PDF files not opening correctly in Blackboard from Chrome and Edge

This issue only affects some types of PDF.

We have had reports from some users that they have experienced issues when trying to open a PDF in Blackboard.  The PDF opens but only the first page appears and a log in box also appears on the page.

We have looked into the issue and there is a known issue with Chrome where the “in site” cookies do not pass to PDFs when they open.  What this means is that the PDF does not know the student is logged into Blackboard.

Enter username and password (sometimes works)
Right click and save as/download (always works)
Use Firefox (always works)
We will be looking into this issue and will provide an update if there is a better resolution.

Attendance groups now updating

The integration that assigns students to attendance groups in Blackboard, based on timetabling data, has not been updating since Monday. (These groups are shown in Blackboard with “{S}” at the start of their name.)

The integration between Timetabling and Blackboard has been fixed.

You should now see the up to date list of students in your {S} groups in Blackboard.   Any changes to the timetabled groups in your unit this week will now be reflected on Blackboard.

Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience this has caused you.

LaTeX and Maths Editor now working correctly

Rendering error

The rendering error with LaTeX has been resolved (Friday 29th May) and all new LaTeX/Maths Editor formulas will now display properly.

Any items users created in the past week while the problem was present, should be corrected by editing the items and submiting them without making changes, this should correct how the formula displays.  If problems persist then it may be necessary to recreate the formula.

We appoligise for any inconvenience this has caused.

We will continue to monitor this.

Capitals in “http” cause red error message

Some staff have been reporting intermittent red errors when adding content to Blackboard.  We have tracked this down to a bug around “http” web links.

On the internet all “http” should be in lower case, however sometimes staff are entering HTTP or Http at the start of their links.  Most systems pick this error up and change the link to “http” all lower case.  If fact Blackboard has always done this in the past.  However there is currently a bug in the code and Blackboard is no longer setting these to lower case.

You can avoid this problem by making sure that if you add a link it starts with “http” in lower case.

Hub Courses – need to know


Blackboard is based around SITS units, with a single Blackboard course being created for every SITS unit that is running in the current year. Sometimes staff may require a Blackboard course that has students from more than one SITS unit on it (in addition to the normal SITS units). If you want a course like this, please fill in a  “hub course” request form.


Once the form is completed, your new hub course will be created in 3-5 working days (more at start of term). You will be sent an email when it is ready.

Students: Those who are enrolled on any of the SITS units included on the form will be automatically enrolled onto the hub course. Students that enroll in those units later will also be enrolled onto the hub course, 3-5 working days after their enrollment on SITS.

Staff: As the hub course requester, you are automatically added to the hub course as an Instructor, with the ability to add other staff. To add other staff (instructions from Blackboard):

  • In the control panel in the hub course, Click on “Users and Groups”, then “Users”
  • Click the blue button “Find other users to enrol”
  • If you know your colleagues’ user names, put them in the user name box (otherwise use the “Browse” button to search for them by name)
  • Set the role to “Instructor” (or whatever level of access you want them to have)
  • Click “Submit”


The hub course will be a copy of the first unit course in the list you submitted via the form. So if you submitted THRS10034, THRS20102, and PHIL20052, it will be a copy of THRS10034_2015. In future years, the hub course will be a copy of the previous year’s hub course.

SITS unit courses

Your normal SITS courses will still be on Blackboard, and you may make them available to your students in addition to your hub course. There are a number of University tools that only work (or work best) in the SITS courses, which include:

  • eReserves
  • Lecture capture recordings
  • Library reading lists
  • Online submission of essays (particularly when this is part of a school-wide process)

Tidying up your SITS courses

If you switch on the SITS courses, and if they contain content, then you need to hide that from your students to avoid confusing them with duplicate materials. The easiest way is to hide whole menu items is:

  • Move your mouse over the menu item and click on the drop-down arrow
  • Click “Hide link”

It is also good practice to add an announcement to the SITS courses, telling students that the materials are held in the hub course and letting them know what you will be using the SITS courses for (eg accessing eReserves).

Switch on the courses

Finally, you will want to switch on the courses for your students. Use Qwickly to do this.

Blackboard course roll-over 2015 complete

The Blackboard course roll-over is now complete.  You will see a new Blackboard course for every SITS unit that is running next year – these are in the format HISP21309_2015

You will find it much easier to distinguish between courses for different academic years by using these instructions “Group your courses by year: learn how to simplify your My Courses in 18 seconds.”

All new courses are created as “Unavailable” so students will not be able to see them yet.  When you wish to switch them on simply look for the course availability on the “Qwickly” module on the home page of Blackboard and switch the course to “On”.

Also this year you will see an additional hidden menu item at the bottom of your menu called “Reading List”.  From this menu you will be able to upload your reading list for library staff to access it and when the reading list has been uploaded it will appear on the page for students to see.  See this message from the library

“A reminder that the University is undertaking an early implementation of a reading list management policy, as reading lists are currently provided to students and library staff in a variety of ways leading to inconsistent student experience. The early implementation uses Blackboard to help provide reading lists  in a uniform manner. More information can be found using the ereserves/reading list tab in Blackboard.” 

All staff will have been added to the new versions of courses that they were attached to last year.  Students are being added as they are enrolled on SITS.

We also provide “Hub” courses for areas where more than one Unit code of students are being taught together – we are in the process of copying last years Hub courses and these should be available early next week.

Questionmark Perception maintenance 29th April 2015, 2 – 3 pm

Dear Colleagues,

There will be a scheduled outage of Questionmark Perception on Wednesday 29th April, between 14:00 – 15:00.
This is to carry out some essential maintenance work, and the service will be unavailable during this time.
Care has been taken to work around critical dates supplied by staff earlier in the year, however, if you have any questions or critical activity scheduled that will be affected, please email tel-help@bristol.ac.uk
Kind regards

More targeted phishing attacks involving Blackboard

We continue to receive a number of reports of staff and students receiving emails which appear to have been sent from Blackboard, or other University services such as the Library, asking them to provide their log-in details or directing them to a website that pretends to be a Blackboard website and asks them to login.

These emails are, in some cases, bypassing the spam filter by using addresses which appear to be from bristol.ac.uk. IT Services have been made aware of this and are looking into the matter.

If you receive reports of this from students, please ask them not to provide any information – we never ask for log-in details – and to delete the emails. If you are unsure about the origin of a message, please let us know and we can advise you whether it is genuine or not.

If you have any questions, please email TEL-help@bristol.ac.uk

eReserve Request system – unavailable 12:00 – 15:00 on 27 May

Dear All
As you may be aware from the IT Services blog http://www.bris.ac.uk/it-services/news/2014/apex2may.html the system that supports eReserve requests will be unavailable 12:00 – 15:00 on 27 May.

What this will means is that you will not be able to request any new eReserves for that 3 hour slot. However any eReserves that have already been placed on Blackboard will be available to staff and students as normal. Blackboard will not be affected in any way.
Joseph Gliddon
Learning Technologist

Turn it in – submissions now working

Dear All
Turn it in now report that they have fixed the problem with slow submissions on their system. Students should now find that the speeds are normal/acceptable.
Staff will still experience delay in the processing of the % matches (the system has a few days backlog to process) so expect a delay of several hours to 2 days after your students have submitted before you see the % match appearing.
Joseph Gliddon
Learning Technologist