[Open] LaTeX editor in Blackboard slow

We have identified an error when using the LaTeX maths editor in Blackboard that causes a significant time lag when trying to enter code into the editor. We have raised the issue with Blackboard and they are working on a fix that will be applied in a future update, but they have not yet provided a timescale for this. Investigation suggests that this issue is related to LaTeX equations that have been (correctly) entered into the editor between double dollar signs ($$…$$). To work around this issue, therefore, these equations can be re-created using the ‘MathType’ equation editor itself rather than LaTeX code.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused. We will provide an update as soon as Blackboard provide one. If you have any queries, please contact us.

[Closed] Issue with submissions to Blackboard group assignments

This has now been resolved – please see the update blog post for more details.

We have been informed of a bug affecting group submissions to Blackboard assignments. This does not affect individual Blackboard assignments or Turnitin assignments.

Update 10/11/21: This issue appears to be intermittent so may not affect all assignment submissions.

When a student submits to a group assignment, the bug means that they may be presented with an error message: ‘Failed to submit Assignment. Please try again.’ Additionally, the submission may not generate any receipt so students will not receive a confirmation email. Despite this, the submission will be successful.

We have reported and further escalated the issue with Blackboard, and they are working on a fix as a matter of priority.

We also wanted to reassure students that their submissions have been made, despite the error message and lack of receipt. Students can check if their submission has been successful as follows:

  • Submit as usual.
  • If you encounter a red banner saying ‘Failed to submit Assignment. Please try again.’ use the left-hand menu to return to the Assessment, Submission and Feedback area.
  • Locate the assignment submission point as before and click on it.
  • You should be presented with a review page displaying the work you submitted.
  • We recommend you take a screenshot of this page for your own records. Be sure to include the submission date and time (under ‘ATTEMPT’ on the right-hand side) in the screenshot.

We apologise for the inconvenience and will blog again as soon as we hear anything further from Blackboard. If you have any concerns or questions, please get in contact with us: digital-education@bristol.ac.uk

Adding Re/Play videos to your Blackboard course

There are two recommended ways of adding Re/Play videos to your Blackboard course. Both ensure that the videos are only made available to users within the relevant Blackboard unit spaces. Which you choose will depend on how you want the video to appear to students:

  1. Add it as a standalone item. This shows the video as an individual Blackboard item in a small player.
  2. Insert a link and thumbnail image. This allows additional text to be added around the video to contextualise it. The student clicks on the link to open the video.

A third option – embedding a video player within a Blackboard item – is available, but not recommended, as it means the video would be viewable by anyone within or outside the University if shared.

Instructions, including video guides, for all these methods can be found at: Uploading, enhancing and adding videos to your course (bris.ac.uk)

If you wish to use the third option, embedding a video within a Blackboard item, the ‘Who Can View’ permission for the video in ‘My Re/Play’ must be set to ‘Everyone’. This means that the video can be shared with anyone within or beyond the University who has access to the link. To set this permission:

  1. Log on to Blackboard
  2. Select the ‘My Re/Play’ tab at the top
  3. Locate the presentation you wish to set permissions on
  4. Click on the padlock symbol to unlock it
  5. Click on the video
  6. On the right-hand side, in the ‘Who can view’ section, adjust the slider to ‘Everyone’

If you embed a video in this way but don’t set the permission to ‘Everyone’, then students will be asked to authenticate by Mediasite (as shown in the screenshot below), but will still not be able to access the video.

Mediasite Authenticate screen

If you have any questions, please contact digital-education@bristol.ac.uk.

Student Support from the Digital Education Office – information for staff

Over the last year, the Digital Education Office (DEO) has been working with students via our Student Digital Champions to create support materials, to consolidate and update the various places students can get help with their digital education, and to deliver digital skills training. 

You can now point your students towards:  

  • Learning Online – Student Support for guides, resources and links for students to support their digital learning.
  • Digitally Ready. A digital induction course for new students or those who need to refresh their basic digital skills.
  • Digitally Ready: Reflect and Reboot – A self-reflective skills building course for returning students. 
  • DigiTalk: The student blog of the Digital Education Office, for all things digital education from a student perspective.  

We also have a team of Student Digital Champions who are working with us to channel the student voice into our work, as well as co-creating resources and solutions around the student digital learning experience. Students with ideas, concerns or feedback can talk to their course reps in the first instance, who should be in regular contact with our Student Digital Champions.  

Useful start of term Digital Education links for staff

  1. Using Microsoft Teams for teaching  
  2. Hybrid teaching and live streaming 
  3. Re/Play – including adding videos to Blackboard and captioning 
  4. Build and maintain relationships online – 10 ideas (Word) 
  5. Synchronous online sessions – including tips for effective and engaging breakout groups 
  6. Organise Blackboard sites clearly – course design tips and guidance 
  7. Make your Blackboard course available to students 
  8. Tools and software – Mentimeter Pro and H5P newly 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 digital-education@bristol.ac.uk. 

Opportunity for staff to try out hybrid teaching rooms

From 13th – 17th September IT Services are offering staff the chance to try out new equipment available for hybrid teaching, as follows:

  • Chemistry Lecture Theatre 2 – three drop in sessions at 11:00 to 12:00 on Tuesday 14 , Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 September. IT Services staff will be on hand to explain how to use the new equipment.
  • The following lecture theatres will also be available from 9:00 until 17:00 from Monday 13 September until Friday 17 September. Please note, IT staff will not be present in these rooms to assist.
    • Chemistry – LT2 (apart from 11:00-12:00 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday)
    • Physics – Frank
    • BioMed – C42
    • 43WR – G.01
    • Ada Lovelace – SM1

If you have any queries please contact the IT Service desk.

Incident management for the reassessment period

As mentioned in today’s Education and COVID-19 bulletin (no 73) , the full process for incident management during the reassessment period is now available.  Staff should familiarise themselves with the process particularly around stakeholder engagement, communication with affected students and reporting and escalation.  Below is a summary of key actions.


  • Ensure local back-up plans are in place and students are aware what they should do in the event of an incident

In the event of an incident:

  • Individual student:  for technical issues refer student to the Blended Learning Team helpdesk (tel: +44 (0) 117 374 2833 or email: service-desk@bristol.ac.uk): for non-technical issues refer the student to the School Office.
  • Exam level:
    • Implement agreed backup plans.
    • Communicate to affected students via agreed routes stating you are aware of the issues and informing them of what they should do.  If you are unsure of these, contact your School Office.
    • Contact the Exams Office if you think you may need to reschedule the exam.
    • Inform your FED of the nature of the incident and resolution.
  • Major incident: check the IT Status page and DEO blog in the first instance, if there is nothing reported, contact the DEO.
  • Report the incident to your FED and FEM so they are aware of the exams and students that have been affected and can coordinate the response via Silver (assessments).

Check Edge and Chrome are up-to-date if using Turnitin

Previously we reported that staff were unable to create or edit some Turnitin assignments and that students were sometimes unable to resubmit assignments.

We are pleased to say that Google have resolved this issue in their latest update for Chrome and Edge. The error never affected non-Chromium browsers such as Firefox and Safari.

We have asked that students who are submitting work to Turnitin ensure their Edge or Chrome browsers are up-to-date, or use a non-Chromium browser such as Firefox or Safari. If they don’t, they may find their ‘resubmit’ button doesn’t work.

For staff, the same advice applies to creating or editing Turnitin assignments with Post-Dates more than two weeks after the Due Date.

We apologise for the disruption caused. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us at digital-education@bristol.ac.uk

Update on Turnitin issue affecting assignment creation, resubmission and download in Chrome/Edge

Previously we reported that users were unable to create or edit some Turnitin assignments. Following further reports of disruption to other Turnitin features, Turnitin have now added this issue to their Known Issues page.

An update to how Google Chrome (and other browsers based on ‘Chromium’ eg Edge) handles popups has caused problems with some of the Turnitin functionality. The affected features are:

    • You are unable to create or edit assignments to have post-dates more than the default amount of 2 weeks after the due date.
    • The resubmit button is sometimes unresponsive and unable to be used.
    • Submissions are unable to be bulk-downloaded from the assignment inbox. They can still be downloaded individually.

We have been assured that Turnitin are working on resolving this as a priority.

Workaround: The error does not affect non-Chromium browsers such as Firefox and Safari. It also does not affect previous versions of Chrome or Edge. If you have access to any of these, please use them to carry out the above actions.

We apologise for the disruption caused. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us at digital-education@bristol.ac.uk

Turnitin scheduled maintenance: Saturday 14th August 2021

Turnitin have advised us that there will be scheduled maintenance taking place on Saturday 14th August from 16:00 – 18:00 BST. Turnitin services will be unavailable at this time.  We apologise for any inconvenience caused. If you have any questions please email digital-education@bristol.ac.uk

You can stay up to date with Turnitin system status by visiting the Turnitin status page.