Service announcements and essential information from the Technology Enhanced Learning team

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TurnitinUK are currently experiencing degradation to service provision – Thurs 2nd Feb 2017 12.30 p.m.

We have received some system status reports from our software provider TurnitIn that they are currently experiencing some degradation to the service.  Please be aware that the system may be slower than usual if you are trying to access it.  We will keep this blog updated with any further information

TEL and Ed Dev Team

Blackboard downtime, 7 am – 2 pm, Friday 24 February 2017

Please note that Blackboard will be unavailable from 7 am on Friday 24 February for essential maintenance work; it should be available again by 2 pm that afternoon. 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, 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 “hub” courses for Teaching Block 2, 2016-17

Blackboard is based around taught units, with a single Blackboard course being created for every taught unit that is running in the current year. Occasionally, staff may require a Blackboard course that has students from more than one taught unit on it (in addition to the normal courses). If you had a course like this – called a “hub” course – in the previous academic year (2015-16), and you will need it again this year, please fill in a hub course roll over request form. If you have a definite need for a new course like this, please fill in a new hub course creation request form.


Once the form is completed, your new hub course will be created in 3-5 working days. You will be sent an email when it is ready.

Students: Those who are registered for any of the units identified on the form will be automatically enrolled into the hub course. Students that register for those units later will also be enrolled onto the hub course, 3-5 working days after their registration in SITS.

Staff: As the hub course requester, you are automatically added to the hub course as an Instructor, along with any other staff that you list on the form.


The hub course will be a copy of the “main” unit course in the list you submitted via the form (unless you specify otherwise). In future years, the hub course will be a copy of the previous year’s hub course.

Single-unit courses

Your normal single-unit courses will still be on Blackboard, and you may make them available to your students in addition to your hub course. There are a number of University tools that only work (or work best) in the single-unit courses, which include:

  • eReserves
  • Mediasite
  • Library reading lists
  • Online submission of essays (particularly when this is part of a school-wide process)

Tidying up your single-unit courses

If you make the single-unit courses available, and if they contain content, then you need to hide that from your students to avoid confusing them with duplicate materials. The easiest way is to hide whole menu items is:

  • Move your mouse over the menu item and click on the drop-down arrow
  • Click “Hide link”

It is also good practice to add an announcement to the single-unit courses, telling students that the materials are held in the hub course and letting them know what you will be using the single-unit courses for (eg accessing eReserves).

Switching on the courses

Finally, you will want to make the courses available for your students. Use Qwickly to do this.

Blackboard emergency maintenance – 7:00 to 7:30 am Fri 13 Jan

IT Services need to carry out some emergency maintenance work on Blackboard in order to ensure service continuity. We are aware of the importance of the service during the revision period, and IT Services have agreed to perform the maintenance at 7:00 am on Friday morning (13 January) in order to minimise impact. The service should return by 7:30 am. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Turnitin Unavailable Saturday January 7th, 3pm – 11pm

Turnitin have announced on Saturday Saturday January 7th, the following services will be unavailable from 3pm – 11pm GMT due to necessary scheduled maintenance:
• Turnitin (including mobile)
• TurnitinUK
• iThenticate
• WriteCheck
• Integrations

Where applicable, please be aware no submissions or grading will be possible through any of the services listed above during this time. We therefore advise that submission deadlines be set outside of this maintenance window.

Blackboard and 24-hour IT helpline over the holidays

Recently there have been some issues with the performance and availability of Blackboard. We understand the importance of Blackboard, particularly for revision during the holiday period, and IT Services are working to improve the reliability of the service.

Should there be any issues over the Christmas and New Year period, IT Services will act to fix them as quickly as possible. If you notice a problem with Blackboard being unavailable, please contact the 24-hour IT helpline on 0117 928 7870.

Academic Registry end of year celebration – Wed December 14th 2016

Due to an Academic Registry Christmas event, the TEL and Ed Dev teams will be unavailable on the afternoon of Wed 14th December. Please email TEL-Help as usual and we will respond as soon as possible. If you experience urgent problems during this time (for example, a service is unavailable), please contact the Service Desk on (0117 92) 87870.

Problems uploading to Turnitin – Friday 18 November

Turnitin have reported that students are currently encountering issues when submitting  papers after the due date.  Turnitin are working to resolve this error and we will blog any further updates. There is more information on the Turnitin system status page.

TEL Team

Phishing emails purporting to be from Blackboard

Some users have reported receiving the following emails from the “Blackboard Learn system”:

Blackboard Learn™
Bristol Courses System Update.

You have received a new update from Blackboard Learn system about your new
course form-871.

Please view this update and fill the process form Urgent.

These are not genuine. Please do not respond, and refer to IT Services guidance on phishing emails.