Blackboard upgrade complete

Last night’s upgrade completed successfully, and the system was made available to users again at around 10.30 this morning.

What’s new in Blackboard?

Links to Talis

This update fixes the issue with broken links to Talis Aspire Reading Lists from Blackboard course menus.

Reading lists for Spring term modules – information for Module Convenors

The Blackboard upgrade at the beginning of August 2017 introduced a bug which broke links from Blackboard course menus to Talis Aspire reading lists.

To deal with this issue, these broken links were automatically hidden in course menus to prevent confusion for students.

Following the most recent upgrade, if you want to use a Reading List link on your Blackboard course menu you will need to:

  • Configure the Reading List link in the Blackboard course to point to your 2017-18 list.
    See how to do this at https://libguides.reading.ac.uk/reading-lists/staff/blackboard
  • Un-hide the Reading List link on the course menu:
    • Hover over the link, click the ‘Reading List menu item options’ button that appears.
    • Click ‘Show Link’ from the menu. (See screenshot below)

      Make a course menu link visible to students

        Make a course menu link visible to students

 

Please continue to update reading lists for the 2017/18 session, and remember to publish all lists that are still in draft. Until published, a list can’t be seen by your students. For further information please contact your Liaison Librarian.


Please note that the problem described affects Blackboard courses where there is a single module reading list, with a link from the Blackboard course menu.
 If a Blackboard course has multiple reading lists, or module convenors have created links from Blackboard to specific sections of a Talis list, these links will be inside a Blackboard content area, and were not affected by the Blackboard bug.

Portfolios

The upgrade fixes a number of bugs which affected Blackboard Portfolios. In particular, when students include web links in their portfolio, this no longer causes an error for those trying to view the portfolio.

For more on Portfolios, see https://help.blackboard.com/Learn/Instructor/Assignments/Portfolios

Blackboard Assignments and Inline Grading

The upgrade was essential for us to make the move to the new inline grading platform for Blackboard assignments which comes online in January. You will notice no difference now – our transition is scheduled for the morning of Wednesday 10th January. Please see our post Changes to Inline Grading in Blackboard for more details – and, if you are currently marking work submitted to a Blackboard assignment, please note that all comments added using the current interface will be “burnt in” on 10th January (i.e. you will not be able to edit or delete them once we have made the change).

Student view of Grades

One slight niggle with the new Blackboard version: when students go to My Grades, all grades are shown to five decimal places – so a mark of 55 will display as 55.00000

That’s not incorrect but, equally, it’s not particularly helpful. Hopefully this feature will be addressed when we next upgrade in the summer.

My Grades showing 5 decimal places

 

If you have any queries, please log them via the IT Self-Service portal.

eMarking tips & advice: Turnitin | Blackboard Assignments

This information is relevant to staff involved in marking work online

Over the next few weeks, many staff will be marking work which has been submitted via Blackboard or Turnitin.

To avoid any issues, please consult our E-marking essentials page, which provides essential information for anyone marking coursework and returning feedback to students online.

The page covers all aspects of assessment using Turnitin, Blackboard Assignments, and the Grade Centre:

  1. Preparing to mark online
  2. Marking assignments
  3. Moderation
  4. Releasing feedback and marks to students

 

There’s a few points we’d particularly like to highlight:

EMA Early Adopter Schools (APD & SAGES)

If you are in one of the Early Adopter Schools you will have been provided with specific guidance on e-marking and feedback. That information overrides the generic guidance on our support page.

 

Turnitin

Although you should be able to use Turnitin with all major browsers, advice received from Turnitin engineers and other institutions suggests that Firefox is the most reliable browser to use when providing feedback using the Feedback Studio.

If you do experience any technical issues with Turnitin over the Christmas closure period, you can contact Turnitin Support directly for help.

 

Blackboard Assignments

In January, we will be transitioning to a slightly different interface for providing online feedback on work submitted to a Blackboard assignment. Details can be found in this post on the TEL blog.

Instructors on a course with a Blackboard assignment due in December or early January, should already have been contacted with details of this change and what to do.

 

If you have any queries, please log them via the IT Self-Service portal.

 

Changes to Inline Grading in Blackboard

What is changing?

The Inline Grading features in Blackboard make use of a third party tool called Crocodoc.

The company who own Crocodoc are moving to a new tool called Box, and all Blackboard institutions need to switch to this new interface by 15th January 2018.

We will be making the transition to Box at the start of the working day on Wednesday 10th January.

The new Box interface is very similar to the current Crocodoc interface.

Comparison of Crocodoc and Box

Comparison of Crocodoc and Box

 

Box is able to display many more file types than is currently possible. In particular, you will be able to view image, audio and video files inside the Blackboard marking interface, and will also be able to annotate JPG and PNG image files inside Blackboard.

There’s a smaller range of annotation options available in Crocodoc, but when marking Word documents, PDFs and similar files, you will still be able to

  • highlight text
  • highlight text and add a comment
  • add a text comment anywhere on the submitted paper
    (this option is also available when annotating image files)

 

Box - adding a comment

Box – adding a comment

 

Box - adding a comment to highlighted text

Box – adding a comment to highlighted text

Box – add comment to a JPG image file

 

One function which is not available in Box, is the ability for staff and students to download papers with the annotations left by markers. We hope that this functionality may be reintroduced in a future version of the Box viewer.

For more information, please see the Blackboard help site: Transitioning from Crocodoc to New Box View

 

What will happen to feedback provided using Crocodoc?

The most important thing to know is that all feedback left using Crocodoc will still be available when we move to Box.

The feedback will continue to be visible – to both staff and students – within Blackboard, and when the marked paper is downloaded as a PDF.

Please note however that, once we move to Box, annotations made using Crocodoc are “burnt in”, and cannot be edited or deleted.

Annotations added using Crocodoc, after the transition to Box

Annotations added using Crocodoc, after the transition to Box

 

Annotations added using Crocodoc, downloaded as a PDF, after the transition to Box

Annotations added using Crocodoc, downloaded as a PDF, after the transition to Box

 

Important notice for staff marking work online in December and early January:

In accordance with University policy, feedback on assignments where the submission deadline falls on or before 8th December (the last day of UG term), should be made available to students by Tuesday 9th January. By switching to the new Box viewer on 10th January we hope to avoid any inconvenience to staff marking work due on or before 8th December.

However we are aware that there are some Blackboard assignments – particularly those set up for late submission after the due date – where our move to Box falls within the 15 day turnaround period.

If you are marking work where 10th January falls within the 15 day turnaround period, please ensure that any annotations you make before 10th January are in their final version – i.e. make sure that your annotations do not require editing before they become visible to students.

 

 

What is affected / what is not affected

  • This change affects only Blackboard assignments. Turnitin assignments are not affected.
  • This change affects only annotations made using the inline grading features.
  • It does not affect
    • feedback provided via an uploaded feedback file
    • feedback typed into the ‘Feedback to Learner’ area
    • student Grades
  • Switching to the new interface is a relatively quick process, and we do not expect it to cause any disruption to students submitting work, or to the Blackboard service as a whole. There may be a brief period after 8 a.m. on 10th January when staff are unable to mark work submitted to Blackboard assignments.

 

Further questions?

If you have queries relating to this change, please contact the TEL team via the IT Self-Service portal.

 

Module Evaluation and Blackboard

Colleagues will be aware that Module Evaluation is currently underway. Following the collection and distribution of student responses, Module Convenors are required to write a brief commentary on the module evaluation and upload this to the appropriate Blackboard course.

For further detail on this, please see our Module Evaluation support page.

 

To facilitate this, every Blackboard course representing a 2017-18 RISIS module was set up with a Module Evaluation area at the bottom of the course menu.

This area includes information for staff and students, and a content item to which the Module Convenor’s response can be attached.

Shared Courses

In some subject areas, Shared Courses are used to combine separate RISIS modules which are being delivered together. These Shared Courses will not automatically have the required Module Evaluation area, but it is possible to add the area following the simple steps in this guide:

Setting up the Module Evaluation area on Shared Courses