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)


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.   


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. 


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:

Lauren & the TEL CQSD team


Blackboard upgrade 17th – 18th February

The Blackboard VLE will be unavailable from 20:00 GMT on Wednesday 17th until around 08:00 GMT on Thursday 18th February while an upgrade takes place.

Turnitin will also be unavailable while this upgrade takes place.

Following the upgrade we will be running the 2015 Q4 release of Blackboard.

This is a fairly minor upgrade, but it does bring some welcome usability enhancements:

  • When creating an announcement, “Not Date Restricted” is now selected by default.
    This brings announcements in line with other Blackboard content, where date restrictions are only applied if you specifically select them.
  • Emails sent from Blackboard, including emailed Announcements, show the instructor’s name as the sender.
    This change removes a source of confusion for students.
  • Support for the Microsoft Edge internet browser.
  • The Content Editor now supports HTML5 Audio and Video playback in Chrome and Edge browsers.
    This means that when you upload audio and video files to your course, you can embed them as HTML5 Audio or HTML5 Video, thus avoiding the issues currently encountered  in the Chrome and Edge browsers.
  • Discussion Board enhancements: users can navigate from thread to thread without having to return to the main Discussions page.

Moreover the release fixes a number of bugs, in particular some which have been causing issues for us, relating to Blackboard Tests and Assignments.

For further details of what this release brings, please see the Release Notes.


Please note that our ability to introduce these improvements in a timely fashion is a direct result of our move to Blackboard Managed Hosting. We have scheduled the upgrade to take place as an overnight process in Enhancement Week so as to minimise disruption.   However, apologies for any inconvenience this may still cause.

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.

What’s new in Blackboard

Over the bank holiday we successfully upgraded Blackboard, which now includes a number of long-awaited new enhancements. We are very excited that Blackboard has had a make-over and now includes a new look, easier navigation and quick access to courses, fully automated anonymous and delegated marking, a student preview and two brand new tools, tracking students’ online performance and creating sign up lists.

Experience the new features by watching the screencast (4 min) below. For detailed overviews and video tutorials of the new features please read on and access the links below the screencast. Do not forget to visit the ‘Support for Staff’ tab to find our step-by-step guides!

Continue reading

Blackboard downtime for system upgrade – Monday 31st August

Blackboard will be upgraded to a new version at the end of August.

In order to complete this, Blackboard will be unavailable OR at risk as follows:

From To Status
11.30 BST

Monday 31st August (Bank Holiday Monday)

09.00 BST

Tuesday 1st September

Blackboard and Turnitin unavailable
09.00 BST

Tuesday 1st September

12.00 BST

Tuesday 1st September

Blackboard and Turnitin available but at risk. 

This means Blackboard and Turnitin can be used and will work as normal, but you may notice some changes to the interface being made during this period.


This upgrade will update existing tools and introduce some new features – please see our blog post for details.

At the same time, the user interface will be improved and updated. You will also notice a change of colour scheme in line with University branding.  This will give much greater consistency in how Blackboard appears to students.

Blackboard migration completed

The migration of Blackboard Learn to a new, externally-hosted platform, is now complete.

All users, staff and student, can now log on to the system and use it as normal.  This includes the ability to submit work to Blackboard Learn or Turnitin assignments, mark work submitted by students, upload new content, and prepare 2015-16 courses for the new academic year.

You should continue to access Blackboard Learn at the same web address as previously:

If you do encounter any technical issues, please report these as usual to the IT Service Desk: email  or telephone 0118 378 6262.

No upgrades or other software changes have been introduced during the migration. We shall be moving to the latest version in a few weeks’ time, over 31st August-1st September. Further details of this upgrade will follow in due course.

Thank you for your patience while the migration was taking place.