Blackboard Enhancements January 2017

Blackboard was upgraded 18th-19th December (to Blackboard 9.1 2016 Q2 release, Cumulative Update 3, if you like to know such things).

The upgrade did not introduce any significant new functionality, but it did bring a number of bug fixes – for instance, emails sent from Blackboard with a file attachment should now display correctly for Apple users.

The upgrade also allowed us to introduce some other enhancements:

Blackboard Assignment Receipts

We are now able to customise the receipt which students receive when they submit to a Blackboard assignment. We have added some explanatory text for students, to reiterate that

  • they should retain the receipt in case they need to provide proof of submission
  • proof of submission is not proof that they submitted the correct file, nor that the file(s) uploaded and can be viewed successfully.

In addition, where you have set up a Group Assignment, when one member of a group submits to the assignment, all members of that group will now be notified.

See Blackboard assignment submission receipts for further details.

 

Reusable Objects

Reusable Objects allow you to store in a central location (the Blackboard  Fileshare) pieces of content which you regularly use on a variety of Blackboard  courses. Moreover, you can update the Reusable Object in the Fileshare and the content will be updated in every course where it has been made available.

Reusable Objects are thus a good way to maintain and update content which needs to be made available on multiple courses – perhaps even on every course in a Department or School – but which might need to be updated at various points during the academic year. Examples might include Health and Safety guidance, School and Support Centre staff contact details, or information from central teams such as Careers and the Library.

This functionality is likely to be of most interest to colleagues who manage or support a large number of courses. For details, please see our guide Reusable Objects, and log a call with it@reading.ac.uk if you require further assistance or advice on making use of this feature.

 

Turnitin

The Blackboard upgrade required us to update our Turnitin plug-in, but this should not have affected any Turnitin functionality.

However, in an unrelated change, Turnitin introduced a welcome update to their Feedback Studio just before Christmas, which should remove an issue where some staff were finding themselves logged out while marking. Details in this earlier blog post: Turnitin enhancement: Timeout setting revised

Students now get submission receipts for Blackboard Assignments

In the past, when students have submitted work to the Blackboard Assignment tool they did not receive a receipt. This was a source of dissatisfaction for both staff and students, as work submitted via the Turnitin tool does generate a receipt, emailed to their University email address.

This issue has now been addressed – the University has paid Blackboard for an additional building block (plug-in) and this was made live on Wednesday evening.

So now, every time a student submits work to a Blackboard assignment, a receipt will be sent to their University email address. This receipt contains the following information:

  • a submission ID
  • the student’s name and student number
  • the assignment title
  • the title and ID of the Blackboard course
  • date and time of submission
  • a link to the file(s) submitted
  • a link to a web version of the receipt

Blackboard Assignment receipt

 

We have updated the guidance available to students via the Support for Students tab on Blackboard

Please note our advice to students

  • Do not delete the email receipt – you should retain it as proof of submission.
  • This receipt only indicates that a submission has been made by you on the date and time shown, and received by Blackboard.
  • It is not confirmation that a file you have submitted is correct or has uploaded properly.
    Always check the files you have submitted to make sure that they can be viewed or downloaded.

Even with a receipt, the onus is still on the student to ensure that they have submitted the correct files, that they are in the correct format, and that they can be viewed in and/or downloaded from Blackboard. Not all students will read our guidance, of course, so please reiterate these points to any of your students who are required to submit work to Blackboard assignments.

Staff access to receipts

Once a student has submitted to a Blackboard assignment on your course, you will find that a Receipts folder has been created in the course Fileshare, and all submission receipts will be stored here.

Receipts folder

 

For each receipt you can identify

  1. the student username (contained within the filename)
  2. the date and time of submission

assignment receipts

 

You would have to open a receipt to see other details, such as which assignment it relates to, or what files were submitted.

So identifying submission by a specific student to a specific assignment could be time-consuming. But, in case of dispute, the first step would be to ask the student to forward to you the receipt which was emailed to them.

We hope that the introduction of Blackboard assignment receipts will reduce student anxiety around e-submission, and increase transparency for both staff and students as to what was submitted when.

NOW FIXED Copied courses 2016-17: DO NOT set up new assignments yet!

NOW Completed – Assignment submission points have been deleted and you can set up new assignments.

Important information for staff who will have 2016-17 copied courses (after roll-over) and who want to set up Turnitin or Blackboard assignments in Blackboard.

Note: This notice only applies to courses that are being rolled over and have copied content on Saturday 30th July and Saturday 6th August.

After your courses have been rolled over and content copied, the Turnitin assignment points from last year’s course will still be present in your 2016-17 course. These still need to be deleted.

The deletion of the assignment points will take place in the next couple of weeks.

To allow this work to happen, until further notice:

  1. DO NOT create any new assignment submission points.
  2. DO NOT make changes to the Turnitin submission points copied over from last year.

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Using a qualitative Blackboard Rubric? Here’s something to look out for!

Some colleagues who are using Blackboard assignments to mark student work will have set up a Rubric for use in providing feedback. Typically this will be a qualitative (non-scoring) Rubric called a ‘No Points’ rubric that does not automatically assign a grade as each box is ticked, but is a way of indicating to the student how well they have performed against each assessment criterion.

We have discovered a minor issue in using such Rubrics which markers should be aware of.

After filling-out and saving the rubric, it resets any grade entered in the Attempt grade field to 0 and you will then need to re-enter the grade.

Since these are non-scoring Rubrics, filling out and saving a Rubric should not enter anything in the Grade field. However, when you save a non-scoring Rubric, Blackboard enters a 0 in the Grade field – overwriting any mark which had previously been entered there.

The workaround for this is always to complete the Rubric before entering a Grade.

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