Welcome to the new academic year. We know there’s a lot of information to take in during September and this year we’ve made some changes to the way we do things, many based on student feedback, and what we expect from you. Please take the time to read through the following information and if you have any questions, please talk to your programme or level leader or personal tutor.
Following a pilot last year, we are introducing attendance recording for all students. This means you will need to enter a code at each timetabled session to log your attendance on the Jisc attendance system, using a smartphone or laptop. The process is explained in our Quick Guide to Logging Attendance. It’s a good idea to take a look at this guide in advance and bookmark the link to the system.
Attending your classes regularly is really important in helping you succeed with your studies. The attendance information will help us to understand how you are engaging with your course and how best to support you going forwards. For more information about logging attendance and how we use attendance data, please visit the website.
Following feedback from students about the high number of emails you receive, we’ve made some changes to the way we tell you what you need to know.
- Instead of weekly all-student emails, we will be sharing key information with you fortnightly via the programme area in our virtual learning environment (VLE), Brightspace. Most information about your units and programmes will only be communicated through Brightspace. Crucially, we’re switching off the functionality that previously sent you an email every time an announcement or content update was added to Brightspace
- This means that you need to check Brightspace notifications frequently so that you keep up to date with what is happening on your course and across BU. When new material is added to Brightspace, you will see a notification on the bell icon. The Pulse app is the easiest way to check notifications and you can find this in the bottom right corner of the screen or in the top right corner of Brightspace VLE
- It is also still important to check your student email often, as important information will still be shared with you this way. This may include direct messages from your academic team about your studies.
If you’re just starting your journey here at BU, it’s important to know that lots of information will be shared with you via Brightspace. You have already been sent information about how to log into Brightspace, but you can find information on our website about how to do this. The information we will share via Brightspace includes:
- Information about your units and programmes. Most of this will only be communicated through Brightspace, on the unit or programme areas
- Key information with you about other aspects of life at BU. This will be posted every fortnight on the programme area in Brightspace.
There are a couple of apps you can use to make it easier for you to keep in touch with BU news and announcements and access BU systems:
Pulse app: This is the Brightspace mobile app
Microsoft authenticator app: We recommend this as the best method for completing multi-factor authentication (where we ask you to confirm your identity when logging in to BU systems). This is usually faster and more reliable than using text messages (e.g. when phone network reception or Wi-Fi is weak). You can access the app through office.com.
Develop your skills with the Academic Skills Hub
We have launched a new resource to support you with important skills for your studies and assignments, including academic writing; critical thinking; presentation and seminar skills; reading and referencing. You can find this Academic Skills Hub on Brightspace. In addition to providing online resources, you can also sign up to workshops or book one-to-one appointments, in-person or online, with our tutors who can support you in developing these skills and expertise.
New ways to tell us how your programme is going
Understanding how you are finding your course and the wider experience at BU is crucial for us to be able to address any issues you may be facing, make improvements and extend the use of good practice. We have a number of ways in which you can share your feedback with us.
We want to increase the number of students giving feedback and ensure that we understand your views and experiences, so we are changing our approach. This year, we’re not going to ask you to fill out the BU My Unit and My Course surveys, which we ran last year. Instead, we will collect some feedback in timetabled “end of semester” sessions on your programme and ask you to complete some much shorter anonymous surveys or questionnaires. Look out for more information about these over the next couple of months. Level 6 and 7 students will still get the chance to complete the external national student surveys in the usual way.
Assessments and AI
There has been a lot of media coverage over the last few months about the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). We recognise that new technologies bring benefits, but this needs to be balanced with responsible and ethical use of them. Across BU we are looking at how we can use AI in courses and assessments and will share more information with you later this semester. In the meantime, please review our guidance about how to use AI and be transparent about this in your work.
If you have any questions about these changes, please get in touch with your programme support team or your personal tutor, who are here to help you. Whether you’re moving to a new level of study or about to embark on your first year with us it’s really important that you take some time to understand your learning experience and academic progress. Please look out for messages from your personal tutor and make sure you take up the opportunity to meet with them when this is offered.