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Faculty of Humanities Teaching & Learning Office

Blackboard organisations to support students at programme, discipline and academic community level

Case study: [Programme space] MA Translation and Interpreting Studies

School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

Programme director: Rebecca Tipton

Key features: Event announcements, regularly posted; handbooks and other admin documentation; induction content; study skills resources for subject area; resources for international students; academic advisement.

"I joined the University of Manchester in September 2012 and the Blackboard organisation site had been in use for several years prior to my arrival on the programme.

As programme director I have found it very useful as a community resource, although from the studentís perspective I am aware that it is just one site among many they access (for example, the student reps in the past two years have set up Facebook sites to communicate with each other Ė no lecturers allowed!).

From Welcome week, the site helps to make students aware of the important role that the VLE will play during their studies and provides a point of reference for the whole cohort.

One of the key motivations behind the site is the type of MA we provide. As one of the largest MAs in the Faculty, we attract a large number of international students and it is one way to establish a sense of community from the very start of the academic year. I refer to it directly in Welcome week and use it as the main port of call for key programme-related documents such as handbooks, timetable and other important learning resources (guides to referencing, etc.). Content is only added to the site by staff and tends to be at the start of each semester. I am responsible for updating the main parts of the site but other staff are welcome to add content as they wish. Students do not (at least at present) contribute to the site in any way.

The MA provides training in the theory and practice of translation and interpreting, with a significant emphasis on practice. As a result we incorporate professional workshops throughout the year as an addition to the curriculum and the site is a good place to advertise these events.

We have not had any review sessions about the site in the past year, but will certainly consider doing so. Once the students are up and running with their modules I donít think the site receives a lot of traffic during the semester.

We are planning to create a space to include feedback from the staff-student committees in the near future and also to post responses to module evaluations. We may propose a different, less adversarial tone to the 'you said / we did' approach."