Hiding marks and feedback until ready for release

As the assessment period starts, schools should please ensure that Blackboard Grade Centre columns are hidden from students until marks and feedback are ready to be released. You can check a column is hidden from students by looking for the circle with a red line through it in the column header.
A column header with the 'hidden from students' icon
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).
The menu to hide columns from students
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.
If you have any questions, please email digital-education@bristol.ac.uk.

Roles and processes for any issues arising during summer assessment

Should any significant issue arise with an assessment system during the summer assessment period, the following steps will be followed:

  1. Issue reported: DEO identifies Incident Lead (usually service lead) and collates initial data to assess if this is a major incident. DEO informs colleagues, eg DEO Helpdesk and other DEO staff (via internal Teams group) plus IT Services TLC team (via Teams).
  2. Initial investigation: DEO Incident Lead reviews available data and consults with internal/external Technical Service Manager to complete initial assessment of problem and its impact (rapid triage).
  3. Major incident confirmed: 
    1. Incident Lead informs Head of Digital Education (via Teams) and Exams Office (via Teams) and confirms major incident with IT Services to enable their Major Incident process.
    2. DEO posts to DEO blog using ‘service announcement’ category which then emails info to subscribers and updates feeds (eg Blackboard home page). This information is also used by IT Services to update their status page.
    3. Head of Digital Education updates senior team in Education and Student Experience.
  4. Major incident management: IT Services oversees communication to staff and students as part of its Major Incident process. The DEO and IT Services continue to update blog and status page until issue is resolved.

The DEO recommends that relevant school and faculty staff subscribe to the DEO blog and consult the IT Services status page. In the event of a major incident, the DEO blog will have live and detailed updates, while the IT Services status page will contain more high-level information. Both the blog and status page are available to students.

If a technical issue affecting a live assessment is reported directly to schools or faculties, they should check the DEO blog for updates first, as the issue may have already been reported to the DEO. If nothing has been posted on the blog, they should contact the DEO.

Preparation for summer assessment period

Significant work has been undertaken in preparation for the summer assessment period:

– by Professional Services

    • Assessment systems’ capacity has been increased to accommodate the higher number of assessments.
      • Questionmark has been upsized from 10th May to 15th June.
      • Blackboard capacity is being increased over the assessment period.
    • Clear communication routes and processes to manage major incidents have been put in place or reinforced.
    • Additional “just in time” support is available in the DEO and IT Services.
    • Where possible, standardised assessment areas and processes have been created to simplify support and improve the student experience, including:
      • Processes which may be needed in the event of major technical issues have been cleared from a policy and data security perspective (eg, do not email assessments, wait until the system is available and submit as usual).
      • improvements for students (eg, personalised exam times).

– by schools and faculties

  • Every exam should have a backup plan in place before the assessment (eg, use of a late submission point for Blackboard file upload exams).
  • Technical settings on exam assessments should be flexible enough to accommodate a short break in service (eg, by not setting MCQ-based exams to auto-submit).
  • Relevant central school and faculty staff should subscribe to the DEO blog.

For centrally supported exams the DEO has set up assessments with backups and appropriate technical settings. For locally supported assessment, schools should ensure that this work has been done and any relevant information communicated to students.

Older operating systems and browsers may have trouble logging in to Blackboard

A security update to our Blackboard system has meant that people using a few specific combinations of older operating systems and browsers may have difficulty logging in to Blackboard. In all cases, this can be addressed by using a different browser (eg Chrome, Edge or Firefox), or by updating your operating system or browser version. The affected parings are:

  • Internet Explorer 11 0n Windows 7
  • Internet Explorer 11 0n Windows 8.1
  • Internet Explorer 11 0n Windows Phone 8.1
  • Safari 6 on iOS 6.0.1
  • Safari 7 on iOS 7.1
  • Safari 7 on OS X 10.9
  • Safari 8 on iOS 8.4
  • Safari 8 on OS X 10.10

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this causes.

Resolved: Turnitin bulk download (anonymous assignments) issue

The issue affecting some Turnitin bulk downloads has been resolved. The issue was first reported on Thursday 8th April and Turnitin informed us it was resolved at 17:00 on Wednesday 21st April. During this period, users may have been unable to bulk download through the Assignment Inbox for anonymous assignments, attempting to do so generated an error message. Our testing has confirmed this is now working again.

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

Improvements to Collaborate Ultra video gallery

Collaborate A preview of the improved video gallery.Ultra has recently been updated to provide a richer video gallery. Three new views are available:

  • Gallery – displaying 25 attendees, with arrows allowing scrollable pages for larger groups.
  • Speaker – current speaker displayed as a large window at the top with other users as smaller windows below.
  • Tiled – current speaker displayed as a large window to the left with smaller windows for other users to the right.

In addition to the visual improvements, Moderators can select an individual attendee’s video or avatar window, to change their role or send them a message.

The new gallery is currently only active for Moderators and Presenters but will be rolled out to students soon.

You can read advice and guidance on using the new video gallery and views here: https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Moderator/Moderate_Sessions/Video


Xerte upgrade and downtime Wednesday 14th April

IT Services will be upgrading Xerte to version 3.9 between 8am and 1pm on Wednesday 14th April. During this time Xerte resources will be unavailable to staff and students.

This upgrade brings security updates, and improved functionality including:

  • Accessibility enhancements
  • Stand-Alone pages
  • Page enhancements
  • Media sub-folders

We will blog again when Xerte is available for staff and students.


Scheduled Maintenance – Blackboard Collaborate Ultra 8th April

Blackboard Collaborate has advised us that there will be scheduled maintenance taking place on Thursday, April 8th, between midnight and 4 am. During this time, users will experience intermittent availability. The purpose of the maintenance is to update Collaborate to the latest version. The new version will provide an improved video gallery for instructors.

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.

Interruptions to key University online services, 5.30-9.00 pm Mon 22 March

IT Services will be completing their emergency upgrades to the University network on Monday 22 March between 5.30 pm and 9 pm. This will affect access to some of the services that the Digital Education Office manages, including Blackboard and Re/Play. Further information can be found in the IT Services status item about this work.