[Resolved] Issue with submissions to Blackboard group assignments

We recently reported an issue with Blackboard group submissions which presented students with an error message despite their submission being successful. This bug also meant that group submissions were not generating receipts.

Blackboard have now informed us that this issue has been resolved and our testing confirms this.

If you encounter any further issues, or have any questions, please email digital-education@bristol.ac.uk.

[Open] Issue opening attached documents in Blackboard

We are aware of a new, infrequent issue where some people are receiving 404 errors when attempting to open certain documents in Blackboard when using Edge. This error is currently being investigated by Blackboard and will be fixed in a future update.

To access the documents, please use an alternative browser, or right-click on the document link and select ‘Save As’ to download a copy of the document. Alternatively:

  1. Open Edge settings
  2. Select Downloads
  3. Set ‘Open Office files in the Browser’ to Off.

Our apologies for the inconvenience. Please contact digital-education@bristol.ac.uk if you have any questions.

[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.

Blackboard marks transfer maintenance, 17 Nov, 10 am – 11 am

IT Services are making some technical changes to the systems that handle student marks. As a result of this, the ability to transfer marks from Blackboard to SITS/eVision will be unavailable on Wednesday 17 November between 10 am and 11 am. 17 November should be considered an “at risk” day, and we recommend that you do not transfer any marks on this day. If you were planning on transferring marks out of Blackboard on 17 November, or shortly afterwards, please let the Digital Education Office know by emailing digital-education@bristol.ac.uk.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.

[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

Hiding marks and feedback until ready for release

As coursework submissions start, schools should please ensure that Blackboard Grade Centre columns are hidden from students until marks and feedback are ready to be released. To prevent students from seeing marks too early, you should also ensure Total and Weighted Total columns are hidden. Check a column header for a circle with a red line through it which indicates the column is hidden from students.

Demonstration column

If it is not hidden, and you need to hide it, click the down arrow next to the column header and select Hide from students (on/off).

Hide from students (on/off)

If this option isn’t available, or if the column has a green tick next to it, you will need to hide it in a different way:

Total column

  1. Click the dropdown arrow next to the column name.
  2. Click Edit Column Information.
  3. Scroll to the bottom and set Show this column to students to No.
  4. Click Submit.

For Turnitin users, please be aware that a persistent bug means you must make the submission point unavailable after making any changes to the settings. For more details, please see our previous blog post on Turnitin submission point availability issues.

For more information on administering Electronic Management of Assessment workflows, please see our EMA guidance page.

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

Scheduled Maintenance – Blackboard Collaborate Ultra October 14, 2021

Blackboard have advised us that there will be scheduled Blackboard Collaborate maintenance taking place on Thursday, October 14th, between midnight and 4 am. During this time, users will experience intermittent availability. The purpose of the maintenance is to update Collaborate to version v21.18. You can read about improvements to functionality and features on the Collaborate Release Notes page.

During the maintenance, you can check Blackboard’s service status page.

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

Please check the IT service status page to see how the University’s systems and services are working and for planned maintenance information.

Duplicate groups appearing in Qwickly Attendance by Course Groups

An issue has caused activity groups from last year to appear alongside this year’s groups in Blackboard courses. If you have set up Qwickly by Course Groups, in many cases the result is duplicate activity groups appearing in the Qwickly Attendance tool. You may therefore find two instances with the same name, one containing students and one empty.

If you are taking attendance by group in the Qwickly Attendance tool, you may need to click on both instances of a group to find the one that contains students – if a group contains students, they will be listed on the page as soon as you select the group.

To resolve this issue, we are working on removing timetabling groups that do not contain any students.

There are two options you can take in Blackboard to manage this issue while we are working on a fix.

  • Option 1 – rename empty groups to start with {S}Z rather than just {S}. This should move them down the group selection list in Qwickly, making it easier to find and use this year’s groups to take attendance. However, this may mean your groups page is still slow to load (link to how to rename groups).
  • Option 2 – delete the empty groups. Please note that this carries risks, for example if a group with students is deleted in error it may not be possible to retrieve information already entered for that group.

The DEO will blog again when we have more information on an institutional fix. Please be assured that this does not impact the use of Qwickly to take attendance from the start of term.

How to rename or delete empty groups

As mentioned above, to manage this issue while we are working on a fix you can rename or delete the empty groups. To do this:

  1. Go to your Blackboard course and navigate to Users and Groups > Groups
  2. Step through the pages by clicking the arrows under Group Settings until you can see the S+ groups (these start with the {S} symbol)
    Screenshot showing the navigation arrows beneath Group Settings
  3. Find the duplicate (empty) group, as in this example
    Two groups are listed with the same name, the second is highlighted as it has 0 students

Option 1 – rename the empty group

  • Click on the down-arrow next to the group name with 0 students and click on Edit
  • Change the name by adding Z to the name starting with {S} (for example, {S}ZPSYC…) and click on Submit

Option 2 – delete the empty group

  • Click on the down-arrow next to the group name with 0 students and click on Delete
  • You will be prompted with ‘This action is final and cannot be undone. Would you like to continue?’ Click on OK