For staff

How do I know if there is a system problem with Blackboard or Turnitin?

Blackboard and Turnitin are occasionally unavailable for planned service interruptions. You will see a message within Blackboard notifying you of any pre-arranged service interruptions ahead of time.
You can also check to see if Blackboard and the University network are working on the ITS Status page.
Turnitin is a separate system that is integrated with Blackboard. This means that Turnitin might be unavailable even if Blackboard is working.

You can see if Turnitin is working by checking the Turnitin UK Status page. Please note: Only messages referring to TurnitinUK are relevant.

If students have trouble submitting work through Turnitin because of a recognised system problem, they should wait until the issue has been resolved to either check their submission was successful or submit their work. Students will receive an email receipt to their University email address as proof of submission.

How do I make my course available?

Newly created or copied courses (usually at the start of the academic year) are set as ‘unavailable’ in Blackboard. This means that they are not visible to students. This allows tutors time to prepare and modify their courses before the students can see them.

To make a course available:
Within the course go to the Course Management Control Panel, click Customisation > Properties, and set Availability to Yes, and click Submit.

User guide: How to make a course available

You can also use Qwickly to make your courses available.

How are students enrolled in Blackboard courses?

Once a student has completed their registration in RISIS (the Reading Student Information System) for the current academic year, and has been attached to specific modules, they will be automatically enrolled on the corresponding courses in Blackboard.

Blackboard is updated in an overnight feedback taken from RISIS at approximately 17:00 BST on a week day. Student enrolments on courses will appear in Blackboard on the following morning.

To check whether students have been attached to modules in RISIS, please contact the appropriate person in your School Office or the course administrator.

How can I enrol someone onto a Blackboard course?

Students should be automatically enrolled into your courses on Blackboard using their record in RISIS (the Reading Student Information System).
A small number of courses are not linked to RISIS. You can identify these courses by looking for NR in the course code (NR = ‘non-RISIS’). Students will need to be manually enrolled onto these courses.
If a student is not enrolled on a course you will need to contact an administrator to check that their enrolment record on RISIS is correct and then wait for this to be updated in Blackboard. It is important to make the change via RISIS to ensure the student obtains module credits and has an exam seat allocated etc.

Tutors and administrators can also be manually enrolled onto courses if you have the role of ‘Instructor’ on a course.

User guide: Enrolling participants on your Course 

What can I do if a student cannot see my Blackboard course?

  • Has your Blackboard course been made available, so that it is visible to students? See FAQ – How do I make my course available?
  • Are the students enrolled on the course? Within the course, go to the Course Management Control Panel, click Users and Groups > Users. You will see a list of everyone that is enrolled on the course.
  • If the student is listed and there is YES beside their name under the Available column, they should be able to see the course on Blackboard.
  • If the student is listed and there is a NO beside their name under the Available column, then another member of staff with the role of ‘Instructor’ on the course has prevented the student from accessing the course. You may need to check with other Instructors on the course to see why this has been done.
  • If the student is not listed on the course, you will need to contact an administrator to check their enrolment record on RISIS is correct and then wait for this to be updated in Blackboard.

What can I do if a student cannot log-in to Blackboard?

Ask students to contact the IT Service Desk if they are having problems logging in.

Another common reason for students not being able to access Blackboard beyond the 2nd week of term is that they have not completed the registration process including payment of fees and online module registration. If this is the case, ask students to contact the Student Services HelpDesk (Ground Floor Carrington Building, email: studenthelp@reading.ac.uk, telephone: 0118 837 8555).

How do I set up online assessments in Blackboard?

See the Assessment support page with details of what tools are available for e-assessment, how to set-up assignment submissions and how to build online tests in Blackboard.

Overview of the Project for e-Assessment at Reading (PEAR) and the University wide introduction of e-submission, e-marking and e-feedback.

Find out more about approaches to assessment at the University and how to enhance the provision of feedback to students.

What happens to Blackboard courses at the end of the academic year?

Courses on Blackboard remain fully accessible to staff after they have finished. They will also be available to students while they remain a student at the University and can be referred to as a learning archive.

We strongly advise leaving courses from previous academic years available to students, so they can re-visit study materials and see their online assignment feedback.

You can organise your courses by academic year by editing the Course block on the Enrolments tab and using  the ‘Group by term’ function.

Note: As part of the preparation for the next academic year, Blackboard courses that are running again in the next academic year, are copied to new courses (with new course codes) for the coming academic year. See details about the Annual Rollover.

What is the difference between a Blackboard Course and Organisation?

Blackboard Organisations are set up specifically to support student learning that takes place outside of the formal Blackboard course structure for a single module or programme.

See How to request an organisation.

Organisations continue from one year to the next and are not part of the annual rollover process, unlike courses that have a new course area set up each academic year. Organisations have the same features and tools as a Course.

Enrolment in organisations is either by self-enrol, manual enrolment or custom RISIS feed and is the responsibility of the person with the role of organisation ‘Leader’. (The role of ‘Leader’ is used instead of ‘Instructor’ when it is an Organisation. People enrolled onto the organisation by the Leader are called ‘Participants’).

Where can I find advice about copyright for online learning materials?

Please see the advice on copyright for Teaching, Learning and Assessment from Information Management and Policy Services (IMPS).

This includes details on how to use materials for online delivery in Blackboard.


How can I give External Examiners access to Blackboard?

Details can be found on the External Examiners page.

Which browser should I use to access Blackboard and Turnitin?

Google Chrome is the preferred Internet browser for working with Blackboard and Turnitin.

If you need to check if your browser is supported by Blackboard or Turnitin, check out our Supported Internet browsers page


What should I do if I receive an error message using Turnitin?

When using Turnitin, you may occasionally come across one of the few known errors. These errors are rare and you can usually tackle them yourself, but a few of them will need to be reported to the IT Service Desk (it@reading.ac.uk) or Turnitin.

Here’s a list of potential error messages and how to resolve them:

Error 124: Object missing or invalid

Error 206/207: Turnitin-Blackboard integration error

Error 414: Originality report not generated

Error 423: Unable to access Turnitin

Error 9999: Assignment not sync’d with Grade Centre

Help for Students

Students can find support from the ‘Support for Students’ tab within Blackboard, and from the Student Help site.


6 thoughts on “FAQs

  1. Is there a way of retrieving and downloading assignments from previous years? I am currently trying to download examples of good assignments from EDM124 from 2015 so that current students are able to see them.

  2. Im looking into setting up sign up forms under an organisation. I have set up a page for students to sign up to seminars. I have also set up a calendar so students can see when the optional seminars are on. Is there a way of linking the events on the calendar to the online sign up?

    • Hi Mark,
      It’s best to raise these types of queries with us using it@reading.ac.uk and will mean we can quickly reply to your query via the TopDesk system.
      There isn’t a clean and simple way of including a link to the sign-up sheet from a calendar event (although this would be a nice feature enhancement). The best option is to signpost students to the location of the sign-up lists using the event description field and have a sign-up list section in the left hand menu of the organisation to make sure they are prominent and easy to get to.
      Hope that helps!

  3. Is it possible to submit individual pieces to turnitin? e.g. a PhD students literature review draft? Or does everything submitted have to be set up as an assignment and submitted by the author?

    • Gemma
      Work has to be submitted via a Turnitin assignment, which in turn has to be set up inside a Blackboard course.
      Depending on the context you might want the PhD students to submit their drafts directly – so they can see the Similarity Report – or you might want to submit papers on a student’s behalf.
      Can you log a ticket via it@reading.ac.uk so we can discuss your particular requirements?
      Andy Turner

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