Get ready! Direct transfer of marks between Blackboard and RISIS (EMA Integration)

This post contains information aimed at Module Convenors and academic staff involved in overseeing assessment in modules on Blackboard.


The integration of assessment information between RISIS and Blackboard is scheduled to go live on Thursday 3rd January 2019. It applies to all summative assessments with a due date of Friday 1st February or later.


What is EMA Integration?


Integration will increase the accuracy and efficiency of assessment administration:

1. Sub modular marks that are recorded in Blackboard for summative assessments will be transferred directly to RISIS by Programme Administrators (This includes marks for Turnitin assignments.)

2. Assessment information held in RISIS will be used to automatically set up Blackboard assessments e.g. Blackboard assignments, blogs, journals and wikis. (This excludes the set up of Turnitin assignments. Programme Administrators will continue to set these up manually.)


What does it mean for academic staff?


There are no changes for academic staff in how assessments are marked. Your Programme Administrators will handle all of the Integration processes. Your Support Centre has been briefed and trained for the introduction of EMA Integration, and continued support will be provided by EMA staff and the TEL team.

Please continue to provide your Programme Administrators with the details of your assessments for the coming term to allow them to automate the technical administration of the assessments in Blackboard.


What will I see in Blackboard?


If you enter the Grade Centre for your module, you will see columns that allow marks to be transferred into RISIS. The titles of these are prefaced with [IC]. Do not edit or delete these.

For some assessment types, integration will automatically set up the submission point along with the column in the Grade Centre. These are:

  • Blackboard Assignments,
  • Blackboard Blogs, Journals & Wikis.

These assessments will always be set up in the section called ‘Assessment’ in the course menu. It is essential that you do not move or copy these to another area in the course. 

If your Blackboard courses do not currently use a course menu item called ‘Assessment’ as the location for assignment submissions, we recommend renaming the existing submission area to ‘Assessment’. Further advice and guidance can be found at ‘What if my course menu does not have an Assessment area?


Further information and support


If you have any questions about integration: 

Or talk to your Programme Administrator in the first instance. If they do not know the answer, they can raise a support ticket for colleagues in the TEL, RISIS or IT teams to answer the query.


You can find more support about how to undertake e-assessment on our EMA Help page.



Press ‘Sync Grades’ to ensure the Grade Centre displays updated Turnitin marks

When staff use Turnitin GradeMark to mark student work, the grades entered in GradeMark should automatically transfer to the Blackboard Grade Centre (for assignments with Anonymous Marking, this should happen once the Post Date has been reached).

Sometimes this synchronisation does not happen automatically, and you have to use the Sync Grades tool – see Use Sync Grades to push marks into the Grade Centre.

If students’ marks have been changed in Turnitin as a result of moderation, we advise you to press Sync Grades to make absolutely sure that the updated mark is transferred to the Grade Centre.


To do this

  • Go to Control Panel > Course Tools > Turnitin Assignments
  • Find the relevant assignment in the list
  • Click the Sync Grades link to the right of the assignment name.

Turnitin Sync Grades

Having done that, go back to the Grade Centre, and you should find that the same marks are showing in both places.


Please note, we are only aware of one case where  marks which had been changed in Turnitin were not automatically updated in Blackboard. But to be on the safe side, if marks have been changed in Turnitin, we would advise you to press Sync Grades before marks and feedback are released to students.

FIXED Attaching feedback files on Turnitin assignments – avoid spaces in filenames

This issue has now been resolved: see Latest Turnitin connector installed 18th Feb 2016


The issue in a nutshell

  • If you are using the Blackboard Grade Centre to attach feedback files to Turnitin Assignments, you are advised to avoid spaces in the filenames of the documents that you upload.
  • Files with spaces in the name are currently inaccessible to staff via the Grade Centre.
  • Files with spaces in the name cannot be deleted if it needs to be replaced using the ‘Remove’ button.
  • This issue does not appear to affect student access to the feedback files.

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Can my students see their marks and feedback?

The University is committed to a 15-day turnaround time for student feedback.

During this period, while marking is taking place, you will want to be sure that students cannot see the interim grades and feedback which staff have entered. Then, of course, as soon as marks are agreed you want to be sure that students can see their marks and feedback.

Ensuring that interim marks are hidden

For any assignment – Blackboard or Turnitin – if the relevant Grade Centre column is hidden, you can be sure that students can’t see their marks and feedback. It is easy to check this setting, by going to Control Panel > Grade Centre > Full Grade Centre.

For details please see How to ensure that students cannot see their marks and feedback prematurely

Hidden Grade Centre column

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Grade Centre Total and Weighted Total Columns have been hidden

On Monday morning, 23rd November, Blackboard engineers ran a process to hide two Grade Centre columns. The change was prompted by a desire to avoid confusion for students, and save time for staff.

What does the change mean?

Following this change, on all Blackboard courses

  • the Total column has been hidden from both staff and students
  • the Weighted Total column has been hidden from students, but is still visible to staff in the Grade Centre.

The Total column is at best meaningless, and at worst seriously misleading for students (see further details below). We have been advising  staff to hide this column on all courses, as it provides a way for students to access their interim grades while marking is still taking place.

As a result of this change, the Total column has been automatically hidden, so staff can have greater control over when assessment marks and feedback are released to students.

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