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.

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

New Blackboard Instructor app

You may see notifications from Blackboard about Instructor, their new mobile app for staff.

Blackboard Instructor logo

This is part of a revamp of Blackboard’s mobile provision. Mobile Learn is being discontinued in favour of two “persona-based” apps:

  • a student app simply called Blackboard – see our guidance for students on the Student Help site
  • Blackboard Instructor for those with a staff role (e.g. Instructor or Teaching Assistant) on their Blackboard courses

Students are able to use the Blackboard app right now, but staff eager to try out Blackboard Instructor will have to wait until 7th August, after our system upgrade.

We will make sure we have some guidance material ready by then.

In the meantime 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

 

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.

Revised date for Blackboard upgrade: 6th – 7th August

Colleagues will be aware that we had previously scheduled this summer’s Blackboard upgrade for 25th June, but this had to be postponed when Blackboard’s quality checks identified a software defect. This bug was quickly resolved, and we are currently testing the revised software version on our Staging system.

We are keen to take advantage of new features offered by the latest version, and have provisionally rescheduled the upgrade for 6th – 7th August.

The upgrade requires system downtime.

 

Blackboard and Turnitin  will be unavailable

from 7.20 p.m. on Sunday 6th August

until no later than midday on Monday 7th August

We will endeavour to complete all post-upgrade checks, and have Blackboard back online, by mid-morning on Monday 7th, but the whole of the morning should be considered as being “at risk”.

 

This downtime window has been planned to minimise disruption, and particularly to avoid any disruption to those resitting exams.

Our apologies if the revised schedule does cause any inconvenience for you and your learners.

Course rollover now complete

The annual course rollover took place at the weekend. A very big thank you to our colleagues in the IT TEL Support team who not only gave up their Saturday to get this done, but have also spent many hours over the previous weeks and months preparing for a successful rollover.

 

The following types of course copy have now taken place:

  • 2016-17 RISIS courses scheduled to run again in 2017-18
  • any other courses where a staff member had submitted a course copy request by 1st July

 

Other 2017-18 courses will have been created as a blank shell:

  • RISIS modules where the Module Convenor specifically requested this via the opt-out form
  • RISIS modules which were not in use in 2016-17, and no course copy request had been received
  • modules which have never run before
  • modules where the RISIS code has changed (unless you requested a copy from a previous course)

 

If you missed the 1st July deadline, but still have content you would like copied from a 2016-17 (or earlier) course, please fill out the Course Copy Request Form which you can find – along with many other Blackboard-related request forms – at http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/vle-support/

Please submit your request as early as possible, to make sure you have plenty of time to set up your course for the new academic year.

 

Staff enrolments

As part of the course copy process, most staff enrolments will have been rolled forward – all Instructors, Teaching Assistants and External Examiners.

In addition, staff identified in RISIS as Module Convenor for a 2017-18 module will have been enrolled on the corresponding Blackboard course.
This applies equally to courses which were copied, and to courses which have been set up as a blank shell.
If you are a Module Convenor for a module which runs both in Reading and Malaysia, you will see all 2017-18 occurrences of the module in Blackboard.

 

If you do not see all of the 2017-18 Blackboard courses you need

  • If the course has run before:
    Ask a colleague to enrol you. This could be

    • the Module Convenor
    • another colleague who is already enrolled on the course
    • the programme administrator in the Support Centre.
  • If the course has never run before (or has a new RISIS code):
    Ask Support Centre staff to enrol you. This could be

    • the Programmes Manager
    • the Senior Programme Administrator

You could also fill out this form – Request enrolment on a course – but it will probably be quickest just to contact colleagues in the Support Centre.

 

 

Preparing your 2017-18 courses for the new academic year

Course menu

If your course was created as a copy of a previous course, the menu will be exactly the same on the new course.

If your course was created as a blank shell, it will have the default course menu.

default Blackboard course menu 2017

In either case, please spend some time considering if the menu and underlying course structure

  • meet the specific requirements of your course
  • will be easily navigable by your learners

and then make any changes required.

Please see our guides on this:

The Blackboard course menu

The default menu for new modules/programmes, with suggestions for what each section should contain.

Customising a course menu

How to customise the course menu to include essential features & make it easy to navigate for students.

 

Course content

Courses which have been copied forward will include all course content except for announcements, discussion boards, and Blackboard blogs, journals and wikis.

Naturally, before you make the course available to students in the new academic year, you will need to ensure that preparation should include ensuring that all course materials, such as

  • module / programme handbooks
  • assignment briefs
  • lecture and seminar material

are up-to-date, and in the appropriate section of the course.

Talis reading list links – whether as part of the menu, or in a course content area – will have been copied, but you need to configure them for use by students in the new academic year. Please see http://libguides.reading.ac.uk/reading-lists/staff/blackboard

Module Evaluation – this is a new content area which has been added to the Blackboard course for all 2017-18 RISIS modules. Information for both staff and students is included within the Module Evaluation course content area. There is no need to make any changes to this area until later in the academic year.

 

Assessment

Blackboard Tests and Surveys will have been copied, and you will find them listed under Control Panel > Course Tools > Tests, Surveys and Pools. However they will NOT yet be deployed to users  (made available for students to take). You will need to deploy them with appropriate settings on the new course. Please see our guidance on Tests and Surveys.

Blackboard and Turnitin Assignments – these will not have been copied at all, and new submission points will now need to be created with appropriate settings on the new course. In most Schools, this work is done by programme administrators in the Support Centres.

 

Any Questions?

Please log a support ticket with IT and depending on the nature of your query, you’ll get a response from either the CQSD or IT TEL team.