Blackboard upgrade summer 2018 – complete

Blackboard has been upgraded to the latest version – for those of you who like to know such things, we are now running Blackboard 9.1 Q2 2018 Cumulative Update 2.

 

New features

  • Blackboard Tests: Students are now able to clear their selection on a Multiple-Choice question. This is useful in a test where negative scoring is in place, and they would prefer to submit no answer rather than one which they’re not sure about. 
    More on clearing multiple choice selection

  • Blackboard Assignments: you can now grant an additional attempt to a specific student, even when anonymous marking is enabled.
    To do this

  • Blackboard Collaborate: when setting up groups within a course, you are now able to enable a Blackboard Collaborate room.
    More on group tools
     
  • Turnitin: we’ve updated the building block which integrates Blackboard. We’re now on the Blackboard Basic integration version 2.7.5.
    This version improves the way marks are synchronised between the two systems – if you edit a grade in the Turnitin Feedback Studio, the change should automatically be reflected in the Blackboard Grade Centre (although we’d still recommend that you press ‘Sync Grades’ before releasing marks to students).
    The most obvious change staff will notice, is that when you access Turnitin via the Control Panel there’s a search box. This should make it much easier to locate the correct assignment on a course which has many submission points.

 

Blackboard Math Editor

Edit 09/08/18:

The Blackboard Math Editor was unavailable immediately after the upgrade, but Blackboard Support have now restored access to the tool. 

Those needing to insert Chemical symbols into content items will find that the Math editor has been upgraded to a later version of WIRIS, and now supports some chemistry specific content.
More on the Math Editor

 

Technical issues?

We will be introducing changes to the visual design of Blackboard in a few weeks’ time. In the meantime, if the Blackboard login screen or some courses are displaying incorrectly, please clear your browser cache, and the issues should disappear.

For details of supported browsers and operating systems, please see Browser Support for Blackboard Learn 9.1 Q2 2018 and Turnitin System Requirements.

If you encounter any problems using Blackboard or Turnitin, please log them via the IT Self-Service Portal.

 

Bug fixes

Blackboard + Safari

Previously mentioned issues using Safari with Blackboard have now been resolved – all file submissions will work as expected.

Original Article: http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/tel/2018/04/06/important-information-uploading-assignment-files-via-safari-ios/

Blackboard Assignments – save as draft

Issues with students who overwrote a previously-saved file with another, which had the exact same filename, are now resolved.

Original article: http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/tel/2018/03/08/changes-to-blackboard-assignments/

Reminder: Blackboard upgrade this Sunday evening

As previously announced, we will be upgrading to the latest Blackboard version on Sunday 5 – Monday 6 August.

Blackboard and Turnitin will be unavailable while the upgrade takes place

from 19:00 BST Sunday 5 August

until approximately midday BST on Monday 6 August

(02:00 – 19:00 MYT)

 

This is a fairly minor upgrade and you won’t see a great change to the system or how it looks. However, the upgrade does bring some additional functionality, and fixes a number of known issues which are currently affecting us.

Further details on Monday, once the upgrade has completed.

New look Blackboard – coming September 2018

Following consultation with staff and students earlier this year, we are working to improve Blackboard’s look, feel and ease of use. We currently plan to launch this more user-friendly Blackboard in early September.

What’s changing?

Alongside Blackboard’s annual summer upgrade, this year we are making changes to its design and appearance to help make it a more user-friendly, visually engaging and accessible tool for staff and students to use. The image below gives an idea of roughly how it is likely to look. Please note that this is a work-in-progress and the final interface may look slightly different (the images and headings may change, for example).     

Proposed Blackboard interface (work-in-progress)

Why?

Results from staff and student surveys, along with anecdotal feedback, suggested that people were finding Blackboard ‘cluttered’, text-heavy and challenging in places to navigate. A need was identified to work with staff and students more closely to unpick this and to engage them in contributing to the re-design of a more user-friendly and accessible tool.   

When?

Work is taking place over the summer to implement the identified changes. It is planned to launch this new look Blackboard in early September. 

What will this mean for you?

These changes are designed to give an improved user experience for our staff and students. All the same functionality will still be available and Blackboard will work in the same way. 

If staff are planning to create any resources that require use of Blackboard imagery, it would be advisable to wait until the new look is available before doing so. 

Support/resources 

The Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team will be creating a short video suitable for staff to use to support students, new and returning, in getting started with (the new look) Blackboard. Details of this will be communicated towards the end of the summer.

If you have any questions relating to these improvements, please feel free to reply to this blog post or email me: l.j.mccann@reading.ac.uk

Lauren & the TEL CQSD team

 

Blackboard downtime for essential system maintenance: overnight Sun 8th – Mon 9th April

Blackboard maintenance image

Our Blackboard VLE requires an important system update to be applied. This update will be carried out overnight Sunday 8th – Monday 9th April.

As a result, Blackboard and Turnitin will be unavailable 

  • from Sunday 8th April 22:00 BST (time in Malaysia: 05:00 MYT on 9th April)
  • to Monday 9th April 12:00 BST (time in Malaysia: 19:00 MYT on 9th April)

Please note: TEL staff in IT and CQSD will endeavour to complete post-upgrade checks as quickly as possible, and will aim to make the system available to users well before midday on Monday 9th.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

More Turnitin enhancements

Turnitin logo

 

 

 

The Turnitin developers have been busy recently, with a number of enhancements now available to users – here’s a summary.

(Incidentally, you will see notifications of all new features if you follow @TurnitinProduct on Twitter).

Improved document resolution

Documents submitted to Turnitin are now displayed in the Feedback Studio as PDFs, rather than PNG image files. This has not changed Feedback Studio functionality at all, but has introduced a marked improvement in the clarity and readability of student papers – so a significant boon for markers.

Easier access to Turnitin classes for iPad App users

The way staff can gain access to Turnitin assignments via the iPad app changed recently and now sends an email to users – see our post Marking using Turnitin on your iPad? Time to update your app.

There are some scenarios in which markers might not be able to access their institutional email on the iPad they are using. To accommodate these users, Turnitin have made it possible to view the required ‘class access URL’ on any device – for details see the Turnitin Release Notes.

Text-Only Similarity Reports

The Feedback Studio is not fully accessible for those who need to use assistive technology, such as a screen reader. The Text-Only version is fully accessible, and access to this version has been improved – there is now a link to the ‘Text-only Report’ at the bottom of the Feedback Studio window.

See this Turnitin Feedback Studio guide for details.

Link to the Text-only Similarity Report

 

Turnitin Community

When you are viewing a Turnitin Assignment Inbox within your Blackboard course, you will now see a link to Community.

Link to the Turnitin Community site
This takes you to a recently launched online space at https://turnitin.forumbee.com where academics and other staff involved with Turnitin can ask questions and share experiences:

The Turnitin Educator Network (TEN) forum connects educators with a shared commitment to academic integrity. Members support one another by sharing learnings to grow as a global network of leaders in education.

It will be interesting to see how this forum develops. It could become a valuable space in which to share good practice, gain inspiration, and make your voice heard about all of the additional features you would dearly love to see added to Turnitin.