Blackboard downtime for essential system maintenance: overnight Sun 8th – Mon 9th April

Blackboard maintenance image

Our Blackboard VLE requires an important system update to be applied. This update will be carried out overnight Sunday 8th – Monday 9th April.

As a result, Blackboard and Turnitin will be unavailable 

  • from Sunday 8th April 22:00 BST (time in Malaysia: 05:00 MYT on 9th April)
  • to Monday 9th April 12:00 BST (time in Malaysia: 19:00 MYT on 9th April)

Please note: TEL staff in IT and CQSD will endeavour to complete post-upgrade checks as quickly as possible, and will aim to make the system available to users well before midday on Monday 9th.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

More Turnitin enhancements

Turnitin logo

 

 

 

The Turnitin developers have been busy recently, with a number of enhancements now available to users – here’s a summary.

(Incidentally, you will see notifications of all new features if you follow @TurnitinProduct on Twitter).

Improved document resolution

Documents submitted to Turnitin are now displayed in the Feedback Studio as PDFs, rather than PNG image files. This has not changed Feedback Studio functionality at all, but has introduced a marked improvement in the clarity and readability of student papers – so a significant boon for markers.

Easier access to Turnitin classes for iPad App users

The way staff can gain access to Turnitin assignments via the iPad app changed recently and now sends an email to users – see our post Marking using Turnitin on your iPad? Time to update your app.

There are some scenarios in which markers might not be able to access their institutional email on the iPad they are using. To accommodate these users, Turnitin have made it possible to view the required ‘class access URL’ on any device – for details see the Turnitin Release Notes.

Text-Only Similarity Reports

The Feedback Studio is not fully accessible for those who need to use assistive technology, such as a screen reader. The Text-Only version is fully accessible, and access to this version has been improved – there is now a link to the ‘Text-only Report’ at the bottom of the Feedback Studio window.

See this Turnitin Feedback Studio guide for details.

Link to the Text-only Similarity Report

 

Turnitin Community

When you are viewing a Turnitin Assignment Inbox within your Blackboard course, you will now see a link to Community.

Link to the Turnitin Community site
This takes you to a recently launched online space at https://turnitin.forumbee.com where academics and other staff involved with Turnitin can ask questions and share experiences:

The Turnitin Educator Network (TEN) forum connects educators with a shared commitment to academic integrity. Members support one another by sharing learnings to grow as a global network of leaders in education.

It will be interesting to see how this forum develops. It could become a valuable space in which to share good practice, gain inspiration, and make your voice heard about all of the additional features you would dearly love to see added to Turnitin.

 

 

Marking using Turnitin on your iPad? Time to update your app

Turnitin iPad app logoTurnitin have just released a new version of their iPad app: Turnitin Feedback Studio for iOS.

Actually, it’s no longer strictly an iPad app, as you can also install it on your iPhone or iPod Touch – although we don’t recommend marking student essays on a really small screen.

 

 

Existing iPad app users

Important:
Please ensure that you have finished marking and sync’d all downloaded papers before updating your app.

If you are already a user of the app, and have added one or more Blackboard courses to your ‘Class List’ in the app, you can for the time being continue to mark submissions on those courses without updating the app.

However you will need to update to the new version before you can mark work submitted to any other Blackboard courses.

 

What’s New

There is a revised method for connecting up Turnitin assignments in Blackboard to the App.

Instead of generating an Access Code in order to access a Blackboard course via the app, you now request a link to be sent to your email address.

To make use of this link, you must be able to access that email on your iPad.

This process is a more practical solution. It replaces the need to have your iPad to hand when generating the code on your desktop, and then having to type in the long letter code.

For full details of the revised method, please see our updated guidance, (or the instructions on the Turnitin support site.)

The Release Notes also list a number of bug fixes and minor enhancements.

Online staff meetings with Skype for Business: New interactive guide

The TEL team love sharing useful technology that can make working life easier and Skype for Business is now available to all staff at the University. Skype is the ideal choice for arranging online meetings between academics, professional staff or external colleagues.

Our friends in Information Technology have made a new interactive tutorial (published on the Learning and Teaching Facilities blog) that shows you how easy it is to schedule and join a meeting using the Outlook Calendar and information for external contacts to join using the Web App.

How can I meet my students online?

 

Blackboard Collaborate logoThe ability to use Skype between staff joins the existing option to hold ‘real-time’ lessons and meetings with your students using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. This tool is built into the University’s virtual learning environment and is specifically designed for education. It provides students with the ability to easily interact and communicate with you, in a virtual classroom, through your module on Blackboard.

Read our case studies to find out how Blackboard Collaborate has enabled students to engage online and increased learning opportunities for both on-campus and off-campus students.

 

 

Changes to Blackboard Assignments

Additional features in the New Box Viewer

If you make use of the Blackboard assignment tool, you will be aware that the interface for leaving comments directly on students’ submissions changed in January this year. Our guidance for staff on using the new Box interface can be found on this page: Marking a Blackboard Assignment online using the in-built tool (Inline Grading).

Please be aware that the Box Viewer runs as Software as a Service – that is to say, new features and improvements are added on a continuous basis, and do not rely on us upgrading the Blackboard system as a whole. A number of improvements requested by Blackboard users have already been introduced, with more promised for the coming months.

As of yesterday. the ability for markers to draw on the student’s submission (available via the old marking interface) has been added. And fewer clicks are required when adding multiple drawing or text comments on the page. These updated features are now included in our PDF guide: Marking a Blackboard assignment online using Inline Grading (New Box View)

Box drawing tool

We have also updated our student guidance on submitting to Blackboard Assignments, and locating and viewing marks and feedback, following our transition to the New Box Viewer.

 

Edit 12th March: new annotation features temporarily withdrawn

Box have discovered that the new annotation mentioned above were causing performance issues, and have temporarily removed them. We understand that the drawing tool and other features should be restored later this week, once Box have resolved their technical issues.

 

Important: Known issue for students Saving as Draft

Blackboard have identified an issue which could have serious consequences if a student

  • uploads a file to a Blackboard Assignment
  • selects Save Draft
  • uploads a later version of the file, with the same filename, before submitting the attempt.

In this situation, the later version of the file will be successfully submitted to Blackboard, but the earlier version still displays on screen – i.e. the marker will inadvertently mark an earlier draft of the work.

Fortunately, this sequence of events is probably fairly rare, and it will always be possible to download the later file from Blackboard.

We have provided a warning about this on the Blackboard assignment submission screen, with a link to our guidance for students on how to avoid the issue.

Blackboard Assignment submission help text

Blackboard are working on a fix for this, which we expect to be available in the next week or two. However, with many assessment deadlines coming up, if you are using the Blackboard Assignment tool, please make your students aware of this serious, but easily-avoided, problem. Please direct them to the relevant information on the Student Support site, and tell them to contact IT if they have any issues.

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Turnitin changes

Turnitin logo

Turnitin – immediate Similarity Reports for up to three resubmissions

Previously, on Turnitin assignments where students were allowed to submit and resubmit drafts up until the due date, if students made a resubmission they had to wait 24 hours for the Similarity Report to generate.

Turnitin have now changed this:

Students can now view their initial Similarity Report, then revise and resubmit their work up to three times, without having to wait 24 hours for an updated report. After three resubmissions have been made, the 24-hour report generation wait time will be restored.
Instantaneous similarity results give students the formative support they need to master paraphrasing and citation conventions efficiently.

https://guides.turnitin.com/01_Manuals_and_Guides/Release_Notes/Turnitin_Release_Notes/Instant_Similarity_Reports_for_up_to_three_resubmissions

 

This feature is, of course, only available if resubmissions are enabled for an assignment i.e. if under Generate Similarity Reports for student submission you have selected Immediately (can overwrite reports until due date).

We have updated our Turnitin user guides for students accordingly.

 

Turnitin iPad app logoTurnitin iPad app

A new release of the iPad app was made available in the Apple app store in January. This includes fixes for bugs which were affecting Rubrics and Grading Forms.

As ever, please ensure that you have finished marking and sync’d all downloaded papers before updating your app.

For information on using the app, see our support page: Turnitin iPad app.