Turn it in problems

Dear All
The “Turn it in” software provider are currently experiencing problems with all UK submissions http://submit.ac.uk/en_gb/services/system-status
We are monitoring the situation and will update you as soon as we have more details.

If you are submitting an essay to Turnitin via our Blackboard system you are likely to experience delays (the pages will load slowly). For staff you will find that the originality reports will take a significant time to appear.
Joseph Gliddon
Learning Technologist

Wikis and blogs (Campus Pack) working again – 3rd March

UPDATE: The wikis and blogs are working again – Learning Objects have fixed the problem with their website.

The third-party wikis and blogs that are integrated into Blackboard are not currently working (in simple terms the website that hosts these appears to be offline). This will mean when you go into a Learning Objects or Campus Pack wiki or blog then you will see a “Page not available” error. We have contacted the vendors and expect to see the website back up and running shortly – we will update this post when they are.

BbDrive – available for all staff on request

After a successful pilot we are pleased to announce that BbDrive is now available to all staff to use with Blackboard on both their work and home computers.  We should also like to thank those staff that participated in the pilot for their feedback.

One of the more interesting results from the pilot was that those that had problems were those staff who tried to do too much on BbDrive.  It makes your Blackboard courses work a bit like a network drive allowing you to open and edit your files directly from Blackboard – however as you are accessing your files at a remote location over the web it is slower than if you are using files on your local pc.  For most of the pilot participants who would go to Blackboard make a couple of small changes to a file and leave this worked fine. By contrast some participants moved the majority of their files onto Blackboard and attempted to do significant amounts of work on there (such as creating a 20 page powerpoint from scratch) and they found the slowness problematic.

As such if you are planning on using BbDrive we should stress that it is ideal for adding files  and making small changes to files you have already added to Blackboard, it is however not ideal for making extensive changes to files (such as typing in a word document for 20 minutes).


Joseph Gliddon
Learning Technologist
Technology Enhanced Learning Team


BB Drive is a desktop application available on request that you can install onto your PC which makes dealing with your files on Blackboard easier and more efficient.

When you wish to update a file in Blackboard you no longer need to take a copy, edit the copy, save it, delete the original and upload the copy. Instead you just open, edit and save.
Watch this video to see how simple it is.

It is also possible to open your whole course as if it was a network drive, allowing you to drag in new files, move files around, create folders and update files, as demonstrated in this video.

We think that this has the potential to save staff time both when creating and updating their courses. This longer video follows someone through the process of setting up their course.

If you have any questions or would like to use BbDrive please email us at tel-help@bristol.ac.uk telling us your work computer name and we will have it installed on your work computer. If you wish to use it at home we can send you the exe file.

Blackboard database backup – 17th/18th/19th January

Following the move of Blackboard to the new SAN hardware, IT Services need to make an additional backup of the underlying database. This process can take up to 10 hours, during which time the responsiveness of Blackboard is significantly reduced.

Significant work has already been undertaken, and will be restarted at 21:00 tonight (Friday 17th). If the additional backup only requires a short time to finish it will be left to complete tonight. If the process could take up to 10 hours to complete it will be rescheduled, and start on Saturday 18th at 21:00.

While the additional backup is being made Blackboard users will notice performance degradation. If the backup process is still running at 07:30 on Sunday morning, Blackboard service will be withdrawn while it completes. This will make the backup quicker and will ensure that it finishes as soon as is possible on Sunday. As soon as the backup has finished, Blackboard will be brought back online.

If you or your students need access to Blackboard on Sunday morning please let us know by emailing TEL-help@bristol.ac.uk.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this necessary maintenance causes you.

Drag and drop upload of files to content system – not working due to java version

Dear All

Recently Java released a new version for all webbrowsers, it has some security updates and one of these prevents people from uploading multiple files to blackboard content system.

Everything works fine while you open the upload and drag the files over.  However when you click the submit button nothing happens.  Blackboard corp have designed an update to resolve this problem – we will apply this update as soon as practical.

There are however ways that you can get around the problem now

  1. using single file upload (look in the top right when you are uploading and you can toggle from multiple to single file)
  2. Reduce the security level of your java (and then next week return it to its normal setting)

If you wish to reduce your java security level, click start, all programs, java, configure java.  A box should appear called “Java Control Panel”, click the security tab and set the security level down to medium.  Obviously this leaves your computer less secure and so you should return the setting to high when you have finished working with Blackboard.

Update – our Chrome browsers are set to auto update  the workaround using the lowering of security setting might not work with Chrome version that was released Friday afternoon, however if you use IE it will work fine


Joseph Gliddon – Learning Technologist

Mobile Authentication improvements

Dear Students and Staff

We are happy to announce the following improvements to the Blackboard mobile app:

  1. You will now login to Blackboard using the Blackboard Mobile app, which means the login boxes will be the proper size (no more zooming in on your phone, just type in your username and password)

  2. The app can remember your login (removing the need to login on your phone over and over again).  One small caveat, if you are using a mobile device that you share with others (ie a tablet) you should disable this – click Settings, Privacy, Remember password

  3. Push notifications which alert you when … will work more effectively.  When you get a mobile notification and click on it – you will be taken to the app, and directed to the part of Blackboard that generated the notification (until now clicking on a notification took you to the main menu of Blackboard.)

If you are able to edit Blackboard courses or organisations you will now be able to add announcements and items to your course using your mobile.

Announcements – Simply click “Add”, give it a subject and description, then click “Post” to submit it to the course.

Items – exactly the same as Announcements but you can also click attach to add files (you have lots of options of where to get things to attach – your phone, dropbox, google drive etc.  It copes with most files and will convert unusual things (Google docs etc) into a pdf.


eReserves now available to all Faculties

Dear All

We are pleased to announce that eReserves are now available to all Faculties within the University.  More details can be found on the library pages http://www.bristol.ac.uk/library/resources/eresources/ereserves.html

To request an eReserve you need to log into Blackboard and click on the eReserves tab at the top of the page.

Academics in the Faculties that have just been added will receive an email outlining the service from the library.


Course Rollover and Adaptive Release

Regrettably the course copy process for the summer rollover did not copy the adaptive release rules for materials in Units.  There are about 200 Units affected we have now reapplied the rules for them.  This only applies to SITS Units.

One thing to be aware of, a lot of the adaptive release was simply to be visible after a particular date – as all of these dates were last year the items were visible so we have not re-applied these rules.

Adaptive Release is a useful function in that it allows things to be visible to students if they meet the requirements (normally getting a particular score in a test or being part of a group).