‘Appy Christmas from TEL CQSD!

Festive Apps to download during the festive season

Christmas is almost here!  Here’s our pick of  the fun Christmas apps available for you to download for an ‘appy Christmas! (They’re free and available for both Apple and Android unless otherwise stated.)

The TEL CQSD team in their festive jumpers

The TEL elves

1. Elf yourself

It’s been a favourite for several years but the fun never seems to wear off! Turn yourself, your family and friends into a group of dancing elves with your own faces! Simply upload the images from your camera roll and away you go!

2. Official NORAD Santa Tracker

A great app if you’re entertaining children over the festive period. The NORAD Santa Tracker does what it says: you can track Santa from his North Pole journey all over the world on Christmas Eve.

3. Inkly

Create and send Christmas cards in under three minutes with Inkly. There are hundreds of designs to choose from or you can even create your own by uploading your favourite photos. Inkly uses handwriting technology too. Write your message on a piece of paper, take a picture of it with your phone and transfer your handwriting (and sketches) inside your chosen card. You can then add the address, choose from seven different coloured envelopes and Inkly prints and sends them in the post on the same day! (Price per card is £2.99 plus 69p for first class delivery.)

4. Fireplace 3D Lite (Free and available for iPhones and tablets only)

Fireplace 3D Lite from iTunes will make you feel cosy this Christmas with an image of a real log fire. There are three different fireplaces to choose from: rustic, traditional and Victorian, which each have realistic images to make you feel warm and cosy.

5. Santa Claus Yourself Xmas Photo Booth (Free and available for iPhones and tablets only)

How will you look with Santa Claus’ beard? Or what about your family in a Santa hat? You can find out using this app. Simply upload a picture from your phone and give it a Christmas makeover then share your masterpieces on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

6. Christmas Music (Free and available for iPhones and tablets only)

Do you love a Christmas tune or two? You can listen to thousands of free holiday songs with the Christmas Music app. All of the apps’ music is vetted to be from Creative Commons or independent musicians which means they are all completely legal for you to enjoy!

Wishing you a very happy Christmas & a fab 2016. Enjoy the festive holiday!

Vicki, Adam, Maria, Andy, Shirin & Lauren


Blackboard unavailable during system upgrade 7th January 2016

Blackboard engineers will be installing a system update on the morning of Thursday 7 January, from 06:00 GMT, until approximately 08:00 GMT.

This is a relatively minor update, which resolves a number of known issues, rather than a change of software version.

The system will be unavailable while this work is completed.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Displaying ‘non-secure’ content in Blackboard

Do you add presentations, video, images or audio that are stored on external websites into your modules on Blackboard using embed code?

If you include resources or content from certain websites using embed code, then recent improvements to browser security settings can affect how this content can be viewed and prevents it from automatically displaying in Blackboard.

Internet browsers, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer, have improved their security settings for what is described as ‘mixed content’. Browsers now prevent ‘non-secure’ content that is stored on other websites being viewed in ‘secure’ websites such as Blackboard.

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Essential e-marking information: Advice and Tips

If you have any queries in relation to this email, please submit to it@reading.ac.uk to ensure your query is dealt with promptly.

Are you marking coursework and returning feedback to your students online?

This information will be helpful to academic and administrative staff who are involved in e-marking (e-grading and e-feedback).

It covers essential advice on what to do and be aware of. Topics covered:

  1. Preparing to mark online,
  2. Marking assignments,
  3. Moderation,
  4. Releasing feedback and marks to students.

It includes advice on both the Blackboard Assignment and Turnitin tools.

It is important that you are fully prepared before the University Christmas closure, as staff will not be available to provide support during this period.

Note that the University does not require staff to mark online this year. We recommend that you only start e-marking if you have received advice and undertaken staff development.

Also see Essential preparation for e-submission and e-marking.

Important information you need to know:


  1. Preparing to mark online

Advice Support and resources
Make sure you know how the assignment is going to be marked and how the feedback should be returned. Contact the module convenor well in advance of the assessment deadline if you are unsure.
Check that your Internet browser is up-to-date.

  • Recommended browsers: Chrome or Firefox
  • Internet Explorer: Turn off ‘compatibility view’
  • Do not use the new Microsoft Edge browser (Windows 10)



Familiarise yourself with the online support guides for e-marking, using either:

  • Turnitin – GradeMark
  • Blackboard Assignment – Inline Grading
Assessment Guides are available under the ‘Support for Staff’ tab in Blackboard.


Assignments with multiple markers:

  • Blackboard Assignment: Check if Delegated marking is being used for the assignment. This will affect how the marking process is handled and what you can see.
  • Turnitin Assignment only: Check if the ‘Turnitin Assignment by Group’ option is being used to allocate assignments to markers. You will need to access assignments using this feature if it is.


Put the coffee on!  Or tea if you prefer 🙂


  1. Marking assignments

Blackboard Assignment tool

Advice Support and resources
If you are using a ‘No Points’ Rubric (non-scoring), make sure you complete the rubric before entering a mark to grade the assignment. Known Issue: Saving the ‘No Points’ rubric resets the grade to ‘0’ and means you will need to re-enter the mark.

Workaround: Complete the rubric first before entering your mark and make a note of the mark if you need to subsequently edit the rubric.

Use the ‘Save Draft’ button when marking an assignment, if you want to keep the assignment listed in ‘Needs Marking’. This will let you that easily find it again to continue editing the mark or comments.
The Blackboard marking session for an assignment expires after one hour, so remember to save your feedback and comments before the session times-out. Marking a Blackboard assignment online using Blackboard’s in-built tool (Inline Grading)

Anonymous marking

Make sure you only grade the last attempt a student has made.

  • If the assignment submission has been set-up to allow multiple attempts, all of the attempts are shown separately.
  • When you have an assignment open, you can see if there are other attempts by the same student in the right-hand Grading panel.


If staff want to see the marks given for the assignment in the Grade Centre column after marking is completed but before the 15 day turnaround has been reached, then it is possible to lift anonymity without affecting the release of marks to students. See how to disable anonymous marking in the Blackboard Assignment How to mark anonymously guide.
If you need to mark anonymously and this has not been set up on your assignment (and students have already submitted their assignments), you can mark work using the ‘Grade with Usernames Hidden’ option in the Grade Centre as a workaround. Grading with Usernames Hidden
If you want to download anonymous assignments to mark offline, you will need to:

  • Record the attempt ID on the downloaded printed file,
  • Record the attempt ID in the Grading Notes for the online assignment.
  • Complete the marking process before anonymity is lifted if you intend to provide feedback online.

These actions are required as the attempt ID is removed when anonymity is lifted.


If marking and the return of feedback is paper-based, you can choose to remove the ‘mark anonymously’ setting for the assignment. Check with the module convenor or SDTL before changing anonymous marking settings.



Advice Support and resources
Always edit the mark for an assignment in the Turnitin document viewer.

  • Marks are only sent to the Grade Centre from Turnitin. If a mark for an assignment is changed in the Grade Centre this will not change the mark shown on the paper in Turnitin.


We recommend accessing assignments from the Turnitin Inbox.Go to your module > Control Panel > Course Tools > Turnitin Assignments > click on the title of the assignment.Click the ‘Roster Sync’ link if you don’t see all of your students listed in the Turnitin Inbox. Use Roster Sync to show all of the students in a Turnitin assignment
Do not have the same individual student’s assignment open in different browsers or computers (or iPad app) at the same time. This can result in Turnitin behaving unexpectedly and the loss of any feedback entered.
GradeMark will time-out after 30 minutes of inactivity. ‘Inactivity’ means not pressing on any buttons within the document viewer. Note: Typing into the General Comments box or scrolling up and down to read an assignment is not detected as ‘activity’. Unless the session has timed out, feedback, comments and marks are automatically saved as they are entered. This includes:

  • Rubrics & Grading Forms
  • Comments placed directly on to the paper (e.g. QuickMarks)
  • Feedback entered in the General Comments box
If you cannot see the marks for a Turnitin assignment in the Grade Centre:

  • Anonymous assignments: Marks are not sent to the Grade Centre until the Post Date is reached.
  • Use the ‘Sync Grades’ link to push marks into the Grade Centre if they have not yet been synchronised.


Use ‘Sync Grades’ to push marks into the Grade Centre
Anonymous marking: Check the requirements and limitations when marking anonymously in Turnitin. Anonymous marking in Turnitin


  1. Moderation

Blackboard Assignment tool

Advice Support and resources
The marker will need to inform the moderator once they have finished their online marking.
Where marking is done anonymously and the moderator needs to see the spread of marks given to the assignments, you can use the ‘View Grade History’ option to view all of the marks by Attempt ID.‘View Grade History’ can be found under the options menu for an assignment in the Grade Centre.
The ‘Reconcile Grades’ option will need to be used if Delegated Marking has been enabled for the assignment to produce a final mark that students’ can see.·         Students will not see their mark and feedback until this is done, even if you have un-hidden the Grade Centre column for the assignment. Delegated marking using Blackboard Assignments



Advice Support and resources
The marker will need to inform the moderator once they have finished their online marking.
There are no in-built facilities to moderate online using Turnitin.Aspects of the moderation process will need to take place outside of Turnitin Scenarios for anonymous and double marking, including moderation
Do not have the same individual student’s assignment open in different browsers or computers (or iPad app) at the same time. This can result in Turnitin behaving unexpectedly and the loss of any feedback entered.
  1. Releasing feedback and marks to students

Blackboard Assignment tool

Advice Support and resources
You will need to manually un-hide the column in the Grade Centre to make the feedback available to students.Make sure the ‘My Grades’ link is listed in the left-hand menu of your module to allow students to access their feedback.




Advice Support and resources
Feedback and marks will automatically available to students when the Post Date is reached.Students can return to the Turnitin submission point and click the ‘View/Complete’ link to access their feedback.The column for the assignment in the Grade Centre is also automatically unhidden if ‘Yes’ was selected for ‘Reveal Grades to students only on post date’.This makes the feedback available for students from ‘My Grades’.

  • If this does not happen, the column can be manually unhidden.




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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Students can’t see their feedback in Turnitin?

If students report that they can’t see their feedback when they open the document viewer in Turnitin and:

  • The assignment Post Date has passed,
  • The student sees a ‘No service currently available‘ message in the right-hand feedback sidebar.

Then, the student may just need to click on the GradeMark button to display the feedback. This can be found in the top left-hand corner of the document viewer screen.

The GradeMark button is highlighted in Blue when selected and any feedback should appear.



This issue occasionally occurs if students open the Turnitin paper from ‘My Grades’ to see their feedback.