Kaltura Update

Kaltura Add New menu

We’d like to make you aware of some improvements to the Kaltura video service. This includes a new desktop recorder and a fresh, modern interface.

Kaltura Capture

Kaltura Capture app

Kaltura Capture is a new desktop recording tool that enables you to record video and audio content for your duo Courses. Kaltura Capture has a simple user interface, requiring only one click to record, without complex setup or a lengthy learning curve. Kaltura Capture can be accessed from Kaltura – My Media on the homepage of duo is supported both on Windows and Mac.

In addition, recordings of presentations will include automatic slide detection and searchable text.

As with CaptureSpace Lite, recordings will be automatically uploaded into your Kaltura MyMedia channel in duo.

Guide: How to download and install Kaltura Capture.

What about CaptureSpace Lite?

Kaltura Add New menu

Kaltura Capture is designed as a replacement for CaptureSpace Lite offering improved functionality and user experience. However CaptureSpace Lite will not be removed until summer 2019 meaning you can continue to use CaptureSpace Lite while you familiarise yourself with the new Kaltura Capture tool.

Improved Interface

Kaltura new v2ui interface

In addition to the new recording tools in comes a new look for Kaltura. The entire Kaltura interface has been redesigned to create a new, fresh, modern and clean look. That layout has remained the same, so this should not cause any problems in terms of usability.

If you need any further help or support in using Kaltura, please contact your faculty Learning Technologist or raise a support call through the IT Service Desk.

Durham students’ top picks for productivity and organisation apps

Swiss army knife

Which digital tools do students use to organise themselves and their work? This was one of many questions Durham students answered in the 2018 Student Digital Experience survey. We count down the top ten answers here:

Sonocent icon10. Audio recording apps

Students reported using various audio recording apps, including Audio Notetaker, for making their own notes as well as recording lectures.

Google drive icon9. Google Drive

Students particularly liked being able to instantly save their notes to the cloud and the free storage space that Google Drive provides.


Another option for online storage is Office 365, which is available to every undergraduate and taught post-grad for free. This includes 1TB of space on OneDrive and the ability to share files with anyone else at the University.


Excel icon8. Excel

Students reported that they used Microsoft Excel for specific coursework as well as for more general study purposes.

Mendeley logo7. Mendeley

This free reference manager was popular with students, with one explaining how Mendeley ‘revolutionised how I consume literature, as well as how I write and reference’.

Cite this for me logo6. Cite This For Me

Another frequently mentioned referencing aid was Cite This for Me, which extracts reference information from webpages and produces citations in different formats.

Forest logo5. Apps for focus and productivity

This category included several different digital aids, but garnering the most mentions was Forest, an app that encourages you to stay off your phone for a specified amount of time.

Evernote icon4. Evernote

Students mentioned the Evernote app in relation to both note-taking and general organisation.


If you’re interested in note-taking apps, have a look at OneNote: it comes in at number 1 and is free for Durham students!


Google Docs icon3. Google Docs

Students especially mentioned Google Docs as helpful in collaborative work, from presentations to translating texts.


You can also share and co-edit documents in Office 365 without having to create a new account for everyone.


Word logo2. Word

Proving that the newest tools are not always the most popular, Microsoft Word was cited as useful for notetaking and ‘all aspects’.

OneNote logo1. OneNote

Microsoft OneNote garnered more mentions than Word and Google Docs combined. Part of the Office 365 suite available to all students and staff members, OneNote was described by one student as ‘amazing’.


Please note that this list is drawn from the student survey and is not necessarily endorsed by Durham University. When using any third-party tool, please read the Terms & Conditions carefully. Durham University is not able to provide support for third-party tools used by students or staff.

Xerte facts and figures 2018

Xerte logo

Xerte is a fully online tool for creating interactive learning content, available to all University staff and students.

What’s new?

Xerte logoXerte underwent a major upgrade in summer 2016, which greatly enhanced its functionality and ease of use. It was upgraded again in autumn 2017, with a number of new features including flash cards, interactive text and better integration with the duo Grade Centre. We plan to review the latest version to decide whether to upgrade again this year.

How much is it used?

215 new projects have been created since June 2016.

 53 new people have begun using Xerte since June 2016.

The Xerte Guides & Videos page was visited an average of 27 times per month so far in 2018, three times as often as in 2016.

What is it used for?

  90% of projects were created by staff and include learning and training resources.

 10% of projects were created by students, mostly as assessments.

What do students say?
Online quizzes with immediate feedback on where I went wrong are useful - Second-year in Science

While students didn’t mention Xerte specifically in the 2018 Student Digital Experience Tracker survey, they were positive about the types of features that it offers:

32 Durham students named online quizzes as useful course activities.

 94 Durham students said that online tools for learning were useful in their study.

 100 Durham students cited online video as useful for learning.

Have there been any issues?

Xerte has a few minor bugs that are flagged in the user guides.

In 2017-18, there was only one IT service desk incident involving Xerte.

Insights into Durham students’ digital experience

Students with digital devices

Students with digital devicesAhead of the release of the 2018 Durham Student Digital Experience Tracker survey results, Malcolm and Candace were invited to speak about how we used the Tracker at Jisc’s Connect More event in Newcastle on 10 July 2018.

Our presentation was part of a session entitled How are students’ expectations and experiences of their digital environment changing? and we highlighted how different data analysis techniques revealed some key findings from the Tracker.


Open to first- and second-year undergraduates and taught Master’s students, the survey received 877 responses. This was a representative number for this group (with a confidence level of 95% and a confidence interval of 3.19), and the data reveal that this was largely due to two emails that went out while the survey was open.

Graph showing responses peaked when emails were sent


SPSS was used to analyse the quantitative data. Even simple frequency tables were useful in gauging student attitude toward digital. For example, here is how students responded when asked ‘How much would you like digital technologies to be used on your course?’

44% said more, 53% said same, 3% said less

Custom questions

The Tracker allowed each institution to create its own questions as well, and we asked students about online assessment. This revealed that the majority of students liked almost all types of online assessment, although some types are rarely used at Durham.

Of students who submitted the following online: Essay: 80% liked, 6% didn't; Presentation 25% liked, 3% didn't; Portfolio: 10% liked, 3% didn't; Audio: 5% liked, 3% didn't; Video: 6% liked, 2% didn't; Quiz: 17% liked, 3% didn't; Other: 11% liked, 2% didn't

This question also provided an unanticipated insight into the types of assessment that students expect: many students who had not submitted an assessment online considered it inappropriate to their subject.

Results in this order: No but would like to, No and wouldn't like to, No not appropriate to my subject. Essay: 4%, 2%, 8%; Presentation: 20%, 16%, 8%; Portfolio: 18%, 8%, 60%; Audio: 13%, 16%, 63%; Video: 15%, 16%, 62%; Quiz: 14%, 10%, 56%; Other: 10%, 7%, 70%


The Tracker survey allowed us to benchmark student responses against last year’s Durham survey and against this year’s responses from all participating universities and from Russell Group institutions. Significance tests revealed where Durham was ahead or behind for every multiple-choice and Likert question in the Tracker. For example, when asked whether they had access to reliable wifi whenever they needed it, Durham students were significantly less positive than last year, but more positive than students at other UK universities.

90% at DU in 2017, 86% at DU in 2018, 83% at Russell Group in 2018, 82% in all UK HEIs in 2018

Correlations for composites

SPSS made it easy to get overall impressions of student responses. For example, if multiple questions that measured a similar attitude were all strongly correlated (p < .01), they could be combined into a single composite to represent that attitude generally.

Composite answers to 'When digital technologies are used on my course...' questions were 42% positive, 51% neutral, 7% negative

Free-text analysis

We used Nvivo to analyse the free-text responses, coding over 2,500 discrete comments into cascading categories. This was extremely useful in drawing out individual student experience narratives and in quantifying trends.

consider embedding digital tools more in lecture and seminar content PGT in Social Science & Health; Embrace digital learning as much as you already do First-year in Arts & Humanities; often time is spent inefficiently using digital teaching First-year in Science


The most popular free-response topics could then be mapped back onto student responses in SPSS, allowing for correlations between multiple-choice responses and free-text responses to be discovered. A striking example is the strong correlation between attitude toward the use of digital technologies on courses (as shown above) and free-text mentions of in-class polling as a useful digital activity. Those who did not mention in-class polling as useful…

Of those who didn't mention in-class polling, attitude was: 40% positive, 52% neutral, 7% negative

…had a significantly less positive attitude toward technology use in courses than those who did.

Of those who did mention polling, 62% positive, 37% neutral, 1% negative


Look out for the full Durham report, which will be available on this site soon! Stakeholders across the University will also be approached to discuss deeper analysis that would be particularly useful to them.

Jisc’s analysis of the data from all participating institutions was published today on the Digital Experience Insights site.

Turnitin facts and figures 2017-18


As we prepare for a new academic year, we’ve been looking at how different learning technologies have been used in 2017-18 across the University. First up is Turnitin, our application for assessment submission, originality checking, marking and feedback.

What’s new?

In August 2017 Turnitin introduced Feedback Studio, an upgrade to the marking and feedback interface. Over a quarter of all submissions at Durham were marked with Feedback Studio. A few people reported experiencing issues, and Turnitin responded by adding a button to toggle the High Resolution view on or off.
Turnitin works well and makes a stressful time a lot easier. - Master’s student Social Science & Health

How much is it used?

113,071 documents were submitted to Turnitin in 2017-18.

 This represents an average of 7 submissions per taught student.

Submissions to Turnitin have been slowly but steadily increasing over the past five years:

Turnitin submissions 2013 to 2018

What is it used for?

31,704 scripts were marked in Feedback Studio in 2017-18, 28% of all submissions.

 75% of these included general feedback.

Markers used an average of 6 bubble comments and 3 Quick Marks per script.

Originality reports were run for almost all submissions.
Turn it in is simple and easy to use - First-year undergrad Social Science & Health

What do students say?

(All student feedback from 2018 Student Digital Experience Tracker survey)

93% of Durham students who submitted essays online liked it.

Only 9% of Durham students disagreed that online assessments are delivered and managed well.
"Turnitin works well, it's a good system" Master's student Social Sciences & Health

Have there been any issues?

Turnitin experienced service degradation several times in 2017-18, totalling 8.5 hours, and unscheduled outages totalling 7.5 hours. There were also approximately 30 hours of scheduled maintenance.

The IT service desk received 98 calls from staff and students about Turnitin in 2017-18, which translates to roughly one call for every 62 duo sites that use Turnitin submissions.

Upgrading duo

On the evening of Friday the 29th of June, CIS staff will perform the annual upgrade of duo. Upgrading duo allows us to keep the system secure and up to date with the latest web browsers, as well as allowing us to apply a series of patches and introduce new features.

For fans of version numbers, we will be upgrading duo from Blackboard Learn 2017 Q2 cumulative update 5 (Release 3200.0.5-rel.6+3dd6b56) to Blackboard Learn 2018 Q2 cumulative update 1 (Release 3400.0.1-rel.90+b74efee).

This introduces a number of bug fixes, a couple of new features and one much requested improvement – full width display.

Full Width Display

As part of it’s adoption of responsive web design (sensible resizing and reformatting of content so that pages work well on laptops, desktops, tablets and mobiles) in 2016 Blackboard chose to implement a maximum screen width of 1300 pixels. If you displayed duo on a screen bigger than that, then grey bars were shown on either side. This is a common feature of many websites – you’ll see this behaviour on many WordPress blogs, the University website, etc. It makes the maths for calculating where things should go simpler, but it can make the text harder to read than it should. This was particularly apparent if you tried to display duo using one of the new high resolution projectors in a teaching room, or on a big monitor on your desk. It also makes tasks such as grading harder because much of your screen is effectively unused.

duo renders with grey bars at the left and right of the screen
The opening page as it appears pre-upgrade. Note the grey bars at the left and right.

The good news is that Blackboard have now done away with this and after this upgrade duo will resize to fit any screen size. Some extra intelligence has been applied to the display of the grade centre – if you are using a very wide screen, rather than just displaying the same number of columns, but making them really wide, duo will actually show more columns, which should mean less scrolling around.

The same page post upgrade – now duo is using the full screen

Course Availability

Every year we create new courses on duo for staff to use in the new academic year. If the module has been taught before, then the duo course is a copy of the old one. Staff need some time over the summer to update any content, alter the dates of deadlines, etc. and so these courses are automatically set as unavailable. This really means unavailable to students – staff can access them so they are able to make the required changes. Before they can be released to students, staff need to remember to change the course settings. Blackboard have added a handy padlock icon to show staff the status of the course and alter it with a single click:

This course is unavailable to students – red padlock icon displayed
This course is available to students – unlocked padlock icon displayed

Note the padlock is only shown on standard course module pages, (the one with What’s New, Tasks, etc. on it) so if you have changed the landing page of your duo course to point to the announcements tool or a standard content page then you won’t see it. Ah well, Blackboard giveth and they taketh away …

New Attendance Tool

For many years, Blackboard users have been asking for an Attendance tool. Well there is one now. It uses a special attendance column in the Grade Centre and allows you to mark a student’s attendance at a given event (e.g. a tutorial). This updates their percentage attendance score. Blackboard have plans to integrate this with webinar tools such as Blackboard Collaborate and other third party tools which could automatically update this same score.

Once you get your head round it, it works quite well, It is explained nicely in this video (if you can stomach the jangly background music).
Note the video refers to both versions of Blackboard – at Durham we are using “classic” Learn, not Ultra.

As ever, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with any member of the Learning Technologies Team.

Background Image by Milivoj Kuhar

Kaltura Upgrade

kaltura logo

Kaltura, the online video platform for learning and teaching has recently been upgraded to the latest version. The upgrade fixes a number of bugs and offers the following new features:

Fully-embedded Videos

The way Kaltura videos appear in duo Courses has been improved. Previously videos displayed as thumbnail links that opened a small pop-out video player. Now videos appear fully-embedded providing a more intuitive video experience for users.

kaltura embedded media content.
Kaltura content added to duo Courses now display in an embedded video player.
Please note, this change will only affect new Kaltura media items added to duo. It will not update any existing videos you have previously embedded.

Improvements to Video Quizzes

The upgrade has brought some improvements to video quizzes. Where previously you could only add Multiple Choice questions, you can now add True/False questions and also Reflection Points.

Kaltura reflection point question for a video quiz
Reflection Points allow you to add rhetorical questions that can be used to provoke thought or discussion rather than setting questions that require a specific answer.

Include Videos in Email Announcements

If you use duo Announcements, you now have the ability to embed Kaltura videos that will show in emails.

Kaltura video in email Announcement
Kaltura content added to Announcements can now be embedded within emails.

You can find out more about using Kaltura, including guides on the Kaltura product page.

If you need any help using Kaltura, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any member of the LTT via the IT Service Desk.

Changes to Webcam Recording in Kaltura

Kaltura webcam recording tool

This post is to inform you that the old Webcam Recording Tool in Kaltura will be removed on Monday 26th March 2018. You can still use Kaltura to make webcam recordings using the CaptureSpace Lite desktop recorder.

Why is this change necessary?

Since the introduction of Kaltura’s desktop recorder CaptureSpace Lite, staff and students have been able to make screen, webcam and audio recordings from one simple application.

Kaltura webcam recording tool

The Webcam Recording button was left available for ease of access, but this tool started to cause issues for our users as it uses dated Flash technology that is no longer supported by most modern browsers.

To provide a consistent experience for all users, the Webcam Recording tool will be removed. CaptureSpace Lite will be the recommended tool for all your recording needs.

Where can I get advice?

If you want to discuss the implications of these changes, or how to make use of Kaltura for learning and teaching then don’t hesitate to get in touch with any member of the LTT via the IT Service Desk.

Pebblepad Upgrade 1801

On Tuesday, 30 January at 7 am there will be a period of downtime for approximately 20 minutes plus an at risk window until 8 am, whilst Pebble Learning will be upgrading Pebblepad to the latest 1801 release.  This upgrade features a new text editor – the main difference is that the formatting bar appears towards the top of the page and is always visible once the user is editing a text block. It provides better copy and paste, more fonts and other fixes. There are also a lot of accessibility enhancements behind the scenes. Please note that Internet Explorer 10 is now an unsupported browser.

Updates with regards to work for assessment- a new feature is a banner appearing at the top of a submitted asset indicated that it has been submitted – also if an editing deadline has been reached and the asset locked then this will also be indicated by a banner.

You can read about the update here – https://tinyurl.com/ybn7gkce

New Kaltura Video Editing Tools

A new update to the Kaltura editor is being released on January 14th, 2018. This replaces the current clip and trim features in the old editor. The new Kaltura Video Editing Tools offer a one-stop-shop for all timeline editing needs.

Kaltura editor

What has changed?

In the old editor, the Create Clip, Trim Video and Add Quiz options were all accessed through different locations, meaning a somewhat disjointed experience for users. These tools have now been consolidated into one simple user interface making it easier and quicker to edit video.

The new editor is built in HTML5, meaning better compatibility across modern browsers without the need for additional plugins.

Kaltura have also incorporated a number of accessibility shortcuts into the Editor, meaning videos can now be edited using keyboard shortcuts without having to rely on the use of a mouse.

kaltura editor accessibility features

What do I need to do?

Nothing. Kaltura are turning-on the editor for all users, meaning the old editor will no longer be available. This will not have any impact on your existing videos.

Need help?

For guidance on using the new Kaltura Editor, please visit the following guides:

Editing videos in Kaltura

Creating a video quiz or presentation

If you need further assistance, please email the Learning Technologies Team on itservicedesk@durham.ac.uk.