Change to Blackboard feedback annotation tool, Crocodoc

The tool which Blackboard currently uses to allow markers to provide feedback annotations directly on submitted assignments, Crocodoc, is being replaced on 5th January 2018.  Markers should not use Crocodoc where it is possible that those comments/annotations may need editing after 4th January 2018.   Follow this link for more information on this change.  There is also further advice for staff and for students.


Places available for “TEL essentials” workshops in Feb and March

Places are still available for the “TEL essentials” workshop in February and March.  This course is for teaching staff and aims to provide you with an overview of technology enhanced learning (TEL) and assessment. It provides some principles and strategies underpinning successful use of TEL, focussing particularly on a blended context where students have a mixture of online and face-to-face learning experiences. During the course activities you will also be able to try out a range of technologies.

For further information and booking please see the Staff Development website.

TEL workshops for staff

Places are now available on TEL workshops for staff in the New Year.  These include:

  • Introduction to Blackboard for administrative and support staff
  • Introduction to Blackboard for academic staff (including research staff)
  • TEL essentials

For further information and booking please see the “Training and events” section of the TEL website.

Critical dates for 2012 – 13

We are currently collecting information on critical dates for Blackboard availability for this academic year.  Critical dates are those dates on which it is essential that Blackboard is available, for activities such as assignment submission, online assessments, collaborative student report writing or access to materials in preparation for an assessment.

Critical date information is very important to us. We use these dates to schedule downtime for essential maintenance to Blackboard and other systems on which Blackboard depends with the least disruption to you and your students.  The information also helps us and the IT Servicedesk to more effectively support students and staff in the event of an unexpected disruption to Blackboard or related services (such as MyBristol).

Please could you send the following information about any critical dates to
* date and time of activity (e.g. online submission deadline)
* summary of activity (e.g. assignment submission, peer assessment activity,  online quiz or exam, departmental Blackboard demonstration, etc)
* approximate number of students involved
* course names or IDs
* staff contact details

Many thanks
TEL team

Instructors – tracking student activity

There are some known issues with the accuracy of Blackboard statistics from course and item tracking tools. Information about this is available on our blog.

There are 2 other options for tracking student access to files which you may find useful.

1. The first option allows students themselves to indicate that they have accessed an item, e.g. a file

The Performance Dashboard (in the Control Panel under Evaluation)  provides an overview of user activity. This can be used in conjunction with the Review Status function to track student access to items, e.g. files (Review status and the Performance Dashboard can also be used to track other activity).

To set this up, firstly  switch on review status for the item you wish to track, as follows:

  • find the item you wish to track
  • click on the double drop down menu to the right of the item name
  • click on Set review status, then Enable, and Submit

If you then turn edit mode off  it shows a tick box next to an item. Students can tick it to indicate that they have opened/read a document.  This has the potential advantage that it requires  a conscious action on the part of the student.  If you want to encourage students to engage with an item, then asking them to make a judgement that they have read and understood it might be more meaningful than a report which simply says that they have clicked on it.

Reporting on this is either through  the Performance Dashboard, or by clicking on User progress in the dropdown menu next to the item.

2. The second option automatically tracks user access to files through the Blackboard Content system.

You can switch this on as follows:

  1. Click on Control panel, then Content
  2. Click on the relevant content area e.g. the course ID
  3. Find the file
  4. Click on the dropdown options menu (double dropdown menu to the right of the filename)
  5. Click on Edit
  6. Under options tick Enable tracking then click Submit

To see tracking reports  follow the instructions 1 – 4 above but then choose 360 degree view and scroll down to Tracking data.

Setting up Forum subscription so users can choose to receive email notifications

You can allow subscription to a discussion forum or thread. This means that users can choose to subscribe. If they subscribe they will receive emails when new posts are added.

To allow subscription in an existing forum:
1. Go into the relevant Blackboard course
2. Click on Course tools in the Control Panel, then click on Discussion Board
3. Click on the link to the Discussion Board and find the relevant forum
4. Next to the forum name click on the dropdown arrow, and choose Edit
5. In section 3 “Forum settings” select either Allow members to subscribe to threads or Allow members to subscribe to forum, as appropriate, then click Submit.
6. Users will then see a subscribe button in the forum or in each thread, which they should click on if they wish to receive emails.

You will have the same option to allow subscription if setting up a new forum.

How to switch on course tools

If as an Instructor you cannot see a particular tool in the Course tools menu in the Control Panel, you may need to switch it on. An example might be the Self and peer assessment tool.

This can be done as follows:

  • In the Control Panel click on Customization
  • Click on Tool availability
  • Ensure that the relevant tool is ticked as both Available and Available in Content area (if an option), then click Submit