Q. What is NILE?


A guide for staff

NILE, the Northampton Integrated Learning Environment, is a collection of digital tools provided by the University of Northampton to support teaching and learning. All NILE tools are fully supported by the Learning Technology Team and are available for use by all staff and their students at the University.

NILE comprises the following tools:

Blackboard Learn Blackboard Learn Blackboard Learn is the core tool in the University's digital learning environment, and is what many people think of as NILE. This is where you can upload learning materials, create online activities, use discussion boards, send announcements, create and deploy tests, setup online assignment submission points, grade and feedback on submissions, and much more.

Blackboard Learn is accessed at:

Log in using your usual University username and password.

Blackboard Ally Logo Blackboard Ally Blackboard Ally enables students to access alternative, accessible versions of documents uploaded into their NILE modules in Blackboard Learn. When you upload a document into NILE (e.g. a Word file) Ally will automatically create alternative versions of your document in PDF, HTML, ePub, electronic Braille, and audio (mp3) formats. Ally will also give your original document an accessibility score, and will make suggestions about how the accessibility of the original document can be improved. The more accessible the original document is, the better and more accessible the alternative versions will be. 

Blackboard Ally is fully integrated into Blackboard Learn and is accessed via:

Log in using your usual University username and password.

Blackboard Collaborate Blackboard Collaborate Blackboard Collaborate is the University's virtual classroom tool. It is a highly versatile collaborative tool which is used to run synchronous online sessions with students. You can upload and present pre-prepared content, share your webcam feed and/or your screen, run polls and quizzes, respond to instant messages, and use breakout rooms.

Blackboard Collaborate is fully integrated into Blackboard Learn and is accessed via:

Log in using your usual University username and password.

Edublogs Edublogs Edublogs provides staff and students with unlimited WordPress sites, so you and your students can create as many blogs, websites and e-Portfolios as you want, including ones that you would like to be submitted for assessment. WordPress is perhaps the best and most popular website building and blogging platform available on the web, so learning how to use it will enhance your students' digital capabilities.

Edublogs is accessed at:

Log in using your usual University username and password.

Kaltura Kaltura Kaltura provides staff and students with the ability to create and stream video and audio content. As well as being a world-class, mobile friendly media streaming system that allows you to upload and share video and audio content in your NILE sites, it also has a recorder which allows you to create and edit your own webcam or voice-over screencapture recordings. Additionally, Kaltura allows you to add quizzes into your videos, create 'choose your own adventure' type branching videos, and allows students to record and submit videos for assessment.

Kaltura is integrated into Blackboard Learn and is accessed via:

Kaltura can also be accessed and used outside of the Blackboard Learn environment at:

Regardless of whether you access Kaltura directly or via Blackboard Learn, you will always have access to all of your media. Media uploaded directly to Kaltura will be accessible in Blackboard Learn, and vice versa. 

Log in using your usual University username and password.

Padlet Padlet Padlet is a digital post board that can be used individually and/or collaboratively. You can use Padlet to collect and share information, including images and videos, but you can also use Padlet with others as part of a collaborative activity. Padlet boards can be structured in a variety of different ways, and can be shared openly or can be completely private.

Padlet is accessed at:

Click 'Log in with Microsoft' and log in using your  University of Northampton email address (the one ending @northampton.ac.uk for staff, or @my.northampton.ac.uk for students) and your usual password.

PebblePad PebblePad PebblePad is the University's e-Portfolio tool. It comprises Pebble+, a personal e-Portfolio, and ATLAS, an institutional space for managing submissions, assessment and the sharing of resources. PebblePad is a complex and extremely versatile tool which can be used for the assessment of competencies in practice, placement e-Portfolios, and for devising and managing complex submission types.

PebblePad is accessed at:

Log in using your PebblePad username and password. Staff who do not have a PebblePad account can contact their Learning Technologist in order to obtain one.

Turnitin Turnitin Turnitin provides staff with a set of tools for assignment submission, grading and feedback. Turnitin includes a number of features to enhance and streamline the marking process, such as QuickMark Sets, rubrics and grading forms, and an inbuilt audio feedback recorder. Turnitin also provides a report on the originality of the work submitted by students, based on checking for text matches with existing books, papers, websites and papers previously submitted to Turnitin. 

Turnitin is fully integrated into Blackboard Learn and is accessed via:

Log in using your usual University username and password.

Xerte Xerte Xerte is the University's tool for creating interactive learning materials. As well as being able to present content via a wide range of page types, it has many different interactive test and quiz options, so your students can check their understanding as they progress through your Xerte presentation.

Xerte is accessed at:

Log in using your usual University username and password.


Why use NILE?

There are a number of reasons for using NILE.

1. All NILE tools are fully supported by the Learning Technology Team. This means that these tools are stable, reliable and regularly backed up to prevent data loss. Importantly, this also means that you have access to all the help, training and support you need when using these tools from your learning technologist. (If you don't know who your learning technologist is please see the link at the bottom of this page). In addition, by using NILE tools your students can get help from LearnTech Support by contacting learntech@northampton.ac.uk or by calling 01604 892696.

2. All NILE tools have been checked for accessibility and are available to the widest variety of users with visual and/or auditory impairments. As well as being good practice, and part of the University's ethos to be accessible and inclusive, it is a legal requirement to ensure that information provided by the University on websites and mobile applications is widely accessible. You can find our more about this here.

3. All NILE tools are GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant. Under the Data Protection Act (2018), the University has a legal duty to protect students' personal data. You can use NILE tools safe in the knowledge that your students' personal data is being processed in compliance with the Data Protection Act. You can find out more about GDPR here.

4. As set out in the University's guidelines on the use of external web (cloud) services (see link below), unless they have been informed prior to application, students cannot be required to sign up to third party digital tools (i.e. tools not managed and supported by the University of Northampton). As all NILE tools are available to staff and students via their University of Northampton credentials, students cannot opt-out of using these tools as part of their studies. Staff using digital tools not provided and managed by the University of Northampton are likely to need to complete a Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) and a Privacy or Data Protection Impact Assessment (PIA or DPIA) in order to ensure that they are using these tools in accordance with the law. If you are considering using a digital tool with your students outside of those provided by the University, you can find out more about relevant laws and regulations that you will need to comply with here:
• Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations
Data Protection Impact Assessments
Public Sector Equality Duty

5. NILE use is mandated by the University of Northampton. All modules taught at the University must have a NILE site, and each year the University publishes a set of design standards outlining what is expected in each module's NILE site. You can view the current NILE design standards using the link below. 


  • Last Updated Jun 27, 2019
  • Views 218
  • Answered By Robert Farmer

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