Copying and moving content in Blackboard

Have you ever wondered how if you could copy or move content items within a Blackboard course or between courses? The answer is YES and it is straight forward.

Use the Copy/Move action and then select the destination.


Our step-by-step guide shows how you can copy or move an individual content item or an entire content folder, and everything within it to another location in the same course, or to a different course on which you are enrolled. It is also possible to request for your entire course, or large chunks of it, to be copied to another course by filling in this request form.

Blackboard course rollover: changes for 2016; advance notice of timetable and downtime

Course rollover is the annual process whereby Blackboard courses from the current academic year are copied for use in the next academic year.

For 2016, there are two important changes:

  1. Courses will be copied in two batches, over the weekends of 30th – 31st July and 6th – 7th August.
    Blackboard will be unavailable to users while this work is being carried out – exact times tbc.
  2. We anticipate that Blackboard and Turnitin assignment submission points will not be copied forward to 2016-17 courses.

Please read on for further information on these changes.


What are the changes to course rollover in 2016?  When will Blackboard be unavailable?

Course rollover will take place over two consecutive weekends:

  • Standard courses that are scheduled in RISIS (the student management system) to run in 2016-17  will be rolled forward over the weekend of 30th – 31st July.
  • Other courses (e.g. Shared and non-RISIS courses) will be rolled forward over the weekend of 6th – 7th August.

Please see our Course Rollover page for a definition of the different course types.

Benefits include:

  • making the process and schedule more transparent to academics and support staff
  • more efficient use of IT staff time.


We anticipate Blackboard will be unavailable for no longer than 24 hours on each occasion, but Blackboard should be considered “at risk” for the whole of each weekend i.e. 30th – 31st July, and 6th – 7th August.

More detailed information will be provided to users in due course, after further testing of the copy process by IT.


Why are we planning not to copy assignment submission points?

We plan to present staff with a blank slate as far as assessment is concerned, allowing staff to set up the submission points they require with the most appropriate settings.   The reasons for this are:

  • To ensure a consistent and reliable user experience for students and staff.
  • When assignment submission points are copied from the previous year, they retain their original settings and dates. At the very least these need to be edited and updated.  When this has not happened, it has caused confusion for students who try to submit to an outdated assignment.
  • In many cases, the copied assignment submission points are redundant, so staff opt to delete these, and create new ones.
  • With the evolving use of e-submission, e-marking and e-feedback (where you may even be changing from one e-submission tool to another) the benefits of having a copy of the previous year’s assignment submission points and settings are rapidly diminishing.
  • We have seen a significant number of cases where reusing Turnitin assignments copied from the previous year’s course has led to serious technical issues.

Please note that Blackboard Tests will be copied, but not deployed to users – in other words you will need to take action to make them available to students.

Full details will be made available on this blog and via the bb-users list in due course.


What action is required?

We will send out an update in early June, with details of what – if anything – you need to do to ensure your course content is rolled forward for use in 2016-17. As a broad indication:

  • Most Blackboard courses are linked directly to a single programme or module in RISIS, and these are rolled forward automatically with no action required.  Your new course will be then be available from early August for you to update and develop.
  • If your Blackboard course is not directly linked to a RISIS programme or module code (e.g. if you use a Shared Course or Non-RISIS course), you will need to submit a request to have a 2016-17 course created and to have it copied forward.


Please note: No action is required at this stage.   Details of any actions you need to take will be made available here, and sent via the bb-users email list, in a few weeks’ time.

FIXED Turnitin: avoid changing the Post Date on Anonymous assignments

Update: This issue has now been resolved

We have had a couple of cases recently where lecturers have changed the Post Date on a Turnitin assignment, and the student grades entered in Turnitin have then disappeared.

Although the marks were not irretrievably lost, this inevitably causes some anguish, and leads to a delay in the availability of marks to students.

Turnitin Support have advised us that “Anonymous marking assignment settings will not function correctly when post dates are being moved forward or back”.


So please avoid making any changes to the Post Date if your Turnitin Assignment was set up for anonymous marking.


If, as the Post Date approaches, you are not yet ready to make marks and feedback visible to students, instead of pushing back the Post Date, you could use Adaptive Release to temporarily hide the assignment from students.


Turnitin: an improvement to similarity scoring

Turnitin have announced a change to the way similarity scores in Originality Reports are generated, when staff have chosen to exclude matching text in the Bibliography.

Details are provided in this announcement: An Improvement to Similarity Scoring.

The key passage is

When bibliographic material is excluded from an Originality Report, we will recalculate the Similarity Score based on the remaining content only. This update will provide you with a more accurate score.


Turnitin: exclude bibliography


The following example may help to demonstrate what the effect of these changes will be.

A student submits an essay where the total word count is 2500, including a bibliography of 500 words.

Turnitin generates an overall similarity score of 40% i.e. it finds matches for 1000 out of 2500 words.

Let’s assume that all 500 words in the bibliography produce a match.

With the old system, if we chose to ‘Exclude Bibliography’, Turnitin would perform a new calculation as follows:

matching words (total matching words – matching words in bibliography) / total words in document

= (1000 – 500) / 2500


= 20%.


With the new system the calculations would be as follows:

matching words (total matching words – matching words in bibliography) / words to be searched (total words in document – words in bibliography)

= (1000 – 500) / (2500 – 500)

= 500 / 2000

= 25%.


This does seem to be a more meaningful way of calculating the score. As ever, however, staff should treat the total similarity score with caution – it is necessary to look at the context of individual matches to form a judgment on whether plagiarism has taken place, or whether it’s simply an example of poor academic practice.