In summer 2021, the first phase of the Minerva Upgrade Project saw Minerva migrate to the latest version of Blackboard. This upgrade delivered many benefits, including accessibility improvements, a more equitable experience for users accessing via mobile devices, and increased system resilience, with no need for annual maintenance downtime and a significantly reduced risk of unplanned downtime.
The next phase of the project, focusing on improvements to teaching areas, has now begun. Over the coming months we’ll be providing training and support to enable you to move quickly and effectively to Blackboard’s new module and organisation structure in Minerva, known as Ultra Course View, ahead of the 2022/23 academic year.
How Will My Teaching Areas Change?
Blackboard has redesigned module and organisation areas to provide a powerful, community-first, truly engaging teaching and learning experience. At its heart, the new design retains core Minerva functionality, however it also introduces new features alongside a more intuitive interface with less complicated workflows.
This new view is structurally different to the teaching spaces currently available in Minerva, with an emphasis on simplicity and ease-of-access – a single content area provides access to teaching material while a menu bar gives convenient access to essential tools, such as discussions and Gradebook (the replacement for Grade Centre). Drag-and-drop options allow you to move content easily, and the less complicated structure makes module building at least as straightforward as with the original module and organisation areas you’re used to.
A multi-disciplinary pilot of the new module view began in September 2021, with 52 modules across 19 programmes taking part. Initial results from this pilot are positive, and feedback received from staff and student participants is being used to help design training and inform decision making ahead of an institutional move to this new design in summer 2022.
Why Is This Change Happening Now?
Minerva module areas have remained largely unchanged since Blackboard was adopted as Leeds’ virtual learning environment in 2008. Blackboard stopped actively developing this original module design several years ago, committing only to bug fixes. In the near future this support will be withdrawn entirely.
Ultra Course View, provides a much improved experience, which is more accessible and easier to use. Regular updates add new functionality each month, allowing the institution to deliver on the aim of an innovative and inspirational teaching and learning experience for all.
What Do I Need to Do?
Due to structural differences between the old and new module/organisation designs, it is not possible for the institution to automatically copy content in summer 2022. It will, therefore, be necessary for you to take the opportunity to refresh and rebuild your teaching areas before the start of the next academic year. Copy tools exist within Minerva to facilitate this process, and we will endeavour to make module areas available during late spring to give you as much time as possible to undertake this rebuild work.
Online help and guidance on the new look Minerva teaching spaces will be released over the coming months to enable you to make the most of the changes, and transition smoothly. You will also have the opportunity to undertake virtual face-to-face training sessions, delivered by the Digital Education Service in collaboration with OD&PL, should you require additional support.
Please note, only modules and organisations with a 2022/23 term code onwards will move to Ultra Course View. Module and organisation areas with a 2021/22 term code and older will remain unchanged, even if teaching is scheduled to continue beyond summer 2022.
Regular updates on the project will be provided on this website. Visit desystemshelp.leeds.ac.uk/minerva-upgrade for more information.