Updated inline grading interface for Blackboard Assignments now live

As previously advertised, our transition to the new Box interface for inline grading of Blackboard Assignments took place at 8 a.m. today.

When opening student papers submitted to a Blackboard Assignment, you may see a message saying “this file is being converted”.

Blackboard Assignment - please wait message

If you see this message, just press your browser’s Refresh / Reload button (F5). The file should then display immediately.

We have updated our guidance on marking Blackboard Assignments using the inline grading features:

Marking a Blackboard Assignment online using the in-built tool (Inline Grading)

Blackboard Assignments – New Box Viewer – technical information (including a list of supported file types).

 

These supplement our more general guidance on using

Blackboard Assignments

Group Assignments

and the Blackboard Grade Centre

 

If you have queries relating to this change, please contact the TEL team via the IT Self-Service portal.

Changes to the inline grading interface for Blackboard Assignments

As mentioned in a previous blog post, there are a few changes being introduced this week to the interface used when marking work submitted to a Blackboard Assignment.

Please note – this change does not affect Turnitin assignments, only Blackboard assignments.

The new Box marking interface will go live at 8 a.m. this Wednesday, 10th January.

There may be a brief period when papers submitted to a Blackboard assignment do not display inside Blackboard – at this time you will see a message saying “this file is being converted”.

Blackboard Assignment - please wait message

Once the transition to the new Box interface is complete, you may sometimes still see this message when opening a submission.

If you experience this, just press your browser’s Refresh / Reload button (F5). The file should then display immediately.

 

What annotation options are available?

When viewing a student submission you can

  • highlight text in the submission
  • highlight text and type a text comment
  • type a text comment

This short Blackboard video gives a good overview:

Highlighting text

Using your mouse, highlight any text, and a small toolbar appears.

Box - highlight menu

Box - highlight text icon Click on the pen icon to simply highlight the text.

Box - add comment to highlighted text icon Click on the speech bubble icon to associate a comment with the highlighted text.

Box - add comment to highlighted text

Click Post to save the comment.

 

Adding free text comments

Box - text comment icon Click on the speech bubble icon at the top of the page.

This message will appear.

Box - add text comment

Now click anywhere in the document, and you can leave a text comment.

Box - text comment

Click Post to save the comment.

 

Supported filetypes

The new Box viewer supports a greater range of files – for instance most image and video files can now be viewed directly inside Blackboard.

Not all files which can be viewed in Blackboard support highlighting / annotations, however. This list of supported filetypes shows which files can be viewed, and which annotated.

Please note that, at present, there are a few common file types – notably Excel and RTF files – which it is not possible to annotate directly in Blackboard.

Box, the third party company which provides the viewing/marking interface, are making constant improvements to their service, so additional functionality is being added on an ongoing basis – and Blackboard are working with Box to see that desired improvements are delivered as early as possible. Blackboard have also emphasised that Box provides

  • support for significantly more file types, including audio, video, and image formats
  • rore responsive browser support for accessing documents on any device across mobile browsers 
  • a more modern, cleaner UI that more seamlessly blends with Blackboard Learn

Additionally, Box is one of the world’s largest SaaS-based content management services, and as a result the New Box View service includes compliance with the strictest security and compliance standards.  

 

What will happen to feedback previously provided using Crocodoc?

The most important thing to know is that all feedback left using Crocodoc (the previous marking interface) will still be available when we move to Box.

The feedback will continue to be visible – to both staff and students – within Blackboard, and when the marked paper is downloaded as a PDF.

Please note however that, once we move to Box, annotations made using Crocodoc are “burnt in”, and cannot be edited or deleted.

Annotations added using Crocodoc, after the transition to Box

Annotations added using Crocodoc, after the transition to Box

Annotations added using Crocodoc, downloaded as a PDF, after the transition to Box

Annotations added using Crocodoc, downloaded as a PDF, after the transition to Box

Important notice for staff marking work submitted in December and early January:

In accordance with University policy, feedback on assignments where the submission deadline fell on or before 8th December (the last day of UG term), should have been made available to students by Tuesday 9th January.

However we are aware that there are some Blackboard assignments – particularly those set up for late submission after the due date – where our move to Box falls within the 15 day turnaround period.

If you are still marking work using the Crocodoc interface, please ensure that any annotations made on or before 9th January are in their final version – i.e. make sure that your annotations do not require further editing before they become visible to students.

 

 

What is affected / what is not affected

  • This change affects only Blackboard assignments. Turnitin assignments are not affected.
  • This change affects only annotations made using the inline grading features.
  • It does not affect
    • feedback provided via an uploaded feedback file
    • feedback typed into the ‘Feedback to Learner’ area
    • student Grades
  • Switching to the new interface is a relatively quick process, and we do not expect it to cause any disruption to students submitting work, or to the Blackboard service as a whole. There may be a brief period after 8 a.m. on 10th January when staff are unable to mark work submitted to Blackboard assignments.

 

Further questions?

If you have queries relating to this change, please contact the TEL team via the IT Self-Service portal.

Changes to Inline Grading in Blackboard

What is changing?

The Inline Grading features in Blackboard make use of a third party tool called Crocodoc.

The company who own Crocodoc are moving to a new tool called Box, and all Blackboard institutions need to switch to this new interface by 15th January 2018.

We will be making the transition to Box at the start of the working day on Wednesday 10th January.

The new Box interface is very similar to the current Crocodoc interface.

Comparison of Crocodoc and Box

Comparison of Crocodoc and Box

 

Box is able to display many more file types than is currently possible. In particular, you will be able to view image, audio and video files inside the Blackboard marking interface, and will also be able to annotate JPG and PNG image files inside Blackboard.

There’s a smaller range of annotation options available in Crocodoc, but when marking Word documents, PDFs and similar files, you will still be able to

  • highlight text
  • highlight text and add a comment
  • add a text comment anywhere on the submitted paper
    (this option is also available when annotating image files)

 

Box - adding a comment

Box – adding a comment

 

Box - adding a comment to highlighted text

Box – adding a comment to highlighted text

Box – add comment to a JPG image file

 

One function which is not available in Box, is the ability for staff and students to download papers with the annotations left by markers. We hope that this functionality may be reintroduced in a future version of the Box viewer.

For more information, please see the Blackboard help site: Transitioning from Crocodoc to New Box View

 

What will happen to feedback provided using Crocodoc?

The most important thing to know is that all feedback left using Crocodoc will still be available when we move to Box.

The feedback will continue to be visible – to both staff and students – within Blackboard, and when the marked paper is downloaded as a PDF.

Please note however that, once we move to Box, annotations made using Crocodoc are “burnt in”, and cannot be edited or deleted.

Annotations added using Crocodoc, after the transition to Box

Annotations added using Crocodoc, after the transition to Box

 

Annotations added using Crocodoc, downloaded as a PDF, after the transition to Box

Annotations added using Crocodoc, downloaded as a PDF, after the transition to Box

 

Important notice for staff marking work online in December and early January:

In accordance with University policy, feedback on assignments where the submission deadline falls on or before 8th December (the last day of UG term), should be made available to students by Tuesday 9th January. By switching to the new Box viewer on 10th January we hope to avoid any inconvenience to staff marking work due on or before 8th December.

However we are aware that there are some Blackboard assignments – particularly those set up for late submission after the due date – where our move to Box falls within the 15 day turnaround period.

If you are marking work where 10th January falls within the 15 day turnaround period, please ensure that any annotations you make before 10th January are in their final version – i.e. make sure that your annotations do not require editing before they become visible to students.

 

 

What is affected / what is not affected

  • This change affects only Blackboard assignments. Turnitin assignments are not affected.
  • This change affects only annotations made using the inline grading features.
  • It does not affect
    • feedback provided via an uploaded feedback file
    • feedback typed into the ‘Feedback to Learner’ area
    • student Grades
  • Switching to the new interface is a relatively quick process, and we do not expect it to cause any disruption to students submitting work, or to the Blackboard service as a whole. There may be a brief period after 8 a.m. on 10th January when staff are unable to mark work submitted to Blackboard assignments.

 

Further questions?

If you have queries relating to this change, please contact the TEL team via the IT Self-Service portal.

 

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!

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.