Resource of the Month – Blackboard Ally European User Group

Published by Caroline Carlin on

Author: Laura Ridings – TELT

In August the new responsive and accessible Blackboard platform was rolled out across the University. The VLE team in TELT worked tirelessly to make this an easy transition and the new platform is modern, easy to use across a range of devices and staff and students alike are responding well to this new improved service.

Jan Thomson and Neil Caroll of the VLE initially asked me to create an animation for this roll out in April which gave me plenty of time to find the right direction for pitching the animated video.

The first thing I did was draw Jan and Neil as characters, these were then used as the basis for the style of animation, they further went on to use these when advertising support sessions and also any messages that would be placed in the staff homepage.

Working from a script that was written by Neil I began creating the assets ready for the animation, I drew everything from scratch using Adobe Illustrator. When drawing characters for animation it’s important to place all moving parts on separate layers and when using layers ALWAYS name them something meaningful and also when drawing limbs on people you should overlap the joints of the limbs to help create a smooth animation later on.

After drawing these assets I then import them into Adobe After Effects to create the individual scenes, when you import an Illustrator file in After Effects you need to remember to make sure the option that retains the Layer sizes is selected. This imports all those individual layers I mentioned previously and thus allows me to create the pin points and make those characters move!

This animation was released to let students know about the new features of the Blackboard Responsive version for use “on the go” as well as the accessibility features and has been featured across a range of promotional mediums, Youtube, Twitter and across the large screens across the university.

Last month we received an email from Claire Gardener, Senior Learning Technologist at the University of Derby and Co-Leader of the Blackboard Ally European user group. Claire had seen the animation online and was impressed and it was decided to award us the Resource of the Month which of course we accepted graciously. On 31st October we were invited to present to the user group in an online webinar. Jan and Neil discussed the roll out across UCLan and I discussed the animation. Our presentation was received well and garnered some great feedback and I personally felt very proud of what I had created to help promote such an important and brilliant product.


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