Questionmark Scheduled Maintenance: 15 November 2020

Questionmark have advised us that there will be scheduled maintenance taking place on 15 November 2020.  The purpose of the maintenance is to deploy system updates to ensure the ongoing reliability, security and up time of the platform.

During this time all users may experience service disruptions. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

If you have any questions, please email


Making your Blackboard courses and organisations available to students

As an Instructor, if under “My Courses”or ‘My Organisations’ on your Blackboard home page  you see “not currently available” or “unavailable” after the course name, this means the course is unavailable to students. Instructors can still access and edit the course.

There are two ways to make these available to students

  • You can use the Quick Tools on your Blackboard Home page. Click Change Course Availability for Students and turn the On/Off button next to the course or organisation to the required state.


  • Click on the course/organisation
  • Under Control Panel, click on Customisation
  • Click on Properties
  • In section 3, Set availability, select Yes
  • Click Submit

If you have any problems or queries please contact

Blended teaching and learning tools requirements gathering

The Digital Education Office is leading work to document learning and teaching activities which are not easy to do, or do well, with our current digital tools. If you have a suggestion for a new tool please let us know by adding it to the software request form. On the DEO website, the form is housed in a web page which highlights tools which are in the process of being purchased. We will also update this page with tools which have received a high number of requests (in case you want to keep abreast of what might be available or upvote something).

If you have already submitted a request to the DEO, BILT or IT Services we will add it into the requirements gathering for you.

This is part of a co-ordinated effort by IT Services and the DEO to collate requirements for software and hardware that will be needed to support teaching next year. There is also a separate form to request access to specialist teaching software – all forms are available from the blended learning Sharepoint site.

May Blackboard Collaborate Update


Collaborate use in the University has been incredibly successful since the lockdown created the need to teach online. In April Collaborate has facilitated 2.88 million cumulative minutes of online learning and been used by just under 9.5 thousand users.

Staff created 5728 individual sessions. 2468 recordings were made, with over 1253 hours length in total. A total of 8488 individual recordings were viewed.

Blackboard have made some changes to the Collaborate tool to maintain quality and make scheduling large sessions for 250 to 500 users easier for instructors. A new ‘Large scale session (250+)’ option is available in Session Settings. Previously larger sessions would require liaison with the Digital Education Office and would be created on a separate server. To improve performance, they have disabled some functionality for students in large scale sessions, such as sharing audio/video, drawing on whiteboard and Breakout Groups. Chat functionality is also off by default but can be turned back on during a session.


Xerte upgrade and downtime 27th April

Xerte Upgrade Monday 27th April

Following recent advice from the Xerte Development Team, IT Services will be upgrading Xerte to version 3.8.5 between 8am and 4pm on Monday 27th April.

This upgrade contains important and essential security updates. We apologise for the late notice and timing; however, the upgrade is essential to ensure Xerte remains a safe and secure tool for staff and students.

In addition to the security improvements, this upgrade will bring us up to the most recent version and brings the following benefits:

  • New page types including ‘Text Correction’.
  • Sub-templates and Learning Designs.
  • Improved tracking of Project Plays.
  • Improved and accessible Hotspots.
  • Better integration with Mediasite (Re/Play) video content in Media Lessons.
  • Improved Display Modes.
  • Improved accessibility.
  • Improved Audio Player

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

Turnitin service disruption: 19th April and 20th April

Please be aware that Turnitin encountered two service disruptions on the 19th and 20th of April. The details and times these issues occurred can be found below.

19th April: BST 01:30 – 05:50

Users may have experienced issues with uploading and viewing submissions.

20th April: BST 17:00 – 18:45

Users may have experienced slow log in and uploading times.

Both these issues have now been resolved. Please see the Turnitin Status page for more information.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused. If you have any questions, please contact

Important update for Mac and Re/Play Desktop Recorder users.

In the autumn Apple are releasing the latest version of their operating system ‘Catalina’ as part of this release they are withdrawing support for 32bit applications. At the current time the Re/Play Desktop recorder is one of these applications. We have been informed by the supplier that they are developing a new version and this should be with us by the end of TB1.

In the interim we would advise staff to not update the operating system until this is release if they wish to use the Desktop Recorder. If you have any questions please email