and download any resources that you need before Saturday 28 December. 

Students – If you are due to submit assignments during this time, please be assured that your deadline will be extended to reflect this downtime. Please check with your Module Leader for more information relating to assignment deadlines. 

If you have any questions about the NILE downtime, please contact Rob Howe, by emailing rob.howe@northampton.ac.uk 

Detailed information on the nature of the maintenance.

Blackboard is currently hosted with Managed hosting in Amsterdam. As part of updating contracts, there is a move of the physical hosting from Amsterdam to Amazon Webservices (AWS) in Frankfurt. There will be a full data migration from Saturday 28 December and then the NILE service will continue to be unavailable until Sunday 29 December for quality checks and to allow web services redirections to take place.  This blog will be updated if there are any changes to timescales.

The key benefits of this move will be:

  • Updating of all patches and fixes since August 2019.
  • Higher uptime (99.99%).
  • Continuous release which means less time needed for downtime during the year.
  • Quicker implementation of patches (Currently we have to take the service down to implement any patch or fix).
  • Features implemented quicker (Currently we only schedule major feature implementation once a year).
  • Ability to stage move to Blackboard Ultra – the latest release of Blackboard – with higher levels of accessibility and usability.

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We’ve added a new Home tab to MediaSpace, to sit alongside the existing Getting Started tab. The new Home tab will display a rotating carousel of videos from the Getting Started tab. Beneath the carousel, MediaSpace will display videos you’ve recently watched, which can also be accessed via the My History link under your log-in username. The Home tab also has a Continue Watching playlist, for videos you started but didn’t get round to finishing.

Please keep in mind the My History feature may only track what you’ve watched since it was switched on earlier today and won’t show every video you’ve watched.

A screenshot of the MediaSpace Home tab
The new MediaSpace Home tab.
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This summer has brought a number of new features to Collaborate Ultra. The main points of interest are listed below and the full list is available to view here: Collaborate Ultra Release Notes

LearnTech hope you enjoy these new features. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Share video in a Chrome tab

Now when moderators and presenters share a video in a session, all attendees can hear the audio. From a Chrome browser, select Share Application and use the Chrome Tab option when you share your screen. Select Share audio.

Choosing the application window to share and ensuring the share audio checkbox is ticked

Rename session files

Moderators can now rename files uploaded to a session. From Share Files in the Collaborate panel, open the File options menu of any file and select Rename file.

The rename feature is listed underneath the remove file selection in the file options next to an individual file

Browser pop-up notifications

Previously, moderators or presenters that were sharing a file or an application were not able to see new chat messages. This is because the Collaborate Ultra application was minimized and so moderators and/or presenters missed new chat messages. This is no longer a problem. Moderators and/or presenters can now enable browser chat push notifications to alert them to new chat messages in the session, even while the application is minimized.

The browser pop-up notification check box is the third option in the list of Notification Settings

New and improved emojis

More emojis to choose from!

Hundreds more emojis can be selected from different headings within the emoji panel

The big Kaltura news for September is that users will now begin to have automatic machine-generated (ASR) Closed Captions created for any new video uploaded to their MediaSpace account. This is a significant step forward in making our learning content accessible to all our students.

When the captions are created, the CC icon will appear at the bottom of the video player, and viewers just need to select the icon to read them. If the captions are not 100% accurate, the video owner can correct them using the Kaltura Caption Editor within MediaSpace. There is a handy FAQ which explains how to edit the captions.

The many thousands of videos created before September will also be getting Closed Captions during the autumn to bring us in line with new accessibility legislation. In the meantime, if any videos created pre-September need captions, the Learning Technology team can help process priority caption requests.

Finally, if a student is referred from ASSIST and needs course videos captioned and the machine captions aren’t available or accurate enough, the Learning Technology team can authorise a special request for professional human-created captions to be created.

It’s important our video content is accessible to all our students and the Closed Captions project is going to help achieve that. If you have any questions about Closed Captions at Northampton, then email the Learning Technology team at learntech@northampton.ac.uk

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The upgrade during summer 2019 has brought with it some new features. Please find a summary and links to further information below. If you are interested in any of these features and would like more support to use them, please get in touch with your learning technologist

Create a voice recording as feedback

Similar to the voice recording in Turnitin Feedback Studio, instructors can now also use a voice recording feature when marking submissions in the Blackboard assignment type. Please note that if you wish to use a voice recording for feedback, the tool native to the assignment type should be used, i.e. Turnitin Feedback Studio for Turnitin submissions and Blackboard grade centre feedback for other assignments. More details can be found here: https://help.blackboard.com/node/25091

Record attendance in NILE

Please note that this new feature is not linked to any other University system. Instructors wishing to record attendance are able to do so in their NILE module and export a spreadsheet for records. https://help.blackboard.com/node/25071

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Blackboard Learn (NILE) is being upgraded on Saturday 18th August 2018 and will be unavailable from 22:30 BST until 10:30 on Sunday 19th.

The upgrade is necessary to maintain performance, stability, and security. This upgrade will also bring a new look to NILE, designed to work better on small screens and mobile devices. Some of the colours and layout will be slightly different and there will be standardised colours across all sites. If you have previously used fontawesome icons in your NILE sites, these will no longer be displayed after the upgrade, but the surrounding content will be preserved.

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