Category Archives: Upgrades and New Features

Blackboard summer upgrade 2018

This is a reminder that Blackboard will be unavailable tomorrow, Saturday 4th August 2018, between 7am and 5pm in order to upgrade the system from the 2017 Q2 release to the 2018 Q2 release.

The update will fix a number of bugs as well as introduce a small number of helpful features such as:

  • Full screen grade centre view
  • Ability to view full titles of Grade Center columns, making it easier to distinguish between similarly-titled items
  • Ability to make courses unavailable via one button
  • Ability for students to de-select multiple choice answers in tests
  • Additional question types for use on mobile compatible tests

We will update you once the upgrade has completed but if you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with

Blackboard Essential Update – Saturday 16th December 2017

Blackboard Downtime

On Saturday 16th December Blackboard will be unavailable between 8am and 5pm in order to install a critical update.

Why is this necessary?

Bug Fixes

Firstly the update will fix many system bugs including notifications of discussion board posts and a Grade Centre scroll bar fix where the scroll bar obscures a Grade Centre column.

Change to Blackboard Assignment Feature

Blackboard has two assignment handling features: Turnitin and Blackboard assignments. The Blackboard assignment tool uses third party software licensed by Blackboard which enables assignments to be viewed and graded online and this will no longer be available from 15th January 2018. A replacement document viewer and online grading tool will be available following the Blackboard update.

Once the update is completed on the 16th December, you won’t notice any changes to the Blackboard assignment feature. We can make the decision when to change to the new tool up until the 15th January. We plan on moving to the new tool w/c 8th January and we will communicate an exact date prior to then.

Turnitin assignments remain unaffected so if you use Turnitin assignments rather than Blackboard Assignments then this change will not affect you.

What changes can I expect?

When we move to the new document viewer and online marking tool all assignments using Blackboard Assignments will switch over to the new interface. Any annotations carried out using the old grading tool will be burned in to the document and will no longer be editable. You can make additional annotations on the assignments if necessary. New assignments created will use the new viewer and marking interface.

There are some changes in functionality:

  • The new assignment feature will have much better support for file types and fonts
  • It includes the option to print the assignment
  • It no longer supports free hand drawing
  • Assignments can no longer be downloaded with annotations and comments displayed. Blackboard are reviewing this functionality.

We will keep you updated about this over the coming weeks but please note this DOES NOT affect Turnitin assignments.

Any questions about this please contact

Blackboard Module Rollover and Upgrade 2017/18

Module Rollover

Once again it is time for Blackboard module rollover to take place. This will happen week commencing the 24th July and your 17/18 modules will all be available from Monday 31st July. You will not experience any downtime during this process. Any new modules for 17/18 will be created at the same time. Your new modules will proceed with an L, for example, L1718-DEN1102. Continue reading Blackboard Module Rollover and Upgrade 2017/18

Blackboard module rollover for 2015/16

All 2015/16 modules will be available in Blackboard by Monday 27 July 2015.  There is no Blackboard downtime scheduled and there will be no changes to Blackboard for the new academic year.  However, you will notice some changes in the way that assessments are copied over from existing 2014/15 modules into the new 2015/16 modules.  These changes have been made in order to tidy up the grade centre, and to avoid potential issues with assessments being accidentally made available to students.

Blackboard tests are copied over, but not deployed

This applies to all Blackboard tests, including OLAF exams.  An existing test will not be available to students, and there will not be a column for the test in the grade centre.  As an instructor you can access the test to edit it, and you can deploy it to make it available again to the 2015/16 cohort.  The steps to do this are outlined below:

1. To view and edit an existing test: click on Course Tools in the Control Panel.  Select ‘Tests, Surveys and Pools’ from the drop down menu, then click on Tests.

tests 1

2. The tests area lists all tests that exist in the module.  Locate the test you wish to view/edit in the list (you can sort items in the list by Name and Date Last Edited).  Hover over the name of the test and click on the drop down arrow.  Click ‘Edit’ to open the test for editing.

test 2 find and edit


3. To deploy an existing test: go to the area in the module where you want to make the test available to students.  Click on the Assessment menu and select Test.

test 3 deploy


4. See the information on Blackboard Help for instructions on making the test available.  You may also find the help page on test options useful.

Turnitin assignments are copied over but hidden from students

It is not possible to reuse an existing Turnitin assignment, so you do not have an option to deploy an assignment again.  However, as an instructor you can view hidden assignments if you need to refer to them (for example to check the settings that you used for Turnitin assignments run in 2014/15).

Note that no student data is rolled forward from one year to the next, so a rolled over Turnitin assignment in a 2015/16 module will not contain any student work.  If you need to refer back to 2014/15 students’ work you will need to access this in the 2014/15 version of the module.

Useful Tips

Date Management Tool

If there is any content in a module which has Date/Time Restrictions set up for it, at the Blackboard rollover the content is copied and the date restrictions rolled forward by one calendar year (e.g. an item that was made available from 1 November 2014 will now be set to become available from 1 November 2015).

Blackboard has a Date Management Tool that allows you to easily amend Date/Time Restrictions for all content in a module in one place.  The tool can be used to amend all content simultaneously, or choose to amend dates/times for individual items.  This Blackboard Help page explains how to use the different options in the tool.

Content areas are hidden by default

When content is copied from an existing 2014/15 module into a 2015/16 module by default it is hidden from students at the top level.  This is done to allow instructors to update/amend content if required, before making it available to the new cohort of students.

Hidden content areas are identified by an icon of a white box with a black line through it, like this: hidden area

To make a content area available to students, hover over it in the menu, click the drop down arrow, and select ‘Show Link’:

show link


Remember that you can double check what students can see in a module using the student preview mode (explained in this post).


Last year’s ReCap recordings are not copied over

A reminder that ReCap recordings are not copied when modules are rolled over in Blackboard.  If the 2014/15 version of a module included a ReCap content area this will be copied into the 2015/16 module, but it will not contain any recordings until new ones are created during the module.



New Features for 2014/15

There are 4 main feature improvements for staff following the upgrade earlier this month.

1. Student Preview Mode

student_prevAt last I am pleased to say that there is now a true student view available for all staff users, whether you are browsing Modules or Communities in Blackboard. The Student Preview User is created with the click of an icon, which allows you to try out content, discussions, tests/quizzes, blog posts and so on, as though you were an enrolled student in the module. Once you have finished you can leave your student data in the module (Grade Centre) or delete as you exit the Student Preview mode.

Here is a clip from Blackboard explaining how it works.

2. Multiple Folder Creation

For the start of this academic year we have integrated a building block into Blackboard (created by another UK University) that allows you to quickly create multiple folders within a content area. You can create a set of progressive folders (Week 1, Week 2 etc..) OR a set of individual ones where you give the folders a set of different names. For a more detailed explanation of how it works visit this blog post.

3. Date Management

Date Management allows you to change dates quickly and in bulk for your module. Again like the feature above a useful time saving feature, especially so at the start of the academic year or semester – Date Management web page and YouTube Clip –

4. Blackboard Assignment – Anonymous Grading and Delegated Graders

These features apply to the Blackboard Assignment and NOT the Turnitin one.

Anonymous Grading – Page explaining how this feature is created for the assignment

Delegated Grading – This link explains the option for creating and using this feature. You can assign specific users in your course to grade particular sets of student assignment submissions, if you wish to.

Multiple Folder Creation – New for 2014/15

multi_folderAfter consultations with regular users of Blackboard we have installed a building block which allows Instructors the ability to rapidly create multiple folders within a content area. It is intuitive to use and hopefully staff will find it a time saving and useful feature when creating content and resources for their students to use.

Here is a brief guide to locating and using this new feature.

  • * Browse to a content area in a module of your choosing
  • * Hover your mouse cursor over the Build Content area
  • * Select the option Multiple Folder Creation
  • * Next chose either Individual (Different folder names) OR Progressive (name + number suffix) and the quantity of folders you want created
  • * Click on the Submit button on that page and it is done

You can now populate your relevant folders/directories with content, resources and other links.



Upgrade for 2014




The feature changes for 2014 are more focused on staff use and their interactions with Blackboard rather than students. The full list of changes can be viewed below.



 Staff Use Improvements

Student Preview Role

student_prevAt long last a true student view now exists for Instructors that removes the Control Panel area and allows you to interact with tests, discussion boards, blogs, wikis and other tools as though you were a student. You no longer require a specific student account. You have the option when exiting the preview mode to keep your data in the Grade Centre or have it removed. Here is a clip from Blackboard explaining how it works.



Grading – Anonymous and delegated features

anonymous_gradingThese features apply to the Blackboard Assignment and NOT the Turnitin one.

Anonymous Grading – Page explaining how this feature is created for the assignment

Delegated Grading – This link explains the option for creating and using this feature.

You can assign specific users in your course to grade particular sets of student assignment submissions, if you wish to.

Date Management



Date Management allows you to change dates quickly and in bulk for your module – Date Management




Student Amendments – My Grades personalisation

Within the My Grades area you will be able to view view them either by Module Order, Last Activity or Due Date. Have a look at this page


Bb Staff Survey 2013 – Myth Buster #1

A joint Blackboard, ReCap and EvaSys staff survey took place during the summer and we received 743 responses relating to Blackboard use. There was a range of constructive feedback received and for this we are very grateful. Among the comments posted were a range of issues/frustrations that can already be resolved, but perhaps staff are unaware of some of these features. Here is a sample of comments relating to the re-ordering of module lists.

“..The order in which modules are displayed in "my courses" seems to be arbitrary, I would like to have more control in which module appears at the top of this list…”
“…That the course lists are not organised with the most recent at the top of the list. New academic year modules always appear down the screen..”

It is possible to re-order and (un)hide specific modules within your Course List in Blackboard. Here is the blog post explaining how you can do this:


Module Changes for the 2013/14 Academic Year

Hello all,

A few amendments have been made to your modules for the 2013/14 academic year. In order to explain these and the reasons for them a series of Personal Capture (PCap) recordings have been made using the ReCap software. They explain how these changes came into affect and why they have been implemented.The recordings can be paused, stopped and re-visited as often as you wish.

  1. Implementation of the Overview Page (Video approx 7 mins)
  2. How to amend the Module default entry point (Video approx 7 mins)
In addition to this here are a couple of resources related to the improved title names and organisng your module listings:
  1. Improved module title names (Video < 5 mins)
  2. Organising and personalising your module listings (Video < 6 mins)
Many thanks,
The Blackboard Team