Blackboard – improvements to design and mobile experience (note: changes to course menus and themes will be restricted)

As part of the move to external hosting project, we will be upgrading Blackboard to version Q4 2016. This brings many improvements and increased functionality as well as a new visual theme. Accessibility and mobile improvements will remove course themes and course menu colour customisation options.

The Learn 2016 Theme is cleaner and has ‘responsive design’ elements, allowing it to resize and reorder content to take best advantage of the screen size. It will give users a more consistent experience across devices and is optimised for delivery over mobile. Many functions that previously did not work well on mobile devices, such as discussion boards and tests, are much improved.

This theme has been created to follow accessibility standards (WCAG 2.0 principles [link: https://www.w3.org/2004/10/wcag2-nav/wcag20princ.html]) which results in a clearer design that works for all users. Good practice such as keyboard navigation and suitable colour contrast are built into the theme with no need for users to enable them prior to use. To further improve accessibility, legacy ‘course themes’ and colour customisation features have been removed. Course differentiation can be achieved using banners and images, we will provide guidance on how to create and upload graphical content using free online tools. Contact us at tel-help@bristol.ac.uk to arrange support/training. We can run bespoke sessions for a school or teaching team on request.

The screenshots below show a course with the old theme (top) and new theme (bottom):

Blackboard will be:

  • Unavailable between 1:00 am until 12:00 pm on Friday 21 July
  • Read-only between 12.00 pm on Friday 21 July and 7:30 am on Tuesday 25 July (any changes/uploads made will be lost)
  • Unavailable for an hour between 7:30 am and 8:30 am on Tuesday 25 July. Blackboard will return as a full service at 8:30 am
  • Unavailable between 7:00 pm on Sunday 6 August and 2:00 pm on Monday 7 August for upgrade.

 

 

Blackboard unavailable 24th Feb 7am to 2 pm.

Please note that Blackboard will be unavailable today (Friday 24 February) for essential maintenance work. It should be available again by 2 pm.  Further announcements will appear here.

Following the recent incidents affecting the availability of Blackboard and other University services, IT Services have identified essential work which will improve the resilience of these services, reducing both the likelihood and the impact of any incidents in the future.

We are, of course, aware that any significant period of Blackboard downtime will be disruptive, and are doing our best to minimise the impact. If you have any concerns or questions about this work, please get in touch with us at tel-help@bristol.ac.uk, and please accept our apologies for the inevitable inconvenience it will cause.

New contextual help feature in Blackboard (eesysoft)

We are launching a new contextual help feature for staff on 19 January 2017.  This provides:

  • support materials relevant to the page or feature of Blackboard you are using 
  • an easy way to email the TELED team for further help (which automatically gives us helpful information, such as which browser you are using)
  • a way for the TELED team to provide additional pop-up information where appropriate – for example, for a new feature or known issue.

To get started, click the ‘Support’ button at the right of the screen in Blackboard.

This feature will be developed and extended in the future.

 

Blackboard planned downtime: 7 June, 21 July and 4 August

On 21 July (8:00am to 3:00pm) IT Services will undertake essential maintenance work to the database that supports Blackboard. Blackboard will therefore be unavailable on that day – we apologise for any inconvenience caused. The work is being done to improve the stability of the service.

There will be a further half day of downtime on the morning of Thursday 4 August, for essential updates to Blackboard. We do not anticipate any further planned downtime over the summer.

Launch of Blackboard Student Receipting tool (for assignments)

On the 18th April at 9.00 am we will launch the “advanced receipting” feature for students submitting Blackboard assignments.* We will be monitoring the tool after launch. Please contact tel-help@bristol.ac.uk if you experience any issues. 

Following an assignment submission, students will receive an email confirmation. This receipt includes details on who submitted the work, the time of submission, the module title, the assignment title, and the name and size of the submitted file, as well as a link to our Help page. 

Students who submit an assignment after 9.00 am on the 18th April will receive the receipt. Those who submit before this time will not receive a receipt.

*Students submitting an assignment to Turnitin through Blackboard already receive a receipt. 

A copy of the email receipt is stored within Blackboard. (Instructions on how to access these receipts. A screenshot of an example receipt is shown below.

receipt-wwwtest