IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Uploading assignment file(s) via Safari & iOS

There is currently an issue with the latest version of Safari on Mac and all iOS browsers.

You cannot upload files to a Blackboard Assignment using the above as it will result in an error:

If you are on a Mac, please use a different browser like Firefox or Chrome.

If you’re on an iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod) please switch to a PC and try again.

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.

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.

Changing the focus: Accessibility in Blackboard

When thinking about accessibility and inclusive teaching practice, technology is often cited as a solution. Technology can certainly assist students with disabilities but well designed online learning provision can benefit all learners.

Central to this is a shift in focus away from the ‘deficit’ model of perceiving disability, where Universities respond to a ‘need’ and adopting a ‘social’ model that addresses the structural barriers to students’ ability to participate, and succeed in learning. This is where technology can play a key role in levelling the learning playing field by designing systems that optimise access for all (JISC Quick Guide, Getting started with accessibility and inclusion).

The University’s virtual learning environment, Blackboard, is fully compatible with internationally recognised accessibility standards and has in-built features that allow students with different impairments to engage with digital content.

Turnitin is working towards full compliance. A text based PDF version of students’ work can be downloaded to work with screen-readers.

There are also things you can do to when producing your learning materials to ensure students have the best experience.

Find out how to make the most of the accessibility features in Blackboard and Turnitin.

Find advice on making your documents and screencasts accessible in the Creating accessible teaching and learning resources blackboard course. (Log-in and click the +Enrol button.)

The Library guide to Inclusive Technology provides advice on accessibility features that students can use including Windows, Microsoft and Office365.