[Closed] Some people cannot access Blackboard

We are aware that a small number of people are getting an error message when they try to access Blackboard, such as “This site can’t be reached”. We are investigating the issue with the assistance of IT Services and Blackboard, and will update this blog when we have further information. In the meantime, anyone who is affected by this may be able to restore access by using the University’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) or the Windows Virtual Desktop.

The issue appears to originate in BT’s nameservers, so only people using BT as their Internet Service Provider should be affected.

[Resolved] Some Blackboard pages displaying incorrectly

An issue was identified at around 5 pm on Friday where, for some people, Blackboard pages were not displaying properly in their web browser. The issue was reported to Blackboard, who took steps that fixed the issue on Saturday morning. Anyone who is still experiencing this issue should clear the cache in their web browser (using, for example, these instructions), which will allow the pages to display correctly again.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this issue. If you have any questions, please contact digital-education@bristol.ac.uk.

Refreshing Blackboard courses 

The summer Blackboard “rollover” process creates a copy of a previous year’s unit course (where one exists) for the new academic year, with all the teaching materials and files. (If your school is introducing a new or refreshed Blackboard template, though, this may not be the case.)

Preparing your new Blackboard course is a great opportunity for you to refresh it by removing duplicate or obsolete content and implementing students’ feedback, to enhance their experience and their effective use of the digital learning environment.

Read the Guidance for staff on refreshing Blackboard courses for more information, or contact the DEO at digital-education@bristol.ac.uk .

Blackboard integration changes

The way that tools such as Turnitin and Re/Play integrate with Blackboard is changing. From 2022/23, Blackboard integrations will move to a new, more robust approach (LTI/API replacing ‘building blocks’). All major changes will be implemented during the summer, in time for the next academic year, ahead of the older integration methods being deprecated by the suppliers and turned off. Making these changes during the summer will allow us to maintain access to all the tools currently integrated with Blackboard. In some cases, there will be improvements to the user experience; in others, the change will not be noticeable to you. For a few tools, the new integration will mean some changes to the way the tool works, or where you find it in Blackboard. Support and information for affected tools will be made available on the DEO Service Improvements page.

2022-23 Blackboard course creation

After August 1, new Blackboard courses will be created for the 2022-23 taught units. These will be a copy of the previous year’s course, where that exists, including any template.

New units, or units that have had a change of unit code or teaching block, will be generated as a copy of the school’s template, or as blank Blackboard course if your school does not have a template. Please contact the DEO if you are interested in adopting a school template for the 23/24 academic year.

Students are automatically enrolled onto the courses for the programme and units that they are registered to in SITS. Instructor enrolments are copied from the previous year’s course; instructors will need to be manually enrolled onto any new courses. Please contact your school office if you to be added to any new Blackboard courses.

Programme-level courses and organisations are persistent and do not roll over.

Details of the summer work being carried out by the DEO can be found on our Service Improvements page.

No Blackboard downtime this year

Unlike in previous years, there will be no summer downtime for Blackboard this year. This is because, last summer, we moved our Blackboard system onto a ‘cloud’ infrastructure. This means our system can automatically scale to meet demand, and can also receive bug fixes and upgrades more quickly, without any downtime.

Details of the summer work being carried out by the DEO can be found on our Service Improvements page.

System update for Qwickly Attendance and Course Tools, 29 June

We will be receiving an essential system update for the Qwickly Attendance and Qwickly Course Tools in Blackboard on Wednesday 29 June. The update will improve accessibility and replace the main navigation menu with a new left-hand menu to make the system easier for instructors to use. The Qwickly settings have also been reconfigured to further simplify use. Details of the changes can be found on our Service Improvements page. Qwickly will remain available to staff throughout the update.

Campus Pack in Blackboard frozen from 24 June

The Campus Pack features in Blackboard will become unavailable from 24 June, because the tool is no longer being supported by the supplier. Once Campus Pack is unavailable it will not be possible to add new Campus Pack items into courses; Blackboard’s own blogs and wikis can still be used, of course.

If you have a Blackboard course or organisation that already contains Campus Pack features, you will still be able to access these as you can at present. Students will also be able to access them to view old posts unless you choose to make Campus Pack unavailable in your course.

From the summer of 2023, the deprecation of Blackboard building blocks will mean that Campus Pack features will not be accessible at all. If you want to download your own copies of Campus Pack items over the coming year, please follow the directions in our ‘Saving content from Campus Pack‘ guide.

Details of these changes, and the rest of the DEO summer work, can be found on our Service Improvements page.