Replacing feedback files in B1 workflow (bulk upload)

This issue may affect you if you bulk upload feedback files using the B1 workflow.

We have had two reports of a bug which occurs when two (or more) feedback files of the same name are uploaded and released using the B1 bulk upload (for example, if uploading and releasing the same zip file twice). The bug causes two errors:

  1. It becomes impossible to remove both files.
  2. Removing one of the files breaks the link to access the other file.

If the content of the different file versions is identical, they can be left as they are and students will simply see two identical files. If you find yourself in a position where you are experiencing this bug and the content of the file versions is not identical (even if they have the same name), please contact the DEO.

In order to prevent this issue occurring, if you need to replace existing feedback files always remove them before uploading new versions, as per our instructions.

This issue has been reported to Blackboard and they are investigating. We will provide an update when we hear more from Blackboard. In the meantime, if you have any concerns or questions, please contact us. 

23 Feb 09:00 – Turnitin similarity report generation times back to normal

Turnitin have informed us that the service is back to normal.  There was service degradation which may have caused Similarity Reports to be slow to generate between the following times:

Monday 22nd February: 14:30 – 17:10 GMT.

Apologies for any disruption this may have caused.  Further information is available on the Turnitin service status page.

Important information if changing Post Date in Turnitin Assignments

We have previously blogged about an issue whereby Turnitin hidden submission points become available to students after editing the assignment settings eg to change the Post Date. 

We have since seen two verified instances of marks temporarily being hidden from instructors in the Feedback Studio view for a short time (less than a minute) after moving the Post Date. The marks remain visible in the Assignment Inbox view. Both these issues are being investigated by Turnitin. 

Assignment inbox view (marks visible)


Feedback Studio view (marks not visible)

Workflow changes to minimise impact of these issues

To help avoid potential problems until Turnitin have resolved these issues, we recommend the following workflow if you need to move the Post-Date (eg to deanonymise work): 

  1. Move the Post-Date as normal.
  2. If the submission point should be hidden from students, make it unavailable again. Double-check the Grade Centre Column is still hidden from students.
  3. Go to the Assignment Inbox and open a few submissions. Check the marks appear in the Feedback Studio view.
  4. If the marks do not appear, close the Feedback Studio window, wait, refresh the page, and reopen. Our testing has shown marks reappear within less than a minute. If marks do not appear after ten minutes, please contact the DEO. 
  5. Sync grades as normal. 
  6. Double-check that the marks display correctly in the Grade Centre, the Assignment Inbox view and the Feedback Studio view. 

We apologise if you are affected by this. We will provide an update when we hear more from Turnitin. In the meantime, if you have any concerns or questions, please contact us. 

Turnitin submission point availability issues

We have had reports of Turnitin submission points becoming available to students when previously set to be unavailable. We have investigated and identified the cause of this issue: If the assignment settings are edited (eg to change the Post-Date) then the submission point will become available.  We have contacted Turnitin about this issue and are awaiting a response.

Until Turnitin have fixed the issue, if you need to edit assignment settings but keep submission points unavailable, when you have finished editing you should make the submission point unavailable again in the usual way, by clicking the drop-down arrow next to the submission point and selecting Make Unavailable.

A drop-down menu with Make Unavailable selected

Apologies for this. We will provide a further update when we have one from Turnitin. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us.

DEO dropins and training webinars

To support you in teaching and assessment online, the DEO are continuing to run daily drop-ins as well as subject-specific webinars for colleagues who teach or support teaching.  Upcoming webinars include:

  • Blackboard and eVision for admin staff: integration and key processes: 9 February 2021
  • Engaging online discussions: 16 February 2021
  • Blackboard tests: Uses, ideas and hands on practice: 22 February 2021
  • Blackboard: Mark offline and batch upload feedback: 23 February 2021
  • Marking online using Turnitin: 24 February 2021
  • Transferring assessment marks from Blackboard into eVision: 2 March 2021
  • Design your Blackboard space: ideas, real examples and hands on practice: 3 March 2021

You can find details on how to access drop-ins as well as signup instructions for webinars on our Events page.  The drop-ins are an opportunity to talk to the team and ask any questions you may have.

You can access recordings of previous webinars in the DEO Staff Development space in Blackboard. If you do not already have access to the space please self enrol:  Self enrol on DEO Staff Development space on Blackboard .  You may be asked to log in to Single sign on first.

If you have any queries please contact

Important advice for marking papers in Blackboard containing images or tables

A small number of cases have been reported of missing or misaligned images or tables when assignments are viewed in the Bb Annotate (online marking) interface in Blackboard (Turnitin is unaffected). This has been reported to Blackboard and we are still awaiting their response.

Since the issue was first identified, the DEO has carried out testing and it appears that this happens under quite specific conditions, when a student submits a Word document in which an image or table has been cropped, aligned and formatted in a certain way.

What do we know about the issue?

  1. So far, every case has been a Word document (PDFs are unaffected). You can see the file type in Bb Annotate by looking at the file name on the right-hand side, under ‘Feedback to Learner’. If this filename ends in .docx or .doc then it is a Word document.
  2. This seems to be affecting images (eg photos of handwritten work) and occasionally tables.
  3. On files which are potentially affected, a blue banner will appear at the top of the work, saying spacing may have changed
  4. In all instances, the original file can be downloaded and displays correctly.

Warning banner

Banner in Blackboard about conversion process affecting formatting

How to download originally submitted file

Screenshot showing how to download original file

What should I do if marking submitted Word documents?

If you see the blue banner and you are expecting to see images or tables in the submitted work, you should download the original file and view this when marking.

There are three ways in which you can then provide feedback:

  • Through Bb Annotate as normal, noting any formatting issues either by annotating the document or in the Feedback to Learner box
  • Add feedback in the downloaded file (eg using Word comments) and upload this to the Feedback to Learner box.
  • If you have not yet begun marking, it may be possible to batch download scripts and batch upload feedback files, bypassing the issue. For more information about this please see the B1 workflow and contact the DEO.

We apologise for any inconvenience or disruption caused and will provide an update when we have any further information from Blackboard.

If you have any questions please contact

Formatting issues with Blackboard assignments

If you are an Instructor viewing or marking a Blackboard assignment, you will now see a message across the top of the ‘Mark assignment’ screen saying “The conversion process may have changed the spacing in this submission. You can still download the original file.”

This is a system message Blackboard have added for all clients. It appears on all submissions not just those that may be affected by formatting errors. Turnitin assignments are not affected.

Conversion process message

Banner in Blackboard about conversion process affecting formatting

Whilst most assignments submitted to Blackboard display correctly, occasionally formatting errors do occur, due to the way Blackboard converts documents. For example, the Digital Education Office has seen occasional cases where images do not appear or are misaligned. If you come across a paper you suspect has a formatting error, you can click the download icon and compare the online with the downloaded version (which will be in the originally submitted file format). When marking, you can refer to the downloaded version if you need to check an affected area.

If you need to record that a formatting issue has been noted, you can add a comment in the ‘Feedback to Learner’ box (for students) and/or the ‘Marking notes’ box (visible to staff only).

In some extremely rare cases, it is possible that the online paper is rendered unreadable; in this case, markers should download the original version. If adding feedback, you can either add this in a feedback file or type it in the ‘Feedback to Learner’ box.

How to download submission

Screenshot showing how to download files

How to add feedback to learner or marking notes

Screenshot showing how to add feedback

The Digital Education Office is continuing to work with Blackboard to identify ways to reduce the likelihood of formatting issues. Blackboard suggest PDF files will more reliably render correctly, so if a student does report a formatting issue with their Word submission, uploading a PDF version is another option.

If you have any questions or require further help, please contact

Useful links for preparing online teaching

  1. Build and maintain relationships online – 10 ideas (Word)
  2. Tips for effective and engaging breakout groups (Word)
  3. Make sure all videos are uploaded to Re/Play
  4. Pre-recording lectures
  5. Synchronous online sessions
  6. Organise Blackboard sites clearly – course design tips and guidance
  7. Make your Blackboard course available to students
  8. Tools and software available
  9. Online assessment – planning and running tests, online submissions and other types of online assessment
  10. Training and support – what’s available from the Digital Education Office, including upcoming training webinars and drop-ins

For queries, email

Staff guidance and support for January exams

  • Key information for students:
  • Please be aware of the backup plan in place for students who are unable to take or complete an online exam
  • Details of technical support for students and staff having issues during exams is given in the guidance disseminated by your school. Please make sure you use those channels in the first instance, rather than contacting the DEO, as they are better placed to provide appropriate and timely support.