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Site readiness checklist

Summary

Use this checklist to help identify and correct any issues in areas such as finalising content, accessibility, site/material visibility and enrollments before teaching begins.

Relevant VLE site design principles

  • 5.2 Recommended: Complete the Site Readiness Checklist before making the site available to students.

Before a new teaching period, you need to make sure that your Learn Ultra VLE site and content is ready for students. We recommend that you check at least the items below to identify and address common issues so that students can use the site and materials effectively when teaching starts. You can also evaluate your site design more deeply using the VLE site design principles.

Remember that for 23/24, site content will not be copied from the previous year’s site and instead sites will be created from a blank template.

Whether teaching staff or administrators/professional services team complete the readiness checklist (or parts of it) may vary by department.

1. The site exists and staff are enrolled

Firstly, make sure that you and other teaching staff have access to the site.

1.1 The site has been created and you have access
  • If you’re enrolled on a site, find it in your Course list by searching for the SITS code and/or module name. You can Favourite the site to pin it to the top of your Course list.
  • If you can’t find the site in your Course list, contact your departmental administrator or professional support team to check that the site exists and/or enroll you. These teams generally have access to all of a department’s sites.
1.2 Other module teaching staff have access

For 23/24, staff enrollments will NOT be copied from previous year’s site, so check that any other module staff (guest lecturers, GTAs etc.) have access:

  • Click Class Register under Details & Actions in the left menu and check that all other teaching staff (lecturers, demonstrators, GTAs etc.) are enrolled on the site with the right access level (usually Instructor).
  • If you need to enroll more staff, see our guide to enrolling users or contact your departmental administrator or professional support team.
  • If you want to change which staff appear in the "Course Staff" box on the main page of your VLE site, see the Course Staff section of our enrolment guide.

2. Site content is ready

Check that site content and materials are accessible, in the right place and visible to students.

2.1 Accessibility

It is a legal requirement that all our online content is accessible; this applies to your VLE site and any materials or files provided through it. Accessible materials also improve the learning experience for all students.

Check that:

  • Text content on the site itself and any files provided is easily readable and accessible: structured with Heading Styles, left-aligned text, sufficient colour contrast, legible font and text size, bulleted lists to break up content, tables only used for data etc.
  • Meaningful images and figures have appropriate ALT text or other descriptions to allow screenreader users to access the information. See our images guide for more information.
  • Link text describes where the link goes or the content, eg. how to write better link text. Don’t use non-descriptive text like ‘click here’ or ‘find out more’. Don’t paste the full URL (eg. https://www.link.com). See our links guide for more information.
  • File titles describe the content without having to open the file. This could include the week, type of materials, key word(s) relating to the topic, and a short module identifier. For example, material titles for the module ‘Mythical Creatures in Literature’ could use the format Week 3_Slides_Dragons_MCL. See our files guide for more information.
  • Pre-recorded videos are hosted in a streaming service (eg. Panopto/YouTube) and captioned accurately.
  • Use an accessibility checker for all text and materials to identify errors and receive guidance on how to fix them (eg. Blackboard Ally within Blackboard, Grackle for Google Docs/Slides, Microsoft Accessibility Checker).

For more detail, see our guide to accessible Ultra content. You can also attend our Creating Accessible Documents workshop for a practical introduction.

2.2 Template set-up
  • The site uses the overall structure provided in the template. For most sites this includes sections for Module Information, Assessment and site materials (usually weekly sections), and Reading List and Replay Content areas.
  • All template placeholder content has been replaced with site-specific content or deleted if not needed.
  • Unused Discussions, Tests and Assignments have also been deleted from the Discussion or Gradebook areas (access through the navigation bar above Course Content).
  • Site materials have been built or added in the relevant sections.

For more details, see our guide to using the Ultra template.

2.3 Assessment information
  • All assessment information appears within the Assessment section, including an overview of assessment, clear instructions for each assessment task and details on how the work will be graded.
  • Due dates for all assessments are set correctly (right day, time and year, etc). To make the site easier to maintain in future years, set deadlines within the assessment tool and avoid writing specific dates into text or documents.
  • Assignment submission points and Tests are set up correctly and hidden/showing as they should be. See our guide to release conditions for more detail on managing content availability.
  • Guidance for setting up and using submission points can be found in our eAssessments area.
2.4 Site materials

For 23/24, site content will NOT be automatically rolled over from the previous year’s site, so extra care need to be taken to make sure that materials are ready for teaching.

  • All site materials (eg. lecture slides, formative quizzes) are included in the correct location and are up to date. Any old or unused materials are removed.
  • Items are visible. In Ultra, items are hidden from students by default and must be manually made visible. You can either change content visibility as you create items, or use the batch edit function to change the visibility of many items at once. Remember not to make the Staff: Ultra Guides section visible.
  • Any reused Panopto videos, links and third party tools (eg. Padlet) are shared correctly so students have permission to access the material (see 2.5 & 2.7 below).
  • Any content added using the Copy Content tool appears in the correct location and format, and has been restructured if needed. This is especially important for content copied from an Original site. For more information, see our guide to Reusing Orginal content in Ultra.
2.5 Video content (including Lecture Capture/Panopto)
  • All video content must be streamed from a dedicated media player (eg. Panopto or YouTube). Video files must not be directly uploaded to the site or inside slide decks.
  • Lecture Capture set up:
    • Your site should have a "Replay Lecture Capture (Panopto)" link towards the bottom of the Course Content area. If this does not appear, contact us at vle-support@york.ac.uk
    • On the Timetable, check that lectures to be captured have the triangular "play" icon showing they are Replay-enabled. If you don't see this, contact your departmental administrator and/or TimeTabling.
    • See the lecture capture web page for more information on how the lecture capture system works.
  • Pre-recorded or re-used Panopto content (eg. at-desk captures)
    • Pre-recorded or re-used videos must be accurately captioned (including reused lecture captures from previous years).
    • Common issue: check any Panopto videos linked to or embedded outside of the Replay Content area to make sure this cohort's students can access them. Our guide to preparing videos for reuse wil help you with this. Note that you being able to access a video doesn't mean that students can!
  • For help re-using videos from previous academic years on your Ultra site (eg. “Ongoing Media”), or with making new “At-Desk” recordings, see our Panopto help pages.
2.6 Reading List

Sites must use the Reading List to provide course readings, unless there is a pressing reason not to (this should be discussed with your Faculty Librarian). Please ensure:

  • A link to the Reading List ("Reading-Lists") is included in the Course Content area.
  • The Reading List is structured in the same way as the site materials (eg. in weekly sections).
  • All module readings are included and unused/out of date items have been removed.
  • Readings are not uploaded to the site (eg. a journal paper PDF) and web-based readings (eg. a journal pape webpage) aren't linked to directly.
  • Items are tagged as Essential, Recommended or Background.
  • The Reading List is released to students.
  • For assistance please contact the Library (lib-readinglists@york.ac.uk) or see the Reading List guide
2.7 Web links and embedded content/third party tools (eg. Padlet, Xerte)

Links and embedded content (eg. Xerte, Padlet, videos, Qualtrics, Google Docs, Google Forms, etc) are not automatically updated every year, so check they still work and update manually as necessary.

  • Links and embeds still work and sharing settings are correct so students can access the content (see 2.5).
  • A direct link is provided for each embedded item to open the content in full screen.
  • Make the site easier to maintain in future years by using links that will stay the same rather than links that need to be updated every year. For example, link to a page where student handbooks are uploaded instead of a specific year’s handbook document.

For more details, see our: - guide to adding Links - guide to embedded content

2.8 Groups

If you’re planning to use Groups within your site (eg. for seminar or project groups), check that these have been set up correctly. See our guide to Groups for more details.

3. Students can access the site

For students to access a site, they must be enrolled on the site AND the site must be open for students.

3.1 Students are enrolled
  • To check if students are enrolled, click Class Register under Details & Actions in the left menu and look for users with the Student role.
  • Students are usually enrolled automatically onto VLE module sites using a “SITS Group User” enrolled on the site as a Guest, which then pulls in the relevant students. You can check this by looking for a Guest role in your Class Register.
  • If there are problems with student enrollments, contact your departmental administrator or professional support team for assistance.
3.2 The site is open to students

When the site is ready for students, look for the padlock icon under Details & Actions in the left menu. If you see next to it:

  • Course is private/Students can’t access this course: click and select ‘Open to students’
  • Course is open/Students can access this course: this is correctly set up for enrolled students to access the site.

Note that enrolled students will be always able to see the site listed in their course list. If the course is private, they will not be able to open the site. For more details, see our guide to making your site open/private.