Blackboard upgrade 17th December: planned system downtime, Talis issue resolved

There will be a Blackboard upgrade taking place on 17th – 18th December. This upgrade requires system downtime.

Blackboard and Turnitin will be unavailable to all users

from: 14:30 GMT on Sunday 17th December (22:30 MYT)

to: 12:00 midday GMT on Monday 18th December (20:00 MYT)

NOTE: We aim to make Blackboard available as soon as possible following the upgrade and it may be available before midday.

 

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

If you are responsible for module reading lists, please read the guidance below.

 

Reading lists for Spring term modules – information for Module Convenors

The Blackboard upgrade at the beginning of August 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.

The Blackboard software update taking place on the 17th – 18th December resolves this issue.

After this time, if Module Convenors want to use the Reading List course menu link 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

Module convenors / list owners should not postpone the publication of their Spring Term 2018 reading lists until the Blackboard issue has been fixed.

If setting up links from Blackboard to Talis before 18th December, Tutors will need to continue to embed links in an appropriate Blackboard course content area – as shown in this user guide Setting up links to your Talis reading list.

Academic staff should 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 are not affected by the Blackboard bug.

Linking to your Reading Lists from Blackboard – action required

You will be aware that the Blackboard upgrade at the beginning of August introduced a bug which broke links on Blackboard course menus to Talis reading lists. Initially Blackboard seemed optimistic that they would have a resolution for this problem before the start of term. However, to date, no solution has been forthcoming.

With Welcome Week fast approaching, we wanted to ensure that Module Convenors were aware of the situation, and of the workaround which you can put in place to allow students to access their module reading list from Blackboard.

Please see this guide for instructions on creating a working link to Talis from your Blackboard course.

 

Please note that the problem affects Blackboard courses where there is a single module reading list, with a link from the Blackboard course menu.

If your Blackboard course has multiple reading lists, or you have created links from Blackboard to specific sections of a Talis list, these links will be inside a Blackboard content area, and should not be affected by the Blackboard bug.

 

Please continue to update your 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.

Repositioning items within a course content area

If you want to rearrange folders or items within a course content page, you should be able to do this simply by dragging the item to the desired position – see How to rearrange content items on a page.

However, if you have a large number of items on the page, you may find that this is impossible to do. In which case you can use “keyboard accessible reordering” to place items in the desired position – here’s how to do it.

Issues with links to Talis from Blackboard courses

We have been made aware of an issue with links to Talis reading lists in Blackboard.

The issue affects Reading List links on the course menu – these are no longer pointing to the correct module reading list in Talis.

Blackboard are working on a fix for this issue. We do not have a timescale as yet, but we certainly hope to have the matter resolved before the start of term.

 

In the meantime

  • Please do not delete the Reading List link (if you do, you’ll need to recreate it once Blackboard have released a fix for this issue).

 

If you need to make the reading list available to your students before the start of term, you can

  • Create a link inside a course content area
    There is no problem creating Talis links inside course content areas (as you would do, for instance, if you need to link to more than one reading list for your Blackboard course).See Linking to multiple lists on the Library help page, or this guide: Linking to your reading list(s) on Blackboard.
  • Provide students with the URL of the reading list
    Go to your reading list in Talis, copy the URL, and paste this in as a Web Link in Blackboard (or paste it in an email).Talis URL

 

Apologies for any inconvenience, we will of course let colleagues know of progress in resolving this issue.

 

Update 5th Sep

Please see Linking to your Reading Lists from Blackboard – action required

What’s new in the latest Blackboard version

Blackboard has now been upgraded to the most recent software release, Q2 2017.

Here’s a quick run-down of some of the changes you’ll notice in the new version.

Drag and Drop files

When you want to attach files to a course content item, the Browse button is still present, but if you prefer you can now drag and drop files from your computer.

This functionality is available in most places you see the Browse button. Students will be able to take advantage of it in blogs, journals and wikis (although not, as yet, in Discussion Forums). It is also available to students when uploading files to a Blackboard assignment.

Users of the Blackboard Fileshare will also find this a boon, as it restores the ability to upload multiple files in the Chrome and Firefox browsers.

Read more about Drag and Drop and uploading multiple files.

Submit button always visible

It’s a small thing, but very useful: you should now find that on any page which is too long to fit onto your screen without scrolling, the Submit button is always visible, at the foot of the screen.

Submit button visible

 

Blackboard Assignment  Submission receipts

Last year we paid Blackboard for a custom building block, so that students submitting to a Blackboard assignment would get a submission receipt emailed to them. With the latest release, this has become part of the core functionality.

For every submission to a Blackboard assignment a receipt is generated. This receipt is

  • emailed to the student
    (on Group assignments, all members of the Group are sent a receipt)
  • available for the student to view via My Grades
  • available for staff to view via the Grade Centre.

Blackboard Assignment receipt

more on Blackboard Assignment Receipts

 

 

Assignment Submission Reminders

Staff can send email reminders from the Grade Centre to students who have not yet submitted to a specific assignment. Students receive a system-generated email listing the course, coursework, and the assessment due date.

Staff can use this tool to send reminders for assignments even where anonymous marking is enabled. To protect anonymity, students’ names and attempt statuses are not revealed in this situation – so you will not know which students have been sent an email reminder, only how many.

Please note – you have no control over what the reminder email says, The text at present reads as in this example:

You currently don’t have a mark or submission for the following coursework: Title: Anon June 2017 Course: 2016 Q4 Test course 04Apr2017 Course ID: RDDEV_2016Q4_04Apr17 Please log in to review the instructions for this coursework and check the calendar for all due dates.

More on how to send reminders for missing coursework (Blackboard help site)

 

You can use the Send Reminder feature with Blackboard assignments and Blackboard Tests.

This tool should not be used for Turnitin assignments – especially not for anonymous Turnitin assignments. For Turnitin Assignments please use the Email non-submitters option available in the Turnitin assignment inbox.

 

Marking Anonymous Blackboard Assignments

On assignments where multiple attempts were allowed, and which were set up to be marked anonymously, staff would previously see all submissions in Needs Marking – even those which had been superseded by a later attempt. That is no longer the case – only the most recent attempt will appear in Needs Marking.

Please note, there are other issues associated with managing anonymous Blackboard assignments, and where anonymous marking is essential, we recommend either that you use Turnitin, or adopt a less rigid approach to anonymity (e.g. “Grade with usernames hidden).

More on grading multiple attempts on the Needs Grading page  (Blackboard help site)

Blackboard Instructor app

Following the upgrade, staff will be able to access the new Instructor app.

Initially the app provides limited functionality, but the range of features will increase over the coming months. In this first version you can

  • preview course content, including tests and assignments – this could be really useful to check how well students are able to view your course content on a mobile device
  • post announcements
  • post and reply to discussion forums
  • launch Collaborate Ultra sessions

Future releases will allow tablet users to view, mark and provide feedback on assignment submissions.

You can get an idea of what the app can do from this short video

 

and on the Blackboard Help site: https://help.blackboard.com/Blackboard_App/Instructor

Inaugural TEL Fest – a success!

TEL Fest logo

“Really liked the event – thought there was lots of opportunity to chat with colleagues (both TEL and outside TEL) informally and share best practice. I learned a lot that will help me make my module better with relatively little effort. You should definitely do it again next year!” [TEL Fest delegate]

The university’s first TEL Fest, held 11-13 July 2017, has been hailed a great success with lots of positive feedback from staff who attended the 3 day event. Our festival of Technology Enhanced Learning comprised a range of 11 staff development sessions aimed at helping staff develop their awareness and use of technology to engage students and enrich their learning experience here at the university.

Staff from Blackboard and UCL joined TEL and CQSD staff along with colleagues from across the university to network, present and share TEL and Blackboard ideas and expertise to help enhance teaching, learning and assessment here at Reading. From tasty ‘TEL tapas’ and Blackboard Bootcamp, UCL’s ABC rapid design curriculum design workshop, TEL tools for teaching large classes, using video from Box of Broadcasts and sharing apps for teaching and learning, it was a varied programme with something for everyone!

Image of TEL Roadshow event

We also launched the new Blackboard Collaborate Ultra tool (live online classroom) for use in modules in the new academic year. Staff from UoR Malaysia and Blackboard joined us remotely along with early adopters to help launch the tool and, yes, there were party poppers! You can find out more information about this new tool and access self-help materials on the TEL Blog.

TEL Fest in numbers

Around 130 staff attended one or more of the sessions with Henley Business School, International Study and Language Institute (ISLI) then Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy being the top three schools in terms of staff attendance.

TEL Fest in tweets

View an account of TEL Fest in the tweets posted during the event at this TEL Fest Storify.

Thanks to all involved. TEL Fest 18 is already in the diary – watch this space for more info!